Imagens das páginas

tions; because from the very beginning it has been inexorably shaped-or, as its unkindly critics aver, too authoritatively and imperiously shaped—to what we can only describe as an abid. ing and conscientious preference for a soldier-like submission of will on the part of all those to whom its message is addressed. What is not less significant, it seems unwittingly to inculcate this demeanor of the inner spirit as an incalculably more effective preparation of the expectant heart for Christ than the apparently more rational and—it might be maintained-more apostolic attitude of open-mindedness. Sit rationabile obsequium vestrum, says St. Paul; Humiliate capita vestra Deo, says the Church.

Both attitudes are, indeed, invariably recommended by the practised convert-maker who understands logic but is afraid of instinct; but the Church, when studied in her broader movements of national or racial evangelization, seems to lean rather to the austere pragmatism of that Lenten cry. She accounts a human heart stripped of all conceit, whether of itself, its own passions, or the world, as the chief requisite and noblest preparation of a believer groping through her low western portals on his way towards Christ. Naked, it would seem, we come into both worlds—the world of sense and her wider world of the spirit. The justification for this naïve prepossession of hers, so completely at issue with the prejudices of logic, Hegelian or Aristotelian, in an age as predominantly intellectual as our own, may be hazarded, perhaps, in the consideration that follows.

Whatever view one may feel impelled to take of the real origin of the Papal idea as an ultimately controlling factor in the development of mediæval Christianity, no scholar worthy of the name will deny that Catholicism in its less centralizing aspects is recognizable as a full-blown product of the Gospelmovement as far back as the closing quarter of the second century." It is also, at that point in its development at least, in a most true and scientific sense, a genuine derivative of the religion described, adequately enough for our purpose here, in the Acts of the Apostles. Critical questions as to the authorship and character of that portion of the New Testament writings have no bearing on the simple fact to which that idylllike narrative bears striking testimony in connection with the present drift of this essay.

* Harnack (Das Wesen des Christentums, s. 120) places the date about twenty years later ; but he does this by way of rhetorical device, not as a critical affirmation.

The simple fact amounts to this. There are four distinct passages * in the book whereof we speak, in which the Christianity of that seminal period is described, not as a creed or as an articulate body of doctrine, but as a Way. No doubt good evidence could be cited from the unchallenged Epistles of St. Paul to show that even then grave stress was laid upon right formularies as a reasonable plea for the acceptance of that Way; but the formularies were not many and the sum of the Pauline Gospel was Faith in Jesus as Lord.

That very fact, however, so far from weakening, tends rather to confirm the view upon which we are insisting. Just because Jesus was Lord was his doctrine primarily inculcated as a Way of Life. His obedience was to be, not the bare pattern, but the inspiring and meritorious cause of all subsequent submission of the heart in the New Church or Convocation of Israel. If the submission implied liberty and largeness of spirit for all those who felt that they had received a call, it meant also a definite and detailed imitation of the various teachers, who, as having been sent, spoke and acted with authority in the Eucharistic assemblies. What does all this involve if not a Rule and a Way in the sense we have indicated ?

Baptism, the institution of presbyters and overseers, the regulation of marriage, the tendency to ignore the machinery of the civil law in the settlement of disputes, the creation of a diaconate, the practice of assembling early on the first day of the week, now become, through the most sacred of associations and the hallowing of the Eucharist Loaf, pre-eminently the Lord's day, the mysterious bond of Church unity explicitly affirmed to lie in that same Loaf-surely, these things and others like them, which might be cited as convincingly, point to an organized and accepted polity which the more conservative Jews must have looked upon with horror, because it set up, in opposition to the “way of the elders " and the traditional Mosaic code, the vaguer and easier code of Christ, who was said to have proclaimed himself to these infatuated Nazarenes the personal and human Way by which alone men could hope to have access to the Father. It will not do to attempt to weaken the force of these curi

* ix. 2; xix. 9-23; xxii. 4; xxiv. 14-22.


ous coincidences by suggesting, as might conceivably be done, that the word employed by the writer of these passages of the Acts is a manifest quotation put into the mouth of St. Paul in his earlier and unregenerate character of Jewish inquisitor, or adopted by him, as in the other passages in question, by way of convenient reference to the separatist tendency of nascent Christianity, felt even at that early stage of its mustard-seed growth. The remarkable thing is that the word with its pragmatic implications should have been used, whether by friend or foe, at all, when a less significant term like alperes would have answered just as well. Its employment in any contingency points clearly to the existence of a prevailing and not yet fully rationalized obedientialism, inspired from first to last by a spirit of enthusiastic loyalty to that Leader, older than Abraham, greater than Moses, and wiser than the prophets, whose death and resurrection had proved that He was in truth the Way. +

This enthusiasm for an art rather than a theory of the Christian life was, then, an inheritance from our Lord himself, passed on in unbroken succession to historical Catholicism. And what Catholicism had thus legitimately received it fostered and expanded under the influence of an ever- deepening, because ever loyal, consciousness which can only be adequately understood by watching it at work. It is there, under the guise of the activi. ties to which we alluded above as sacramentalism, sacerdotalism, and the rest, that we detect its true ethos, a something that makes for a Way, an ineluctable instinct for the practical, both in its mode of seeing things and in its bent for doing things, that issues in triumph always.

