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Christmas party, acting a charade in which he personified Father Christmas for the amusement of the young folk, and writing in his journal on the last night of the year the words “God be praised for all His mercies during this year of great events, He only knows when this my course will end. May its evening be bright and its morning eternal day."
Early in the next year he suffered from a severe attack of influenza, yet notwithstanding his weakness, he went forth to a meeting in Canterbury that was held for the purpose of establishing a Mendicity Society. Here he took a fresh chill, came home so weak that he could not write any of his letters, and could only employ himself for a short time in attempting to complete a drawing of S. Michael's Mount, Cornwall, that he had imperfectly sketched several years previously. After a short time, however, the pencil fell from his feeble band. For a few days there seemed a chance of his recovery, but a sudden change for the worse in his condition taking place, on the afternoon of January 12th, 1871, "with a gasp but no struggle,” in the arms of that loved and loving wife, who for thirty-one years had made the sunshine of his home, his spirit passed away to God.
One of his chief wishes bad been to visit the Holy Land with a party of friends, to one of whom his last words were, “ Shall we stand together on the Mount of Vision ?” The last occupation in which he was engaged was as has been said an attempt to complete the drawing of S. Michael's Mount. Surely this utterance and this act may
be considered to have been prophetical. He now stands upon that Mount of Vision, where men see no more as through a glass darkly, but face to face. He now rests after his earthly conflict with the dragon of suffering and sin, in the company of “Michael and his angels,” before the exalted throne of God.
By his own wish he was buried in the churchyard of the church of S. Martin, near the Cathedral of Canterbury. His tomb, by his own desire, bears only besides his name and the date of his death the words Diversorium viatoris Hierosolymam proficiscentis,” “The Inn of a traveller journeying to Jerusalem.' At his funeral clergymen of the Church of England of the most different views, dissenting ministers of the most diverse sects, laymen of the most varied social positions, religious opinions, and intellectual capacities, were present to do him honour. The Church of England felt that it had lost a useful and a representative man ; the town of Canterbury felt that it had been
deprived of an eminent and beneficent citizen. His statue has been added to the number of statues that have been placed in the numerous niches of the cathedral ; and amongst the many illustrious and holy men commemorated in these effigies in stone, there is not to be found one who worked more zealously for the benefit and loved more dearly the fame of the cathedral of Canterbury, and of the Anglican Church, of which Canterbury is the metropolitan see, than did Henry Alford.
Our opinion of Alford as a man of letters has been declared during this sketch of his life. He was not a great genius, nor an original thinker. He had not any philosophic breadth of mind, nor any powerful capacity for ratiocination. He was more a gatherer up of other men's thoughts, and of other men's stores of learning, than a contributor to the field of original thought or new research. He was not a pioneer to help forward the march of civilization by the removal of obstacles, and the formation of new roads, but he was a very eminent and useful officer. He wrote too much and too incessantly to be able to write very learnedly or very elegantly; but in the popularization of other men's thoughts, more especially upon theological subjects, in the diffusion of liberal and cultivated views of religious and secular matters, and above all, in the attempt to spread abroad a more intelligent comprehension of the Word of God, he must be regarded as having effected a most useful work, and as having conferred a valuable boon upon his fellow-men. Of his one hundred and seventy publications only a few will in all probability live. He worked for his own generation, not for posterity, but his exertions were none the less beneficial on that account. Amongst other labours he undertook the onerous task of producing a complete Hymnal, in which not merely the greater number of the hymns but also the greater number of the tunes were of his own composition; this work must on the whole be described as a 'failure, yet many of the hymns and tunes to be found therein are of much beauty. From the hymns composed by Alford, the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern have selected six hymns, (222, 328, 382, 392, 412, 462.) Amongst these six hymns is to be found the well known and frequently used Harvest Thanksgiving Hymn, (382) “Come, ye thankful people, come.”
Not, however, on Alford's literary efforts, so numerous and so useful, nor on his learning, so wide in its range; nor on his accomplishments, so varied and so elegant, would we wish finally to dwell in taking our farewell of him. Rather would we linger in our thoughts with delight upon what we cannot but call his beautiful Christian life, offering to us as it does so sweet a picture of domestic love and purity, of piety unbigoted and yet sincere, of liberal culture and of energy unceasing.
Alford was not one who was endowed with any peculiarly great intellectual or spiritual gifts, and for this very reason the study of his life is likely to prove more beneficial to the great mass of ordinary
Here we have presented to us no giant in intellect, no seraph in spirit, but a brother man, accomplished it is true, but not in any transcendent degree more elevated in his original endowments than ourselves, yet how noble, how useful, how holy was his life. May we all learn from his example to turn our talents, be they humble or be they considerable, to a like good account, that when the Master comes to us we may be as fit to welcome Him as was Henry Alford, whose purity of life, earnestness of faith, and assiduity of toil, may fitly typify for us not merely the candid, practical, tolerant character of the Anglican Church of which he was a member, but also the beneficent spirit as exhibited in the relations of every-day life, of the Christianity that he devoted his talents to illustrate and to proclaim.
DE MYSTERIO ASCENSIONIS DOMINI.
From the Latin of Adam of S. Victor.
Ye Angels, open wide the heavenly gates ;
O Thou Who hast prepared a home for all,
A GLANCE AT SOME FEATURES OF CHURCH HISTORY
PAST AND PRESENT.
(Concluded from page 274.)
OUR last chapter ended with the date of Charlemagne's coronation as emperor, A.D. 800. Charlemagne was crowned in S. Peter's, at Rome, on Christmas Day 800, by Pope Leo III. In his conquests in Saxony, his policy was conversion by compulsion, but this plan was not successful, and rebellion was the result.
Alcuin, a native of Northumbria, who had been educated at York, and who was met at Parma by Charlemagne, and begged by the emperor to remain with him, disapproved of the plan of wholesale conversion and Baptism, without any preparation, as also of the imposition of the tithes, against which the idolatrous natives of Saxony naturally revolted. Alcuin was a great assistance to Charlemagne in the advancement of letters and learning, in which the emperor was much interested, and finally Alcuin became Abbot of the monastery founded by S. Martin at Tours.
The Eastern Church was in a terrible state of anarchy at this period, and the emperors of Constantinople seemed each one more wicked and more weak than another. In A.D. 787, the Second Council of Nicea was held at Constantinople, on the subject of sacred pictures and images. This council “sanctioned paintings and other flat representations-a limitation to which the Greek Church has ever since adhered.” Charlemagne did not accept this view, but preferred adhering to the principles laid down by Gregory the Great, namely, that "pictures and images serve for the instruction of those who cannot read books; and that for this purpose they ought to be preserved in churches, while care should be taken to guard against the worship of them.”
Charlemagne had very decided views on the subject of Church and State. He was very friendly with the popes, and acknowledged them as the highest Bishops ; but whilst he was often glad to consult them on temporal matters, he kept the control of these entirely in his own hands. Charlemagne died A.D. 814. Unfortunately he had no successor equal to carrying on all he had begun. The reins of government passed into very different hands, and disorder and anarchy prevailed.
A passing glance must be given to the famous “Forged Decretals," published between A.D. 829 and 857. The Decretals were written by a man who called himself Isidore, and they consisted of“ nearly a hundred letters written in the names of earlier Bishops of Rome, and from Clement and Anacletus, the contemporaries of the Apostles, &c., as well as the acts of some hitherto unknown councils. Persons who lived centuries apart are represented as corresponding with each other, and the early Bishops of Rome quote the Scriptures according to S. Jerome's version.” Such is the account given of the first appearance of the Decretals by the historian, and he adds," although sometimes called in question during the long interval before the Reformation, they yet maintained their public credit; and while the foundation has long been given up, even by the extremest writers of the Roman Church, the superstructure still remains.”
It was at about this period, (or a little earlier,) in the ninth century, that wafers began to be used at the Holy Communion, instead of bread, and that the doctrine of purgatory, and masses for the departed, became so much enlarged upon by the clergy, the latter being a means by which large sums were gained to the Church. At this time the observance of Sunday was much more strictly enforced than it had been hitherto, especially abroad, where we know it is but little observed in the nineteenth century at all.
It is a noteworthy fact in these days of the “Church of England Temperance Association,” that S. Boniface spoke of drunkenness as “a peculiarly national vice” amongst the English even in his day; so it would appear to have been the sin to which our nation has always been especially prone. At this date people were allowed to enter convents and monasteries at a very early age, but Charlemagne ruled that girls should not be allowed to take the veil until old enough to know their own mind.
Perhaps one of the most striking points in the ninth and tenth centuries, is the rapid growth of superstition around the Truth, in the re