Chapter 7.

{42} FREEBORN did not like to be beaten; he began again. Religion, he said, was a matter of the heart; no one could interpret Scripture rightly whose heart was not right. Till our eyes were enlightened, to dispute about the sense of Scripture, to attempt to deduce from Scripture, was beating about the bush: it was like the blind disputing about colours.

"If this is true," said Bateman, "no one ought to argue about religion at all; but you were the first to do so, Freeborn."

"Of course," answered Freeborn, "those who have found the truth are the very persons to argue, for they have the gift."

"And the very last persons to persuade," said Sheffield; "for they have the gift all to themselves."

"Therefore true Christians should argue with each other, and with no one else," said Bateman.

"But those are the very persons who don't want it," said Sheffield; "reasoning must be for the unconverted, not for the converted. It is the means of seeking."

Freeborn persisted that the reason of the unconverted was carnal, and that such could not understand Scripture. {43}

"I have always thought," said Reding, "that reason was a general gift, though faith is a special and personal one. If faith is really rational, all ought to see that it is rational; else, from the nature of the case, it is not rational."

"But St. Paul says," answered Freeborn, "that 'to the natural man the things of the Spirit are foolishness'."

"But how are we to arrive at truth at all," said Reding, "except by reason? It is the appointed method for our guidance. Brutes go by instinct, men by reason."

They had fallen on a difficult subject; all were somewhat puzzled except White, who had not been attending, and was simply wearied; he now interposed. "It would be a dull world," he said, "if men went by reason: they may think they do, but they don't. Really, they are led by their feelings, their affections, by the sense of the beautiful, and the good, and the holy. Religion is the beautiful; the clouds, sun, and sky, the fields and the woods, are religion."

"This would make all religions true," said Freeborn, "good and bad."

"No," answered White, "heathen rites are bloody and impure, not beautiful; and Mahometanism is as cold and as dry as any Calvinistic meeting. The Mahometans have no altars or priests, nothing but a pulpit and a preacher."

"Like St. Mary's," said Sheffield.

"Very like," said White; "we have no life or poetry in the Church of England; the Catholic Church alone {44} is beautiful. You would see what I mean if you went into a foreign cathedral, or even into one of the Catholic churches in our large towns. The celebrant, deacon and subdeacon, acolytes with lights, the incense, and the chanting—all combine to one end, one act of worship. You feel it is really a worshipping; every sense, eyes, ears, smell, are made to know that worship is going on. The laity on the floor saying their beads, or making their acts; the choir singing out the Kyrie; and the priest and his assistants bowing low, and saying the Confiteor to each other. This is worship, and it is far above reason."

This was spoken with all his heart; but it was quite out of keeping with the conversation which had preceded it, and White's poetry was almost as disagreeable to the party as Freeborn's prose.

"White, you should turn Catholic out and out," said Sheffield.

"My dear good fellow," said Bateman, "think what you are saying. You can't really have gone to a schismatical chapel. Oh, for shame!"

Freeborn observed, gravely, that if the two Churches were one, as had been maintained, he could not see, do what he could, why it was wrong to go to and fro from one to the other.

"You forget," said Bateman to White, "you have or might have, all this in your own Church, without the Romish corruptions."

"As to the Romish corruptions," answered White, "I know very little about them."

Freeborn groaned audibly. {45}

"I know very little about them," repeated White eagerly, "very little; but what is that to the purpose? We must take things as we find them. I don't like what is bad in the Catholic Church, if there is bad, but what is good. I do not go to it for what is bad, but for what is good. You can't deny that what I admire is very good and beautiful. Only you try to introduce it into your own Church. You would give your ears, you know you would, to hear the Dies irę."

Here a general burst of laughter took place. White was an Irishman. It was a happy interruption; the party rose up from table, and a tap at that minute, which sounded at the door, succeeded in severing the thread of the conversation.

It was a printseller's man with a large book of plates.

"Well timed," said Bateman;—"put them down, Baker: or rather give them to me;—I can take the opinion of you men on a point I have much at heart. You know I wanted you, Freeborn, to go with me to see my chapel; Sheffield and Reding have looked into it. Well now, just see here."

He opened the portfolio; it contained views of the Campo Santo at Pisa. The leaves were slowly turned over in silence, the spectators partly admiring, partly not knowing what to think, partly wondering at what was coming.

"What do you think my plan is?" he continued. "You twitted me, Sheffield, because my chapel would be useless. Now, I mean to get a cemetery attached to it; there is plenty of land; and then the chapel will {46} become a chantry. But now, what will you say if we have a copy of these splendid medieval monuments round the burial-place, both sculpture and painting? Now, Sheffield, Mr. Critic, what do you say to that?"