These are its obediences. Long before its apologists elaborate the metaphysic which seems to lay bare the secret of its energy to a generation grown devoutly curious, instead of religiously energetic, the victory has been spoken and the Church's best work for that generation would seem to have been done. The second volume of Father THE LIFE OF CHRIST. Hickey's translation of the classic By Mgr. Le Camus.

Seton Hall, South Orange, N. J.

* On the sense of apocs in N. T. Greek consult the Encyclopædia Biblica, in verb. Vol. II., p. 2,019.

+ The argument, it should be remembered, is by no means invalidated by the most recent positions taken up by critics with reference to the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. The point is that sayings like those embodied in the Discourse at the Last Supper and in St. Matt. xi. 10, must have been current in Christian circles and familiar to the Christian consciousness long before they were committed to writing. Cf. Allen's St. Matthew in the International Critical Commentary Series, p. 115.

life of our Lord by Mgr. Le

Camus * covers the period extend. ing from the Sermon on the Mount to the healing of the ten lepers, and the interview between Jesus and the rich young man who declined to follow him. The original work is a monument of erudition and critical scholarship combined with apostolic zeal and simple, fervent piety.

The learned author, without losing sight of the ancient landmarks, does not hesitate to incorporate in his pages the wellestablished results of contemporary critical methods. This not too common union of prudent progress and equally prudent conservatism received the high approbation of the Holy Father, who holds up the methods of Mgr. Le Camus as the realiza tion of that just medium which is inculcated in the recent encyclical. In a letter addressed to Mgr. Le Camus, on the publication of his work on the Apostles, the Holy Father said:

As we must condemn the temerity of those who, having more regard for novelty than for the teaching authority of the Church, do not hesitate to adopt a method of criticism altogether too free, so likewise we should not approve the attitude of those who in no way dare to depart from the usual exegesis of Scripture, even when, faith not being at stake, the real advancement of learning requires such departure. You

follow a wise middle course. Father Hickey's translation is excellent. In its pure, idiomatic English one finds none of those crudities which in so many of our religious books constantly remind us that we are reading a version made by somebody whose competence for the task was not beyond question.

Many priests declare that they are able to draw from volumes of sermons very little assistance towards the preparation of their instructions and discourses. Let them betake themselves to Le Camus, who will provide them with ample material, ready to hand, for sound, solid, and attractive preaching on the whole circle of our Lord's life and teaching.

* The Life of Christ. By Mgr. Le Camus. Translated by William A. Hickey. Vol. II. New York: Cathedral Library Association.

Opening with a description of the THE AMERICAN REVOLU- situation, immediately after the batTION.

tles of Trenton and Princetown, in By Trevelyan. 1777, Trevelyan's third volume.

follows the course of events down to the outbreak of war between France and England. The first chapter is chiefly concerned with the doings of Congress and the assemblies. The author handles the politicians contemptuously; and even Samuel Adams has to be content with a rather uncomplimentary rating. The meddling inefficiency of the members, and their jealous obstruction of Washington, are roundly castigated. As for Washington himself, no American writer surpasses Trevelyan in his boundless admiration for Washington, “ the Chief and leader of heroic proportions and stainless repu. tation.” Indeed, the most touchy of patriots can find nothing to complain of in the treatment measured out in this volume to the worthy American leaders and the Americans as a nation. Washington, Nathaniel Green, Colonel Morgan, Philip Schuyler, are names which, along with humbler ones, receive their full mead of eulogy; while Gates, Charles Lee, Conway, Dr. Rush, are judged with unbending severity.

The retreat of Sir William Howe, after Morristown, his vigorous conduct at Brandywine, the defence of the Chew Mansion at Germantown by Colonel Musgrave, are among the few events from which a little solace for British pride is extracted. The story of the contest for the Delaware, the occupation of Philadelphia, the winter of discontent at Valley Forge, with the contemporary gaiety of Philadelphia as the comfortable quarters of the British, offer a fint opportunity, which is not missed, for Trevelyan's picturesque pen. With all his uncle's contempt for “the dignity of history,” he makes use of homely details and trivial yet significant incidents, to give his pictures life and con. crete strength.

Then, too, there is no disquisition or tedious dissertation. If he has any philosophic reflections to offer, they are usually condensed into a terse, pregnant sentence or two. It is a pleasure, in these days when the scientific method is making most of the historical works that are coming out very hard reading, to take up Sir George's narrative, which runs along with unflagging life and verve.

The American Revolution. Part III. By the Right Hon. Sir George Otto Trevelyan, Bart. New York: Longmans, Green & Co.

« AnteriorContinuar »