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This spirit, we grieve to say, is not confined to one class of their writings. We have read, for instance, high admiration of that sanguinary saint, Cyril of Alexandria. If Laud, we should say, their great hero, or rather confessor, had had a wife and children, he would neither have cut off Prynne's ears, nor lost his own head.
On the general theory we will go further. They are best suited to minister to the sorrows of men who have been tried by those sorrows
Haud ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
It is not in the cell—it is not even in the home of the unmarried pastor—that deep sympathy is to be taught for the afflicted parent or bereaved father.
He talks to me who never had a child.
Take the gentlest village curé—a man by nature of the kindliest heart, and that heart softened by constant study of the Bible and books of quiet devotion-heightened, if you will, by the contemplation of His image on the cross, 'whose sorrow surpassed all human sorrow'—take him in age and personal familiarity the parent of his flock-yet there is one school in which his barren heart has not been taught; and that school will give more real experience, more skill in healing the wounds of others, more patient sympathy, more truth, and therefore more eloquence of language, than years of secluded study, or even of actual intercourse with the untried ills of life.
In our Church, and in all churches which have rejected the celibacy of the clergy, there are some advantages which in our present social state cannot be appreciated too highly. In thousands of parishes the clergyman’s wife is his best curate. She is not merely useful as multiplying the occasions of mutual kindness, but as an additional almoner, as the best instructress in the female school. Throughout the country there are thousands of females with all the gentleness and activity of sisters of charity, with the superior good sense and tenderness of mothers of families, ministering to the necessities and afflictions of the poor as females alone can minister. This quiet and noiseless system of beneficence is so completely a matter of course that it is often entirely overlooked in such discussions.
Even in modern missions the married will be not less steadfast, or more safe in his high calling than the unmarried. There will be exceptions to this rule, but still they are exceptions. Our modern missions are rarely among fierce and warlike tribes, such as were encountered by the apostles of the faith in the earlier and middle ages of Christianity. Among such lawless savages a female, besides the actual hardships under which her feebler frame might have sunk, must have been an object of deep and incessant anxiety: her perpetual exposure, unprotected, to worse evils than pain and death, would proscribe at once such enfeebling, such disqualifying companionship. There might, indeed, be imagined a female of that rare loftiness and imposing character which would have appealed to the awe and sanctity which the ancient Germans attached to the feminine character, accompanying the first missionary on the banks of the Elbe, or in the depths of the forest: a Christian Velleda might have gone by the side of St. Boniface, and assisted rather than embarrassed his great work. Female influence has been in various ways of no small moment in the conversion of the heathen; but in general the missionary must have confronted danger alone, and set forth unladen with a venture at once so precious and so insecure, upon his perilous voyage. But in modern missions there are rarely hardships which may not be borne by the missionary's wife as well as by himself; and his labours, if not actually promoted, are rarely impeded by such a companion. Tahiti at first would have been a delicate mission for an unmarried man: most, if not all, of the pious men who have laboured throughout Polynesia have been accompanied by their wives; and the Abbé Dubois might be quoted on certain dangers to which unmarried missionaries were especially ex
posed in India. Nearly all successful missionaries in the present day are settlers in the land where they have gone to propagate the faith, not itinerant and adventurous wanderers from tribe to tribe. Their family binds them still more closely to the scene of their labours. But these questions lie rather beyond our present consideration. We speak of the fixed resident clergy of an Established Church-each in his bishopric, bis ecclesiastical dignity, or his parish, holding an important position, and that position recognized and defined, in the social system.
