Outspoken Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 361 pages of information about Outspoken Essays.

That his life is for the most part a record of sadness and failure is no indication that he was not one of the great men of his time.  Independence is no passport to success in a world where, as Swift said, climbing and crawling are performed in much the same attitude.  And if we are right in our view that there was something in the composition of his mind which prevented him from being either a complete Catholic or a complete Protestant, this too is no obstacle to our recognition of his greatness.  He has left an indelible mark upon two great religious bodies.  He has stirred movements which still agitate the Church of England and the Church of Rome, and the end of which is not yet in sight.  Anglo-Catholicism and Modernism are alien growths, perhaps, in the institutions where they have found a place; but the man who beyond all others is responsible for grafting them upon the old stems is secure of his place in history.


     [82] Cf. e. Parochial and Plain Sermons, vi. 259.

     [83] Mark Pattison, Memoirs, p. 97.

     [84] Stray Essays, p. 94.

     [85] Parochial and Plain Sermons, v. 112.

     [86] Ibid. vi. 259.

     [87] Ibid. vi. 340.

     [88] Grammar of Assent, part i. c. 1 and 2.

     [89] Parochial and Plain Sermons, vii. 73.



Among all the great men of antiquity there is none, with the exception of Cicero, whom we may know so intimately as Saul of Tarsus.  The main facts of his career have been recorded by a contemporary, who was probably his friend and travelling companion.  A collection of letters, addressed to the little religious communities which he founded, reveals the character of the writer no less than the nature of his work.  Alone among the first preachers of Christianity, he stands before us as a living man.  Ohiost phepnytai, toi de skiai hahissoysi.  We know very little in reality of Peter and James and John, of Apollos and Barnabas.  And of our divine Master no biography can ever be written.

With St. Paul it is quite different.  He is a saint without a luminous halo.  His personal characteristics are too distinct and too human to make idealisation easy.  For this reason he has never been the object of popular devotion.  Shadowy figures like St. Joseph and St. Anne have been divinised and surrounded with picturesque legends; but St. Paul has been spared the honour or the ignominy of being coaxed and wheedled by the piety of paganised Christianity.  No tender fairy-tales are attached to his cult; he remains for us what he was in the flesh.  It is even possible to feel an active dislike for him.  Lagarde (’Deutsche Schriften,’ p. 71) abuses him as a politician might vilify an opponent.  ‘It is monstrous’ (says he) ’that men of any historical training

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Outspoken Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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