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noble soul ; no sacrament is so efficacious as a pure heart. When the Christ has arrived at this form, the temples may fall. The saving rites are deeds. They never grow old ; they never lose their virtue. The recorded actions of Jesus are standing communion-tables ; they are cups which have held their wine of life for two thousand years, and are as full of virtue now as they ever were. Every ecclesiastical form has altered ; but these remain unchanged. His recorded treatment of the Magdalene, of the adulteress, of the woman who poured the oil on his feet, his praise of the widow and her two mites, his silence before Pilate, his patience under the hands of the soldiers, his prayer on the cross, and a score of lovely things beside, are better than altars and masses and creeds to refresh the fainting soul of mankind.
No less beautiful, no less plenteous in grace, are the deeds he has inspired. The actions of noble men and women stand like wayside shrines all along the path of history. What individual recalls not one sweet life, one gracious heart, one blessed achievement, which to him is a deep fountain of spiritual water? Say what we will about permanent ordinances, the truly permanent ordinances are pious works. The colonel who allowed himself to be taken, in order that his wounded men might escape in the overloaded boats; the student who swam the Potomac three times in face of hostile bullets, pushing a raft covered with disabled soldiers; the lieutenant who, hurt to death, begged, commanded his friend, because he was hurt to death, to leave him, and give his care to those whom there was yet hope of saving, - have set up - we say it with all reverence — have set up among their friends, in the households of those who know them, very sacred ordinances, very holy shrines. To think of such deeds will be for them like touching the hem of Christ's garment; to penetrate into the heart of them will be better than going to mass or attending vespers. The sanctities of heaven and earth meet in a deed of saintliness; and the mystery of transubstantiation is repeated as often as these are remembered by believing souls.
Why, then, be apprehensive lest the Spirit Christ be left naked and nebulous among mankind ? The danger is not so much that Christ the Spirit will have no form, as that the
form, historical, literary, ritual, will stand unoccupied by Christ the Spirit. To recover him at any cost is the great labor and duty of the time. We can arrange his wardrobe after we have found his person. It might be a good thing to allow him for once to make his own choice of garments from the now richly furnished wardrobe of the world. He has fashioned so many already, that we are very sure he can fashion more. He has already cast aside so many, that we have no fear of his being left unclothed, even should the proud robes which men have hung on his shoulders be dropped by the wayside, or divided, like St. Martin's cloak, among the poor. The clothes question quite aside, we must have Christ the Spirit, - that first, that by all means. It will be as much as we can achieve to open our doors to him in any dress, and give him a chamber in our hearts.
We have no intention and no desire to act the part of destructives. We would never shatter an idol that revealed a God. But knowing as we do know how many see no God behind the idol, - knowing as we do know how many, believing the historical Christ to be shattered, fear that the real Christ is gone, - we would, passing by the others as not needing what we have to say, speak our word of encouragement to these. We have wished to detach the immortal person from his temporal environment; we have wished to show how little he has been injured by the falling of his house made with hands; we have wished to make him appear walking triumphantly over its ruins.
Art. II. - WAS THOMAS À KEMPIS THE AUTHOR OF “THE
Preuves que Thomas à Kempis n'a pas composé L'Imitation de N. S. J.
C. Par PhiliPPE JAMISEY DE LARROQUE. Paris : A. Durand. 1862. 8vo. pp. 82.
So close is the association in the minds of English readers of the name of Thomas à Kempis with the book of “ The Imitation of Christ,” that a suggestion of any question concerning the authorship will perhaps seem to them shameless, if not profane, - near even to a denial that the several Gospels of the New Testament were written by the authors whose names they bear. Very few who rest in this confident belief are aware that no literary dispute is more ancient, more obstinate, and more inexhaustible than the dispute about the origin of this classic of piety. Centuries before the letters of Junius were written, the honor of writing the “Imitation" was assigned to several claimants, and the final verdict in the case seems to be as far off as ever. There is no way of deciding it; the tradition concerning it has no unity, nor has any name a substantial majority of suffrages. The reasons for believing that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that David wrote the Psalms, that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, and that John wrote the Apocalypse, unsatisfactory as many of these are, are more numerous than any which sustain the claims of rival monks in the medieval book of devotion. The best that impartial investigation has been able to do has only proved a negative. Contending partisans have discredited each other's theories, but have not established their own.
