In the year 1841, Mr. Armstrong went from Clifton to Exeter, having been appointed one of the priest-vicars of the Cathedral. The change was of great importance in the formation of his character, and at first involved much trial. The priest-vicars of Exeter occupy a peculiar position. They form with the lay-vicars, or members of the choir, one corporate body, having estates and funds in common and under their own independent control.
The custom had been, that out of this body four were ordained to chaunt the service. They had no preaching licence, nor any pastoral duties; and neither in their social grade or education were they in any respect superior to the lay-vicars. This was felt to be a position wholly unworthy of such an office; and the late Bishop of Exeter determined not to admit as priest-vicar, any one who had not had an [23/24] university education. This rule changed by degrees the state of the priest-vicars, and their relative position towards the Canons of the Cathedral. They became empowered to take curacies or incumbencies, and since that time there has also been a growing disposition on the part of the Canons to draw them into their own circle, as men of the like sacred calling, and brother-members of the same venerable foundation. Mr. Armstrong became a priest-vicar at the time when this change was only in its infancy, and was himself the second who entered the body having had an university education.
Passing from. Clifton, where he had found a ready access into the first circles, over welcome and much beloved, it was a trial to find himself unexpectedly in a subordinate grade, and doubtful social position. After a little time, indeed, he made himself friends, and became valued and beloved as before; but the first part of his residence at Exeter sorely tried him. There is no doubt that the trial had the beneficial effect of loosening still more the hold which an undue love of society had for a while obtained over him.
In April, 1843, he was instituted to the rectory of St. Paul's, a parish in the city of [24/25] Exeter, containing 1,200 inhabitants. It consisted chiefly of a main street, with numerous alleys running from it on either side, where the parishioners were very closely packed. The inhabitants were composed of the less wealthy class of shopkeepers, or the very poor, with some few exceptions of the ancient gentry of the city, who still lingered on in their good old houses, giving signs of its having once been a more wealthy quarter. Into the work of this parish he threw himself with an unsparing energy and ardent affection; and from this time he determined to withdraw himself entirely from society, that he might the more completely devote himself to his charge.
Just before he entered upon the rectory of St. Paul's, he had commenced a style of writing of which he afterwards made an admirable use in furtherance of the highest spiritual objects,--that of a reviewer; and it is interesting to note the subject which he selected for his first essay in this department of literature. The subject of the article was "Mr. Markland's Remarks on English Churches," and some kindred works, with special reference to the subject of monumental devices and inscriptions. The article appeared in the January number for 1843 of the "British Critic," then the most noted [25/26] Church Review. The following extract will shew his tone of thought and style of writing at this time, which was, in fact, the commencement of a course distinguished more and more by a decided and ardent devotion of all his powers and faculties to the service of God--
"The earliest monumental tombs found in this country which can he considered at all of an architectural character, are the stone coffins of the eleventh and twelfth centuries: the covers of these were at first simply coped. Here, then, we have simplicity itself. It was enough for men to lie in the house of prayer, to rest where they once had worshipped: mortality is the only moral of these early tombs; individuality is lost in that which is common to all, mortality. The stone covers of these coffins were 'afterwards ornamented with crosses.' We could almost feel that the very perfection of monumental architecture, by this addition, was attained: nothing can more eloquently express the quiet, unobtrusive, private piety of those ancient days, when the cross was the only ornament on the tomb--when to sleep near the altar was the highest honour--when neither name, nor escutcheon, nor verse, nor encomium is to be found. We cannot look on that symbol of the faith without reverencing that silent humility which desired no other sign, which taught men not to blazon forth themselves, but simply to shew that [26/27] they were members of the mystical body of Christ. Inscriptions followed next; but these are remarkable for the same simplicity, the same unselfishness, the same humility,--a pious and pleasing contrast to the bombastic flatteries of modern epitaphs. Often the name of the deceased, with the date of his death, forms the only inscription; or if he was founder of a church, that act of piety is noted, but very simply, without a word of commendation for munificence and zeal. Often, after the name, the following sentences were graven:--'Jesu merci;' or, 'Cujus animae propicietur Deus. Amen;' or, 'Orate pro anima.' Long inscriptions were unknown. Up to this point, then, which we will call the first or primitive age, simplicity is the chief architectural feature, while a strong religious character marks such brief inscriptions as are to be found.
"To proceed to another age, we see next the beginning of monumental sculpture: 'subsequently,' says the 'Glossary,' 'they (the altar-tombs) were sculptured with recumbent figures in high relief, but still generally diminishing in width from the head to the feet, to fit the coffins of which they formed the lids.' This was a considerable change; for the features of individuals began to be expressed; but still a religious character is strictly retained. The hands of the recumbent figure are usually clasped over the breast in prayer, as though to teach us the fittest attitude for the hour and bed of death, and doubtless also expressing the prayers of the souls [27/28] 'under the altar.' Towards the close of the fourteenth century the custom became general of inlaying flat stones with brasses. They were introduced at an earlier date, hut were for some time rare: the earliest extant is the full-sized effigy of Sir Roger de Trumpington, at Trumpington, Cambridge, A.D. 1289. Inscriptions now become more numerous, though even yet not general, and very brief; the brasses also were remarkable for their simplicity, often representing the favourite emblem of the cross elegantly worked; often the figure of the deceased praying, with some text, pious rhyme, or holy ejaculation engraved round the border, or on some portion of the dress, or on labels from the mouth. The exclamation 'Jesu merci,' the most touching of all epitaphs, is the most common. This may be seen on the helmets or sword-belts of knights. On the fine monument of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, in Wimbourne Minster, the front of the helmet has been inscribed with some such devout motto, of which the word 'marci' is still legible. In the church of Higham Ferrars, one of the most magnificent brasses on an altar-tomb, beneath a Decorated arch, represents a former rector with his hands clasped in prayer; on the breast is the sentence, 'Fili Dei miserere mei;' at the bottom of the figure, 'Hie jacet Laurentius Sancto de Mauro quondam Rector istius Ecclcsiae cujus animas propitietur Deus. Amen.' On one side of a crocketed canopy we read 'Suscipiat me Christus qui vocavit me;' on the other, [28/29] 'In sinu Abrahe angeli deducant me:' the whole monument is well worth inspection.
"The above kinds of monument, and this style of inscription, prevailed, with some modification, till the Reformation. The more elaborate architecture of the fifteenth century was naturally introduced into the tombs, producing a greater degree of splendour, richer decoration, and loftier structures. Canopies, first of a simple, then of a more florid kind, during this period made their appearance. Bringing, then, another age of some duration to a close, we still observe that the monuments themselves were, architecturally, in keeping with the building, and that they were, together with their inscriptions, essentially religious: this point we wish especially to be remembered.
"We now reach the third age, in which the humility and devoutness of those preceding it begin gradually to decline and disappear. The recumbent figures represented in the act of prayer were mixed with a new and different race; we see ladies in ruffles, leaning on their elbows, staring us in the face, and lords and knights rising to the same position. The religion of monuments begins to be less considered; at the same time we note an equally painful change in the inscriptions. The cross is forgotten; self is commended; lengthy epitaphs, [29/30] proverbially false and incredible, appear; men's virtues, not Christ's merits,--what they have done, not what they need, or have left undone,--make up a pompous record, seldom read and never believed. Witticisms and puns, especially on names, are among the unseemly innovations of the age; our smiles are provoked when the most solemn lessons would more naturally suggest themselves, and we are brought to the graves of men to be amused.
"After this, which we will call the 'transition state,' we come to another age, far more dark and melancholy; it is the last, in which all remains of humility and self-abasement vanish away; it is the age of religious apathy, of worldliness, bombast, and show, when ultra-Protestantism had grown to its full and gross maturity: piety is no longer even affected; the recumbent figure, which in the previous age had so far risen as to be resting on its elbow, now, altogether spurning its lowly and prostrate attitude of prayer, stands upright on its feet. Man has risen in his own eyes; his greatness is now to be commemorated; he is to be admired in effigy. Statues, such as Lord Elgin brought from Greece, represent the character of the day; a more imposing place is given to man in the house of God; self is exalted; before it the cross melts--the 'Jesu merci,' the 'miserere mei,' all that speaks the weakness and dependence of men: worldly heroes usurp the sanctuary; statesmen, generals, poets, politicians, without creed or religion, infidels or sceptics, as it may [30/31] happen, supplant bishops, confessors, saints, founders of churches. Then, too,--the worst reproach of all, the last stage of degradation, the sign of an age of unbelief,--heathen devices crowd the Christian's house of prayer, the temple where the ever-blessed Trinity is to be worshipped 'in spirit and in truth.' Never, from the foundation of the Church by the Lord Himself, in any land or time, till the age we treat of, did those who bear the name of Christ turn back to heathen idolatry for emblems wherewith to grace their tombs. To this it was left to bring the fabled gods and goddesses into the sanctuary of the One True God, who is a 'jealous God,' and to defile His temple by reviving the remembrance of the darkest, grossest superstition; to this it was left to surround the sepulchres of professing Christians with the tokens of a religion in which they utterly disbelieved, shewing full well how careless they were concerning that in which they professed a belief.
