« VorigeDoorgaan »
world outside. He was proud doubt for his inward solace, or the musical less of his race: like the crew in gift which made him so popular in Lord Tennyson's Maeldune he would
French village, is a very poor ex"chant the glories of Finn": he would change for the old Scotic monk. The feel so deeply for the heroes of old old order changes; yet we need not that he would even dream of Chris- forget Columban and his brethren any tianising them, musing sometimes so more than we forget our obligations to long on an old cairn that at last the Rome. To Rome we owe an organisachief whom it covered would seem to tion which a monastic Church could rise through the covering stones and lay never have given, and which has off his armour and claim baptism from fostered the true idea that Church and one who was perchance bis kinsman.
But to the Scotic But this would not rid him of the missionaries we owe that individuality, goad of travel towards the great cen that
of initiative without which tres. Perhaps among the most mar the most perfect organisation becomes vellous instances of self-sacrifice is that a dead letter. very few ever pushed on to Rome or Montalembert notes admiringly the to Jerusalem. They found work on full freedom which Rome (then, as at the road, and they took it up manfully so many other crises, healthily elastic) and died in doing it. But it was the allowed to such a teacher as Columban. love of travel which gave them the That the Gallic clergy were aggrieved impulse. Who has not met, in these at a sort of glorified compound of Mr. latter days, some poor parody of the Moody and Father Ignatius getting wandering Scotic scholars, who, several
into vogue to their discredit is no centuries after Columban, took the wonder; but at headquarters there is place of the missionaries? The writer not a trace of repression or of formal of this paper remembers one who disapprobation. Columban's virtue walked into his garden in West Corn and sanctity won for him the licence wall and handed him
of action which an Indian fakeer wins which was printed Fitzsimon, Philo by his austerities. Rome behaved very math. He knew much Latin, and differently more than five hundred some Greek, and he had just been to years later, when Saint Bernard was see the Land's End, having already her mouthpiece, and Adrian the Sixth seen many like “ Ends" and wishing filled the Papal Chair. No one can to add that to his list. That was his that then “she displayed an exemsole reason for coming down so far. plary moderation.” Bernard, directed He had a copy of verses on the rail by the self-seeking traitor Saint way in the Isle of Man,-such verses Malachy, was appointed Balaam-like as the hedge-schoolmaster in an Irish to curse the Scotic church in order parish used always to be ready with that Henry the Second might assume whenever anything happened, and of the virtue of an abater of religious which the best known (and best) ex abuses. ample is The Groves of Blarney. Thir But it is no
use thinking what teen hundred years ago our Philomath might have happened had Ireland would very likely have gone out with been permitted to develope along her one of the missionary saints and have own line, to become a nation instead satisfied his morbid longing for change of a set of clans, before she came by moving from one wild station to into hostile contact with England. another. The old order changes; and Mr. Lecky, and just lately Mr. Bagsuch a man, purposeless, scarcely sound well, have some good remarks on this; in mind, yet not the least given to but they were both anticipated by drink, wandering as Goldsmith did, Sir Henry Maine who, in his Origin Of “alone, unfriended, melancholy, slow," Institutions, showing the unexpected but without either Goldsmith's genius resemblances between the Brebon code
and the common law of England, barous chiefs, by dedicating themselves and remarks how little the English of
their whole means to the deliverance of captives,
they manifested the power of truth, and Henry the Second's day were really
recommended the religion of Christ.”. in advance of the Irish, and how the Irish had all but attained the goal
He notes their independent spirit: of national unity (one clan having
“In Columban and the others when engaged become greatly predominant) when
in controversy we miss the subservient spirit their advance along that line was of those who seek their private ends.” checked by the invasion.
Of their stubborn adhesion to their It is hard for an Irishman to forgive men who have written as though
own peculiarities, he remarks: all Ireland had to boast of was “a “They were in the battle, and regarded the few grotesque saints.” Comgall is proposal to change their tonsure or their time by no means grotesque, neither is of celebrating Easter as soldiers would regard Columban; nor
an order to change their uniform in presence were they only a
of an advancing foe. Moreover, they shrank few who did a like work to that from making a surrender which would imply of both; for if some are disposed to that the unity of the Church rested on exter
nals. Their attachment to their own customs cite about the missionary monks
was founded, not on any power they supposed the foolish old saw about an Irish
them to possess, but on their association with man doing well everywhere except in the hallowed names of Saint Patrick and Saint his own country, let them remember Columbkill. The subjects on which they that the Irish schools at home were for
differed from, and those in which they agreed centuries as famous in their way as
with, Rome, had no analogy or connection
whatever with the polemics of a later period.” Luxeuil itself. The youth of England regularly resorted to them for And then, after pointing out (what instruction; and though Bangor was must strike every reader of Columban's so destroyed by the Danes that not a letters) “the startling modernness of trace of it remains, some of these Irish modes of thinking at this remote schools survived even those singularly date," he adds : destructive invaders. Mr. W. A. O'Conor, in his History
“Their religious independence was only one
feature of a mental constitution that knew no Of The Irish People, has a fine chapter
guidance save such as reason and justice on these Irish missionaries. “To de
inspired. Their spiritual pre-eminence was in scribe them,” he says,
religion, because religion was the science of
the time. During many ages, a few Irishmen "as Christian teachers, interpreting the term were the only champions of free thought.” by ordinary experience, would convey no true idea of their self-imposed duties or of their All this is very true.
What has method of discharging them. By voluntar
been written in this paper of Columily enduring all the hardships which pecessity
ban will have been useless if its truth imposed on others, by entire disregard of wealth, by condemning the violence of bar. cannot be recognised in his case.
A DISCOURSE UPON SERMONS.
MUCH has been written about ser ble from the two millions of sermons. mons, but the subject can
They forget that, if these sermons do However else sermons nothing else, they may at least serve may be regarded, they at least loom as ballast. The irreverent unight say large as a fact in our social economy. that they are exactly fitted to discharge So long as two millions, more or less, a function for which heaviness is the continue to be preached every year, first requisite. But they would be they will assert their claim to atten equally well-fitted if described as tion. It may be that the supply is weighty, and the word is not obnoxious. just a little in excess of the demand : Let us picture to ourselves for a mothat here, as in so many other quar ment society without its sermons: the ters, we are suffering slightly from ship without its ballast, heeling over over-production. Still, on the whole, to every dangerous blast, letting in sermons are firm (to borrow a phrase the water of an acrid inmorality and from the City) and, if moderately scepticism on all sides. Surely, that taxed, would yield a pretty steady we are even as good as we are may,
As it is, the tax is now too after all, be largely due to the unoften levied on the patience of the failing supply of weighty pulpit-ballast hearer as a kind of ecclesiastical excise on articles which, as delivered, are So, again, to use another illustration, certainly sometimes "above proof." do we ever feel the weight of the
It is the fashion to lament what is atmosphere ? And yet how happily assumed to be the slight effect pro and healthily it restrains our moveduced by the annual discharge of these ments : fifteen pounds weight on two millions of sermons. The popular
every square inch of bodily surface. imagination seems disposed to regard What light, flighty beings we should them as a kind of artillery which necessarily become were this restraint should at once strew society with the removed even for an instant! And so wrecks and ruins of ancient errors. we cannot be too thankful that there And even the philosophers, with that is no break in the long succession of fondness for quantitative analysis discourses from the pulpit. Where which has distinguished them ever should we be if this wholesome insince the chemical balance was per fluence were removed for a single week fected, are always on the look-out for —this steady pneumatic pressure in what may be termed ponderable re tic region of morals and theology? sults. Both classes of critics are England can never surely become inequally at fault.
It is a fallacy to curably light-headed so long as there is assume that a result cannot be great this salutary burden of two millions of unless it be conspicuous. It may be sermons pretty evenly distributed over negative as well as positive : invisible, the surface of society. and yet real enough. The reviews One is reminded in this connection made merry some years ago over a
of a schoolmaster of the olden type, man who published a didactic poem well known years ago in a western and described himself as waiting for county, who used to maintain that you some result in people's altered man could never be doing wrong in flogging
It is presumed that he is still a boy. Either the boy had already waiting. Similarly, the critics are on done something to deserve it, or he the look out for a result equally visi would very speedily do something. It
was not less fair for justice to be oblation," to the "adjective of youth," anticipatory than for it to be retro to the “bovine substantive,” to the spective. So of sermons—they may be “preposition" (copiously illustrated regarded as an anticipatory means of from the Latin grammar), and finally discipline. Who knows how much to the “ sacrificial locality.” Did I oftener we should all go wrong with say finally"\-I was wrong: it was out them? Let us then accept them only “lastly.” The “finally" came gratefully, whilst we maintain unim long afterwards, and even then left paired our traditional right to criticise room for “in conclusion" and the “one them—the true Magna Charta of the word more." English Churchman.
Another of his great sermons, But even the keenest critics must though not so great as the above, allow that they have of late years was professedly on Dives and Lazaperceptibly improved—improved cer It was really on the purple and tainly as regards length. The tradi fine linen incidentally mentioned in tional answer of the man with eleven
the parable. These excited all the children, that he had a better than a worthy rector's sense of scholarship, dozen," was no doubt misleading. Not and he gave an exhaustive disquisition so the better than an hour" sermon on both. The only purpureus pannus, of the olden time. I remember still or bit of colour, in it for me was his my childish horror when our good old account (is it true or apocryphal RI rector used to mount the pulpit and, know not) of the discovery of the hooking himself on to the oaken panel Tyrian dye—a wandering dog licking by the third finger of his right hand a murex upon the sea-shore and getting (which, by a strange coincidence, its tongue stained therewith to the chanced to have a diamond ring upon great astonishment of its master. I it), would there remain, tenacious as wonder the rector did not go on to a crustacean of his position physical quote the old and almost forgotten and theological, until the hand of the epigram on the serjeants-at-law, themclock in front of the gallery pointed selves now well nigh extinct : to one. Even then it was by no means certain that he would unbook himself.
“ The serjeants are a grateful race,
And all their actions show it: There might still be the “one word
Their purple garments come from Tyre, more, my brethren,” which gave my Their arguments go to it.” childish mind such a terrible idea of the expansiveness of unity. In that Those were emphatically the days dreary waste of theology the only of written sermons, for the most part fixed thing was the longitude. For recurring with the regularity of a rethe rest, the rector's great aim seemed peating decimal. Litera scripta manet ; to be always to begin at the beginning, and most congregations had ample or, if possible, a little before it. It opportunity of verifying in their own was seldom that he would content experience the essential permanence himself with anything so far advanced of the written letter. These ancestral in point of time as the Fall of Man. discourses, yellow with age and curly He was fonder of Chaos, and occasion from the fingering of many generaally took us back behind the Creation tions of orators, came to be almost as altogether.
well known as the details of a nursery His greatest sermon (we had it many legend, until at last the hearers grew times over) was on the text: “ They to resent the slightest verbal alterashall offer young bullocks upon thine tion in the text. A mingled feeling altar." Each word of the text formed took possession of their minds. They a separate heading.
Due force was could not honestly assert that they given to the “pronoun,” to the “par loved the sermon; but if they must ticle of futurity," to the “verb of have it at all, they ļiked it unmu
tilated. Familiarity might have bred of preachers is a good thing, why not a something of contempt, but nothing the interchange of sermons? Eight was to be gained by a patchwork effort ounces of ruled paper will go farther, at disguise. Besides, they felt in a without necessarily faring worse, way defrauded of their due. Long than fifteen or sixteen stone of prescription had given them an in ecclesiastically developed humanity. defeasible right to the sermon, the And is it not a clear waste of force whole sermon, and nothing but the to leave a well-composed sermon to
In those good old conserva languish in the recesses of a desk, tive days men had no yearning for when it might be doing good work in revised versions. Children freely cor another parish ? At the same time it rect their nurse if she deviates by a cannot be denied that this interchange hair's breadth from the accustomed of manuscripts has its drawbacks. course of the adventures of Tom Circumstances are not identical in Thumb or Jack the Giant-killer; and different parishes. The vicar of a the older members of a congrega- squireless village denounces Dives tion felt inclined to do the same with with absolute impunity. But let him their rector if he ever ventured to lend his scathing discourse to the tamper with his time-honoured manu clerical friend who numbers a milscript. A parenthesis might be par lionaire among his people, and the doned, especially if founded on some chances are that the friend will find State-anniversary: an alteration never. himself arraigned before his bishop. How much unconscious truth lay in It actually happened in Oxfordshire the ignorant grandiloquence of the in the days of Bishop Wilberforce. It farmer whom I once heard say to his is true the clergyman triumphed, but vicar, “You gave us a very good rota the triumph was not without its tion to-day, sir," meaning presumably humiliation. There could be no per“ oration.'
sonal vindictiveness in a borrowed It is true that comical results some discourse. But if he disproved the times followed. There is a well-known appropriateness, he had to admit the story, probably apocryphal, of a South appropriation. Personality or plaAmerican clergymnan, who, even when giarism-a sorry dilemma for
any preaching in England, could seldom
parson. keep an earthquake out of his dis Still, after all, it is not very rea
It is, however, a fact that a sonable that there should be such an clergyman in Nottinghamshire, who outcry against borrowed had been a naval chaplain, electrified Where does anyone get his ideas his congregation one Sunday by ex from ? Unless a whole school of phiclaiming, “When we hear, as we do losophers is in the wrong, we come now, the waves roaring around us —." into the world with minds blank as This roused even the farmers, who
sheets of white paper. Who but a fancied at once that the little river German ever evolved anything from which flows through the village must bis inner consciousness? Is not, in have suddenly burst its banks and
our knowledge borrowed ? flooded their meadows. In reality the One man sits down and writes off a exciting phrase had slipped out un discourse almost without reference to awares: it was only a too slavish books. Is he, therefore, original? Not adherence to the text of a manuscript a bit of it. He has only proved that written in widely different circum he possesses a well-stored mind and stances that had led the worthy pastor a retentive memory. Another surto make this startling announcement.
rounds himself with commentaries, And then, the interchange of manu and painfully pieces together a bit of scripts. At first sight there is much pulpit-mosaic. What memory did for to be said for this. If an interchange the first, ingenuity does for the second,