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The Pastor's Model.
211 doctrine of the exclusive merit of Christ was never held more decidedly and scripturally than at present; but the cognate truth, without which the Atonement is unknown and inefficacious, the necessity and power of the Holy Ghost, which is the pervading, actuating, life-sustaining doctrine of the New-Testament dispensation, is feebly held, or, at least, feebly and seldom preached, and not as a correlative of the Atonement, without which that great and perfect work is unsaving. The Spirit is not duly honoured; and the consequence is an ineffective Ministry and an unprosperous Church. When men are expecting spiritual results of preaching, because the right things have been well said, they are trusting to the "wisdom of words" and "the power of men;" and if He who alone can give any the least success, is thus dishonoured and dethroned, no wonder that He resents the indignity by withdrawing Himself, and leaving men to the inanity of their own wisdom and power. As the death of the Son of God was necessary to recover the Spirit's influence, so its proper doctrinal issue is to prepare for the advent of the Spirit. A return to the simplicity of the truth on this great subject will divest all agents of the false trust, which is practically a denial or doubt whether there be any Holy Ghost; and will so honour the Sources of exclusive merit, and of exclusive power and blessing, that He will return to His people, and triumph gloriously in the midst of them.
The Churches must be summoned from their low controversies and narrow sectarianism to the high ground of practical care for the souls of men. Their life must justify their profession, not only of the best, but the only true religion; and they must become to each other noble examples of self-consuming zeal. They must be the living epistles of that pure and undefiled religion which, in its human aspect and salubrious influence upon the world, is to be studied in the personal history of Christ; in its doctrines and secret springs, in the sacred Epistles. The great Teacher illustrated His own precepts by His actions, and embodied and exemplified the purity and beneficence of His doctrines, as the visible image of the Ineffable Purity and Goodness. His conduct was both a lesson and an obligation. The aspect of His humanity impressed all with the beauties of real holiness, and made all feel how august and powerful is love. He was no recluse, no transcendental, no spiritual rhapsodist. He never substituted the abstract for the concrete of piety; or put the exercises of religion in the place of the duties of morality; or contented Himself with declaring the benevolence of God, without any practical illustration of that which is the mildest glory of His name. Love in the Deity is active, compassionate, beneficent; it waits to be gracious, and delights in mercy; it looks for the return of the prodigal, and delights to seek in order to save that which was lost. Our blessed Redeemer
revealed the true character of the Father. That Himself is the impersonation of love, His tender, active charity proves even more than His teaching. He could not be less, and the condition of His humanity prevented His being more, resplendent in benevolence. There is a real and essential connexion between the work of mercy to the bodies, and the work of love to the souls, of men. His miracles show the spirit of that religion which He came to plant: good-will to men is the highest glory to God. The true terrestrial paradise would be opened in any and every part of even this benighted world, were all men conformed to the illustrious Pattern, up to the measure of their unperfected nature. In all that is not peculiar to the mysterious constitution of His person, and to His office, His actions are a law to His disciples. Theirs is not merely an obligation of consistency, but of law. His earliest disciples felt and acknowledged it. The first Churches sought the temporal welfare of men, not on principles of humanity, but of religion. This was the life of their beneficence: they blessed men for their Master's sake.
And modern Churches, if they are to have primitive success, must not only uphold the great divine ordinance of preaching,— the primary power of Christianity,-but the various auxiliaries of ministerial and general acceptance and usefulness. They must press all who have gifts and opportunity into the service of the Master. They must not totally dissociate the temporal from the spiritual; but, passing the bounds of mere denominational interests, must labour for the advancement of all those institutions, which, although they do not aim at the direct production of personal religion, are themselves the genial fruits of a real Christianity; and, while they greatly tend to ameliorate the wretchedness of the lowest lot, ennoble all who promote them. This is the divine charity which is twice blest,-blessing him who gives, and him who takes; this will recommend religion to those who yet can only appreciate sensible good; and thus will Christianity remove the spot, and stay the plague, of our Home Heathenism.
Alfred Tennyson: Maud, and other Poems.
ART. VIII.-Maud, and other Poems. By ALFRED TENNYSON, D.C.L., Poet-Laureate. London: Moxon. 1855.
We have in Mr. Tennyson the purest specimen of the poetic character which the last half-century has produced; and this we say in entire remembrance of the great poetic lights by which that period has been illustrated and adorned. It may be premature to fix the relative position of a star so recently appearing in the literary firmament; but the purity and splendour of its ray are not to be mistaken. If the case be so; if (to pursue the metaphor a little longer) an orb of song be really before us; the art-critic may do well to put by his opera-glass as quite unserviceable, since the telescope itself will only serve to separate it in its sphere, and assist us in defining its relative position. The glass of criticism may detect a meteor or false light of any kind; but it cannot augment the glory of a star. In other words, a great poet is at nearly equal distance from us all. Taste, science, and the nicest observation do but imperfectly appreciate what the naked sense enables all men to enjoy. Of course, this is no reason why the lofty sphere of Mr. Tennyson should be tacitly assumed by us; and it will presently appear that, while we deem it futile to offer direct proofs of his poetic rank, we are yet ready to assign some reasons for that very favourable estimate which we have formed and expressed.
