Images de page

A few other extracts will give the reader a fair idea of the style and contents of the volume :


Lambeth Palace has been styled the British Vatican. And, in fact, how many reminiscences are crowded under those stern arches, haunted by all the ghosts of history! Mary Tudor, Elizabeth, nay, almost all the Kings and Queens of England have come there to consult the Archbishops of Canterbury on affairs of Church and State. Peter the Great has been there also ; Latimer, Thomas More, and the Catholic Archbishop Fisher were, in turn, imprisoned there on account of their religious opinions; for this palace was once a prison also, and former archbishops were in the habit of combining with their office as primate that of an inquisitor also. The sinister glory of having been the first to commence religious persecutions belongs, it is said, to Archbishop Arundel, who in 1401 caused a priest named William Sawtre to be degraded and burnt in Smithfield. Chicheley, who succeeded Arundel, did not wish, as it seemed, to be in any way behind his predecessor, and ordered the building of the Lollards' Tower. * This was the portion of the palace I had not

yet visited. The way to it is through the Water Tower, at the base of which is a vaulted chamber called the post-room. There is, in fact, in the centre of it a wooden post, which, as firm as a tree, partly helps to support the mass of the tower. Tradition will have it that it was to this post that they used to tie heretics when they wished to inflict on them the torture of the lash. This chamber communicates at one end with the chapel, where repenting Lollards might, if they wished, pronounce their recantation, and at the other end with the tower, the rough stone steps of which I mounted with some degree of emotion. All has remained intact in this portion of the palace,--the gaoler's room, the cells, the dungeon, the platform, and the niches ornamented with Gothic sculpture, among which, on the outside, figures the statue of Thomas a Becket. Going up the spiral staircase, we reach the first floor of the tower through a heavy door, studded with largeheaded nails and strengthened with large pieces of oak. Opening this door, groaning on its rusty hinges, we find ourselves in a small dungeon, measuring about thirteen feet in length and eleven and a half feet in width. This chamber is now lighted by two small windows; but formerly, if I may believe my cicerone, its only means of light was a small aperture in the form of a loop-hole, and it was consequently wrapped in obscurity. The walls and flag-stones are furnished with thick, ill-planed planks, on which may he seen iron rings riveted in at intervals, and on these rings there still hung, some forty years ago, the remains of chains. To each of these rings -I counted seven of them used to be fastened a prisoner, tantalised by all the charms of life and nature outside. There seemed to be a refinement of cruelty even in the elevated position of the prison; the captives could hear

The name of this sect, which took its rise in Germany at the commencement of the fourteenth century, has very much exercised the learning of etymologists. Some derive it from the German word lullen, liller, or lallen, signifying to sing; others from the Latin word lolium (tares), in allusion to the parable of the Evangelist; and others from Walter Lollard, or Lolhard, one of the chiefs of the sect. It is certain that the epithet of Lollard was subsequently used in England to designate all classes of heretics. It was applied in the latter sense, in England, to the followers of Wycliffe.

from the Thames the ripple of the water stirred by the oar, the song of the birds, and the rustling of the leaves ; for the tops of the tall trees nearly touched the sides of the tower. A place for a chimney seemed to open on one side of the cell ; but the chimney itself is nothing but a deceit; there is no passage for the smoke, which beat back into the room and suffocated the unfortunate victims. It was, doubtless, one way of dealing with intractable heretics. There is still a trap-door in the floor, lifted up by an iron ring, communicating with the river through a gloomy-looking hole ; down this they used to throw the dead bodies. The wooden lining hiding the walls of the prison is covered all over with almost illegible characters, scratched with the point of a nail or cut with a knife. They may be looked upon as hieroglyphics written by the hands of the dead on the walls of their sepulchre.

THE WORKING CLASSES AND PUBLIC WORSHIP. For some years past the clergy have been much engrossed trying to draw the working classes into their churches. Have these efforts, however, been crowned with much success, at least in large towns? Most assuredly not; and they have still to seek out the causes for an absence which they so rightly deplore. Dr. Pusey attributes the absence of the working classes from public worship to the old system which still rules in the internal arrangement of Protestant churches. The seats are let by the year, or occupied, in right of seniority, by parishioners of the upper, or at least the middle classes. In both cases the poor stand but a bad chance. “Is this," cries Dr. Pusey, “what one has a right to expect from a religion which proclaims the equality of all in the presence of a common Father?" The eloquent professor goes further, and cites facts. Some years ago a church was provided with pews only, and these pews were always empty; they were done away with, open free seats being substituted for them, under thre same clergyman the same church was then filled from one end to the other. This experiment appears decisive ; and yet is it quite certain that the arrangement of the seats is the only cause which drives away from the churches the most numerous class in England ? There is room for doubt on this point. On Sundays, persons in easy circumstances delight to display with a certain emulation all their best attire; how would it look for the poor to come there and expose their rags? This objection has appeared so serious a one, that the idea was started in 1850 to establish in London ragged churches, on the same plan as the ragged schools which already existed; but there was something ungracious in the epithet itself, which prevented this attempt from meeting with success.

The truth always remains the same, that, in the very edifices where the voice of the Gospel is so loudly raised against the worship of Mammon, the humble city workman feels himself oppressed under the weight of an entire social system that appears to him to be in direct contradiction of the words of the great Master. All in vain have they softened down the sense of certain texts ; in vain, thanks to a miracle of scholastic subtlety, have they suc ceeded in passing the camel through the needle's eye ; but the question is still unsolved, how we can reconcile the excessive distinction of ranks with the spirit of a book which preaches self-denial and humility in all. The Reformation desired to bring the priest nearer to the people, in order to bring men nearer to God; but birth, education, and fortune still create a gulf between the Protestant minister and the most humble portion of his congregation. As to the bishop, he is too great a man, and is too far removed from the people, to exercise any very lively influence over them. And then also, behind this ecclesiastical hierarchy, there is a civil hierarchy as well, forming a double Jacob's ladder, very high and formidable to him who is on earth. Poverty acts as a means of isolation, and this isolation seems still increased amid the gilded crowd which frequent many of the churches. We have sufficient reasons here to explain why it is that a large portion of the working classes either entirely refrain from taking any part in public worship, or else, on Sundays, attend the chapels of some of the Dissenting denominations.


The interior exactly resembles a concert-hall : it contains a pit and two tiers of galleries, one over the other, round which rows of light run, whilst jets of gas encircle the capitals of the columns supporting the roof, and surmount them like a crown of fire; no religious symbol, however, unless you consider as such the dial of a clock, intended no doubt to remind Christians of the rapid flight of time. At seven o'clock Mr. Spurgeon made his appearance on a balcony, or platform surrounded with a balustrade. He was clothed in black, and wore a white cravat. The most profound silence reigned amid the three or four thousand attentive hearers who filled the vast hall, even now too small for the reputation of the preacher. A short reading out of the Bible, one or two hymns, and a prayer-such were the preliminaries to the sermon. Mr. Spurgeon has much that belongs to the actor both in his face, voice, and gestures ; he is by turns grave or comic, falling sometimes from the sublime to what is grotesque and trivial—“sometimes Ezekiel, and sometimes Scaramouch ; still he has undoubtedly founded in England a new school of sacred eloquence. Other preachers try to imitate him, but with very little success. They want the vigorous and pure enunciation, which controls and sways at its will the impetuous passions of the crowd; that pungent energy which gives to religious controversy all the interest of a debating club; and, above all, that art which fascinates the imagination by bestowing on the pulpit all the attractiveness of the drama. Mr. Spurgeon has become the subject of caricature on more than one occasion, and he has not been spared by the pencil of the English artists. Like Socrates, he has had the honour to have been put on the stage while yet alive. These arrows of criticism are always directed against talents which may be odd, but yet are real ; why, therefore, should he have shown the weakness of taking notice of them?

Mr. Spurgeon is distinguished by his liberal views. On a recent occasion he assisted with his great influence the election to Parliament of Mr. Thomas Hughes, the celebrated author of “Tom Brown's School-days." There was nothing to astonish in this interference of a dissenting minister in public matters, and nothing contrary to conventional ideas; for it must be remembered that civil institutions in England have been moulded out of the same metal as the forms of religious belief.



[JUNE 9, 1867.]

