I do not know whether modern civilization may have a decline

I do not know whether modern civilization may or may not have a decline as well as a progress, a fall as well as an uprise: but if it be so, it will be because Christianity has been overpowered, and unbelief taken its place, and let loose the base herd of human passions from their foul den.

R.Payne Smith, Bampton Lecture, 1869

Not all Victorians believed in the inevitability of progress. A Christian such as Smith applied the gospel as a standard external to the assumptions of his time and place so as not to be held captive to their follies.

Robert Payne Smith, D.D., M.A. (1819-1895) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and Canon of Christ Church from 1865 until 1870, when he was appointed Dean of Canterbury

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