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Holy Families: The Spiritualization of the Early Modern Household Revisited
The dustwrapper is slightly discoloured. Everything else is very clean and crisp. Published : Bookseller: Gage Postal Books. First edition. Accidental causes are indeed found to work both ways; they both influence the mind in embracing certain doctrines, and they permanently fix the expression and development of those doctrines afterwards.
Thus truth in every age is marked by hues and touches, not its own strictly, however they may harmonize with it; and these become its historical distinctions in future time. This is unavoidable, and moreover it can hardly be doubted that much is gained by it; provided, of course, the true foundation is preserved throughout. Variety, to a certain extent, seems to be a prevailing law in the systems both of nature and of grace, and to be a great source of beauty and richness in both.
It is a great characteristic in fact of the true system, that it can afford to be thus free and spontaneous, to vary its aspect, to modify, enlarge, and accommodate itself to times and places without loss of principle. Why should not the different ages of the Church, with their different characters, make up a whole, just as the Church itself in every age is, as St.
Paul says, "many members, yet but one body"? We mention this, because some persons are apt to think when Antiquity is talked about, that it implies an actual return to the exact forms of opinion and modes of feeling which are known to have prevailed in those earlier times; and they forthwith begin to talk about the nineteenth century, and the impossibility of our retrograding, and the folly and disadvantage of too narrow a standard, and the fallacy of thinking that whatever is ancient is, as such, an object of imitation.
Simeon on his pillar, Antony in the mountain, Councils in full debate, and popular elections, incense and oil, insufflations and stoles with crosses on them, complete their notion of the Ancient Religion, when they hear it recommended. But all this is surely out of place at the present time. Nothing has been said by those whose writings have been so severely animadverted on lately, to show that they are antiquarian fanatics, urging the ancient doctrine and discipline upon the present age in any other except essential points, and not allowing fully that many things are unessential, even if abstractedly desirable.
There are such things as indifferent points of character, all will admit, in which every age and every individual may be idiosyncratic without blame; and these surely may and often do produce theological differences of rite, usage, opinion, and argument, which fairly admit of a mutual toleration. We readily allow that the writer of the Homily on Alms-deeds scarcely keeps step when he would walk in company with St. Cyprian; and that Tertullian, on the other hand, feels uncomfortable when thrust by a venerated living prelate [ Note 4 ] into the Thirty-nine Articles; or again, that even Bishop Bull in his Harmonia has not effected more than an armistice between the early Church and the German Protestants, on the subject which he treats.
Again, this age is a practical age: the age of the Fathers was more contemplative; their theology, consequently, had a deeper, more mystical, more subtle character about it, than we with our present habits of thought can readily enter into.
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We lay greater stress than they on proofs from definite verses of Scripture, or what are familiarly called texts, and we build up a system upon them; they rather recognized a certain truth lying hid under the tenor of the sacred text as a whole, and showing itself more or less in this verse or that as it might be. We look on the letter of Scripture more as a foundation, they as an organ of the truth. Such a difference is quite allowable, or rather natural or even necessary.
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The Fathers might have traditionary information of the general drift of the inspired text which we have not. Moderns argue from what alone remains to them; they are able to move more freely. To attempt it otherwise than from the heart, would be a profanation; better not attempt it at all. This should be understood; if persons, in this day, do not feel "sufficient for such things" spontaneously, we are not going to force such things upon them as a piece of imitation.
No good could come of merely imitating the Fathers for imitation's sake; rather, such servility is likely to prevent the age from developing Church principles so freely as it might otherwise do. Even the Fathers were of different schools. The respective characters of the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Roman, and African are distinctly marked.
Again, it is hardly possible to deny that Augustine's theology is in a certain sense what may be called a second edition of the Catholic Tradition, the transmission of the primitive stream through an acute, rich, and powerful mind. Another change took place in point of tone and view for it does not fall into our subject to allude to positive errors in the theology of the schoolmen. And there have been other great changes since, involving changes in the moral state and what may be called mind of the Church, and that over and above the silent progress which society has been making, the revolutions of civil government, the march of civilization, and, what has necessarily attended upon it, a far more active and excited state of the public mind.
These causes must have produced and must be still producing their several effects, greater or less, upon us, such as would extend at last to our theology.
In this way, then, it is that we stand with respect to Antiquity. We cannot, if we would, move ourselves literally back into the times of the Fathers: we must, in spite of ourselves, be churchmen of our own era, not of any other, were it only for this reason, that we are born in the nineteenth century, not in the fourth [ Note 5 ]. We are tempted to illustrate this matter a little more fully. Every one knows that in mathematics the same truths may be thrown into the language of geometry or algebra, the same conclusions worked out by distinct processes in this or that medium or calculus.
The same thing takes place in all sciences. A problem which continually meets us is, how to express the truths of one province of knowledge in the terms of another. To take the stock illustration, red may be called the sound of a trumpet when thrown into the calculus of sound.
Again, the great difficulty of translating is to find the equivalent expressions in the calculus of a fresh language. A parallel task frequently occurs in law; namely, the problem of bringing an existing case under established precedents, and expressing it in the formula which are received.
Settled forms of words, called actiones legis , were moreover contrived, which men must absolutely use to set forth their demands Extremely like the above actiones legis are the writs used in the English courts of law. Those writs are framed for and adapted to every branch or denomination of action, such as detinue, trespass , etc. However important or interesting the case, the judge, till he sees the writ he is used to , or at least a writ issued from the right manufacturer, is both deaf and dumb. He is without eyes to see, or ears to hear To remedy the above inconvenience, or rather in some degree to palliate it, law fictions have been resorted to in the English law, by which writs, being warped from their actual meaning, are made to extend to cases to which they in no shape belong.
Law fictions of the kind we mention were not unknown to the Roman jurisconsults; and, as an instance of their ingenuity in that respect, may be mentioned that kind of action in which a daughter was called a son. Several instances might also be quoted of the fictitious use of writs in the English courts of common law.
A very remarkable expedient of that sort occurs in the method generally used to sue for the payment of certain kind of debt before the Court of Common Pleas; such if I mistake not as a salary for work done, indemnity for fulfilled orders received, etc. The writ issued in these cases is grounded on the supposition that the person sued has trespassed on the ground of the plaintiff, and broken by force of arms through his fences and enclosures, etc.
If another illustration of these economies as they may be called is wanted, it will be found in the House of Commons, where no matter of principle can be introduced till it is thrown into the calculus of expediency. Such in its origin and nature, though not such in its magnitude, is the change which the adjuncts of Christian teaching, its opinions, feelings, objects, and temper, may undergo in different eras.
For instance, the doctrine of justification by faith only is the form in which the Reformation cast that eternal truth catholicly implied in the act of baptism, of which it is the equivalent. The Augustinian doctrine of predestination is the mode in which minds of a peculiar formation have, in a corrupt state of the Church, expressed the eternal truth, that the way of life is narrow. Or to take an instance of a different kind; this age, as we said above, is more practical, the primitive more contemplative; that age adopted a mystical religion, ours a more literal.
How, then, in our age are those wants and feelings of our common nature satisfied, which were formerly supplied by symbols, now that symbolical language and symbolical rites have almost perished? Were we disposed to theorize, we might perhaps say, that the taste for poetry of a religious kind has in modern times in a certain sense taken the place of the deep contemplative spirit of the early Church.
by Walsh, J.D. (ed)
At any rate it is a curious circumstance, considering how much our active and businesslike habits take us the other way, that the taste for poetry should have been developed so much more strongly amongst ourselves than it seems to have been in the earlier times of the Church; as if our character required such an element to counterbalance the firmer and more dominant properties in it. It may appear to some far-fetched, of course, to draw any comparison between the mysticism of the ancients, and the poetry or romance of the moderns, as to the religious tendencies of each; yet it can hardly be doubted, that, in matter of fact, poetry has been cultivated and cherished in our later times by the Cavaliers and Tories in a peculiar way, and looked coldly on by Puritans and their modern representatives.
In like manner, a Romanist writer observes of the "Christian Year," with a mixture of truth and error, that it is an attempt to collect and form into a crown the scattered jewels which the torrent of the sixteenth century has left to the English Church. Poetry then is our mysticism; and so far as any two characters of mind tend to penetrate below the surface of things, and to draw men away from the material to the invisible world, so far they may certainly be said to answer the same end; and that too a religious one. Enough has now been said to explain what we consider the views of the present revivers of ancient truth.
In going back to Antiquity, they do not wish to force men upon bare, literal, accurate Antiquity in points unessential; upon Antiquity exactly as it was when ancient times were modern. Identity of appearance is not the law on which the parts of the creation exist; and, as far as it shows itself, it has the most insipid associations connected with it. What happens in individuals, in countries, and in works, holds good also in times and eras. In spite of the dread of Antiquity, the calumny of "popery," the hatred of austerity, the reluctance to inquire, and the vast hubbub which is thereby caused on all sides of us—we have good hope meanwhile that a system will be rising up, superior to the age, yet harmonizing with and carrying out its higher points, which will attract to itself those who are willing to make a venture and face difficulties, for the sake of something higher in prospect.
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And for such minds it will be a reward, and one which they will have fully deserved, to discover at length that they have less sacrifices to make, less to give up of their natural tastes and wishes, by adopting the rule of Catholic tradition, than they could have anticipated beforehand. On this, as upon other subjects, the proverb will apply, "fortes fortuna juvat.
As it is, however, the mere name of Antiquity seems to produce a sudden collapse of the intellect in many quarters, certain shudders, and spasms, and indescribable inward sensations. We may seem to have been speaking in a sanguine way about the spread of the opinions in question; but this is in reality far from our intention. About the future we have no prospect before our minds whatever, good or bad.
Ever since that great luminary, Augustine, proved to be the last bishop of Hippo, and his labours for his own Africa were lost forthwith in its Vandalic, and finally in its Saracenic captivity, Christians have had a lesson against attempting to foretell how Providence will prosper and bring to an end what it begins. What is true of great things, is true of little also.
Catholic principles ought to spread at the present time as far as there is any substratum, as it may be called, in the national mind to support and give reality to them; but what a question is this, not to go to others, even to guess at! What lies before our highly-favoured but unfortunate Church we know not; the principles now on the rise may be destined to prevail; or some miserable schism may gradually fritter them away, and some more miserable compromise suffocate them.
We will not enter into the question, or risk any anticipation. There is nothing rash, however, in venturing one prediction, which will lead to some further remarks, viz. As to Liberalism, we think the formularies of the Church will ever, with the aid of a good Providence, keep it from making any serious inroads upon the clergy [ Note 6 ]; besides, it is too cold a principle to prevail with the multitude; so we shall say no more about it.
We have called the other system of opinion Puritanism, because we cannot hit upon a fit name for it. It is a very peculiar creed, as being based on no one principle, but propping itself up upon several, and those not very concordant; and thus to give it a name is almost as desperate a task as to set about giving it a consistence. To call it Evangelical, would be an unlawful concession; to call it Puritan, were to lose sight of its establishment side; to call it Ultra-Protestant, would be to offend its upholders; and to call it Protestant, would not be respectful to Protestantism.
Anti-Catholic is vague; Anti-Sacramentarian is lengthy. This, indeed, is its very advantage in controversy with the upholders of Catholic principles; that it has a short and glib word ready at hand, and may promptly call them "Papists," while they had no retort courteous to inflict upon it.
However, be its name what it will, it stands for the largest, most compact, most prominent party in our Church at this moment. But in spite of these appearances in its favour, a closer examination will show us that it cannot remain in its present state much longer; inasmuch as an internal principle of union, permanence, and consistency is wanting; and where this is wanting, a principle of life is wanting, and all is outward show.
Its adherents are already separating from each other, and it is not difficult to see that in due time they will melt away like a snowdrift. Indeed their very success would cause this result, if there were no other reason. The possession of power naturally tends to the dissolution of mutual trust and intimate fellowship; how much more so then in the case of a party, which is not only open to the wilfulnesses and rivalries of our frail nature, but which actually sanctifies them by propounding as a first principle, that in spirituals no man is really above another, but that each individual, from high to low, is both privileged and bound to make out his religious views for himself?
But over and above this, the system in question, if so it may be called, is, as we have intimated, full of inconsistencies and anomalies; it is built, not on one principle, but on half a dozen; and thus contains within it the seeds of ruin, which time only is required to develop. It has no straightforward view on any one point on which it professes to teach; and to hide its poverty it has dressed itself out in a maze of words, which all inquirers feel and are perplexed with, yet few are able to penetrate.
It cannot pronounce plainly what it holds about the sacraments, what it means by unity, what it thinks of Antiquity, what fundamentals are, what the Church; what again it means by faith. It has no intelligible rule for interpreting Scripture beyond that of submission to the arbitrary comments which have come down to it, though it knows it not, from Zuingle or Melancthon.
This it has ever shown when suffered to work itself out without interruption; and among ourselves it is only kept from doing so by the influence of our received formularies. When then it is confronted, as now it is more and more likely to be, by more consistent views, it cannot maintain its present unscientific condition.
It will either disappear on this side or that, or be carried out. Some of its adherents will be startled and return to sounder views; others will develop themselves into avowed liberalism. Its many societies and institutions, however well organized and energetic, will avail it nothing in this crisis. They are but framework and machinery, and, while they presuppose a creed, they are available for one almost as much as another.
As opinions change, these will be modified or destroyed. Imposing and flourishing as they are in appearance, they have as little power to stop the march of opinion as a man in a boat to act directly on its motion; they are the mere material or corporeal part of the system,—the instrument, not the living principle of its soul. Thus the matter stands as regards the far-spead religious confederacy of our days. We have no dread of it at all; we only fear what it may introduce. It does not stand on entrenched ground, or make any pretence to a position; it does but occupy the [ metaichmion ], the space between contending powers, Catholic truth and Rationalism; neither of these owning it, or making account of it, or courting it; on the contrary, both feeling it to be a hindrance in the way of their engaging with each other, and impatiently waiting to be rid of it.
Then, indeed, will be the stern encounter, when two real and living principles, simple, entire, and consistent, one in the Church, the other out of it, at length rush upon each other, contending not for names and words, or half views, but for elementary notions and distinctive moral characters. Meanwhile the advocates of the motley Protestantism we have been describing, as if aware of its intrinsic hollowness and imbecility, are at this moment trying to make the most of their accidental advantages while they last; and would fain clench matters in their favour by such organic changes, whether in our discipline or services, or such accidental implications or authoritative explanations of doctrine, as the meeting of Convocation, or the erection of architectural memorials, or decisions in the law courts, would give them an opportunity for effecting.
Let us hear the author of "Ancient Christianity" on the prospective fortunes of this section of the religious world. They may, by the aid of peculiar considerations, drawn from the perils of the times, have brought themselves to believe that they seriously disaffect nothing in the ritual or constitution of the Church: and they may be satisfied with this or that elaborate explanation of certain difficulties; nevertheless the uneasiness, although assuaged, is not removed, for the difficulty is real, and its reality and its magnitude must be brought afresh before them, to the renewal of many painful conflicts of mind, whenever the genuine and original Church of England principle and discipline comes, as now, by the Oxford divines, to be insisted on, expounded, and carried on to its fair consequences.
