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HINTS TO ADMIRERS OF BEAUTIFUL CHURCHES.
[NOTE.—The writer would wish not to be misunderstood. A due and sober
regard for strength, beauty, symmetry, and dignity, ought to be observed in buildings designed for the worship of God. It is the Tractarian and Popish use of art in the decoration of churches, whether in carvings, sculptures, paintings—and also their elaborate pedantry in design and mystic meanings, which the writer would condemn. And this is entirely characteristic of a meretricious devotion, and a spurious profession of love to God and honour for his Name. The expressions of devotion which spring from the true faith of our own pure and holy Church, are, and ought to be, chastely simple and solemn. Real religion is unobtrusive, and averse to needless pomp; while, on the other hand, it never shuns the light, nor hides the light of truth committed to her keeping. It does not maintain the doctrine of “reserve," where God has said “preach," “ proclaim,” “ declare,” 6 publish”—nor does it, with all the affectation of pretended zeal for his glory, busy itself most officiously, most laboriously, in working out a system of mystery and symbolism in things of lesser importance. It is the glory of Christianity that it unveils the types and shadows of the Old Testament, and shows them completely fulfilled in Him who is the Light of the World.
THERE is something very much to be guarded against in the admiration and veneration we all naturally feel in visiting beautiful old churches. They are beautiful as works of art, they are curious and interesting as historical monuments, they are venerable from their antiquity, and full of hallowed associations when we think of them as having been for so many ages set apart for the worship of God. But we must remember that as to the spiritual communion with God of the truly humble and single-hearted wor shipper, and as to the promised presence of the Lord “wheresoever two or three are gathered together in his name"-we must remember that Gothic arches and painted windows have nothing whatever to do with either the one or the other. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” This spiritual worship can equally be offered where Gothic arches and painted windows are, or where they are not. Is he a whit the more present with us in a cathedral than in a poor chamber? Or a whit the less present in one than in the other to those who “ seek him"? Do we think about the bravery of the building, or its ornaments, when we are really praying to him and praising him? And doth he, “who dwelleth
not in temples made with hands”he who “inhabiteth eternity,” yet who condescendeth to dwell in the contrite and humble heart—doth he manifest himself the more or the less to that heart, according to the grandeur or beauty of the place where he calleth upon him? No, no! Let us not deceive ourselves. Let us not willingly encourage fanciful delusions, which may be called the religion of flesh and blood, a religion very agreeable and flattering to the pride of human nature. A worldly, unconverted heart can enter into the beauties of sacred works of art; and feeling them deeply, perhaps, with all the enthusiasm of a sensitive and imaginative mind, it may think that this is religion, when it is only admiration of the works of human hands-perhaps, alas, even accompanied with self-gratulation and self-complacency at their own offerings to God. Let us, then, be on our guard when we enter places of this kind; and mistake not the greatest beauty that human art can reach, for that beauty which the Lord is pleased to behold, which he himself has formed, in the lowly and contrite, the simple and single heart, trusting alone in the righteousness of Christ; the heart purified and sanctified by his own Holy Spirit; the heart in which he dwells and
reigns—or in a blessed company of of Rome knows full well for its own such worshippers met together in his purposes, how to take advantage of name.
