Immagini della pagina



the Son of God were found unavailing, velopment-one to be determined, as but yet whose release might be procured to its religious tendercies and its influby the intercession of the living ; Mari- upon civilization, by the traditionolatry, with its subtle and impassioned al system of faith which had grown up sentiment, which made the mother cf since the beginning of the fourth cenJesus the Queen of Heaven, and found tury, while the other would rest upon in her qualities eficacious for interces- the more primitive system revived by sion which it refused to find in her Protestantism. These two planes could divine Son, and sometimes even pic- never meet or become identical. The tured her as mediating between sinners chasm which had been opened could and an angry Christ; priestly celibacy, only be closed by the absolute surrender resulting in gross immoralities among of one system or of the other. the clergy, and, therefore, of necessity, Now, the Ritualists, looking upon in universal laxity of morals; monasti- this wide gulf between the churches, cism, which, reviving the asceticism of and seeing that it is ever growing the heathen, developed a morbid and wider, propose to bridge it over. This unwholesome habit of life; the immu- desire for the unity of the Christian nities granted to religious orders ; the Brotherhood upon earth is noble and intervention in worldly strises of Popes, holy. “It is,” says the Bishop of Glouclaiming to be vicegerents of the Prince cester, “ the desire of loving hearts to of Pence, whose kingdom was “not of bring about, even in this age of divithis world ;” auricular confession, in- sions, that for which our own dear Lord vading the privacy of homes and the so solemnly prayed on the last night sanctity of the individual conscience, that He spent with His apostles, 'That attended by the impious custom of bar- they all might be one even as we are tering indulgences, and almost obliter


Indeed, there are two moveating the scriptural basis of forgivenessments within the English Church for through penitence; the substitution of bringing about this end, but looking in an oblative sacrifice for the memorial exactly opposite directions: as the RitSupper instituted by our Lord-all ualists incline toward Rome, so there is these rested solely upon the authority another party which invites the union of of tradition. To protest against them the several Evangelical Protestant sects. was possible only by the denial of that This latter movement does not come authority. But it was not simply a within the province of the present paper. protest or a denial that was called for; But the union proposed by the Rituthese were negative only; they pulled alists, and notably by Dr. Pusey, in his down, but they involved no reconstruc- Eirenicon, is condemned at the outset tion. The work of the Reformers was (as the Bishop of Oxford has shown, positive; it was a revival of the primi- with characteristic eloquence) by two tive, apostolic faith. Doubtless they considerations: first, that the differpreferred to carry on the movement of ences between the churches of England reform within the church, before whose and of Rome, instead of being (as the altars, if it had been possible, they Ritualists assume) mere misunderstandwould have slain the monstrous imposi- ings, are clear and intelligent contrations of tradition. But this was not dictions; second, that no terms are allowed; they were driven without the possible between the parties, but the pale of the church by the very imposi- absolute surrender of the former to the tions against which they protested, and latter, as of a fallible to an infallible. were compelled to erect a new structure. In the face of this Ritualistic proposiThe schism was complete, leaving ro tion to surrender to Romanism-in the room for compromise. From the mo- face of this protest against Protestantment of separation it became evident ism, the Christian world is challenged to that thenceforth Christianity would a reconsideration of the original point move upon two different planes of de- of departure between the two great

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

systems of faith which for three cen- analytical statements, but as constituturies have divided Christendom. It is ting in one body the great practical ar even challenged to answer the question, gument of Christianity, and its motive“Has Protestantism proved a failure ?” power upon human life—distinguished

The Reformation, as we have said, 'the religion of Christ from all the anintroduced a new basis--a new plane- cient systems of faith, which had no of Christian development. New it was body of doctrine, but were simply a as related to the Papal development; cultus, or religious ritual. If there was but it was in fact as old as Christianity 'wrapped up in this ritual a vague, initself. It overleaped mediæval tradi- structive reference to the idea of an tions and superstitions; it took the atonement, it was not only vague and Christian faith out of the eccentric imperfect in essence, but was never grooves in which it had been wander- evolved from the folds which enwraping for a thousand years, and readjusted ped it like an Egyptian mummy-was it upon the old plane, restoring its har- never developed into form. Doubtless monious revolution about its original it slumbered in the human heart, but it centre. The ecclesiastical historian was never awakened out of that sleep, finds in the reign of Constantine the and its operations upon the pagan life first point of departure from the primi- -operations of which we have some tive faith. Then Christianity was made evidence-were like the motions of a the prevailing religion in the Roman dream, not consciously noted or referred Empire. The communion of the church to their origin. And so as to any other was sought by thousands to satisfy mo- instinctive anticipation which there may tives which were merely worldly. Then have been of the sublime doctrines of there began to be adopted a more splen- Christianity-it was completely disdid ritual; magnificent basilicas were guised by the pagan ritual, was never reared for divine worship; the priests extricated from that ritual into a disbegan to adopt a costly and elaborately tinct argument, and whatever influence symbolic vesture; feast-days were mul- it exercised upon the pagan life must tiplied ; invocations were made to de- have been through the impressiveness parted saints; the germs of Mariolatry of the dramatic ceremonial which inand saint-worship began to be devel- vested it, and which was the beginning, oped; and we find also the beginnings middle, and end of every ancient reli. of the Papal establishment in the grow- gious system. ing eminence of the Bishop of Rome. Thus the early church had a complete

The ante-Constantine church had body of spiritual doctrine. Developclosely followed the evangelical and ment there might be, must be, indeed, apostolic teachings, both as to its doc- just in proportion to the intensity of trines and its cultus, or form of wor- Christian life; but it would be a genship. Our Saviour was not a teach- uine development only in so far as it er of technical theology. We find in proceeded by evolution and not by addithe Gospels only the germs of what is tion. The system was complete and imnow accepted by all evangelical Chris- mutable. Men might change in relation tians as a body of doctrine; we find to it, as the earth changes in its relathere no speculative theses, no formal tions to the sun, effecting by its daily theological statements, but only vitaliz- and yearly revolutions an alternation of ing truth exemplified in Christ's life day and night, of aphelion and periheand sealed by his death-sealed, indeed, lion, but the system—the mighty orb and made applicable to human salva- of spiritual illumination—could not tion by that death in a mysterious change. Obscurity and eclipse there sense, as involving the solution of the might be, but these could not be in it, problem (insoluble by the human intel-' but only in the mind and heart of man. lect) of a sacrificial propitiation for sin. Protestantism undertook to restore All these doctrines-not advanced as this system in its original purity, casting


aside the mediæval superstructure as a onism with the Papal, which had al. false development. The Protestant ready been prefigured in the struggle church, during its period of conflict, was between the apostolic church and pato be the antitype of the Primitive ganism. Papal Rome stood in the place church. Its Christ was the Christ of and performed the functions of imperial that church, all-sufficient for his great Rome; the Popes were the successors work, without external aid ; its Bible of the Cæsars. The persecutions directwas the Bible of that church, and was ed by the latter against tlie primitive also self-sufficing, as the guide to salva- Christians found their counterpart in tion and the rule of life. Its worship those directed by the Papal power was the worship of that church in its against the early Protestants. Pagancharacteristic simplicity and spiritualism withstood the aggression of Chrisfervor. This Christ, standing as sole tianity for centuries, but it only sucmediator between God and man; this ceeded in doing this through a partial Bible, separated from the rubbish of purification of itself, while it still maintraditional interpretation; this worship, tained its radical errors-and even its divested of its material adjuncts, were imperfect reformation was owing to the held up anew before the world. The reflex action upon it of its more spiritright of private judgment was restored ual antagonist.

So, too, Roman Catholto mån. But the Protestant church icism still holds out; and, in order resembled the Primitive not solely as to to prolong the contlict, it has also been its inherent characteristics, but also as compelled to lay aside many of its prejuto what it opposed. It stood face to dices, to wced out many of its superstiface, by an antagonism forced upon it, tions, to abate some of its pretensions, with a system which, for its operation and even to borrow from its antagonist upon men, employed agencies similar to such weapons and ammunition as it those of that paganism with which the could safely handle. apostolic church was brought into con- But does the analogy between the flict.

former and this more recent conflict go When we assert that at the time of no farther ? Paganism fell at length the Reformation the Christian faith had and crumbled to dust under the blows descended in its outward expression to of its adversary. As to the end of this the old level of paganism—that it had modern contest, must we reverse the become submerged under a dramatic analogy, and declare, with the Ritualritual, appealing through its symbolism ists, that Protestantism has proved a to the senses rather than to the mind failure—that with its Christ, its Bible, and heart, we remember, also, that this and a cultus which contents itself with was due mainly to two facts: first, to being a worship in spirit and in truth, the supereminence given by the church its armor is insufficient and its

weapons to temporal interests over spiritual; and, too puny? Must we look upon it as secondly, to the inclusion by the lump the dove which went forth from Noah's (if we may so express it) of semibar- ark, and returned, because it could find barous nations within the arms of the no resting-place in the world of waters ? church, these new-comers demanding a Must we so return to the gates of the more material cultus. Whatever apolo. Holy City, and proclaim a surrender, gy may be rendered, the fact still re- because, outside of the traditional aumains that the church wielded material thority of the church, we can find no rather than spiritual weapons, and that rock for rest and refuge amid a world the sublime argument of evangelical of perturbations ? Christianity had been displaced by an And whence has grown this doubt as elaborate and impressive ceremonial. to the efficiency of Protestantism? It The argument slumbered ; but it was re- is of very recent origin, and is to be awakened by Protestantism. Thus the attributed chiefly to the rapid progress Reformed church entered into an antag- of modern rationalism. Protestantism


led of necessity to a reawakening of the ter of public instruction replies to the human intellect; its growth has been remonstrances of the clerical party, that coeval with the progress of modern “society may be Catholic, but the State science-with the progress, also, of all cannot be Catholic, if it wishes to be that is most distinctive in modern civil- just to all its citizens.” And how long ization. In asserting the right of pri- can Rome maintain herself against the vate judgment in spiritual matters, it distinctly-pronounced will of the Italian furnished a basis for the intellectual people? Unquestionably there has been development of modern tiines and for going on during the entire Protestant our modern theories of liberty. The cra a tremendous political revolution. human reason was invested with its But it is not so certain that it tends God-given privileges, the sanctity of toward anarchy—that the liberty of the which had been so long violated ; and people is the destruction of order. with this investiture came also an awful And how is it as to the other count and majestic consciousness of individual in the charge against Protestantism, responsibility. Contemplate for an in- namely, the opposition which it has stant the sublime height to which rea- evoked against all divine authority ? son was thus raised! It was as if a Here it is that the Ritualists, in comslave had been crowned and enthroned, mon with Roman Catholics, find the

“Servumque posuere in æterna basi ;” fulcrum for their mightiest lever. This not because he had been a slave,-ah, unfettered and enthroned reason, say no !-- but because he had been unjustly they, is on a mad chase devil-ward, and fettered, and because his elevation, in is carrying along with it the system æterna basi, was the apotheosis at once which nourished and protected it. The of justice and humanity. Privileges original schism has been the parent of thus sacred conferred upon human rea- a succession of schisms, until the Proson, responsibilities thus awful incurred testant Church has a dozen ramifications, --these have been the basis of modern and has thus lost its efficiency as an progress.

organization : for its dissensions are not And what has been the result ? An only a scandal to Christianity, but lead universal protest, say the Ritualists, to an exhaustion, in rivalry and strife, of against all authority, human and divine. powers which ought to be directed The divine right of kings has been de- against the common enemy; they lead, nied. Peoples have invaded thrones; also, to a waste of material resources, step by step they have advanced to since, as may be seen in almost every ward the theory of self-government. Protestant community, half-a-dozen sepThe temporal authority of the church arate organizations have to be sustained. has been driven back by compulsion to where one would suffice. But Protestits last strongholds; every year wit- antism, it is added, does not expose nesses some fresh abdication of this tra- its principal error in these dissensions ditional supremacy. And these politi- within the church, but rather in the cal tendencies promise to go on to their opposition which it has provoked consummation. The Protestant powers against the church in any form and are triumphant in every new conflict. against the Bible. Even within two years we have seen a Now, nothing can be gained by evagreat nation born in a day; and now sion or misrepresentation. Let us stand what do we see in Austria, the Roman up and accept the full volley of this at. Catholic rival of this new Protestant tack, and then count our dead, woundpower ? Popular education in that em- ed, and missing. Let us put in plain pire has been released from priestcraft; words the charge of our assailants. marriage-hitherto a sacrament of the “You Protestants," say they, “are rechurch-has become a civil ordinance; sponsible for modern rationalism and all religious sects have been placed upon infidelity. You opened the gates to the same political level, and the minis- these deadly enemies of the faith ; they

[ocr errors]


did not creep in while you slept,—but per Yes in answer to one of the anxious you deliberately let them in. And- questionings of the human heart, it conwhat is worse-you could not help fidently thunders No. You cannot yourselves, for they had your proper tease your oracle into an affirmative, but countersign. You made the human his monstrous and shuddering negations reason king; how, then, could you deny reverberate with endless iteration over the royalty of these his children? You the dreary waste. You began by direjected the material superstructure of vorcing faith from its material images the Roman Catholic Church, which, with and symbols, and your movement natuits symbolism and impressive appeal to rally ends in universal negation, in infithe sense, was an expression of a spiritual delity.” faith; you professed to retain the origi- But hold one moment, Mr. Ritualist ! nal faith while divesting it of its mate- We are getting impatient. You have rial alliance. But you accepted in place been filching the arguments of rationalof this old ally, a new one; you made ism by the wholesale; but you make an the human intellect the grand interpreter incomplete, and, therefore, an unfair of the mysteries of faith, the sole im- statement. You have been reading perator over the individual conscience Kant, we perceive. We also have read and judgment. You said the old alli- Kant, and find in him something which ance was a mistake, because the material, you have inexcusably ignored. Kant instead of revealing, veiled the spiritual. was the first man who proved the imBut we claim, in turn, that the new alli- possibility of attaining to the idea of ance is fatal, since the human under- God or of immortality by the speculative standing neither veils nor reveals, but

That is the conclusion of his only destroys faith. You rejected a Analytic of Pure Reason. But he did sleepy narcotic, for a poisonous acid. not stop there. He announced also the You fled from the inert but solid earth, doctrine—the most sublime among all into the variable and fickle sky. You the doctrines of modern metaphysicstransformed the cloud of darkness, of a Practical Reason, whose very funcwhich only covered our faith, into fire, tion it is imperatively to impose laws which consumes it. In all ages thought for action, just as pure reason does laws has been the antagonist of belief. In for thought; and these laws, or postuall ages, also, it is equally true that the lates, by necessary implication, presupsoul of man has found its genuine coun- pose the existence of God and immor. terpart in the body—that which is most tality, to which the Pure Reason cannot spiritual in that which is most sensu- reach by analysis. And to this Practical ous. The marriage of faith with sense Reason Kant gives the primacy over all -not that of faith with reason-is di- the powers of the human soul. Thus, vinely ordained in the very constitution by the sage of Königsberg was inauguof humanity. You Protestants, more- rated a revolution in the province of over, have chosen a sad king in intel- rationalism itself, by which the destruclect, which is really and by nature a tive tendencies of human thought were slave both to sense and to faith ; and arrested, its negations met by a catethe moment you lift it above the office gorical affirmative, its poisonous acids of simple ministration to these, you in- neutralized; and by which a philosophie troduce an abnormal sovereignty. Not cal basis was furnished for the moral a modest sovereign, either, does the in- development of humanity. tellect, thus elevated, become; it defi- If, then, we admit the destructive antly denies the existence of all that it tendencies of modern philosophy, we cannot see. Its weakness and pride are also as confidently assert that within mutually correlative. Its activity is not the very confines of this philosophy we lost, because the province into which it find a remedy interposed against their has been thrust is to its vision an empty iconoclasm. And if we pass from natriesert; thus, although it cannot wbis- ural to revealed religion, we find that

« IndietroContinua »