Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

arch of power is enough for all Mankind-that it is safest and best for many nations to trust all to one. All rivalry or competition was not only dead, but it was a thing forgotten; it had come to be a rude, uncivilized, unenlightened thing. There stood but one world-spanning arch-but one only tolerated or known bridge over anarchy. Downward it totters-crumbling down, with its multitudinous load. They sink wailing; sink with whatever they possess of valuables-valuables as they called them; and doubtless dragging with them much also of true value into the unwritten grave. Yet is not all lost. Christianity remained a refuge for the drowning civilization of antiquity. The Church sank not. Since the unannalled days of the first flood, when the primitive science, art, and knowledge of mankind were destroyed, there had been nought within comparison so appalling to this unsheltered world as this Scythian tide; and, as in the elder tempest, there was no salvation but in an ark of safety of no human providence or contriving. The Church alone outrode the storm. When its surging crest of ruin rose most high, the cross rose with it, and above it still. The barbarians embraced Christianity; and when the vanquished felt that between them and their conquerors was one tie—that of a common faith-they said within


themselves, "Surely the bitterness of death is passed." It was the Church that saved whatever could be rescued from the universal wreck in her sanctuary were preserved for succeeding times, the laws, and a few hastily snatched up records of a drowned antiquity. On, on, with force as if forever, the gush of Scythia and Burgundia roars. All political power is overwhelmed in its weltering wave. The Church alone sinks not. It alone presumes to beard and to reprove-to rebuke and to restrain its rage. Immortal faith saves human hope from dying. All this is assuredly no scoffing matter. Sceptic, sarcastic Gibbon was no man to write its history; when next it shall be written, pray that it fall into far different hands. Can we imagine anything so crushing of all hope of progress, as the state of things that would have been, had antiquity been entirely lost? Can we conceive a more exalting proof of a superintending wisdom in the affairs of men, than the provision whereby religion was made to guard that perilled treasure?

W. TORRENS MCCULLAGH, The Use and Study of History.


It is quite impossible to touch the subject of Monasticism without rubbing off some of the dirt which has been heaped upon it. It is impossible to get even a superficial knowledge of the mediaval history of Europe, without seeing how greatly the world of that period was indebted to the Monastic Orders; as a quiet and religious refuge for helpless infancy and old age, a shelter of respectful sympathy for the orphan maiden and the desolate widow-as central points whence agriculture was spread over bleak hills, and barren downs, and marshy plains, and dealt its bread to millions perishing with hunger and its pestilential train— as repositories of the learning which then was, and the well-springs for the learning which was to be— as nurseries of art and science, giving the stimulus, the means, and the reward to invention, and aggregating around them every head that could devise, and every hand that could execute as the nucleus of the city which in after-days of pride should crown its palaces and bulwarks with the towering cross of its cathedral.


This, I think, no man can deny. I believe it is true, and I love to think of it. I hope that I see the good hand of God in it, and the visible trace of His mercy that is over all His works. But if it is only a dream, however grateful, I shall be glad to be awakened from it; not indeed by the yelling of illiterate agitators, but by a quiet and sober proof that I have misunderstood the matter. the meantime, let me thankfully believe that thousands of the persons at whom Robertson and Jortin and other such very miserable second-hand writers, have sneered, were men of enlarged minds, purified affections, and holy lives-that they were justly reverenced by men-and, above all, favorably accepted by God, and distinguished by the highest honor which He vouchsafes to those whom He has called into existence, that of being the channels of His love and mercy to their fellowcreatures.

Dark Ages.



PERHAPS the most remarkable feature in the character of the Tyrolese, is their uniform Piety, a feeling which is nowhere so universally diffused as among their sequestered valleys. Chapels are built almost at every half mile on the principal roads, in which the passenger may perform his devotions, or which may awaken the thoughtless mind to a recollection of its religious duties. Even in the higher parts of the mountains, where hardly any vestiges of human cultivation are to be found, in the depth of the untrodden forests, or on the summit of seemingly inaccessible cliffs, the symbols of devotion are to be found, and the cross rises everywhere amidst the wilderness as if to mark the triumph of Christianity over the greatest obstacles of nature.

In ancient times, we are informed, these mountains were inhabited by the Rhætians, the fiercest and most barbarous of the tribes, who dwelt in the fastnesses of the mountains, and of whose savage

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »