Изображения страниц

'glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,' which the Lord of the whole Church is yet to 'present to Himself,' holy and without blemish. In the impatience of desire, he had come to identify his ideal with the actual Church of History; by constantly dwelling among the highly-wrought devotional works of holy men in the Roman communion-works which utterly spoil the taste for the calmer and more intellectual piety of our divines (very much as romances debauch the taste for solid reading)—his heart was seduced into forgetting the vices of thousands, in the heroic virtues of comparatively few, and (what is much worse) the gross doctrinal errors of those few for the sake of the ardent piety their effusions seemed to embody; until at length the errors became tolerable, became acceptable, became welcome, were received as truths; and then the work was accomplished."*

That his actual course has not been very different from this may be gathered from his own graphic words given above, in which we need not doubt that he only imputes to his brethren what he had but too deeply experienced himself. That the fond dream should have met the rough awaking which he describes in the Church of England, with its many real defects and glaring anomalies and abuses, and to an Anglican eye utter baldness and nakedness, no one will wonder; but that he should have found, or dreamed that he had found, the realization of his ideal in the bloated and blood-stained form of Papal Rome, may be hard to conceive. It is indeed a mystery, and may find its full explanation only in causes that lie too deep for our philosophy. Our foregoing argument, however, affords abundant reasons to explain why he should have been strongly moved to look in that direction; why, if his ideal was ever to be realised on earth, he could look in no other. Here, at least, if he can throw every other consideration into the shade, is something solid, vast, imposing, before which to bow oneself, and which he could gild and glorify at will, and invest with all the drapery of an ardent and gorgeous fancy. At all events, he is there there in professed and apparently real content-with what secret misgivings and unconfessed desolateness of heart, it is not for us to tell.

The third and the last class which we shall mention is one which must be abundantly familiar to all who have even superficially watched the progress of this movement, we mean the aesthetico-sentimental admirers of Tractarian doctrines and practices. This class includes a very large and miscellaneous body, from the most refined and intellectual worshippers of architecture, poetry, music, sculpture, and painting, to the mere drivelling admirers of priestly vestments, rood-screens, and stained

*Letters on the Development of Christian Doctrine, in reply to Mr Newman's Essay. By the Rev. William Archer Butler, M.A., late Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Dublin. Dublin: Hodges and Smith. See pp. 33, 34.

glass. As a body, they are caught rather by the eye and the ear, than by any deep questions of doctrine, or the inward life. They are those who, according to the superb invective of Mr Ruskin, are "lured into the Romanist Church by the glitter of it, like larks into a trap by broken glass; blown into a change of religion by the whine of an organ pipe; stitched into a new creed by gold threads on priest's petticoats; jangled into a change of conscience by the chines of a belfry." To this class we fear we must refer the enthusiastic authoress of "From Oxford to Rome," who, from the sketch of her own life-history she has herself given us, would seem to have been fascinated towards the enchanted ground mainly by considerations of this kind; and who, we believe, driven by contrary gusts of sentimental feeling, has already more than once crossed and recrossed the border line that separates "the glorious land of saints and angels" from the homely ground of the Bible and the gospel. We are afraid the persons of whom we speak constitute a very large class, mustering particularly strong in the saloons of aristocratic fashion, among the minions of a sickly and overwrought civilization. It is essentially a Belgravian sect, and has its rallying point somewhere about St Paul's, Wilton Place. If any one doubts the existence of such a feeble generation on the soil of sturdy old England, let him ponder the following words of Mr Pugin, written, no doubt, with the view of being read, and under the idea that there did exist among the English public a class capable of drinking them in :

