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upright, to justifie, avouch, or maintain their doctrine; partly out of policy to work themselves in the more invisibly. But these creepers at first, turned flyers afterwarde, 'flying serpents' being no contradiction. Isai. xxx. 6."
The " Spirit of the Pilgrims" did much to clear away from the orthodox doctrines the false statements and unjustifiable inferences with which many sought to identify them. In particular, the old and pertinacious slander, that the orthodox believe in the damnation of infants, was most effectually exploded.
That magazine also did excellent service in vindicating the rights of our churches, which had been wrested away by various decisions in the courts, each of them based on grounds different from those of the previous decisions. The discussions in its pages virtually settled the question as to those legal rights. Those old decisions cannot stand much longer; and some which have been recently made, render it more than doubtful, whether another case will ever terminate like those of the Dedham and West Brookfield churches.
The periodical of which we speak had been at work but little more than a year, before the Unitarians became as sick of controversy as they had been eager for it. They began to "sigh and cry" over its evils, as well they might, for it brought no triumphs to them. They almost sued for peace. Their spirit was subdued. Their pride was broken down. It had become too evident that they had not all the learning and talent on their side. They grew strangely patient and submissive. Since 1832, they have, for the most part, suffered the orthodox to speak as freely as they pleased, without contradiction.
Another result effected by the "Spirit of the Pilgrims" was, that it constrained the Unitarians to avow their disbelief of the inspired character of the Bible. They acknowledged, before the controversy closed, that they did not receive the whole Bible as the word of God, but only such parts of it as seemed reasonable in their sight. The simple explanation of this is, that the whole Bible is a thoroughly orthodox book; and all the arts and tricks of rationalist interpretation, must fail to make any thing else of it, unless it may be dismembered, and discarded in portions, at the interpreter's pleasure.
The " Spirit of the Pilgrims" having accomplished these great results, fiulfilled its work and desisted. Unitarianism having
abandoned controversy and the Bible, and declining all further contest, and keeping cautiously out of the field, there was no more occasion to maintain an armament against it, and orthodoxy was "reduced to a peace establishment."
It remains for us to notice the recent division in the Unitarian ranks. A line of demarkation has been drawn, as Theodore Parker says, "not wide as yet, but very deep." The reckless progressists," as they call themselves, care not if it were quite as wide as it is deep. But the conservative sort, whose frozen fingers still cling to the icy mass of old-fashioned Unitarianism, tremble as they hang over the dreadful chasm; and would fain have a little help from their pitying orthodox brethren to place them more securely on believing ground. The transcendentalists, bewildered with the dim and unhallowed theories of pantheism, and mad with revolutionary fury, are a sore tribulation to their brethren of the older sort, who are afraid to "drive them out." They are "pricks in their eyes" and "thorns in their sides," to "vex them in the land wherein they dwell." These visionary speculatists are so wrapt up in self-conceit and self-adoration, that there is far less hope of them, as to their ever being converted to the common sense orthodoxy and vital piety of the gospel, than of the older stock. But of these, the prospect of their recovery to spiritual life and truth must remain far from cheering, so long as they continue to discard the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. After all, the difference between them and the transcendentalists is rather in degree, than in kind. Both classes arbitrarily reject some portions of the Bible from being of divine authority, only the one class extends this liberty much farther than the other. The question between them is not at all vital and generic; but merely relates to the extent to which they shall make" a discrimination between the divine and the human in the records of the Christian religion." In their treatment of the Bible, the older sort in part explain it away, and in part throw it away; the more recent sort save themselves the trouble of explanation, and throw it away almost altogether.
Though in our view one party is quite as liable, in its principles, to the charge of infidelity as the other, yet to the more devout and serious portion of the Unitarians the difference seems to be very great indeed; and they cannot reconcile themselves to the thought of forsaking the Christian name, or of being leagued in
ecclesiastical alliance with those who virtually do. Not a few of them have betrayed their secret longings to be no more recognized as a distinct sect, and to be silently amalgamated with the Christian community around them. They once looked with pride upon the glittering ice-palace which they had reared on the congealed waters of rationalism, and which stood glorious in the wintry moon-light. But now, with feelings of profoundest melancholy, they see it melting on the one side before the fierce bonfires of an innovating crew; and on the other, stealing away under the genial rays of the sun of the gospel. May God hasten the day of its utter dissolution, and urge them to fly for sanctuary to the temple of truth, which stands eternally on the rock of ages!
THE BIBLE IN THE CONVENTS.
