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The present age is one of scepticism; but it is a healthy and necessary scepticism; a mighty struggle with doubt and mysterious questionings, is essential to the development of a vital, self-sustained faith. He who has never questioned or wrestled with the dark problems of existence, may lead outwardly a very correct and exemplary life, but he will be rather a stereotyped machine than a vigorous, constantly developing, everascending, spiritual organism, fed and nourished by surrounding circumstances and strengthened by besetting antagonisms.
In no poetry has this scepticism and this moral struggle received a fuller expression, and reached a firmer platform of faith, than in that of Tennyson; and, of this, the poem of “The Two Voices" affords a striking example, as well as an illustration, of the high and concretely embodied intellectuality of Tennyson's poetry. It seems intended to set forth the triumph of sentiment over mere intellect. It touches in a general way upon the manifold channels through which human thought does flow, and the endless contradictions to which it is subject in its investigations after truth. It tells of the hardening influence which a prolonged and close study of abstract ideas has upon the mind; how the latter saddens, wearies, and finally sickens under such continued effort in one direction, and how sombre melancholy must thus take up its fixed abode in the mind. Not that gentler melancholy, which is to the soul what the dew drop is to the rose, a beauty that doubly enhances its charms, but that dark, discontented, unhappy, mental condition, which, if it be not counteracted, will lead its victims into the arms of the fearful Mater Tenebrarum, "our Lady of Darkness, the Mother of Lunacies, the Suggestress of Suicides, the Defier of God," who will urge upon the unfortunate soul that sought her malignant aid, to seek a resting place from its sorrows in the darkness of the grave.
A word or two as to the stanza employed in the poem of "The Two Voices." No one can read, however superficially, the poetry of Tennyson, without feeling the wonderful adaptiveness of his verse and stanza to his theme.
"Of the soul, the body form doth take;
For soul is form and doth the body make.”
What a treasure house of metrical excellence is "Maud !" How the ever-varying rhythm, metre, and stanza correspond with, symbolize, and incarnate, as it were, the ever-varying subjective states and moods of the speaker! The verse of “In Memoriam" is no less remarkable than that of "Maud," in its adaptiveness to the subdued spiritualized sorrow, which is the theme of the poem-a sorrow which has lost all its sensuousness, and demanding that equable, uninterrupted flow of expression which so characterizes the "In Memoriam." All emphasis, by an admirable disposition of the rhyming verses, is dissipated, and allowed nowhere to concentrate. But what the poet has aimed in "In Memoriam" to avoid, he has, in "The Two Voices," aimed to secure, namely, point. The poem is, in great part, a spirited, spicy, logomachy, or succession of short epigrammatic arguments, pro and con, which
"like the bee-a thing
Of little size-have honey and a sting."
This pointed effect the poet has admirably secured by the stanza which he has employed. It is composed of three short verses-iambic tetrameter-all rhyming. The emphasis is thus made to cumulate in the concluding verse, and to impart a very distinct individuality to each and every stanza.
ARTICLE IV.-CECUMENICAL COUNCILS.
Conciliengeschichte. Nach den quellen bearbeitet von Dr. Carl Joseph Hefele, Prof. der Theologie an der Universität Tübingen. Freiburg im Breisgau. 1855-1863. 5 vols.
DR. HEFELE, professor of ecclesiastical history in the University of Tübingen, the colleague of the late distinguished Dr. Baur, is one of the leading Roman Catholic divines of Germany. He wrote first a Latin history of the conversion of Southern Germany to Christianity. Then he published a very useful and popular edition of the works of the Apostolic Fathers, with a Latin translation, and critical and explanatory notes. He contributed largely to the Roman Catholic Theological Cyclopædia of Wetzen and Welte (12 vols.) and to the Tübingen Quartal-Schrift. But his principal and most elaborate work is his History of Ecclesiastical Councils, of which five volumes have thus far appeared. The fifth volume comes down to the Council of Pavia, A. D. 1160. As the author intends to embrace all the councils, several more volumes may be expected, although he originally promised to finish it in five volumes. Dr. Hefele has furnished the most valuable history of Councils from the stand-point of his own church, to which he strictly adheres, yet with a degree of liberality and respect for modern Protestant research, which challenges a corresponding esteem and appreciation of his merits. Our object, however, is not to enter into a critical examination of this extensive work, but simply to make it the text for an independent Article on Ecumenical Synods, their nature, object, moral and religious character, authority, and value.
