Imágenes de páginas

invariably confined himself to the Authorized Version. He took little heed of disputed readings, and held himself untrammeled by the dogmas of textuaries and commentators. But of the words of Scripture, as it stands in its unequalled English, he had an easy and felicitous command. Prose writers he scarcely ever quoted, but he was extremely fond of quoting poetry, good and bad, and hymns, which though not always poetical, were when he declaimed them, extremely impressive. The constant, indeed the invariable, topics of his preaching were sin and forgiveness; the love of God towards the sinner, and the sinner's need of the cleansed heart; the guaranteed access to the Lord through the Sacrament of the Altar, and the reverent love due to the Blessed Mother of God. "People," he would say "who are not Marian are often Arian.”

The following is a description of Father Stanton's famous "Monday Evenings " given by an occasional attendant:

Every Monday in August, as also in Advent and Lent, Mr. Stanton holds a special service at eight o'clock in the evening in St. Alban's Church. What Puritans pleasantly call" meretricious attractions" are utterly banished. The service is plain. Even the choir is banished. Yet an hour before the appointed time a great company of men and women, old and young, is pouring into Brooke Street, or winding into the church through the more devious paths of Baldwin's Gardens. A quarter of an hour later it is uncomfortably crowded. Every seat is occupied. Late-comers are driven into the chancel. All the choir stalls are full. Rows of extra seats are brought in. Men who can find no room to stand or sit, crouch on the Altar steps.

"As the clock strikes eight, Mr. Stanton climbs into the pulpit, huddling on his surplice as he goes. From the pulpit he conducts, in a slightly shortened form, the ordinary Evening Service of the Church. We read the Psalms, verse by verse, as if it were in some old-fashioned village church, untouched by the ritualistic movement; but, when we come to the Magnificat,' Our Blessed Lady's Own Song,' we sing it, as the preacher bids us, with a will. When the prayers are ended, we burst into a hymn perhaps of Faber's type, perhaps of Sankey's; but in either

case, burst' is the right word; for the whole congregation sings with a fervour of devotion, pent-up but now liberated, and the great volume of male voices gives the singing a massiveness not usual in mixed congregations. Then Mr. Stanton rises from his knees, and begins to preach. His sermons are not easy to describe. They follow none of the conventions of the pulpit. They range widely over the broad field of faith and duty. The appeals to conscience are vivid and pointed; but they are interspersed with touches of humour and sarcasm which provoke a responsive sound dangerously like a laugh. Most notable is the preacher's whole-mindedness-his intense grasp of his own beliefs, his absolute charity towards those who do not share them, and his abounding humanity.

"Backwards and forwards he sways his graceful form, unbent and undisfigured by age. He turns to the sea of faces in front of him. He wheels round to the overflow in the chancel. His voice, as Mr. Gladstone said of Bishop Wilberforce, is 'sometimes like a murmuring brook, sometimes like a trumpetcall.' Now it sings until it is nearly inaudible, and now you see the preacher's hold upon his hearers, for they stretch forward with hands to ears, and strained and anxious faces, lest they lose the smallest word of the spell which this magician is weaving round their hearts. And all this, remember, year after year, in a slum church, in the holiday season, on a week-day evening. I know no triumph equal to it, at any rate in the Church to which I belong.

"Now the preacher has come to an end. The service has lasted a little over an hour. Two thunderous hymns again shake the roof. The blessing is given, and we stream out towards Holborn and Gray's Inn Road. It has been, for all its frequency, a wonderful experience; and what is the meaning of it?

"Dynasties come and go, Empires rise and fall, literatures vanish from the memory of man, forms of polity wax old and perish, and the ancient homes of great peoples survive only as the sepulchres of the dead; but the broodings of the soul on the hereafter never fade or die. To any fresh or earnest word on

those most solemn and mysterious of themes men listen with the eagerness which a fond imagination ascribes to the Ages of Faith."

Survival and Immortality

From the Hibbert Journal.

