Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

affection and token of our regard; we do not diminish aught from the honour and worship we pay to her God in these multiplied devotions; we simply follow out the laws of that nature which God Himself has bestowed upon us. The fallacy of the Protestant objection lies in this, that it assumes that what we give to Mary we take from Jesus. It might as reasonably be assumed, that what affection a father gives his son he takes from God. The truth is, that what we give to Mary, we take from the world; we offer not one prayer the less to Mary's Creator and Saviour; not one pulsation of the heart which ought to beat in love for Him who redeemed us is silenced for her sake; it is our mere earthly attachments which we circumscribe; it is our seasons for secular recreation which we break into, in order to spend our hours on an invisible source of gratification. Granting, for argument's sake, that we pray to her more than is strictly necessary in order to insure her intercession, what follows ? Simply that we are yielding to a most natural, laudable, and holy impulse; that we are decking her images with flowers which would otherwise be employed for the gratification of the senses; that we are employing in prayers the time which would otherwise be spent in gossiping, or reading for our amusement, or in sheer idleness.

If it is urged that in such cases it would be far better to lengthen our direct devotions to God Himself, we reply that you might with equal reason condemn all the intercourse of affection between man and man. The undeniable truth is, that our mortal intellects are ordinarily overwhelmed with a too prolonged contemplation of the brightness of the Divine Majesty. Before the awful effulgence of God's greatness, eternity, holiness, justice, love, and pitifulness, the mind sinks prostrate in its feebleness after a certain amount of meditation; the very cross itself is more than man can bear to gaze upon beyond a certain period of time; the exhausted yet rejoicing soul must fall back upon the dimmer beauties of the creature, not (God forbid !) because wearied of the Creator, but because, through the weakness of her powers, she needs rest, and must recruit herself by familiar intercourse with beings of the same lower nature as herself. Such, undoubtedly, is the character of much of the devotion which Catholics pay to the Blessed Virgin ; it is comparatively easy, familiar, cheerful, and exhilarating; it almost wears the aspect of a conversation between equals; it refreshes the soul for renewed approaches to that throne, which, though the throne of unspeakable mercy, is yet the throne of the omnipotent and most awful God; and as such, our devotions to Mary are at once founded on the clearest perception of the necessities of our nature, and are directly calculated to invigorate us for that communion with our God and Saviour, which, while it floods the soul with grace and peace, taxes its utmost powers to an extent that poor fainting humanity can endure but for a brief space without intermission, so long as this life shall last.

We might pursue the inquiry further, and show in detail how these prolonged devotions to the Blessed Virgin are particularly adapted to the necessities of the more tender, fragile dispositions of many persons, fulfilling to them the offices of gentle, sympathising, and sustaining human friendship, without derogating in the faintest degree from the supreme rights of the Sovereign of all. But we have already sufficiently indicated the principles by which the devout Catholic is instinctively guided in his multiplication of his communications with the Mother of God. The reflecting Protestant will, we trust, recognise their fitness and beauty, not indeed in his own case—for he does not believe that Mary can hear his invocations, or that she is allowed by her Divine Son to pray for men-but at least in the case of those who are confident that she hears their entreaties, and responds to them with the most devoted love which one creature can feel for another.

Of the edition of the works of St. Alphonsus which has given occasion to the present remarks, we may speak in high terms, so far as it can be judged of by the first volume, now recently published, containing: The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ; the Treatise on Prayer; Directions for acquiring the Christian Virtues; Rules of Life for a Christian, &c. It is carefully translated and printed, of a convenient size, well got up, and sold at a very moderate price. What is rarer still in editions of St. Alphonsus' writings, the numerous quotations have been diligently verified; a work of no small labour, considering how disgracefully careless have been many previous editors in this respect. The treatises this volume contains are among the Saint's most attractive writings—simple, full of unction, practical ; and, little as the popular opinion of the day may expect it, unquestionably suitable to many varieties of the English mind. We do not doubt that the editor, Father Coffin, will receive many cordial thanks, together with our own, for the manner in which he has fulfilled his grateful task.

423

SUGGESTIONS TO “CONTENTED” ANGLICANS.

cana.

1. Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Religio, Disciplina, Ritusque Sacri :

Cosini Episcopi Dunelmensis opusculum. Accedunt argumenta quædam breviora de Fide Catholicâ ac Reformatione Anglicand : Auctoribus Lanceloto Andrewes, Juello, Beveregio, Bullo Episcopis, et Jacobo I. Rege. In Appendice Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Catechismus. Edidit Fredericus Mey

rick, A.M., Coll. SS. Trinitat. apud Oxon. Socius. 2. Doctrine de l'Eglise Anglicane relative aux Sacrements et

aux Cérémonies Sacramentales. 3. Della Religione, Disciplina, e Riti Sacri della Chiesa An

glicana; Opuscolo di Cosino Vescovo di Durham. Coll aggiunta di alcuni brevi argomenti intorno alla Fede Cattolica ed alla Riforma Anglicana, tratti dagli scritti di Lancelotto Andrewes, Giuello, Beveregio, Bullo Vescovi, é Giacomo Io. Re. In calce Catechismo della Chiesa Angli

Edito per Federico Meyrick, A.M., Socio del Coll. della SS. Trinita in Oxford. London, J. H. Parker;

Paris, Hector Bossange. The publications with the above singular titles profess to be issued by “The Association for making known upon the Continent the principles of the Anglican Church." How many members this Association numbers we do not know; but we suspect they are not very numerous. The Rev. Frederick Meyrick, a gentleman who has written a book about the Spanish Church, appears to be its guiding spirit; for it is announced that “ Churchmen desirous of co-operating in the objects of the Association are requested to communicate with the Rev. Frederick Meyrick, Trinity College, Oxford.”

