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Heu, heu quam tenui nutant mortalia filo!
fallit casus; si forma, senectus;
Si tibi res,
Fame and honour cannot stand the trial of St. Augustine's question. Many thousand years are past,
says Nieremberg, “ and no man knew thee, and of those who shall be born hereafter few will remember thee; and although thou remainest in the memory of those, yet they also in the end must die, and with them thine and their own memory must perish, and thou shalt, as before thou wert, continue a whole eternity, without being known or celebrated by any." How the heart shrinks from such solitude! Fame and honour are not our God! Shall we say that friendship has a higher claim? Let us first reply to the question of Aristotle : “In those friendships formed from early youth; if one should continue a boy in mind and disposition (that is, should retain the simplicity of youth), and the other should become a famous man (engrossed with the world, and with the cares of a political or ambitious life), how can they continue to be friends, who neither admire nor love the same things ?”?2 Alas! What can we reply to this question? What remains, but that we cry out with St. Augustine, “ Tu fecisti nos ad Te, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in Te.”3
The beauty of nature, which seemed to Sismondi sufficient to induce an indifference to a future state, was regarded by the heathen philosopher as calculated to encourage the soul in its hopes of beholding more perfect beauty. “ Hæc enim pulcritudo etiam in terris patriam illam et avitam, ut ait Theophrastus, philosophiam, cognitionis cupiditate incensam, excitavit. Præcipue vero fruentur ea, qui tum etiam, cum has terras incolentes, circumfusi erant caligine, tamen acie mentis dispicere cupiebant. Etenim si nunc aliquid assequi se putant, qui ostium ponti viderunt, et eas angustias, per quas penetravit ea, quæ est nominata,
| De Bello Trojano, lib. v. 511.
3 Confess. i. l.
Argo, quia Argivi in ea, delecti viri,
Vecti, petebant pellem inauratam arietis : aut ii, qui Oceani freta illa viderunt,
Europam Libyamque rapax ubi dividit unda : quod tandem spectáculum fore putamus, cum totam terram contueri licebit, ejusque cum situm, formam, circumscriptionem, tum et habitabiles regiones, et rursum omni cultu propter vim frigoris aut caloris vacantes ?”] The philosophers of the church likewise taught men to derive heavenly wisdom, and peace, and hopes, from beholding all that was beautiful and admirable on the earth and in nature. William of Paris calls the Word incarnate, “ Facies ultimæ pulchritudinis." St. Thomas Aquinas says, “ The great diversity of creatures in all the order of the world hath no other aim but to represent the Divinity by some image whatsoever : and insomuch as the sovereign essence is infinite, it was expedient to produce many things, that the one might supply the other's defects, and all conspire to express some character of divine perfections, so that God beholdeth himself figured in the variety of beauties which fill earth and heaven.” Caussin applies this : “Would you behold God? observe these exquisite flowers, these waves which curl on the current of rivers, these gentle western blasts which bear comfort and health on their wings; these vast seas, that immense extent of plains, these snow-capt mountains, all that is seen, all that is heard, cease not to recount to us the love of our Father.”2 When men loved God, “ they did not love beauty of person, nor the loveliness of the seasons, nor the splendour of light; they did not love the melody of the voice, por the sweet smell of flowers or perfumes; they did not love delicacy of taste, nor any thing which was subjected to the senses : but when they loved God, they loved a beauty and a loveliness far exceeding all that mortal eyes ever beheld, a light more powerful than all light, a voice surpassing every voice, a sweetness passing all sweetness.” So Albertus Magnus says of the vision of God: "it shall be music to the ear, sweetness to the taste, balsam to the smell, flowers to the touch. There shall be the clear light of summer, the pleasantness of the
i Cicero, Tuscul. i. 20. ? Holy Court, 552.
spring, the abundance of autumn, and the repose of winter."! “If men should give to one person,” says Eusebius Nieremberg, “all the wisdom of Solomon, all the sciences of Plato and Aristotle, all the strength of Aristomenes and Milo, all the beauty of Paris and Adonis, it would have no comparison to the delight which will be enjoyed in seeing God. In him will be found all the richness of gold, the delightfulness of the meadows, the sweet refreshment of the limpid stream, the brightness of the sun, the beauty of the heavens, the fragrance of the rose, all that can be admired and enjoyed. Every one shall then rejoice as much in the felicity of another as in his own ineffable joy, and shall possess as many joys as he shall find companions." So that while even the presence of God on earth was but to lead men to a love of things invisible, as St. Thomas Aquinas says in the divine prayer of the church, “ut dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur,” all visible objects of beauty were to direct the mind to its Creator and its future destiny.
