Imatges de pàgina

preparation for a third and more perfect dispensation to come. These two movements bear a strict analogy to the two phases of Revelation, the Judaic and the Christian ; the first exhibiting more of the character of materialism, and the latter more of the character of spiritualism, and both together mani. festing the two extremes of one and the same being, historically exhibited in apparent antagonism or opposition. Hence the arts, as contradistinguished from the sciences, date their origin historically from the first or material dispensation ; because they are merely modellings of the materiel of nature, but the sciences owe their existence to the second or spiritual dispensation, as being a higher flight of the rational faculties to penetrate the secrets of the eternal Creator

But as these twin manifestations of mind have been, in a paramount sense, not only separately developed, but developed in apparent antipathy; it necessarily follows that each, as a partial and separate appearance, is imperfect. The first is defective for want of spirituality, or the highest order of imaginative being; it is “ of the earth, earthy, and speaketh of the earth," it is full of plain natural truth, and striking to the senses. The religious poetry of the Greeks is more sensuous and intelligible than ours; their sculptured gods have a similar character. Their dramatic mode of conveying moral instruction is more natural than our Evangelical mode ; and the Synagogue of the Jews, which corresponds in character with the theatre of the Greeks, is in perfect keeping with the dispensation to which it belongs. There is more nature and intelligibility, but less sublimity and mystery, than in the dispensation which follows. We have thrown a glare of spiritual sunshine upon all the creations of sacred art. But, as every artist knows, the sunny mist is a species of darkness :

“Dark with excessive light thy skirts appear.In the sublime, though mysterious foreshadowings of religion, the inquisitive eye may always discover the types of approaching eras, and no type can better illustrate the idea which we entertain of the third great dispensation of the arts, than what is theologically termed, the union of the Law and the Gospel. The apparent separation of these two universal elements of social being, the material and the spiritual, is a symbolical indication of some great fundamental defect in our present system ; we require no process of reasoning to convince us of this deficiency--we all feel it. But when we see the dramatic consistency of the plan of Providence thus evidenced, by a fact which forms 80 remarkable a feature of the Jewish and Christian Revelation, we are more inclined to give our assent to the plausibility of the idea that the great changes to which we allude in the history of the arts, must be consentaneous with that equally important change which intermarries the material with the spiritual world, and removes the antipathy so long existing between them.

We are not alluding, even in idea, to the return of the Jews to their own country: we have higher conceptions of the union of the material and the spiritual than this. We take the high philosophical or universal view of the subject, and regard the Law as the political and material, the Gospel as the spiritual element of being; these two have long been in antipathy. The body is in disgrace, and this is a great and universal fact which has no connexion with religious belief, but pervades society. It is a great spiritual action which Aickered in the human mind before the Christian era, but received an eccleliastical or organised embodyment in Christianity. The opposite polar extreme had been previously developed to excess. The wisest man in Israel advised Absalom, the son of David, to lie with his father's wives on the top of the house before all the people, as the wisest act of policy that he could perform. We can scarcely imagine how a man could steal the hearts of the people by such an act. A modern radical mob would disdain to follow such a leader, they would tear him to pieces : but the degree of vice must be determined by the spirit of the age, and the prevailing obtuseness of feeling upon such subjects. That which is an act of licentiousness in man, is not so in

a brute ; and therefore we are not so much disposed to coudemn the moral spirit of ancient times, as to maintain that their moral sensibilities were not developed like ours; and, therefore, the flesh exhibited itself with less reserve in all its grossness and brutality. The history of Venus and Priapus Inight afford us many similar illustrations amongst the Heathen, with which we dispense; and we conclude this paragraph by observing, that the spiritualism of Christianity was the antithesis of this - a spiritual reaction against the old materialism or sensualism. The flesh has been condemned and obliged to hide itself; and all sects and parties, even infidels themselves, have been carried away with the tide of spiritualism.

We must now point out to the reader a new and important feature in the history of society, namely, the reappearance of materialism in the last and present century, and its almost universal influence, even over the world of professional faith. Materialism is not confined to infidels; the religious world is all materialised ; science, matter, properties of matter, chemistry, phrenology, or craniology, nerves, blood, chemical agency, — these are the gods to which scientialists now point in their ex cathedra instructions to the people. The small party who take the name of Materialists are merely exponents of the condition of the public mind. It is a material age, the body is rising, the movement is too universal to be resisted. It is a work of God, a preparation for some great social change. It is the transition state from the old spiritualism of the church, to some new condition, which will ultimately combine the spiritual and material in one, and thus sanctify the latter, whilst it naturalises the former.