What the English Reformers had in view was, Ancient Christianity, or the doctrine, and discipline, and ritual of the Nicene age, and of the times nearly preceding that age But how utterly different a notion of Christianity was that which animated the zeal of the founders of Methodism, and which in the main was caught by the fathers of the evangelical clergy! Holding to the same orthodoxy, the same Nicene and Athanasian doctrine, everything else in the two systems stands out as a point of distinction.
What parallels could be more incongruous, even to absurdity, than such as one might strive to institute, for instance, between Cyprian and Romaine, Tertullian and Milner, Chrysostom and Cecil, Augustine and Scott, Jerome and Newton? There is another consideration which should be dwelt upon.
It was long objected to the clergy that they were not a reading body; and much has been said, especially in attacks upon the Universities, concerning the profound attainments of German theologians. Sectarians have said much about our incumbents being in the commission of the peace or fox-hunters; thoughtful men have shaken their heads and come to the conclusion that it cannot be helped, the English being an active, not a studious race; and divinity professors have for years been doing what they could to revive the taste for reading.
It is no use reading, unless we read something that is of use. There is no sense in reading nonsense; and we may be sure, if men make up their minds to sacrifice society, and outdoor amusements, and active employments, that they will not do so for the drudgery of reading newspapers, periodicals, novels, annuals, Exeter Hall divinity, et id genus , unless they be very ascetically disposed. If men resign themselves to being students in theology, they will read theological works.
They will not read Milner or Scott, whatever their merits; they will read Hooker, Taylor, Barrow, Waterland, Wall, Bingham; and that, not to take for granted every word of each of these writers, which would be impossible, but in order to gain general notions what theology is. At the same time, unless they set themselves altogether against them and reject them in toto , as some extreme persons do, their views of religion must be influenced by them,—must become very different from those which are now popular,—very much more primitive, very like what religionists of the day call Popery.
No one of any party denies, for instance, that Hooker says many things strange to our present notions of divinity; all that ultra-Protestants say in explanation is, that the leaven of Popery was not at that day worked out of the Church. We hold it to be a matter of fact which no one can doubt, that if a man strictly confined himself to the very letter of Hooker or of Taylor, he would be as seriously accused of Popery by the multitude, and as plausibly, as Mr. Palmer or Mr.
But to return to Hooker and Taylor; they must be studied, it seems; and why, except because they are of name?
Are they likely to turn out men of weak reasonings, inaccurate statements, fanciful theories? It is not so much the stance Gallagher takes that is troubling, but rather his failure to mention or even reference the debates that have characterised the field for almost 40 years. Other omissions include reference to the leading historians in the field of post-Reformation English Catholicism, whilst the work of literary critics has been prioritised.
Marotti looks at Catholic responses to the Protestant charges of idolatry and engages with literary manifestations of the controversy found within John Foxe, Nicholas Sander, John Donne and Ben Jonson — to cite just a few of his wide-ranging examples. For reformers, spiritual seeing needed to become an intellectual exercise as opposed to sensuous one. Yet this needs to be central to the argument rather than mentioned amidst the final points of a suggestive conclusion.
In chapter three Frances Dolan examines equivocation, an issue pertinent to early modern debates surrounding torture and treason. Dolan analyses two texts: the official account of the treason trial of Henry Garnet, A True and Perfect Relation and the later, lesser-known Confession and Execution of Leticia Wigington Moreover the converts themselves explained their conversions in similar terms either for example as the result of foreign travel William Chillingworth, p.
Chapters six, seven and eight are the most literary in the volume. Kuchar highlights that the alchemical vision found in much late-Elizabethan poetry across confessions was translated and adapted to the demands of post-Tridentine penance. According to Jensen, the composition and performance of carols in these Catholic households demonstrates how Catholic teachings were channelled through educated laity and how popular religious practices associated with Christmas took on a renewed theological and polemical significance as the 17th century progressed pp.