Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

.

ance.

ring professions of sorrow under a sense of unpardoned sin, and by its perennial entreaties for the gift of repentance, which is nowhere acknowledged to have been obtained, much less to have been turned into joy by a justifying faith, it keeps the captive petitioner all his lifetime in the spirit of bondage, and shuts him out from the benefits of the resurrection of Jesus, the surety and law-fulfiller of the saints. Behold the things which “ a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven” is made to say! Every day that he worships in the service of the Establishment, he cries out, “Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers, neither take thou vengeance of our sins : spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood, and be not ungry with us for ever.” Response : “ Spare us, good Lord.” Again : “ That it may please thee to give us true repentance : we beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.” Again : “ He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel; wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repent

Or, if should be suggested that there may be still found that faith in Christ which imparts joy and peace to believing souls in the communion service, that avowed feast of thanksgiving of the children of God, there, alas! the baptismallyregenerated parishioners are tied down to this language of unpardoned sorrow and unremoveable distress, “ We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickednesses, which we from time to time most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burthen of them is intolerable."

So says the Prayer Book, prescribing the language for “ the children of God, and the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven!" But what says the Scripture ? That there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. viii. 1); that they are complete in him who is the head of all principality and power (Col. ii. 10); that their sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Heb. x. 17); that they have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and both may and ought to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb. x. 19–22); that by one offering Christ hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb. x. 14); that they are justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. iii. 24); that they are predestinated, adopted, and accepted in the beloved, to the praise of the glory of the grace of the Father; and that in Christ they have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. i. 3–7).

Here, then, we have the picture of the justification of the saints according to the will of God; and here also have we the justification of the parish according to the will of the Prayer Book! Let those who have their senses exercised to discern betwixt good and evil compare the glorious portraiture of grace divine in the Church of God, and the doleful painting of human bondage in the Church of England. The Scriptures tell the elect that their privilege is to be rooted and built up in Christ

, and stablished in the faith, as they have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.". The Prayer Book inculcates on the parish that it is their duty ever to appear in the sanctuary in the crouching attitude of timorous abasement, quailing under the uplifted rod of divine vengeance (" take not vengeance on our sins”), and deprecating in piteous strains the dreaded wrath of God (“ be not angry with us for ever"). In the gospel kingdom, “mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” In the Church of England righteousness is unknown, and

peace is not in possession. “ The spirit of adoption, whereby we say, Abba, Father,” is not the tolerated language of that unhappy community; but the deplorable" communicants,” ever groaning under a consciousness of their sins, the weight of which they all declare is “ intolerable," stand afar off from the mercy seat, shut out of the privileges of their priesthood, debarred from “ the near access" of the saints, strangers from the covenant of promise, excluded from the citizenship of the saints, and separated from the household of God.

This is a digression, into which we have been unavoidably led by the subject itself. In the narrative which has suggested these remarks, we see a striking instance of that pseudo-Christianity which all close observers of the national religion must frequently have noticed. The principal person of this drama is a king;

but similar instances, differing only in a few unimportant details, are of common occurrence in all the counties of England. The death-beds of the nobles of the realm, of the great gentlemen and great ladies of our country seats, halls, castles, and parks, are, when under the management of the non-evangelical clergy, for the most part enacted with the same ceremonies of devout ignorance and the same apparatus of illusive piety. A priest, who himself knows nothing, even in the lowest degree, of the Gospel

, is called in to the death-bed of a grandee, who is as ignorant as the priest, his instructor, of the religion of Jesus. The grandee is a moral man, and he is, moreover, a respectable member of society, a county member, it may be, or a lord lieutenant. He“ takes the sacrament” with much devotion; the clergyman

“ administers” it with much seriousness, he reads the prayers with a solemn voice, and perhaps with solemn feelings; the dying grandee pronounces a few sen. tences expressive of his perfect equanimity and resignation. He consoles himself perhaps with recollections of his attachment to the Established Church, and remembers with satisfaction his political zeal for her wealth, stability, and power ; the clergyman, in all sincerity, expatiates on this zeal'as a work of righteousness, and expresses his conviction that in all the relations of life the departing grandee is a good man. The grandee dies; the family are deeply afflicted, and the pompous hearse, with nodding plumes and escutcheoned banners, magnificently conveys the lead coffin and its embalmed contents to “the tomb of all the Capulets,” amidst the sobs and tears of an affectionate household and an attached tenantry. The clergyman consigns his patron to the family vault “in a sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection;" and anon a costly monument of Parian marble attests on a tablet supported by Faith, Hope, and Charity, as large as life, that the great man,“ sprung from an illustrious ancestry, ornamented every station of life, and shone forth a rare example of all Christian virtues to the numerous circle of his admiring friends and acquaintance."