"But as the monuments of this period have, on the whole, cast off any religious character in their design, except what is of heathen religion, the inscriptions, as is usual, have followed in the same track; they are cither of a worldly and classical tone, or, if religious, such a preposterous accumulation of excellencies are attributed to the deceased, as renders it in effect a most irreligious commemoration, because it must of necessity be untrue.
 "Reviewing, then, for a moment the progress of monumental architecture, we must confess that the result tends little to the honour of modem times; and the days of Anne, William, and the Georges hardly can be said to gain in this respect by being contrasted with any preceding period.
Both the early effigies and the early legends do indeed speak the shame of these latter days, and amid all our own supposed enlightenment, we have yet to learn to give the dead Christian honour."--Monumental Devices and Inscriptions, "British Critic," No. 65.
One who could write thus in his leisure hours, was learning to realize the deeper tone of earlier devotion, which loved to lose itself beneath the cross, counting all things but loss that it might win Christ. And we may well believe that he was at this time feeding on the idea, which his mind had embraced, of an entire self-devotedness separate from the world, and was secretly being prepared and strengthened for any work or sacrifice in the service of God, to which he might be called.
About this time he married Frances, the eldest daughter of Edward Whitmore, Esq. They lived in a house within the parish, in as much seclusion as possible, avoiding all general [32/33] society, and devoting themselves wholly to the care of the parish.
To general lookers on, Mr. Armstrong appeared the hard-working, painstaking parish priest, undistinguishable from many other equally devoted men. The life of a parish priest is made up of details, which, although to himself of absorbing thought and anxiety, and possessing their own peculiar varieties and special points of interest to those immediately concerned, are yet for the most part of a similar character in all cases. To those, however, who can look more closely, characteristic features come out to view, distinguishing one man's ministry from that of another. What especially struck one who knew Mr. Armstrong well at this time, was that "he always threw himself so completely into each particular case of sickness or trouble, which appeared to be the secret of his winning, so much as he did, the affections of his people. Though reserved on many points himself, others never seemed to feel reserved with him, and in a very special manner he carried out that great law of love, of weeping with them that weep, and rejoicing with them that rejoice."
It may be observed, that the fulfilment of the latter part of this precept is far more rare [33/34] than that of the former; but the union of the two was remarked by Mr. Armstrong's friends as a distinguishing feature of his character. A clergyman who knew him somewhat later than the time we are now speaking of, again points it out in connexion with the same great gift of individual sympathy. "His love and his capacity for sympathy seemed inexhaustible, and yet, while ever more and more expansive to the increasing requirements of his great Penitentiary work, his heart lost none of its tenderness and susceptibility for entering into individual joys and sorrows. I never met with one to whom it was so impossible not to rejoice with those who were rejoicing, and to weep with those who wept. He quite carried by storm, and singularly retained, the affections of my parishioners, high and low, by the way in which he entered into our distress on an occasion of great trial to us."
But to proceed with the records of his life at Exeter. A touching testimony to the character of his mind and ministrations came spontaneously, on hearing that this memoir was in preparation, from a member of a family whom he visited during severe domestic affliction. "The striking points of his character were the delicacy, tenderness, and amount of feeling, so rarely [34/35] combined with decision and promptness of action, and although so important and beautiful a feature, yet it is impossible to give examples; the whole essence consisting in the simplicity, tact, and time, in which it was done,--a spontaneous overflowing, as it were; at the moment in all probability, the recipient could not have expressed what it was, but only knew there was some one who fully entered into and shared his feelings."
In regard to the public services at St. Paul's, the line which he took was to revive the neglected features of the Church's system, trusting that the Church's own ordained forms of life were the truest and fittest to infuse the mind of God, and to cherish the highest tone of devotion among his people. In consequence of his engagements at the cathedral, he was unable to have daily morning prayer in his parish church, but he at once commenced daily prayer in the evening at 7 p.m., as the hour most convenient for working men. He established also a stricter observance of the rubric, using, e. g. the prayer for the Church Militant every Sunday, and administering holy Baptism during the service after the second lesson. At the same time there was an earnestness in detecting any spiritual want, and a quickness of [35/36] decision in endeavouring to meet it. Thus, e. g. finding a system of Sunday-schools at work which prevented his knowing or gaining hold over the children of his parish--it being the custom that the children of several parishes should meet in one of the larger schoolrooms, where they were classed indiscriminately together; he set about forming a separate Sunday-school for his own children. Moreover, having observed how, in consequence of the prevailing habit of parents of the labouring class attending evening services, the poorer children of his parish were either left to play in the streets, or were shut up at home without any one to look after them, he established a Sunday evening school for the boys in the schoolroom, and for the girls in his own house; the parish clerk, and some younger sons of tradesmen, giving voluntary aid in teaching.
During this period, Mr. Armstrong's religious views were acquiring that depth and power, that clear and definite substance, which characterized him as a teacher. It is important to note his views on some points of doctrine, as illustrating his mind and character, especially such as bear upon questions now anxiously discussed amongst us. He was one of the lecturers at the cathedral, [36/37] and there the greater number of his "Sermons on the Festivals," published in 1845, were preached. From these Sermons may be gathered some idea of his pastoral teaching, and the main ground-work of his religious convictions. To note the opinions of a man of so much mental power and depth of devotion on disputed questions, when the public mind is anxiously looking out for guidance in an hour of peculiar unrest and doubtfulness, must be a matter of no common interest and importance; nor can his life or character be understood, without knowing the principles of doctrine and belief on which, through the grace of God, they were formed and grew.
Every age, especially one of strong religious excitement, has its own special forms of strife, in which some portions of the mystery of Christ are gainsaid or imperilled. We are now happily spared, at least within the Church of England, some of the momentous controversies which saddened the course of preceding generations, such as those which concern the truth of the Scriptures, the Divinity of our Lord, or the necessity of the grace of the Holy Spirit; but we have our own grounds of perplexity and division. The controversies of the present day within the Church of England turn chiefly on [37/38] two questions: (1.) the general principles of dogmatic truth; and (2.) the grace of sacraments. On both these momentous lines of thought, more eventful struggles than we have yet seen may arise hereafter, and it is of the utmost importance to mark the cloud of witnesses whom God raises up from time to time to sustain His truth. It is also of great moment to observe the effects of sound and earnest views of doctrine in their connexion with the life of those who cherish them.
On both these questions Mr. Armstrong's mind had evidently been long intent, and he had formed clear and decided opinions regarding them, not merely as questions of external religion, but as of vital interest to the soul's growth. He was wont to express his opinions strongly, yet to no man was it ever given to shew more considerateness for the prejudices of others, or to be more careful in not laying unnecessary stumbling-blocks in the way of those who, from difference of education, or other cause, had been led to receive ideas of the revelation of God at variance from his own, ever endeavouring "to speak the truth in love."
On the first question alluded to, he speaks very decidedly in the sermon on the festival of St. Mark, the subject selected for the day being [38/39] "the Personality of Satan." The following extract is a sample of the important and earnest thoughts there expressed:--
"Now the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist seems a fit occasion for dwelling on such a subject as this; because, while we bless God for the gift of the heavenly doctrine which he was appointed to deliver, it suggests to us one great object of temptation, I mean, our doctrine. Here is one point on which we are constantly and craftily assailed. Blasts of error and vain doctrine, against which we pray, and by which unstable souls are swept into perdition, are constantly breathed into us by the Prince of Darkness. As the Spirit of Truth guides into all truth those who obey the truth, so the Spirit of error seeks to lure men from the truth unto his lies. And it is in the highest degree important that we should consider both the fact that ouv doctrine is assailed, and that there is the possibility of our being borne down by the blasts of vain doctrine, because we are disposed, perhaps, to watch our doctrine too carelessly; and, however ready we may be to allow that we are tempted by Satan to viciousness and worldliness of life, we are slow to allow or to feel his attempts against our creed; practically at least, we little suspect or fear the trials which will be made against the very profession of a sound faith; we little distrust our own stedfastness or correctness in religious views; we think it hardly possible, or [39/40] most unlikely, that we should be drawn to mistake the sense of Scripture, or to read it with a perverted mind. We may feel the evil one tempting us to objects of ambition, to the excitement? of the world, to the hurtful lusts of the flesh, to the love of money or of fame, to revenge, or gluttony, or selfishness; but we do not see him working divisions amongst us, dismembering the body of Christ, suggesting new, and therefore false, interpretations of the Word of God, and putting it into the hearts of men to devise new systems by which strife is multiplied, the sheep scattered, the energies of many weak but earnest minds wasted on vain disputations. And yet, if he be a person, subtle, active, deliberative, wise, deceitful, and above all, able mysteriously to penetrate into the hearts of men, and to mingle secretly his own thoughts with theirs, he cannot have left so important a field as that of religious doctrine undisturbed, without any tares being cast upon it. He cannot have left the stream of sound doctrine to flow to the edifying of the Church, without any efforts to turn its course, or to disturb its purity. The history both of natural and revealed religion presents us with a succession of assaults, which betray both his skill and eagerness in smoothing down the imago and superscription of God, where-ever it may have been in any degree impressed. In the Litany we are devoutly led to consider this, as well as his more obvious mode of temptation, when we are taught in the same clause to pray for [40/41] deliverance both from 'all false doctrine, heresy, and schism,' and also 'from all hardness of heart, and contempt of God's Word and Commandments;' that is, as well from any corruptness of doctrine as of life. And it is, perhaps, one of the strongest proofs of the present power of this Prince of Darkness, that he has been enabled to make so large a portion of the Christian world careless about differences of doctrine, almost blinded as to the sin of schism, ready to think that it matters not what we believe, and to form hollow combinations, in which no jealousy for the whole counsel of God can be perceived, and no fear of an evil leaven. How could he more craftily have paved the way for the reception of ' damnable heresies' and doctrines contrary to God? He has lulled our fears of doctrinal error, and our sensitive affection for the truth; he has brought us to mix with heretics, and he has familiarized us with sounds of error from other men's mouths, which become less and less hateful to our minds the more we are used to hear them; and then his last stop is to suggest error to ourselves....... And in speaking on this point, let me warn you of the indulgence of a passion, most sinful, and now most popular,--I mean that of religious curiosity. By this restless inquisitiveness into other men's opinions, Satan entices us to offer our ears to the blasts of his vain doctrine. If we are members of the Church because we believe it to be indeed the Church of Christ, the true keeper and preacher of [41/42] His Word, we should go nowhere else; we should not trifle with so great a thing as our religion; we should not waste one opportunity of grace; while we are hearing error we are losing truth; we put ourselves in the way of temptation; we are helping to the confusion and unsettledness of our minds; we shew a restlessness, which is of the world and not of God; we betray the want of a holy reverence for the truth, by our readiness to touch its counterfeit, and to please our ears by the sound of that false metal, the circulation of which should only sadden us; for the time we give countenance to error, which is a sin; we accept for the time Korah's ministrations; though we may not begin, we may end by embracing the error, for Satan may turn our curiosity to his account. The very fact that we allow ourselves to indulge curiosity on such points is a proof that our minds are in so light, so unfixed a state, as to render us peculiarly open to false opinions when enthusiastically and plausibly set forth. We may be moved by eloquence, and think it grace. While we are consorting with the despisers of the least of Christ's doctrines, we are despising Christ Himself. Though we may come away from such assemblies with no direct infection, with no other sin upon us than that of having exposed ourselves to error, we have encouraged others to do likewise, and to wander to and fro in search of excitement rather than of religion; these may not go forth unharmed. Who in the [42/43] practical part of religion counts it safe to familiarize himself from curiosity with all the modes and varieties of vice, and to go round watching the countless forms and attitudes of sin? Who counts it safe to trust himself in such a course? And why in doctrinal matters, where there may be equal sin and equal temptation, should another rule be applied? How many heresies and schisms would die at once, almost at the hour of their birth, were it not for this profane ensnaring curiosity, by which they are swollen first into an apparent, and then into a real vigour!"
In another Sermon, on the Festival of the Holy Trinity, the Athanasian Creed having been chosen as the subject, the same line of thought recurs. He there speaks strongly and very impressively of the lax and dangerous habit of passing over lightly, or depreciating, the dogmatic statements of that confession of our faith, and the unassailable ground on which those statements rest, as well as the necessities which occasioned them. After alluding to the objection ordinarily urged against the Creed, he says:--
"Now, I would first observe, in answer to such views, that the objections to the Athanasian Creed have ever been most loud and violent in times [43/44] of coldness, laxity of life and doctrine, worldliness and infidelity. Thus, a century ago it was more bitterly opposed than in our own day; and we cannot look at the temper of those times without beholding a startling picture of the ruin and decay of vital piety, and the proportionate boldness and increase of infidelity. The voice of an age divided between lethargy and unbelief, should hardly be accepted as that of a wise counsellor; and the fact is not without significance, that in the same proportion as Gospel principles have increased or lost their power over the hearts and lives of men, so have the objections to this Creed increased in violence or declined.
"Again, if we consider the circumstances from which the Creed arose, we shall relieve the Church from the blame which has wrongly fallen on her--the blame of having desired and introduced such minuteness of doctrinal statement. The Church on her part was content with the simplest and briefest Creed; she desired in the fulness of her faith no nicer definitions; but the very vagueness and brevity of her earlier forms were turned against her; her simple expression of the great Christian verities was explained away, mis-read, wrested from its obvious meaning, opposed by the subtleties of ingenious heretics, who sought with the serpent's wisdom to catch men in an intricate web of words. The Church desired no expansion nor more precise exposition of the faith, but, contrary to her will, she was [44/45] constrained in this manner to defend the truth delivered to her, to meet the subtle errors of the enemies of Christ, to expand her more compressed forms of speech, to explain, to defend what she had said more simply, where, for lack of closer definition, error was successfully thrust in. She was first driven to add the Nicene to the Apostles' Creed, and next, as new modes of error continued to be devised, like a besieged city she threw out fresh defences, opposing the refinements of heretics by such counter refinements as were esteemed consistent with godly reverence. Thus the Athanasian Creed was, as it were, an outer wall cast round the first bulwarks of less contentious ages; and though she rejoiced in its strength and soundness, she grieved at its necessity. Nor has it been ever consistent with the security of the truth to trust herself to her first defences, and to throw down her later works, because the same heresies, or equally dangerous modifications of them, have continued to encamp about her. ..........Again, while it is true that the Creed threatens with the everlasting wrath of God those who deny the Catholic faith, which faith is made to consist in the confession of the Holy Trinity, and the Incarnation and Godhead of Christ, before we count such threatenings contrary to the law of Christian love, it would be well to consider, whether any sentences of condemnation as strong and terrible are to be found in Holy Scripture. For if Scripture, which contains the law of love and grace, does use [45/46] sentences of condemnation of like severity, then we must confess that it is possible to threaten men with the wrath of God without any breach of charity, unless Scripture be supposed to offend; and the only question which can then be raised will be, whether the Church and Scripture agree as to the objects, manner of life, or opinions, which are to be condemned; there will be nothing unscriptural, and therefore nothing uncharitable, in the threats themselves, provided they be scripturally aimed. Let us then listen to some awful denunciations of wrath inspired by God the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of love, Who is Love Himself.
"'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.' 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed.' 'He that believeth not shall be damned.' 'Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city.' 'But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire.' 'Who shall privily [46/47] bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction,' 'that they might all be damned who believed not the truth.'
