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distinguished “by numerals or algebraic symbols, and called 155 or x22" The outward walls and the interior decorations of houses exhibited scrolls in which some holy words were written to remind men of religious truths, or to express the piety of the family. I have seen the huge chairs of oak which stood in the feudal hall bear this inscription, “Deus est amor meus.” The crucifix met you at every turning in the imperial palace. The walls of the room in which St. Augustine dined warned his guests to refrain from maligning the absent; in every corridor of La Trappe you read inscriptions proclaiming that perfection lay in charity ; an eye painted on the ceiling of the cottage reminded the poor peasant of the Divine presence ; the verse of the Psalm, - Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilat qui custodit eam,” was engraven over the gate of walled cities. It was not a small advantage that the very outward face of a country bore testimony to its faith. When Æneas entered the strange city, and saw represented on the walls of the temple the Trojan battles in order, Agamemnon, Priam, and Achilles, he stood still with surprise and wept ; but they were tears of joy, for it was evident from this, as he exclaimed,
Sunt lacrimæ rerum; et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Solve metus.? And how much rather did they rejoice when, on entering a strange land, the emblems of human redemption met them on every side ; not the memorials of war and
but of the manger in Bethlehem, of the flight into Egypt, of the passion and resurrection of Jesus ! St. Chrysostom had an image before him of St. Paul preaching whenever he studied. The Jews and Sarrassins abhorred all images and paintings; the Christians received them with thankfulness, as sanctified by the word of God and prayer.4 What a religious scene did the holy state of Cologne present to the stranger in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with as many churches and chapels as there are days in the year! How did the pilgrim's heart rejoice when, 1 Guesses at Truth.
2 Æneid. i. 462. 3 See Bishop Pointer on Christianity, for a learned note respecting the early use of images in the Church.
Maimbourg, Hist. des Iconoclastes.
looking down from some savage mountain, he beheld á city at his feet, and suddenly the bells of a multitude of churches and convents tolled the Angelus, when he knew that the words of the angel were then repeated by every tongue! It was for him truly to say with gratitude “ Solve metus.” Doctor Forster has shewn, in his calendar, that plants were often called after the name of the saint who was celebrated about the time of their flowering. The snowdrop about Candlemass, an emblem of the purification of the spotless Virgin, was our Lady of February; the early daffodil was Lent-lily; the herb Robert blooms about the 29th of April, the day of St. Robert, founder of the Carthusians; passion-flower on Holyrood-day, the 14th of September ; cross-flower, or rogation-flower, about the 3d of May, and this was carried in the processions of rogation week. The ancients were as anxious to supply such memorials as the moderns have been to obliterate them. The iris was the fleur de St. Louis ; picinus was palma Christi ; calendula was marygold; sweet-william was herb St. William ; ornithogalum was star of Bethlehem ; goat's beard was star of Jerusalem ; campanula was “Canterbury-bells” in honour of St. Augustine; clematis vitalba was virgin's-bower, flowering about the time of the Visitation of our Lady. Even the scenes of pastime and masquerade partook of a religious character. Thus we read in the Weisskunig, that at the entertainment in honour of the young Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Peter, Archduke of Coimbra, the bride of the Emperor Frederic III., and afterwards mother of Maximilian, “among other masques there came in three youths, dressed in English clothes as angels. The first carried a crucifix, and was called Faith ; the second had a green twig in his hand, and was called Hope ; the third held a pigeon, and was called Love." Chivalrous imagery was employed in denoting spiritual and celestial objects. Thus the crder of Saint Michael was founded in honour of " Monseigneur Saint Michel, premier chevalier qui pour la querelle de Dieu, d'estoc et de taille, se battit contre l'ennemi dangereux de l'humain lignage, et du ciel le trebucha.” In L'Arbre des Batailles the following question and answer
“En quel lieu fut premierement trouvée bataille ? Si vous dy que en ciel :" alluding to the rebel angels. So
also in the Songe du Vergier, the knight says, “la premiere guerre que oncques fut commenca en paradis.”
In the fine romance of Arthur of Little Britain, when the Emperor of Ynde's seneschal “ lift up his eyen, and beheld the hooste over all ; and then he saw the goodly yong squyers untrussing of their sorners and carriages, and pitching up of their tents, and he saw the goodly knights ren their horses up and down in the feldes, some lyghting and some mountyng; and then he saw the armers furbyshe the harneis, and the speres and sheldes flaming agenst the sonne, the baners, standards, and stremers wavering with the wynd. Then he sayd to hymself, Saynt Mary! what people are these ? are they mortal men, or aungells of Paradyse ? whoo may endure agenst them? A! Fraunce! an honurable country above al other ; blessed be thou that nourishest up suche people !"