The feast of Pentecost was associated by the later Jews with the giving of the law. Reckoning fifty days from the middle of the first month, we are brought to the beginning of the third month, the time when (Ex. xix. 1) we are told the children of Israel came into the wilderness of Sinai. At this day the Jews call the feast of the Pentecost the feast of the law; “some of them adorn their houses with flowers, and wear wreaths on their heads, with the declared purpose of testifying their joy in the possession of the law. They also eat such food as is prepared with milk,” in symbol of the purity of the Divine law, “the sincere milk of the word.” Some Christian commentators, devoted to rabbinical lore, have adopted this interpretation, and associate the giving of the old law with the constitution of the Christian, with its new and diviner precepts. Under Sinai, they say, Jewish national life began, the law being the bond of the people's unity. At Pentecost began a larger fellowship : the Holy Ghost is the bond “which, amidst all outward differences, is to unite for evermore the souls of all God's believing children." The Church, with its larger life and holier order, dates back to the first Christian, as the Israelitish nation to the first Jewish Pentecost.

This interpretation is not found in Jewish writings till long after the dispersion ; nor does it receive any countenance from the Bible. The day of Pentecost was the feast of first-fruitsthe day when the earliest wheat was made into two leavened loaves, and brought into the temple, with lambs and drink-offerings, to be first presented and then eaten before the Lord. The idea of the celebration is simple enough ; it was an expression of gladness and gratitude to God for His bountiful gifts to His people. It was an act of natural worship; the Jews within the temple were mindful of what God was doing without, on hillsides, and in valleys. They first acknowledged the care and bounty that fed them, and then they did eat of His fruits “ with gladness and singleness of heart.”

There is a Christian as well as a Jewish year; we cannot be, or ought not to be, unmindful of the changes around us, all of which illustrate God's holy counsel, His tender conduct of the lives of His children, and the history of mankind. God speaks to us in rain, and sunshine, and fruitful seasons; the author of natural and spiritual life is One, and His works are One. Pictures of His hidden operations lie all around; He gives many a hint, many a memorial of His gracious purpose in the changes of the year, and has taught us to see in seed-sowing a symbol of the Cross, and a call to Christian sacrifice. The one great law of life out of death, fruitfulness out of self-devotion, is illustrated in the “corn of wheat,” that, “except it die, abideth alone, but if it die, bringeth forth much fruit.” The harvest, the solemn fruitful autumn-time, reminds us of the end of the world, and has its strangely-blended influences of mournfulness and hope. Spring is a type of the resurrection ; life bursting out of the grave; life fuller, fresher, better than that which has been laid down. Of all beautiful, blessed symbols of the Christian life, this early summer-time is the most blessed. Calm as these warm and not yet sultry days; peaceful as early June mornings; fresh as the dews and showers; rich as the verdure of our landscape, it is given us sometimes to feel, and always to know our Christian life is under the silent energy of the Spirit of Christ and of God. God is making all things new; the reviving world speaks of that gracious renewal of humanity which, checked sometimes, and apparently proceeding slowly, we can yet see to have followed on the winter of the Cross.

A Western summer is, indeed, not so early and so rapid as our Eastern summer; neither is our moral and spiritual life so rapid in its progress as that of Eastern men. There are no harvest shears to-day wherewith to deck English churches; we must wait many weeks for the leavened loaves of the first-ripe wheat. But the trees are clad with verdure, and the scent of roses is in the air. The pinks and pansies are bearing their first and richest flowers; the first crops, freshest and daintiest, are in our markets and on our tables. A tender life is working all around; more tender than the Eastern summer, if also more slow. There is here symbolized the soft and genial Christian life. God is giving an annual lesson to us who, amid the changes and troubles and temptations of the world, so soon grow stern and gloomy and despondent. We should be thankful for this beauteous early summer.

We should listen while God speaks from the Bible and the land. He will enjoy the season more, will find it a holier season to him, who can feel in it God's teaching of the gracious energy of the Holy Spirit, that breathes through nature and the renewed, the Christian life.

[ocr errors]

I. The Passover and Pentecost were intimately connected. The day of Pentecost was reckoned from the time of the Passover. The injunction to keep the feast of first-fruits concludes, “and thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt;

« PrécédentContinuer »