Imágenes de páginas

At a

know of till the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. But a machinery so vast, so venerable and sublime, has done nothing compared with what it might have done. And we trace the failure to that one primal blemish in the whole system as carried out,--the abandonment of the Evangelization of society, in order to the pursuit of individual perfection. We had an instance of this in the case of the Saint who fled from the wilds of Scotland, to seek in Iceland or elsewhere some deeper solitude, some waste less likely to be violated by the presence of humanity. Temporary retirement, as that of S. Paul's three years' withdrawal into Arabia, is intelligible, and authorised by the example of that Apostle. On the other hand, the hermit of Mount Carmel was not allowed to spend much time in self-communings. To all the saintly solitaries we have read of, we put the same divine query, What doest thou here? So, too, when the Prince of the Apostles proposed erecting three tabernacles on Tabor, he wist not what he said. There is yet another circumstance to which probably the failure of the monastic institution may be in some measure traced. And this again is suggested to us, by the consideration of the Lord and his Apostles. We refer now to the large numbers in one house and their stationariness. time when Protestant communities and countries are counterfeiting in one way or other the monastic system, it is surely not out of place for us to consider under what altered circumstances, while we preserve the grand unchangeable outlines, the system may be restored among ourselves. That re-establishment we declare is indispensable for the following reasons :

1. In the first place, the spiritual life of society has become feeble, almost to utter extinction. Ecclesiastical responsibilities

, are too much lost sight of amid the claims of temporal rank, and in clerical life the scholar and the gentleman is more sought after than the priest. With no higher standard of holiness and duty held before them than we are all familiar with, it cannot be a matter of surprise if Church and world both become daily more corrupt. Society and the Church need to be shown, even if they will not imitate, true self-denial; they must be taught what it is to endure hardness. It is in the fearful sense of the extreme spiritual danger which surrounds us, that for the regeneration of our own common life we may ask for the revival of the monastic institute. We need for one another the ceaseless prayer; the intercession that knows no break, like that of Christ Himself in heaven.

2. It is no less obvious that we need this machinery for the recovery and evangelization of our own nation. We are not insensible to the fact that the Church is awakening from the


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

long stupor, and is bestirring herself with an honest effort to strengthen the things that remain. But with the one instrument for all needs, with the ministry alone, she cannot cope with the utterly demoralized aud dangerous classes. Neither the Lombard nor the Othman ever presented a more formidable antagonism to the Gospel of Christ, than those multitudes among us familiar all their lives with systematic violence, and now familiarly recognised as an order, 'the roughs;' multitudes whose overacute intelligence leads them to identify religion and property, and to regard both with undiscriminating hatred. Will Sunday prayers, and grammatical sermons, and monthly communions, and night-schools, proclaim adequately our horror and dismay that such things as Sheffield clubs should be ? Will these decorous forms of a passionless and trivial piety avail to mitigate the just wrath of Heaven, and avert the sore malediction of God descending on us, or breaking out upon us in more grievous developments of social disorganization? The Church must draw upon her own resources; she must call forth again into action those powers which are or have become extraordinary only through her own negligence, through her own loss of all practical faith in her own nature and office. None of the monastic saints (to differ for the last time from the author under review) have ever done anything to rectify the great ecclesiastical troubles of the world, however they may have added to them. In the schism of East an West, when the Latin capture of Constantinople overwhelmed the Western Church with well-merited infamy; in the great Teutonic revolution they rendered no service to the Church; but they did what they were called to do, they Christianized and refined the masses, and they impregnated every household idea with a religious grace. We want brotherhoods to be restored for that real work which they are fitted to do: the great Christly work of recovering fellow-man; other charitable ends may be reached. Among such devout laymen, where better could our worn-out priests utilize to the last their waning strength ?

3. But there is yet a further consideration. Beyond any doubt, the work we have been reviewing demonstrates that the true method of conducting missionary enterprises is by means of the monastic system. The humiliating and distressing history of our labours as missionaries, proves that we must, at the very beginning, have failed to grasp the true method of preaching Christ. Universal failure! no miracle of grace is wrought, for we have ceased to believe in miracles. We are more than conquerors in all the arts which flourished in the family of Cain ; and we have utterly failed in all our attempts as administrators of the Holy Ghost. In all the places where we are proclaiming the mercies of the Cross, we have not as yet succeeded in raising

[ocr errors]


up a native ministry. The Lord's hand is not shortened, but man’s is. The mission which is pausing at Zanzibar, is indeed a blow struck in the right way. But how can it succeed, if it is not enforced by the teaching at home, by such an earnest preaching of the religious life at our universities and elsewhere, as will kindle a divine enthusiasm among all ages ? which will substitute for the miserable fanaticism of a Calvinistical conversion, the Divine vocation to the higher life—not to the bland routine of clerical decorums, but to the grand self-sacrifices of religion. This, in fact, is the definite issue to which we are brought. Society impatient of, or insensible to, the supernatural office of prophesying, rails daily more and more against the pulpit. One way of remedying this will, we think, be found in the fuller preaching of the whole doctrine of sanctification ; while this will at the same time lead to many taking up the cross, and striving in their lay station to devote themselves to the saving of souls. Every class of society at this very time is overstocked; and an united effort, duly and formally made, would not fail to meet a large and generous response. Of course everything depends on the way in which the call is made, and by whom. That call should be uttered by the high authority of the successor of S. Augustine, the Papa alterius orbis. Speaking in this capacity, the Church of England will not call in vain.