Now we believe that the silent influence of one well-regulated family—as every candid person of whatever creed or party will admit that of the English clergyman usually to be—not abstaining from social intercourse, but not its slave, with the great Christian virtues of ordinary life quietly displayed, to have been, and to be, of far greater importance than many social influences of which more is thought and said. Some will, no doubt, have the foolish vanity of vying in expensive habits with their wealthier neighbours; some will be too much addicted even now to field-sports; others may be too much absorbed in the care and in the advancement of their families; but if pomp and profuse expenditure be wrong in a churchman, we are inclined to think that the English clergy inherit whatever can be traced among them of such habits from their predecessors, the unmarried clergy of former times. We doubt whether the wives and families of modern deans consume more, or more unprofitably, as far as regards the interests of religion, of the wealth of the Church, than the retainers, and apparelled steeds, and sumpter mules, of the lordly abbots of other days. The love of field-sports comes lineally down from those times when the prior or the secular priest might be seen with his hawk on his fist, or his hound in a leash; and however the nursery windows of our episcopal palaces, and so forth, may offend the architectural vision of Mr. Pugin, we are inclined to think that their withdrawal from the secular business, which, though much of it was of
necessity forced upon them, we do not find that they were too eager to decline, will give our clergy at least as much time as is usually devoted to their domestic concerns. If those domestic concerns are regulated according to St. Paul's precept, they are not merely beneficial to society as patterns of the holier and gentler virtues, but the growth of well-conducted Christian families is perpetually infusing into the mingled mass of society a leaven of sound, honourable, and religious principle. How much of the good old household virtue of England is due to this silent influence! How ill could we spare it in our present shifting and conflicting state of society!
Other considerations are closely connected with this great expansion of Christian families throughout the land. That which in feudal times would have been almost an unmitigated evil, an hereditary clergy, is now, partially as it exists, of great advantage. The families of the clergy furnish a constant supply of young men, trained at least by early respect and attachment, if not by deep and home-bred piety, for the service of the Church ; and yet not bearing that undue proportion to those who spring from the gentry, from other professions, the higher tradesmen, or others, as to form anything like a caste. In these days of crowded competition for every occupation, at least every occupation held in respect, their places might be supplied; but, if they were, we doubt whether, on the whole, by persons equally adapted for their station.
And as the moral and social, we are fully persuaded the religious, influence likewise of a married clergy is not only more extensive and lasting but of a more pure and practical cast. Jesuit morality would have been indignantly and instinctively rejected by a married clergy; they would have perceived at once its deep and deleterious operation on all the first principles of active life. Even cases of conscience have gone out of use in the English Church ; and though some of our great writers (as Jer. Taylor, in his · Ductor Dubitantium') applied their wonderful powers of mind to the science of
casuistry, honest English good sense, and English practical religion, felt with Bishop Butler, That in all ordinary cases we see intuitively at first view what is our duty, what is the honest part. That which is called considering what is our duty in a particular case is very often nothing else but endeavouring to explain it away. Thus those courses which, if men would fairly attend to the dictates of their own consciences, they would see to be corruption, excess, oppression, uncharitableness ; these are refined upon --things were so and so circumstantiated—great difficulties are raised about fixing bounds and degrees; and thus every moral obligation whatever may be evaded. Here is scope, I say, for an unfair mind to explain away every moral obligation, to itself. --Bp. Butler, Sermon vii.
There are other—the worst parts of this immoral moralityfrom which the being husbands and fathers would be an absolute security. What husband and father could have published what bishops in neighbouring countries have published within these few years ? Must he not have been compelled to conceal from his wife and children that which he sent forth with his name into the world ?
Shall we offend if we say that the secrets of fraudulent miracle would neither be safe, nor would they, we are persuaded, ever have been practised to a great extent under female confidence or that of a family? Men will hazard untruths before the world for certain objects, which they would not (so sacred is truth to the unperverted heart of man) before their own children. The cloister has always been the school, the workshop, of these impostures; they have been encouraged by a clergy standing aloof from the world, bound together by what has seemed a common interest, and even by mutual rivalry. The more the clergy are segregated from the world, the stronger the corporate spirit; and it would not be difficult to show from history, that where one of these false miracles has been wrought for the sake of Christ and his religion, twenty have been wrought for the separate power, authority, or estimation of the clergy.
But the celibacy of the clergy, it is argued, is the great