We have no hesitation in saying, that though we are not Churchmen,” but Catholic Christians, we wish Mr. Meyrick's association success, though not precisely in the same way that he and his friends desire it. It is their belief that if they can convince continental Catholics that the principles of the “ Church of England” are those which are advocated by the High-Church, or Tractarian, school, these foreign Catholics will regard the English Establishment as, in some unexplained sense or other, a branch of the Catholic Church. As we așe of opinion that no possible logic can prove that a man who is outside a house is really inside it, however close a kindred he may claim with those who are within its walls, we do not anticipate any very remarkable results from the labours of the new association, at least of the kind which its originators hope for. At the same time, the more distinct and accurate is the knowledge which Catholics, whether English or continental, possess respecting the various schools of opinion which are to be found in the Anglican communion, the more fully will they enter into the peculiar states of mind of different individuals, the more cordially will they sympathise with their troubles, and the more easily will they convert them. We only wish that English Protestants would adopt the same system with respect to ourselves, and study us and our writings with the definite view of understanding us, hoping (if they prefer it) to employ that knowledge in converting us to their opinions. We are not only willing, but eager to make ourselves more thoroughly acquainted with the precise ideas and feelings of those who are not Catholics; of course, with our own objects. They believe that a more intimate communication of knowledge between us and them will tend to the advancement of their creed. By all means, then, let them act on the opinion, fairly and justly; and as we are rejoiced to know more of them, let them endeavour to know some little more of us.

In saying this, we give our High-Church friends fair warning, that when they bring their characteristic principles more immediately under Catholic observation, they must be to find deductions drawn from them, and criticisms offered upon them, for which they may be scarcely prepared. Dr. Pusey's theories appear in a very different aspect under Catholic dissection from that which they wear when assailed by Evangelicals and Latitudinarians. Reasons for "contentment" with the Church of England, which appear perfectly valid to those who wish to remain in that communion, turn out to be reasons for the extreme of discontent when examined by the light of that Church where “ Church principles” have lived and ruled undisputed for eighteen centuries. We may grant every thing that High-Church Anglicans maintain, and yet draw the very opposite conclusion from that in which they rest so satisfied,

We hope, however, that whatever the unexpected handling they meet with, they will take it in good part; and in this expectation, we now propose to lay before them a few rapid. remarks on one branch of the argument on which they confidently rely—we mean their sacramental theories. We need hardly premise, that we address those only who are prepared to sacrifice every thing for truth. As for those who talk of their "positions;" their “responsibilities to their friends, superiors, or dependents;" and who speak as if God had need of them to serve Him in their way and not in His own ;--with

prepared

a

such we have nothing to do. Such men as these have yet to learn that Almighty God is master in His own world; that He has no need of Dr. Pusey, or of the most distinguished, devoted, learned, or useful of Anglicans, whether lay or clerical, for the accomplishment of His will. His will is that every man shall account himself nothing; and though He may, and does, employ the perverseness of men to His own honour and the good of others, those whose misconduct He thus turns aside are cast away as worthless and vile when their time is ended.

Those, on the other hand, to whom we more particularly offer our present remarks, constitute a class which deserves our deepest commiseration, because their difficulties arise not so much from self-will, as from a mistaken reverence and a misdirected idea of duty. I have received the Sacraments, they argue," in the Church of England; I am sure I have received them, because I have felt their effects; indeed, how can I suppose any thing so horrible as that I have been really mistaken all this time, and have been treating as real Sacraments things which, however well-intended, were in fact no Sacraments at all. And if I have received the Sacraments, what more do I want? why should I go any where else to obtain what my own Church supplies me with already ?"

Now we are convinced that this state of feeling is not (except in some few isolated cases) the spontaneous offspring of the mind. On the contrary, it is suggested to those who would never have thought of it themselves, by their Anglican confessors or advisers.

Some few years ago the phrase which was popularly used to keep people back from the Church was this, "Do not forsake the Church of your. Baptism." This argument, we believe, is seldom or never used now by the higher grades of Anglicans. The absurdity of imagining that baptism admits into a branch of the Church, as a branch, and not into the Church as the Church, is so evident, that the phrase has speedily shown itself to be what it really was, a party cry, and not the enunciation of a Christian doctrine. Another phrase, however, is still in use, You have found your Lord in the Church of England; how can you then go away from her to the Church of Rome ?"

We hope that we shall not shock our Anglican friends by replying that this is simply a cant expression. For what is cant? We mean by cant, expressions which are repeated over and over again, and passed from one mouth to another, without any clear and definite meaning attached to the words so used. Anglican High-Churchmen say, and we certainly shall not contradict them, that the " Evangelicals” talk a vast deal of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »