MR. CARTER'S first great work, besides his parish work, is to be found in that of "Mercy for the Fallen." The Penitentiary really began in 1849; the Sisterhood was founded in 1852. The one work was not only after the other, but also in consequence of the other. We must, even at the risk of repetition, mention again the achievement of Mrs. Tennant in taking into her own house girls from the worst quarter of a garrison town, and the zealous service of the Rev. Wellington Johnson, better known now as the late Archdeacon Furse, who combined with Eton duties some of the labours of an additional curate, and took the deepest interest in what may be called the venture of Mrs. Tennant, as afterwards he was always interested in everything to do with penitentiary work. We also are informed that Mrs. Tennant, after resigning the care of her refuge, first in Clewer village, and after on Clewer Hill, continued some form of rescue work in Bier Lane, Windsor. It was about this time the germ of this great Sisterhood appeared in the persons of Mrs. Monsell, the future Sister Elizabeth, and Sister Ellen. It was found impossible to cope with the increase of penitentiary work without trained oversight in the House of Mercy, or rather in that part of it which then existed. We have letters which describe the immense powers for work which Mr. Carter possessed, and how love for God and man set them in motion. He worked in his parish, or was writing in his study, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, when he had a meat tea. This was soon done, and he went off quickly after it to the House of Mercy, coming home at 9, or later. He did this latter when far advanced in life, but he was always supposed to come home to dine at 7 or 7.30, yet, through pressure of work, he was frequently later. Notwithstanding the burdens of his life, and notwithstanding his absorption in spiritual work, always serious, and often sad, his face was like a sunbeam when he entered the family circle or joined his guests. His work was evidently his joy. He could write or revise proofs, whilst at tea, and in the midst of conversation, perfectly undistracted.
About this time, when the penitents still attended the parish church services, and had no chapel of their own, the Rector was engaged in forming a new hymn-book, which was used until it was supplanted by "Ancient and Modern." As to the order of events, Mr. Carter writes--
"It should be observed that we did not plan the formation of a Sisterhood and then seek a work for it; but the work came to us to be done, and a Sisterhood was the only practicable instrument for carrying it on."
It is probable that in the case of other Sisterhoods the order of events was much the same. It is our English way of doing things, for the practical element is commonly stronger than the devotional in the English character. Moreover, it must be remembered that a Sisterhood was a novel idea at this date, and, by means of utility, had to justify its existence in our land. Dr. Pusey said of Sisterhoods about this time--
"Why should we not also, instead of our desultory visiting societies, have our soeurs de la charité, where spotless and religious purity might be their passport amid the scenes of misery and loathsomeness, carrying that awe about them which even sin feels towards undefiledness, and impressing a healthful sense of shame upon guilt by their very presence? Why should marriage alone have its duties among the daughters of the great, and the single estate be condemned to an unwilling listlessness, or left to seek, undirected and unauthorized and unsanctified, ways of usefulness of its own? "
Yet we regard penitentiary work rather as the occasio than causa of the Sisterhood, We have early traces as to Mr. Carter's mind about the Religious Life. "One deep calleth another"--the deep of sin and wickedness in penitentiary work--to the height of holiness and religious bliss. The vision of a higher dedication was not only as an instrument for creating and calling forth "shame upon guilt," but as a higher service to God. He had before him a vision of a life of holiness, apart from the distractions of the world and the ordinary conditions of human existence; a life caring "for the things of the Lord," "holy both in body and spirit." Thus, in the forefront of the Constitutions of the Community of St. John Baptist, stands the "Warden's conception of what a Sister's life should be--
"The Community of St. John Baptist is instituted for the promotion of the honour and worship due to Almighty God for the cultivation of the counsels and graces which He has taught as the way of perfection, and for active service, both in spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The Sisters voluntarily offer themselves to Almighty God, that through the sacramental power of a life thus dedicated to Him in poverty, charity, and obedience, they may in lowliness, detachment, and hiddenness of heart, cherish Christ in themselves, and reveal Him to others, after the example of St. John Baptist, that He in them may increase, while the 'self-life' decreases, ever seeking to bear witness to the true Light, even 'the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.'"
Thus a motto of the Community is, "Illum oportet erescere, me autem minui."
Any one who has read Mr. Carter's "Life of Bishop Armstrong" will remember how in those pages there is a sort of dim foreshadowing of what came actually into existence at Clewer--"Warden, Sub-warden, Sisters, Statutes, visitatorial power of Bishop of the Diocese, etc." In later days Canon Carter published a series of addresses which had been delivered before the Sisters in the Chapel of the Institution, in which he clearly set forth what was in his mind as to a Sister's vocation. The book is entitled "Spiritual Instructions on the Religious Life." In the preface of the book he is careful to explain that the technical expression, "Religious Life," does not necessarily imply superiority of religiousness, but "a life of rule and devotion, unlike that of ordinary social life, founded wholly on religion, and directed wholly to religious ends." Among the sixteen addresses will be found "The Principles of the Religious Life," "The Sealing," "The Inner Spirit," the Laws of "Obedience," "Purity," "Chastity," "The Virgin State," etc. The author is careful to tell his readers what not to expect in this volume, viz. that he does not treat the subject "scientifically," or "under a strict theological aspect." He was no student of the Schoolmen, nor did he concern himself with subtle distinctions or too finely drawn definitions; but he would be master of devotional and practical considerations* and impart to his teaching touches of spiritual power and beauty, uplifting and entrancing those whose hearts were prepared to receive his teaching.
We remember Mr. Carter at the Church Congress at Stoke-on-Trent in 1875, when, speaking on "Woman's work in the service of the Church," he gave a full definition of "what a Sisterhood is." He said--
"A Sisterhood, as distinguished from other kinds of associated communities of women, implies a vocation to live and work wholly and undividedly for God, as a permanent state; an aptitude for devotion and useful service; a religious rule; fellowship in prayer and work, binding all together; a gradation of offices with recognized authority; rights and customs carefully guarded; and a systematic way of adapting the capacities and dispositions of the different members of the Community to the necessities of the work undertaken. The organization becomes complete when through the Bishop's sanction the seal of the blessing of the Church is set upon it."
It will be observed in this very clear and detailed description of the religious vocation and religious work that Mr. Carter's idea in founding a Sisterhood, whilst training the Sisters in the pathway of holiness, was also that the best Christian work may be done by them for the sinful, suffering, necessitous.
"Sisterhood work, therefore, realizes the highest idea of Christian work, for it is founded on self-sacrifice, and sacrifice is the noblest principle of work. It is also dependable and constant, because a Sister's service is a lifelong dedication to God, and as love to her Lord induces a woman to become a Sister, her work is thoroughly animated by love, and love gives to Christian work its overmastering power and attractive influence."
Mr. Carter united with his great devotional power a very practical turn of mind, and kept a practical aim before him in the revival of the Religious Life. It has often been said that there was a difference between him and Dr. Pusey in this respect. We cannot say how far this was true, but we do know from his own lips that he had no intention of forming an enclosed or contemplative order, when an idea of this kind was at one time suggested as a development within the Sisterhood. It may be explained that there are differences amongst religious orders, and these as regards both means and ends. Mr. Carter wished to revive in the English Church the "common "or "social" life. He did not aim at establishing a contemplative order, but a life partly contemplative and partly active--what the French call me mixte--a blending of the elements of Mary and Martha. Such a life, one full of external works of mercy and the like, and not entirely shut off from intercourse with relations and the outer world, though a considerable time daily to be devoted to prayer--offices, meditation, intercession, and the like--is still described as an active life. It was not Mr. Carter's way to turn to foreign ideals either in quest of technical distinctions or for models in forming a rule. Without being at all insular, he greatly appreciated English character and English ideas, and desired that these should be retained and transformed by grace, as a solid and sterling raw material capable of true spiritual greatness. He was not attracted by things or practices simply because they were foreign, but rejoiced in the development of the latent capacities of his own Communion. We know from his habits and from his library that foreign books of devotion and theology were not much studied by him. But he had great admiration and reverence for the Saints, in whatever district of the Church they were produced. In the early history of the Clewer Community the question of vows was one which very much occupied Mr. Carter's attention; and also that of parental permission. The following letters written to an old personal friend, and the oldest surviving member of the Council, showed Mr. Carter's mind in 1863 in regard to vows, and exhibit what has always seemed to be a marked feature of his character:--
"January 2, 1863.
"MY DEAR H-------,
"I will write without reserve on this, as I could on any subject to you; and you are quite free to make any use you like of my reply to this question. The rule which says no vow or engagement is to be understood by the service which confirms a Sister, but only an obligation of obedience while in the Sisterhood, is read out to the Sisters once a week, and the service itself is also clear on the same point. If, then, as is alleged against us, we impress on the Sisters the idea of 'a vow, or insert dedication,' we should be ourselves liars, and make all the Sisters liars, and place ourselves and them in this enviable position weekly. There is, indeed, bond fide no such thing done, or attempted to be done. But I will tell you what may not unnaturally have given rise to such an imputation.
"It has always been the feeling of the Sisters that their purpose and conviction is a lifelong dedication of themselves. I never knew any one during the last ten or twelve years apply to be admitted who did not view what she believed to be her calling of God in this light. We have no need to teach it, if we desired to do so. They assume it as a preliminary; that if thought worthy to be a Sister at all, it must be for life. They have taught it me, not I them. The idea of going back and returning to the world, marrying, etc., is thought an impossibility by every one of them.
"No case has arisen of such thinking otherwise. If it should arise, I feel that the mind of the Sisters is such that they would not vote for one who was thus, as they would think, half-hearted. The idea of being a Sister for a time, and then going away to be as though she had never been a Sister, is foreign to the animus of the whole body, and to the view of a Sisterly mind, as it is understood.
"But, then, observe this. It is equally strongly felt by the Sisters, and is taught both by the Superior and myself, that if any real call of distress should arise in the Sister's home, a real gap which none but herself can fill, and the matter becomes a real call of duty, that then the Sister is bound to leave the Sisterhood and go home. She would, however, still regard herself as a Sister, and be doing a Sister's work, and leading a Sister's life, in her home as before in the Sisterhood. She would not only be free to go, but would be felt right in going under such circumstances. Observe the true view of their dedication of themselves to a devoted life, as God may call them: in the Sisterhood, if no more constraining call arise; to return and serve God at home, if such a call should come. The question of going under such circumstances is left to the Sister's own conscience. So far from anything being done or said to fetter or overrule her conscience on such a point, we should all, as I say, encourage her to follow it. If this answer does not satisfy your question, will you let me hear again?
"You may have heard of what I urged at the Oxford Congress about the permanence of a Sister's dedication. I meant what I have here said. I was charged with wishing for vows. I do not so wish or think it practicable, and doubt of its expedience if practicable, vows, i.e., as binding to a community and made the security of permanency, but I meant simply that the animus of a Sister, as I understand St. Paul to say, is for good and all.
"Your ever affectionate
"T. T. C."
It was at this time the shadow of a great sorrow fell upon the founder of "Clewer" by the death of his mother, "preserved far beyond 'the days of our age 'with undiminished faculties and the untiring solicitude of early love." To this his friend alluded in his reply to the above letter, and Mr. Carter rejoined--
"Clewer Rectory, January 19, 1863.
"MY DEAR H-------,
"Thank you for your kind words. It has been the first great loss I ever knew, but after so long a period of such blessing as I (we) have had with my dearest mother so near at hand, the thankfulness of what has been given exceeds. My father is comfortably cheerful. I am afraid I complicated matters by speaking of the vote. My thought in doing so was to show that the question rested with the Sisters themselves, and depended on their own mind, the power in their own hands. But I do not see the difficulty which appears to you. Granted that the Sisters have such an animus, their vote would of course follow their animus. They would only vote for one who comes up, as they suppose, to their standard. But their voting for one, because they have such a view of the Sister's life, does not bind the one they vote for.
"But I do not see how this voting sets aside the Statute, etc. The stated Rule leaves them free to depart if their mind ever change. All that we have to guard against is the possibility of a Sister being constrained to stay by any outward bond pressing on her when her own conscience leads her to go. This is the evil of a vow, that it is a bond beyond the conscience, which remains after the mind has changed, which is then a shackle hindering free action. There is nothing of this. Should any Sister at any time feel called by some more constraining duty, or change her mind as to the life, she is able fully to depart.
"It appears to me that we have now just what is most desired, an animus to remain devoted, and likely to be a permanent animus; and at the same time full power to go, if ever the animus in any case changes; and though, if a Sister left for a light cause, she would go under the reproach of the others; if she went for a real, advisable cause, she would go with the consentient feeling of the others. We should not wish our Sisters to be an unsettled body, though, on the other side, we should not wish to see it a fettered and enslaved body. The matter so seems to me. I should like to know what your further thoughts may be.
"Ever your affectionate
"T. T. C."
Our bishop knows exactly how our Sisters feel and think, and sees no incongruity between it and the rules.
We have the following letter of further explanation on this subject:--
"MY DEAR H-------,
"You mistake my meaning when I said, 'They have taught me, not I them.' I meant the same as if one said, 'A medical man is taught by his patients.' He gains by studying medicine in hospitals on living subjects what he would never learn of his own mind or from books. In the same way, led as I was to be concerned in Sisterhoods, I have learnt what I know by bringing the best judgment I could form in experience of the actual lives of Sisters, learning the practice of Sisters' life by work among Sisters, as the medical man among patients.
"This explanation may answer your question, 'Whether they would instil the same view of a Sister's life on the Probationers.' There is, indeed, no such attempt made, no such teaching. It is simply that Probationers come with a similar view of giving themselves to the life as their life, if they are found useful, etc. They come without any idea of anything than remaining, as I said, unless some home call should require them.
"The difficulty you feel is 'of one rejected because her animus does not come up to that of the election.' Such a case has never arisen. Persons who can only be free to help for a time are welcomed, but they do not ask to be Sisters. I do not suppose the case you put ever can arise. It is not, in the case of a club which makes an additional private restriction beyond the rules,--it is not that the Sisters make this new private rule, but that in this and all like Houses, those who come, come with the same mind that those have who are here. They do not, I think, set aside the rule which says they are free, but only view this freedom as intended to enable them to leave if some call of superior duty come. I shall be glad if any explanation I can give may clear away doubts in one so generously true as you have been.
"Ever your affectionate
"T. T. C."
In these letters we can trace ideas which have made " Clewer "to be what it is; the idea of an absolute, entire, abiding self-oblation to the service of God from the first possessed Mr. Carter's mind; to become a Sister needed a distinct vocation, a call to the virgin-life. The essence of a vowed life was clearly grasped by him; but, as may be seen from the above correspondence, the external act of taking a vow at a particular time and place was a gradual attainment.
"The question of vows has been a most anxious one. They have always, almost from the very commencement of Religious Communities, been identified with them. They may be periodical or lifelong, renewable or permanent. In either case, the principle is much the same as to their obligations, while they last. The Clewer Community began without vows, but under the idea of the life itself implying a permanent dedication. Bishop Wilberforce was strong against vows. His ground was that he could not dispense them."
This, we believe, was a mistake, at least so far as "simple "vows were concerned. Other bishops entertained the same notion of inability to give release. A lady, not a Sister, who had taken a vow, and years after wanted to be married to a Church dignitary, sought, through the intervention of a priest, to get a dispensation. He tried three bishops; the two first not only declared that they had no power in the matter, but found serious, fault with the priest for advising the lady to take such a vow, which, as he had nothing to do with her taking it, was not pertinent; the third gave a sort of dispensation, nervously guarded, and--they were married. When the "Clewer Rule was formed, the bishop insisted on its being inserted in the forefront that the Community was formed without vows. It was not long before Sisters came who desired to take vows, in the consciousness that they would be a support to their life and a true expression of a religious vocation. As soon as these cases occurred, the bishop was consulted." This was the principle upon which the Community of St. John Baptist acted in everything. Mr. Carter was accustomed from the beginning to be entirely open with him. Mr. Carter said, "I see no reason to refuse them," and "the bishop left me free to do as I thought well." But to the end of the connection of Bishop Samuel Wilberforce with the Community as the "Visitor," he would never allow the slightest change in the provisions of the Kule, but would have it framed as at the first. "The consequences were very trying. The Sisters for years had to hear their Rule read with this disclaimer of what many, gradually all, were doing. Questions were continually being asked how to reconcile with their Bule the Sisters' action." Mr. Carter's reply will have already been seen in the above letters. He used to say, "while it was true that the Community was formed quite independently of vows, that they were not required as a Rule, that these were not thought of when the Community was formed; yet that 'use and want' were stronger than rule, and that they were now commonly taken as matter of free allowance, when desired, and that they were generally desired, and that the bishop knew of it, and left the matter thus free." It was most unsatisfactory, but it seemed the best that could be done under the very awkward circumstances. Bishop Mackarness, who succeeded the first Visitor, was a man of very different mind, straight and simple as a man could be--" honest John" as he had been called from boyhood--not adorned with the splendid gifts of his predecessor, but fairer and simpler all round in practical matters, less prejudiced, and more open to reasonable considerations, and bolder when he saw his way clearly. He was very particular as to the age when vows were taken, but he recognized the claim. And when some circumstances arose which brought the matter before him in its personal bearing, he let the Rule be altered, only requiring that express words should be used which implied that Sisters freely and voluntarily offered themselves, as, indeed, they always had done. There has been progress in this as in all other matters. Bishop Mackarness's successor, Bishop Stubbs, allowed it to be inserted in the Rule the fact that vows are taken. Practically no difference of feeling has arisen in consequence of this difference of rule. From the first a Sister's profession was held to be lifelong, and vows are but the utterance of such an intention. Mr. Carter felt the inconsistency between the Rule and the practice; but his gaze was so fixed on the essential and interior oblation of the life to God, that we venture to say that the absence of any verbal or written contract would not be so great a trouble to him as to many. Technical or scientific divinity, we repeat, would hardly be an attractive study to him; he would seize the essence. The life is consecrated "by means of a promise which is made to God." The view of the life in relation to the Community or Order, and the necessity of covenant or contract, "as between man and man," would, we imagine, enter very little into his thoughts. It would be with him, "Solus cum solo,"
Two of Canon Carter's writings bring out very clearly his convictions about the Religious Life, written some fifteen or eighteen years later in his life. We refer first to a pamphlet entitled, "Are Vows of Celibacy in Early Life inconsistent with the Word of God?"1 The Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. Wordsworth, had laid down the remarkable limit that no one under sixty years of age should be allowed to take a vow of celibacy; that is to say, at an age when there would be little life left to dedicate to God, and when a vow of celibacy would be hardly needed at all. Mr. Carter, not content with demolishing the bishop's interpretation of 1 Tim. v. 9, by pointing out that the "primary object in the enrolment of widows was eleemosynary," not a question so much of dedication as of becoming an almswoman--the view, as Mr. Carter remarks, taken by such an unprejudiced authority in this matter as Smith's Dictionary--the Warden of Clewer fills twenty-four pages with setting forth clearly what the Holy Scriptures teach about vows, particularly in St. Matt. xix. and 1 Cor. vii. He points to our Lord's virgin life and that of His Mother as stimulating examples, and adds, "The virgin life is not instituted, indeed, like marriage, as a law of nature, to be sanctified by grace; but it is announced as a special gift of grace, to be impressed upon nature, in those who are able to receive it."
Mr. Carter, in argument, has a way of cutting off a retreat from his antagonist. He does this here. "It is important for the argument to make clear that when the Apostle speaks of the virgin state being 'good for the present distress,' this expression, according to the most approved interpretation, is not to be understood as limited to any temporary troubled condition of society." Mr. Carter quotes St. Augustine as putting quite a different light upon the passage, and to him may be added St. Jerome, St. Chrysostom, and St. Anselm; still the words are rather obscure.
The other published source from which may be gathered Mr. .Carter's mind on the Religious Life is a volume to which we have already referred, with that title which was brought out in 1879. Yet, although it runs into one hundred and sixty-seven pages, it hardly gives so much definite information as the pamphlet which we have just quoted. "The Religious life "is a work which consists of a series of addresses delivered to the Sisters. They are in the style of meditations, full of beauty, a portrait of what a Sister's life ought to be. In these addresses a high strain of devotional thoughts and affections is maintained. Perhaps a secular mind passing judgment upon the book, would say with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, "Mr. Carter is much upstairs." His meditations, to use plain terms, often ran up into contemplation. Thus he is speaking of religious growth--
"Keep the Blessed Vision of your Lord steadily before your eyes. While you gaze on this Vision as the standard and pattern of your inward life, you cannot but be faithful. Cherish earnestly, therefore, this inward grace of contemplation of the Sacred Form into which your life is to be moulded. And this not merely at stated times of meditation, when you have gone apart from outward things, and ordinary claims upon your attention are suspended; but as a habit, feeding upon it, thinking, speaking, acting in the power of the contemplation till it becomes a second nature, for the soul, however busily employed, may be ever looking at Jesus, ever listening to Him, ever joyous in embracing the impressions through which, whether consciously or not, the growing Likeness is being ingrained into the substance of the soul, whilst yet its plastic activities are going forth in appointed duties."
With a wondrous power Canon Carter could scale the heights of spiritual life and attainments, and, on the other hand, explore the depths of sin and wretchedness. The following letters were written to those who were already Sisters or about to embrace the Religious Life.
The following prayer was written for a young lady who had drawings towards the Religious Life, and subsequently became a Sister of Mercy. It was composed in the year 1858:--
"Eternal Lord, I bow myself before Thee. I adore Thee within my inmost soul, Thee the source of my life: the Beginning of my being and its End. Though I see Thee not, feel Thee not, I believe that Thou art more truly present to me than any of those outward things which I behold.
"Thou hast called me, O my Lord, and in my inmost soul I recognize Thy Voice. What I now feel within me, drawing me to more entire devotion, I believe to be of Thee. I accept it, O my God; I embrace it with my affections, with adoring, thankful love. O Lord, in mercy Thou hast shown to me the vision of a joy beyond all earthly joy, a sweetness that this world can never give, a love that will draw me into inner depths more than any human love I ever knew, a union inconceivable, unchangeable, ever increasing, ever absorbing, filling all the desires of my mysterious being.
"Lord, I come to Thee, and I would be wholly Thine. I would offer to Thee a pure, an entire offering. I would strip myself of all that I must surrender. Oh for a heart willing in the day of Thy power, a heart to embrace a Divine life, to live on pure, unearthly love. Oh! Thou Who hast drawn me so that I venture to look up to Thee, to be the very husband of my soul. I would give my all, as Thou hast given Thy all to me. Accept me thus desiring to come unto Thee. Lord, Thou knowest what will come on me, what I shall feel, what I shall shrink from, how I shall fear and shrink and doubt. But Thou knowest all my weakness, and in weakness Thou hast called me. The future I commit to Thee, and cast the burden of my coming trial wholly on Thee. Give me perfect trust. Give me rest in Thy Almighty care, Thy unchanging love.
"O Lord, I need of Thee singleness of heart. Many cares and doubts, and fears and wishes, have long distracted me. I have been tossed to and fro, drawn hither and thither. Thou knowest, Lord. Thou canst pity. If Thou wilt give me peace, my soul shall bless Thee: but with the utmost fervour I implore of Thee a singleness of purpose, a simplicity of mind, a trustful heart of love.
"To Thee, O Lord, I commit myself, and all the thoughts and feelings that throng within me. Do Thou as Thou wilt, and when Thou wilt: justify in the eyes of others the purpose of Thy handmaid, only keep me within the light of Thy Presence, and shed around me the shadowing of the glory which is to be revealed. Draw me onward, fix me, bind me, enthrall me with all that is pure and lovely, and saintly and Divine. I would be no longer myself; but even as Thou wilt have me be. I resolve, O my God, to seek this blessedness, that I may think and speak, and act and endure, as Thou wouldest have me. Direct, move, animate, uphold every movement of mind and spirit, of heart and understanding in this perfect union, and give me grace to persevere in this resolve, for Thy goodness and tender mercies' sake, O my Lord, my God. Amen.
"My Lord, Thou hast called me, hast drawn me to Thyself, to Thy inmost heart, for Thee to rest in me, and I to rest in Thee; and Thou wouldest have a oneness of sympathy, a closest union of thought and aim, and love, and desire, and resolve, and this must be, O my Lord, my God, my loved One, to make this union true and real and living. Therefore drawn by Thee, and by my own longings, I do yield my whole self and lose myself in Thee, and embrace as I am embraced, and would melt into Thee as Thou into me, to be, O God, a perfect oneness.
"And I desire this, O God, to ask of Thee, as Thy gift of love, Thy mercy to my soul, and I resolve by Thy grace to give myself entirely to Thee, to be Thine only, for ever. Amen.
"Eternal and most Blessed God, my own God, Who hast sealed me for Thy own, and bound me, unworthy, to Thyself, by Thy own will, by Thy love, by signs and Sacraments, and the cross upon my brow, and all Thy inspirations of love within me, drawing me, and by ever-renewed callings and my own renewed self-dedications which were Thy merciful inclinings of my will and heart to Thee, my Joy, my Happiness, my Life. Hear me now when I pray, for to Thee in this continued and repeated act, in union with the offering of Thy Adorable Son, my Lord, I offer myself, I devote myself as one already Thine own, devoted and consecrated by Thine own adorable mercy, and Thy choice of me, worthless, unspeakably unworthy of the least of all Thy mercies as I am, and ever must be in myself, unless Thou in me make me acceptable to Thee.
"And in thus beseeching Thee to accept me, O Lord my God, I earnestly pray of Thee to shed on me ever-renewed grace, that I may be holy in body and soul, and thus acceptable. Give me to feel the awfulness and mystery of thus offering myself more and more, and the solemn call which is upon me for increased sanctity, heavenly mindedness, meekness, obedience, submission of will, patience, faith, love, and all supernatural, unearthly gifts. Give me as Thou hast given the desire for them, give me these gifts, endue, consecrate me with these graces.
"And as I am unworthy, after so many years of wandering, and vanity, and self-seeking, and wavering, now to seek Thee and Thee only, to be fixedly and purely Thine, give me grace to wait in patience, while Thy Holy Spirit purifies me more and more, to be the meek sacrifice that I desire to be, to be duly consecrated to my Lord in soul and body. Give me a firm, calm patience to wait as the betrothed waiteth, and hath long patience for the object of her love, and to whom the waiting is joy and sweetness in the assurance of the love of the Beloved, and the certainty that He knoweth the heart's love: so give me grace to rest in Him Whom my soul adoreth and loveth. Help me to bear meekly for Him all delays, all opposition, all lack of sympathy, all coldness, all hardness, all doubts and suspicions, meekly, holily, un-repiningly, that I may be worthier of His love, more like Him Whom I would love better than all else--better than myself, with a pure, most sacred union of love, and not to count the time of waiting long.
"Give me grace for His sake to do my duty to all around me, ungrudgingly, that my Lord may be pleased with me and love me more. Give me grace to leave nothing undone, and to be ever ready in daily self-sacrifice, ever to offer myself, doing to others as Thou wouldest have me to do, as unto Thee.
"And, O my God, my Life, my gracious Father, my Redeemer, Thou, Holy Spirit, my Everlasting Comforter, through Whom my Lord is present to me and dwelleth in me, and I am one with Him in Thee, Blessed Trinity, keep my inward life as Thy own sacred treasure. Watch over and in me. Make me watchful, earnest, unceasing in my struggle against sin, cherish in me every true and holy thought, and preserve me from falling for the merits of Jesus Christ. Amen."
To a Lady rather Impatient about Delay.
"Clewer Rectory, May 28, 1856.
"I have been sorry to have delayed so long writing to you about yourself. I have been concerned to see how much you have been under the influence of wrong feelings. Your position is a very trying one, and I had hoped that what had passed before your return home would have had a different effect. It may be brought to pass what you long for, in ways that you cannot now see. While you treasure the longing which God has given you, you must wait His time. As He Who stirred your soul to seek is the same Who alone can open the way. You want, I think, this trust, very greatly, and you must earnestly seek it. The evident feeling that you are afraid to resign yourself to circumstances and appear at peace, lest it should lessen your hopes of leaving home, is a false feeling; it can make no difference, for it must come from God to turn the heart of your father, etc., and to open the way. It is sin; and therefore, whatever the consequence, must not be allowed.
"I think you must dismiss from your mind the thought that you can be a Sister as yet. Feel only the hope for the present that you -will be allowed to come here again for a visit, and ask it when you think it would be convenient, limiting your hope to that for the present. And do not think of more, or desire to talk about (Clewer) to your papa. Keep that within your own bosom, and offer it to God. You can speak freely to others of your own kin, and he would hear of it from them.
"Be very cautious of observing your resolutions on Sunday. It is an exercise of patience which God will accept to hear preaching on anything, in the manner of His priests, which may yet jar and pain. View it as an exercise of patience, and only be anxious to obtain all that you can of God through the Service. You should not have kept away from the personal regard you spoke of.
"You need not confess all the details again. You will remember sufficiently the general line and habitual faults, the prominent features. That only will be needful.
"Cannot you set yourself some home work? E.g. can you translate anything? I must close now.
"Ever your affectionate father,
"T. T. C. .
"Sister Ellen came home yesterday."
A Form of Self-oblation on the Day of Profession.
"I do here, in the Presence of God, accept the call which has this day been called upon my soul in all its fulness,--to live in the new bonds of spiritual union with my Lord, my Life, my Joy, seeing Him in and above all, separate from the world, to live and serve those who are dearest to me in the flesh, only as one dedicated and set apart to a higher love and service. To this, praying for grace to overcome all my natural weakness, I give myself with all my heart, desiring through the love of my Lord, that this may be a whole and undivided offering of myself, and beseeching Him to sustain me in this mind in all purity and simplicity, and in conformity with His Blessed Will; even as my Lord, the King and Lord of Saints and Virgins, has given me an example in His perfect life, through His merits and mediation. Amen."
'The Possible Need of Sharpness.
"On this point there is really little to say. The only definite ground of difference is the idea that you are too lenient, and that the discipline is not strong enough. I cannot tell how this is. But indirectly I gathered the same impression from another. I suppose a certain want of sharpness (in a good sense of the word, if it is allowable) would be likely to be one of your infirmities. No doubt a quick, ready, decided, authoritative discipline is needed with children, though, of course, with all loving-kindness. God bless you always. Think dispassionately and carefully on this point. May God specially give you the truest happiness of His new grace."
Two Resolutions suggested at the Close of a Retreat.
"I resolve with the help of God these two things: (1) to live more in recollection of my union with God, with the view of overcoming mere personal or natural feelings that hinder me; (2) to check wanderings in prayers and meditation more quickly, to make more devotion, more true to God."
"Whitby, September 8.
"MY DEAEEST -------,
"I hope you are inwardly in peace, and can commit all trials to God, and commit the future to Him all trustfully. I am sorry to hear------is still so disturbed. I shall be anxious to do all I can to quiet her. She has a deep life underneath. There is a fancifulness in------in these strange kinds of dreamings; she wants the quiet ballast. We go back by Greta Bridge and Helmsley. The mother is here; she is very weakly.
"God bless you,
"T. T. C."
"Clewer, August 17, 1876.
"MY DEAR -------,
"It is not that you are not much in my heart that I have not written. But there is much pressure. I trust your way is being smoothed, and that you feel a good angel, or One better than an angel is helping you on, and opening the future. The more you trust, the more it will be; and do not look on anxiously, 'one step enough for me,' and in very truthfulness cleave on to duty's call and the all-absorbing demand of Divine Love, and you will, dearest child, find peace.
"I have heard from your brother about his child, and I have written to him, and to her, and to the mother about it. I have begged Mr. ------ to bear in mind her profession, so as not to press overmuch for her staying away. I am afraid of things drifting on, so that her religious life should be endangered. Your work with the dear children will be well cared for, with every child, by those whom you have loved and trained for it. Tell dear------ her Altar is cared for as she would wish, and her traditions kept. God will give you all needful strength.
"T. T. C."
"Clewer Rectory, Windsor, December 20, 1876.
"MY DEAR -------,
"I would that I could see you before Christmas --the only year since we met that this has failed, save when God took one away for a time; now He has taken you. But I hope to go and see you before long. You will keep on trustfully, will you not? living from day to day, enough to see the steps onward i as they open--the one thought of giving glory to God as you seek to bring all things under you into more and more accordance with His purposes, and knowing the instruments cannot but be imperfect, and to be borne with by you as they are by Him, and feeling each thing gained to be cause for thankfulness, and each thing left imperfect a cause for prayer; and believing that He can work for Himself under things which are yet very imperfect and faulty.
"May you have a bright and blessed Christmas, and all with you, and especially------. They tell me God has given you increased strength, and that you can do more. This is a blessing. May He give you a yet greater one in renewing your Profession, advancing you in maturity in His love and His work for souls, and for perfecting His elect--yourself to be perfected that you may lead others.
"What will become of poor------? I hope all was done that could be done to draw her back. We must pray for her to be led rightly.
"T. T. C."
"February 16, 1877.
"MY DEAR -------,
"I have heard of your trials; but how, without trials, could there be any chastening or any drawing out of the higher principles and powers of the better life, and how give glory to God, and how gain further grace? And you have been blessed, dearest child, through these trials, I am sure, and by the grace of God have been enabled to rise above them. I am hoping to see you in the course of Lent, and all the Sisters.
"T. T. C."
"Easter Eve, 1877.
"MY DEAR -------,
"All truest blessings be with you and the Sisters with you. I earnestly trust you may know the outward as well as the inward brightness. There is no more happy time, and you may live in the joy of it. Dear ------ came back to be at home this evening after three months' absence.
"T. T. C."
"Whit Monday, 1877.
"MY DEAR -------,
"I am sorry if my letter tried you. I think she settled right at last. She hardly realized the circumstances. . . . That was a sad outbreak. But do not dwell on it. Such things are to keep us humble, if possible. Yes, God leaves certain infirmities, faults even, in the good; and this good Sister may have suffered sore and long for her giving way. I fear some of those mixed results of body and spirit acting on each other are more trying than we are at all aware of. Good dear Dr. ------, one feels his difficulties in the questions which must arise for one in his responsible position, and I honour him for his simple truth. It is a troublous time, but I do not see that the Judgment can ever be accepted by the Church, but must some day be reversed by the action of the Church.
"He need have had at least no such scruples in our chapels, to which the new methods of law do not apply.
"Ever yours, etc.,
"T. T. C."
"MY DEAR -------,
"I remain here till the Retreat. It is very quiet and pretty, and delightful walks--flowers and shrubs most flourishing, and the colours are beautiful. You have heard of our sorrow; dear ------suddenly apprised that she has cancer. I went to see her on Monday. It will be a very grievous cloud of distress, happily not now much pain, and the hope that there may not be much. What a mysterious increase there is in this terrible calamity! I went the other day to Manchester to see ------, who is sinking under it, having had two operations, and another not possible.
"I am so glad, my dear ------, that your present home looks brighter to you. My heart has been with yours in feeling the trial, and have shrank from it for you. I sought to look at it all round, and there seemed no way to doubt but that it was the Will of God, and a sphere in which you had so many qualifications for glorifying Him in it, that though feeling tried about it, still I am at rest in the thought that you will be blessed in your service there; it is a very momentous one, and you will yourself advance in strength, I feel sure, and be at last able to say that it has been good to have been there. Do not scruple to be firm, and have confidence in what God shows you. You need not fear, acting lovingly and kindly; for God has surely given you this grace, and speaking the truth in love, you will persuade and win others to God, and by love rule hearts.
"T. T. C."
"I felt it would be a trial--so much that is different and uncongenial. But you will feel the good afterwards. It is a blessing to have the opportunity of this endurance, bracing up the will, etc. It is the fulfilment of many a wish of your own, which can only be carried out through outward changes. It is the inward life maintaining itself, and holding on through these changes that secure progress, elevation, and power, and closer union. Better go to ------after three weeks. I mean not to let a month pass without confession when within your reach. Go quite simply, not mentioning more than definite facts and wrong feelings that lasted any time. We came here yesterday, and stay a week with the B.'s. Very pretty and quiet in a varied valley, half up the side of the hill. Haddon Hall is in the distance down the valley. My plan is to go to Whitby and stay there. May God give you peace and put away all evil and special faults. Try especially to put away despondency and impatience, and guard forbearance and humility, and feel, 'I am among you as one that serveth.' 'The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many.'
"His blessings be with you,
"T. T. C."
A Meditation on the words, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast, etc."
"The infinite distance between God and the redeemed creature struggling to rise and return to Him: God alone desiring this his return; yearning after him; stretching forth to win him; preparing an innermost place of Bliss and Peace for him ia His own Bosom.
"The soul responds to the blessed call and seeks to rise. Along the infinite interval separating her from God, the soul begins to move upwards: she fulfils natural duties, follows the first pure instincts of nature, feels the joy of conforming to the earliest laws of her life without fear and shame and constraint, or consciousness of sin--a blessed childhood, free, unburdened, full of hope; life advances; other duties, responsibilities, calls of service, arise. The commandments of God become more constraining; their depth, their breadth, open before the eyes. Temptations come; evil stirs within; passion becomes strong; and many thoughts and desires pass to and fro through the soul. It is a time of struggle, and fear, and weakness, and falling . . . the grace of God prevails; His inward voice is secretly heard; the beauty of the law of love, of purity, and obedience, is perceived more and more. The soul strives; she seeks to follow each path of duty as it opens. There have been marrings and imperfections and fallings, but more and more the soul has risen towards her God.
"'All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?' An inner light dawns upon the soul's vision. A Form of Beauty unutterable appears; a Voice of power and constraining love is heard such as was never heard before; the melodies of heaven are faintly arising; a Face, a form of various loveliness, begin to come forth and fill the circles of light, one within the other. 'If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.'
"Unspeakable desires are stirred within the soul, the springing up of fountains of hope out of depths unfathomable. Drawings from blessed creatures, thoughts, instincts of union with the Sacred Form--the express image of God, the Incarnate One, felt pressing on the soul; an eternity of Bliss in perfect fulness of joy begins to be revealed.
"The soul sinks beneath the weight, fears arise, its weakness trembles at the cost, 'Sell all that thou hast, and take what I give;' 'cast the earthly treasure away, and the treasure of the heavenly thou shalt find.'
"O Lord! my Lord! my soul's life, the end of my being, the Beauty after which my soul longeth, the Everlasting Fulness, the only Best, only satisfying of the soul, in Whom Alone all other love unites, all duty ends, all joy becomes imperishable, help me, counting the cost, to rise yet again, higher and higher, till I am perfected in Thee.
"Collect.--O God, Who makest all things profitable to them that love Thee, grant to our hearts an invincible power of love, that the desires which have been conceived by Thine inspiration may not be changed by anything opposed to it, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love'--the love which was kindled in my soul when the first deep impression was received, when my soul chose Thee for its portion.
"Can such love decline? In the midst of trials and labour feelings are awakened, irritation produced; old faults revive under new forms, infirmities remaining, and then aroused into activity; love, a supernatural gift, then often is overborne, or it has not been cherished, and without cherishing it declines. Love sustains not its own flame; it needs to be fed and fostered. It is given to be tested and disciplined by use, and cherished by exercises of devotion and sacrifice and meditation.
"The Saints of Ephesus failed in this their first love; the love of their espousals had declined. Has mine declined? Has anything come between me and God, between me and my Lord, Who has wooed and won me, and to Whom I am bound for ever. 'I will come unto thee quickly and remove thy candlestick out of its place;' the soul's inward light removed, its place in the sanctuary lost.
"Does not St. Paul say the same: 'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, that I could remove mountains, I am nothing.' Must not the light of such a loveless life be soon extinguished? Is there, then, hope for such a soul? Is there a return? What does my God say to such? What to me who have thus failed?
"'Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works.' Revive the fondness, the self-sacrifice, the delight, the perfect trust, the absence of all complaining, the fulness of satisfaction, the joy of service, the deep thanksgivings, when the soul first received the deep impression and confidence of His love.
"But He says, 'Do the first works.' Feelings may change, warmth of feeling may vary. God will give such sensations as He will. They come and go. He alone knows why. I trust all this to Him. I trust to Him that the sensible warmth and consolation of my love, and His love in me, may vary as He will--only that I repent and do the first works--the loving spirit, the self-surrender in thought, the ever-kindly word, the gentle act, the ever-kindly judgment, the ever-ready forbearance, the long-suffering tenderness, the patient bearing of all things, the quickness to help--this spirit, for my Lord's sake, to be all around me, especially those nearest, my own Sisters of the same Community; and this spirit embracing ever a higher object and responding to a higher love, and lost in more entrancing mysteries of blissful communion m my Lord Himself, the one true object of all purest love. And what is my Lord's recompense to me? 'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.' To him that overcometh the obstacle of love, the drawings of self which are contrary to love, the faults which have marred the first fervours of love--to this effort of repentance, patiently made, and faithfully persevered in, is the promise given.
"And what is the 'Tree of Life?' What but God Himself, giving out of His fulness to feed His creatures, perfect bliss, the life of sacraments now veiled, Himself hereafter unveiled, openly Face to face. What but love can feed on that 'Tree of Life,' for He is Love?
"Lesson.--To consider what the first warmth of early love would dictate, and to seek to do all its works more and more, and to remove all hindrances as soon as seen."
A Few Spiritual Directions (1855).
"Observe the 'Hours,' as nearly as possible the right time, or else any time during the interval before the next Hour. If unable to go and be alone and pray, make a pause, and say a short prayer commemorating the Hour.
"Accustom yourself to meditate on some grace for a few minutes in connection with each Hour, as, e.g., at the Third Hour--Love; at the Sixth Hour--Patience; at the ninth--Perseverance. After a week, change them, and take other graces; as meekness, humility, forbearance, self-sacrifice.
"Make an hour every day for devotional reading; partly of the Bible, partly of some devotional book. Take two hours for instructive reading or writing. If possible, before 10.15. Before dinner make an act of self-devotion, and renewing your vows, and surveying the acts of the day, judging yourself. At night, write down shortly any faults of the day.
"Try to discipline yourself as to thoughts in the following respects: not dwelling on differences of opinion; forgetting past offences, those of others; not inwardly contesting your own opinions with theirs; never aiming at victory in discussion; remembering how you wish to be with any one, specially a parent or other near relative, in the hour of their death; remembering the sacredness of domestic duties, and affections, even passing and little acts of kindness; watching specially your motives--all acts before God depend on the motives; to rise to do, even for nearest relatives, what you do out of love to God, more than human affection.
"Helps to conquer Wanderings in Prayer.'--To make efforts to recover in Service at each 'Gloria Patri' and 'Amen'; to cross one's self frequently and secretly when tending to wander; to call up before the mind the idea of 'One upon the Great White Throne,' immediately before you, at Whose feet you kneel.
"To call up the vision of angels and glorified saints in the act of adoration.
"To make a rule of remembering His Presence before kneeling.
"Every Friday to use for a quarter of an hour a book of self-examination, in order to help the conscience to discern between sins, and to take a larger view (of the depth and width of the Commandments), and of the sin to which one is liable, and the grace one needs.
"Books to use.--'Aids to Holy Living,' 'Steps to the Altar,' Burridge and Scudamore respectively."
In reply to a question whether the Sacraments might be received from a clergyman, who had secretly joined the Irvingites, Mr. Carter gave the following reply:--
"There is nothing to prevent you receiving in full assurances from his hands. The Irvingites do not at all question our Orders and Catholicity, as far as I know; and they have a very high sense of the Sacraments and of the Real Presence. Though their altars can have no Presence, apart as they are from the Church, but this does not affect this case of a clergyman believing their claims while he ministers among us. It is a very serious question, I should think, for himself, but does not affect those who receive Sacraments through him."
Mr. Carter adds in a postscript:--
"I had a long conversation yesterday with an 'Evangelist' of the Irvingites, and he told me that they recognize our bishops as having true Apostolical succession, and do not wish to interfere with them, but encourage clergymen, strangely enough, to remain and obey their bishops."
It may be observed that the words "apart as they are from the Church "are not intended to apply to those who were already priests, and became ministers amongst the Irvingites. In this connection we may record the fact that when a priest's child was dying, who was vicar of a parish and also an Irving-ite, at his express wish Mr. Carter anointed the child in the presence of several clergymen and relatives, with a view to its restoration, following the teaching of St. James.
"Clewer Rectory, September, 1856. "MY DEAR-------,
"I can hardly say what seems best as to your parents coming to Clewer. In general, I think, people who come here have their prejudices softened, if not removed. Generally also, what is unseen is more terrible than what is seen, and I should have felt that it would not have increased even if it did not tend to remove their prepossessions. But I would advise you to follow what seems the natural guidance of Providence in the matter, not force it, but rather incline to their coming, if it fall in with their wishes and plans at all. :
If they come, I should have much interest in speaking to them, and would say anything I could, without forcing, to draw them towards it. I suppose I might imply that I knew your wishes. I think that you ought to feel that you have given yourself up to God, and wedded yourself solemnly in heart, as hearts can be bound to the love and service of your Lord undividedly, and that the cross you have received is the token and pledge of your vows and consecration. The thought makes me jealous of whatever might be the least break in the sanctity of your devotion and separateness from earth. That has passed over you, and has been accepted by you, which has changed the current of your life, and with it should have changed the whole tenor of your thoughts, aims, wishes, impulses. What you should try to feel is that all in the world is nothing, and that you in the midst of it are nothing, except an instrument in doing the will of God, moment by moment. I mean that you should feel that you have quitted everything in heart, and that you are then given back to it all, to do what is God's will in it as though you were indifferent to it, except so far as God gave it to you to do; that you should look at everything in this fresh light and take fresh interest in it, on this new account, because it is not home and relatives and : friends any more, but the place of God's vocation for you, and the sphere of your work for Him; that you are happy to stay or happy to go, as He shows His will; indifferent otherwise, having a holy indifference in doing all, yet a hearty zeal and love in this, because it is His Will now. You would then be happy at home, because you would feel that it is your vocation; it would fill your heart in a new form, and you would feel that so viewing everything and acting, you are fulfilling the call which is now upon you. It is only in this feeling that you can rest; you cannot rest in mere home duties or social claims, or even in doing good of itself, for you have in you the consciousness of a call as yet unfulfilled, and this makes you restless and dissatisfied, and you will continue so, unless you separate yourself in heart, and realize your consecration of yourself, then give yourself back as a new creature to former duties, now become new calls. . . . Then you would be prepared to leave, if God opened the way, or you would still be His where you are, with an equally undivided heart. You will see by this where I think you are wrong. I think the wrong lies very deep; it is the conflict of these deep feelings, and one must yield to the other before you can be at rest. You feel you cannot give yourself unreservedly to your home, while you have the consciousness of the call and vow which is on you; and yet you feel that must as yet be your portion. You must then reconcile these two conflicting feelings, and then you would be at rest. You must view home as the consecrated vocation of a consecrated life, ceasing to regard it merely as a home. I have spoken of your consecration--I mean as far as may be; that is, in will and heart, and as your own secret act before God; but in result, it might be as true to you as if outwardly sealed. God bless you.
"T. T. C."
"I would wish you to go on as quietly as possible, persevering as you have begun. Self-reflection is the thing that you need most to overcome, and simplicity of soul to obtain. You greatly need also recollection of spirit, and to seek to draw off your mind from dwelling so much on others --I mean the anxiety you have about their feelings toward yourself.
"Make those points special objects of prayer and watchfulness, and use earnest care to check what is thus besetting you. I think it would be blessed to you if you would say two of the penitential psalms every day on your knees, in special reference to those sins.
"But take courage and good hope, because I feel that God is drawing you on more and more. May God bless you.
"T. T. C."
A Rule, Christmas, 1857.
"1. Each morning offer yourself to God to live for the day only.1
"2. If you fail in this by indulging dreams for the future, say a portion of Ps. cxix. for each such failing before the evening.
"3. Entirely avoid arguing. This allows quietly to discuss religious truth, but requires to stop at once if it turn to anything of arguing antagonistically.
"4. Stop talking whenever it turns to bringing forward self--watch specially for this.
"5. Pray each evening for rest in God simply and un-dividedly, accepting every single appointment of God for you, and say with this prayer Ps. cxxxi. Write each fortnight to say what failing in this rule has occurred."
"Clewer Rectory, January 29, 1858.
"The great lesson I would have you learn now is that of interior mortification, in controlling, subduing, and correcting thoughts; and the end to gain, purity of intention, so as to put away whatever is of self, and suffer only what is simple and obedient to the law of love and truth, or whatever it be with which the thoughts are concerned. This exercise involves a good deal beyond itself in its effects on the inner life. I wish you could make that which I have mentioned the one main aim of your inner effort, and try to realize how much it involves in its branching, as it were, into all kinds of thoughts and feelings. You will be fitting yourself thus in the very best way you can for your future life.
"Make, as a second rule, the solemn resolve to be as much as possible compliant, yielding, self-sacrificing as to the least daily occurrence, wants, etc. In looking back on family life, what one is most thankful for is for every such yielding up of self and such kindness which gives the deepest satisfaction and rest, so far as family life goes; and what is family life, if justly viewed, but an image of the love which binds to God the communion of saints? Remember how much you may gain in God's favour, and it may be of future degree of glory, by exercising yourself, when privately occupied, in ruling and mortifying inward thoughts and bringing them into obedience to Christ's Blessed Will. And when with others, how much you may gain by acts of self-surrender and self-sacrifice in speaking and doing as the law of pure love dictates. I wish every day you would say the Lord's Prayer once with the special intention of offering yourself to your Lord in the utmost simplicity.
"Do you think the enclosed would at all help your sister (in sickness)? I would send her some more some day, or shortly. I could send her some heads of prayer. God bless you.
"T. T. C."
"Clewer Rectory, July 31, 1858.
"It is good, and I am thankful that you should feel the solemn nature of the coming separation, and anticipate the tartness of it. There is no doubt that you will have to meet a searching trial. It would be far worse if you had not; if you could take such a step without feeling it deeply. To face it in something of its reality now will lighten the after trial. It will help you for the future, to sit down now and count the cost. This does not make it less God's Will for you, or less blessed, only natural ties, bound as yours are, cannot be loosened to loving hearts without sorely feeling the wrench; and to look to it in all its solemnity for yourself and for the others is a duty, and makes the step at once more religious, and more easily borne in its consequences.
"It is well to view the point of action irrespectively of the feelings, however keenly they may be felt. The question of acting is not to be one of feeling either way, but how the way of high service opens to one, and how it will appear in a day when the full light will shine; in His Countenance we shall read the motives which have swayed one. I think you do feel that all has been weighed and long weighed, so that it is the trial of feeling which remains as the most momentous to be met, and this not of your own feeling only, but of what you know it will cost others. It is what so often accompanies such acts. Happy is it for those who are spared it, if at least we are to count those happier who escape keen trials. It may be that, as the trials of each differ, coming in the way most wisely fitted for the perfect discipline of each, so for some such a form of trial is the most fitted to work a higher sanctity, and therefore suffered to come in a higher mercy than sparing them would be.
"My dearest child, may God sustain you and guide you in it will be now a frequent prayer, and through any trial it may cost you may be advanced to a higher inner life.
"There is but one view in which you can look to find support in passing through the coming change, and that is, the highest aspect of self-devotion out of pure love as things will appear to the illuminated eye in God's Presence, the thought of simple union with God, and of the undivided claim He has on the soul when He inspires the thought and opens the way to its accomplishment, that all natural love and ties pass on to this diviner aim and give way to it, while yet the feelings remain true and fervent towards the old natural ties.
"One does not love them less, because one sacrifices them for what comes in the progress of life and the working out of one's destiny as the more absorbing call for action and service.
"I think it would help you if you would take for meditations now the course which was taken by the Apostles and the women who followed from Galilee; the callings at the sea of Galilee of the fishers; of St. Matthew; the inward feeling of St. James and St. John when they said, 'We are able to drink of the cup,' etc.; the drawings of the soul of Mary, sister of Martha, of Mary Magdalene, of Salome, of Anna in the temple before, of Mary the wife of Cleophas, etc. Mark the different points of their several histories. Mark, on the other hand, the loss sustained by those who drew back; of the souls who were not prepared to follow because the Son of Man 'had not where to lay His head'; of the rich man who went away very sorrowful, because he could not leave his riches. Take both sides, those who could and _those who could not follow Him in the closer fellowship and more entire self-sacrifice. Consider the points on Saints which bring out the inner workings of feeling, the difference of character, the age, as of the little boy who had the few small fishes to give for the miracle to be worked. Mark the consequences of what seemed small acts and changes, but which must have involved in each great trial of feeling, and though Scripture speaks so sparingly, and, as it were, slightly of them. Dwell on each of these and think of the working of God, working out His Will in each, and notwithstanding the trials and the high effects that waited on each change or point that seemed so small. Do this as you have done some cases before, fully work them out in meditations, and let me know what you have chosen and what you have done. I will in a day or two send you a prayer for present use.
"I think you would do well to have confidential communication with your brother as much as possible. You will know what you can do, and how far you are able to help and influence your family and let them see, that in devoting yourself to God, it is not a selfish thing, but in hope to be more a blessing to them all; and that any opening to be a blessing to any one at home would be your brightest joy, and that in putting aside natural loves in one sense, you are binding them around you more closely in another. God bless you.
"Your very affectionate
"T. T. C."
List of Letters, etc., in this Chapter.
Act of Self-dedication.
A Lady impatient of Delay.
A False Feeling.
Allowable Sharpness in Ruling.
A Forfeited Vocation.
Wanderings in Prayer.
Sacraments from Irvingites.
A Visit to Clewer.
How to wait at Home.
The Pain of leaving Home.
The practical turn of mind in the Founder of the Clewer Community is manifested, in that, while he was setting forth a religious ideal and the spiritual "laws "of a lifelong dedication, he evidently was not forgetful of what the laws of the country might have to say upon the subject, and what would be the position of one who had taken a lifelong vow. He accordingly wrote to one of Her Majesty's judges upon the matter, and the following was Sir John Coleridge's reply:--
"Dawlish, November 9, 1862.
"MY DEAR MR. CARTER,
"I was not here when your letter came; it followed me to Ottery, and I have been so much occupied since I received it that I have been unable to answer it. I am afraid now that, for want of books, and from a very imperfect memory, my answer to your question will not be worth much.
"I presume the question to be twofold--are the vows you speak of unlawful, i.e. do they subject to prosecution those who take or those who impose them; secondly, are they binding, i.e. could they in law oblige the party who, having taken them, repents of the step, or would they have an answer to a writ of habeas corpus, where under them a person was restrained against her will; or supposing her to be non sui juris, but willing to abide by them, would they be an answer if the father or husband or any other guardian sued it out?
"As to the first, I am not aware that our statute law does, as our common law does not, certainly, recognize a power in any one to impose such an oath. For want of this authority, the oath would be in law merely nul. A magistrate, who is authorized to impose a judicial oath, is guilty now of a misdemeanour if he imposes an extra-judicial and voluntary oath. Such an oath might be supposed to be something when imposed by such an officer, but the breach of it was not punishable, and therefore it is now made unlawful to impose it. Declarations, not on oath, are substituted in those hundreds of cases in which oaths were formally required. But in the case you suppose all falls to the ground for want of the original authority; and / am not aware that, as to Protestant Sisterhoods, any law has taken notice of the matter, and made it penal either in the imposer or taker. You see, I underscore--for I am not familiar with the modern statute-book. As to the second, it is clear that no detention of the person could be justified, by reason of an oath, against the force of a writ of habeas corpus; it would be still unlawful imprisonment, if against the will of the party; the oath would be inoperative against the right of the father, husband, or guardian, to the custody of the body; but if the person is willingly restrained, were of an age to elect where or with whom she would be, the writ would, without regard to the oath, be inoperative for the father, or mother, or guardian. The Court would ask the young lady whether she wished to stay or go, and decide accordingly; of course, not so for the husband.
"If these remarks answer your questions, I believe they state the law correctly; the oath or vow, in short, is nothing, except as it binds the conscience, and with this the law will not interfere.
"I may not have understood your question. I heard that you had mooted some such point at Oxford, but I am not a great reader of newspaper reports of speeches, and so it has escaped me. If I have misunderstood you, and you think it worth while, pray write again.
"Yours, very truly,
"J. T. COLERIDGE."
The following letter, written by Rev. J. Keble, discusses vows from another standpoint:--
"Hursley Vicarage, Winchester,
"June 30, 1862.
"MY DEAR MR. CARTER,
"I am sorry to write so tardily, and more sorry to be of no real use to you, as I am conscious must be the case. The poor little scrap which I send with this contains a few references such as I have been able to make out, being myself rather behindhand in engagements of my own at present. I should suppose (1) that there were professed Virgins--whether under perpetual vows or not does not seem clear--from the beginning as a kind of class, not order, in the Church (see Nos. 1-8, 10, 12); (2) that vows of Virginity were allowed, and were binding (13,15, 19); (3) perhaps there were Sisterhoods, much more probably than not (11, 13, 18).
"On the whole, celibacy was greatly encouraged, but great caution required in professing it. But vows once made, whether in public or in private, were binding, and the breach of them is sin. Cf. St. Matt. xix. 12, and, by way of limitation, the principle in Numb. xxx.
"I fancy a great deal might be gathered out of St. Augustine and the Post-Nicene writers to show the secondary uses of the ascetic, for works of charity, etc.; but these hints, such as they are, seem all to relate to its primary end as a counsel of perfection; which doctrine all those ages appear to have accepted most unreservedly.
"Forgive this meagre note, and believe me always, dear Mr. Carter,
"Truly and affectionately yours,
"What a case this is of coals to Newcastle!"
We regret to say that we have been unable to put our hand on "the poor little scrap "to which the figures in this letter evidently refer.
It may be observed, in reference to the vow of poverty--we believe that we are correct in stating, that in the Clewer Community the obligation only extended to the personal use of money. This was all the "simple "vow so taken required with regard to possessions or capital, it was recommended to the Novices on the eve of Profession (if they had not done so before) that they should make their wills under the legal advice, not of the Community, but of their family lawyer, and they were free to dispose of their property as they liked. They were in no case bound to leave money to the Community Fund, though, of course, they were free to do so. They did what they liked with their means, and were often reminded by their spiritual adviser of the claims of their family, especially when there might be special need. There would be no desire to become a rich Community, knowing from history how such a condition had sometimes proved perilous to spiritual advancement, and had invited the hand of the spoiler. The Sisters would be like the Apostle--"having all things, and yet possessing nothing." We are quite aware that there are Communities where the vow extends to capital; but at present we are only concerned with the conditions of the Religious Life at Clewer.
"MY DEAR S------
"I should much like to know what you think of this proposal of mine. Some, you may know, have wished something of the kind of the Sacre Coeur (second Novitiate). Without at all thinking this possible, I have often wished for some further teaching of the Professed Sisters. I am much struck (in some cases) by the want of a sense of obligation to Community, or vagueness of obligation altogether except as to vows. Professed Sisters are, as you know, sent out after being in leading strings, without anything to help or guide them except what they get accidentally from happening to fall in with companions able to help them, or a Superior who is able and willing.
"I have thought that something of the kind would deepen sense of responsibility, and also make a time for some instructions after the difficulties of Professed Life have been experienced. But my own view is, difficulty arises from the variety of minds, and the very different ways in which things appear to them.
"Perhaps you have heard that the Bishop of C------has offered us Miss Hoare's work, and that new call is a fair opening for native work. The Chapter on Saturday accepted it. Best love.
"Your most affectionate
"T. T. C."
The following meditation upon "Heaven," written a great many years ago, is a fine specimen of Mr. Carter's method and thoughts in the treatment of Mysteries. It seems to contain traces of the Ignatian course, yet it is unlikely that at so early a date he had become acquainted with the Ignatian Exercises. These are his exact words:--
"The Fulness of God, the Perfectness of all being, all life, all happiness. Himself the combination of all that we can conceive, or fail to conceive, of Love, Sanctity, Beauty, and of Attributes which are inconceivable. The Source and Origin, the End and Object of all possible existence, complete and at rest in Himself.
"God not solitary--the overflowing of His Perfect Attributes out of the fulness of love, the unfolding of the Perfect Life into the several Persons. One with the Father in a perfect unity, yet separate blessedness and separate consciousness of Perfect Life, in. a mutual rest and joy and sympathy, acting and reacting, loving and beloved, moving and resting, ever the same without variableness, and yet ever in the flow of a perfect energy of life.
"The Will to create. Behold arising a world of ineffable beauty and variety, yet harmony inconceivably glorious, in material but spiritual forms, the expression of the Divine Mind, embodying of the first perfect idea of inanimate glory, having a life of its own, though unintelligent, the outward dwelling-place of all orders of intelligent and glorious creatures, the first and most beautiful, forming the innermost circle of the material world, nearest to God.
"The Will to rise in the order of creation.
"Behold the coming forth of blessed creatures, of highest intelligence, power of mind, beauty of form, energy of life, capable of knowing, loving, glorifying God.
"The nine orders of blessed angels arise, manifestations of separate perfect ideas of God, reflecting different Attributes of God, and different forms of joy, happiness, rapture, beauty, power; each divided into their several choirs--
Seraphim. Cherubim. Thrones.
Dominations. Virtues. Powers.
Principalities. Archangels. Angels.
"Behold the mutual, responsive blessedness between God and the angelic creatures, acting and reacting, flowing out and returning back, shining in and reflected, ever at rest, but ever increasing in an endless flow; ever the same, yet ever new; ever undying, yet ever fresh like the motion of the sea, and the repose of the mountains. Still the Mind of God wills to create a yet more perfect life, a new nature, in itself less than the angels, incapable of standing alone, as they, but capable of union with God, as they are not, capable of mysterious wedded closeness with the Divine Nature, and in that union attaining their perfection and surpassing the angels.
"Behold the wondrous type and pattern of this new and more perfect creation, in the entrance in the heavens of the one indissolubly united nature of God and man in the One Person of the Eternal Son, taking His place beside the Father on the Throne of Glory, ever adored by perpetually blessed praise and thanksgivings.
"Behold, arise, after Him the several orders of the new race, after the same image, created natures, but having their fulness, their complement in the Divine Nature, one with the other blessed creatures, one with the One Unapproachable Godhead, humanity sustained by Deity, shining with the light of Godhead, the lowliness and nothingness of the creature owing all to God, and yet made greater than any other creature because of God. Wedded earthly love, the strong and the weak made one flesh, being the type of this blissful oneness of the nature of man, partaking of the Divine Nature.
"Life of redeemed man made perfect in God, in its full energy in heavenly light and glory, its sympathies of joy, its ministries of love, its sweetness of gentlest kindness, its depth of reverence, increasing knowledge, its rest ever advancing, growing with the infiniteness of God, ever resting in what it is, yet ever advancing into what is beyond."
In the following we have a specimen of the way Mr. Carter brought such high and ecstatic thoughts as those in the contemplation of "Heaven "to bear practically upon the daily life:--
"Unite yourself in spirit with the Eternal Father, and meditate on Him as the end of your being, and a conformity of will to His Will as the highest happiness. Make resolutions of entire trust to his all-overruling Hand, as though you were a mere planet moved every moment on your course without will of your own.
"Unite yourself in spirit with the Eternal Son, and meditate upon the marvellous Incarnation, and how the flesh has been taken up into God, and all its affections and desires, to be united with Himself in His Flesh, to His Deity, and the closeness of the bond that is to conform all life to Him. Make resolutions on His indwelling as the centre of the truest life, and of the unspeakable bliss of following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
"Unite yourself in spirit with the Eternal Spirit, and meditate on the Mission of the Comforter, on Himself as the bond of the circle of love, which encircles and intertwines the Blessed Trinity, and which love descends, binds the children of the Lord, is their bridal union, and is the unction of the true Sister's life (and Christian's).
"Make resolutions of a loving spirit, a spirit of union, a spirit of joy in the Love of God, a spirit of sweetness in converse.
"Unite yourself in spirit with the nine orders of holy angels, each separately manifesting some high expression of glory, and light, and purity, and beatitude, and ecstatic joy, and fervour, and speed in ministering to the Eternal in all the vastness of the creation of God; and meditate on humility and ready service, and a pliant will and a sweet submission, and a lively tender forbearance.
"Unite yourself in spirit with the Passion, with the agony, the humiliation, the abandonment, the loneliness, the utter self-mortification of the Eternal Sacrifice; and meditate on the crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts, and the endurance of pain and self-abasement as the approach of the inner shrine of Godhead in Christ, and resolve to be conformed to it.
"Unite yourself in spirit with the Saints now with Christ, their growing lights, their deepening visions, their restful enjoyments of God, their repose from trial, their abounding thankfulness, their longings for you to be with them, their increasing intercession for your perfection.
"Meditate on the blessedness of the end, and of a holy death, full of good works, and love and trust, and partial suffering, and fervent striving of self-discipline.
"Unite yourself with the whole hierarchy of Heaven, God, the Angels, the Saints, the Human Nature of Christ, the Blessed Virgin-Mother, and with all orders of boundless light, and rejoice that you are called to the higher order of service on earth.
"T. T. C."
"Sisterhoods and Church Order.
"I strongly feel that Sisterhoods should be kept in harmony with Church order. They will occasionally have their own special days of observances, and these ought, I think, to have a bishop's sanction; and, further, they ought not to interfere with Church services, at least so far as Sundays and Holy Days, for which a special service is provided, are concerned. If an octave of any special observance is appointed with bishop's sanction, it ought not to override the Sunday or Holy Day service, unless it might be that two celebrations could be had, one for the special observance after the Church office has been said.
"The chapels of Religious Communities are private so far that there can be no interference from without--such as legally consecrated buildings are subject to; but they are not therefore independent of Church order, and the priests ministering in them are bound to guard the Church order.
"Such is my conviction on this critical point. Perhaps the special observance (in your case) of January 25 might be met by two celebrations, otherwise it seems against what I have thought needful to guard; or, perhaps this might be met by transferring the Sisters' special observance, but this could not be properly done without the bishop's sanction.
"My conviction is (and you have asked me) that all the Altar services of a Religious Community cannot be arranged for without proper sanction, if there is to be any divergence from the appointed order.
" They are private chapels as against purely legal claims, but not against Church order, and the priest under the bishop is to be the guardian of that order.
"Your ever affectionate
"T. T. C."
"About voting, in the two cases you speak of, there is this to be said: Are they not like Gladstone--' one man, one vote'? The youngest Sister's vote is as good as the eldest. We have gone on the principles of authority, and the elder Sisters and Warden have a certain weight in recommending to and guiding the younger. Judging from experience, our elder Sisters think that there is need of this being preserved.
"I have thought strongly that authority is needed in our English Communities, and that a male spiritual superior needs to have authority felt, otherwise the female element has it all in its own way. ... I have read ------ It is as you say, ad populum 'telling.' But he does not fairly meet G.'s points. He is slippery, but more clever than I had supposed.
"Ever your affectionate
"T. T. C."
Mr. Carter had a very exalted idea of what a Sister's life should be. He regarded it, with the Church, as a distinct vocation. In his "Spiritual Instructions "this is clearly and strongly stated. "Sisterhoods," he says, "represent that side of the Christian life which our Lord taught when He drew certain women to devote themselves wholly to His service." He finds such persons existing even in the time of the Apostles, "single women only, dwelling mostly apart in their own houses." In the fourth century they are gathered into Communities. There can be no doubt as to the high estimate of the Church of such self-devoted persons, from the fact that only those who were legitimately born were allowed to so dedicate themselves.
We have a letter to Mr. Carter from Dr. Pusey, who seems to have been rather troubled about this restriction. He writes--
"MY DEAR CARTER,
"Do you know the grounds for that universal exclusion (is it not?) of those who are illegitimate from Religious Houses? It seems very hard, unless there be strong moral ground; i.e. that receiving their birth in that way, there be some moral disadvantage under which they are born. It seems, too, likely that there should be some injury, concupiscence apparently having so much to do with aggravating the fames of original sin. One would not like to go against such large experience, if it is so, as I think. I suppose only in case of a very strong call of God it would be a reason for going against this rule, for if it is really a call of God, then He moves it to be complied with. There are strong prima facie grounds against it. If you will, tell me this--when there is seemingly a strong call, (1) whether the rule is still absolute, (2) or whether it is dispensed with in such cases.
"E. B. P."
We have not Mr. Carter's reply to this letter, but, from our knowledge of his dislike of hard and fast rules, we should say he would be in favour of exceptions. Those who had themselves fallen into grave sin were, as a rule, excluded from entering the Religious Life; but there are exceptions, such as where the sin is only known to God or to very few persons; and if repentance and vocation are true and deep; or they may become consecrated penitents or Magdalens. Canon Carter, in his "Instructions" to Sisters, stated that there were three requirements: the Vi gin or widowed state; detachment from the things of earth; and obedience; in fact --chastity, poverty, and obedience. With regard to the second, it may be confined to the use of money--that is, of the interest and under permission.
We cannot do better than print an address which Mr. Carter gave in the Chapel of the Sisterhood, when some Sisters were dedicated. It will show what he thought these ladies were committed to by their promises to God, and his ideas about the religious vocation. It was delivered on Friday, June 28, 1861.
We have been supplied with the following notes of this address which Mr. Carter gave, as Warden of Clewer, after the Profession of a Sister, who became some years after the head of a branch House. It is printed here because it seems to contain some of those thoughts which reveal Mr. Carter's high estimate of what is technically called the "Religious Life "as a distinct vocation, involving au enlarged area of moral responsibilities, and opening up a fresh vista of the possibilities of holiness. The address may not be perfectly reported, but it is sufficiently accurate to be a specimen of his spiritual utterances on such occasions.
"Friday, June 28, 1861.
"When I last addressed you we were on the eve of a solemn office of admitting into probation in this Community those whom God has drawn thus to seek to live to Him, and I was led to speak to you of some of the special principles of such a service which they then sought to enter. Now we are on the eve of a still more solemn office of dedicating and sealing to God those who have been seeking to prepare themselves for a complete union with Him in this Community. This must now form the subject-matter of many anxious thoughts, many earnest prayers, many devout hopes, for those about to bp dedicated, that they may have an increased and quickened sense of deepened responsibility, and be stirred to the highest aims of a Divine life. To this I would draw your minds for a while, that we may dwell on the sacredness of such an office, the solemnity of such an act. There are different ways in which this act and the promises to God accompanying this act may be viewed. In the first place, it may be viewed in this way, as the reconsecration of ourselves to the tenor of all former consecrations. Whenever God would form any fresh bond of union, it must be founded on some former acts of consecration. The power of dedicating ourselves to God depends on the first consecration of ourselves to Him in Holy Baptism, in Confirmation afterwards, and onward in the continued life of the Holy Eucharist. These seals of consecration which bind us in special union with Him are the basis on which every after-act of consecration rests. Each fresh act brings them up again, pleading them, renewing them, resting on the fact of their having admitted us into the world of Grace, and we come before God with them. When we are about to make another dedication, we come clothed as it were with them when we enter into another covenant, and binding us with a fresh link to something higher and better than before in our advancing towards perfection.
"Though all acts of dedication are in one sense involved in the one original act of dedication, yet God records each fresh act of. dedication as another call within His Kingdom, and accepts it as a fresh bond of love. It is, therefore, a solemn thought for those who are drawing near to God in such an act to look back and see how their former acts of consecration and covenants of union have been observed, and then to go forth in the full assurance of hope that the love which has drawn them to fresh sanctity is a ground of faith that God will remit their imperfection in the past and bless their new offering.
"(2) Again, such an act implies the taking up of things which before were not matters of religious obligation so as to become so henceforward--taking things which before were free, indifferent, not bound on the conscience'; taking them up as a law of conscience, binding us about as a necessary law of holiness, as in the case of St. Paul, when he says, 'A necessity is laid on me; yea, woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.' This he said after he had received an Apostle's call, and when he became bound to traverse sea and land, to wear himself out to become all things to all men, that he might save some; not a moment of his life to be lost, all thoughts to be devoted to the one object, no suffering to be shrunk from, not a toil unborne, because it had become to him a religion to follow out with his whole being, a new aim to fulfil a new purpose. Once he was not bound to this as a matter of conscience, but he had been called, and had accepted the call; he had bound himself by a fresh covenant, and had laid on himself a new law, and so all the acts and impulses of his nature came into a different sphere. 'Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel, because necessity is laid upon me;' so in the act of dedication we are contemplating; it brings indifferent things which before were matters of free choice, makes them matters of religious observance, binds them on the conscience, makes them virtues if they are observed, or matters of offence, of direct sin against God if they are neglected. This act of dedication implies it to be the aim to bring everything so completely under the influence of religion that the whole being is given up to Godj as a free-will offering first, but then to become a holocaust, a burnt-offering; for when this call has been accepted, and we are bound by our own free act to God, everything must be consumed, must be burnt on the Altar, and rise as the smoke of incense, as a savour well pleasing unto God.