Having made these preliminary observations, we are prepared to descend from universals to particulars respecting each of the fine arts, individually, in that peculiar aspect, namely, the sacred, to which alone we direct the attention. The sacred poetry of the ancients, peopled all nature with divinities ; but still there was something that nature did, which the divinities did not. The latter were a species of magicians with superior power over the elements; but there was a ceaseless activity of life in the elements themselves, of which no account is given. The “ spiritus inius,” or “mens quæ agitat molem," the soul of the world, as conceived by the ancients, was like the soul of a steamengine, which required Jupiters, Mercuries, and Neplunes, to regulate it. The sacred poetry of the moderns is equally defective; it discharges all the gods, or the clerks of heaven, and confers the sovereignty on one eternal and infinite Spirit theoretically; but when it reduces its theory to practice, it entirely abandons it. The god of Thomson, in his beautiful Hymn to the Seasons, conveys some conception of a universal Deity, “ The varied God of whom the rolling year is full;" but it is a vague notion in the poet's mind, for he can. not descend with it into the antagonism of individual life. Milton is obliged to deny the infinitude of Deity in his war with the angels. Where is God visible or dimly seen in the hell of Paradise Lost ? Our philosophical poets perceive this difficulty, and avoid all allusion to God. Our religious poets have yet to get over the difficulties. The difficulties are as follow. The Deity must be universal in his character, Omnipresent, Omniactive, and Omnipassive. There are yet two opposite polarities contending for supremacy; one of these polarities is the heir apparent, the other is the heir anointed. The one is a strong intellectual, the other a high moral character. Consequently the one proposes to rule by physical and intellectual power, the other by moral attraction. Each fails for a time, but the intellectual, at first, maintains its supremacy by its mental power and energy: unable to grasp infinity, it splits into a thousand sectarian fragments, and marches distractedly on through a world of anarchy. The moral power, at length, obtains the ascendancy, and intellect becomes the servant instead of the master of the moral principle,– "The elder shall serve the younger.” The elect then reign, and the alien are subject; and universal harmony is restored by the acknowledgement of the legitimate heir, which is the moral in preference to the intellectual. By this “allegory," the poet is introduced into a beautiful field of social progress and moral regeneration, and

each child of inspiration would thus be enabled freely and forcibly to express his own individual opinions on that all important subject; a subject which at present engrosses the attention of every thinking mind, and which has, at length, put an extinguisher upon sacred “ epic,'' only because this species of poetry has been unable to keep pace with the progress of the human mind. It is a glorious task, but one that requires a high degree of genius and moral feeling to fairly represent the Satan and the Messiah of Scripture. What a noble figure the Satan of the Scripture is! He walks in heaven, converses, and co-operates with the Lord*. Michael, the Archangel, durst not bring a railing accusation against him. He is evidently identified, in some passages, with the messenger of the Lord ; and by comparing 2 Sam. xxiv. l. with 1 Chron. xxi. 1., we find that the sacred historian identifies him with the Lord himself. There is a mystery about the character, but no absolute malignity. There is in him a relative, but not an absolute evil; there is a lawful sovereignty acknowledged, even by an Archangel, and the evil which he effects is the antecedent portion of a Draina, of which a grand moral consummation is the consequence; and Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light, and creation becomes a universal harmonicon.

