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continuance and final recognition of the celibacy of the clergy. Whatever evils might result from it, it was this that enabled the clergy to maintain itself in the position - indispensable to the Church and to Christianity through the dark ages — of a superior class, separate from the body of the people, a sacred caste, as it were; and yet, at the same time, allowed it to be open, unexclusive, readily receiving new life and energy from all quarters; and thus enabled it to escape, in great measure, the degeneracy or immobility inevitable to an hereditary caste.
The missionary work of the monastic orders has been continued in modern times as zealously as in the Middle Age. Almost all the Roman-Catholic missions have been, and are at present, conducted by members of the monastic orders; and they have pushed the work with an impetuosity, an intrepidity, and a self-sacrifice that cannot but be admired. They have borne the cross into the wigwams of the red man, to the sources of the Amazon, into the jungles of the East Indies, through the heart of China, among the cannibals of Polynesia. They have preached the gospel in regions where no European had ever before set foot, and have brought millions of souls, and provinces of immense magnitude, into the pale of at least a nominal Christianity.
But had the monastic institution performed none of the services we have thus far enumerated, one obligation at least it has conferred upon the world which we are tempted to say would of itself counterbalance all the evils that have been laid to its charge, - that of having preserved and handed down to us the literature of antiquity and the Sacred Scriptures. Had it not been for the monks and the monastic institutions, the literature of Greece and Rome, in all human probability, would have been as completely lost as that of Egypt and Assyria ; the Bible would have failed to have come down to us; certainly would not have come down to us by so many different channels, and with such faithfulness in each, as it has now done. Outside of the monastery walls, even if a manuscript should by rare good fortune escape the indiscriminate ruin of constant war and pillage, it was sure, in no very great length of time, to perish by neglect, or be destroyed through ignorance
or carelessness of its value. Only in the inviolable precincts, and under the pious care, of monastic communities, could books escape destruction. There are only ten or twelve manuscripts, it is said, which date farther back than the sixth century. Our manuscript copies of all the great classic authors, except Virgil and a small fragment of Homer, and all those of the Scriptures but five or six, date since the fall of the Roman empire and the establishment of the barbarians. These copies we owe, consequently, to the industry of the monks. The monks were, from the commencement of the dark ages until modern times, the sole transcribers of manuscripts. The copying of the Scriptures, in particular, was prescribed by the founders of every monastic order. It was esteemed a holy occupation, and was performed with scrupulous exactness. Many monastic societies gave themselves up entirely to this work; and excellence in the art of calligraphy was the ambition of every community. The phrase “ classic literature and the Bible" is soon pronounced; and we are afraid that its full meaning, the full extent of the obligation it implies, will not at once be realized. We must remember not only the high and refined pleasure which we derive from the classics, but what a great influence they have had in originating and perfecting modern literature; how much our laws and political organization owe to the legislation and political experiences of Greece and Rome; how much the picture of a former highly developed society has contributed to the growth of modern civilization. We should recall not only the practical aid and the swest consolations of the Bible, the faith, heroism, and charity which it has inspired; but we should remember, — what is less readily noticed, but not less worthy of notice,—that, had it not been for that preservation of the Bible, the truths of Christianity would have reached us only in the degree and condition in which they would have been brought down by the corrupting stream of tradition. Christian worship might have degenerated completely into lifeless ceremonial and senseless mummery, and Christian sentiment become irrevocably darkened; it might never have been possible to throw off the dogmas and superstitions of the Romish Church, the dictatorship of the papal hierarchy, the unscriptural creeds, the gross doctrines, the irrational mysteries, thrust upon Christianity in its infancy, without at the same time throwing off Christianity itself. The simile of the ark floating alone on the waters of the Deluge has been already, we know, well worn, and has been used for the illustration of many different subjects; but one more use of it will be justified by its especial appositeness to the Institution which, for so many centuries, rode alone on the deluge of barbarism and ignorance that had submerged the ancient world, bearing in its bosom whatever was most precious of ancient learning, genius, refinement, piety, and faith.