"Those who have lived in want and privation (to wit, the members of Protestant Churches) are the best qualified to appreciate the blessings of plenty; thus to those who have been devout and sincere members of the separated portion of the English Church, who have prayed, and hoped, and loved, through all the poverty of the maimed rites which it has retained,—to them does the realization of all their longing desires appear truly ravishing. Oh, then, what delight! what joy unspeakable! when one of the solemn piles is presented to them in all its pristine life and glory. The stoups are filled to the brim, the rood is raised on high, the screen glows with sacred imagery and rich device, the niches are filled, the altar is replaced, sustained by sculptured shafts, the relics of the saints repose beneath, the body of our Lord is enshrined in its sculptured stone, the lamps of the sanctuary burn bright, the saintly portraitures in the glass windows shine all gloriously, and the albs hang in the oaken aubries, and the cope chests are filled with orphreyed bandekins, and pix and pax and chrismatory are there, and thimble, and cross."†

It must have been for the benefit of this class, to him doubt less a peculiarly hopeful one, that Dr Wiseman condescended to indite the following piece of inflated and sentimental rho

Newman's Lectures to Anglicans.

+ Quoted by Mr Ruskin in "Stones of Venice."— Vol. i. pp. 370–374.

domantade, which must have originally, we suppose, formed part of a declamatory popular discourse, and been thence transferred to the pages of the Dublin Review. We give it at length, as a specimen of the worst style of a work which, in many parts, exhibits all the author's well-known powers of controversial debate. You have but to realise the state of mind necessary for swallowing this style of argument, in order to have before you a calotype picture of the class of whom we are now speaking:

"The wants and wretchednesses of the English Church have been too well exposed to us in modern times, for any danger to remain of her alluring us into her arms. We no longer hear men descant upon the noble simplicity of her worship, upon the severe spirituality of her devotions, upon her freedom from the slavery of outward observances, upon her purity from mere human institutions, that act on the senses and feelings, to the detriment of reason's sterner claims. No: all these former boasts have become the theme of melancholy lamentation, as losses not easily to be compensated. She presents none of the array of the king's daughter, none of the winning graces of the spouse of the Lamb; she dwells in a solitude of her own making; her ways mourn, because none come to her festivals; she is a tributary, a captive. She has no retreats in which holy contemplatives pray in silence, no safe anchorages of religious solitude into which the care-tossed mind, the penitent heart, the timid conscience, can fly for shelter. She has no peaceful cloisters, where virgins, sacred to God, walk in sisterly community, to sing His praises, like their mates in heaven, or to minister to His little ones and poor. She has no sevenfold hour of prayer, no midnight vigils, no daily awakening, at mystical intervals, of the joyful hymn and solemn psalm. The vaults of her deserted churches would startle at the unusual peal of a multitude's voice. She retains no note of times and seasons; the days of penitential humiliation, and those of spiritual exultation, are equal in her blank calendar and ritual; no soothing strains to each peculiar; no variation of outward garb; no solemn office commemorative of each mystery of redemption, each institution of love; no lively representation of the most glorious scenes. A dull and chill monotony is in her service, suited neither to the Easter Alleluja, nor to the Lenten Miserere. Her churches, if modern, are without consecration; no holy chrism anoints their walls; no mystic rites inscribe on their area the symbol of universal communion; no majestic procession introduces into them the remains of ancient saints. Upon her altars (if they may bear that name) no oil of gladness hath been poured, no symbolical frankincense burnt, no form of ancient prayer recited. No martyr's bones repose beneath them, to break forth thence, one day, in glorious resurrection; but the shrines that once adorned them have been demolished, and their treasures (we mean not the gold that perisheth) burnt and scattered to the winds. The cross of Christ hath been plucked down, the holy images of Himself and His saints ignominiously destroyed—a mean and inglorious table hath usurped the place of all. The tabernacle hath been swept away, and with it all its tributary ornaments and perennial lamps, and, still more, the all-holy gift which it contained. The eye,

the sun, the soul of the temple is extinguished, and shall not the entire body be darksome?"-(Pp. 329–331.)

