never ambit cushio , me carefully come more and might here

truth kept the place. It was clean; you might have seen your face in the mahogany top of the pew; not a rim of dust ever came off upon your hat as you carefully deposited it under the seat, and the very pulpit cushion, however hard a forcible preacher thumped it, never answered back in a cloud which concealed the orator from the entranced but alarmed audience. Dear old chapel-keeper of my boyish days! thou art gone, long even before the old conventicle was dismantled. How thou wouldst have mourned that ruin, and much do I doubt whether thou wouldst have been at all consoled at the present “ handsome structure.” Certainly wouldst thou be horrified if thou sawest how it is now kept. There was at least one item in thy creed that I would gladly now see held and acted on“ I believe in clean chapels ;” and if you call them churches, ye naophylaks of modern days, at least let them be churches that are clean. I fear the old man has proved garrulous in his recollections of the past; but the reader will forgive the power of these pleasant memories.

Salem fared badly in its chapel-keepers after old Penrose’s death. For a while a grand-daughter of his had the post, with the aid of her husband; but she was a termagant and a scold-terrible alike to minister and deacons. Even a wife of one of the latter dared not venture to tackle the lady single-handed ; and I have known more than three of the leading women of the place come off with shattered rigging, and in an almost sinking state, from an encounter with the redoubtable virago. When the weather was close and stifling every window would be shut. Mrs. Brown (Brown is the deacon that manages the pew rents) is fainting. Brown vainly gesticulates to the chapel-keeper, who is devoutly sitting in her pew, with her husband at her side, but both having their heads well ducked downwards, so as to be sure that no deaconal hints can reach them. At the close of the service there is a storm. Brown attacks Mrs. Lance, but is fain to retreat with the warning that now in summer weather the windows must be open. Alas! alas! next Sunday, though it is the middle of July, is wet, and cold, and miserable. Every window is wide open, and Mrs. Brown is laid up with neuralgia throughout the rest of the week.

This state of things cannot be continued. The measure of her chapel-keeping iniquities is filled ; and a solemn conclave is held, in which Mrs. Lance is deposed. But who is the successor? Poor Salem, thou art seized by a despotic queen, and nothing but Athaliah's fate for her will save you from the tyranny. Where is Jehu ? Salem has no Jehu; and Brown meekly proposes that Mr. Lance be elected chapel-keeper. The proposal is carried, and in triumph the deposed woman rules now unchecked but through her husband.

After Mrs. Lance ceased her reign, being summoned by the old

king, who was never yet frightened even by a scold's tongue, the chapel-keeping at Salem fell into many hands. It was a time of revolution, anarchy, chaos, and there was but slight peace of ecclesiastical mind during the later years of the old building. I fancy the place suffered. It grew, as I watched it, to have a somewhat disreputable appearance. The plaster blistered off, and the bricks looked mouldy. Inside, I shivered with draughts that came through crevices in door and window. Curiously I used to gaze into the old place on Fridays, when it was given up to the broom and bucket; and each returning week it seemed to need more brooming and bucketing ; and on the Sunday, when I got there, look none the better for its trials. Somehow I felt the old chapel was doomed, and, as the reader knows, it at last came down. The keeper's house remains, although that is some day to be replaced by a more suitable building; and they have a chapel-keeper now who seems at least all that heart and flesh could wish. He is dressed in a kind of uniform, and seems a mixture of beadle and waiter. He is very solemn, and evidently emulates the verger of the parish church. Of the two I think he is to be preferred, because he is not incessantly expecting tips. He understands the theory of the gas, and that is a comfort. He is not quite so well up in warming and ventilating; but there, perhaps, he is not much different from the architects themselves. He is not cross grained, does not quite absorb all the dignity of the place into himself, and so I manage to find him bearable.

And so I leave him, with thoughts at times, as I look out upon the chapel and its keeper, of that great temple of our Christian faith whereof Salem is but one of the physical types. However well or ill our churches and chapels are kept, we are quite sure that there is no weakness or failure in the keeping of that temple of God's love. God Himself keeps it. How safe! how secure! Ever open, reader Do you sometimes turn in and rest and pray? You will find it a pleasant change from the busy road of life,-cool and still and restful,--a better peace than our “ peace" can give. It is the Salem of God Himself and of the Lamb.


THIRD PAPER. “ NOWHERE" (says Dean Milman, with that dispassionate judgment, that uncompromising truthfulness, and that firm determi. nation not to bow down to the idols of sacerdotalism, which are so characteristic of his history) "is Christianity less attractive, and, if we look to the ordinary tone and character of the proceedings, less authoritative, than in the Councils of the Church. It is in general a fierce collision of two rival factions, neither of which will yield, each of which is solemnly pledged against conviction." How far the Council summoned by Pope Pius the Ninth will, in its future proceedings, answer to this description time must show; but in its beginnings it bears a strong family resem. blance to its predecessors. Possibly the influence of the nineteenth century may be so far felt, even by those whose hatred of modern progress and freedom has led them to perpetrate this strange anachronism, as to prevent some of those unseemly scenes which have occurred at former Councils, whose decisions were the result only of violence and clamour, and in whose terrible anathemas, we are told by the veracious and impartial witness already quoted, “it is impossible not to discern the tones of human hatred, of arrogant triumph, of rejoicing at the damnation imprecated against the humiliated adversary." But, whatever moderation may be enforced by that wholesome fear of public opinion, whose agents are carefully observing every circumstance, and publishing it far and wide, there is enough already to show how much that does not savour of the spirit of Christ will be found in an assembly which professes to be the great Council of universal Christendom. We pass over the barbaric pomp, amid which the Council was inaugurated, only marvelling what feature of the whole would be recognised by an Apostle, if he had presented himself among the assembled prelates, as a sign of that Church which he had laboured to form. The gorgeous splendour of a spectacle in which everything was done to fill the beholder with a sense of awe and admiration was in strange keeping with the kingdom one of whose characteristics is that it comes not with observation. The Pope's guard, employed on one occasion to repress the rude and impetuous zeal of the priests, who were pressing too close, in their desire to do him reverence, and so carried away by their own enthusiasm that they forgot the inconvenience they were causing to the object of their servile adulation; the soldiers with their halberds forming so anomalous a part of a great ecclesiastical ceremony, were as little in harmony with a religion “the weapons of whose warfare are not carnal.” The Pope himself, glittering in jewels and gold, borne aloft on his throne, so intoxicated by the silly reverence of flatterers and priests that he is daring to exalt himself even to the place of God, is, to say the least, a singular representative of Him who came not to be ministered unto but to minister. Amid all these shows and gewgaws, prelates in jewelled mitres, and white, priestly robes, the waving of banners, pealing of bells, and roaring of cannon, a member of the first Church might certainly hesitate before believing that this could be the opening of a great Christian assembly.

But, passing over these external points, we see already in this Council germs of the faults of its predecessors. The Pope is proud of the success he has achieved in gathering so many bishops together. He has laboured long and earnestly for this end, and now in the presence of seven hundred bishops collected from all parts of the world he sees the triumph of his policy. He has been careful to summon missionary bishops, labouring in partibus infidelium, and more immediately dependent upon him, as well as the prelates of those national Churches which still maintain their loyalty to Rome, and altogether the array is imposing enough so far as numbers are concerned. But of the unanimity which the old man expected to find there is little sign, and it is questionable whether in face of the strong opposition which he must certainly encounter he will venture even to ask the Council to do the very thing for which it was primarily convened. Pius, proud as he is of the distinction of being the Convener and President of a General Council, would not have assembled so grave a body for a trifling purpose. Past Councils have generally been summoned for the purpose of suppressing some heresy that was rampant in the Church; and, if they have failed to carry out the object, it has been from the lack of power, not of will. But it can hardly be said that anything of this kind is requisite at present. If the Protestant nations are not hopelessly committed to heresy, there are certainly no means at the disposal of the Council which can be employed for their recovery to the true faith. They have been anathematised so often and with so little effect that there can be no use in repeating the process again. As to the Liberal party inside the Church itself, they may undoubtedly come in for condemnation. But all this could be done, and has already been done, without the intervention of a Council. What the Pope's grand aim is cannot possibly be mistaken, and there are some who seem to lose sight of its essential character in their admiration of the determination and energy with which it is pursued. Even the Liberal Daily News is moved by the spectacle presented by this octogenarian as with a quenchless enthusiasm, a daring contempt of consequences, and an untiring assiduity he works out his favourite idea. To us, on the contrary, the sight of an old man tottering on the verge of eternity, yet laying claim to an authority hardly short of the Divine is as melancholy as it is ludicrous. The Pope, indeed, wrapped up in this singular belief in his own powers, this strange unconsciousness of the errors and imperfections attaching to his humanity, this desire to grasp at a


prerogative under the responsibility of which any reasonable man might stagger, is perhaps even less repulsive than his diplomatic minister, Antonelli, who would fain assert the power without having the excuse of that fanaticism by which his superior is evidently influenced, but who is resolved, at any rate, to swim with the tide. But, in the intrigues by which the Council is already agitated, in the active exertions of the Bishop of Orleans on the one hand, and the Archbishop of Westminster on the other, we have the beginnings of dissensions similar to those by which previous Councils have been disturbed. They may not be carried to the same length or attended with the same melancholy consequences, but there will be no more unanimity than on former occasions.

The early Councils were, as we have seen, occupied almost entirely with the consideration of the most subtle and abstruse questions of theology, and our horror at the riotous proceedings by which most of them were marked is deepened when we remember that it was about the mysteries of the Divine nature that Christian bishops plunged into these unseemly strifes, seeking the triumph of their own special theories by the use of wretched political intrigue, or means even more discreditable, and thundering out their anathemas in support of a creed the recognition of whose orthodoxy was due either to Imperial influence or popular violence. Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God, and Nestorius, after a brief hour of triumph, was denounced as a heretic, as we saw in our last chapter, not because the Council had been influenced by the arguments addressed to it, but partly because Pulcheria had inclined the Emperor and the Court to support the cause of Cyril, and partly because that proud prelate was sustained by crowds of fierce monks, who thronged the streets of Ephesus, and with impassioned frenzy demanded the excommunication of the Nestorian heretics, who invaded even the Council itself, and struck terror into the hearts of many of its members, and who thus succeeded in elevating their favourite tenet into a place in the creed of the Catholic Church. Ephesus was destined ere long to be again invaded by these hordes of wild enthusiasts, who issued from their cells to support the cause of Eutyches, one of the most violent opponents of Nestorius, who before long found himself impeached of heresy in his turn. Condemned by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and a local synod, as guilty of confounding the two natures of Christ, by teaching that after the Incarnation the Divine and human natures were blended in one, he appealed to a General Council, which was summoned at Ephesus. The “ Catholic Church ” has branded this as a “Robber Synod,” and repudiated its decrees ; but we fail to see the difference between it and the Councils whose authority is accepted,

« ElőzőTovább »