If we have succeeded in expressing our meaning upon this subject, we are satisfied; we leave the ripieno or filling up to the reader himself, because we have no desire to impose any particular dogma upon him, but merely to present one bird's-eye view of progression to his mind. The third dispensation of the other departments of sacred art, is in perfect harmony with that of poetry- viz. : a restoration of the Material or Sensuous in a new and sacred character. Thus for instance, a rich and unbounded field of thought yet lies before the creative genius of Sculpture, and Painting, and Poetry, in the personifications of the divine attributes, a science abused by the Pagans to the profane purposes of idolatry; but capable in an age, by no means disposed to idolatrous worship, of elevating the conceptions and enriching the language by new terms and fignres of speech, to which our now accurate knowledge of universal laws would give vivid effect. It was this science which first gave birth to the fine arts; and this alone is able to give the finishing touches to these human creations. The immediate effect of the revival of Materialism in modern times was the desertion of the divine and superhuman, and the adoption of the common or vulgar in the arts. This was the dissolution of the old system-its revival is impossible. This change has been of incalculable benefit: it has revived a taste for the natural which the spiritual system had destroyed; and given a variety of thought to modern artists, which happily contrasts with the limited range of imagination peculiar to the old masters. All low and common things are now executed better than ever. We have more beautiful cabinet pictures-- more exquisite miniatures—more perfect delineations of low life-more natural grouping of figures—more natural landscapes ; but there is a manifest falling off in the sublime and the grand-because there has been a descent from a spiritual to a material condition. There is an inexpressible sanctity about a collection of pictures of the ancient and best masters, which no modern exhibition possesses. The “ Virgin and Child"-the “ Personification of Chastity and Innocence"- the “Ecce Homo"- the “ San Sebastiano" pierced with arrows-the “St. John in the wilderness"-"St. Francis," and many other favourite subjects upon which every ancient master was constantly employed, working up the original idea with persevering industry and reverential feeling, are higher subjects of contemplation than the Duke of Wellington on horseback-her Majesty on ponyback-a portrait of the Duchess of Sutherland or the Countess of Blessington, or any other subject of modern art. The one is the personification of a human character under the influence of a transcendental moral feeling; the other is merely a sketch

• There is evidently a distinction between God and the Lord. The former is the universal Deity; the latter is the human divine form that represents the Godhead.

of an individual, in which the artist has borrowed little or nothing from his creative genius, and to which he can lend nothing of that finish which the di. vine Raffaelle has given to his few but exquisite productions. Up to the highest order of imaginative creation, the arts cannot rise at present, for want of a religious feeling. That of the old masters is too austere and revolting to huma. nity: it has been abandoned, and the Protestant School has never yet been able to discover a higher standard : hence the total failure of sacred painting as an art in Protestant countries. Moreover, as we formerly observed, catholicism has concealed the body : its most sacred characters are clothed ; and, in order to show his pictorial skill, the artist has frequently used the awkward and unnatural liberty of representing executioners, soldiers, and other officials, naked- having no other system by which the human body can be delineated as God has made it. There is something exceedingly offensive to good taste in this want of truth : falsehood never can be permanently established in the arts any more than in a church, a state, or a science. Humanity rebels at last.Humanity has rebelled : and painters are now conscious of the almost insuperable difficulty of producing a fine sacred painting true to nature, and yet exhibiting that assemblage of limb and muscle so delicious to the eye of the dilettante. With the exception of Adam and Eve, history will scarcely furnish a single subject. Heathen mythology helongs to another dispensation, and is not in keeping with the present condition of the human mind. What can the the poor painter do? He must find a suitable pretext for pakedness.-A naked Duke of Wellington, or a naked Victoria, would be an insult to the parties and an offence to public taste. A naked fignre on a sofa or bed is equally indelicate; but a naked Adam and Eve is not so, because, it is truth; and moreover, the pretext is admissible, and the artist is acquitted of all unchaste or indelicate motives. Now nothing short of a religion can supply this great defect in art; a mere personification of human attributes would not suffice; the human mind looks higher than itself--and where can it go but to attributes divine ? We want such a science--a theological science for the arts; for the fall has brought clothing upon humanity; and human feelings will not suffer fallen man to be represented without it. But a beau ideal or unfallen mana representa. tive of a divine or a regenerated attribute, would accord with the feelings of all men both elect and reprobate. Such a science, moreover, would be a highly moral science, through which finer moral sentiments could be conveyed, than can ever come from the ungodlike surface of woollen coats and kersey mere trowsers, or even the rustling silks and lustrous velvets of our female aristocracy. We do not pretend to teach this science; but we say, the arts are longing for its birth-and a birth it will have,

