« AnteriorContinuar »
men, but they had a great stake upon the venture they had made; for it is a fearful thing for the good to spend the one life that is given them upon a religious delusion. What do these witnesses hand down to us? Not so much asseverations that Christ was perfectly holy, as a general picture of His life, which makes on all who read it the impression of holiness. What are the chief elements of holiness? Great love, great self-abandonment, avoidance of evil even to the appearance of it, and, above all, a constant sense of dependence on and union with God, and a zeal for the doing of His work. That the Evangelists never put these elements together, but left us to do so for ourselves, adds, if possible, to the weight of their testimony. They do not say, 'Here is a righteous man !' but the facts that under their pens produce in generation after generation the impression of complete holiness.
We do not say that no generation can invent an ideal somewhat higher than itself; but the fate of all human inventions of this sort is, that by-and-by other human inventions surpass them. But what ideal have the eighteen centuries produced which has distracted men's affections from the Christ, and drawn them to some other object? At this moment the person and character of Jesus is an object even of more interest than it has ever been before. And whilst the miracles are denied and the dates of the Gospels disputed, each writer in turn does homage after his fashion to the moral purity and dignity of Christ. Strauss concedes to Him the beautiful nature ; Renan calls Him demiGod,' whereat M. Lasserre may well ask, “Is God divided ?' Channing, a Unitarian, stands before this unique character, and abstracting his mind from former impressions, tries to see it as a new phenomenon, and feels that he is in presence of one who spake as never man spake before or since. Schenkel and Keim are far from a true conception of Christ : but both admit that history has produced no parallel. Schenkel, whose book is marred by a certain democratic twang, says of Jesus, He lived in Galilee, He died in Jerusalem, but He lives for ever in the souls that attain, through His word, to truth, to true piety, and to love.' Keim, a writer of higher strain, and with more of a true historical spirit, admits that here is one whom history cannot explain, and that the person of Jesus is a fact unique in the history of the world.* After all the waves of criticism shall have passed over us, we feel that this will remain, which criticism has not shaken, the admiration for the moral perfection of Jesus the Son of God. The person of Christ, as Schaff has well said, is the miracle of history.' The question about miracles
can afford to wait. Men are jealous of interference with the laws of science. Be it so. Science makes the mistake of confounding the new with the impossible. In a world of minerals the first plant would be miraculous; in a world of plants the first moving animal. Did an image of God's perfection make known to men His divine presence in Palestine long ago? Then He, rather than any one act of His, is the miracle which supersedes the laws that govern lower natures. It is hard to believe that Jesus rose from the dead ; it is harder to believe that He said with all His heart, 'I am come to seek and to save that which is lost.' ... • Come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' He Himself is more surprising than all that He appears to have wrought of mastery over material laws.
This great controversy, then, is not all matter of regret. There was lurking in the minds of many people a vague belief that if records were ransacked much might be found that had assisted in producing the teaching of the Lord; that He was far beyond all that was before Him, but that much of His teaching was a natural growth, the product of the age, its cultivation, its inherited beliefs. Criticism has said its last word upon the subject, and the impression, brought to the proof, turns out to be unfounded. The more exact the research the more remarkable the contrast between the riches of Christ, His precious doctrine and character, and the sheer bareness, littleness, narrowness, of the Judæan culture out of which He came. Moreover, the true human nature of Christ was somewhat lost sight of in the Church. Gazing up into beaven upon the risen Lord, with the glory of eternity and of the Divine presence about His head, we have a little forgotten that our Master was one who walked through this pilgrimage of life as we are walking, with feet sore with travel, with a heart oppressed by misapprehension. And when truth wanes moral activity declines. We have been forced, by rude shocks no doubt, to look at His true human side again." They say that M. Renan's book has caused a great demand for copies of the Gospels in a country where these were not so accessible as they are to us. We
may do well to return to our Gospels, and know in Christ the true human friend and guide, leader, pattern. We should hear His discourses as new teaching, we should watch Him tried with all kinds of hate and stupid misunderstanding, we should stand very near the cross. If suffering is human,
if love and pity are human, then His sacred history is intensely human. Nevertheless, when we turn the last page and let our honest conviction speak, we shall find the human has revealed to us the divine, "Truly this man was the Son of God.'
Art. V. - A History of Architecture in all Countries from the
earliest Times to the present Day. By James Fergusson, F.R.S., M.R.A.S., Fellow Royal Inst. Brit. Architects. In 3 vols. Vol. I. London, 1865. N the British Museum there is a tomb which was brought
from Lycia, in Asia Minor. The whole is of stone, but the upper portion is a slavish copy of a wooden prototype. The curvilinear form is common in the slight timber roofs of India. The rafters, the projecting beams of ceiling and floor, the panels, the framing, are all carved in imitation of the wooden original, and have little meaning in the material to which they have been transferred. The structure of the lower part alone is appropriate. The incongruity of the combination arises from the circumstance that the people had been accustomed to enclose their dead in a sarcophagus of wood, which they placed upon a pedestal of stone. As they advanced in wealth and skill they substituted a durable for a fragile sarcophagus; and without the slightest regard to constructive propriety, they copied the pri
Lycian Tomb. From British Museum. mitive details. Traces of the process are preserved among the buildings of other nations ; and it is undoubtedly one of the phases through which architec
ture has always passed in its infancy. When parts which at first were wood are exchanged for stone, the mason imitates the work of the carpenter. The fact is a strong example of a truth which characterises the entire history of architecture. Each successive designer treads nearly in the track of his predecessor, even where
might seem that common sense would teach him to seek a new path. Styles are not struck out at a heat, but are evolved bit by bit, and are less a creation than a growth. They have been educed from rude beginnings in a regular gradation; and however grand or beautiful may be the ultimate result, the separate advances have been small. Here and there a genius takes a longer stride than usual, but the mightiest genius has never sufficed to do more.
Contrivances obey the same law when they are regulated by purely scientific principles, without any attention to artistic effect. All the important discoveries in machinery,' said an eminent engineer, have been made in homeopathic doses.' Their authors are seldom known to fame, for the contributions of single inventors are not of sufficient extent to found a reputation. Yet when many minds are turned in one direction the aggregate progress is immense. Machinery,' says Mr. Babbage,
for producing any commodity in great demand seldom actually wears out, new improvements by which the same operations can be executed either more quickly or better generally superseding it long before that period arrives. Architecture is cultivated with equal success where the builders of a nation concentrate their efforts upon a given style, and a designer, like the machinist, simply studies to improve upon the performance of his predecessor. This enabled the Greeks to perfect their temples, which were the productions, not of a man, but of a people. This was the source of the glories of the Gothic, with its long succession of developments, and its endless variety of exquisite detail. For generations it was the style of a large part of Europe, and religious as well as artistic zeal was enlisted in its service. In a mediæval cathedral,' says Mr. Fergusson, 'you have not only the accumulated thought of all the men who had occupied themselves with building during the preceding centuries, and each of whom had left his legacy of thought, but you have the dream and aspiration of the bishop who designed it; of all his clergy who took an interest in it; of the master mason who was skilled in construction ; of the carver, the painter, the glazier ; of the host of men who each in his own craft knew all that had been done before them, and had spent their lives in struggling to surpass the works of their fore
fathers.' Nothing similar exists at present. Instead of a national and steadily progressive style, all styles take their turn according to the caprice of the individual architect. Efforts which were once united are divided, and, with few and partial exceptions, our activity has been more displayed in debasing old styles than in eliminating new. The servile copyist constantly borrows the facings of his design in defiance of fitness, and disfigures what he alters. The true artist is conscious that fresh requirements call for novel expedients. Aware that beauty cannot exist apart from propriety, he varies his means to suit his end, and finds a stimulus to invention in the complex wants of modern life.
Since the numerous forms of architecture are of gradual growth, their history loses most of its interest and significance unless the several changes are unfolded, as far as possible, in the order in which they arose. There is a fascination in observing how each step in the series is generated by its predecessor, and how innovations, which are separately slight, produce such a total revolution in the end, that the features of the primitive parent can hardly be recognised in the offspring. There is an especial delight in tracing a style from one country to another, in noting the parts which are selected by the people who import it, the manner in which they adapt it to their purposes, and the stamp which they set upon it of their peculiar genius till the borrowed basis is converted into striking originality. In the old architectures many links in the chain are lost, but enough remains to give sequence and connexion to the history. The work of Mr. Fergusson is the first in which the subject has been properly treated. It has been the accident, he says, of his life that he has wandered over the larger portion of the old world, and seen the edifices of almost all the countries between China and the Atlantic shore. Teeming with knowledge, acute in detecting differences and resemblances, ingenious in deciphering imperfect indications, and divining the whole from a part, he has obtained by personal observation a singular insight into the several styles, and the relation in which they stand to each other. He has put together the pieces of a complex puzzle, and has introduced harmony and unity where before there was often discordance and confusion. In addition to his historic acumen, he possesses the rare quality of a catholic taste. Knowledge and familiarity are essential to the full appreciation of artistic qualities, and partial studies inevitably beget narrow criticisms. A learner is attracted to some particular style, he grows enamoured of its beauties, he concludes that they are incomparable, and, turning his back on rival excellencies, he mistakes ignorance and bigotry for supeVol. 120.—No. 240.