Thus do the blind lead the blind, till they both fall into the ditch, and thus does darkness cover the land, and gross darkness the people. There might be other points for observation in this

narrative, but what may be here lacking the reflection of the reader will supply. These remarks are not to be understood as affecting in any way, direct or indirect, the exercise of the regal functions; for if that were a theme on which we could allow ourselves to expatiate, our language would, in the case of the late monarch, as far as we understand such subjects, be that of sincere respect. But it is to a death-bed scene, as a type of that delusion which prevails in the land, through the workings of the national religion, that we have drawn attention, believing that no uninstructive lesson may be gathered from an observation of that apotheosis of the great ones of this earth, which an ignorant priesthood supposes it can easily accomplish.

THE BAPTISM OF HERMANN THE JEW.

HERMANN the Jew lived in the early part of the twelfth century; he was a contemporary of the celebrated St. Bernard, the Abbot of Clairvaux. The history of his conversion to the Christian, or rather to the Roman Catholic religion, he wrote himself. The manuscript came into the Pauline Library of Leipzig, and was printed by Carpzovius in the year 1687. It is to be found as a sort of appendix to the second edition of the Pugio Fidei, by Raymund Martin, the Jesuit. As the baptism of Hermann the Jew is a very curious record of the mode of administering the ordinance in the twelfth century, we have thought it worth while to translate as much of the autobiography as may make the record intelligible.

Hermann dedicates his biography to his “ very dear son, Henry," and informs him that he publishes it to “gratify the wishes of some pious ladies." He thus styles himself, “ I, Hermann, a sinner, and an unworthy priest, formerly called Judas, of the tribe of Levi, the son of David and Sephora, was born in the city of Cologne.” When he was a youth, and engaged in business at Manheim, Ekbert, bishop and abbot, and privy councillor of King Lothario, having been detained in that city a long time on the service of his sovereign, was obliged to replenish his purse by

applying to the money-lenders; and for this purpose sent for Hermann, who, relying on the word of so “exalted a personage," lent the money required without demanding security of any description. The Jews his relations were exceedingly angry at Hermann for his imprudence, and insisted that he should betake himself to the monastery of which Ekbert was the abbot, and not leave it till his lordship had repaid the whole loan. Fearing, however, that Hermann's religion might be shaken in a protracted visit to a dignitary of the church, the Jews took the precaution to send with him an aged rabbi, Baruc by name, whose business it should be to keep guard over the ancestral faith of the young Hermann.

The abbot did not find it convenient to repay the loan for twenty weeks, during all which time Hermann resided in the monastery, hearing from time to time the sermons and lectures which the abbot and monks delivered in the course of their religious services. It is very probable that Ekbert delayed the payment of the debt for the purpose of detaining his creditor in the monastery, that so he might bring the Jew within the reach of the ecclesiastical net. The sermons which Hermann heard from time to time began to take effect; the Christians perceived that he was an attentive listener, and endeavoured by their conversation to complete the incipient conversion. Old Baruc, his spiritual guardian, took the alarm, expostulated, scolded, and declared that he would write to his parents to inform them of his proceedings; but Hermann heeded not, attended the schools of the professors of theology, and the doctors of divinity, borrowed Christian books, and daily made nearer approaches to the Catholic faită. Robert, the abbot of Tuicen, a learned theologian of those days, was at that time a guest at the convent; and by his conversations, or rather disputations, considerably weakened the Judaism of Hermann. The abbot's comptroller of the household, a very devout man, was also bent on effecting his conversion ; but finding, that, notwithstanding all his arguments, Hermann did not profess himself a Christian, and remembering that “ the Jews require a sign,” proposed to prove the truth of Christianity by the following experiment :- A large piece of iron was to be heated red hot, the comptroller was to carry it in his naked hand, and if he was enabled to do this without sustaining the least injury, the Jew was to be baptized; but if, on the contrary, the hand was burnt even in the smallest degree, the Jew was to abide in the opinions he then held. Hermann gladly agreed to the proposal, and the comptroller, full of joy, as if he was already secure of Hermann's conversion, lost no time in requesting the bishop “ to exorcise the iron." Ekbert

, the bishop, was, however, more discreet than the comptroller of his household, and very prudently refused to submit the Catholic faith to so perilous an ordeal. His answer was very judicious, “ That he had indeed a zeal for God, but it was not according to knowledge ; that God was not to be tempted by experiments of this sort; that the Lord shouid be sought by prayer, in order that he who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, might, when and how it should please him, deign to unloose the knot of infidelity, and according to his great mercy convert a master of error into a child of the truth.”. Though the conversion of Hermann was not at that time effected, yet his faith in Judaism was undermined, and before he left the bishop he prayed to God to this effect, “ that if he really was the author of the Christian religion, he would be pleased to reveal it to him by some secret inspiration, or dream, or vision, or by some visible sign.”