With respect to the theatre, which is at present very corrupt, we have no hesitation in saying that the sacred drama will, ere long, be restored and be. come highly influential in refining and purifying the moral taste of the people. Theatre," literally, means a place for®“ seeing" instruction, in opposition to an “auditorium" or school for hearing Practically it includes both—but the eye is peculiarly addressed in a theatre; and being the most active of all the senses, we consider that it is peculiarly fitted for receiving sacred impres. sions. It is a curious fact in human history, however, that the eye has been desecrated in the second dispensation. This was a reaction arising from the catholic abuse of it, but reactions cannot last for ever, and the eye will maintain and recover its rights. Why should not the eye be sanctified as well as the ear? If it be not sanctified, it will riot in excess of licentiousness that will react with fearful veugeance upon those who now banish it from holy ground. The church is an “ auditorium' only. Now the ear is an intellectual organ-the eye is a moral organ— we hear precept by the ear, but see example by the eye-we see good manners—we see cleanliness of person-we see agreeable looks-kind expressions of countenance and we might see rich and highly instructive manifestations of the works of God in transparencies and illuminated designs, which would act as a species of " Shekinah" on the contemplative mind. The old Jewish Temple, was a species of theatrical model.

The Shekipa, or divine representation, in one division, separated from the holy place by a veil or curtain, probably constituted a temporary symbol of something useful in the moral training of mankind. We know not but, as an illustration of our theatrical views, it subserves a useful purpose ; and we inean no despite to its higher significatiou, when we employ it as a model of a great moral and religions institution, for training the human mind to a comprehensive and sublime conception of the universal temple of God-Creation and its laws. Whether the clergy be afraid of the superior attraction of such exhibitions, we know not-but of their high moral and religious tendency we have no doubt.

Having dismissed the Cryptologist“ Pray,” said the Gobie, “What does the author of the Loyal Address mean by Syncretism ?"

“ The writer, Alerist,” we replied, "shall himself inform you. He has obliged us with the following explanation, to which both dead and living, Gobies and men, will do well to attend."

WHAT IS SYNCRETISM? The eternal and invincible progress of truth fills the minds of its disciples with a joy and exultation that can only be understood by being experienced.

The grand principle of Catholicity, or Syncretism, whose cause we plead—the eldest and augustest element of all theology and legislation-sciences so resplendent in eras of antiquity-has ever been revealing itself in successive avatars and manifestations to great and prophetic spirits.

The magnificent dogma of catholicity which glittered through the theologic revelations of antiquity--the principle in which Deity evolved himself in a resplendent series of developements and filiations, all bound together by filial and fraternal ties of imperishable sympathy-the principle of the One and All, the One in All, and All in One--so admirably explained by the inspired writers, and the initiated sages of Gentilism, again dawns on society. It has once more formed itself a nucleus, which, like the foci of Cartesian astronomy, however insignificant it now appears, shall attract its kindred elements by a law of geometrical progression, till it shall become the most gorgeous of the moral constellations in the firmament of these last ages.

Syncretism has revived in Germany and France, and, by God's blessing, it shall revive in Britain. We are but the first sparklings of its inextinguishable flame, the mere symbols of a rising power, which, like the voice of the last trumpet, shall shake the strongholds of faction into ruin. Like Selden, our noble brother, we exclaim-“Throw up a straw, and it will tell you where sits the wind.”

The signs of this rejuvenescence of syncretism may be faint and minute as the span-broad cloudlet of the prophet, but, insignificant as they are, they show the tendency of the times; they teach us that union shall yet triumph over division, harmony over discord, and coalition over party spirit. This little leaven shall stir the whole mass of society into a new and auspicious fermentation. The spirit that now walks the earth in humility, sorrow, and slavery, shall burst its fetters and soar to heaven, and hide its head among the stars. “Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo."

It is impossible, however, that such syncretists, who outsoar all parties and embrace them all, and who only mix with them to scatter their various follies and corruptions, should be immediately understood by the common herd of men. Great minds are only intelligible to great minds; the power of mental vision must be expanded, before it can compass the elements of true magnanimity.

Zeal for the promotion of this universal truth always increases in the same ratio as the truth possessed. It is no wonder, therefore, that Catholic and Syncretic men, who cherish universal truth, should be more zealous, eager, and enthusiastic, to circulate it, than if they cherished any partial truth. Their motto is, Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo ; and their zeal for the advancement of universal truth is not the less because they employ the genial, graceful, and poetical means of facilitating its influence. It is, therefore, absolutely false to assert, that Catholic Syncretists, or the lovers of universal truth, are less energetic for propagating it, than sectaries and partisans are for propagating partial truth; which is too nearly synonymous with error.

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