"Now, if we compare these denunciations of wrath with the severest and the sternest words in the Athanasian Creed, we must instantly confess that no terrors are threatened in the one which are not threatened in the other; though it is beyond the present question to decide whether the terrors threatened equally by the one and by the other, are directed against the same kinds of sinners. And the fact is, that such texts as these open out a side of the Gospel, and of God's dealings with mankind, which, from its very awfulness, we naturally shrink from looking at; we would fain soften down those strong assertions of the necessity of holding the truth and of holding it in righteousness, and of the peril of not holding it, or of holding it in unrighteousness; we turn from the darker side of the Gospel, which threatens tribulation and anguish, and hesitate to face those images of wrath which run parallel with its pictures of peace and love; and when this sterner view is propounded to us in other forms, we try to cast discredit upon the forms, by accusations of un-charitableness so easily caught at by a careless world. And yet we instantly are led to see the inconsistency of such views of charity as would disarm the Church, if not the Scripture, of all sharpness of reproof and power to threaten; as long as it seems to disturb but [47/48] little our own peace in the world, we care but little what 'damnable heresies' abound, and we hesitate to say that they who hold such things 'shall perish everlastingly;' yet from very selfishness we are more bold to grant that the terrors of the Lord ought to be denounced on evil doers, because the sins of theft, murder, adultery, and the like, if not restrained by some such voices of awful warning, might increase to the destruction of our own earthly quietness. While the express assertion that they who deny the Godhead of Jesus Christ ' shall perish everlastingly,' through their unbelief, is held to he a bold offence against the Gospel law of charity, it is held to be no such breach of love to affirm that thieves, and murderers, and profane persons, shall also perish; or at least such assertions are suffered to be made more quietly. May we not then justly question the nature of that charity, which is thus inconsistent with itself and partial? May we not doubt whether this he evangelical love, which thus inclines us with a selfish tenderness towards one class of sinners, while it consents to the denunciations of wrath against another?
"And we have the more reason to suspect this charity, when we consider that the texts already quoted are as severe in condemnation of certain doctrines as of certain ways of life.
"Further, though the Gospel abounds in love, and teaches us to abound in love one to another, it is not merely a revelation of love, but also a [48/49] revelation of truth; while we have to seek that 'love which is in Christ Jesus,' we have equally to seek 'the truth as it is in Jesus;' and as God is both 'love' and 'the truth,' both love and truth as embraced in ourselves are gifts of the self-same Spirit, Who is not divided against Himself. If therefore any views of love would lead us to disparage and slight the truth, and to allow that it mattered not what men believed, that error of doctrine is not to be condemned, or that those who hold error in doctrine are not to be condemned; we should at once suspect such views as forming a spurious charity within us, because jealousy for the maintenance of love swallows up all jealousy for the maintenance of truth. Where the gifts of the Spirit seem to oppose each other, where mercy and truth do not meet together, where truth is sacrificed to love, there one gift is imperfectly known, or we have added to it human opinions, or we have not the gift at all, but a counterfeit."
It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the importance of these precepts, enjoining the mortification of curiosity and unsound speculation, which by accustoming the mind to religious differences, renders it a ready prey to laxity of belief, if not to positive error; nor are those precepts less important which enforce the necessity of not shrinking from the assertion of the divine judgments, which, revealed in holy [49/50] Scripture, and taught by the Church in all ages, come to us as the voice of God Himself, and are intended by Him to guard His truth and to preserve the souls for whom He died in the profession of a true faith.
Equally decided and important are the views which he expressed regarding the divine institution of the Church and the grace of sacraments, as the means of communicating the virtues of the Incarnation and Death of our Lord. He had formed distinctive opinions as to the meaning of holy Scripture, and the teaching of the Church of England on these points, and expressed them with his own peculiar power of lucid and impressive eloquence. An instance of this mode of treating the subject of holy Baptism occurs in the sermon for Monday in Easter-week. After speaking of the change which had come upon the Body of our Lord after His Resurrection, he compares this change in a striking and beautiful manner with the effects of our regeneration:--
"Though some mysterious change had passed upon His flesh, by which He was enabled to pass through walls and doors as though they were but so much unopposing air, it is clear that there was no visible glory in our Lord, nothing in His outward appearance that pointed Him out at once as one risen from [50/51] the dead. He ate, drank, and conversed as before with His disciples, though He seemed perhaps not to mix quite so much or so familiarly with them, while He spoke, if possible, in a more tender and solemn tone.
"Now the blessed Sacrament of Baptism makes us like our Lord; it puts us in some sort into that very condition which was His after His resurrection; for in Baptism we 'put on Christ,' this same risen Christ; and having put on Him, 'Who is our life,' and having risen with Him, Who is 'the Resurrection of the dead,' we in like manner must tarry for a season in the world; we must be content, though possessing a risen life in our souls through Him, to be as sojourners upon earth,--to eat, drink, buy and sell, and do other worldly acts, though no longer of the world ourselves nor attached to it. We must seem, too, in outward appearance unchanged; we must look the same; and, though sons of God, wear no signs of the Divine Presence; the children of the light have as yet no fairer countenances than the sons of darkness; the illumination is within; they that are from above and they that are from beneath pass before us, and we cannot tell them by their looks; the inner man has the light of the other world and the life, and Baptism has secretly put this life into us.
"That this first Sacrament does as much as this, that it is our resurrection or New Birth, that it is closely and intimately connected with the great [51/52] doctrine of our Lord's Resurrection, will be clear, if we string together those texts which more directly define and enforce it."
Then, again, afterwards in a similar strain:--
"There is no need to lower Christ's ordinances, lest we should obscure the sufficiency of Christ, and the doctrine of the Atonement, and the power of the Cross; for in nothing is the sufficiency of Christ and the natural corruption of man more forcibly maintained than in high views of the Sacraments. What are they but Christ's gifts? What origin have they but from Christ? What power, what vitality? How are they preserved but through faith in Him? We cannot, with a true faith, separate Christ from His own words, or His own doctrine, or His own ordinances; if we would make them no more than forms, we make Him a mere giver of forms, presenting us with grand and awful types, such as the Deluge and the Baptism of Israel in the Red Sea, and then making the antitypes dry and powerless rites, weaker by far and fainter than the shadows. If we bring down His ordinances in order to fix our eyes more directly upon Him, as though they were obstacles, and not helps, we virtually bring Him down, who gave them that they might be a medium through which to approach Him, and to know that He is approaching us and we Him, that we are meeting together, He in us and we in Him, the faithful with the great Object of faith. If we try to [52/53] look past these or above these, we are as men with weak eyes trying to gaze on the mid-day sun without interposing some substance to soften and yet to communicate the light.
"But if we think that all the terms so repeatedly applied to Baptism are designed to tell us that it is our New Birth or spiritual Regeneration, then we believe that we have that new life, that principle of Divine life, which, if not destroyed by wilful sin, will be continued into eternity, and perfected in heaven itself. we are new creatures in an old creation; we belong to another city; we are already citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, though for a season absent in the body; we have been naturalized therein by Christ's purchase, Who bought for us that freedom with a great price; but whether here among sinners, or there among the angels, this life, which is from Christ and in Christ, is the very eternal life: we cannot be born again spiritually, no, not in heaven; there is but one natural birth, and there is but one spiritual birth; and whatever we attain unto in the life to come, it will be only the manhood and maturity of this present spiritual life; we shall not become new creatures again; we shall be changed, but not regenerate; we have already been made "partakers of the Divine nature," partakers of Christ, children of God, and grafts on that tree of life. What higher life than this can be given us? We can have no better place than that of sons, no better nature than that of the Divine nature, [53/54] no Diviner Person of whom to partake than Christ. This life will be matured, gladdened, devoted to blissful occupations, spent in a purer dwelling, spent at home; qualities will be developed which it now contains, but which are obscured, and veiled, and dormant, of which we are now unconscious. It is now a new power dawning in us, opening itself out by degrees, shewing by such beauty of holiness as breaks from it, its Divine nature, and leading us to think by such glimpses as we have, to what a far higher stage of excellence it may be advanced by being placed in a better world. We feel that it is something which is but in its infancy, excellent and heavenly in its kind, but now only manifesting the beginnings of its strength. As we say of newly-discovered powers in the physical world, that we do not know yet what they will lead to, that our knowledge of them is in its infancy, that from what we know and see we should be surprised at no results however wonderful, that we discern in them that which in its fuller development and application may be,--so in like manner may we speak of the principle of Divine life given us in holy Baptism. We have it now in ' earthen vessels,' in its infancy, in its first stage and operation, amidst the remains of sin, in a wicked, uncongenial world. As Christ after His resurrection could not in such a scene unveil the glory that was in Him, and make His Divinity to appear to carnal eyes and minds, so we who are baptized bear in us a risen life, which 'is [54/55] hid with Christ in God,' which is 'as unknown' among men."
