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which is but too well attested by the miserable plight of her children's clothing (!!!) Can scenes like this be witnessed without groaning over the condition of a church which drags out a miserable existence in the mire of worldliness, and is so completely embedded in it?'
We think not. But are such scenes real or fictitious? If real and frequent, they show that our protestantism is in a very deplorable condition. If, on the contrary, they are mere fictions, we must leave our readers to decide whether they are the caricatures of a spiritual humourist, or the retailed slanders current in the circle with which our author was intimate while in England. We fear we cannot class Theiner with Pascal, or ascribe to his sketches the vivacity and truth which adorn the 'Provinciales. Like Pugin, he has all the low coarseness of the Dutch school without its truth to nature, its profligacy without its power, and must therefore take his place with 'Bishop' Lavington or the author of the Spiritual Quixote. Happily he has employed his pencil on his own religious history, and given protestanism an overwhelming revenge.
From England our author passed over to Belgium, but discovering there, 'in all its nakedness, the republican and sanguinary genius of Calvinism,' he proceeded to France in the hope that the church of Bourdaloue, Bossuet, Fléchier, and Massillon, would offer a medicine for the healing of his religious faith. As he says, 'the time selected for this visit did not seem to be the most favourable for his object. He arrived just before the revolution of July, 1830, broke out. But it was just this solemn epoch of trial and crisis which at length revealed to him, 'with the aid of heaven, the mystery of the true position of the catholic church in the history of the world. He must, he says, avow' that it was in France, and above all at Paris, that he began to learn true politics and true religion.' We suppose we must regard it as an avowal when he says, “it was not from religion itself that I derived my religion, but I realised it and formed it within me by the study of the political events which passed under my eyes. It is impossible, however, to follow the author through all the details of his progress. Here and there a good thought occurs, a good principle is maintained, but, oh! how miserably misapplied. The living faith of the Gallican church is proved by the throngs of dying persons who, during the raging of the cholera, pressed into the receiving houses opened under the direction of the clergy ; by (what we must admit to be a favourable symptom, as far as it goes,) the paternal intercourse which subsists between the superior and inferior Nergy, and (credat Judæus) by the holy veneration entertained
the pope !
opencaging of time by the fin, The Diciple is mainHere and
‘I have more than once had the opportunity of assuring myself of it by the most touching proofs. I have seen with profound veneration the tender care with which the bishops preserve the letters of encouragement which they had received from Pius VI. and Pius VII. in the course of the first revolution. They related to me, with a joy and satisfaction which was diffused over each of their countenances, that they had not parted with these letters for an instant during their emigration; that they had taken them with them every where; that they had served for their consolation and support in the time of their trials, when, far from their dear country, deprived of all means of subsistence, and without other shelter than the vault of heaven, they announced the word of the Lord on the banks of the Mississippi, and were obliged sometimes to abandon their apostolic functions to obtain. a little bread by giving lessons in language. In the midst of these privations they would have renounced life itself rather than have lost these briefs of the pope, which they have brought back with them to their own country, where they keep them still as a holy palladium. They are even now unable ever to look at them without shedding tears, so much of these beautiful and lofty recollections does the mere sight of these writings recal What inexpressible consolation I derived from their affectionate and heavenly discourses . I was often profoundly moved, and one day I could not refrain from replying to a bishop, who was complaining of the irreligion which then menaced France afresh. “It is not possible that Providence can abandon a country which numbers among her bishops so many worthy and holy men, every one of whom deserves to be called the successor of Fenelon.’’
We presume that these fair speeches were made towards the close of Dr. Theiner’s residence in France, for he afterwards tells us that the terrible scenes of the cholera, which struck such a general terror into the consciences of the gay Parisians, and brought back so many unbelievers within the pale of the church, were insufficient to shake him. “I had even determined,’ says he, ‘in case I fell a victim to the epidemic, to present myself at the gates of eternity without being reconciled to the church, and, consequently, without being reconciled to God.” Attacked at length with the evident symptoms of the malady, with death in near view, his mind still preserved its tranquillity; but he was restored by medicine.
Among the persons with whom Theiner became intimate in France was the celebrated Abbé de Lamennais, so celebrated once for his efforts to exalt the papacy, but since for his political writings. How great a change has this singular man experienced in the favour of the Roman church A few years ago, it is said, the only pictures which adorned the closet of the pope, were one of the Virgin, and another of him: since then his ‘paroles d'un croyant’ have procured him the distinction of two Bulls of condemnation. Neither the personal kindness of
mi his meaBourdalousioue anand.
De Lamennais, however, by whose invitation Theiner spent eight months in the college of Juilly, near Meaux, nor the edifying example of his great piety, were sufficient to induce our author to open his heart to him. “False theories,' said he, and, in this instance truly, had been my ruin, and it was not by theories equally false that I was to be recovered to the truth.
At length, driven hither and thither in the sea of doubt, he resolved to peruse without prejudice the master-pieces of tbe catholic literature of France, that he might, if possible, recover his long lost tranquillity, and renew his former attachment to the holy Roman church. He immediately expended all his means in the purchase of the complete works of Bossuet, Fenelon, Bourdaloue and Massillon : and shut himself up to read them. Bourdaloue and Fenelon, especially the latter, were scarcely ever out of his hand. Even when he took his evening walks on the Mount Calvary he carried some volumes with him, that he might lose no time. With the 'Lettres Spirituelles' of Fénélon, which made a particular impression on his mind, he began and ended every day. A protestant in his circumstances would have gone to the Bible, but this avowed enemy of the right of private judgment must neglect those inspired records to which the divine Spirit of God himself imparted a miraculous unity of doctrine, to be guided by the private writings and mould his views according to the private opinions of merely human teachers.