It must be acknowledged, that the great services we have recounted are set off by great extravagances and mischiefs. It was monasticism that bred the bands of fierce zealots, who, in the fourth century and after, played so important a part in the religious quarrels and commotions of the East. It is to monkish fanaticism that we owe the terrors of the Inquisition and the hideous persecutions of the Middle Age. That in later times it has been the nursery of many vices and the source of great social degradation, even its defenders must admit. It is largely responsible for the gloomy and forbidding appearance, and the selfish and ceremonial character, which have been too generally given to religion.
The efforts making at the present time to revive and propagate the institution are out of season, and must come to naught. With the development of modern order and civilization, its period of usefulness has passed. Yet to condemn it as evil only, or to refuse the honor due for its admirable service in the past, is like contemning moonlight or starlight because of its paleness and dimness, the illusions and deep shadows that accompany it, and its uselessness now that it is day; forgetting, that, without that light, the night would have been wrapped in unrelieved and fatal gloom.
ART. VI. – JESUS AS PROPHET AND MESSIAH.
1. The Veil Partly Lifted, and Jesus Becoming Visible. By W. H.
FURNESS. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1864. 2. The Character of Jesus Portrayed. By Dr. DANIEL SCHENKEL.
Translated by W. H. FURNESS. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.
1866. 3. Der Geschichtliche Christus. Von A. KEIM. Zürich: 1866.
The old painters, it is said, used to paint their portraits of Jesus on their knees. So far as this typifies the reverence due to so lofty a character, it truly represents the attitude in which all attempts to portray the plan and purpose of Jesus should be made. But we are apt to imitate those mediæval painters in other and less commendable ways. How much, . for example, is said and written about the life of Jesus, which is grounded upon nothing but a few loose rules collected, by a very confined induction, from the results of a narrow and partial criticism; just as the old artists fashioned their ideal of the features of Christ out of the meagre traditions of the Church.
We are free to confess the difficulty of constructing a proper human life from the mass of conflicting details which the seemingly exhaustless quarry of the gospel records has yielded to modern criticism. But it is a difficulty which besets all our attempts to construct biographies. “How little, in fact,” says Arthur Hallam, w does one creature know of another, even if he lives with him, sces him constantly, and, in popular language, knows all about him. We have but fragments of being at the best.” Surely it behooves us to be modest in our judgment of any life, - how much more modest when that life is the divinest the world has ever known ! — until, by the most careful study, the profoundest inquiry, and the most patient analysis, we have gained some knowledge of the grand organism of a soul from the fossil remains of its history.' With reverence such as bent the knees of the old
painters before an ideal which their canvas never caught, and with a modesty which shall tread
“With bare, hushed feet, the ground,” where dogmatists of every school rush in with such amazing boldness, would we trace what, for want of better phrase, may be called the plan of Jesus; and show how naturally the purpose of bis life grew out of his human development as Prophet and Messiah.
Dr. Furness, in entitling one of his most interesting works, “ The Veil Partly Lifted, and Jesus Becoming Visible," has indicated a truth which is now finding utterance in many ways, — the fact, namely, that the humanity of Jesus has never been fully and fairly recognized. For the historic canvas, whereon Jesus is seen in close connection with the holiest prophets and wisest dreamers of his race,“ linking his mission with Moses and Elias, and claiming to hold of the ancient, sacred stock,” we have had either the ideal Christ of the philosophers, - a vision of ghostly purity in the dim spaces of thought, — or the sacrificial Christ of the creeds, who was - born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,” but the visage of whose pure humanity has been more disfigured by Christian speculation, than were his thorn-pierced head and broken body by Jewish madness. “But we can know Jesus as an actual existence,” says Dr. Furness, “ only as he is scen to be one with the things which are.” Speculate as we may, by no jugglery of language can we remove any thing essentially human away from nature, without making it for us unnatural. The sequence of the new upon the old, in human history, must be taken everywhere and always as a sequence of natural growth, until divine interpolation is clearly seen. Unless, therefore, Hebrew prophetisin and Hebrew Messianism culminated in Jesus, as dawn leads into day and the beauty of spring into the summer's richer wealth of flowers, we can never study his life in any human relation to his age and the ages.
Our present study naturally begins with an examination of those prophetic and Messianic ideas by which, if Jesus