"A most admirable plan," said Sheffield, "and quite removes my objections ... A chantry, what is that? Don't they say Mass in it for the dead?"

"Oh, no, no, no," said Bateman, in fear of Freeborn, "we'll have none of your Popery. It will be a simple guileless chapel, in which the Church Service will be read."

Meanwhile Sheffield was slowly turning over the plates. He stopped at one. "What will you do with that figure?" he said, pointing to a Madonna.

"Oh, it will be best, most prudent to leave it out; certainly, certainly."

Sheffield soon began again: "But look here, my good fellow, what do you do with these saints and angels? do see, why here's a complete legend; do you mean to have this? Here's a set of miracles, and a woman invoking a saint in heaven."

Bateman looked cautiously at them, and did not answer. He would have shut the book, but Sheffield wished to see some more. Meanwhile he said, "Oh yes, true, there are some things; but I have an expedient for all this; I mean to make it all allegorical. The Blessed Virgin shall be the Church, and the saints shall be cardinal and other virtues; and as to that saint's life, St. Ranieri's, it shall be a Catholic 'Pilgrim's Progress'."

"Good! then you must drop all these popes and {47} bishops, copes and chalices," said Sheffield; "and have their names written under the rest, that people mayn't take them for saints and angels. Perhaps you had better have scrolls from their mouths, in old English. This St. Thomas is stout; make him say, 'I am Mr. Dreadnought,' or 'I am Giant Despair'; and, since this beautiful saint bears a sort of dish, make her 'Mrs. Creature Comfort'. But look here," he continued, "a whole set of devils; are these to be painted up?"

Bateman attempted forcibly to shut the book; Sheffield went on: "St. Anthony's temptations; what's this? Here's the fiend in the shape of a cat on a wine-barrel."

"Really, really," said Bateman, disgusted and getting possession of it, "you are quite offensive, quite. We will look at them when you are more serious."

Sheffield indeed was very provoking, and Bateman more good-humoured than many persons would have been in his place. Meanwhile Freeborn, who had had his gown in his hand the last two minutes, nodded to his host, and took his departure by himself; and White and Willis soon followed in company.

"Really," said Bateman to Sheffield, when they were gone, "you and White, each in his own way, are so very rash in your mode of speaking, and before other people, too. I wished to teach Freeborn a little good Catholicism, and you have spoilt all. I hoped something would have come out of this breakfast. But only think of White! it will all out. Freeborn will tell it to his set. It is very bad, very bad indeed. And you, my friend, are not much better; never {48} serious. What could you mean by saying that our Church is not one with the Romish? It was giving Freeborn such an advantage."

Sheffield looked provokingly easy; and, leaning with his back against the mantelpiece, and his coattails almost playing with the spout of the kettle, replied, "You had a most awkward team to drive". Then he added, looking sideways at him, with his head back, "And why had you, O most correct of men, the audacity to say that the English Church and the Romish Church were one?"

"It must be so," answered Bateman; "there is but one Church—the Creed says so; would you make two?"

"I don't speak of doctrine," said Sheffield, "but of fact. I didn't mean to say that there were two Churches; nor to deny that there was one Church. I but denied the fact, that what are evidently two bodies were one body."

Bateman thought awhile; and Charles employed himself in scraping down the soot from the back of the chimney with the poker. He did not wish to speak, but he was not sorry to listen to such an argument.

"My good fellow," said Bateman, in a tone of instruction, "you are making a distinction between a Church and a body which I don't quite comprehend. You say that there are two bodies, and yet but one Church. If so, the Church is not a body, but something abstract, a mere name, a general idea; is that your meaning? if so, you are an honest Calvinist."

"You are another," answered Sheffield; "for if you make two visible Churches, English and Romish, to be {49} one Church, that one Church must be invisible, not visible. Thus, if I hold an abstract Church, you hold an invisible one."

"I do not see that," said Bateman.

"Prove the two Churches to be one," said Sheffield, "and then I'll prove something else."

"Some paradox?" said Bateman.

"Of course," answered Sheffield, "a huge one; but yours, not mine. Prove the English and Romish Churches to be in any sense one, and I will prove by parallel arguments that in the same sense we and the Wesleyans are one."

This was a fair challenge. Bateman, however, suddenly put on a demure look, and was silent. "We are on sacred subjects," he said at length in a subdued tone, "we are on very sacred subjects; we must be reverent," and he drew a very long face.