ALL the Benedictines were expected to learn the Psalter by heart, and their rules required special pains to be used in this behalf. Thus Pachomius says: "There shall be nobody whatever in the monastery who will not learn to read, and get some part of the Scriptures by heart; at least the New Testament and Psalter." St. Basil directs that such as neglect to commit the Psalms to memory shall be shut up in solitude, or kept fasting, till they do. St. Ferreol declares, that "no one who claims the name of a monk can be allowed to be ignorant of letters moreover, he must know all the Psalms by heart." To be sure there were some weak brethren for whom this was too much. The biographer of Odo, abbot of Clugni, tells us, that, in his time, in compassion to such, fourteen psalms were deducted from the original number of one hundred and thirty-eight, which the monks were required to repeat daily. No doubt, there may have been many who fell far in arrears as to this daily reckoning: just as in our own colleges, notwithstanding the thorough courses of study required, a dunce is a phenomenon not so rare as could be wished. No doubt too, that many monasteries came short of the noble example of Clugni, which they essayed to copy: and others again may have grossly deteriorated from their first zeal in the matter. But, making all such allowances, it is not easy to see how the great body of the
THE BIBLE IN THE CONVENTS.
monks could have escaped the acquisition of some considerable knowledge of the Scriptures.
Among the more rigid sect of the White Friars, or Cistercians, there was a like ardor in the reading of the Word of God. In the year 1195, Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, when travelling in France, went to visit a very old monk at Cistercium or Clairvaux, St. Bernard's famous monastery, and the mother-house of the Cistercian order. This old monk had been a high ecclesiastic, but having laid aside all but the insignia of his rank, which the pope required him to retain, he devoted himself in that retreat to sacred contemplation. When the bishop of Lincoln asked him what part of the Bible chiefly occupied his mind, he replied: "I am now almost wholly absorbed in the meditation of the Psalms alone." And who was this good old saint? we are eager to ask. It was Jean aux Bellemains, archbishop of Lyons! - the same who excommunicated that Peter Waldo, from whom the interesting community of Waldenses is said to derive its name, though, indeed it is much older than he.
In the course of time, we are aware, that the corruption which was fated to spread among all the monastic orders, entered the cells of the rigid Cistercians: and at last many of them seem to have cut down the daily recitation of the whole Psalter to the repetition of seven verses. This we gather from a queer tale which we found among the notes to Erasmus's "Encomium of Folly." The story goes, that the devil falling in with blessed Bernard, bragged that he knew of seven versicles in David's Psalms, which if any man were to recite every day of his life, it would be impossible that he should not get to heaven. Bernard insisted that the devil should point them out to him and when the malicious fiend refused, Bernard said: "You shall gain nothing by your refusal, for I will daily repeat the entire Psalter, and so your seven verses must come among the rest." The demon, frightened at the thought of giving occasion to a work so immensely good, preferred to indicate his seven wonderful verses. And so, adds the cynical Hollander, for this prodigious benefit, which so much exceeds anything we read of in the gospel, we are indebted to the evil demon.
When monkery was in its prime, few of the fraternity would have thanked the devil for this labor-saving contrivance. "All Scripture" was their study. In the seventy-third chapter of his 46*
rule, St. Benedict taught his followers to ask: "What page, or what discourse, of the divine authority of the Old and the New Testament, is not the most accurate rule of human life?"
THE BIBLE IN THE CONVENTS.
About the year 1170, Geoffry, sub-prior of St. Barbara, in Normandy, wrote a letter to Peter Mangot, a monk of Baugercy who had obtained permission to build a Cistercian monastery. This is a letter of advice and encouragement, and closes thus: "A cloister without a library is like a castle without an armory. Our library is our armory. Thence we take the armor of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. See to it, therefore, in your armory of defence, that that which is the great defence of all the other defences is not wanting. That defence is the Holy Bible, wherein is contained the right rule of life and manners. There each sex and every age finds what is profitable. There spiritual infancy finds that whereby it may grow, youth that which may strengthen it, age that which may support it, a blessed hand which ministers to all that whereby all may be saved. If, therefore, you have taken care to provide the arms for this warfare, you will have nothing to do but to say to him: Take thine arms and thy shield, and arise to my help.' Farewell! and take care that the Bible, which no monastery should be without, is bought."
The famous Peter Abelard, in the twelfth century, though himself an elegant classical scholar, was for banishing all the profane poets from the studies of Christians, that they might give themselves wholly to the holy Scriptures. His sixth letter exhorts Heloisa's nuns at Paraclete to study, and become capable of reading and understanding, the holy Scriptures in the original tongues. The letter is, in a manner, made up of passages on the subject from Jerome's letter to the girl, Læta. It congratulates the nuns on their happiness in having such a learned abbess as was able to teach them Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the languages necessary to obtain a right understanding of the Scriptures. He advises them to have recourse to the original text, which is the foundation of all versions. He presses this counsel upon them in a manner which shows that he was in earnest, and that the thing was feasible.
Here, if space permitted, we should like to digress a little upon the cultivation of secular literature by the monks, for which the