Such are the chief groups into which the great army of modern ecclesiasticism naturally divides itself. Others there are more or less distinctly marked by special characteristics, particularly a vast loose multitude of mere political high-churchmen, who, during the heyday of its success, patronised the movement, but during the late years of rebuke and disaster, have been more and more holding aloof. At the first look of the matter they could not but be disposed to hail a movement which promised to strengthen the foundations of the church, and to deal a new and crushing blow to the hated dissent. It was pleasant to them to hear, from what they deemed the holiest men of the church, that their position, as churchmen, was as safe for eternity as it was undoubtedly comfortable for time; and that there was as much sanctity as there was dignity in episcopal mitres and lawn-sleeves. But by and by things began to look more serious, and the camp waxed too hot for them. The vessel in which they had promised themselves a triumphant voyage, begins to pitch and heave ominously, some of their best officers are washed overboard, and there are cries of rocks ahead; and so they are fain to make their escape to terra firma as best they may, and return to their old, safe, easy-going, high-church ways.

The remedy for all these evils might admit of large dis course, but may be indicated in a very few sentences. The whole may be summed up in a single word-the BIBLE;-the renovating, purifying, transforming energy of the living Word. We close where we began. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants. That which formed the creative principle of the Church of England must also be its sustaining principle. That which was at the beginning the source of its life, must in all after times be the spring of fresh renova tion and of increasing strength. This is the very palladium of Protestant England-the pith and marrow of whatever is sound, and strong, and holy in its constitution, alike in church and state. Here are the charmed locks wherein her great strength lies, the secret of that hidden might which has made her name great over the whole world; let her be shorn of this, and she will be weak as other lands, and fall, as other noble realms have done before her, a blind and helpless captive, into the Philis tine's hands. To all the forms of ecclesiasticism alike-ascetic, idealistic, æsthetic, hierarchic-this is the true and alone effec tual antagonist. The free spirit of a living Bible-Christianity must supplant, and by supplanting expel, the slavish spirit of

an ascetic and cloistral devotion; a cordial submission of mind and conscience to the testimony of God, and a firm grasp laid on its mighty, soul-filling realities, will put to flight the airy dreams of the speculative idealist; and the sober, serious, masculine tone, at once rational and fervent, which is generated within the heart of every Bible-reading and Bible-loving people, will prove the best corrective for all the follies of a feeble, sentimental pietism. Thus biblicism will exorcise and drive out ecclesiasticism, in its every form, and all the world over. This is the grand panacea for all the ills of the body ecclesiastical at this present hour. In an age when the minds of men are uneasily oscillating between two extremes, equally perilous,— between the license of the individual reason or "Christian consciousness," on the one hand, and the blind submission to an authority on the other, there is no salvation for us but in cleaving faster than ever to the eternal rock of the Word. Some, we know, are disposed to look hopefully in another direction for a remedy for the evils which now afflict the Church of England. They desiderate a thorough reformation of her whole constitution, such as would remove, at once and for ever, those seeds of mischief which have grown up from age to age in so many harvests of bitterness. They would throw the Protestant Church of England once more into the crucible of organic change, and turn the spirit of this earnest and reforming age to the completion of that work which was begun, but arrested in its progress, three centuries ago. To these views we have nothing to gainsay. As the pia desideria of enlightened and patriotic Christian men, they have our most thorough concurrence and sympathy; and we would only express the hope, that when that work is done, it may be done well-done at once, with a firm, and with a cautious and reverent hand, so that it may neither have to be done again, nor so done as to produce a reaction more mischievous than the evils it was intended to remedy. But all this, we fear, is as yet in great measure matter of mere speculation, having but little to do with the practical business of the present hour. There are few, we should think, who know any thing of the circumstances of the Church of England, who entertain the hope of witnessing, at the present time, any such reform in her constitution as alone her true friends could desire to see. It is a thing, indeed, to be hoped for, prayed for, laboured after, but scarcely for immediate realization. We must look, therefore, meanwhile to other means; and it is surely matter of thankfulness that the mightiest instrument of all is also that which is most available. While little can now be done on the ecclesiastical field, much, very much, can be done on the biblical. To remove the outward excrescences and corruptions that mar the beauty, and hinder

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »