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decline and fall of the great Church of Ephesus. Rapid growth and rapid extinction! Intolerance of error guarantees no permanence if, as in Ephesus, it be unconnected with active love. We need ourselves to repeat this maxim to ourselves. The crying necessity of a re-establishment of brotherhoods among ourselves is becoming every day more confessed; the literature of monasticism is daily engrossing more and more attention. Within a few years, the life of S. Bernard has been twice reviewed in the Christian Remembrancer, the writers in both cases rivalling one another in their expression of reverential admiration. We are therefore all the more anxious to affirm late and early that the religious life—since so we must call it to be brief-offers no escape from the world, no indulgence of favourite aims, no salvation and perfection of self. It is a calling : a calling to labour for others while secured in the possession of a more uninterrupted converse with Jesus ; a calling for each to become, if so needed, åváleua from Christ for the brethren. And as there is no land to which, by the very conditions of its social life, the monastic institutions are more congenial, no land where the institution has trained nobler saints, and produced greater and more glorious and more Church-wide fruits, so is there no land under the sun where such helps' and ministrations,' as brotherhoods and sisterhoods can render to the regular ministry of the Church, are more needed. For, cursed with the double curse of unsanctified wealth and a secular control of the truth, this empire contains within itself such a mass of utter moral and social degradation as never yet perhaps in all the centuries of human life lay so close to, or came into ghastlier contrast with, a wealthy and a vaulting Pharisaism. With all our loud cant about illumination, progress, and religious freedom, or perhaps because of it, the morality of our population and the chastity of our women set us low in the catalogue of European States. Like Spain, when all the Western world was hers-like Venice, that Tyre of the waters, ere she fell - England is rich, but rotten in much of her social structure. Aids are needed on all hands to rescue the foundering nation. We shall need these institutions as time goes on more and more. They belong to our Church; they will endear her more than ever to the people. It was on the eve of great troubles that, for the last time, we meet with the account of a religious house founded in our Reformed
'In 1633 Charles I. in bis progress to Scotland to be crowned, went to see a Protestant nunnery at Gedding Parva, near Stilton, in Huntingdonshire, instituted and appointed by Mrs. Farrar, a widow of eighty years of age, who
1 See some very admirable remarks in Archbishop Trench's 'Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches,' pp. 77–79.
said that she bad bidden adieu to all fears and hopes in this world, and only desired to love God. In this house none were permitted to remain who would not. devote themselves to prayers at certain hours, and eat and drink by
Within her chapel was a rich altar, crucifix, and wax candles; and before the reading of prayers they bowed thrice to the altar as they went up and came down. They were at liberty to use any vocation within the house -binding books, or teaching scholars.” 1
May a voice go forth from this and a thousand other desolated sanctuaries to the Church of the land, calling on priests and people to build up the waste places in her defences, and repair the breaches of many generations.
The remarks which we have made hitherto have not been thrown out at random. They are intended to bear not only on the prospects of a restoration of conventual life among ourselves, but also on the work which is more particularly under review. Count Montalembert is no stranger, however opposed he may be, to the teaching and the feeling of the English Church. His large acquaintance with the literature of England will justify us in his mind when we affirm that all the great literature of England is full to overflowing of high and beautiful eulogiums on the monastic order. The gentle satire of Chaucer is directed against what we feel to be exceptional, and may be compared to the still more chaste and delicate raillery directed against the clergy of to-day by one who appreciates fully the services of the English Church--we mean Mr. Trollope. But from Spenser, whose devout Hermit, in his little chappelle edified,''could file his tongue as smooth as glass,' and who
* Told of popes and saints ; while evermore
He strewed an “Ave Maria" after and before,' down to the chastest simile of Milton or the sublime comparison of Wordsworth, who speaks of eve's
Holy time as quiet as a nun,
Breathless with adoration,' English literature, with a remarkable consent, speaks in admiring phrase of the monastic profession. In the universal
. life of all Shakespeare's dramas, what reverence is paid to monk and nun ! Rare Ben Jonson, in words quoted by our author, says, Protestant as he was, of those whom Wordsworth calls doers of disinterested good,'.I never read of a hermit but in
imagination I kiss his feet; never of a monastery, but I fall on 'my knees and kiss the pavement.' With an English training,
1 Fosbrooke, p. 298. In 1696, the learned Mary Astell projected the founding of a sisterhood for the purpose of a school, and as an asylum for the unfortunate. Because assimilated to conventual institutions, the design was overthrown by Bishop Burnet.
or at all events whatever the training, our author is fully acquainted with English literature; with his knowledge of that, and, if he ever knew anything of English history, with his knowledge of the prominent part taken by monks and religious in the political events of this country until with the heavenlyminded Matthew d'Oviedo—that saintly disseminator of shot and powder, and the ill-advising adviser of James II. - professed persons vanished, as such, from the higher political circles of English life; that with such knowledge as this, he should have been so wholly ignorant, as he represents himself, of what a monk was, is altogether surprising. And yet an Englishman, in a little work which still has, whatever its merits, a place in English literature, has sketched a monk with a pencil which affects, at least here, with success a reverential grace; and the enthusiasm of Count Montalembert, in street or solitude has never met, we venture to declare, a more devotional presence, a more pure and unearthly recluse, than the Guido-headed monk of the Sentimental Journey.'1 But Count Montalembert says:
'Some years ago, who understood what a monk really was ? For myself, I had no doubt on the subject when I commenced this work. I believed that I knew something which approached to the idea of a saint-to that of the Church; but I bad not the least notion of wbat a monk might be, or of the monastic order. I was like my time [French time). In all the course of my education, domestic or public, no one, not even among those who were specially charged to teach me religion and history, no one considered it necessary to give me the least conception of the religious orders. Thirty years had scarcely passed since their ruin; and already they were treated as a lost species, of wbom fossil bones reappeared from time to time, exciting curiosity or repugnance, but who had no longer a place in history among the living. The first time that I saw the dress of a monk-must I confess it ?- was on the boards of a theatre, in one of those ignoble parodies a which hold too often, among modern nations, the place of the pomps and solemnities of religion. Some years later I encountered, for the first time, a real monk ; it was at the foot of the Grande Chartreuse, at the entrance of that wild gorge, on the brink of that bounding torrent, which no one can ever forget who has once visited that celebrated solitude. I knew nothing then of the services or of the glories which that despised cowl ought to have recalled to the least instructed Christian; but I remember still the surprise and emotion into which that image of a vanished world threw my heart. To-day, even after so many emotions, so many different contests, so many labours, which have revealed to me the immortal grandeur of the part taken by the religious orders in the Church, this recollection survives, and steals over me with infinite sweetness. How much I wish that this book may leave a similar impression upon those who encounter it on their way, and inspire some, not only with respect for that vanquished grandeur, but with the desire to study it, and the duty of rendering to it justice.'— Vol. i. p. 11.
1 The extravagant Protestantism of a later literature has been thoroughly imbued with Rabelaisian sentiment on this topic.