Dr. Theiner's theological studies soon had the desired effect of reconciling him to the principal doctrines of the Roman church, though he was still harassed by doubts if the Roman clergy were themselves convinced of the truth of their religion. He could with difficulty persuade himself that even Fénélon and Bossuet were believers. Another difficulty also embarrassed him, which we must state in his own terms. They,' Dr.
Theiner iş speaking of Fénélon and Bossuet, ‘had unfolded the most difficult dogmas of the church with such admirable and marvellous clearness, as to make them evident to the least observant eye; but for the same reason they had left nothing for faith to do. Things appeared to me too clear to be denied, but also too clear to be believed. How frightful is this state of the soul!” True: but also how absurd and ignorant. Yet, incredible as it may appear, it is the all but universal sentiment upon the subject in the Roman church, that faith and reason are inconsistent with each other, and that the more luminous the conviction, the more deadly the snare. The case is well known of the Romanist who when pressed by a protestant with the absurdity and physical impossibility of transubstantiation as fixed by the council of Trent, replied: 'it is for that very reason that I do believe it, because it is impossible.'
These difficulties, however, disappeared, and from this time our author's 'progress in the knowledge of the true doctrines of the church' was rapid. The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and consequently, the exposition of the sacrament of the altar, which till then had so alarmed his conscience, came out in incontestable evidence. The perusal of 1 Cor. xi. 23 was enough, more convincing than all the volumes which have been written on the subject. In that passage, the signifies' of the reformed, and the becomes of the Lutherans are refuted with absolute clearness. Our author's disquisitions and extracts on this point, extending to several pages, are followed by another outbreak of religious emotion, the ardour of which would not challenge sympathy in vain, were it not the result of a treasonable surrender of the claims of reason, and a violation of its gravest responsibilities.
At this stage of his conversion our author opened a communication with the friend to whom the narration which we are now reviewing was subsequently addressed; his chief object was, he says, to open a spiritual correspondence with this distinguished German Romanist; his ostensible object, to request that he would superintend the printing of his work on the 'pretended decree of Ivo,' which he had written at Paris during the two mournful months that the cholera was raging there. His other movement towards a reconciliation with his mother church he shall himself explain.
'I went ostener to church, and had the happiness of acquiring the consolatory conviction of the usefulness of prayers offered for third persons, a custom which I had so often spoken of in terms of contempt, and had till then regarded as profitable only to the priests. I often entered the churches of Paris, with the firm intention of giving a few sous to the poor, that they might pray for a certain person, whom I did not name, but who was myself. I always took pains to select for this object those who appeared to me the most deserving persons. Sometimes I obtained information respecting them ; but it was not without difficulty that I made my selection. Occasionally I walked about the church more than half an hour, before I could address these persons privately. I should sooner have committed a robbery thon have given any thing to any one, in presence of a third party, that he might pray for me. I never exercised this charity without most seriously recommending them to pray aright. And when I received the answer so eminently French: 'Do not trouble yourself on that head, sir, [Ne vous embarrassez pas de cela, Monsieur,] I was filled with inexpressible delight, and felt as it were new born.* More than once I was compelled to
* Et comme régénéré. In this and some other parts of the narrative we are obliged to translate from the French edition, not having the original at hand. On this account some phrases may not be so near the German as they would otherwise have been : but the circumstance has made us the more careful to avoid exaggeration or verbal alteration. The
leave the church by the first door I could reach, to get the liberty to indulge the full excess of my joy.
Alas for poor human nature! What astonishing self-delusion and simplicity are here! The preference of theft, to doing openly what was done secretly, is perhaps an ethical parallel to the preference of drunkenness to dissent. But there is a vast deal of unsuspected humour in the scene with the beggar. The confiding seriousness of the German, and the easy sense of honour of the Parisian, are worthy of the pencil of Leach or Cruikshank.
It is unnecessary to follow Dr. Theiner through the details of his residence at Orleans. Suffice it to say, that he had frequent interviews with the bishop, Mgr. de Beauregard, in which the most expressive flatteries were intermingled with more serious discourse. Hints of both are recorded by our author, with this difference, that the flatteries are given verbatim, but the discussions are just named en passant. Our author's impressions, however, seem to have been very violent. It was during his residence in this city, we suppose, (for it is not mentioned in his narrative,) that Dr. Theiner wrote his 'St. Aignan, ou le Siege d'Orleans par Attila,' which was published at Paris in 1832. It was also his wish to enter the seminary at Orleans to prepare for the sacred office, but whether the prelate considered his conversion too doubtful, or his scientific acquirements too advanced, or whatever the cause might be, he refused his sanction, and advised Dr. Theiner to go to Rome. Theiner admits that he was by this time convinced of the duty of auricular confession, but that he forbore to practice it, fearing the too great severity of the French confessional, which might turn this recommendation into an 'absolute order. He assures us that at this time he would rather have gone to Siberia, and that he was piously persuaded, that if he set foot within the city, he was doomed to perpetual imprisonment in the castle of St. Angelo, with no other shelter than the open sky, and bread and water for his food.
At length, however, but still without having, as he terms it, rectified his spiritual position,' he resolves to go to Rome.
During this time,' says he, 'I had the liveliest desire to feel myself purified before I set my foot within the city of the prince of the apostles. If the way in which he manifested this lively desire was not surpassingly strange, we know not what is strange.
· Arrived at Marseilles, where I remained during four weeks, before
account may therefore be relied on as substantially faithful. We might, for instance, have translated the above and as it were regenerated,' but consider the less doctrinal the safer version.