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zava a far prodigj). Thus Antony lived an object of astonishment to the human race; but the highest proof of divine favour had not yet been given him. For the mother of God herself, with ber infant sou folded in her maternal arms, often came to visit their favoured prophet, wbo dandled his Creator on his palm.* But as by reason of his remaining upon earth, Jesus could not bestow favours upon him to the full extent he desired to do, (a suo talento,) he took him to himself, and the next place to his divine mother, above all the celestial hosts, he assigned to Antony. What miracles be has performed since his death it is unnecessary for me to relate to you. For those numberless offerings wbich I now see before me in this church, and the numberless others which are appended to his altars in every other city in the Christian world, what are they all but so many testimonies to the miracles performed by Antony in Heaven? To this great protector let us all devoutly commend ourselves."
Here the monk gave the trine benediction, which has the appearance of making three bows to the audience, (and is usually mistaken by strangers for this,) and the abbè, who had been behind the curtain, came forward and assisted him to descend.
If mingled emotions of pity and disgust have been excited in the minds of our readers by this passage in our notes, taken immediately after hearing this discourse, we will assure them that as we were induced to sit patiently to hear, only in order that we might ascertain the true state of the case on the subject of our inquiry, so also in the publication of that which we have laid, or are about to lay before our readers, we have been swayed solely by the principle, that, with a view to some important conclusion, the whole truth, however offensive, (decency and good morals being safe,) may and ought to be occasionally and reverently spoken.
On the three evenings preceding Ash Wednesday, the commencement of Lent, a service, for the purpose of preparing the minds of the people for that solemn period, is held in the Church of San Giovannino at Florence. The preacher for 1828, who was a man of some powers, took for his subject the humility of Christ, which he illustrated on the successive evenings under three heads. 1st. The humility of Christ in " consenting to be born.” 2dly. In “ living among his own creatures, and submitting to death at their hands ;” and 3dly. In “sacramentalizing himself after death, and being perpetually received by the faithful in the eucharistical bread." Upon the last head he said, “the other proofs of his humility were astonishing, but this exceeds them all, and was necessary to give effect to all. For to what purpose would he have taken upon bimself flesh and blood in the womb of the Virgin for our salvation, and have offered bimself up a sacrifice to the
* Here the friar held up bis right band, and moved it up and down, imitating tlic act of a nurse in dandling an infant.
divine justice, if there were no means by which his creatures could obtain the benefit of this sacrifice? It would have redounded to the honour of God, but to man it would have remained null and useless, and they might have said, who shall ascend up into heaven to bring Christ down from thence? But now he is very near unto us, continually presenting himself on the altar, in the eucharistical bread, so as to appropriate to each individual believer that which he had done in behalf of the general body. Oh, what an adorable prodigy of humility is Christ in the sacrament! What an incredible proof of his affection! It was doubtless a convincing proof which he bad afforded of this, when he who is infinity reduced himself into a span, and omnipotence conde. scended to become infantile weakness, the all-knowing to leurn, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to become subject to a woman. That the eternal Jebovah should die, nay, should even condescend to receive succour from an angel in his agony, are still more astonishing things. But all these are nothing compared with the eucharistical offering of the bloody divine sacrifice. In the first instance divinity became incarnate, but in the last divinity and humanity both combine in a piece of bread, that which is animate enters into and becomes that which was inanimate-that which exists for ever in heaven is swallowed by man on earth. He became obedient unto death at the word of the first person in the Holy Triad ; but he converts himself into bread at the word of one of his own creatures. Great was his condescension in quitting the blessed abode to converse familiarly amongst his creatures; but in the eucharistic bread Le unites himself infinitely more closely to them, and dwells in them, ministering to them of his own flesh, thus fulfilling again continually the office of the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep."
At the commemoration of the patron saint of the pious confraternity of the Misericordia, San Sebastiano, soldier and martyr, the panegyric was pronounced by a preacher who enjoys great celebrity in Florence, Salvi. Elegance here seemed to be the object chiefly aimed at, and it was successful. It was a highly polished oration, but had too niuch of display in it. After setting forth the virtues of his saint by a number of poetical comparisons, he excused himself from enlarging on his miracles, performed during his life, or after his decease by means of his remains, on the ground that these were so numerous and wonderful, that it was difficult to select any from amongst them. It would be impossible, he said, to enumerate them, still less to give a description of them. And with this well-turned compliment to the saint, he dismissed him.
At Easter, 1830, at the cathedral at Siena, a preacher appeared for the first time, whose manner of descanting upon moral subjects was mild and persuasive. Although he did not possess any talent as a public speaker, the great purpose of preaching seemed to be answered by his gentle admonitions. Speaking of the dangers of temptation, especially to those of weak virtue, he said,
• The cedars of Lebanon have fallen, and how can you, weak reeds of the Jordan, expect to stand ?"
At the latter end of the month of April the faithful of both sexes were invited to attend daily at the Church of San Gaetano in Florence, during the month of May, to honour her, who, by her sublime fiat, began our redemption, “ col suo sublime fiat dette principio alla nostra redenzione.” The evening discourses were announced under the startling (were it in England, we should have said astounding) titles of “ La Eternita di Maria Vergine,” her omniscience, her omnipotence, &c. Thinking it right to ascertain what all this meant, we attended some of the lectures. The sublime fiat of Mary we found referred to the words she spoke to the angel, “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.” In the Latin Vulgate, fiat, &c. Luke, i. 38." And this fiat," the preacher observed," was much more precious to us than that of the Creator at the beginning, because by that the world was only created, by this it was redeemed.” The eternity of the Virgin was explained to mean her eternal existence in the counsels of God, because from all eternity God intended to create and to redeem the world, and in this redemption Mary was a necessary instrument, as without her consent God would not redeem the world by her son.
n. Her omniscience and omnipotence were explained by saying that it was not possible that so affectionate a son should conceal anything from his mother, and that he knew everything; that he refused nothing to her prayers, and that he could do all things. This seemed but a very lame vindication of such bold assumptions. But he helped it out by observing, that what was said of the eternal wisdom of God, (Prov. viii. &c.) was true in senso mistico of the Virgin. This only tended to confuse our ideas, and we confess that we are to this day unable to understand in what sense the Virgin Mary is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent. We are astonished at the unmeasured effrontery of the pretension that these attributes are in
any sense possessed by her.