2 And yet the legitimate descendants of the mystery lays.
By all means let justice be done, but it must be borne in mind that the sober ends of Christian edification, for which such a work as the present was surely written, requires us to turn aside from all melodramatic views of the theme, and control those flights of the imagination which are sure to be stimulated in every responsive reader by narratives of heroical saintliness as remarkable as they are occasional. For this is the striking point. It is all the more needful for us to distinguish between an institution recognised by Scripture and venerable by the loftiest associations, and man's use of that institution-a use which, judging from the results, must have been all along very much of an abuse, if a system so powerful, and reckoning so large a body of followers, nevertheless has elevated to an historical position so very few, and of these few many who owed, like Athanasius, their eminence to an original genius, and with whom the professed life was of the nature of an accident. Putting aside, however, for the present this train of thought, let us say that we have in the above extract an account of the conception of a very valuable work, which, taken in hand after an interval of twenty years since his (the author's) publication of the life of S. Elizabeth, he now has resumed, at the request of Pio Nono, and reverentially dedicates to him. As yet only three volumes have been published, but the whole work will embrace, the period from S. Benedict to S. Bernard, who, as a public man, by consent of all "takes rank besides Ximenes, Richelieu, and Bossuet-(we would have thought, far higher rank)—but who owed his renown to the labours of Gregory VII., the monk-pontiff, who died six years before the birth of S. Bernard. The volumes which have been published contain an Introduction of 280 pages, an account of the Roman empire after the peace of the Church, and of the monastic precursors in the East and West. The history of S. Benedict and of S. Gregory the Great is followed by an account of the monks under the first Merovingians, and this sketch is followed by an account of S. Columbanus and the Irish in Gaul. A discussion of the Christian origin of the British Isles is succeeded by a review of the life and labours of S. Columba and S. Augustine. As the monastic history of four or five centuries remains to be narrated, we may hope at some future day to resume the consideration of so important a work.
We gladly abandon ourselves thenceforward to the fervent and pious guidance of Count Montalembert. We cannot name
more seasonable work. At a time when the ill-directed criticism of our day is devoted to whitening the sepulchres of long-departed scoundrelism, we may well discharge a debt of justice and honour, and ere it is too late, do homage to a most
cruelly and unjustly discredited institution. We have been so full of the quickly-developed vices of the religious orders, that we have not been capable of acknowledging, or indeed, even considering the other side of the picture. It is evidently with a heart keenly alive to the interest of the subject, 'a heart of which, touchingly and truly, he says that it is younger than its age,' that our author takes up his pen to write the panegyric, but he disdains this of the monks. He even presses into his service no less remarkable a person than Ernest Renan, whose words'it is certain that in losing the institution of monastic life, the human mind has lost a great school of originality,' he employs to corroborate his statements in the text :
*The distinctive characteristic, which shines from all the series of great monastic creations and existences, and which I desire to exhibit before my readers, is strength; not that strength which man las in common with animals; not that material strength which demoralises the world with its contemptible triumphs; not that external strength, the dangerous help of which is invoked too often by blind and cowardly Christians; not that strength which consists in imposing on others one's own convictions and interests ; but that which signifies the discipline of self, the power of ruling, of restraining, of subduing rebellious nature--that strength which is a cardinal virtue, and which overcomes the world by courage and sacrifice. I do not hesitate to affirm that the monks, the true monks of the great age of the Church, are the representatives of manhood under its most pure and energetic form-of manhood, intellectual and moral—of manhood, in some manner condensed by celibacy, protesting against all vulgarity and baseness, condemning itself to efforts more great, sustained and profound than are exacted by any worldly career, and by this means making of earth only a stepping-stone to heaven and of life but a long series of victories.'—Vol. i. p. 27.
Herewith Connt Montalembert further testifies that the monks illustrated this moral vigour by a remarkable freedom from anything servile and sycophantish. And they never failed to cultivate the natural virtues side by side with the spiritual graces. Thus Monachism supplied, as our author words it, a 'school of true courage, true freedom, true dignity;' and he then proceeds to pass a touching eulogium on the genius and sanctity of Lacordaire,
a and to consider the services rendered to Christianity by the monks. No such charity has ever been practised as the organized almsgiving by the monks. And if he who lives under the dispensation of a poor-law providence thinks this a better system, and the
a highest result of the benevolent inventiveness of our age, he must admit that recent disclosures have not been reassuring in this direction. Anyhow, there is something fit in the administration of alms by religious persons; and it is well to have so important an undertaking presided over by those who do not measure by the left hand what the right hand giveth. But the necessity of continued intercession for the whole Body of God, admits of no dispute; and intercessory prayer was beyond any question