the fact) how exceedingly alluring to We should soon find that there is the eye and pleasing to the mind is something more human than divine, beautiful form of every kind. But it more earthly than heavenly, more is a pleasure not of an abstract or from an enlightened intellect than a spiritual kind-it is something much truly converted heart, in over-much lower, although it is undoubtedly a attention to the ornamental part of very harmless and even profitable church architecture, if we candidly source of enjoyment when rightly studied the subject with the Bible in used. It certainly can never assist our hands, and no selfish, secondary towards raising devotion, or spiritualmotive swaying our pursuit of truth. izing the aspirations of the soul after As a practical proof of this, how often God himself. But it may lower, it of late years have we beheld the sad may interrupt the high aim of faithspectacle of the greatest anxiety with it may so amuse the eye as utterly to regard to the building, and utter in- call off the mind from those solemn difference to those “living stones,” engagements which are the noblest the souls of men, who are to worship and highest acts of the immortal there. Whether it be filled or not soul, and yet which ought to be as with these living stones, or if it should its native element. be what we are to hear there, are The Shechinah dwelt of old in the matters of secondary importance. The Temple at Jerusalem; a Temple built form of the Cross is much talked of, in every respect, and in every part, but full and true statements of the according to the immediate directions doctrines connected with him who of the Most High-yet it imported died thereon, are seldom, if ever, emblematically of a glory that should heard-excepting in that pure and surpass it, because more entirely evangelical Liturgy which they can- spiritual,) under the New Testament not, as yet at least, take away. There Dispensation. While the first Temple may be the greatest correctness of was still standing, “Thus saith the Ecclesiastical taste, combined with Lord, The heaven is my throne and utter ignorance of the spiritual needs the earth is my footstool: where is and affections of a soul“ athirst for the house that ye build unto me? and the living God." There is indeed where is the place of my rest? For great danger from many and various all those things hath mine hand made, causes, of such a soul being distract- and all those things have been, saith ed from that pursuit of our only real the Lord: but to this man will I good; and there are no hindrances look, even to him that is poor and of so plausible as those which may be a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my cunningly brought forward as if in word.” (Is. lxvi. 1, 2.) And again, aid of true religion, by that Serpent, Thus saith the high and lofty One, who would, through his subtlety, be- that inhabiteth eternity, whose name guile us from the simplicity which is is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy in Christ Jesus.
place, with him also that is of a conConstituted as the human mind is trite and humble spirit, to revive the at present, it is far more inclined to spirit of the humble, and to revive act through the senses, than through the heart of the contrite ones.” (Is. faith. Churches are intended for the
lvii. 15.) “ God manifest in the flesh" pure, spiritual service of him, whom spake of the temple of his body, when we now can only know by faith, or he foretold his resurrection: thus exworship by faith. The mind, and plaining to us one of the typical deheart, and soul in worshipping God signs of the Temple at Jerusalem. is therefore engaged in a highly ab- But how clearly did he show unto stract and spiritual employment, yea, the woman of Samaria, that not even the highest and most abstract of which the Temple of Jerusalem, nor any our nature is capable. Now we all other specified place, was from henceknow by experience (and the Church forth to be considered as the only
place where men could worship the entirely spiritual, for it has to do with Father. (See John iv. 23, 24.) And spiritual objects, and is a light superby his Apostle Paul he hath declared added to nature, and far above it; for of believers in him, “ Ye are the tem- it makes manifest truths which naple of God, and the Spirit of God ture's light had never discovered. dwelleth in you.”. (See 1 Cor. iii
. 16, Faith is as the substitute for sight in and vi. 19.) This is in accordance things which we dare not, and could with the gracious promises to his not, if we dared, attempt to represent disciples before he was taken from
to the bodily eye.