But it will be asked, what grounds have we to justify so sanguine an expectation ? It would be enough to reply, Our Faith in God the Holy Ghost immanent in the Anglican communion. But there are more special answers. The problem has been to some extent worked out after another method by John Wesley, who appropriating to his own undertaking all the lay religious machinery of the Church of England--a machinery lost through Episcopal mismanagement, and never replaced by any exercise of Episcopal zeal-has established triumphantly throughout the Empire a system of helps, which if scarcely patient of the designation of semi-monastical, exercise a kindred influence on the land. Finally, the failure of an attempt made in our own day has a distinct value as regards the future. Of the causes of the failure it is, perhaps, less easy to speak. We ascribe the temporary ill success to these two causes. In the first place, the attempt seems to have been made without any previous effort to reconcile bishop and clergy to its adoption. No labour seems to have been bestowed, and it might well have been the labour of years, in conciliating for it the charitable regards of the clergy and bishop of the diocese. It was, therefore, unsupported by that authority which S. Ignatius requires Christians to seek in their undertakings from bishop and presbyters. No prejudices, personal or official, can very long with

done so.

stand the persuasions and reasonings of uncalculating and enthusiastic piety. The other cause of partial failure we are less free to discuss for many reasons. What concerns the personal aspect of the case we decline to enter upon. But to state it in brief, we think the introduction of the rule of S. Benedict, pure and simple, in all its ancient and unmitigated austerity, a mistake. We say this, not because society is among us what it is, not because the Church is grievously secularized, but because we venture to think even S. Benedict himself would not have

Wide as the divergence was between the religious life, as regulated by the great founder, and the secular life of his day, the divergence between his rule and that of society now is, to say the least, twice as great. Therefore, as the rule of S. Columbanus yielded to that of S. Benedict, on the same principle we plead now for a milder rule, at least at the outset; leaving it a voluntary thing, the eventual adoption of a stricter rule when felt necesary. Thus re-organized, with permission only for occasional and those short retreats, we believe that the monastic institution, in some new development, might again become the fruitful source of incalculable benefit to this Church and nation,

In the Book of Common Prayer, which has done so much towards the building up the national character, we have preserved the names of Athanasius, of Augustine, and of Jerome; we have preserved the name and invocation of the great Chrysostom; we have adopted the prayer and we delight in the use of that music for which we are indebted to the piety and genius of the greatest of all the successors of St. Peter. Yet it was Athanasius who introduced monachism into the West; it was Augustine who at a moment, alas, too late! be we warned-introduced it into Africa; it was Jerome who preached and restored it in the desert retreats of Syria ; Chrysostom was its panegyrist; Gregory was trained in it. Christian England is the harvest of the prayers, , and love, and labours, of the Benedictines. Surely, now if ever this English Church may look for some fruit of her growth. Blade-time and ear-time are passed. What the earth bringeth forth of herself has now surely reached the 'full corn in the ear.'


[ocr errors]

ART. II.-1. Merope. A Tragedy. By MATTHEW ARNOLD. .

. Longmans. 1858. 2. Atalanta in Calydon. A Tragedy. By ALGERNON CHARLES

SWINBURNE. J. C. Hotten. 1866. 3. Philoctetes. A Metrical Drama. By M. A. A. W. Bennett. .

1866. 4. Orestes. A Metrical Drama. By W. LANCASTER, M.A.

Author of Philoctetes. A. W. Bennett. 1867. 5. The Sorrows of Hypsipyle. By THOMAS ASHE. Bell and

Daldy. 1867. 6. Prometheus Unbound. A Tragedy. By GEORGE AUGUSTUS

Simcox, M.A. Smith and Elder. ' 1867. The most natural account to be given of the origin of those imitations of Greek classical dramas which within the last ten years have become a fashion, and as far as one can see are likely to remain so, is that they represent the reaction after a surfeit of the extravagant school of poetry immediately preceding. Without transgressing the excellent rule, 'De mortuis,' &c. we may be allowed to hold that the ‘Life Drama' of Mr. Alexander Smith's early muse, and the kindred poems which provoked Aytoun's clever skit Firmilian,' were, as a class, so full of the fantastical, the extravagant, the unwholesome, and the obtrusively introspective, as to necessitate, sooner or later, a reactionary school, and a creed as to poetry as opposite as possible. If the public taste ever really clave to such ill-regulated, undisciplined outpourings of a muse, which was then only eloquent when it was analysing its own multiform sensations and feelings, or, for variety, soaring up to ether to show its familiarity with cracking stars, with cloud-concussions, and firmament-rendings, - the sure way to unteach it, and to win it back to wholesome tastes and predilections, was a course of poetry à la Grecque. The rich mythology and legend lore of Hellas was a quarry still only known in part, a mine still very far from being exhausted. And, happily, there survived from elder days splendid and exact examples of the manner in which ancient poets had treated the wealth thence derived, so that there was no overwhelming hazard of failure, through lack of pattern, to any enterprising moderns. The rules, the unities, the self-restraint, the subserviency to a general fitness of the whole and the parts of a Greek play, might naturally occur to a poetic spirit chafing at the mean uses to which poetry was being degraded, and desiring to purge his art

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »