Imágenes de páginas

intemperance, seldom does more even the observance of the comthan smile and forgive, if the monest external forms. Like their offender can plead that he is an chiefs, the common people have but Ilyát (or a wanderer). Sir John one study, how to excel in warlike Malcolm mentions having been pre- accomplishments; with them, too, sent when one of these rude warriors the Lacedæmonian virtues of stealabused and grossly insulted the ing adroitly and of bearing pain are prime minister. On inquiring the equally fashionable. Though their next day whether the minister had Creed is theoretically Mahommedan, punished him, the savage replied, they rarely abstain from animal food “ It is all settled ; I have made an or wine; and even the flesh of the apology; I told the minister that I hog is not unfrequently a Kurdish was an Ilyát, and that you know delicacy. “Our religion, and that -added he, laughing—" is an ex- of the Franks, have much simicuse for anything wrong a man can larity,” observed a Kurd to an say or do."

It may easily be English gentleman one day; “. imagined that with such a people eat hog's flesh, drink wine, keep no education has made little or no pro- fasts, and say no prayers.” --Vaux's gress, and that religion cannot shew Nineveh and Persepolis.



No. V. THE book to which Butler sat down, was a volume of an old English translation of Fleury's Church History, which had been lent him by Mr. Jones, and to which he was now in the habit of eagerly turning, as often as he had a little leisure time for reading: and as he was a person of a thoughtful turn of mind, and of an accurate memory, and had Mr. Jones to consult with in every difficulty, he found himself able, on the whole, to put things together very tolerably, to his real pleasure and profit. I do not, of course, mean that he understood everything; very far from it: but what he did understand was quite sufficient to make him by degrees aware, how the events related in the Gospel issued in the state of things wherein we now find ourselves. And there were three lessons in which, as he felt, this study ought to improve him daily: the first, of adoring love to God, for His fatherly care of His flock ; the second, of deep humiliation and fear at the perverseness of man, too generally receiving His grace in vain; the third, of contentedness and thankful patience in his own calling, as an English Churchman.

But here, perhaps, some one will say, “ How came Mr. Jones to lend the Schoolmaster a Church History, written by a Roman, not an English, Catholic ? was he not a little unfaithful, or at least, imprudent, in putting his parishioner under such

guidance ?

The answer to this is, that Mr. Jones, having studied the book carefully himself, knew how honest and exact, for the most part, this good French clergyman, M. Fleury, had been, in representing things as they really were : he considered also, that although of the Church of Rome, Fleury was not one of those who think it necessary to submit blindly to the Pope for the time being, whatever he may direct: and, moreover, Mr. Jones had diligently marked, in his copy, all the places in which he thought any material correction was needed; stipulating with Butler, that he should never pass over those marks without talking over the place with him : and as Butler, for his part, did as he was bid, it came to pass, as I said, that the study of this Roman Catholic book helped greatly to confirm, instead of at all shaking him, as to his faith in the English Church. Not that he needed such confirmation, for, by God's mercy,

he never had had any doubt. But it was as well for many reasons, good for others as well as himself,—that he should be able to give some account of the faith that was in him.

The particular portion of the Church's History which Butler fell on considering, after the conversation last related, was the remaining part of the first age, the age of the Apostles, following the time of St. Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, with which, as we know, St. Luke ends his Acts of the Apostles. And it came into Butler's mind, that this portion of the history naturally divides itself into two: the one, beginning, as I said, with St. Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, sixty-one years from our Lord's birth, would end with the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, about the year of Christ 67: the other, would go on to the death of St. John the Evangelist, A.D. 99, or thereabouts. The next time Hyde called on Butler, he saw a paper

written out on the table, which he guessed to be on this subject; for he knew something of his friend's studies. He asked Butler's leave to look over it, and read as follows :

“ What was the state of things in the Church at the moment where the Book of Acts finishes ?

To begin with Jerusalem,* the Mother Church : there were ó many thousands of Jews that believed, and they were zealous of the law, that is, very particular in wishing it to be observed by all, who, like themselves, were born Jews. Their Bishop was St. James, the brother of our Lord, probably the Apostle St. James the Less; and he, with all his Elders or Presbyters, or as we should call them Priests, was clearly for

* Acts xxi. 20.

[ocr errors]


indulging the people in this very natural wish ; as we see by their advising St. Paul to take part in certain ceremonies. At the same time they were careful to point out that such conformity was not needed for salvation, and therefore no Gentile need practise it.* By his conscientious exactness, joined to the especial sympathy which he shewed for their nation, St. James gained remarkable influence, even among the unconverted Jews: they would press on him to touch the hem of his garment. His life was that of a most austere Nazarite; no razor came upon his head, nor did he touch wine or strong drink, or animal food ; he abstained from anointing oil, and from the use of the bath ; and wearing, as the Jewish Priests did, only linen garments, he was permitted, as though he were one of them, to enter into the Holy Place, where he was often found on his knees, which were grown hard like those of a camel, asking, especially, pardon for his countrymen ; and thus he obtained the especial surname of • the Just. In his Christian love for his brethren of the Jews, he wrote his Catholic Epistle “ to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” that is, to the Jews of the dispersion, who had become Christians, about this time, as it should seem, for there are tokens in it both of sore judgments soon to be expected on Jerusalem, and of an immoral perversion of the doctrine of justification, of which St. Paul also had warned men in the Epistle to the Romans especially.