“ Faith is the subthem, which are recorded in the latter stance of things hoped for, the evidence chapters of St. John's Gospel-assur- of things not seen." But the faith of ing and re-assuring them of his send- such minds as those of which we are ing the Comforter unto them, which speaking, must, in fact, be more akin is the Holy Ghost, and his declaring to imagination than anything worthy to them, '“ He dwelleth with you, the name of true faith. Imagination, and shall be in you.” Thus it is that a quality native to the human mind the whole body of faithful believers (highly useful and necessary), is far constitute his true Church-a living below divinely imparted faith. Its temple, a spiritual house made up of offices, its ends, its objects, and its living stones, built upon the tried food also, are all far inferior to those corner-stone, the sure foundation, of which faith alone can take cogniChrist Jesus, (1 Pet. ï. 4, &c.) “in zance. Imagination is indeed, if I whom all the building fitly framed to- may so speak, a sensual operation of gether groweth unto an holy temple in the mind; for the mind imagines the Lord : in whom ye also are build- nothing (we are told) without some ed together for an habitation of God similarity to objects which our senses through the Spirit.” (Eph, ii. 21, 22.) had before represented to us. ImaAnd thus it is also that his true gination therefore may well be fed by Church, this living temple, is called the arts; but not so can faith be “his body, the fulness of him that nourished. Imagination will certainly filleth all in all.” Oh, what a sub- be refined and purified, the more ject for highest and holiest medita- sacred and truly Christian are the tion! What an unspeakable honour subjects on which it dwells; but this and privilege to be permitted to hope is an object which should be gained to be even the smallest stone of this in its own proper places and proper temple! a temple built without the times. Churches are not schools of sound of axe or hammer, but by the art, but nurseries of faith. Imaginasilent and effectual working of the tion is said to be creative of art-it Spirit. Oh, what an awful and holy may indeed create its own food, and jealousy should it inspire over our feed on its own creation, both being but thoughts, and affections, and lives, representations of human ideas of inand conversation, that we may indeed visible things, in other words, of endeavour to “walk worthy of the really present, of visible, of tangible vocation whereunto we are called”_ things, transposed according to the called to be members of that Church unwarranted and sometimes prewhich is his body, in which, with all sumptuous fancy of the artist. Therethe fulness of the Spirit, he deigns to fore it is that bringing the art of dwell.
painting to the decoration of churches It must needs be that those whose may, it is true, feed the imagination, faith (so called) is so sensual as to but it does not strengthen faith; require assistance from forms and and that those who would thus trust figures now, in this day of types ful- to the aid of the arts, know more filled, can know very little about faith. of imagination than of true faith. We must ever remember, that “ faith Imagination can only be properly exis the gift of God,” and that, in reality, ercised where the mind is at liberty there cannot be any other faculty or to form its own ideas, and to expatiate power whereby the human mind can at will; but this can never be the apprehend revealed truth. Faith is case with those solemn truths which
are revealed to us, but revealed under and the more chastened will the imaevery solemn guard. Wheresoever gination become : and will not for an the Lord reveals himself unto us, there instant presume to intrude where faith is it holy ground; “Put off thy shoes alone, God's own implanted witness from off thy feet”—think not with the in the soul, can hear his voice, and common faculties of thy nature un- hold communion with him. blamed to draw nigh. No! the purer
ColumB. E. T. R. and the truer faith is, the humbler,
LETTER TO A CLERGYMAN,
WHO REQUESTED A CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS RESTORING AN ANCIENT
GOTHIC CHURCH TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE.
DEAR SIR,-I have delayed thus men's hands,” and that “repentance” long answering your letter, not is the only requisite for the spiritual through carelessness or neglect, but service that God now requires. because I feel some scruples as to Now, though I write thus, pray do complying with your request, and yet suppose
that I think you are inam most unwilling to refuse it. volved in the ignorance at which I
I confess I have much jealousy hint; far from it, my only object is to with respect to the restoration of show the ground of my jealousy, and churches, for that too often means it must be admitted that I am not putting them into the same state in jealous without a cause. For surely which they were in the times of it is too notorious that the unrenewed Popery, and so making them ready heart of man ever shrinks from spifor the reception of Papists again. ritual worship, and strives to satisfy
Again, the adorning of churches or lull the conscience by honouring induces the notion in many, that God and serving God not according to his is honoured thereby, which, I appre- word, but according to its own dehend, is plainly contrary to Protestant vices. I hold it then to be our duty and Bible truth.
