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entire man, and often of life itself. They are therefore incompatible with the domestic life, which has its reserves jealously maintained; which will give to duty a certain portion of the man, of his time, his labour, and his health; but keeps back another portion as belonging to others, the nearest and dearest to him.
From the certain operation of these principles rather than from any outwardly-imposed law, arose the exhibition of the Virginal Life in two great institutions, which run through the whole history of Christianity, the secular Clergy, and the Religious Orders of men and women.
The creation of the Clergy must be considered a work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. It was not formed by human policy: it did not spring from secular motives, nor lean upon temporal support. On the contrary, it was the prolongation of the Good Shepherd's office, whose characteristic it was to give His life for His sheep. Accordingly, the devotion of the whole man to this one work, the pastoral charge, was its first necessity. To evangelise the world was the work; and it could only be attained by complete simplicity of purpose, by absolute surrender of the whole man. No halfservice, no mixture of secular motives and worldly success, was allowable here. But such a mixture was infallibly introduced by the married state. The moment a man had a wife and children, it became his duty to support these, since not to provide for one's own household is to be worse than an infidel. But to provide for one's own household, and to give one's life for the sheep, are duties which clash. They cannot proceed together, for they interfere with each other. The bond of marriage accordingly would have made the clerical office a profession, that is, a mode of gaining a secular livelihood, which is foreign to its nature. Its nature is to carry on the office of Christ the great Shepherd. Thus by an internal necessity from the beginning a deliverance from the bond of marriage was sought after. But this could only be gradual. When the Apostles were chosen, the institution of Virginity did not exist in the world. It had to grow up out of the example of our Lord and of His Mother. What could be done was done. First, to be the husband of but one wife* was given as the rule for the pastoral office, because the Christian society afforded among its converts examples of those who had never divorced their wives, or who, becoming widowers, had never married again. Presently we find the rule prescribed continence in the married life itself to the clergy. As time went on, and Christian principles had taken root and borne fruit, the choice became restricted to the unmarried, or at least widower; and finally, long before the cessation of the great persecutions in the first three centuries, a profession of virginal or continent life is found established as the rule among the clergy. Now the more it is examined, the clearer will be the conviction that this profession marks the line between the simply human life of natural affections, a life permitted among Christians, a life sanctioned, the life ever of the vast majority, and that higher life, the voluntary choice of the few, which rests simply on superhuman affections, supports, and rewards; which at once and for ever sacrifices all thought and aim of temporal prosperity, and takes for its portion God alone. How could the clergythe very meaning of whose name signified God's lot-choose any other portion than this? And while the Church was still considered by the Roman empire as its great and deadly enemy; while the empire was still doing its utmost to destroy that enemy, this choice was made by the clergy. It grew up every where as an instinct of the spiritual nature, an aspiration of the Christian heart; and so it came to be considered as a condition for those who were to guide and govern the Christian flock, and bear the brunt of the world's enmity against it. This profession of virginity or continence, therefore, which had had no existence before our Lord's coming, which was abhorrent from Jewish nature, and seemed to the whole Gentile world, while still in its unbelief, a renunciation of man's task to subdue the earth unto his use and to multiply his race, became a reality, an institution, a power all over the earth. Nay more; it seemed the special consecration of those who were to carry on their Lord's work; the condition and the token of their victory over the world, and of their success in His work; the condition of their independence, endurance, courage, and self-sacrifice; the token of their worthiness to lead others, and to be the example of those whom they should govern. So it must always be; for the principles here involved are independent of time, and lie in the nature of things. Those only can efficiently resist the world who care not for its frown, and do not solicit its rewards. And all spiritual government implies sacrifice: when severed from sacrifice, it is false to its Original, and so bereft of His power. Those who represent Him in His work of governing souls must follow Him; and “to follow is to imitate;" and it is precisely this imitation which marks the limit between the worldly and the unworldly, the natural and the supernatural.
When we pass from theory to fact, it is not without an effort that any mind can rise to the force of this phenomenon. In age
age through eighteen hundred years in all countries a certain portion of the human race is found to make the voluntary sacrifice of the heart's strongest affections to the service of God.* In all that innumerable multitude who have done so in these long centuries there was not one who could have continued this sacrifice to the end by force of any natural energy of character and his own determinate choice alone. Mere human nature sinks under any such trial. Yet it has been done. The oblation of the heart made by him who lay on the Lord's breast, and was intrusted with His Virgin Mother, has been repeated in unnumbered instances down to him who died yesterday, bearing before the judgmentseat of the Virgin Son of the Virgin the imperishable lustre of his own virginal crown, the spotless raiment won for an eternity. One single such instance is a proof of the reality of a religion which no argument can gainsay; for it is a proof utterly beyond man's power, which triumphs over all the forces and dwarfs all the results of the richest civilisation. But the Christian Church possesses not one instance, but countless thousands of them in her long probation; nay, has been bold enough to count on the permanence of this spirit of sacrifice in her bosom, and to trust to it for nothing less than the propagation of her faith and influence among men; for she chooses this condition as a chief test of aptitude in her ministers for the execution of her functions, and so depends on it for
* I do not touch upon corruption existing at particular times and places, whether in the clergy or the monastic institute. This may be conceded,
“As in this bad world below
Noblest things find vilest using ;" but not only do I believe that the amount of corruption has been small in comparison with the whole mass; but likewise the abuse is no argument against the merit of those who “to noblest things give noblest using." And if the abuse of a thing were an argument against its use, what institution in the world could stand ? e.g. marriage, or civil government. Think of the sufferings of wives from bad husbands, and of subjects from bad rulers, from the beginning of the world,