So likewise in the sermon for Tuesday in Easter-week, he teaches the true connection between the holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of our regeneration:--
"But this life, like bodily life, must be sustained. We do not necessarily go on living because we have begun to live, but the first excellent gift of spiritual life requires a second excellent gift, which is spiritual food, for the support of life, in order to complete the goodness of the Lord. Again, the natural body, with which the spiritual may be so fitly compared, not only needs food, but its own proper and peculiar food, which has some secret harmony with the inner parts, which the system instinctively accepts and thrives upon. For ' as all flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, another of birds,' so these different kinds of creature require, according to their constitution, structure, and manner of life, different and suitable kinds of food; all do not profit by the same thing, but what is sweet and wholesome to the one is hurtful or worthless to the other. So is it in the spiritual world. Not only does the soul which has been born anew, need food, but that food which possesses some inherent fitness with its own new nature. The Divine life cannot be sustained by earthly nourishment; there is the want of something [55/56] heavenly, by the use of which it would expand and thrive.
"Nor are we left without such divine nutrition. As Israel was not saved by water to die in the wilderness, but a table was prepared in the wilderness, that the life miraculously redeemed might be as miraculously sustained, so Christ has not created us afresh by the mystery of Baptism without ordaining other means as mysterious for carrying on and finishing the good work which He hath begun in us. Baptism implies, so to speak, the gift of the Lord's Supper; its nature, as declared by Christ, leads us to expect that it would be followed by a second gift, to be used continually, for there is but 'one Baptism,' as there can be but one birth in Christ; and we may suppose, for this reason, that it is the only Sacrament mentioned in the Creeds, as if the confession of the one implied and contained the confession of the other; as if the gift of life and of the means of life, were viewed as one continued act of grace, the beginning of which it was enough to speak of in any brief form of words.
"Now when we consider our own new nature, as born of water and of the Spirit, and the nature of the Lord's Supper, which is the mystical nourishment of faithful souls, we see an admirable harmony between the two,--Divine food being given for the growth and increase of the Divine life already bestowed; and we see the force and fitness of those terms by which the elements of this good feast are [56/57] represented. "We partake of 'Angels' food;' that is, food fit for Angels, suitable to the angelic nature, fit for those who have fellowship with the Angels, who are lifted up to the rank of that sublime society. We partake of the 'true manna,' 'the bread of heaven,' not the typical manna, which, though a wonderful sustenance for the militant Church of Israel, is mean in comparison, but of the true Bread prefigured therein; for both the bread rained down from heaven and the camp of Israel itself were but types and shadows of the Christian Church and of that spiritual food by which it lives.
"Hence, too, we learn, in one sense at least, the peril of eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper unworthily; that is, with unprepared and unrepenting souls. We see how that, when we are in such a state, we eat and drink to our own destruction. For if we draw near while we are walking after the flesh, fast bound in the bonds of deliberate habitual sin, with the life once given us weakened and decaying, we taste that which hurts us, because we are not able to bear it, being weak; there is little left in us with which such food could agree; we have reduced ourselves to that state of spiritual languor and feebleness which makes such strong meat perilous; not only does it become a wasted meal, but dangerous; we have unfitted ourselves for such nourishment; and as far as we have followed that which is 'earthly, sensual, devilish,' as far as we have suffered our new life to waste away within us, so far do we [57/58] injure our souls by touching that which is opposed to the carnal mind.
"But if we desire earnestly to 'renew the spirit of our minds,' if there is a true longing after spiritual strength, if we have not utterly lost the principle of the risen life, nor suffered it utterly to decay, then the Lord's Supper, meekly and reverently received, becomes the principal and richest means of life, the very stay and health of our hungering and thirsting souls. For what is it of which we partake? is it not Christ Himself, 'Christ our Passover' sacrificed for us? Christ, 'who is our life,' with whom we have been buried and have risen again,--Christ, who is our feast, our Bread, the Bread of heaven, the living Bread, our Meat, which is 'meat indeed,'--Christ, who is the 'Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world,' Himself without sin? What are the elements of bread and wine but the Body and Blood of Christ, 'verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper,' not after a carnal and fleshly manner, but spiritually? It is the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ; it is the commingling of our life with His, of that which is Divine in us with His Divine nature. We are made one with Him, and he one with us; He dwelleth in us, and we in Him."
At the close of this same sermon he suggests an important thought as to the causes which have conduced to the prevailing depreciation of the Church's sacramental system:--
 "The mystery of the Sacraments stands in the way of their reception; men count them as little more than forms, as though Christ would have pressed mere forms with so much urgency on His Church. It requires a strong faith to believe them to be what they really are, a strong faith in the power of Christ, especially when men around us think so little of them, and try to cast the reproach of resting in forms on all such as seek the grace of God therein. In a land torn with divisions, and intersected with a thousand paths of religious error, there will always be, according to the extent of schism, low views of the Sacraments; for there will always be among the teachers of schismatics some scruple and distrust and doubtfulness in administering the Sacraments; and these misgivings about their authority will break out in endeavours to think little of that which they cannot confidently touch."
While dwelling on these vivid descriptions of the grace given through the Sacraments, it is well also to observe how truly he had realized the danger which may arise from an exaggerated view of any mere external system, and the possible evils of an undue love of symbolism, however true and beautiful if preserved in its true proportion to vital religion. In one of the sermons of the series he says:--
"May not the mind spend itself on these points, and yet only, or chiefly, treat them as so much food [59/60] for the logical or imaginative powers to feed upon? Or again, take the history of the Church, its subsequent history, its controversies, its schisms, its polity, its action upon the world, its influence in all the changes of the world. We may search into such subjects, and embrace them only with our minds; we may all the while be barren of vital piety, or without earnestness, or meekness, or any real apprehension of the doctrine of Christ crucified; our views of the doctrines of the Church may be sound and clear; we may argue eloquently for the truth; but we may be debating after all only for the form of things: the life, the soul, the reality of the system which has engaged the mind, may be wanting in us, or may be but partially and faintly known.
"So of lesser things than creeds and doctrines, such as architecture and music, as applied to the Church,--sciences which have been always dignified by such application, which have always burst forth into grander forms and sublimer harmonies, which have always attained a wonderful and awful sublimity, the instant they have been brought to bear on the service of Almighty God; we may enter into these things zealously, and attain great knowledge, and yield ourselves to their fascination; our taste, our mind may be delighted and refined, but yet our souls may not get within those outward, well-chosen forms and symbols, or those deep-moving sounds. There is enough in the sublimest architecture, in the gravest and richest music, to interest, even, to [60/61] engross, our minds; we can be enthusiasts in these sciences, and, because they are devoted to the faith, we may deceive ourselves as to our own ruling motive in pursuing them."
One other striking passage may be added from the sermon for Easter-day, on a doctrine little realized even among the faithful,--that of the "Resurrection of the body:"--
"And the wonder of the Resurrection is, that it will be a resurrection of the flesh, a quickening of our mortal bodies, a rising from the grave and house of corruption. It is not merely revealed to us that the souls of men appear before God in judgment, and pass after the last sentence into a glorious or miserable world; this would be no rising from the grave, for the soul does not rest therein; it would not be a resurrection, but a passage from the intermediate state, where the soul tarries after death, into the final state, where it abides for ever, whether in bliss or torment. The words 'rise from the dead' and 'resurrection1 are designed to express the motion and exaltation of the body; as it is said in the text, 'with my dead body shall they arise . . . the earth shall cast out the dead;' as though by the 'dead' were signified not merely the souls of the departed, but the bodies also; as though some part of them, that is, their flesh, were hidden beneath in the earth. And St. Paul does not so much combat any unbelief in the existence of the soul in a future state, which, [61/62] from the very nature of the soul was believed in by the more thoughtful portion of the heathen world, and was no now doctrine to heathen ears, but he sets himself to the work of teaching the peculiar doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh: this was the incredible mystery, this the new doctrine that startled the world, and drew down the contemptuous mockings of the wise Athenians;--they would have understood the immortality of the soul, which many of them already believed, but an immortal body, or the resurrection of the dull frail flesh, the incorruption of the corruptible, the immortality of this husk and covering of the soul, what babbling did this seem, what raving, to a world of reasoners who were without faith! And when St. Paul, after a sublime statement of this doctrine, makes some imaginary opponent arrest him in his discourse, it is upon this very point that he supposes the interruption. 'But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?' He felt that this was the question which would be raised, and was to be met; he foresaw that men in their natural conception of the world to come, and the spirituality of such a state, would stumble and be perplexed when they heard of the resurrection of the flesh, not being able to understand 'the spiritual body,' the change of corruption into incorruption, and of the natural body of flesh and blood, which 'cannot inherit the kingdom of God,' into some immortal and heavenly fashion. 'Thou fool,' breaks [62/63] forth the Apostle, as the fire kindled, 'that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God givcth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.' He points out the analogy between the operation of God on the visible and material productions of the earth, and on the visible and material parts of a man. 'A resurrection,' he says, 'is before us; the bare grain, dry and dead and uncomely to the eye, breaks out by the secret working of God into a spreading and fragrant plant, beautiful in its fashion; such grace and beauty appearing in this risen body, as the lifeless and uncomely appearance of the seed would have by no means led us to look for, had we argued without experience of the thing.' Or, to put the analogy in a closer light, 'A resurrection is before us; the seed dies, and then is quickened; it cannot be quickened except it die; it breaks forth into a new body; it puts forth from itself that which cleaves the earth and forces itself through the clods by the power of the hidden life within it; and more than this, to every seed God gives his own body; every dead sued is quickened, but every seed does not, in its resurrection, put on the same fashion, but the vile seed of the bramble rises into the worthless bramble, and the good seed of the rose puts forth the flower of the rose.' 'So is the resurrection of the dead.' When we walk [63/64] through the fields plucking the ears of corn, the dry grain which we rub in our hands is an Apostle's argument for the resurrection of the flesh.