not to put a temptation or a stumbling Even under the Jewish dispensa- block in the way of any man; but I tion, how carefully did the Almighty fear we do tempt many, when we prohibit every instrument of worship divert their attention from the great that he himself did not exactly pre- truths of the Gospel, by objects which scribe! The strict injunction was, excite the lust of the eye and the pride “ Thou shalt not add thereto, nor of life. Whether a Protestant temple diminish therefrom.” (Deut. xii.) be of the Gothic or Grecian style I The Temple at Jerusalem and its care not; but, I venture to say, it services were all typical of Gospel cannot be too plain and simple. truths, and when they were fulfilled. Every thing should be done to prothey ceased; and I cannot find in any mote not merely the convenience but part of the New Testament any sanc- the comfort of the congregation; the tion, much less any command, to ventilation and the warming of the glorify God by means of hewn stones building should be carefully attended and painted windows.
It always to, and the seats should be so arstruck me as very remarkable, that ranged that the worshippers may best St. Paul, when standing amidst the join in common prayer, and hear noblest specimens of architectural the preaching of the word of life. The science, declared the great truth that object and purpose of the building “ the Lord of heaven and earth should be kept in view, and if possible dwelleth not in temples made with accomplished, but further 'I dare hands, neither is worshipped with
I do not say you should not remove your sash windows, if you can introduce others more in character with the building, and which at the same time will admit the light freely and keep out the wintry blast ; but I am sure you will sacrifice much to the eye,
you substitute the leaden casement and small diamond panes of the
expending money in the mere adorning of churches, and that is the dearth of churches and of ministers, of which we have so much cause to complain. We of the Church of England are not turbulent enough to get a portion of the grant which is given to Maynooth. Trusting you will excuse the freedom with which I write, believe, &c.
W. C. W. Stella Hall.
There is another argument against
LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
Sir,--- In the month of July, 1844, clothe his immortal spirit with the you have inserted an account of the
garments of salvation a glorious death of Miss in which
is dress, without spot, or wrinkle, or also included the statement of an event any such thing. Is not this a brand which took place in Ireland, regarding plucked from the burning ! a poor man, who tendered his services O dear friends, let us not be weary to a party en route to the Giant's Cause- in well doing ; cast thy bread on the way, as a guide to one of the inter- waters, for thou shalt find it when and esting scenes on the Antrim coast. where thou dost least expect it. Little That event has been followed by so did I think, when wending my way remarkable an occurrence, that I can- over the ploughed field with my comnot but think a statement will be panion in his many-coloured garment, highly gratifying to your readers, and, that his bright testimony of a SaI trust, an encouragement to the viour's righteousness, should be made feeblest attempt to speak
a word in
the instrument of guiding a highly season.” The particulars, as stated in gifted sinner to the Lamb of God, the former paper, were related by me that taketh away the sins of the world. to a relative at Belfast, through whom The surges of the sea have now been it came to the hearing of Dr. in passed by both these individuals; that place, a man of distinguished safely in the haven of eternal rest are talent and high reputation among the they now landed. The pilgrim guide Socinians. He was struck with the may have welcomed the ransomed account, and wished much for the soul, as a seal to his simple testimony, whole of the hymn—"Jesus, thy blood on the confines of the Giant's Causeand righteousness,” a verse only of way. Resting in the bosom of a Sawhich was related. My friend wrote viour, he hears no more the “ to me for it, but the application es- waters roll,” the billows of the deep caped my memory, and I neglected are passed, and the sweet fields of sending it; but so great was the de- Canaan's happy land are exchanged sire excited to procure it, that at for the rough and thorny road through length a lady was found who was which the pilgrim trod in Erin's trouacquainted with it. She came with
bled coast. the hymn to the Doctor; he was then If not trespassing too much on on his death-bed; as she read, he your pages, allow me here to add an every now and then responded, “how event of somewhat peculiar character. sweet, how sweet,” and casting his A poor man lived in our parish who whole soul upon the Saviour of sin- was deprived of his understanding by ners, died a believer in that Jesus a fever, when about four or five and whose blood and righteousness now twenty. He had been a good scho