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that such choir as does exist should instantly be abolished. Oh, that miserable compound of unhallowed levity, impracticable self-conceit, and pretensious pedantry, which, sheet of music in hand, often occupies the organ loft, or as it is then more properly called the "orchestra,” in our Churches ! It is little to the credit of religion that the singers, it may be, of the free concert-room, or the casino on the week-day, should lead the praises of the Sabbath. And yet, practically, the result is little better, when highly artistic services
“performed,” however correctly, by decent and surpliced choristers. I would not willingly give expression to an uncharitable judgment, but I feel that I ought not to shrink from recording a deep conviction, which is founded not on prejudice, for it would rather lead me in an opposite direction, but on the observation of many years. However undesirable it is that cultivated taste should be offended by debased and screaming psalmody, still the growth of spiritual religion is not favoured by a large and preponderating importation even of the best music into worship. I find that, wherever this practice prevails, men become less careful for worship itself than for the manner of it. They will probably, indeed, themselves confess that, apart from such artificial stimulation, devotion languishes and dies; which is only too sure a proof that they are strangers to its living power. Accompaniments, too, will be seldom wanting, such as point towards a declension from “the simplicity that is in Christ.” The tendency is to run into a mere external ritualism—and that is death indeed.
II. Of Architecture I have already said a passing word, to which time warns me that little can be added now.
I am bound to confess, however, that I never was able to understand how it is for God's glory that we should meet for His worship in buildings, of which, if they were to be used for any secular purpose, we should be positively ashamed;
unless indeed it be true, as doubtless it sometimes is, that such buildings represent after all a loving and worthy effort on the part of some impoverished community, who have done their utmost in erecting them. Where this is so, God forbid that one should dare to criticise what He has unquestionably accepted, and what He surely lights up with His presence, and visits with His salvation. But apart from such extreme cases, there can be, I apprehend, no piety in disproportion-no necessary connexion between galleries and grace; and in naked whitewash, or paltry lath and plaster, no especial helps for worship. Nor do I think it for the soul's health that we should surround ourselves in our own dwellings, each according to his station, with more or less of artistic ornament; and forget all other considerations but those of a pinching parsimony, such as ignores every demand of taste and sentiment, in our provision for the house of prayer. Such was not the thought of him who would not “ dwell in an house of cedar, while the house of God dwelt in curtains ;” neither would he “ offer to God that which cost him nothing." And though God indeed dwells no longer in temples made with hands, and though His true sacrifice is a broken spirit, and no gifts are half so precious to Him as the prayer of the penitent and the poor; yet still, as I read the Gospel, He will not frown upon, but
, favour, the lavish offerings of love. I understand not otherwise the warm acceptance which loving Mary met for that " alabaster box of spikenard, very precious.” Unless it were meant to teach that there can be no waste at all in whatever the heart demands and the hand expends for Jesus, I know not why it is that “ wheresoever the Gospel is preached,” the thing which that woman did is “ told for a memorial of her.”
But for the rest, let your structure be not more rich and solid and beautiful, than it is chaste, and simple, and severe.
Let no gaudy glitter shame the place of your solemnities. Let no sensuous symbolism court the vagrant thought, and so imperil the spirituality of worship. Away with that would-be Altar, however gorgeous its outfit, which suggests another offering than that once offered on the cross, the which has " for ever perfected them that are sanctified !” Away, too, with that Popish Rood-screen, however elaborate its carvings, which allows the priest only an access to the Holiest of all; which ignores the true priesthood of all Christian people; and which exiles God from the nave and from the aisle, to shut Him up within the chancel ! And angels nodding overhead, and evil spirits trampled on beneath ; and words of Holy Writ enscrolled, not legibly and unto edifying, but only used, in irreverent folly, as mere architectural decorations; and grinning monsters, too, in reredos, or corbel, or gargoyle, caricatures of God's creation, in God's own holy house-away, I say, with all of them! In a word, let the house of prayer be so fair in all its features, so like an earthly threshold to the upper sanctuary, that on every account alike, if it be possible, it shall be in the heart to say, “A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand!” Let it so possess an atmosphere and breathe a sentiment of its own, and let everything it presents withal be so plainly in the interests of truth and righteousness, that it shall seem to be written on every wall, “ This is none other than the house of God;" and men shall enter in with lowly step, and bated breath, as to seek audience of a present Saviour.
III. Of all the Arts, the relations of the art of Sculpture with Religion seem to be the most obscure and remote. I know not whether this is distinguishable or no in the seeming specialty which some have discovered in the commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image;" but I do know that wherever any sculpture is introduced in our Churches, except that which confines itself strictly to mouldings, traceries, bosses, and other matters of mere decoration, the effect to my own mind is nearly always most unhappy. I never saw an angel yet appear to any advantage who was sculptured even in the most massive oak, or in the richest marble, or the finest Caen stone. Nor does it help me at all to appreciate the true terrors of the powers of darkness, to see them embodied in the misshapen forms to which I have before alluded. There are doubtless some exquisite pulpits, which are very marvels in sculpture; but somehow or other they almost invariably present something offensive to taste ortruth. Verbruggen's masterpiece, for instance, in the Cathedral at Brussels, represents the history of the Fall otherwise with no little beauty, but above is the Virgin directing her infant child to crush with the foot of the cross the head of the serpent! Nothing can be more utterly abominable than the cage-like Purgatories, with their solid souls in gilded flames, which disfigure the noble entrances to many foreign Churches. And the crucifix, that staple of religious sculpture, apart from all other objections, and regarded but as a work of Art, is almost in every case an unpardonable failure. Many a time as I have looked on the emaciated and distorted form which is meant to set forth the world's Redeemer, in the very act of redemption, I could have almost imagined that it was rather some hideous Fetish of the heathen which had been set up before me; and in all the falsehood of the representation, all the vulgarity of the conception, and all the coarseness of the exposure, I have felt as if the Son of God was visibly “crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.” For the rest, I do not see that there is much gain for religion in those monuments to the dead which sometimes occupy so large.a space in churches; and in which too often the heathen emblems of inverted torch, or funereal urn, or weeping cypress, preserves a sad consistency with the fulsome and unchristian epitaph. The confession which I am about to make may be at variance with the popular sentiment, and expose me perhaps to some degree of censure. But for myself I am bound to acknowledge that Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's would be to me at least quite as solemn in their aspect, if, maintaining still the purity of their primitive architectural outlines, they were more like places simply where prayer is wont to be made, and had ceased to be to so large an extent chiefly galleries of statuary. The tombs of kings and heroes, of statesmen and poets and historians, ay,
and of artists too, I value as much as any man for the honour done in them to the mighty dead, and for the associations that hang around them.
But not even to say that many of them represent at best a most debased type of Art, I would rather visit them if it might be within a structure set apart for themselves; or at any rate I would confine them within the antechambers of our holy places. I would rather be without their presence where we actually meet for worship.
To repeat what I have said already. So far at any rate as my own observation extends, the presence of sculpture within the Church, except in the form of enrichment only, has rarely much to recommend it. The true relations between Religion and Sculpture, in its higher walks, amount probably to this, that Revelation supplies many a subject which might form a most legitimate study for the sculptor. But, for whatever reason, it is certain that he, above all the sons of Art, has dealt hitherto both the most abstemiously and also the least successfully in holy things.
IV. I come now to painting. And here I begin by saying that while the subject is a large one, still there are certain clear limits within which we may confine our atten.