E are sometimes inclined to think, with a natural regret, that the conditions of life in the eternal world are


so utterly unlike those of the world which we know, that we must either leave our mental picture of that life in the barest outline, or fill it in with the colours which we know on earth, but which, as we are well aware, cannot portray truly the life of blessed spirits. To some extent this is true; and whereas a bare and colourless sketch of the richest of all facts is as far from the truth as possible, we may allow ourselves to fill in the picture as best we can, if we remember the risks which we run in doing so. There are, it seems to me, two chief risks in allowing our imagination to create images of the bliss of heaven. One is that the eternal world, thus drawn and painted with the forms and colours of earth, takes substance in our minds as a second physical world, either supposed to exist somewhere in space, or expected to come into existence somewhen in time. This is the heaven of popular religion; and being a geographical or historical expression, it is open to attacks which cannot be met. Hence in the minds of many persons the whole fact of human immortality seems to belong to dreamland. The other danger is that, since a geographical and historical heaven is found to have no actuality, the hope of eternal life, with all that the spiritual world contains, should be relegated to the sphere of the "ideal." This seems to be the position of Höffding, and is quite clearly the view of thinkers like Santayana. They accept the dualism of value and existence, and place the highest hopes of humanity in a world which has value only and no existence. This seems

to me to be offering mankind a stone for bread. Martineau's protest against this philosophy is surely justified: "Amid all the sickly talk about ideals,' it is well to remember that as long as they are a mere self-painting of the yearning spirit, they have no more solidity than floating air-bubbles, gay in the sunshine and broken by the passing wind. You do not so much as touch the threshold of religion, so long as you are detained by the phantoms of your thought; the very gate of entrance to religion, the moment of its new birth, is the discovery that your gleaming ideal is the everlasting real." But though our knowledge of the eternal world is much less than we could desire, it is much greater than many thinkers allow. We are by no means shut off from realisation and possession of the eternal values while we live here. We are not confined to local and temporal experience. We know what Truth and Beauty mean, not only for ourselves but for all souls throughout the universe, and for God Himself. Above all, we know what Love means. Now Love, which is the realisation in experience of spirtual existence, has a unique value as a hierophant of the highest mysteries. And Love guarantees personality, for it needs what has been called otherness. In all love there must be a subject and an object, and a bond between them which transcends without annulling their separateness. What this means for personal immortality has been seen by many great minds. As an example I will quote from Plotinus' picture of life in the spiritual world. This writer is certainly not inclined to overestimate the claims of separate individuality, and he is under no obligation to make his doctrine conform to the dogmas of any creed. Spirits yonder see themselves in others. For there all things are transparent, and there is nothing dark or resisting, but everyone is manifest to everyone internally, and all things are manifest; for light is manifest to light. For everyone has all things in himself and sees all things in another, so that all things are everywhere and all is all and each is all, and infinite the glory."


This eternal world is about us and within us while we live here. "Heaven is nearer to our souls than the earth is to

our bodies." The world which we ordinarily think of as real is an arbitrary selection from experience, corresponding roughly to the average reaction of life upon the average man. Some values, such as existence, persistence, and rationality, are assumed to be" real "; others are relegated to the "ideal." Under the influence of natural science, special emphasis is laid on those values with which that science is engaged. But our world changes with us. It rises as we rise, and falls as we fall. It puts on immortality as we do. "Such as men themselves are, such will God appear to them to be." Spinoza rightly says that all true knowledge takes place sub specie æternitatis. For the satik (the spiritual man) the whole of life is spiritual, and, as Eucken says, he recognises the whole of the spiritual life as his own life-being. He learns, as Plotinus declares in a profound sentence, that "all things that are Yonder are also Here below."

Is it then the conclusion of the whole matter that eternal life is merely the true reading of temporal life? Is earth, when seen with purged vision, not merely the shadow of heaven, but heaven itself? If we could fuse past, present, and future into a totum simul, an "Eternal Now," would that be eternity? This I do not believe. A full understanding of the values of our life in time would indeed give us a good picture of the eternal world; but that world itself, the abode of God and of blessed spirits, is a state higher and purer than can be fully expressed in the order of nature. The perpetuity of natural laws as they operate through endless ages is only a Platonic "image" of eternity. That all values are perpetual is true; but they are something more than perpetual: they are eternal. These laws are the creative forces which shape our lives from within; but all the creatures, as St. Augustine says in a wellknown passage, declare their inferiority to their Creator. "We are lower than He, for He made us." Scholastic theologians interposed an intermediary which they called avum between time and eternity. Evum is perpetuity, which they rightly distinguished from true eternity. Christianity is philosophically right in insisting that our true home, our patria,

« AnteriorContinuar »