Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

and the thirst under the walls of Jerusalem ? Piso could not visit the Academy without thinking that he beheld Plato, Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Polemo. Coloneus recalled to Quintus, Sophocles and Edipus ; he was moved at the sight beyond utterance,

« inanis scilicet, sed commovit tamen.” Cicero, when he came to Metapontus, would not turn to his host till he had beheld the seat of Pythagoras; and Lucius, not content with viewing the place where Demosthenes and Æschines so often contended, could find no rest till he had gone down to the very shore where the great orator of Athens loved to declaim. Nay, the very barbarian has so much of feeling,

Phryx incola manes
Hectoreos calcare vetat

2

And have we nothing but reproach and ridicule for those brave and affectionate men, who went repeating the verse of the Psalmist, “ Adorabimus in loco," or of the prophet, “His sepulchre shall be glorious,” or “Osculabor desideratam meam Hierusalem priusquam moriar;" who wept and worshipped as they entered Palestine,

Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed

For our advantage to the bitter cross; and who devoted themselves to death, thinking only upon Mary and the holy child Jesus, upon the mercy of God and the captivity of Jerusalem ?

“ The Crusades,” says David Hume, are a monument of human folly, and the whole religion of our ancestors was mistaken.” Be it so ; with the Sophist of Glasgow I have no wish to argue, nor will I imitate Cato, who used to press his opinions upon men of every description, and would address the Roman mob as if he were speaking in the Republic of Plato; but thus much I will say even to these revilers, that if man nd had always been imbued with such a philosophy, we should never have possessed the paintings of Raphael, or the poetry of Tasso; we should have essays moral and metaphysical, not the visions of Dante and the Minstrel's Lay ; our creed would be the

i Cicero de Finibus, v. 2.

? Lucan, ix. 976.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

maxims of selfishness, not the religion of chivalry and honour.

It is much to be lamented that the acquaintance of the English reader with the characters and events of the middle ages should, for the most part, be derived from the writings of men, who were either infidels, or who wrote, on every subject connected with religion, with the feelings and opinions of Scotch Presbyterian preachers of the last century; conscientious men no doubt, but certainly not the most enlightened estimators of Christianity or human nature. Nor is it foreign from the original design of the writer of these pages, if he thus endeavours to dissuade his reader from too hastily adopting a general opinion, which in fact throws contempt upon religion, and which dishonours human nature ; an opinion which is unfair, illiberal, and ungenerous ; for it is adopted, partly without having made a due estimate upon the testimony of prejudiced writers, and partly upon detected calumny; for it is founded upon the opinion of our own peculiar age, country, and associates ; for it is wantonly insulting to the memory

of

men, from whom we have inherited every thing that gives Europe a pre-eminence over the rest of the earth, manners, learning, and Christianity.

It is painful to turn back from the holy land without a knowledge of its present condition. Much may be learned from the journeys of the Vis unt Cha

and to Jerusalem. The description which he gives of his being admitted to the order of the Holy Sepulchre is full of interest. The knights only exist in Poland and in Spain : formerly they enjoyed great privileges; their luggage was not examined at the frontiers, and they paid no duties provided the cross of their order was upon each article. În the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, the spurs and the sword of Godefrey de Bouillon are still preserved. In Palestine are many traces of the Crusaders. In St. John of Acre, Sandys saw the ruins of a palace, founded by King Richard, as shewn by the lion passant. Here are also the ruins of the Church of St. John, the tutelar saint of the city in the time of the Knight Templars, who changed its name from Ptolemais to St. John d Acre.

On a hill near Acre is an old castle, probably of the knights of St. John, which Pococke says, is called by the Europeans," the en

chanted Castle.” At Ramla, the ancient Rama, the Arimathea of the New Testament, nine miles from Jaffa, is a Latin Convent of Spanish Monks, founded by Philip the good Duke of Burgundy, and this is now the universal home of Christian travellers. At Lydda are the remains of a very fine church, repaired, if not built, by King Richard. Pococke describes a large ruined building at Ladroun, which our worthy knights called the castle of the good thief, where they say he was born and lived. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was burnt on the 12th of October, 1808. The Protestant Dane Malte-Brun says, in his learned work, Précis de la Géographie Universelle, “a fire has lately destroyed this common sanctuary of Christian nations. The cenotaph which covers the entrance of the tomb has resisted the fall of the burning cupola as if by a miracle.”

V. To engage, however, in the Crusades was but a temporary and incidental duty, arising out of the general and perpetual obligation of cherishing and defending the Catholic religion. To this feature of the Christian chivalry we must now direct our attention.