We have hitherto purposely kept back the mention of the only preacher whom we heard in Italy with entire approbation and satisfaction. At the beginning of Lent, 1828, at Florence, we had heard several friars who displayed a certain kind of eloquence, and had resumed our hitherto not very profitable employment of taking notes of sermons, when we were informed that a preacher of Sa. Felicita was more to be admired than any of the friars whom we had heard. We attended, and found a church thinly filled, but with rather a superior class to the great body of the frequenters of Lent preaching. The orator appeared by his habit to be not a preaching friar, but a secular priest, who devoted him
self to public instruction. His age, about fifty, did not promise much of the vivacity and exuberant fancy of more youthful orators. We soon missed much that we were accustomed to and disapproved, and observed much that was new to us and to be admired. The following points of difference between him and other preachers immediately struck us. 1st. The Abate BARBIERI was sparing in his action, and used no exaggerated and ridiculous gesticulation. A young “ Canonico” who had just begun to preach, had informed us that it was a rule given by the instructors in sacred eloquence at Bologna,“ that the words of a preacher should only be a help, and not necessary for understanding him, every sentiment of any remarkable character being acted in such a manner as that persons at a remote part of a large church who could not hear, might still understand what was being said." Accordingly, the Italian orator now stamps and raves-now hides his face with his hands, and Alings his arms in now weeps-now reckons on his fingers-now takes off his scullcap in token of extraordinary reverence--now beseeches, and now threatens, by gestures. All this, which may be regarded as extravagant even when compared with the Italian conversational manner, and quite inconsistent with the gravity of the pulpit, was exchanged by the Abate Barbieri for a modest and well-regulated action, serving to aid the expression only of those powerful emotions of the soul which the true orator will always sparingly bring into exercise. Even his action would be thought extravagant in the pulpit of an English cathedral, but it must be allowed that we go into the opposite extreme to the Italians. Odly. The Italian preachers in general, in the course of their sermon, say, “ After the present discourse I beg of you the charity of an Ave-Maria according to my intention,” (secondo la mia intenzione,) i.e. not as it is my intention to do for you, (that we may be performing the same act of charity for one another,) but do you pray, and I will give a direction to your prayers to the spiritual benefit of such objects as are at this moment in my intention, but which I do not choose to disclose to you, and reserve to my own bosom. This piece of superstition, which implies the power of the priest to direct the mental prayers of the congregation to the benefit of whomsoever he pleases, is, we presume, discarded by Barbieri, as on twentyeight occasions when we heard him during the daily sermons in Lent, nothing of the kind occurred. 3dly. Other preachers, during a particular part of their sermon, daily and uniformly make a direct attack upon the purses of their hearers, by urging them to give alms to the poor, with a degree of importunity which is thoroughly offensive. When it is considered that a third part of this collection goes to the priest himself, their pertinacious exaction is particularly disgusting. Many of them, by way of keeping the givers in good huniour, tell jokes, but the stalest and the poorest, on this occasion, and one preacher we heard always took that opportunity of telling a story of a miracle. The panegyrist of San Pasquale, in whose honour sermons are preached in Florence for nine evenings successively, took the opportunity to relate a miracle of the saint every night, most of them of the profanest and most ridiculous kind, and to draw from it an argument for giving alms to the poor (the poor priest included). Nothing of this kind soiled the lips of Barbieri. Although he was obliged by the regulations of the church to make a daily collection, he contented himself with a few modest words on the occasion, and when he was remonstrated with by his less scrupulous brethren for his forbearance, he still only related this circumstance to the audience, adding, that he hoped their voluntary and unprompted bounty would justify his omission. And this had a very good effect. 4thly. All the other Italian preachers we ever heard overloaded their discourses with quotations from the Latin fathers, and from Latin translations of the Greek fathers, as well as from the Vulgate version. By this means they got the credit of learning with the vulgar, at the expense of breaking the delightful harmony of the Italian period, spoiling the continuity of discourse, and giving an air of barbarism to the most polished and elegant of languages. Barbieri, on the other hand, quoted nothing but Scripture, and this always appropriately, and in an elegant translation of his own into Italian. 5thly. He never pushed any of the doctrines of the Catholic church to an extreme, nor stated them in that broad and unskilful manner which is calculated to expose them to the contempt and ridicule of men of sense. Yet there were evidences of his being a believer in the principal dogmas of the church, modern miracles excepted. 6thly. There was not a single trait of buffoonish humour, nor a single old wives' story told in the whole course of his sermons.
All Florence soon came to the determination to bear Barbieri, and none but him, during the remainder of Lent. Few persons kuew anything respecting him at the time of his coming. He had been professor of sacred eloquence, first at Pavia, and then at Padua, under the French regime; but, on the establishment of the Austrian government, being deemed too liberal, he was displaced, enjoying, however, for life one third of the salary, which perhaps might amount to about £25 per annum. Scantily provided with this world's goods, but unambitious, he retired to cultivate a small vineyard and farm on the delightful Euganean hills above Padua, celebrated in Ugo Foscolo's “ Lettere di Jacopo Ortis.” He employed himself in writing a volume of poems on