“ Specta mare,” says St. Ambrose, “terram circumspice, ut opere facta divino omnis creatura te pascat. Quæ formarum gratia in ipsis bestiis ! quantus decor in hominibus ! quanta in avibus pulchritudo ! hæc intuere, et non videbis iniquitatem.” So says St. Augustine : “qui fecit omnia, melior est omnibus, pulcrior est omnibus. Quicquid amaveris, ille tibi erit. Disce amare in creatura Creatorem, et in factura factorem, ne teneat te quod ab illo factum est, et amittas eum a quo et ipse factus es. “Quis ornavit cælum sideribus,” says another great divine, lucribus, aquam piscibus, terram plantis et floribus ? Quid sunt hæc omnia, nisi Dei pulcritudinis modica scintilla ?”'3 So when Lewis of Grenada is describing the change which takes place in the views which men entertain of the natural world when they have been converted to a life of piety, he says, "they see all things now with other eyes, and they feel such motions and changes within as are strong proofs of every article of faith. If the nights are clear, with their eyes cast up to heaven they admire its beauty and the brightness of the moon and stars, considering them quite differently from what they used to do, and
! In Comp. Theol. 1. vii. c. 7.
3 S. Bonaventura, i. in Soliloq.
much more cheerfully; they look on them as so many mirrors of his glory, as so many messengers that come to bring them news of him, and they think upon those noble troops of saints who are more bright and glorious than the stars of heaven.” As Plato saith, “ The love which we have here below is as a remembrance of the first fair sovereign, and most pure of all beauties, which is the Divinity. Our soul,” continues Caussin, “ hath a generous passion towards him, unless it be infected by the breath of the serpent, and obstructed by vapours of sensuality; it seeks for him ; it speaks to him in all creatures; it beholdeth him in all the beautiful objects of nature; but it often falleth out that it forgetteth the workman in admiring his workmanship; it takes the shadow for the body; it feeleth there is some invisible hand which shoots arrows at it amidst the vermilion of roses and the whiteness of lilies. Oh, how attractive is beauty! Oh, should it on a sudden be seen without the veil, the whole world, in an instant, would dissolve under its adorable rays. It is so naturally imprinted on the heart of man, that hell itself cannot forThe evil rich man did from thence lift
his to heaven, as desirous to look for the lovely face which he had eternally lost.' “ Hæc est plena beatitudo, et tota glorificatio hominis, videre faciem Dei sui, videre eum qui fecit cælum et terram, videre eum qui fecit eum, qui salvavit eum, et qui glorificavit eum.” In this consists all the everlasting glory of the happy. Holy men were even permitted to enjoy a foretaste of this bliss while on earth. Hear St. John Damascene. “St. Josephat being in pro. found prayer, prostrate upon the earth, was overtaken with a sweet sleep, in which he saw two men of grave demeanour, who carried him through many unknown countries to a field full of flowers and plants of rare beauty, laden with fruit never before seen. The leaves of the trees moved with a soft and gentle wind, yielded a pleasant sound, and breathed forth a most sweet odour ; there were placed many seats of gold and precious stones, and a little brook of crystal water refreshed the air, and pleased the sight with a most agreeable variety. From thence he was brought into a most beautiful city, whose walls, towers,
| Holy Court.
2 St. August. Solilo. C. xxxvi.
and battlements, were of gold. The streets and squares shone with beams of celestial light, and there passed up and down bright armies of angels and seraphims, chanting such songs as were never heard by mortal ears." This was a shadow of heaven. Surius writes in the life of St. Nicholas Tolentine, that for six months before his death, he heard every night, a little before matins, most melodious music of angels, in which he had a taste of that sweetness which God had prepared for him in his glory; and such joy and comfort did he receive from hearing it, that he was wholly transported, desiring nothing more than to be freed from his body to enjoy it." From all this it appears how sublime and full of present happiness was the system of religion to which chivalry owed its elevation. Notwithstanding the awful solemnity of its doctrines, it was clothed in all the lovely and engaging colours that could attract the eye of man; and though productive of a soft and gentle tone of melancholy, there was nothing of horror or despondency in its nature. It was a theology which, while it trained René d'Anjou to be the father of his people, fostered the muse of Dante, and yielded those beautiful fruits which entitled the pages of Lewis of Grenada to be ranked among the prime glories of the literature of Spain. Theology with the moderns assumes the character of a dry and uninviting study, synonymous with whatever is most repugnant to the aspirations and sentiments of the young; but in the schools of our ancestors it introduced men to a beautiful and happy world, where the imagination enjoyed sublime visions, and where the heart found rest. The Church invited men to approach to the altar of God, to God who gave joy to their youth ; for even before the cross the Psalmist had said, “ Memor fui Dei, et delectatus sum. Hence a Christian orator concludes, after speaking on the dignity and excellence of theological study, “O hebetes et stupidos, aut, ut verius dicam, miseros et perditos, si qui harum rerum suavitatem fructumque non sentiunt : contra vero, ô ter et quater beatos illos quorum ita est affectus animus, ut nusquam suavius, quam in his studiis conquiescat ; non eos aut inanium dignitatum, aut fluxarum opum adurit sitis; non eos voluptatum illecebræ molliunt: liberi et pravis omnibus cupiditatibus soluti, ex illo perenni puteo aquam