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a proficient such as few Jesuits even in after days could compete with. But prelate and Jesuit might both have profited by the heathen's line ;
Bούλου κρατείν μεν, ξυν θεώ δ' αεί κρατείν.” And it is hereupon asked with wonderment,-How was he then sincere!- If vain, ambitious, implacable, obstinate, and self-willed, how is his character at all to be defended ?- We must look to the age, but first and foremost to the school in which, by a strange sort of alchemy, these various propensities are turned into virtues. They all became merged into the unflinching champion of the hierarchy. Rome beheld in him the most useful instrument the age had produced--an špiluxov opyavov. But, as such, she was afraid of his power in the hands of HENRY, and so adopted him, with all his infirmities, as her own child. It is true, we cannot, or can hardly, understand this,
Cum ventum ad verum est, sensus moresque repugnant ! But so it is, even though, in his distress, Rome's Popes sometimes used him scurvily, and when it served their purpose, played fast and loose with the most untractable of men. But the most wonderful point is still behind.
BECKET (alas ! for the weakness of human nature,) was selfdeceived ! He was brought by degrees to look upon himself as the champion of the Cross! HE CONFOUNDED THE UNHEARD OF PRIVILEGES OF THE CHURCH WITH RELIGION ! It was a consequence natural enough, that when matters had once advanced thus far, the king and the primate should be rivals, according to that proverb of the ancients, Unum arbustum non alit duos erithacos !
Then again, such was the robbery and spoliation that the Church had undergone at the hands of the State; such was the miserable condition of the Church's patrimony at this time in England, that the heart of BECKET, - his heart of hearts, and the better part of him,-could not brook the contumely. Bishoprics were not filled up; abbeys were in a like sort; and the chances were, that in a few
а years no endowments would be left. How should BECKET, of all men living, stomach this? Moreover, schooled as he was, and notwithstanding the vacillating conduct of Rome towards him, when it served a purpose, to him the authority of the Pope was.
paramount, and it would be a kind of moral sacrilege to give up the Clergy to lay tribunals. Was the civil sword more to be heeded than that of St. Peter ? Condemnation by common law more than censures ecclesiastical?
Acute, strong-minded, and energetic as the primate was, he did not detect the fallacy under which he had laboured. The result of this self-delusion was, that he lost sight of his besetting sinsvanity and personal ambition, however well masked. In the place of these he saw in himself an honest and thorough determination to defend the cause of right, and a firm resolution to support the pedestal of the Cross, as though that foundation were not better laid ! Obstinacy became self-devotion; prejudice and bigotry sound zeal for the glory of God, and an intrepid perseverance in the blood of holy martyrs ! Sanguis Martyrum semen Ecclesia was to him for hatchment and for posy! Attachment to the hierarchy blotted out all earthly affections, so that ingratitude to a sovereign seemed no sin ; and the ties of friendship were snapped asunder like tow, or counted as an amiable weakness! Becket, in a word, was self-deceived, and “ the cause,” says one,
66 which to us wears few marks of Christian truth, to hin was sacred, and he defended it sincerely." (Berington, p. 240.)
After all, he was neither such a sinner as some, nor such a saint as others represent him to have been. The best of men are but men at best, and he, like the rest of us, was hedged in by infirmities. He had a great part to play, and great abuses to stem. He was tried by prosperity and adversity. It may be, he was weighed and found wanting ; dust nevertheless he was, and mercifully as such to be dealt with by brethren in after ages, who haply err no less than he did in their every-day trials, and every-day temptations ! How should the consideration of his life imprint upon the ambitious Churchman the prophet's words, “ And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not !” (Jer. xlv. 5,) and much more those words of our Blessed Lord, so little exemplified in his restless, turbulent, and care-galled life. 66 BLESSED ARE THE MEEK !
" BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS! Great was the name the archbishop left behind him, but many nameless ones have done great acts, and a better record is kept in heaven than in the martyrologies of earth! At the same time, as that great and good Christian philosopher said on his Christian Morals, Culpable beginnings have found commendable conclusions, and infamous courses pious retractations. Detestable sinners have proved exemplary converts on earth, and may be glorious in the apartment of Mary Magdalen in heaven. Men are not the same through all the divisions of their ages; time, experience, selfreflections, and God's mercies, make in some well-tempered minds a kind of translation before death, and men differ from themselves as well as from other persons. CHARITY IN THE LONG RUN
And thus, alive to the worst of BECKET's faults, we are not sorry to quote the words of a great divine, (THOMAS Jackson,) and to conclude, “ To sit as coroners upon the souls of men deceased, is a thing which I have ever misliked, though sometimes practised by men, otherwise of deserved esteem. And whosoever in this case will take upon him to sit as judge, my request shall be not to serve upon the jury."