"It is a great mystery, even when we view it by itself, as a single act, apart from its after consequences, and from any consideration of that state of life to which it leads. As the scattered parts of all the bodies of men have to be drawn together again in some wonderful way, in order that no part, however minute, may lose its portion either of reward or punishment, how can we understand the process of quickening and reuniting these several parts, which will be a sudden thing, 'in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,' at ' the voice of an archangel and the trump of God?' how can we understand the feeling either of the soul on being again restored to the house from which it has been so long driven, or of the flesh on recovering its life and' consciousness? It is a great mystery, that some dust which has lain senseless for thousands of years should ever live and feel again. And it strikes us the more, when we try to apply it to individuals; St. Stephen, for instance, whose soul has been so long in peace, will rise again with his body which was once beaten to the ground with stones. Where in the land of Judah is the dust of the Martyr?
"However the souls of the dead have existed since they were divorced from the flesh, (and it is one punishment of sin of which even the saints partake, that there should be such a divorce between parts [64/65] designed at first for a perfect endless union,) however they have passed their time, or in whatever place, whether in 'Paradise' or in Judas' 'own place,' this disembodied state ceases at the resurrection. Every soul by some mystical attraction will find its own tabernacle, and will enter it again and diffuse its life throughout it. St. Stephen's spirit will recover the bruised flesh, which has long since been dissolved. 'The earth shall cast out the dead.' The human dust, and that which has never moved with any breath of life, or living soul within it, will be separated; though they seem things of the same kind, and are not now to be distinguished the one from the other, they will be sifted the one from the other; the one will be burnt up in the fires of the last day, the other will wake into consciousness. The earth will have no power to hold any longer that which has once lived and felt; for, as the earth has to be destroyed, so it cannot draw into that annihilation any parts or substances that once constituted the outer house and tabernacle of a man. When the world, which in seed-time and harvest has been giving its yearly types of the resurrection of mankind, has ceased for the first time to shew forth its sign, when the last grain has been sown and the last corn reaped from the field, when this stage of human action, this scene of the probation of an immortal family shall have served its end, then, before it breaks into nothingness and melts away, it must cast forth those earthly members of men which cannot be destroyed with it, and which are but in a state of suspended [65/66] life: not one grain of human dust will be annihilated, nor one grain of mere common earth quickened.
"Sometimes, as one stands musing among the tombstones of some old churchyard, and feels oneself in the midst of a silent company of brethren resting in their quiet graves, one cannot but think with strange awe of that great day, when all will be life and motion in this still place, when the ground shall shake, and the sods break asunder, and a multitude of men rise from their green dormitory. And here, again, we cannot consider the Resurrection without thoughts of the multitude that must rise coming over us: it will be a universal resurrection; the whole family of Adam will rise at once, whether from churchyard, or sea, or river, or desert, or pyramid, or field of battle. We shall not rise as we died, generation after generation, but Abraham and Daniel and John Baptist and Clement and Chrysostom will meet at once; as also Cain and Pharaoh and Jeroboam and Herod and Judas. There is something strangely exciting in looking on any amazing crowd of men assembled into one place, but what will be the spectacle of all the generations of men gathered together before God?"
While these sermons contain such clear, deep views of the mysteries of the revelation of God, they exhibit also touching instances of that keen, warm-hearted sympathy with suffering or trial which so remarkably characterized him. His [66/67] views of great principles were constantly converging to some practical detail, some duty of daily life, as the proper end to which they ought to lead. An interesting illustration of this turn of thought may be noted in the sermon for Christmas-day, towards the close of which he eloquently describes the trials of the aged poor removed from their parishes, and the scenes and associations of a whole life, into distant union-houses:--
"That the tendency of commerce is to blind us to the spiritual relations which exist between rich and poor according to the Gospel, is capable of proof. If we look at our older towns, we shall find in them rows of ancient alms-houses for the aged poor, built before the great hurrying tide of commerce had set in; if we turn to the new manufacturing towns, that have sprung up since, we find no such works of Gospel love, no such signs of the influence of the Faith upon the richer sort. Our large workhouses are the Bad substitutes; I say 'sad,' because, though in a country liable to all the fluctuations of commerce, by which large masses of the able-bodied may be thrown suddenly into poverty, we must have some certain, system at work capable of instant expansion or contraction, to provide against such uncertainties as voluntary alms-giving could but imperfectly cope with, still the aged poor, who are not suddenly thrown [67/68] upon us, should be differently cared for; some better retreat should be provided for those who have spent their days in severe and honest toil. Did we, as in the old time, shelter the grey hairs of our poor in decent alms-houses within their own parishes, we should then undo, in a great measure, those hardships which must be felt under the best poor-law, which is not designed to supply the place of voluntary bounty, but to act where voluntary bounty fails. We make its hardships, by making it almost the only refuge of the poor. Did we, by building alms-houses, put the old deserving people out of the necessity of its assistance, workhouses would then be no longer the lasting home of any, but the temporary place of refuge in times of temporary distress. It is sad not to keep the old amongst us; we know not how much love we lose when we let them depart from their old haunts; we hardly can know their attachment to place, because we move so much ourselves, and have such unfixed restless ways; we know not what it is to be torn from the one village, which has been their whole world,--from the one old church, which has been a whole life's delight,--from the one old seat where they have knelt till they can hardly kneel,--from those old familiar faces, which have grown old together, and from the young around, in whom they see the likenesses of their own fading generation;--we cannot fully enter into these things, but these feelings of home attachment it is our wisdom to preserve."
 It is still more important, as illustrative of the growth of his mind and character, to point out two other passages in these sermons, which prove how he drew his teaching out of the depths of his own experience, and was learning the doctrines of the spiritual life by an earnest self-discipline. This was, indeed, one great secret of the reality which marks his style of writing, and the fervour which generally breathes throughout it. One such passage occurs, where he touches on the dangers and abuse of society. His hearers at the time could hardly have discerned the sources out of which his ardent, solemn words were springing; but they will come home to those who bear in mind what has been said of his own struggle out of an ensnaring temptation, and as being the words of one who had "suffered, being tempted." The passage alluded to occurs in the sermon for Tuesday in Whitsun-week, which treats on "The Perils of Society." He there says:--
"And yet, as cases of doubt arise, we may in some measure help one another; we may throw out hints for the guidance of beginners in the spiritual life, who are becoming more scrupulous and tender in their treadings, and who rightly judge that it matters greatly at the beginning where they tread. Let us consider then one subject, about which the [69/70] learners of the wisdom of the Cross, to whom I would chiefly speak, are apt to be perplexed; they are often at a loss what to do or say concerning 'entering into society,' as it is called: sometimes they think it harmless, and sometimes perilous to their spiritual state; they cannot quite make up their minds either way; and acting according to this uncertain mind, sometimes they refuse to enter it, or enter with some secret misgiving, while at another time they are without dread of any hurt to their souls. Now, where we are in doubt concerning the lawfulness or the Christian prudence of such and such a thing, we had best at once take the stricter and more self-denying side, as being in all likelihood the safer; for we had better miss many earthly pleasures, which might have been enjoyed, than lose any degree of glory which but for them we might have attained, while any sacrifice made through faith is profitable for the growth of the heavenly mind. Thus, if we doubt concerning the influence of society on the soul, we can do no wiser thing than, by the grace of God, resign cheerfully what is doubtful. But if we examine the nature of that sort of mixing with the world which we understand by 'entering into society,' we may find some positive grounds for shrinking from such light-minded intercourse, and for supposing that it is a fearful yet insidious snare to the higher orders, causing them to love this present world, and being the more fearful, because it does not result in one direct evident sin, but because it [70/71] produces a general state of mind most disinclined to religious strictness, or any earnestness about heavenly things. It not a little confirms this view, that the thing we speak of is popularly called a 'living in the world,' and the contrary 'being out of the world,' phrases which are not without appropriateness, and which do let out the character and tendencies of such intercourse. But, to go beyond the popular expressions by which it is known, as we are pledged, in order to our salvation through Christ Jesus, to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world, where, I would ask, are these pomps and vanities to be found, where 'the pride of life,' the 'vain pomp and glory of the world,' if not in the ceaseless rounds of entertainments in which the rich vie with the rich, and which, while they are set forth with all possible splendour and luxuriousness, are designed to fill the head with worldly images, and to bear our hours along upon the smoothest course? Where is the world, if it be not here, among those whose life is gaiety, and whose hearts are bent on fashion, or on that which is thought to be such? "Where is opposition to the world and deadness to it to be found among the throng of pleasure-seekers? where is that 'godly, righteous, and sober life,' for which we so wisely pray? Pleasure in some shape is the avowed and evident purpose of a life spent in society, and it would be profaneness to say that all things are 'begun, continued, and ended' in God, or done to the glory of God.'
