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tales. The idea of a pure life nauseates him; he has not the appetite to try it.
What is the average Englishman of the lower, middle, and peasant class ? He has no taste for wholesome and rational amusements, he can only go in for vulgar and noisy sports, such as “kiss in the ring," and the like, which are rude and coarse to a degree. He must have his heavy dinner, he must have his pipe, above all he must have his beer. The ordinary English mind is not educated for anything noble and refined. The Anglican Church, instead of training the nobler faculties, has anathematized them and bid them be cast out as unclean. It is altogether different on the Continent. The Church there has held
up chin of these purer tastes in the flood which would have engulfed them. A French or an Italian peasant seldom forgets that he is one of nature's gentlemen, for, through his Church, the sun and air have been let in on his aspirations after what is not utterly gross, and thus the animal has never been allowed to master the man. But with the Englishman of the lower classes, thanks to three hundred years of Protestantism, it is different. “The great English middle class, the kernel of the nation,” says Mr. Matthew Arnold, “ the class whose intelligent sympathy had upheld a Shakespeare,” which had covered our land with structures of exquisite beauty, which had produced a rich floriation of poetry, “entered the prison of Puritanism, and has had the key turned on its spirit there for two hundred years.
He enlargeth a nation, says Job, and straiteneth it again.” Give the average Englishman music, it must be of a sort that he and his fellows may be able to roar out some vulgar foolish words as they promenade the terraces or walks, six or eight abreast, knock1 Matthew Arnold : Essays in Criticism, p. 170.
ing out of the way and insulting every decent personif women or girls so much the better—that they meet. Give him dancing, it must be turned into an occasion of immodesty. Give him pictures, he would rather see some painted Jezebel on the tight rope than all the master pieces of Raphael or Titian. Give him statuary, a group of tableaux vivants at the Shades is much more grateful to his eyes than the fairest of Canova's works. Give him a museum, what are works and stones to him? A Zoological Garden-he will go at feeding time, or to see men or women imperilling their lives by fighting with the beasts, and if torn in pieces so much the more is gotten for the money. Try what you will for the bumpkin and the mechanic, nothing will be appreciated, save what is vulgar and noisy, and coarse; nor will they allow the distinction between enjoyment and beastly excess.
Now to what sort of future do these gross natures look forward ? If they have no sense of the intellectual, the beautiful, and the pure here, what possible satisfaction would these afford them hereafter, unless a process of levelling up had first been undergone, and no such process can be gone through unless it be voluntarily submitted to; for God's action on man is by persuasion not by compulsion. And if the desire for anything better has burned out through neglect, there is no reason to conclude that it will be rekindled through an eternity.
Who can tell what anguish may torture the soul, through jealousy and envy of those who are in a different condition? The physical pains which have been imagined as the punishment of hell, are but a figure adapted to rude minds of the exquisite self-inflicted pains of a spirit lost to all appreciation of the good and beautiful, that rages with hate against those enjoying both, without the power of
spoiling their pleasure, and of dragging them into the same degradation.
The future life will correspond with the desires felt in the terrestrial life; if in this life man widens his sympathies, the greater will be his satisfaction hereafter; but if he suppresses all his nobler desires, and lives only for the flesh, he will find hereafter nothing to satisfy him, when the faculty of sensual gratification is removed; for pleasure is only given for a purpose, and the purpose accomplished, pleasure will disappear. If he has been indifferent to God here, he will not miss Him through eternity. If he has destroyed his sense of beauty here, he will be bored with the loveliness of Paradise. If intellectual and spiritual pursuits fail to create an interest here, he will yawn through an eternity of spiritual and intellectual activity. The circle of eternity to one will be the cipher zero to another.
Imagine the Wiltshire rustic looking down from the Jura over the blue lake of Neufchatel to the silver bank of distant Alps hung in mid air, beyond the level marshes of Morat, whilst his feet are deep in anemones, primulas, and gentians. Imagine the London swell at a conversazione of the Royal Society, where all the most wonderful scientific discoveries of the year are being exhibited; both are sullen and disgusted. Neither cares to enjoy and know what to others afford inexpressible delight. The more those around them exhibit their satisfaction, the more Hodge and Sharpie weary and gloom.
But if a desire to enjoy what others enjoy flash across the mind of either, all is changed; through pain the soul struggles upwards, step by step, like a little child acquiring knowledge, through tears and occasional relapses, may be, but at each step some light breaks in on the spirit, some fresh beauty or truth rises into sight.
Such is the idea applied in the Catholic system to the future state. To those who die without a care for anything better, there is an eternity of protracted stagnation, embittered by consciousness of loss, by envy and hate. To those whose souls, however undeveloped and marred, retain some hope and desire of better things, a gradual purgation, a struggling of the spirit to appreciate what it knows to be good, but which jars against its disordered appetites. To those who have put forth all their talents to usury-wave on wave of varied and unending beauty flowing from the inexhaustible fountain of all perfection. We cannot but recognize in this life, some who are incorrigible; men who have deliberately strangled every higher and better principle within, till their natures are bare of life which may be developed; they have lost all taste and all capacity for good, just as those who wilfully neglect to educate their minds in youth are incapable of achieving any intellectual growth in old age. But, on the other hand, there are many whose expansion has been retarded by external circumstances, but who have not lost the capacity for good,—the germ to grow and blossom. Now, progress is the law of the universe. Nothing stands still that has life in it. If progress has been checked here, it must be continued in the intermediate state, a progress by pain from the imperfect to the perfect.
As I said just now, where there is the will to rise, there is the possibility of rising. This is strictly in correspondence with the law of God's dealings with man, as laid down in the second preliminary hypothesis.
God has given man free-will. Therefore He uses no constraint. His action on man is moral.
And by the hypothesis of the Incarnation, it is taught that when the will to return to God and to harmony is present, then the grace to enable the return is given.
Consequently, so long as man has the will to enjoy what is better, the faculty of enjoying it will be given him.
If, then, after death, the desire be strong to see and delight in God, restoration will be wrought out.
If the desire be extinguished in life; there is no reason to believe that it will be restored; for such restoration would be an infringement of the determination of man's free-will.
There is one point more on which I must touch; the resurrection of the body. This follows the law of the Incarnation.
There have always been manifest two concurrent desires in
man, the desire that his soul may live eternally, and that his body may remain his own. The former was the idea prevalent among the philosophers, but the latter commended itself to the popular feeling. The idea of the intellectual faculty living on was somewhat cold, and the feelings of the people desired some less abstract life. If their notion of the future state was crude and grotesque, it could not fail to be otherwise, when all their pleasure consisted in sensuality, and their ideas of happiness rarely ascended above the routine of everyday life.
“ Errant exsangues sine corpore et ossibus umbræ ;
Parsque forum celebrant, pars nisi tecta tyranni ;
Pars alios artes, antiquæ imitamina vitæ."1 In Paradise, those “regions of joy, delightful green retreats, and blessed grove-covered abodes where happiness abounds, where the air is more free and enlarged, and clothes the fields with radiant light," so beautifully described by Virgil, what is the occupation of the blessed ?
“ Pars in gramineis exercent membra palæstris ;
Contendunt ludo, et fulvâ luctantur arenâ ;
Pars pedibus plaudunt choreas, et carmina dicunt.” 9 1 Ovid : Met. iv. 443.
Virgil : Æneid. vi. 641-3.