The synodal system in general had its rise in the apostolic council at Jerusalem, and completed its development under the Catholic form in the course of the first five centuries. Like the episcopate, it presented a hierarchical gradation of orders. There was, first, the diocesan or district council, in which the bishop of a diocese (in the later sense of the word) presided
over his clergy; then the provincial council, consisting of the metropolitan or archbishop and the bishops of his ecclesiastical province; next the patriarchal council, embracing all the bishops of a patriarchal district, (or a diocese in the old sense of the term); then the national council, inaccurately styled also general, representing either the entire Greek or the entire Latin church, (like the later Lateran councils and the council of Trent); and finally, at the summit stood the œcumenical council,* for the whole Christian world. There was, besides these, a peculiar and abnormal kind of synod, styled dúvodos vonuovoa, frequently held by the bishop of Constantinople with the provincial bishops resident (vonμouvres) on the spot. In the earlier centuries the councils assembled without fixed regularity, at the instance of present necessity. The council of Nice, however, ordained, in the fifth canon, that the provincial councils should meet twice a year—during the fast season before Easter, and in the fall. In regard to the other synods no direction was given.
The œcumenical councils were not stated, but extraordinary assemblies, occasioned by the great theological controversies of the ancient church. They could not arise until after the conversion of the Roman Emperor and the ascendency of Christianity as the religion of the State. They were the highest and the last manifestation of power of the Greek Church, which in general took the lead in the first age of Christianity, and was the chief seat of all theological activity. Hence in that church, as well as in others, they are still held in the highest veneration, and kept alive in the popular mind by pictures in the churches. The Greek and Russian Christians have annually commemorated the seven cecumenical councils, since the
* The name cvvodos oixovpeviký (concilium universale generale) occurs first in the sixth canon of the council of Constantinople, A. D. 381. The οἰκουμένη (sc. y) is, properly, the whole inhabited earth; then, in a restricted sense, the earth inhabited by Greeks, in distinction from the barbarous countries. Finally, with the Romans, the orbis Romanus, the political limits of which coincided with those of the ancient Græco-latin church. But as the bishops of the barbarians outside the empire were admitted, the œcumenical councils represented the entire Catholic Christian world of antiquity.
year 842, on the first Sunday in Lent, as the festival of the triumph of orthodoxy, and they live in the hope that an eighth œcumenical council shall yet heal the divisions and infirmities of the Christian world.
Through their symbols of faith, those councils, especially of Nice and of Chalcedon, still live in the Western church, both Roman Catholic and Evangelical Protestant.
Strictly speaking, none of these councils represented the entire Christian world. Apart from the fact that the laity and even the lower clergy were excluded from them, the assembled bishops themselves formed but a small part of the Catholic episcopate. The province of North Africa alone numbered many more bishops than were present at either the second, the third, or the fifth general council. The councils bore a prevailingly oriental character, were occupied with Greek controversies, used the Greek language, sat in Constantinople or in its vicinity, and consisted almost wholly of Greek members. The Latin church was usually represented only by a couple of delegates of the Roman bishops, though these delegates, it is true, acted more or less in the name of the entire West. Even the five hundred and twenty, or the six hundred and thirty, members of the council of Chalcedon, excepting the two representatives of Leo I., and two African fugitives accidentally present, were all from the East. The council of Constantinople in 381 contained not a single Latin Bishop, and only a hundred and fifty Greek, and was raised to the cecumenical rank by the consent of the Latin Church towards the middle of the following century. On the other hand, the council of Ephesus, in 449, was designed by Emperor and Pope to be an œcumenical council; but instead of this it has been branded in history as the synod of robbers, for its violent sanction of the Eutychian heresy. The council of Sardica in 343 was likewise intended to be a general council, but immediately after its assembling assumed a sectional character, through the secession and counter-organization of the eastern bishops.
It is, therefore, not the number of bishops present, nor even the regularity of the summons alone, which determines the œcumenical character of a council, but the result, the import