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with the love of nature and of God; who did not seek, like the sophist, “intelligere carnalia et videre spiritualia, quod fieri non potest,”l to make the eye discharge the office of the mind, and the mind that of the eye; to have a sensual philosophy and an abstract imagination; to be enslaved by the senses in things belonging to heaven, and to effect spiritual abstraction in matters which pertain only to this present life. Michel scorned David for dancing before the ark; but he replied, “ Ante Dominum et ludam et vilior fiam plus quam factus sum, et ero humilis in oculis meis." This was the language of genius as well as piety. “Bonus ludus,” cried St. Bernard, “ quo Michel irascitur, et Deus delectatur.”3
When the bishop of Rheims conducted the King of the Franks to be baptised at Rheims, the streets being adorned with tapestry, the pavement strewed with flowers, the air sweet with frankincense, the question of the Frank, hoc regnum Dei ?”.4 need not have scandalised the moderns ; for, in one sense, the sweet delights of the assembly and ceremonies of the faithful did constitute the kingdom of God; and after a faithful hearing, did impart somewhat of the beatific vision, according to the thought of St. Bernard : “Auditus ad meritum, visus ad præmium ;" and even the charity of the faithful is that vision, as St. Ber
“ Caritas illa visio est.”5 I shall never forget one evening when I beheld the procession of the blessed sacrament from a college of the Jesuits at St. Æcheul, near Amiens. It was a lovely summer's evening, and there must have been twenty thousand people in the fields to accompany it. Each of the students carried a little banner surmounted with a cross. There you saw the Labarum and its motto, “ In hoc signo vinces.” Fifty acolythes at short intervals cast up their silver censers, and scattered roses and other flowers. The priests were in their richest vestments, which shone with double splendour as gilded with the setting sun. On passing through a little village, the poor people had cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. After going
· St. Augustin. de Vera Relig. 62.
3 Ep. lxxxvii.
In Cantica Serm. ixxxiii.
through fields of corn, they descended upon a little green pasture, one side bounded by the blue waters of the Somme, and the other by the side of a gentle flowering hill. Near the edge of the river an altar was erected. But what no painter could represent, was the effect produced at the final benediction om a high altar, which being placed at the western extremity of a rising ground, appeared to be raised into the golden sky. Then, as the eye was directed to that quarter of the heavens which the sun, though already set below the earth, still lighted up, the priests and acolythes ascending the steps of the altar, seemed to be going up into the regions of the blessed, whose dwelling was in that light; and the solemn benediction to descend from that heaven resplendent with all beauty and joy upon this innocent assembly, the flower of the youth of France. To many it will always seem barbarous and unnatural to wish that youth should be kept in ignorance of the divine philosophy which produced these beautiful fruits. The calm of evening has its charms; but do we not lament the fate of that prisoner who is prevented from beholding and feeling the golden rays of the morning sun, and who is permitted for the first time each day to look upon the face of nature when the sun has set, and the blossoms of the garden are closed, and the woods and the rivers and the mountains are already lost in deep shade ? Alas, he can only guess, by the aid of imagination, how lovely was the scene! Such is their fate, who are first brought out to the light of faith when the spring of their years is past, and their days are in the sear and yellow leaf. They secure, indeed, their future and eternal felicity; but they have wandered in trouble and darkness during that sweet hour of their life's prime which God had given them to be spent in peace and brightness ! So I have heard of one who was converted to the faith, young indeed, but when consumption had brought him to the verge
of an early grave. He was ignorant of his danger till the priest took him affectionately by the hand, and said with that tone and look of truth which belong to his blessed order,“ My dear friend, you are going fast ; you have but a short time; you ought to employ it to a good use." His whole soul was enlightened by the heavenly rays of that holy man's wisdom : he had but one wish,
that he might be able to hear mass on the approaching Sunday, the festival of Pentecost. He grew better; he was able to rise from his bed; he entered the church ; he beheld the lighted altar and the assembled multitude of
the faithful; he heard mass ; his heart felt like St. Aus| tin's, “Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam
nova, sero te amavi.” The following day he departed to our Lord.
Religion, in adopting this philosophy, was guided by prudence as well as by truth; for let men beware how they argue and dogmatise against the laws of the Creator. “Sine delectatione anima non potest esse : aut infimis delectatur, aut summis ;” a truth which did not escape Lord Bacon, when he shewed how we ought to set affection against affection, and to master one by another; even as we used to hunt beast with beast, and fly bird with bird. The ceremonial of religion was not only the result of observing the connexion which subsists between the external and inward man, between the habits and manners of the body and the disposition of the soul, and of remarking, as Petrarch says, “ vivacius in anima est, quod per oculos, quam quod per aures introiit;">2 but it followed almost of necessity, from attending to the whole scheme of human redemption, which proceeded on the principle of this union, and of this law of our nature. The heathen philosophers had sublime notions of God; they had very exalted sentiments respecting his nature, respecting the soul and its future destiny, respecting the duties of mankind; but in the Christian religion, truth was to be manifested in a more substantial manner. Our Lord took human form, appealed to the senses of men, walked among them as a brother, died on a cross in sight of the sun ; the Holy Ghost descended in visible form like cloven tongues ; the sacraments were instituted, the priesthood appointed ; so that the discipline and ceremonies, as well as the doctrines, of the Church followed naturally from a series of facts, and from the history of its foundation ; and to remove these, by reducing Christianity to a mere system of opinions, would be in reality to abandon the very distinguishing features of the whole religion of Jesus Christ : they were not
· St. Greg. Moral. xviii.
9 Epist. xiii. 4.
instituted "superstitiose atque aniliter, sed physica constantique ratione.” Indeed, the most inattentive observer must have been often struck with the tone which marks the language of the men who maligned the discipline and ceremonies of the Church. Is it not a strange saying of Lord Bacon, when, exposing the evil of superstition, he says, “Atheism leaves a man to philosophy, to natural piety?”? Among the causes of superstition he ranks the
laying an over-great importance on good intentions, and the taking an aim at divine matters by human.” These, and many other sentences which seem directed against the philosophy of the Church, will remind an attentive reader, that to the learned Chancellor of England, the king, who had renounced that philosophy, was “a mortal God on earth.” It may be unimportant to point out the vanity of Petrarch, when, after a pedantic declamation against the employment of gold and silver in churches, he concludes,
Respondete tot senes uni juveni ;” 2 but his expressions in the next letter are examples to the present purpose.
• Nunc Peripateticus, nunc Štoicus sum:" these heathen philosophers were content that the whole world should lie in ignorance and brutish insensibility to truth, provided there were a few men of extraordinary acuteness to rank themselves as their disciples, and consequently they were careless of the means which even human wisdom might point out as calculated to direct well the imagination, to inform the minds, and to preserve the innocence of the ordinary class of mankind; but the Christian Church, while it contained all the treasures of wisdom which the philosophers had ever conceived, 3 had an especial commission to condescend to all capacities, and to be equally careful of the weak as of the strong; and as St. Bernard says, this is “ the wonderful and lamentable condition of human souls, that although they can perceive so many external things with clearness, egeant omnino figuris et ænigmatibus quibusdam corporearum similitudinum, ut ex visibilibus et exterioribus possint vel aliquatenus invisibilia atque interna
Essay on Superstition.
Epist. vi. 1. 3 See the admirable remarks of M. de Haller, in the introduction to his Theorie der geistlichen Staaten, in the fourth volume of his Restoration of Political Science,
conjicere."! Now, besides that these beautiful accidents
, in the Apennines near Florence, is said to utter a sound in the forest which reminds those who hear it of the last
i Serm. vi. de Divers. 1.