To prove a negative is all that M. Philippe Jamisey de Larroque pretends to do in his ingenious essay. His aim is not to show who is the author, but that one at least of the supposed authors is not the real author. He is quite satisfied to correct a mistake, even if he cannot furnish any substitute of truth for the error. If he cannot explore the White Nile to its source, he will at least show that the Blue River is not the head branch of the Father of waters. If he cannot show where the Garden of Eden was, he can at least show that it was not the region around Damascus, where the Arab legends have placed it. M. de Larroque is a conscientious critic, who has no preferences of his own, and comes to the case with true scientific calmness and indifference as to the result. His work is a skilful dissection, out of which he has no idea of raising any new or special construction. At the close, indeed, he advances a theory of the kind of person that the writer of the “Imitation" must have been, but does not presume to say who he was, when he lived, or where he lived. He simply sets aside the pretensions of one favorite claimant, leaving it to other investigators to do the same work, if they can, with the pretensions of the other claimants. He does not allow himself to be biassed by the authority of great names, but discusses the question entirely from the internal evidence furnished by the book itself. He makes Thomas à Kempis himself the decisive witness, that he is not the author of the book attributed to him.
According to their character and spirit, the disputes concerning the authorship of the “Imitation ” may be classified either as national or as monastic. Nationally classified, we may reckon three parties, the German, the Italian, and the French. The German party uphold the claim of Thomas à Kempis ; the Italian party uphold the claim of John of Cabanaco, more frequently called Gerson ; while the French party are strenuous in maintaining the claim of the more celebrated Gerson, Chancellor of Paris. It must not be supposed, however, that all the writers on this theme, in each of these nations, are united in their opinion. There are French writers who defend the Italian claimant, and Italian writers who defend the German claimant. Farandi in the seventeenth century, Fovra in the eighteenth, and Cesari in the nineteenth, all of them Italian monks, have given their voices for the Teutonic candidate; while the Dutch Canon Weigl decides for the mythical Piedmontese, taking care only to insist that he was German by lineage, and was baptized as a German. France, moreover, has generously furnished defenders for all the candidates. Naudé, Janvier, Quérard, and Lalanne, with others that might be mentioned, are zealous “ Kempists”; while Marillac, Valart, Languinais, Nolbac, Buchan, Montalembert, and Renan are as decided “Gersonists." But, on the whole, the opinion of each nation has been given in favor of its own son. Germany, Holland, and substantially all nations speaking Teutonic dialects, have agreed that Thomas à Kempis shall be the author of the sacred book; the Canon Weigl is almost a solitary renegade. Here Protestants and Catholics alike consent that the monk of Saint Agnes, and no other man, shall have the great honor. In Italy, the voice is nearly as unanimous for the ascetic of Piedmont; the dissenters are few in a large company. And in France, if the arguments have been more moderate in tone, and the heretics more numerous, the conclusion of the majority asserts the “ Imitation " as a lawful work of the great orator of the Council of Constance, the champion of learning and liberty.
There are French writers, nevertheless, who, even in abandoning the claim of the Chancellor Gerson, still maintain that the “ Imitation” is a genuine French production. Michelet, Ampère, and J. V. Le Clerc are the eminent advocates of the long and multifarious origin of this marvellous book. It is a French growth, in successive ages, and its authors are “ legion.” These critics assign such an origin to “ The Imitation of Christ,” as some German critics have given to the poems of Homer, and others to the books of Moses; it is a compilation of fragments by many hands. Not a Frenchman, but France itself, has produced this immortal religious song, better as the work of a nation than the work of a man. The book was built like the cathedrals of which it was contemporary, by the steady piety of succeeding generations. This theory is pleasant enough, but not more tenable than the theory of the Homeridæ. If any devotional book has unity of style, unity of sentiment, unity of tone and thought, it is “ The Imitation of Christ.” It were as reasonable to deny the unity of Thomas Aquinas's “ Sum of Theology," or of Augustine's “ City of God," as of “ The Imitation of Christ." In these compositions the spiritual identity and coherence are far less striking than in the “ Imitation.” This theory, it may be remarked, is not original with these liberal critics of our own day. It was sustained two centuries ago by sound Catholic authority. In 1662, the librarian of the Vatican, a