Page images

and now to the inward, as light happens to fall on either, alternately modifying or modified, in time, by circumstance or feeling.

Thus we find Coleridge-whose love of outward nature, and acquaintance with the sum of her known phenomena, enabled him to anticipate several of the most recent scientific discoveries, and to indicate the direction in which others might be looked for whose light is as yet only perceived faintly gloaming up from beneath the horizon line-thus strongly expressing himself,

“Ah, lady, we receive but what we give,

And in our life alone does Nature live." The Christian, whose heart and life are alone in tune with the universe, may also repeat these classic lines,

." Throughout the universe one common soul

Inspires, and feeds, and animates the whole," investing them, the while, with a new beauty and a deeper signification. He, too, looking abroad on the glories of creation with the finest perception and keenest appreciation, will nevertheless be led to feel, that, beautiful in themselves, they also point to yet higher beauties; for which reason he will not disparage but admire them the more. He knows, to quote the words of Jeremy Taylor, that “If the beauties of all creatures, heavens, earth, flowers, pearls, and all other things that could give any light, were all comprised in one thing ; if every one of the stars yielded as much light as the sun, and the sun shined as bright as all they together: all this so united, would be, in respect of the beauty of God Almighty, as a dark night in respect of the clearest day.”l Looking on his fellow-men, he will love them for Christ's sake, and the stronger his conviction that “all love is lost but upon God alone,”l the more will he love his brethren.

1“State of Man,” Book și., c. 1.

With eyes fixed on the highest order of beauty, the heart-experience recorded by Michael Angelo? in the following lines will be his :

“His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,

That breathes on earth the air of paradise.” To such hearts, harmony is restored and paradise regained, through Him who hath brought life and immortality to light by his love-death.

Satan was, indeed, permitted to overthrow the temple of which He spake,

“But Love and Grace took glorý by the hand

And built a braver palace than before."3 He who is a stone in the living temple will instinctively feel the great truth these lines express :

"That is true beauty that doth argue you

To be divine, and born of heavenly seed,
Derived from that fair spirit from whom all true

And perfect beauty did at first proceed."'4 Contemplating the glory and perfection of the Deity as revealed in his Word and Works, and lost in wonder at the unsearchable riches of redeeming love, such an one will humbly approach the throne to adore the source of all beauty.

1 «The Merle and Nightingale," Dunbar. .
2 Translated by Wordsworth. Moxon's 1 vol. ed., p. 201.
3 Herbert.

4 Spenser.

..“I will show," said Berthold, “by an example, how little we can say worthily of the glory of God. What can a child unborn know of the glory of this world in which we dwell? Of the bright sun, the sparkling stars, the splendours of jewels, or the virtues of plants or trees; of the music of various instruments, or the melodies of many birds; or of the splendid array of gold and silk produced by the skill of men? What can the child say of these things? And thus we are incapable of speaking worthily of the wonderful pleasures of Paradise. As the moon, the stars, and the planets, borrow all their light from the sun, so all the heavenly hosts of saints and angels, from the highest to the lowest, receive all their gladness, brightness, honour, majesty, and beauty, from the countenance of the Lord. It is because they look upon Him that they become so beautiful.”

Acknowledging God as the great fountainhead of all order, harmony, beauty, or perfection, and Christ as the highest example of the beautiful in life, we have also endeavoured to show that the positive laws, or law, of material beauty, and that which regulates life and thought-in so far as reason or revelation, intuition or science, enable us to judgemargue not only an identity of cause, but also a perfect unity in method and purpose everywhere prevailing throughout the vast government of the universe; and that the widest apparent diversities in heaven or earth result from the definite operation of the same law, higher or lower down the stream of Being.

“All things that come from one supreme and indivisible power must be congruous and analogous. We trace all knowledge and all discovery to one great Source,

1 A Franciscan friar, who died in 1272.

and, therefore, there must be a universal bond of union cementing all science and all art, all matter and all spirit, into one harmonious whole, moulded by the hand of God into his visible and interpretable image.”

It follows that the beautiful in life will, inwardly and outwardly, exemplify the full harmonious realization of man's relative position and duties towards God and his fellow-men; his whole being, thinking, and acting, perfectly according with the great laws of the universe impressed alike on mind and matter by the great Creator, till, under pervading love, the holiness of beauty at length manifests itself as “the beauty of holiness.”

We have shown that while these laws are in strict accordance with the highest deductions of unaided reason, we are not left to fallible human reason and mere speculation regarding them. They have been openly and clearly promulgated by a Divine revelation, and their operation extends to our inmost thoughts and feelings, as well as to our words; to motives as well as to actions.

The endless and fruitless toils of those who would isolate the mind, and therefrom deduce the theory of the universe, taking no cognizance either of the heavens above them or the earth on which they tread, ignoring the light of revelation on the one hand, or the Godillustrated and richly illuminated volume of Creation on the other, are not to be wondered at. The experienced navigator accounts it no derogation from his skill that he avails himself of everything which can guide him in his course. He takes observations of the heavens, compares his chronometers, consults the chart, notes variations of the needle, takes soundings if in doubt, and joyously welcomes the light of the friendly beacon.

1 From a paper, on the study of Mathematics, as applied to Architecture, read by E. H. Strype, at a meeting of the Liverpool Architectural and Archæological Society, Dec. 10, 1856.

Metaphysical theories of the Beautiful, or, indeed, of any thing in heaven above, earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth, in so far as results are concerned, when viewed apart from revelation on the one hand, and the material universe on the other, we regard as futile and abortive. Deprive the mind of these one or both-and such is its constitution, that you at once take away its requisite atmosphere. It is like a butterfly placed under the nearly exhausted receiver of an air-pump, where it is surprising that it still continues to flutter its wings. The sooner it is liberated, and left to waver from flower to flower in the open sunny fields, the better!

“Defend me, therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up."1

We have seen that systems of morals have been propounded in every age; by the wise Chinese, and by the mild Inca of South America; by the fatalist Arabian, and the truth-loving but fierce Northern warrior, as well as by the classic nations on the shores of the Mediterranean. These all more or less exhibit a yearning after higher truths, and in some few instances, even indicate the absolute necessity of a revelation from heaven.

In Christianity, then, we have this want supplied; its light lightening the world, even the dark places of the

1" Cowper's Task," Book III.

« PreviousContinue »