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It came to pass, however, as we became more familiar with our Flemish acquaintance, we began to take notice of some other things, as well as of his uncouth conceits and sorry jokes upon the heretics. We saw that he was brim-full of classical scholarship; though, sad to say! his favorite author is Ovid, whom he quotes in one volume, thirty-one times, and in another, fifty-one. We began to think there was some little cause for the pompous boasts in the translator's preface: "How exuberant the fountains of his multifarious erudition! With what rivers of eloquence he overflows! How sparkling the flashes of his oratorical ornaments! With what mighty impulse he rises up, and how do the papery seas boil while beaten by the brawny arms of his nervous diction!"
We soon noticed that the text of each sermon was given according to the original Greek, the Latin Vulgate, and the Syriac version called Peshito, which he extols, and justly, according to the suffrages of the learned, as the most literally exact translation of the Bible in existence. It next struck us that he was very profuse in his quotations of Scripture, showing himself familiar with every part of the sacred volume. Thus, to shew that wealth and prosperity are unfavorable to piety, he cites in a string, Venerable Bede, John of Salisbury, Seneca's epistles, Augustine's City of God, Chrysostom's Homilies, Sallust's Jugurthine War, Petrarch's Dialogues, a legend of the emperor Constantine, his favorite Ovid's Remedium Amoris, and again De Amore, three passages from Deuteronomy, one from Ezekiel, another from Micah, two from the Psalms, one from the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus, one from the first to Timothy, with a reference to the sermon of Augustine and the Antiochian homilies of Chrysostom thereon, Ecclesiasticus again, with an amended version of the passage, the gospel of Luke, an allusion to the parable of the Sower in Matthew, the first book of Kings, the second book of Chronicles twice, and the second Book of Samuel, and finally the second Book of Kings, these last two being alleged allegorically. Here are twenty-nine authorities adduced in favor of his point; of which fifteen, or more than half, are taken from the canonical Scriptures.
Instances like this, led us to think it possible, that some at least of the poor old monks were not so grossly ignorant of the letter of the Bible, as is generally believed. A slight examination of other monastic authors was sufficient to shew that in general,
there is no lack of Scripture references in their effusions. We know that it is only the "spirit that giveth life;" while the letter alone, without the spirit, only killeth. But the letter must come first in the order of nature: for nihil in affectubus, quod non prius in intellectu; "there is nothing in the affections which is not first in the understanding.'
It is natural to ask, whether the conventual discipline, which was so minute in its provisions, had any regulation on the subject of the reading and study of the Scriptures. We can only say, that the rule of St. Benedict, professedly followed by innumerable monks, makes this duty indispensable; especially in time of refection, so that body and mind might be refreshed together. The thirty-seventh chapter, "concerning the weekly reader," directs that there should be one reader for each week, that he should read at all the meals, and that no one might speak, unless the abbot or other presiding officer should choose to throw in some brief remark by way of comment. That this rule was no dead letter, is very certain: nay, so far did they carry this practice as might remind us of Captain Dugald Dalgetty's remark on the dissatisfaction of the Covenanters at brief sermons : 66 They did na like to have their allowance of spiritual provender cut short!"
In proof of this, we offer an extract, somewhat long, from a book of Ulric, an old monk of Clugni, which was the normal monastery, from whence all the houses of the Carthusians, or Black Friars, took pattern. This book was written, somewhere about the year 1080, to William, abbot of Hirschau, in Germany, to give him the particular information he had sought relative to the usages of Clugni. The first Chapter, which we mostly copy from a translation in Maitland's "Dark Ages," is entitled, "In what manner either Testament is read;" and begins thus:
"Question. I hear that your lessons in the winter and on common nights are very long will you please to state the manner in which the Old and New Testaments are read, both in summer and winter?
"Answer. We begin with the most ancient of all the books, the Octateuch, — which, according to general custom, is appointed to be read in Septuagesima, as it is in other churches. On the Sunday itself, the lessons are but short, except that the whole of Jerome's prologue is read. During the following nights, the
lessons are so much increased, that, in one week the whole of Genesis is all read through in the Church. On Sexagesima, Exodus is begun, and with the other books, is read both in the church and the refectory, the lesson beginning each day where it ended the day before, till the whole Octateuch is read through by the beginning of Lent, if not sooner. Lessons are, however, taken from it for the Sundays in Lent. On the week-nights of the Lenten fast, Augustine's exposition of the Psalms is read, and especially of the Songs of Degrees: and as the nights grow shorter, so do the lessons. They must not be made so short, however, but that the brother who goes the rounds of the choir with his dark lantern, may have sufficient time to see if any one has gone to sleep during the lesson.* In the passion of our Lord, the prophet Jeremiah is read in the church only; and before Holy Thursday, it is finished as far as Lamentations. In Easterweek, the Acts of the Apostles only are read, because from the shortness of the nights, it is impossible to read much. After this, for two weeks, are read the Revelation and the canonical Epistles, till Ascension-day. Then the Acts of the Apostles are again read, as if they had not been read before, until Pentecost. These same books, however, are not the the less read regularly through in the refectory; where also are read in their appointed seasons, the four books of Kings, the books of Solomon, of Job, of Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra and the Maccabees, which are read only in the refectory, and never in the Church, except such extracts as are made for any of the Sunday lessons. From the Kalends of November, the lessons for common nights are doubled. Ezekiel is read in the church only, and is usually finished before Martinmas and although we celebrate the octaves of that feast with singing and other solemnities, yet the prophetical lessons are not changed, then or at any other octaves, unless they would make twelve lessons. Then Daniel and the twelve minor prophets, which would not hold out unless we made some addition from the
* This lantern was made of wood, having a hole through which the light was thrown. This was carried up and down the choir, and if a monk appeared to be in a drowse, the light was flashed full in his eyes. If awake, he bowed reverently; if asleep, the lantern was flashed on him three times, and placed at his feet. He was then aroused, and obliged to carry the lantern till he could find another slumberer on whom to devolve the office.
