Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

graphical inquiries, but shall take leave of the subject, after extracting as a specimen of Mr. Milner's work, his remarks upon the present condition of Thyatira, which is still a considerable place under the name of Akhissar (White Castle).

6. The appearance of Thyatira, as we approached,” says Mr. Arundell, “ was that of a very long line of cypresses, poplars, and other trees, amidst which appeared the minarets of several mosques and the roofs of a few houses at the right. On the left, a view of distant hills, the line of which continued over the town; and at the right, adjoining the town, was a low hill, with two ruined windmills.” Thyatira is indebted for its preservation and comparatively flourishing state, to its trade and situation. Its plain is still as much celebrated for its fertility, as it was when Antiochus mustered his host upon it, for the fatal encounter with Scipio; and travellers have remarked, that its dyes are still as famous as when Lydia sold its purple in Philippi. “ It is its trade,” says Ricaut, “ the crystalline waters, cool and sweet to the taste, and light on the stomach, the wholesome air, the rich and delightful country, which cause this city so to flourish in our days, and to be more happy than her other desolate and comfortless sisters."

"The luxuriant vegetation of Asia Minor has excited the admiration of most Europeans; and the myrtle and the olive, which bloom upon its hills and plains, relieve the eye of the traveller, and form a striking contrast with the mouldering fragments of some of man's mightiest works, which are strewed around them. The white rose blossoms abundantly in the neighbourhood of Ak-hissar; the almond and the cypress wave in thick masses of verdure upon its plain ; and the spectator of an oriental landscape is impressively reminded by the natural beauty around him, that though the “glory of man" is compared to the flower of the field, yet nature is constantly renovating her productions, whilst the proudest efforts of human skill and labour sink into forgetfulness. The volumes of eastern travel have been singularly useful in illustrating the force and beauty of many passages of sacred writ. It is to the almond-tree that Solomon likens the silvery hair of age, and the white flowers which bloom upon its bare branches, shew the delicacy and justness of the similitude.

« The hope in dreams of a happier hour,

That alights on Misery's brow,
Springs out of the silvery almond flower,

That blows on a leafless bough.” • Jeremiah saw a “rod of an almond tree,” to intimate that the divine judgements were nigh at hand upon his people ; and the early appearance of its blossoms, awaking up to life and beauty, while nature is locked in the embrace of winter, explains the reference of the symbol. The prophet Zechariah saw “a man riding upon a red horse, among the myrtle-trees ;” and the large dimensions to which they arrive in the balmy climate of Asia, preserves the consistency of the vision.

• But this delightful district is no longer the undisputed domain of the church; and the Christian name, which was once its glory, is now

its shame and disgrace. The impressive tones of the muezzin, every where proclain the ascendancy of the prophet ; and the dark and dirty churches of the Greeks, exhibit mournful evidence of the corruption and degeneracy of a purer faith. Ak-hissar is under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Ephesus, who is the 'Aexregiùs; but what is called the religion of Christ, is but a round of insignificant and disgusting ceremonials. The missionary has indeed passed through it with the word of life ; but ignorance has created insensibility, and custom has induced prejudice, and in not a few instances the priest has coolly turned aside from the gift he has offered to dispense. A false religion lords it over the territory which Christianity wrenched from the grasp of Paganism ; and the miserable relic of the faith which now remains, exists in the scene of its splendid conquest, in a state of contempt and sufferance as great as when subject to the oppression of heathen Rome.' pp. 285–287.

Art. IV. A Plan of Church Reform. By Lord Henley. 8vo.

pp. 64. 17. London. 1832.

The madusty with ssion of astica]

THE beginning of the fifteenth century was signalized by the

* commencement of that long and desperate struggle between the hierarchy of this country and the Commons, which, in its issue, paved the way for the Reformation. Henry Bolingbroke, to secure his throne, 'was base enough,' remarks Mr. Turner, 'to 'bargain with the ecclesiastical power for its support, by pro

mising a suppression of the Lollards. By thus incorporating his dynasty with the corruptions and evils of the Papal hierarchy, he made one of these two alternatives inevitable ; either that the improvements of mankind should be intercepted, or that the so'vereignty of his house should cease; a mad and desperate stake,

which could only have the issue that ensued. The Boling• brokes disappeared, and the Reformation proceeded. .... « The support which Henry gave to the established hierarchy, • did not wholly preclude his parliament from attempting to re• form it. .. As these attacks of the Commons were obviously 'but the prelude to others, the Chancellor, in his speech to the 'parliament, on the next session, declared that the King had com'manded him to state, that it was the royal will, that Holy • Church should be maintained as it had been in the times of his progenitors, with all its liberties and franchises ; that every kingdom resembled a human body, and that the right side was the church, the left the temporal powers, and the other members the commonalty of the nation. The House of Commons heard the mandatory rebuke, but immediately addressed the King to remove his confessor and two others from his household." *

* Turner's History of England, Vol. II. 4to. pp. 265, 6; 268, 9.

This was conceded; but, when the Commons renewed the attack
on the clergy, they were forbidden to discuss such subjects. They
persevered to request, however, that the bloody statute enacted
against the Lollards might be repealed or modified, and were an-
swered, that it ought to be made more severe. To check this
troublesome spirit of reform, Henry had projected a crusade when
death surprised him; and the contest was renewed with more de-
termined violence on the part of the Church in the reign of his
successor. To this posture of affairs, Shakspeare refers with that
admirable combination of dramatic conception and historic truth
which generally distinguishes his illustrations of English story.
The dialogue between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
Bishop of Ely about the reform-bill of the Commons, is so per-
fectly natural, that one might fancy it to have occurred in Lam-
beth Palace not a year ago.
Cant. My lord, I'll tell you, that self bill is urged,

Which, in the eleventh year o' the last king's reign,
Was like, and had indeed against us passed,
But that the scambling and unquiet time

Did push it out of further question.
· Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
Cant. It must be thought on. If it pass against us,

We lose the better half of our possession. ... Ely. But what prevention ? · Cant. The king is full of grace and fair regard.

Ely. And a true lover of the holy church.
Cant. The courses of his youth promised it not.

The breath no sooner left his father's body,
But that his wildness, mortified in him,

Seemed to die too.
Ely.

We are blessed in the change. ...
But how for mitigation of this bill
Urged by the Commons ? Doth his majesty

Incline to it, or no ?
· Cant. He seems indifferent ;

Or, rather, swaying more upon our part,
Than cherishing the exhibiters against us:
For 1 bave made an offer to his majesty,

As touching France, '—&c. To put down the spirit of reform, a war with France is decided upon; and the Archbishop promises to raise such a mighty sum as 'never did the clergy at one time bring in to his Majesty's ancestors,

We live in happier times. Four hundred years have not passed over England in vain. Protestantism, the immediate offspring of persecuted Lollardism, has acquired the ascendancy, civil and ecclesiastical. Yet still, strange to say, the contest between the

hierarchy and the commons has not terminated, but has only shifted its ground, and varied its character. The spirit of reform has slumbered and slept, but only to wake again ; and to find, on its waking, that abuses have thriven and multiplied in the interval. Not that no great and substantial reforms have taken place. There was a time when the hierarchy comprised the most powerful body in the state, and when the clergy possessed above * half the military fees, that is, of the landed property of the • kingdom.'* The Church was then a check upon the power of the nobles. At the Reformation, this balance of power was completely overthrown, and the magnates of the landed interest were bribed to Protestantism by the spoils of the church. Ever since that era, the hierarchy has been in complete subserviency to the interest which it had hitherto been able to restrain, and has been little more than a dependent branch of the aristocrasy. This circumstance has greatly changed the character of the contest. In former times, the nobles and the commons were to be seen united in their opposition against the secular clergy and the crown; or again, the Church, under the fostering wings of which the class of free citizens and burghers was reared, might be beheld taking part with the people against feudal despotism. But, since the subjection of the Church to the aristocrasy, (the greatest revolution that could possibly take place in its political relations, the only party left to oppose the hierarchy, has been, of course, the democratic interest, and the only party interested in the perpetuity of the hierarchy is the landed interest.

Such is the present state of the contending parties, as compared with those of other days, with this additional and most material circumstance of difference; that the great rival orders of religious teachers with which the secular clergy had to contend, prior to the Reformation, were within the Church : though unconnected with the hierarchy, and opposed to it, the mendicant orders were still recognized as equally belonging to the National Church. The suppression of those orders has thrown the religious instruction of the great body of the people mainly into the hands of religious denominations without the Church, and the place of the Dominicans and Franciscans may be said to have been filled up by the Methodists and the Dissenters.

With regard to the principal grounds of complaint against the parochial clergy, a great change has taken place. The scandalous immoralities, as well as the pomp, venality, and luxury, which disgraced both the secular and the regular clergy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, no longer form the matter of satire or invective. They would not now be tolerated. Yet it is

* Turner, Vol. II. p. 413.

remarkable, that some of the grievances complained of are substantially the same. Thus, in the address of the Commons against the clergy in the fourth year of Henry IV., they petitioned that ' every benefice should have a perpetual vicar, and that all per“sons advanced to benefices should be made to reside upon them, ' and to be hospitable to the poor.' This was more than four centuries ago. Yet even now, we find the noble and enlightened Author of this Plan of Church Reform affirming, that "the most • prominent evil in the Church is, the non-residence of the bene• ficed clergy and the system of pluralities.' No measure of • Church Reform,' his Lordship adds, 'can sustain any pretension to the consideration of the country, which does not, with a

due regard to vested interests, put an end to this evil and cor* rupt system.'

That the time has at length arrived, when Church Reform can no longer be evaded, is the conviction of all parties. It is a happy circumstance, that the moral reform that has taken place in the characters of the clergy, together with the removal of the odious and oppressive civil distinctions so long an instrument of oppression and a source of irritation, will considerably tend to mitigate the violence of hostility against the system, by divesting it of the character of personal animosity. "Nothing but the most absolute infatuation on the part of the ecclesiastical proprietors and the rulers of the hierarchy, can lead them, by blindly opposing necessary reforms, to waken a spirit of determined resentment. The temperate, yet faithful remonstrance and counsel contained in the present pamphlet, coming from an individual whose benevolence and piety ennoble him still more than his title, must make, one would think, a powerful impression upon all who are capable of dispassionately considering the subject, and of understanding the signs of the times.

A conviction', says Lord Henley, 'has for some time been gaining ground among the best friends of the Church, that several Corruptions exist in it, which secularize and debase its spirit, contract the sphere of its usefulness, and loosen its hold on the affections and veneration of the People. They consider that its well-being depends upon a timely and judicious Correction of Abuses, which some affirm to be of such a nature and magnitude, as to threaten its existence as an Establishment. And it is frequently declared, that the time has arrived, when the appointed Guardians of its Interests should come forward with some more extensive and some more vital measure of Reformation, than any which has yet been communicated to the Country.

Many, however, of the wise and good, while they are deeply conscious of the existence of these evils, are, nevertheless, afraid to countenance an ethicacious Plan of Reform, lest the whole of the venerable fabric be endangered in the process of its reparation ; a sentiment just, prudent, and righteous, and entitled to the most respectful and the most affectionate deference. The problem, therefore, which is to

« EdellinenJatka »