The miniature painted by René d'Anjou, in his book Mortifiement de vaine Plaisance, to illustrate the spiritual combat there enjoined, will shew how chivalrous imagery was employed to explain and recommend divine graces. In the Songe du Vergier the clerk says that when “ Aucun est fait clerc, il est chevalier celeste; et aussi est il ordonne son corps et son ame au service de Dieu.” The proud and pedantic modern, who concludes from these instances, that the ancients were gross in their philosophy, does only expose the shallowness of his own judgment. His conventional phrases and circumlocutory terms, if he conceives that they approach to an expression of celestial things, do rather convict him of grossness and want of spiritual elevation. What belongs to heaven is beyond the language and the thoughts of mortals. They err not in describing the angels invested with such perfection and beauty as are capable of being expressed by speech, or figured in earthly forms. The moderns have gained nothing in spirituality by killing fancy, the elevating organ of nature; but, as Solgar confesses, they have only “ lost themselves in the low level of vulgar cagacity; to live without God, and to glory in so living. Was it not the time of the most lovely flower of mankind, when God as a friend, as man, walked with man?” The ancients had the most intellectual and su
i P. 414.
blime visions respecting the divine presence. The old scholastic doctors were almost too scrupulous in their judgment of the common opinions of men; as when William of Paris complains “ that men cannot conceive the angels unless in the form of young men with wings, and that therefore, from this custom of eyes, some men are unable to discern their own souls ;''? and when that subtile divine, Scotus, expresses his opinion, that “ to understand and know objects by sensible representations passing through the gate of sense, and striking our imagination, is a punishment from original sin.” Macrobius argued, that “to teach truth by fictitious scenes and similitudes is not contrary to philosophy, appealing to the example of Cicero and Plato ;"3 and was not the same plan pursued by our blessed Saviour in his sublime parables and discourses ? St. Anselm says, that when he was a little boy, hearing how God was seated on high in glory, he suspected, like a child bred among mountains, that heaven rested on their summits, in which was the court of God, and that by ascending their sides men might arrive there.4 How beautiful, and in a a child how innocent, was this idea! It may be well for profound theologians like Holden to entertain purely abstract notions of heaven, but it is certain that the greater part of mankind will gain nothing by an attempt to follow him. The moderns have only a vacant stare and a laugh for those old paintings of angels in glittering panoply, with wings of gorgeous feathers, weighing, sinking, and raising, the soulsof heavenly courts with walls of jaspar and grottos of crystal ; and yet it may be argued that these very forms serve the purpose of philosophy better than these proud and foolish discourses, in which things that surpass expression are set forth in long and empty sentences, deceiving men with the semblance of knowledge. A late writer has thought so, when he says, “ How passing excellent may we hope to find the realities from which the offspring of our imagination are the shadows! seeing that offspring, all shadowy as they are, will yet often be finer than
any sensible existence.” 6 It is only ignorance and a
| Vide Rodriguez, Christ. Perfection, trait, vi. c. 2.
3 In Somn. Scip. 1. 2.
shallow judgment which would condemn the romantic holy legend, and the strange but sublime figure in the painting. Eusebius Nieremberg, the Spanish Jesuit, relating a legend from Peter Cluniacensis, says, “ when we read such-like stories, from the representations therein contained, we are to raise our thoughts to the substance therein represented :”] and with respect to the strange and improbable forms which excite astonishment, hear what a profound modern has said : “ Not seldom the very majesty of the principle makes its sallies appear more extravagant; the higher the tree of virtue rises, the wider will be the range of its oscillations : and in this sense is there but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. There is a sportive playfulness in true magnanimity, that, feeling the inadequateness of any earthly raiment, it is well pleased to clothe itself, like the godlike Ulysses, in rags.'
XXII. Sismondi says in one of his works, that in northern countries, or under the tropics, men may fear the Deity, and tremble at the idea of an evil principle. “ Mais devant qui trembleroit-on en Italie,” he continues, “where every thing smiles on man? How should all men's thoughts be directed to another life, when the present is so sweet ?”3 The religion of which we attempt to give an outline, admitted of no such geographical limits : for the heart of man was not formed to be satisfied with even the prospects of Italian landscape. “Where is God whom I love ?" said St. Augustine : “I asked the earth, and it said, I am not him. I asked the sea, and the depths, and the creeping things, and they said, We are not your God.” “ Interrogavi auras flabiles ; et inquit universus aer cum incolis suis : Fallitur Anaximenes, non sum Deus.”4 It is so with every earthly object. Either it perishes, and we lament it; or our taste changes, and it is no longer able to give us pleasure. It is not our God! this is the conclusion of Joseph of Exeter, the poet, who was contemporary of the Paladins, and who had seen life in all its variety, having left the valleys of Devonshire for the Holy Land, where he had experience of war under the walls of Ascalon:
Treatise on the Difference between the Temporal and Eternal book iv. c. x. 2.
3 Guesses at Truth. 3 Hist. des Répub. Ital. tom. vii. p. 4. 4 Confess. x. 6.