« السابقةمتابعة »
tion, may not wish had been away. It is indeed one of the mischiefs which Rome has entailed upon the whole Western Church, even upon those portions of it which have now escaped her tyranny, that she has rendered suspicious so much, which, but for her, none could have thought otherwise than profitable and edifying. She has compelled those, who above all things would be true to God's word, oftentimes to act in the spirit of Hezekiah, when he said “Nehushtan” to the very “sign of salvation?”-to the brazen serpent itself. Yet granting that the superstitious, and therefore profane, hands which she has laid on so much, must oftentimes make it our wisdom, and indeed our duty, that we abridge ourselves of our rightful liberty in many things, which otherwise and but for her we might have freely and profitably used, there is still a limit to these self-denials : and unless we are determined to set such a limit, there is no point of bareness and nakedness in all of imaginative and symbolic in worship and service, which we might not reach; even as
some Reformed Churches, which have not shewn that mingled moderation and firmness, that have in these matters so wonderfully characterized our own, have undoubtedly made themselves much poorer than
Etußodov owrnplas. Wisd. xvi.
Of course, those who consider that the whole middle age theology is to be ignored and placed under ban—that nothing is to learned from it, or nothing but harm-those I must expect to disapprove, not merely of a small matter or two in the volume, but of it altogether; for the very idea of the book rests on the supposition that it is worth our while to know what the feelings of these ages were-what the Church was doing during a thousand years of her existence;-on the assumption also, that the voices in which men uttered then the deepest things of their hearts, will be voices in which we may also utter and embody the deepest things of our own. For myself, I cannot but feel that we are untrue to our position as a Church, that is, as an historic body, and above all to our position as members of a Protestant Church, when we thus wish to dissever, as far as we may, the links of our historic connexion with the past. We should better realize that position, if we looked at those middle ages with the expectation, (which the facts would abundantly justify,) of finding the two Churches, which at the Reformation disengaged themselves from one another, in the bosom of the Church which was then-if we looked at those ages, not seeking (as sometimes is done, I cannot but feel most unfairly, in regard to earlier times) to claim them as Protestant, but as little granting
that they were Romanist. It were truer to say that in Romanism we have the residuum of the middle age Church and theology, the lees, after all, or well nigh all, the wine was drained
But in the medieval Church we have the wine and the lees together the truth and the error—the false observance, and yet at the same time the divine truth which should one day be fatal to it, side by side. Good were it for us to look at those ages, tracing gladly, as Luther so loved to do, the footsteps of the Reformers before the Reformation ; ard feeling that it is our duty, that it is the duty of each successive age of the Church, as not to accept the past in the gross, so neither in the gross to reject it; since rather by our position as the present representatives of that eternal body, we are bound to recognise ourselves as the rightful inheritors of all which is good and true that ever has been done or said within it. Nor is this all: but if our position mean anything, we are bound also to believe that to us, having the Word and the Spirit, the power has been given to distinguish things which differ,—that the sharp sword of judgment has been placed in our hands, whereby to sunder between the holy and profane,-that such a breath of the Almighty is now and evermore breathing over his Church, as shall enable it, boldly and with entire trust that he will winnow
for it, to exclaim, “What is the chaff to the wheat?" Surely it is our duty to believe that to us, that to each generation which humbly and earnestly seeks, will be given that enlightening Spirit, by the aid of which it shall be enabled to read aright the past realizations of God's divine idea in the visible and historic Church of successive ages, and to distinguish the human imperfections, blemishes, and errors, from the divine truth which they obscured and overlaid, but which they could not destroy, being one day rather to be destroyed by it; and, distinguishing these, as in part to take warning from and to shun, so also in part to live upon and to love, that which in word and deed the Church of the past has bequeathed us.
In this sense,-namely, that there is here that which we may live on and love, as well as that which we must shun and leave, I have brought together the poems of this present volume, gathering out the tares, which yet I could recognize but as the accident of this goodly field, and seeking to present to my brethren that only which I had confidence would prove wholesome nutriment for souls. Undoubtedly there are tares enough in the field out of which these sheaves have been gathered, if a man will seek them, if he should believe that it is his occupation to do so; which yet I have not believed to be mine. And I have published this volume,
because, granting a collection made upon these principles to be desirable, it appears to me that it has not yet been made; that those which we possess still leave room for such a one as the present.
What need is there, for example, that the Veni, Redemptor Gentium, or the Dies Irce, or any other of these immortal heritages of the universal Church, should be presented to us as part or parcel of the Roman or any other breviary? They were not written for these; their finding a place in these is their accident and not their essence. Why then should they be offered, as coming through channels and with associations linked to them, which can scarcely fail to make them distasteful to many ? Not to say that while pieces of sacred Latin verse drawn from such obvious sources have been published again and again--and not only the good, but very often with it much also of very slightest worth,-other noblest compositions, whether contemplated as works of art, or from a more solemn point of view, have been left unregarded and apparently unknown. If I may conclude, in regard of others, from a few friends to whom I have submitted portions of this volume, as it was gotten together, most of my readers will acknowledge that they here have met something which was new to them, yet with which they were glad to be made acquainted.