 "But, while pleasure is confessedly the general object of society, we shall find that the action of this mixing with the world is in its details dangerous to the soul. Thus, among other things, it tends to produce great artificiality: it is no easy thing to be simple and natural; we are so in our own homes and among real friends, where real life is disclosed, and men seem to be no other than they are; but how few of us are quite natural in other places. We are often conscious of putting on a different manner, of talking in a different tone, of hiding much of the real man, sometimes our bettor feelings, sometimes our worse. While we consent to be thrown among all kinds of people, of all creeds however deadly, of all characters, dissipated or correct, as it may be, there is and almost must be much forced, made, unreal behaviour; there must be great and important concealments of character; and the acknowledged difficulty of knowing people as they are, or of seeing them through the veils of a worldly and courtly mannerism, goes far to prove how much there is of a kind of acting and playing of parts, and consideration of appearances and effect. Now, must not this artificiality, this putting on of something which is not our own, or hiding that which is our own, be most hurtful to the edge of the soul, and tend to produce some sort of untruthfulncss and hypocrisy and unreality, which are evil things?
"In the next place we may consider the ordinary tone of conversation which we find in largo and [72/73] mixed assemblies; and what must we say of it, but that it bears commonly most decided marks of the world? There may be at times bursts and gleams of a better light, where better spirits may have power to take the lead and to give the tone; but on the whole, what an open manifestation there is of everything that is vain and worldly; what discussion of our neighbours, what scandal, what parade, what exaggerations, what amplifyings, what want of strict truth, what flatteries, what respect of persons, what light and irreverent words, what low principles of action confessed; the Gospel view of things being treated as something impracticable now, and not suited to modern manners! How much which is purely frivolous, which under any view must come under the head of those idle words of which we must give account on the Day of Judgment! We may indeed continue running with others the smooth round of continued feasts and gaieties, with the intent and hope of raising the tone of conversation, of dropping words of wisdom among less thoughtful minds, of checking what is unseemly, and drawing them towards what is good. We may suppose that the mixture of religious with worldly people will imperceptibly leaven the lump with the leaven of the better part. Some good may be effected by such a course, and some evil stayed; but what risks do we run to obtain a doubtful good; risks, which at least the beginners in the straight and narrow way of faith would be wise to shun. Oh [73/74] how much easier it is to be drawn down ourselves, than to raise others up! how much easier to sink to the level of the world, than to raise the worldly to the high standard of Christ which we aspire to! How very easy to glide into the spirit of those that are about us, to get interested in their objects of interest, and to learn some love of the world by mixing much with those that love it; the more so if we have ever given our hearts to vanity in former days, and if its restless pleasures were once our objects of desire and pursuit! None but the fixed and practised Christian can thus tread the borders of the world without being defiled by the mire and clay on which he trusts his foot. We catch tastes and habits from our associates; our minds are bent by the prevailing wind of opinion which blows upon us; and, if we live in worldly society, with all the sounds of the world around us, it is a strange thing should our tenderness of conscience, our zeal, our earnestness, our anxiousness for our souls, be in no degree hurt or weakened.
"And this brings us to consider what sort of qualities are in most esteem in society and possess the chief attractiveness. Is piety in request, soberness, goodness, meekness, want of spirit, humility? Surely meaner things are preferred before these, for these do not help to the liveliness of a feast. Powers of entertaining, and intellectual acuteness of one kind or other, are the letters of commendation here; the man of wit, of brilliant conversation, of quick fancy, [74/75] is the acceptable person, even though his private manners should be somewhat questionable. Here, too, 'accomplishments,' as they are called, are raised into objects of almost idolatry, as also personal comeliness, rank, wealth, power, and the like. And in all these things there are no slight temptations to pride, display, rivalry, jealousy, vain-glory, self-love. If we are where such things are esteemed as the all in all, if we habitually hear them admired and coveted, it cannot be anything but difficult to think little of such things or to retain a sense of their littleness. He is indeed dead to the world, and 'strong in the Lord,' whose heart is quite sealed against the deceitfulness of riches, and the love of admiration, and excitement, and pleasure. To how many persons have their powers of conversation, their wit, and their agreeableness, proved the very ruin of their souls! To how many their beauty, or their accomplishments, or their taste, or money! Alas! what a field is this for the growth of the spiritual life, which calls into play so many varieties of worldly passions, and across which are passing so many forms of worldliness! He whose whole heart is given to learn Christ, and to die to the world, can hardly think that in such scenes he will be led on and helped towards Christ, or that his natural love of the world will be here discountenanced, and his soul weaned from vanity."
While able to write thus strongly, and with [75/76] such keen apprehension of what touched injuriously upon the soul's life, there was yet no tendency to moroseness in the view which he took; and he could distinguish clearly between the use and abuse of society, as his hearty, kindly temper never lost its natural zest for innocent social fellowship. In the latter part of the sermon he speaks thus:--
"But in opposition to such views as would call the earnest seekers after Christ from any constant mixing with the world to a more retired and sober life, it may be asked, Does the Gospel life, the walking after the Spirit, drive us into a cheerless solitude? Does it separate us from one another? Does it make us each take a lonely path, and destroy that social feeling by which we are irresistibly drawn towards each other? Wow we would shew the perils of society and its worldliness; we would draw Christians out of that unsatisfying system of knowing faces rather than hearts, in order to point out a true and sanctified fellowship, in order to bind them together with some stronger bonds than cords of vanity, in order to supersede that which seems to be communion but which is selfishness, by something real and substantial. It is not that we would check social feeling; we would rather cause it to expand and feast itself where it might be truly satisfied; the heartlessness of worldly friendship has become proverbial, and we would lead men to that which has [76/77] an enduring principle. If we seek to know those who know God, we are seeking to associate upon principles of divinely-born love, and immortal truth, and holy hope. Home and our families, and the friends that are about us, would yield us opportunities enough for the wise and devout indulgence of all social affections. Here are to be found quietness, sobriety, well-governed relaxation, cheerfulness, and all innocent pleasures, while we are saved from all excesses of mirth, all vain-glory, all contact with opinions frivolous or worse than frivolous, all enticing sounds of vanity, besides obtaining direct edification from words kind and solemn and well-timed; as intercourse with worldly persons tends to draw us down to the spirit of the world, so calm familiar communion with thoughtful men tends to elevate our thoughts and desires; heavenly things are not suffered to be forgotten; they are kept before us; and while we are removed from the glitter of the world, we are provoked to love and good works; we are sustained in our love of heavenly things, when we are about to droop, by the incitements to holiness around us; when we are weak, our friends are strong; when we are looking back, like Lot's wife, to the places we have forsaken, they turn our thoughts and constrain us to advance; or we, in turn, in their time of weakness and faint-hearted-ness, may help to support their faith. Thus, without being conformed to the world, we have fellowship one with another, and kindly intercourse and [77/78] interchanges of thought, 'as using the world, yet not abusing it.'"