On returning to his relations and friends, Hermann was accused by his preceptor, Baruc, of having, contrary to repeated admonitions, attended the worship of the Christians, and of having, in fact, nearly renounced the Jewish religion ; an accusation which surely was true, but the autobiographist records it as an act of malignity, and thus comments on it :-“The God of vengeance soon repaid him for this his malicious accusation, for Baruc was quickly seized with a fever, and, after an illness of fifteen days' duration, died; and so was miserably translated from his temporal pains to the eternal tortures of hell. And thus did the just Judge, by one and the same act, exhibit his mercy and his truth: his truth in repaying him with just punishments according to his merits, and his mercy in liberating me from the designs and accusations of that man.” Baruc was an aged man; he had been paid by Hermann's parents to watch over him during his long residence with the Bishop. Hermann had, during that visit, pursued a course which could not but excite the alarm of his guardian ; how then could Baruc have done less, in common honesty, than report to the young man's relations all that he had observed ? The comments

[ocr errors]

mann

which Hermann has made on this event sufficiently evince that he was not, in spirit at least, a Christian when he wrote his own biography.

Hermann now became intensely anxious to receive some divine and miraculous illumination, that he might, in some night-vision, understand the truth. For this purpose, he imposed on himself a three-days' fast, which he observed with the utmost rigour : the first day he took only a little bread and water, late in the evening; the second day he took nothing; the third day he drank some water about noon; but the three days and nights passed away and no vision came, neither was there any one that answered! The Jews, however, having had their suspicions aroused, and perceiving that he was in great anxiety of mind, and that he frequently stole away to church, to listen to sermons, hit on a remedy which, for a season at least, was effectual. They insisted on his marrying; and it appears that he had been, in his early youth, betrothed to a young Jewess, the daughter of one Alexander. The father of the young lady insisted on her betrothed performing his engagement.

Hermann perceiving the snare, and knowing for what reason they were urging his marriage, proposed, as a means of escape, to go on his travels, and to take the tour of France. On this, Alexander called a council of the Jews, in which he declared that Her

had become so depraved with the pestiferous confabulations of the Christians, that he no longer would listen either to his parents or friends, who for some time had been urging him to marry—and, what was still worse, the rabbies and masters of Israel were equally disregarded by this young rebel against the law.” The council came to this decision, that Hermann must either marry or be put out of the synagogue. On hearing this sentence, the unfortunate Celebs tells us, he quaked with fear ; but seeing there was no remedy, and remembering that all his endeavours to procure a heavenly vision had failed, he thought he had no alternative left but "to remain in that tradition which he had sucked in with his mother's milk ;" in other words, he resolved to marry, and to remain a Jew. This determination he announced to this council, and anon his decision was greeted with acclamations of joy, and with the most ardent congratulations. The marriage-day was fixed ;

the Christians expostulated, but Hermann turned a deaf year to their sermons; the marriage ceremony was performed, and the bridegroom declares he took so great a delight in his charming bride, and loved her so much, that he fell down headlong into the pit which the devil had dug for him. Many and doleful are his lamentations on this head, and many a hard saying does he bestow on Satan for this toosuccessful stratagem. He looks back on his marriage with all the aversion and horror which such a transaction can excite in the diseased mind of a sour Roman Catholic Priest,--and it was in that character that he wrote his memoirs.

After a few months' time, however, “the Lord had mercy on him, and he was roused out of his dream of wickedness.” He perceived the sin he had committed : for it would appear that he had listened to the false doctrine of those days, which denounced matrimony as a pollution ; and he now began by tears, and sighs, and fasts to repent of his wickedness—“carnis concupiscentias continentiæ freno coartavi, et sicut exhibueram membra mea arma iniquitatis peccato, ita per omnia eadem studui exhibere arma justitiæ Deo." Miserable delusion! and miserable perversion of scripture !

