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known the feeling of greater security which comes over us when we are in the presence of one whom we know to be good and holy. Is not this the reason why when very little we believed ourselves so safe by our dear mother's side, because we knew her to be free from all blame? Just so, when this danger came upon the land, all the people turned to the good old Christian of the River-Isle for aid-they came in a body both Pagans and Christians, and asked him with tears to help them. And he answered with prayers and deeds.
“He took no arms with him, no forces; but alone, leaning on his staff, his head bowed to the ground in lowliness, and his mind thinking on holy things, he went on his way towards the enemy's camp. The king, who led this cruel body of invaders had just mounted his fiery war-horse, and sitting proudly on his seat was thinking with himself what deeds he should do that day, what riches he should get, how many villages he should plunder and destroy, how many lives he should take away. He thought not of any opposition; or if he thought at all, it was of lofty moun. tains and of rolling rivers, or hosts of armed soldiers; he would have laughed had any one told him that a weak grey-haired old man should stop his plunder and his cruelties for one moment's time. And yet it was so. The king's proud eye fell before that old man's calm look, the king's proud head bowed low before that old man's humble mien ; the strong bold leader of a savage army became as a child at the rebuke of the feeble aged Christian, for he was bolder and more calm in danger far. Unharmed, he went again from the heathen camp; but before he went, the humbled king had promised that he would lead his soldiers no farther into the land to ruin and destroy. But no sooner was the bent form of the brave father out of sight, than the king repented him of that rash promise ; rage filled his heart in the place of awe and fear, and he thought only now of how he might revenge himself. • Fool!' he said, “to be thus frighted like a silly maiden at the frown of an ailing old grandfather. But I promised only to do his land no harm; I said nought of himself; he shall yet find what it is to stop a king and a king's army.' And so he called to him his most trusty soldier, and bade him take two comrades, and go and slay the Christian. And though the way was rough and long, yet the good father made such speed to get back to his loved Island-home, that he reached it some time before this soldier and his men, who had not their hearts in the journey as he had, and knew not the way so well. For Ranulph (such was this soldier's name) though he was still a heathen, had a good heart, and served God as far as he knew, and thought no ill of the Christians.
“But the people round about who loved the good old man, when they found out why these soldiers came, rose against them in one body, and stoned two of them to death, and Ranulph would have died too, but that the Island Father came in his little boat across the stream, and chid the violent people, and took the wounded Ranulph across to his lowly hut, and cured his wounds, and tended him as a mother would her sick child; and so Ranulph became a Christian. But when the king heard of it, he was very angry, and swore by his false gods that he would not leave that land without the heads of both. How !' said he, has he killed my soldiers, and made my Ranulph a traitor and a deserter? I keep no faith with such as he. But the king did the good father wrong by his words; for he would have made Ranulph no traitor. He kept him only till his wounds were healed, and then, when his convert would gladly have dwelt with him in that lonely hut upon the isle, and tended him like a little child until his last day, the old man turned away his head and wept, and then spake a few calm words.
“No, my son,' he said, 'speak no more of it. I know thou wouldst be à son to me indeed. But it must not be so. Thou hast a duty to thine earthly king, and thou must go back to him
Tell him that I forgive him from my heart for trying to
and that I bid him forgive us for having slain his soldiers. After, my son, if thy king permit thou mayest come back and dwell with me.' So Ranulph knelt, and received the old man's blessing, and set forth upon his journey with a heavy heart. But he had scarce reached the top of the river bank, when he espied the king's great army coming hotly across the plain, and the sun glittered on their spear-heads, and the dust went up around them; and he knew that they came for vengeance, and so he ran quickly back to the old man's hut, and told him what he had seen. So the old man loosed his little boat from off the shore, and floated quietly down upon the gentle river towards the sea, singing as he went; but Ranulph hasted back to meet the angry heathen king, and boldly spoke out the old man's message. Then the king was very angry, and they took the bold Ranulph, and threw chains upon his hands and feet, and brought him to a high windy peak at the mouth of the river that looked out upon the tossing sea, and cast him headlong down the bare rough rock. And the sight of his blood as it bespattered the peaks in his fall only made the cruel king more thirsty for the death of the Hermit of the Isle. But when they came, they found only his empty hut, and this in their vain fury they pulled down and scattered to the winds, for the old man himself had gone floating on until he came to the broad sea, and he had seen the noble death of the Christian Ranulph, and aided him with his prayers. And when his body fell he went on in his little boat until he reached it, and
took it up, and thus he waited till the enemy should go. But when the night came, high waves arose, and sank the little boat, and the strong tide bore back the two bodies to the shore of their island home, and the people who loved them buried them together where they had lived, and raised this mound to them, and set up this cross. And such, my brothers, as well as I can tell it, is the legend of the Island Cross.”