« Deus unus est, et Christus unus, et una Ecclesia, et Cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata. Aliud altare constitui, aut Sacerdotium novum fieri præter unum altare, et unum Sacerdotium non potest. Quisquis alibi collegerit spargit. Nemo filios Ecclesiæ de Ecclesia tollat. Per. eant sibi soli, qui perire voluerunt. Vitate lupos, qui oves a pastore secernunt : vitate linguam diaboli venenatam, qui ab initio mundi fallax semper et mendax mentitur, ut fallat ; blanditur, ut noceat; bonum promittit, ut malum tribuat; vitam pollicetur, ut perimat. This is what St. Cyprian said.' And St. Irenæus says, in the apostolic age, “ The Church which is propagated over all nations preserves the faith of Christ with the greatest care : though various languages are spoken in the world, yet the language of tradition is every where one and the same. The doctrine of faith which is taught and believed in the churches that are founded in Germany, is not different from that which is taught and believed in the churches which are established in Spain, or in Gaul, or in the East, or in Egypt, or in Libya, or in the interior parts of the

| Epist. xliii.

Continent. But as one and the same sun enlightens the whole earth, so does one and the same faith shine on the whole Church, and offer the same heavenly light to all who are desirous of coming to the knowledge of the truth.”

The title, however, of the very work from which these words are taken, will shew that, even in that early agein fact, even in the time of the Apostles2—the Church had to contend with various bodies of men calling themselves Christians, and even reformed pure Christians, who nevertheless abandoned and denied the essential doctrines of the faith taught by Christ and his Apostles. Simon Magus, who denied the freedom of the human will ; Novatian, who opposed the Roman pontiff, and would have abolished the sacraments of penance and confirmation ; the Persian Manes; Ærius, who condemned prayer for the dead and the distinction of episcopacy; Ætius, who held that faith alone is requisite for salvation ; Vigilantius, who condemned the invocation of saints ; Berenger, who denied the doctrine of the blessed Eucharist; a number of persons, such as Macedonius, Pelagius, Nestorius, Eutyches, the Monothelites, the Iconoclasts—until we come to the men who caused the great tragedy of modern times, may be cited as examples.

It is an historical fact, that among these sects the good feelings and affections of nature were weakened ; and a most deplorable indifference to the great laws of morality accompanied their fanatical appeal to the text of Scripture : but these sophisms of the passions were calculated in the highest degree to mislead men. It is peculiarly with regard to these that the lines of Menander are just :

το ψεύδος ισχύν της αληθείας έχει

ενίοτε μείζω, και πιθανωτέραν όχλου. Theodota boasted to Socrates that she was able to draw off all his disciples to herself. “ That may well be,” he replied, “ for you lead them down an easy descent; but I am for forcing them to mount to virtue—an arduous ascent, and unknown to most men.”3 He who appeals to the pride of reason, to the love of independence, and to the

I Cont. Hæres. lib. i. c. 3.
2 Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. ii. 54.
3 Ælian. Var. Hist. xiii. 32.

vulgar sense of men guided more by consequences than by reason, may have equal hopes of success.

Were it not for our belief in the doctrine of Divine assistance to the human mind, the numbers of men who embrace the Catholic faith would be sufficient to convince many lovers of wisdom that it could not be the truth. It is a remarkable fact respecting these successive seceders from the Church, that the enemies of the Christian name have always favoured them. The Mahometans protected all the heretics of the East, and only persecuted the Catholics. On the other hand, the seceders have in every age been inclined to join the common enemies of Christianity. The Hungarians, who invited the Turks to invade Vienna, were more inhuman to the Catholic

army

under Sobieski than the Mahometans. Men of thought and learning have found no difficulty in reconciling the fact of these deplorable divisions with the truth of religion and the providence of God. “I declare,” says Louis of Grenada, “so far am I from being astonished that the just Judge has permitted so great a portion of Christian people to lose their faith, that I return Him thanks for what remains sound, amidst such a general corruption of manners." He alludes to the beginning of the 16th century. At this time brother Thomas, of the order of St. Francis, who was called “the holy man,” went about preaching penance, and predicting evils from the horrible wickedness

These divisions were foretold by the holy Apostles ; and they are, after all, subservient to important ends. “ Were these men within the Church,” says St. Augustine, 3 “they would no less err; and, being without, they serve to stir up many servants of God in the Catholic Church.” They furnish arguments for the faith ; because a man may ascend, step by step, doctrine after doctrine, to the very crown and perfection of the Catholic religion ; and have under his feet, at every step and for every doctrine, the authority of some heretical writer. And Fleury remarks, that the Catholic religion, existing in the North under the wearying and disgusting system of persecution to which it is exposed, and wholly unprotected by the temporal power, affords of itself a proof of its divine nature.

1 See the Letters of John Sobieski.
2 Catechism, part iv. dial. xiii. 3 De Vera Religione.

of the age.

« PoprzedniaDalej »