He now drifted on to Popery, and came to this point, that he wished to be a Christian : but then he felt himself unworthy of so high an honour. In this dilemma, he was taught“ by an internal illumination that he could not possibly merit the grace of Christ unless he was supported by the intercessions of holy Church.” Following this “illumination,” he hastened to the Monastery of St. Maurice, near to Cologne, where he engaged two holy nuns, Bertha and Glizmut, to pray for him. These prayers, he says, were answered; for not long after, there came into his mind such a sudden conviction of the truth of Christianity that all the clouds of his former ignorance and scepticism were dissipated, “and so his conversion was effected by a most curious vicissitude, that he who had fallen through a woman, should at last be lifted up again by the prayers of women.”

The next important passage in Hermann's life is what he calls his “rescuing his brother from Judaism ;'' but which, with far greater propriety, might be styled, the crime of child-stealing. It appears that Hermann's father had entered into a second marriage ; and by his second wife had a son, who at this period of the narrative was seven years' old. Hermann, the Christian, resolved to pluck his half-brother out of

3 B

VOL. II.

But the

the jaws of Judaism, " that as we had not had one and the same mother according to the flesh, we might at least have one spiritual mother, the Church, and through her be both spiritually born again.” To effect this object, he ran away with his little brother from Mayence, and, by the help of some good Catholics, succeeded in carrying off his spiritual booty, though he was closely pursued by the Jews, and by all the friends of his distracted mother-in-law. The composure with which he narrates this crime is truly astonishing; it seems to have been a sort of preparatory merit for his baptism, which took place three weeks afterwards, and which he thus describes :-“But the Lord's-day now came, in which I was to put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man through the washing of regeneration. On this day all the clergy of the city of Cologne, with much joy and exultation, assembled in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, where the fountain was ready for the celebration of this salutary mystery. At the third hour, the fountain, or bath, was consecrated, and was impregnated for the regeneration of souls, by the invocation of the Holy Ghost : at that hour I made a confession with all my heart of my faith in the Holy Trinity, and entered the bath with great devotion and contrition of heart. But alas! sad it is to confess it! not even in the article of baptism would my

old enemy leave me alone. For, as the evangelist tells us, when the boy who was about to be released from the evil spirit, by the mercy of the Lord, was just then more grievously tormented; so did the old enemy then make a more furious onset on me, when he saw me about to be rescued from his tyranny by the salutary sacrament of this divine institution. And thus it happened : although I had in all other points been sufficiently instructed, according to my capacity, in the orthodox faith, yet had I not been instructed, through the negligence of the ministers (or rather through the fraudulent contrivance of the enemy, who was plotting against me), in the mystery of the trine immersion, in order to set forth the name of the sacred Trinity. When, therefore, I had entered the waters of the life-giving fountain, and with my face turned to the east, had been once immersed, or dipped, I thought that this was the only immersion required for the renovation of the old man. clergy who were standing round the baptistry, cried out, that I must be dipped oftener. But I, who had just come out of the bath, could not very well hear what they said, or see the signs they were making to me, owing to my thick and long hair which was then streaming with water over my eyes and ears. When, however, I had dashed away the water from my face, I heard what the clergy said: but as I was then suffering much from the great coldness of the water, I was little disposed to obey their injunctions. Nevertheless, I yielded at last to the gentle expostulate of my baptiser (baptistæ mei), and did that which ought to be done for salvation. Thinking, then, that by this second dip I had fulfilled the divine mysteries, I began to go out of the bath, for I was almost frozen with the extreme coldness of the water. But the clergy again cried out very loudly, that for the consummation of the sacrament I must turn to the south and again humbly be put under the salutary stream. In this predicament, by the wiles of the devil, I began to suspect that they were making fun of me. For, as formerly, Naaman, the Syrian, when he was ordered by the prophet to dip seven times in Jordan, began to go away in a rage—so 1, in a similar fit of madness was thrown into a great passion, and impatient of all this delay, began to come out of the bath. But thanks be to God! Though the enemy lifted up himself against me, he did not prevail. For as the same Naaman, yielding to the admonitions of his attendants, obeyed the salutary commands of the prophet

, so did the mild exhortations of the clergy, drive away this evil suspicion from my mind, and confirm my pusillanimity in the faith. As therefore, Naaman, who washed seven times in the waters of Jordan, was visibly healed of the leprosy of his flesh, so was I in baptism invisibly cleansed from the leprosy of my soul, by the seven-fold grace of the Holy Spirit. His flesh, having lost the filth of the leprosy, assumed the purity of a child's flesh; and me, the skin of my old man being cast off in the washing of regeneration, mother Church brought forth into a new infancy. In this washing, as I had changed my former life, so did I change my name also; for I who was before called Judas, now took the name of Hermann.”

He then relates how, not long afterwards, in order to obey the command of Christ, which says, “ If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and come, follow me,”—he entered the monastery of Capenberg, and, under

« ForrigeFortsett »