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LECTURE IV.

THE HERO AS PRIEST. LUTHER; REFORMATION : KNOX;

PURITANISM.

[Friday, 15th May 1840.]

OUR present discourse is to be of the Great Man as Priest. We have repeatedly endeavoured to explain that all sorts of Heroes are intrinsically of the same material; that given a great soul, open to the Divine Significance of Life, then there is given a man fit to speak of this, to sing of this, to fight and work for this, in a great, victorious, enduring manner; there is given a Hero,—the outward shape of whom will depend on the time and the environment he finds himself in. The Priest too, as I understand it, is a kind of Prophet; in him too there is required to be a light of inspiration, as we must name it. He presides over the worship of the people ; is the Uniter of them with the Unseen Holy. He is the spiritual Captain of the people; as the Prophet is their spiritual King with many captains : he guides them heavenward, by wise guidance through this Earth and its work. The ideal of him is, that he too be what we can call a voice from the unseen Heaven ; interpreting, even as the Prophet did, and in a more familiar manner unfolding the same to men. The unseen Heaven,the 'open secret of the Universe,'—which so few have an eye for! He is the Prophet shorn of his more awful splendour; burning with mild equable radiance, as the enlightener of daily life. This, I say, is the ideal of a Priest. So in old times ; so in these, and in all times. One knows very weli that, in reducing ideals to practice, great latitude of tolerance is needful ; very great. But a Priest who is not this at all, who does not any longer aim or try to be this, is a character of whom we had rather not speak in this place.

to go.

Luther and Knox were by express vocation Priests, and did faithfully perform that function in its common sense. Yet it will suit us better here to consider them chiefly in their historical character, rather as Reformers than Priests. There have been other Priests perhaps equally notable, in calmer times, for doing faithfully the office of a Leader of Worship; bringing down, by faithful heroism in that kind, a light from Heaven into the daily life of their people ; leading them forward, as under God's guidance, in the way wherein they were

But when this same way was a rough one, of battle, confusion and danger, the spiritual Captain, who led through that, becomes, especially to us who live under the fruit of his leading, more notable than any other. He is the warfaring and battling Priest; who led his people, not to quiet faithful labour as in smooth times, but to faithful valorous conflict, in times all violent, dismembered : a more perilous service, and a more memorable one, be it higher or not. These two men we will account our best Priests, inasmuch as they were our best Reformers. Nay I may ask, Is not every true Reformer, by the nature of him, a Priest first of all ? He appeals to Heaven's invisible justice against Earth's visible force ; knows that it, the invisible, is strong and alone strong. He is a believer in the divine truth of things ; a seer, seeing through the shows of things; a worshipper, in one way or the other, of the divine truth of things; a Priest, that is. If he be not first a Priest, he will never be good for much as a Reformer.

Thus then, as we have seen Great Men, in various situations, building-up Religions, heroic Forms of human Existence in this world, Theories of Life worthy to be sung by a Dante, Practices of Life by a Shakspeare,–

-we are now to see the reverse process; which also is necessary, which also may be carried-on in the Heroic manner. Curious how this should be necessary : yet necessary it is. The mild shining of the Poet's light has to give place to the fierce lightning of the Reformer : unfortunately the Reformer too is a personage that cannot fail in History! The Poet indeed, with his mildness, what is he but the product and ultimate adjustment of Reform, or Prophecy, with its fierceness ? No wild Saint Dominics and Thebaïd Eremites, there had been no melodious Dante ; rough Practical Endeavour, Scandinavian and other, from Odin to Walter Raleigh, from Ulfila to Cranmer, enabled Shakspeare to speak. Nay the finished Poet, I remark sometimes, is a symptom that his epoch itself has reached perfection and is finished ; that before long there will be a new epoch, new Reformers needed.

Doubtless it were finer, could we go along always in the way of music; be tamed and taught by our Poets, as the rude creatures were by their Orpheus of old. Or failing this rhythmic musical way, how good were it could we get so much as into the equable way ; I mean, if peaceable Priests, reforming from day to day, would always suffice us! But it is not so ; even this latter has not yet been realised. Alas, the battling Reformer too is, from time to time, a needful and inevitable phenomenon. Obstructions are never wanting: the very things that were once indispensable furtherances become obstructions; and need to be shaken-off, and left behind us,-a business often of enormous difficulty. It is notable enough, surely, how a Theorem or spiritual Representation, so we may call it, which once took-in the whole Universe, and was completely satisfactory in all parts of it to the highly-discursive acute intellect of Dante, one of the greatest in the world,—had in the course of another century become dubitable to common intellects; become deniable; and is now, to every one of us, flatly incredible, obsolete as Odin's Theorem ! To Dante, human Existence, and God's ways with men, were all well represented by those Malebolges, Purgatorios; to Luther not well. How was this? Why could not Dante's Catholicism continue; but Luther's Protestantism must needs follow ? Alas, nothing will continue.

I do not make much of • Progress of the Species,' as handled in these times of ours; nor do I think you would care to hear much about it. The talk on that subject is too often of the most extravagant, confused sort. Yet I may say, the fact itself seems certain enough; nay we can trace-out the inevitable necessity of it in the nature of things. Every man, as I have stated somewhere, is not only a learner but a doer : he learns with the mind given him what has been; but with the same mind he discovers farther, he invents and devises somewhat of his own. Absolutely without originality there is no man. No man whatever believes, or can believe, exactly what his grandfather believed : he enlarges somewhat, by fresh discovery, his view of the Universe, and consequently his Theorem of the Universe,—which is an infinite Universe, and can never be embraced wholly or finally by any view or Theorem, in any conceivable enlargement : he enlarges somewhat, I say: finds somewhat that was credible to his grandfather incredible to him, false to him, inconsistent with some new thing he has discovered or observed. It is the history of every man; and in the history of Mankind we see it summed-up into great historical amounts,-revolutions, new epochs. Dante's Mountain of Purgatory does not stand in the ocean of the other Hemisphere,' when Columbus has once sailed thither! Men find no such thing extant in the other Hemisphere. It is not there. It must cease to be believed to be there. So with all beliefs whatsoever in this world, -all Systems of Belief, and Systems of Practice that spring from these.

If we add now the melancholy fact, that when Belief waxes uncertain, Practice too becomes unsound, and errors, injustices and miseries everywhere more and more prevail, we shall see material enough for revolution. At all turns, a man who will do faithfully, needs to believe firmly. If he have to ask at every turn the world's suffrage ; if he cannot dispense with the world's suffrage, and make his own suffrage serve, he is a poor eye-servant; the work committed to him will be misdone. Every such man is a daily contributor to the inevitable downfall. Whatsoever work he does, dishonestly, with an eye to the outward look of it, is a new offence, parent of new misery to somebody or other. Offences accumulate till they become insupportable; and are then violently burst through, cleared off as by explosion. Dante's sublime Catholicism, incredible now in theory, and defaced still worse by faithless, doubting and dishonest practice, has to be torn asunder by a Luther ; Shakspeare's noble Feudalism, as beautiful as it once looked and was, has to end in a French Revolution. The accumulation of offences is, as we say, too literally exploded, blasted asunder volcanically ; and there are long troublous periods before matters come to a settlement again.

Surely it were mournful enough to look only at this face of the matter, and find in all human opinions and arrangements merely the fact that they were uncertain, temporary, subject to the law of death! At bottom, it is not so : all death, here too we find, is but of the body, not of the essence or soul; all destruction, by violent revolution or howsoever it be, is but new creation on a wider scale. Odinism was Valour; Christianism was Humility, a nobler kind of Valour. No thought that ever dwelt honestly as true in the heart of man but was an honest insight into God's truth on man's part, and has an essential truth in it which endures through all changes, an everlasting possession for us all. And, on the other hand, what a melancholy notion is that, which has to represent all men, in all countries and times except our own, as having spent their life in blind condemnable error, mere lost Pagans, Scandinavians, Mahometans, only that we might have the true ultimate knowledge! All generations of men were lost and wrong, only that this present little section of a generation might be saved and right. They all marched forward there, all generations since the beginning of the world, like the Russian soldiers into the ditch of Schweidnitz Fort, only to fill-up the ditch with their dead bodies, that we might march-over and take the place! It is an incredible hypothesis.

Such incredible hypothesis we have seen maintained with fierce emphasis ; and this or the other poor individual man, with his sect of individual men, marching as over the dead bodies of all men, towards sure victory : but when he too, with his hypothesis and ultimate infallible credo, sank into the ditch, and became a dead body, what was to be said ?Withal, it is an important fact in the nature of man, that he tends to reckon his own insight as final, and goes upon it as such. He will always do it, I suppose, in one or the other way; but it must be in some wider, wiser way than this. Are not all true men that live, or that ever lived, soldiers of the same army, enlisted, under Heaven's captaincy, to do battle against the same enemy, the empire of Darkness and Wrong? Why should we misknow one another, fight not against the enemy but against ourselves, from mere difference of uniform ? All uniforms shall be good, so they hold in them true valiant

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