Sheffield laughed out, nor could Reding stand it. "What is it?" cried Sheffield; "don't be hard on me. What have I done? Where did the sacredness begin? I eat my words."

"Oh, he meant nothing," said Charles, "indeed he did not; he's more serious than he seems; do answer him; I am interested."

"Really, I do wish to treat the subject gravely," said Sheffield; "I will begin again. I am very sorry, indeed I am. Let me put the objection more reverently."

Bateman relaxed: "My good Sheffield," he said, "the thing is irreverent, not the manner. It is irreverent to liken your holy mother to the Wesleyan schismatics." {50}

"I repent, I do indeed," said Sheffield; "it was a wavering of faith; it was very unseemly, I confess it. What can I say more? Look at me; won't this do? But now tell me, do tell me, how are we one body with the Romanists, yet the Wesleyans not one body with us?"

Bateman looked at him, and was satisfied with the expression of his face. "It's a strange question for you to ask," he said; "I fancied you were a sharper fellow. Don't you see that we have the apostolical succession as well as the Romanists?"

"But Romanists say," answered Sheffield, "that that is not enough for unity; that we ought to be in communion with the Pope."

"That's their mistake," answered Bateman.

"That's just what the Wesleyans say of us," retorted Sheffield, "when we won't acknowledge their succession; they say it's our mistake."

"Their succession!" cried Bateman; "they have no succession."

"Yes, they have," said Sheffield; "they have a ministerial succession."

"It isn't apostolical," answered Bateman.

"Yes, but it is evangelical, a succession of doctrine," said Sheffield.

"Doctrine! Evangelical!" cried Bateman; "who ever heard! that's not enough; doctrine is not enough without bishops."

"And succession is not enough without the Pope," answered Sheffield.

"They act against the bishops," said Bateman, not quite seeing whither he was going. {51}

"And we act against the Pope," said Sheffield.

"We say that the Pope isn't necessary," said Bateman.

"And they say that bishops are not necessary," returned Sheffield.

They were out of breath, and paused to see where they stood. Presently Bateman said, "My good sir, this is a question of fact, not of argumentative cleverness. The question is, whether it is not true that bishops are necessary to the notion of a Church, and whether it is not false that Popes are necessary."

"No, no," cried Sheffield, "the question is this: whether obedience to our bishops is not necessary to make Wesleyans one body with us, and obedience to their Pope necessary to make us one body with the Romanists. You maintain the one, and deny the other; I maintain both. Maintain both, or deny both: I am consistent; you are inconsistent."

Bateman was puzzled.

"In a word," Sheffield added, "succession is not unity, any more than doctrine."

"Not unity? What then is unity?" asked Bateman.

"Oneness of polity," answered Sheffield.

Bateman thought awhile. "The idea is preposterous," he said: "here we have possession; here we are established since King Lucius's time, or since St. Paul preached here; filling the island; one continuous Church; with the same territory, the same succession, the same hierarchy, the same civil and political position, the same churches. Yes," he proceeded, "we have the very same fabrics, the memorials of a thousand years, {52} doctrine stamped and perpetuated in stone; all the mystical teaching of the old saints. What have the Methodists to do with Catholic rites? with altars, with sacrifice, with rood-lofts, with fonts, with niches?—they call it all superstition."

"Don't be angry with me, Bateman," said Sheffield, "and, before going, I will put forth a parable. Here's the Church of England, as like a Protestant Establishment as it can stare; bishops and people, all but a few like yourselves, call it Protestant; the living body calls itself Protestant; the living body abjures Catholicism, flings off the name and the thing, hates the Church of Rome, laughs at sacramental power, despises the Fathers, is jealous of priestcraft, is a Protestant reality, is a Catholic sham. This existing reality, which is alive and no mistake, you wish to top with a filagree-work of screens, dorsals, pastoral staffs, croziers, mitres, and the like. Now, most excellent Bateman, will you hear my parable? will you be offended at it?"

Silence gave consent, and Sheffield proceeded.

"Why, once on a time a negro boy, when his master was away, stole into his wardrobe, and determined to make himself fine at his master's expense. So he was presently seen in the streets, naked as usual, but strutting up and down with a cocked hat on his head, and a pair of white kid gloves on his hands."

"Away with you! get out, you graceless, hopeless fellow!" said Bateman, discharging the sofa-bolster at his head. Meanwhile Sheffield ran to the door, and quickly found himself with Charles in the street below.

Chapter 1-8

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