The other passage alluded to is to be found in the sermon for the festival of St. Bartholomew, in which he treats of "The Use and Abuse of the Intellect." Conscious as he must have been of great intellectual power, and tempted in no ordinary degree to give free vent to its natural aspirations, his words afford a striking proof of the thoughtful watchfulness that he was at this time exercising over the strongest outgoings of his inner life; how he was aiming to guard every faculty, and "bring every thought into the obedience of Christ:"--
"There is always a fear lest intellect should become idolized among the educated classes, lest it should create false views of the dignity of human nature, lest it should be used selfishly, because it lifts men so easily above their fellows, and places them on high as objects of admiration. Literature and science in their countless branches, are, after all, great tempters; they are apt to become idols, to make men their devotees; the fame and attention and note which they bring, when successfully pursued, are cords of great power in tying our souls to the world, and the Christian graces are apt to be secondary objects of desire, if desired at all, amid all the excitement of a scientific or literary life. The [78/79] very exercise of intellect, apart from any feelings of ambition, is so pleasurable, as it seems the nearest of anything to the creative power, that we are all disposed to treat it as such, to live in a world of our own making, to live upon our own thoughts, virtually to worship that through which we succeed, to delight ourselves with our own mind's work, to gaze with, fond admiration on the surprising flights of reason, and to fill ourselves with those notions of the dignity of man as a reasoning being, which little dispose us for the humbling doctrines of the Cross.
"When the mind is rejoicing in the discovery of some new vein of truth hitherto hidden from the world; or when it is pursuing subtle and difficult investigation with conscious penetration; when feelings of pride and superiority, natural to the natural man, are swelling within us, and the prospects of fresh intellectual achievement brighten; it must needs be unpalatable doctrine to be told, that we are nothing, that our great intellectual researches, which are noised, it may be, through the world, and draw men's eyes towards us, are but vain and unfruitful dreams; that all this wisdom, the pomp of intellect, is but vanity, unless it be esteemed as something infinitely less than faith, and innocency of life, and those other graces of the soul which the dullest ploughman may possess equally with ourselves, while he is ploughing his dull round of labour with a mind thick and unfanciful. It is, I repeat, difficult among the educated classes, where the appreciation and [79/80] praises of intellect are to be found, to lower our own intellectual powers to their proper place, to be going against the opinion of the world in our estimation of them, and to use them with an overruling seriousness and fear.
"It is hard to keep faith uppermost, to restrain ourselves from high thoughts, to make practically a true estimate of that knowledge which shall vanish, away, to use our attainments directly or indirectly to the glory of God, to cultivate our minds not for pleasure's sake only, nor for fame, nor out of natural inquisitiveness and restlessness, but with a view of rendering an account of our stewardship, and of advancing the truth of Christ in the world
"But while the arts and sciences of the world, as distinct from religion, are great temptations, and oftentimes exalt the man to his own ruin, whose life is a life of thought and reasoning and mental culture; while we see daily before our eyes how far separate philosophy is from saintliness, acuteness and greatness of understanding from heavenly-minded-ness and the love of Christ, intellectual from spiritual growth, we find, on entering even the bounds of religion, that even here there are temptations to grapple with it as an intellectual question. Great minds have wrought upon this ground with pure and simple piety; the Gospel has drawn towards it great intellects, and these have been sanctified while they were searching the Divine philosophy; but still it is possible to be without this vital piety, even though [80/81] our minds employ themselves on religious questions; it is very possible for the eager and learned theologian to be self-deceived in his toils, and to have but a cold love towards Christ while he argues concerning His doctrine. The fact that life is spent in evolving or illustrating religious truth, is so apt to disarm us of all suspicion, as being a religious occupation profitable to others, that we forget how different a thing it is to oe spiritual, from employing our minds on spiritual subject-matter. We may stop with self even here; our real end may be our own celebrity, or our real satisfaction in the exercise of our intellectual powers. We may happen to make religion the field of our mental energy, and may discern the grandeur of the views which open on us, and yet we may not be leading that spiritual and mortified life, or rejoicing in those spiritual influences which would sanctify our labours. Of all studies, theological studies seem to need most prayer and watching in the midst of them, lest while our intellects are feasting our souls starve, lest we keep touching holy things, and having them in our mouths, and writing of them, while we are not advancing in grace and holiness. After much intellectual familiarity with the Gospel scheme, pursued without any fervency of spirit, it is hard beyond all expression to recover a feeling for it; when the ground has become hardened by our treading over it, it is indeed difficult to distinguish between the theory of faith and the life of it."
 It is, moreover, another instance of the true balance between conflicting tendencies, which the grace of God was preserving in the formation of his mind, that while thus reducing to the lowest scale mere intellectual powers in contrast with the spiritual life, he could profoundly recognise the greatness and value of such gifts in their proper exercise, and had accustomed himself to note and contemplate the intended purposes of whatever God had created for His own glory:--
"But while we state the difficulties that surround the use of intellect, let it not be supposed that we are speaking against its use. No; it is as much a duty to use it rightly, as it is a part of Christian prudence to see the snares that encompass the use. It is the gift of God, and as such is to be used and honoured, as such to be improved, and trained, and advanced towards perfection. They who, being gifted with a great reason, consecrate it by making faith its guide, who unite genius with devotion, wisdom with harmlessness, knowledge with humility, philosophy with meekness and godly fear, are great indeed. These are they to whom much is given, and who are faithful hi their stewardship; who, shining in the beauty of holiness, at once attract men by the manifold rays of light with which their cross is lit, and have power wisely to defend the truth, to give a reason of their hope with meekness of [82/83] wisdom, conquering that abused reason, which is void of the truth of Christ, by reason armed with grace."
It is deeply interesting and instructive to observe by what means God illuminates the minds of those whom He guides by His grace. Ordinarily, He vouchsafes to infuse His inward light through natural faculties and habits which He has formed for this end; and according to this law, we may venture to form an opinion as to the mode in which the Holy Spirit was secretly influencing him whose life and character we are now contemplating. His habits were not studious. He never was a close or steady reader. He read a good deal, but he read diffusely. Though the judgment he formed of the spirit and aim of a book was generally correct, it was owing rather to a peculiar tact, guided by a pure and cultivated taste, than to regular study. He was practically a poet, and the easy flow of the peculiarly picturesque and fervent language in which he clothed his thoughts, shewed this innate power; yet he did not give his mind to writing poetry. His literary strength was evidenced by the rapidity with which, shortly after this period, various publications, mainly from his own pen, passed under his hand; and yet he was not a literary man. He was eminently practical. His mind was always [83/84] tending to action. It was not mainly through books, or close study, that he was led into the deeper spiritual knowledge that he attained. God taught him, as it would appear, partly through the natural energies of a superior intellect, but more especially through the ardent affections and enlarged sympathies of a pure heart, overruled and strengthened, as they grew, by a practical sense of duty which more and more absorbed all the outgoings of his life. He learnt by what he saw and felt, and his heart was open to a very wide circle of human interests. He was moved by suffering, where-ever it came before him, and his quick intelligence was instantly at work to devise a remedy. He was remarkably real, and his powers seemed ever turned to the best account, from the prevailing tendency to subject every thought to some practical aim. There was a sincere humility and great disinterestedness mingled with this habitual desire to glorify God in any work to which he felt himself called, and to do good; and the wisdom that grew within his soul seemed to come through these commingling elements of his inner being, rather than from any deep and settled study, and in the way of the blessing promised to a rightly trained heart by our Blessed Lord, when He said,--"Thou [84/85] hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes."
It was owing, probably, to this practical character of his mind, that he was enabled often to anticipate results which by most men are gained only by experience,--a power which infused into his theories so much reality. One remarkable characteristic of his articles on the Church Penitentiary question, though they treat of a new and theoretical system, is the value of their practical suggestions. And what struck those who were afterwards associated with him in his Penitentiary labours, was the quickness and general correctness of his answers to their enquiries on questionable points of management, though he never had the care of a Penitentiary. It is a minor point, but one that shews this practical habit of mental discipline, that he always studied to employ Saxon words, especially in writing sermons, and he was accustomed to attribute to this usage the attractiveness which his sermons had in the ears of uneducated people.
He had gathered much wisdom in a short time. In looking over his various writings, and considering the premature age at which he was called away, one is struck with the variety of subjects on which he had formed opinions, [85/86] and the justice, the largeness of heart, and intelligence which characterize them. The life of a parochial clergyman is necessarily one of thought, of inward communings and toil of heart, rather than of stirring incident. His heart had taken a wide range of interests, most practical, and touching what is nearest to the common heart of Humanity,' while yet his brief day was hastening to its close.