Since a new poet is not unfrequently announced, it is time that we should learn to take the term in an accommodated sense, or otherwise to qualify unreasonable hopes. This we may best do by remembering all the virtues which that title promises, and all the honour which it properly confers. By so doing we shall be more just to the new aspirant; we shall bear in mind how many are the chances against his being either now, or in the future, a worthy heir of fame, and feel neither disappointment nor contempt because his young deserts fall far below the standard of poetic greatness. Have any of us well observed how high that standard is? While poetic feeling is by no means an uncommon element in human nature, and poetic power is not the least frequent of natural endowments, a great poet is perhaps the rarest of all human characters. Perfection, indeed, is not to be expected in this earthly state, while humanity is subject to so many drawbacks and infirmities; but positive excellence is more frequently achieved in any intellectual sphere than that of poetry. This is due chiefly to the fact, that it is not an intellectual sphere alone,-that for the art and mystery of song is demanded a combination of natural gifts, and moral qualities, and concurrent circumstances, such as no other exercise of genius calls for; while these conditions are as delicate in their nature as they are imperative in their obliga
tion; and the world, which is so constantly ministering to them on the one hand, is as constantly militating against them on the other.
The natural endowments of the poet are primary and indispensable; for these supply the very basis of his character. The large brain, or universal organ, susceptive of all the affections, and apprehensive of all the truths of humanity,-in this gift are included all the rest. It would be unprofitable, if no worse, to go further in this direction, except, perhaps, to suggest that some faculty, answering to the ideality of the phrenologists, is the arch and crown of all the others, is the medium by which they all communicate, and in which they all inosculate and end. This may form the original distinction of poetic genius; but otherwise it may be said to consist in a certain fulness and harmony of all the faculties, which serve to insure a rare and unerring insight into nature, using that term in the most comprehensive sense. The brain, the mind, the character of a great poet, is totus, teres, atque rotundus.
It is true, then,-an old truth ever new,-that the poet is born and not made. But let us not therefore judge that his destiny is accomplished, or his crown sure. Baffled, wearied, or diverted from his course, he may never reach the goal for which Dame Nature has equipped him. He may be born a poet, and die a philosopher; he may be born a great poet, and die an obscure one! This paradox is not inexplicable, is not hard to be understood. The truth is, that to live the life poetic, to nourish all its affections, to develope all its powers, and so eventually to answer all its mission, is at once a great trial of constancy, and the test of superior fortune. The positive attributes of the poetic character are, we repeat, primary and indispensable; but these are of themselves inadequate, and may altogether fail in conferring, by their own inherent force, either the consummate minstrelsy or the immortal guerdon. Hence many persons of poetic mark and promise, whose energies have afterwards found scope and exercise in other spheres, have not been able to sustain the poetic character in all its breadth, simplicity, and power. Born under the smile of all the muses, they have finally attached themselves to one. Feeling the stirrings of the prophetic genius, they have allowed the spirit of the world to break in upon them, and lost its sacred mood. From deliberate choice or gradual inclination, at the suggestion of duty or from the violence of circumstances, the poet has often sold his vast inheritance, and bought a field; given up his interests in the beauties of a world, and centred them upon some small productive province; exchanged, it may be, divination for science, and art for criticism. Nor should we wonder at this circumstance. There is nothing more easy than this process of deterioration; for such it is, though not always to be
The Poetic Character.
deplored. The poet, as belonging to the order of a natural priesthood, should be devoted and set apart to his special office. He must go in and out among mankind, sustain all its relations, experience all its sorrows, have share in all its delights; but he must gather up the skirts of his "singing robes," as he passes through the forum and the market, as he mingles with the crowd of partisans and worldlings, as he loiters in the halls of industry and science. He must contract no dust or stain of any class. He must be in the world, but not of the world; ▾ may indulge its partialities, but must have no share in its prejudices; may love his country much, but must love his species more. Knowledge he must have; but it must not be labelled or laid up in artificial forms. What he gains as a savan he must enjoy like a child, that he may employ it like a poet. Now, against this mood of wise simplicity, of earnest but catholic delight, a thousand influences array themselves,poverty with its cares, business with its distractions, and pleasure with its strong allurements. The best qualities of the poet's nature may prove his most besetting snares. His keen love of approbation may lead him to seek the praise of a frivolous society, or a superficial age. His love of knowledge may divert him into partial studies; his love of beauty betray him into luxurious and fatal ease. Or all these may act together, and dissipate the mind, and degrade the moral sense, until he makes shipwreck both of happiness and fame; foundering, like some rich merchantman, ill-manned but costly-freighted, the victim of too much treasure and unequal seamanship.
But this is not all. The conditions necessary for the production of a poet of the first order, are beset with peculiar difficulties in a period of advanced civilization and high literary attainments. All that is valuable in a poet's education is the fruit of his individual effort, of severe but generous self-culture; and hence it follows, that he has more to lose than gain by the mechanical aids to knowledge, by the eager spirit of research, by the varied and ceaseless acquisitions of an era like our own. It was not always so. In the world's nonage he enjoyed a liberty dearer than aught beside; and in singing from his own full heart and mind, in celebrating, without model, dictation, or restraint of any kind, heroic deeds, strange fortunes, pure love, and simple faith, he rehearsed all the powers of language, and anticipated all the resources of invention. Hence that miracle of art, that epitome of literature, which bears the name of Homer. Hence the fulness, clearness, and authority of Shakspeare's muse. And because this freedom was gradually invaded by the advance of science, or enfeebled by prescriptive laws, we have to lament the poor imitative notes of the poetry of the last century, and the "uncertain sound" delivered from the silver trumpet of the present.