Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.

But as time went over him in his new position two things made themselves felt.  One was, that though there was a New Testament life, lived in the Roman Church with conspicuous truth and reality, yet the Roman Church, like the English, was administered and governed by men—­men with passions and faults, men of mixed characters—­who had, like their English contemporaries and rivals, ends and rules of action not exactly like those of the New Testament.  The Roman Church had to accept, as much as the English, the modern conditions of social and political life, however different in outward look from those of the Sermon on the Mount.  The other was the increasing sense that the civilisation of the West was as a whole, and notwithstanding grievous drawbacks, part of God’s providential government, a noble and beneficent thing, ministering graciously to man’s peace and order, which Christians ought to recognise as a blessing of their times such as their fathers had not, for which they ought to be thankful, and which, if they were wise, they would put to what, in his phrase, was an “Apostolical” use.  In one of the angelical hymns in the Dream of Gerontius, he dwells on the Divine goodness which led men to found “a household and a fatherland, a city and a state” with an earnestness of sympathy, recalling the enumeration of the achievements of human thought and hand, and the arts of civil and social life—­[Greek:  kai phthegma kai aenemoen phronaema kai astynomous orgas]—­dwelt on so fondly by Aeschylus and Sophocles.

The force with which these two things made themselves felt as age came on—­the disappointments attending his service to the Church, and the grandeur of the physical and social order of the world and its Divine sanction in spite of all that is evil and all that is so shortlived in it—­produced a softening in his ways of thought and speech.  Never for a moment did his loyalty and obedience to his Church, even when most tried, waver and falter.  The thing is inconceivable to any one who ever knew him, and the mere suggestion would be enough to make him blaze forth in all his old fierceness and power.  But perfectly satisfied of his position, and with his duties clearly defined, he could allow large and increasing play, in the leisure of advancing age, to his natural sympathies, and to the effect of the wonderful spectacle of the world around him.  He was, after all, an Englishman; and with all his quickness to detect and denounce what was selfish and poor in English ideas and action, and with all the strength of his deep antipathies, his chief interests were for things English—­English literature, English social life, English politics, English religion.  He liked to identify himself, as far as it was possible, with things English, even with things that belonged to his own first days.  He republished his Oxford sermons and treatises.  He prized his honorary fellowship at Trinity; he enjoyed his visit to Oxford, and the welcome which he met there.  He discerned

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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