"(3) Again, another view under which the act and its accompanying promises must be regarded is, that it implies, though it may not be at first fully understood, the committing one's self to perfectness of life, binding one's self to God to be wholly His, that everything should take the form and shape of His own perfect Mind. It is so in two ways; first, in the act of consecration, which is the earnest of the complete dedication to God, taking it on one's self, and this after trial --trial not merely of one's fitness, but of one's willingness, trial of one's purpose as a matter which has been before one's mind for a long period. Shall I, or shall I not? Can I, or can I not? I may yet withdraw; shall I remain? This has been before the mind continually, and after the decision the resolution has been formed. 'Lord, Thou hast called me, and I hear Thy voice, and would indeed be Thine.' So it is with every complete surrender of one's self. There are three great hindrances in our way, three things which, acting on our life, draw us into temptation and mar much of our life and service. (1) All that comes under sensuality, under the outer sense of bodily impulses and desires under that clinging form of nature, forming a chain of dangers and temptations which rise up again and again in one form or another, craving for indulgence. Now this is put away, removed; not merely what is unlawful, but what is lawful has been put away. There is of necessity a separation from home life, everything being left, even the body committed to God in this spiritual union, as one form of perfection beyond what is necessary for all, but which become necessary by this new act of dedication. This consecrated state in the body is the direct opposite to sensuality; it raises the whole sphere of life, removing all desires of the lower nature, giving ourselves up to be the Lord's as fountains sealed only for Him. (2) The second danger is the whole series of evil thoughts and desires, cupidity, longing for earthly things, a desire for their possession, their use, their enjoyment, looking upon them as one's own, appropriating them, saying all these are mine, 'Soul, take thine ease, etc.' This craving desire is sometimes confined to one or two objects, sometimes extends to a boundless range.
"This in all its forms is to be sacrificed at the foot of the Cross, by a renunciation of all we have, saying of each one, this I no longer hold; if I hold it, it is no longer at my own pleasure. This is given to God, to be held only at His pleasure; it is at the will of my God I hold it so long, and as He wills it. This implies that the very wish and desire of possession is gone because the will has renounced the means of such enjoyment. (3) That which sticketh closer to a man than outward possession and enjoyment, the inner spirit itself. The mind, the will in itself acting, becomes a snare, which mars the supernatural life by workings of the natural life. This, too, is removed, for the will has yielded itself to obedience, is bound about by rule in all things that can be ordered by rule. This is the meaning of your Rule of Life. It embraces the whole field, though its full meaning and extent may be perceived only by little and little. Moreover, these promises are bound by special obligations.
"All religious covenants must be sealed by sacrifice, and these promises are so sealed. When Abraham covenanted with God, the sacrifice was divided. The lamp of fire passed between the two parts--that is, God passed between the two in order to connect them, making them into one by consuming them both and accepting them in Himself. So sacrifice still seals all religious acts and covenants, binding them to God. He must pass between, between the life we desire to lead and our previous life, sealing them in one, connecting them, that they may be united and offered up to Himself. Then with the sealing of the promises here--the sacrifice is offered on the Altar, and is pleaded in union with the Eternal Oblation offered in the Heavens, which alone makes the offering an acceptable one. You are bound about by rule in all things which can be ruled. This is the meaning of your own Rule of Life; it stands in the closest possible connection with your present act of dedication, pointing out in detail the means by which it may be fulfilled; directing, guiding all thoughts and acts and devotions at all hours of the day, raising all the actions of your life to a higher standard, leading you on to perfection. Aiming to do religiously such little acts as passing from one place to another, entering into communication with one person or another, to look on all things, even the most indifferent, as sent by God, and under the guidance of the Spirit, the obedient will may be led on to higher sanctity. Now, on entering into such a state, one would naturally look on all that God says to cheer and strengthen those who are passing into it, that they may be sustained and strengthened by the assurance that He is with them, that He is guiding all; and where can we look to see this? God does not speak from Heaven, yet we can understand what He would say if we look to what He said to those whom He first called to be wholly His by special consecration in His kingdom of grace--we may catch the lingering accents of His blessed voice, we may hear what He would say now--if we look to what He said to those whom He first called to be wholly His by special consecration in His kingdom of grace. We may catch those lingering accents, we may hear what He would say now--were He to break the silence, for we know what He said to the Apostles, what Ha infused into their souls before they went forth on their mission. One of the points which He specially assured them of was His special Presence with them even to the end: 'Lo, I am . . . world.' And not only this; but in His discourse on the last night when He was about to part with them, and they were about to be sent forth to a life of trial and difficulty, He spoke more fully, carefully assuring them of perpetual Divine consolation. 'I will not leave thee comfortless; I will come unto you; I will send thee another Comforter, and He shall take of mine, and show it unto you;--and what to do? To do what the Apostles needed to have done unto them. 'He shall guide you into all truth, teach you all things, bring all things to your remembrance.' Those who were about to be teachers of others needed this to be done for them; and not only this, but 'I will give you power over all things, even serpents,' thus enduing them with miraculous power over hindrances and dangers. Now, this applies to our own case; to all who seek to be bound to God by special bonds He promises special aids and graces. He says, 'I will never leave thee without Divine consolations. I will fill up the void which thou wilt feel at times in thine heart. I will suggest to thee holy thoughts--thoughts of a higher world to thy meditative spirit. I will fulfil all My promises. I will strengthen thee with miraculous power to go forth and do and bear even to the end.' This He would say if we could hear Him speak. Then, again, He led them to unspeakable glory in proportion to their service and devotion to Him. 'Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man . . . tribes of Israel.' A glory distinctive for the Apostles. They were looking forward to a grandeur and joy within the glory of the Father as they passed within the mysteries of a higher world. So He would say now, if we could hear Him speak, 'In proportion as thou hast sacrificed thyself to Me, in proportion to the fulness of thy devotion to Me, in proportion to the dedication of thyself, in proportion to thy sanctity of life in union with Me, in proportion to thy service in union with Me to redeem the world, shall be hereafter the brightness of thy glory, according (I would not say) to what thou wast, hast been, hast done, but to what My love looks upon as the result. My free gift, not thine own.' There is one thing more He would say, as He said it over and over again to the Apostles when they were dwelling on the grandeur of their office, the power they should wield, the blessedness of the kingdom of which they were to be the leaders, the beauty which was to be developed through the Incarnation as they were beholding the crown which should fall on their brow as they passed into another world. He was continually chastening their expectations by warnings of coming trial; thus, when He said that those who had left all for Him should receive manifold more in this present life, He added, with persecutions; and again we find these words: 'The Son of Man must suffer many things,' bringing before their minds the chastening thought that they must win their way to blessedness through trial, that they must pass to their glory bearing the Cross, accepting all the pressure of the wounds, whatever may be the soreness of the keen feeling heart which He longs to search out that He may purify it through and through. He says,' Wilt thou be perfect?--it must be through trial. Wilt thou give up all?--it must cost thee something. Wilt thou be one with Me?--thou must take the darkness with the light, the pain with the joy;' but always adding this: 'I, too, have borne pain. I have tasted it. My sufferings make me sympathize with thine, but I will not spare thee. I love thee too well to spare thee. Through suffering I was made perfect. I will that thou shalt be perfected through suffering. Wilt thou go forth on thy path as I went forth on Mine? The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of wicked men'--that is to say,' Wilt thou be associated with Me? Thou must bear the Cross. I kissed it before it was given to Me. I embraced it. I was nailed to it. I hung upon it. I would hang there now, if it were not finished. I consecrated it, and thou too must stretch forth thy willing bauds and thy obedient feet and let the nails pierce thy hands, and thou must remain there as long as I will. Fear not, I am with thee. I will hold thee by thy right hand, for thou art Mine.' Thus He would speak and reason now, and we can understand Him better than the Apostles could understand Him. They could understand him better after the Agony was past, after the Passion was over, and He is as true now as He was then. Let us, then, trust to Him in perfect confidence, going onwards each in our separate path, perfecting what needs to be perfected, commencing what needs to be begun, that we may be sealed to God and transmuted into Himself. Do Thou, O God, accept us, that at the last day we may find ourselves in Thee, that we may know that all is of Thee, that all is Thine act, the breathing of Thy love, that we may be one with Thee! Lord God, grant it to us of Thy tender mercies' sake, through Thy Precious Blood."
"MY DEAR ----------
"The last week or two in Rome in which I had intended to write to you was so pressed from the winding up of many interests and the flowing together of so many people for the Carnival, that I could not fulfil my purpose, until I could get a quiet time. I seemed to need the repose of this place. Home is very exciting, and at this time of the year so many come to and fro whom one unexpectedly meets, each with a fresh set of associations, that it seems scarcely possible to get away for a few hours. The repose of this sweetly pretty place, with its lovely coast views, is more helpful, and I am glad of the change, and the very first thing I do is to write to you, for you have ever been one of the most precious to me. I had the thought of writing before yours came with the wish. I hope you feel equal to the great charge you have, and are happy in its state of living progress. It seems now to me as a part of yourself. The sadness of dear ------'s final step will, I hope, not have depressed you, though I know your sadness at it, and thoroughly sympathize with it. My only rest is that all has been done which could have been done--that was possible consistently with the realities of the course along which I believe the Community is being necessarily led, necessary for its higher life, as well as the circumstances around us. May God guide her steps and make her a blessed instrument of His Will elsewhere, if so it must be. But she will, I think, have to pass through experiences that she does not anticipate.
"The Church of England must absorb into itself whatever is helpful to the devotional life in mediaeval religion, if fairly an outgrowth of principles which formed part of the original faith, and what we need is to discern aright what is consistent in this respect, and it is not well, I think, to be ready to anticipate danger unnecessarily, but to be trustful that a pure intention may rescue many things from Roman deviations and respect them in their true Catholic sense, and not lose what is real and good because of abuse which does not rightly belong to it. She could not see this, and she has therefore failed to sympathize with what, as I believe, God has been manifestly working in the midst of us.
"You ask about Lent. I hardly know what line you have been led along, and the teaching which you are having will help you, I think, greatly.
"It has come to my mind to think that it would be well for you to take as one main thought, that of sacrifice, unfolding it in many different ways. First, with regard to God Himself--the groundwork of all, the love of the Father in giving up His Son, etc.; that of the Son in giving Himself; that of the Spirit in His co-operation;--these three united as the sources and exemplars of all sacrifice. Next, the practical carrying out of these (which have first been viewed as working in the recesses of God's Being) in communication with us. First, what passed in the Heart of the Father while our Lord was on earth; next, the main lines on which the spirit of sacrifice was acted on by our Lord; and then the continuous sacrifice of the Spirit in His abiding presence, His work in fallen souls, and with the resistances of human wills. Then take, as illustrations of our return to God, the Levitical sacrifices, burnt-offerings, etc. Then bring it home to yourself in the different forms of sacrifice in your own case--in home life, in religious life, in details of personal life; then the supports to a true correspondence with God in these--the renewed will, love, self-denial, perseverance; the means to attain union with the Will of God, responsive love to His Love,--contrition, resolution, hope. Contemplate these practical points; the example of Saints is, of course, helpful.
"All truest blessings to you.
"T. T. C."