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sions and worldly goods, and being wholly separate and removed from the ordinary conversations of common life, is appropriated and devoted solely to the worship and service of God, through an exceeding degree of heavenly love.
They who are of this order of people seem dead to the life of this world, and having their bodies only upon earth, are in their minds and contemplations dwelling in heaven, from whence, like so many heavenly inhabitants, they look down upon human life, making intercessions and oblations to Almighty God for the whole race of mankind; and this not with the blood of beasts, but the highest exercises of true piety, with cleansed and purified hearts, and with a whole form of life strictly devoted to virtue.
“Christianity receives this as a perfect manner of life. The other is of lower form, and suiting itself more to the conditions of human nature, admits chaste wedlock, care of children and family, of trade and business, and goes through all the employments of life, under a sense of piety and fear of God.”
If Truth itself hath assured us that there is but one thing needful, what wonder is it that there should be some among Christians so full of faith as to believe this in the highest sense of the words, and to desire such a separation from the world that their care and attention to the one thing needful may not be interrupted ?
If the chosen vessel St. Paul hath said, "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord”; and that “there is this difference also between a wife and a virgin: the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit”; what wonder is it if the purity and perfection of the virgin state hath been the praise and glory of the Church in its first and purest ages ?—that there hath been always some, so desirous of pleasing God, so zealous after every degree of purity and perfection, so glad of every means of improving their virtue, that they have renounced the comforts and enjoyments of wedlock, to trim their lamps, to purify their souls and wait upon God in a state of perpetual virginity?
And if in these our days we want examples of these several degrees of perfection; if neither clergy nor laity have enough of this spirit; if we are so far departed from it, that a man seems like St. Paul at Athens, a setter forth of strange doctrines, when he recommendeth self-denial, renunciation of the world, regular devotion, retirement, virginity, and voluntary poverty, it is because we are fallen into an age when the love not only of the many, but of most, has waxen cold. These rules of holy living are found in the sublimest counsels of Christ and His Apostles, suitable to the high expectations of another life, proper instances of a heavenly love, and all followed by the greatest saints of the Church.
THE ANCIENT MONK.
THE great antique heart: how like a child's in its simplicity, like a man's in its earnest solemnity and depth! Heaven lies over him wheresoever he goes or stands on the Earth; making all the Earth a mystic Temple to him, the Earth's business all a kind of worship. Glimpses of bright creatures flash in the common sunlight; angels yet hover doing God's messages among men: that rainbow was set in the clouds by the hand of God. Wonder, miracle encompass the man; he lives in an element of miracle ; Heaven's splendor over his head, Hell's darkness under his feet. A great Law of Duty, high as these two Infinitudes, dwarfing all else, annihilating all else-making royal Richard as small as peasant Samson, smaller if need be! The “imaginative faculties”? “Rude poetic ages ?” The “primeval poetic element”? O for God's sake, good readers, talk no more of all that ! It was not a Dilettantism this of Abbot Samson. It was a Reality, and it is one. The garment only of it is dead : the essence of it lives through all Time and all Eternity !