homilies of blessed Pope Gregory on Ezekiel. In Advent, Isaiah is appointed: and though there is no strict rule about it, so far as I can learn, yet while I was there, it was sometimes read through in six common nights. After this follow the Epistles of Pope Leo on the Incarnation of our Lord, and other discourses from the holy fathers, chiefly from Augustine. The canonical epistles are appointed for the first Sunday after Innocents' Day, provided that day be neither the feast of Circumcision, or the anniversary of the Lord Odilo. Here again, I am somewhat uncertain as to the arrangement: but such an epistle as that to the Romans was read through in two common nights. And when one of the monks who portioned out the lessons, had somewhat shortened them, he was forbidden by the elders in chapter.
however, it happened that the epistles were all finished before Septuagesima, they read Chrysostom's Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus, you see, I have, in some sort, gone round the circle of the year. Let us, if you please, go on to speak of something else."
It will be observed that this annual course of reading, besides many of the apocryphal books, and some of the best of the patristical writings, comprised all the canonical Scriptures, except the first and second of Chronicles, Nehemiah, the Psalms, and the Gospels. The Gospels were read liturgically on the Sundays and great feast-days. The same was true of the Psalms, but of them we are able to give even a better account. It is likely enough, that most of this reading, especially what took place at meal-times went in at one ear, and out at the other: but it is charitable to hope that some of it was caught in its passage through the convolutions of the brain, and obtained a permanent lodging. Let us hope that the consciences of the numerous Clugniacs were not all so cased in oil-skin, as to derive no vital moisture from these nightly showers. Though the jaws of the hearers in the refectory might be in livelier exercise than their ears, the reader, at least, during his week of prelection had nothing carnal to distract his attention from the lessons. Besides this public reading, the monks were expected to spend some part of their retirement in the cells, in the perusal of the Divine Word. The stated employment of a large part of them as scribes, must have prevented them from being ignorant of the sacred text, of which it was their business to multiply elaborate copies by the slow process of the pen.
FORERUNNERS OF THE GERMAN ANTICHRISTIANISM.*
SINCE the sixteenth century, the open opposition to positive Christianity has gone through four developments among the people of Europe. We find it in the South, at the period of the Reformation, among the educated classes of Italy, even in the circle of the highest ecclesiastical officers, and at the court of the pope and cardinals. Then, too, libertinism at Geneva went on from a diabolical caricaturing of Calvinism even to incredible blasphemies of all holy things. At the same time, tokens of the German pseudo-protestantism present themselves, as may be seen by the works of K. Hagen upon the literary and religious relations of that period. Already had Carlstadt distinctly advanced the principles of Communitism. Still these fanatical errors in Germany were professedly based upon Christianity. Religious ideas as yet maintained the ascendency.
The second race of modern infidelity produced, in the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, the English Deism. It sprang from the dregs of Arminianism, which had passed over from Holland to England; but it was especially the result of reaction against the rigid Anglican state-churchism, which checked the free development of the Protestant principle in that island. Deism rejected revelation, miracle, prophecy and all the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. Only the teachers of this so called "natural religion," were favorably distinguished by a sort of spiritualism and inborn moral seriousness which marks the English nation, from that heartless and frivolous French infidelity, to which, however, it tended and actually led.
In France, and this is the third race of modern anti-christianism, there arose, during the last century, and in the bosom of the Romish church, a radical apostacy from the Christian faith, and a burning hatred against it in the highest literary circles. Voltaire, D'Alembert, Diderot, and the notorious author of "The System of Nature" are the well known exemplars of this scarcely hidden atheism and materialism, who could hardly speak of the sacred mysteries of religion except in their infernal style of mockery and irony. That there should be such an
* Translated from "Der Deutsche Kirchenfreund" for October, 1848. VOL. II. 44