THE CHURCH THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF
(From Winslow.) The truth was first committed to the Church. It may be that many imagine that the truth was not all delivered at the first formation of the Church, but from time to time brought forward as successive portions of the New Testament were composed. That this was not the case we have the indirect testimony of those very Scriptures, which very frequently speak of Divine truth in such a way as to lead us to the inevitable conclusion, that, long before any of those books were written, the Church was in full and entire possession of “ the truth as it is in Jesus.” Thus, S. Jude exhorts Christians to contend earnestly for “the faith once (for all) delivered to the saints.” S. John, in his epistles, alludes to the great body of Christian doctrine as no new thing, but an “old” tradition, which they had “had from the beginning,” and charges the faithful to make the apostolic doctrine a test of the reality of pretension to spiritual gifts; reminding them that he does not write unto them because ” they “know not the truth, but because” they “know it:" just as S. Peter and the other sacred writers inform the persons whom they address, that they do not write to reveal some new thing, but rather to “stir up” the "pure minds” of the members of the Church, “ by way of remembrance,” and that they might“ know the certainty,” that is, be confirmed in the belief of the certainty “of those things wherein " they “ had been catechised.”* How plainly does S. Paul, in his epistles to Timothy and Titus, speak of the doctrine as a thing well known and established, and which had been delivered to them at their consecration, to publish to the flocks, and to hand down to coming time! To this effect are such injunctions as these, “hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me;" “that good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost Which dwelleth in us;”+ similar to which is the declaration in his epistle to the
1 John ii.7, 21, 24, 26. 2 Pet. iii. 1. Luke i. 4.
† 2 Tim. i. 13, 14.
* Jude 3
Church of Rome; "ye bave obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you."* To confirm this application of Scripture, we have the testimony of S. Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, who suffered martyrdom in A.D. 202, who thus writes: “We ought not to be still seeking among others for the truth, which it is easy to receive from the Church; since therein the Apostles did most abundantly lodge all things appertaining to the truth, so that whosoever will, may receive from her the
waters of life. And what if the Apostles themselves bad left us no Scriptures ? Ought we not to follow the course of tradition, such as they delivered it to those whom they intrusted with the Churches ?' Which rule is followed by many nations of the barbarians; those, I mean, who believe in CHRIST without paper or ink, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, diligently keeping the old tradition.” From all which we gather, that the Church on her birthday, the day of Pentecost, was in full possession of Gospel truth ; that this truth in “a
form of sound words," was committed to all converts, and solemnly intrusted to the Bishops, as a deposit to be reverently kept by them, and so transmitted through the Church, to lost men, unto the end of the world. Yet, how different is this plain scriptural view of the case from what we are apt to imagine ; and how very different is the office of holy Scripture from what is but too commonly thought! But what reasonable man can suppose that our blessed LORD committed the Gospel to the fluctuations of popular opinion and the caprices of individuals, rather than to a well-disciplined, divinely-governed body, whose business it should be to hold the truth in trust, to witness it, support it, and publish it to the nations? But, whatever may be the opinion of men of our times, the just testimony of Holy Scripture and ancient authors runs wholly one way; the Apostles were to “make disciples of” all men, teaching them” the doctrine of Christ; Divine orders were set in the mystical body, to bring all into the unity of the faith; the Church, “the Church of the living God," was made, from the very beginning "the pillar and ground of the truth.”
The Church is likewise the pillar and ground of the truth, in that she received and examined, attested and preserves the Holy Scriptures. This is an exceedingly important branch of our subject, and one of the deepest interest to every Christian, You know that, after the Apostolic age, there were circulated numbers of spurious writings, purporting to be the works of the Apostles and Evangelists; and now, how may we know that we have the true writings of inspired men, or that none of the inspired books have been excluded from the sacred Book ? And were it not for
* Rom. vi. 17.
the Church, it would be difficult to answer these questions satisfactorily. True, there are other modes of proving the genuineness and authenticity of the several portions of the New Testament: but these modes would be insufficient without the Church. The learned could, indeed, carefully examine the style of the writer, and mastering the internal evidence, in some degree satisfy him. self. But what is the unlettered Christian to do? Is he to receive the Scriptures as true upon the reasoning of fallible man, which he cannot investigate for himself ? How few there are who are able properly to examine such a subject. And when we remember the difference of human opinion, and the fallibility of human judgment, we should in some sort tremble for the evidences of the Bible. But if the witness of the Catholic Church be received, then we have no further difficulty. I am then asked by a private Christian, How do we know that we have the genuine books of Scripture? I answer, that, at the time of the writing of the Scriptures, there was a divinely constituted body in the world, with whom the truth was intrusted : when, from time to time, these writings came out, this body, the Church, tried them by the test of the Apostolic doctrine, whether they were of God; knowing that if they contained any other doctrine, or any other Gospel, then came they not from men moved by the Holy Ghost. Then, having in other ways, too, ascer, tained their genuineness, the Church received them as canonical books tried and approved by her, and handed down her testimony to this effect from generation to generation : and so, because in all branches of the Church, in all time, and by all her Pastors and laity, these books have been received as canonical, therefore we receive them as such. Thus, every private Christian can say, when a doubt is expressed as to the genuineness or authenticity of any particular book, It has always been received by the Church, and therefore I receive it with unfeigned faith, knowing that the Church is the Divine ordinance for the diffusion and perpetuation of Divine truth. And, humanly speaking, if it had not been for the “pillar,” where would now have been the blessed Bible ? Imperial rage would have destroyed, pestilential heresy would have adulterated, the Word of God. But as it is, how high upon its firm foundation that Book has been preserved to the world; while round the rock-founded pillar have vainly blazed the fires of Pagan persecution, and by it for eighteen centuries has swept the ceaseless tide of time! It is, Christian brethren, because there was a body in the world qualified and authorised to try the sacred books by a sure test ; because that same body, by succession being perpetuated to our age, has in the same way perpetuated that testimony, that you can go this day to your closets; and, free from doubt, and without the te