“ It appears that the bitter enemies of the Gospel, at Jerusalem, incensed at St. Paul's escaping them by his appeal to Cæsar, set themselves, from that time, to destroy St. James. Before long an opportunity was given them by the death of the Roman Governor, Festus. While his place was vacant, on some day near Easter, A.D. 62, had one been present at Jerusalem, one might have witnessed (according to tradition) such a scene as the following: Upon the pinnacle or battlement of the Temple, where it hangs steepest over the valley of the Brook Cedron, the Holy Apostle and Bishop was to be seen conferring with the Chief Priests and Elders, who were below with a great crowd, waiting to hear what he should say concerning our Saviour. (For the persecutors, who were of the most unpitying sect, the Sadducees, made as though they expected him really to deny Christ.) Thus, then, might you hear them crying aloud to him:

O Just man, to whom we are all bound to defer, since the multitude is going astray after Jesus, which was crucified, declare unto us what is the door of Jesus :' (which expression appears to mean, “the entrance into His kingdom, taught by Him.') St. James replies with a loud voice, · Wherefore ask ye me of Jesus the Son of Man ? He both sitteth in Heaven, at the Right Hand of the Great Power, and will come in the clouds of Heaven.' Many believe, and give glory, and say, 'Hosanna to the Son of David.' The Scribes and Pharisees whisper to each other, • We have erred in causing such testimony to be borne to Jesus. But let us go up and cast him down, that they may be scared, and not believe him.' So they cried and said, ' Oh, oh, even the Just man is deceived. Then they went up and cast down the Just man, and said to one another, “Let us stone James the Just:' and they began stoning him, since he died not at once on his fall, but turned himself, and kneeled, saying, “I beseech Thee, O Lord God, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' While they were stoning him, one of the Priests, of the Rechabites to whom the Prophet Jeremiah bears witness, cried out, Desist, what are ye doing ? the righteous man is praying for you.' Then one of them, a fuller, taking a club, wherewith he was used to beat out the webs of cloth, swayed it against the Just man's head ; and so he bare his testimony, and they buried him in the place by the Temple, where the pillar of his grave was still remaining near 100 years after.

* Acts xxi. 25.

“ Even among the Jews themselves, it was commonly thought that this cruelty and impiety had a great deal to do with the heavy judgments of God, which presently after began to fall on Jerusalem.”

Here Hyde stopped, and laid down the paper, saying, “ I have now quite enough to think of for one while. If I

may, I will come and read the rest to-morrow." And he seemed to be going; but he lingered with his hand on the lock of the door, and looked round so wistfully, that Butler could not help saying, “ Do stop for one minute, and tell me what is in your mind."

H. Oh, a great many things at once. How can one hear of that blessed Saint punishing himself; as he did in diet and in other respects, and not be ashamed of one's self for living so much at ease, and helping one's self to the very best one can get? I see you are amused; but indeed I am quite in earnest, at least I seem to myself to be so.”

B. “ Nay, I was not thinking of you, but of some of our friends, who always look so shocked, when they read or hear

[ocr errors]

of anything of that sort,—anything which the books call ascetic,—you know what I mean.”

H. Yes; I know what you mean, and I know whom you mean, at least, some of them. Don't you recollect the Parson we heard of, who, expounding the Prayer-book to his people, when he came to the word “fasting,' told them it meant no more than being strictly temperate, neither eating nor drinking too much ?

B. To be sure ; it was a thing not easy to forget; especially after hearing what Mr. Jones had to say of it.”

H. What was that? Tell me again, for I can but partly remember."

B. “ Why, he said, “If that is what fasting means, what a curious rule this is, here in the beginning of the Prayer-book!

-“ All Fridays in the year, except Christmas Day," are to be kept as “ days of Fasting, or Abstinence," that is, -(according to this interpretation, on other days besides Friday you may eat and drink too much, but not on any Friday in the year, except Christmas-day should happen to fall on a Friday, and then you need not mind getting a little out of bounds.”'

H.Ayes. I well remember it now; and also Mr. Jones's countenance, when he looked up, and said, “Now, what do you think of that, neighbours, for a nice little bit of Church law?'"

B. “But, seriously, what a pity it is that good persons should indulge such a prejudice, against a thing so much recommended in Scripture, and so constantly practised by the Saints of all ages!. Even from what little I have read, I am sure that this self-denial of St. James is but a sample of what we read all along in the best times of the Church.”

H. " Why in the world should they so object to it? Do they think it makes people cross? Because, if they do, I should like to point out to them, how the same holy man proved throughout so gentle and considerate—how very kindly he entered into the very feelings and prejudices of the Jews, and took care not to have them hurt without cause." B. “ Most true; and withal he firmly stood up

for Cliristian liberty, and the Gentiles' admission to the full grace of Christ, without those old, shadowy ceremonies."

H. “ I suppose he was a specimen of a true Churchman—of the way in which the Church herself, in her good days, always ordered such matters."

B. And he had his reward. His Lord took him to Himself, as one may say, in exchange for St. Paul. St. Paul's life

« AnteriorContinuar »