Post-Mediaeval Preachers - S. Baring-Gould - ebook

The following work is of Theological, Biographical, and Bibliographical interest. It has been written with the view of bringing a class of Preachers before the public who are scarcely known even by name to the theological student, but who are certainly remarkable for their originality, depth, and spirituality. Among the numerous Preachers of the three centuries under review, it has been difficult to decide which to select, but those chosen are believed to be the most characteristic.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi

Liczba stron: 271

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:


UUID: f9ee835a-cf94-11e7-a201-17532927e555
This ebook was created with StreetLib Write

Table of contents















The following work is of Theological, Biographical, and Bibliographical interest. It has been written with the view of bringing a class of Preachers before the public who are scarcely known even by name to the theological student, but who are certainly remarkable for their originality, depth, and spirituality. Among the numerous Preachers of the three centuries under review, it has been difficult to decide which to select, but those chosen are believed to be the most characteristic. The Author returns thanks to Mr. John Mozley Stark, of Fitzwilliam-street, Strand, for his assistance in the compilation of this Work, by the loan of some costly and scarce volumes not in the Author’s library. The title-page, and the Dance of Death at the head of this page, are taken from the Sermons of Santius Porta, printed and published by J. Cleyn, Lyons, 4to. 1513.


The history of preaching begins with the first sermon ever delivered, the first and the best, that of our blessed Lord on the mount in Galilee. The declamations of the ancient prophets differ widely in character from the sermons of Christian orators, and in briefly tracing the history of sacred elocution, we shall put them on one side. For the true principles of preaching are enshrined in that glorious mountain sermon. From it we learn what a Christian oration ought to be. We see that it should contain instruction in Gospel truths, illustrations from natural objects, warnings, and moral exhortations, and that considerable variety of matter may be introduced, so long as the essential unity of the piece be not interfered with. In this consists the difference between Christ’s model sermon, and the exhortations of those who went before Him. Jonah preached to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh, shall be overthrown,” and that was his only subject. John Baptist preached in the wilderness, and on one point only, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” They confined themselves to a single topic, and that purely subjective, whereas a Christian sermon is to be both objective and subjective. It should be like Jacob’s ladder, reaching from God’s throne to man’s earth, with its subject-matter constantly ascending and descending, leading men up to God, and showing God by His Incarnation descending to man. A Spanish bishop of the seventeenth century thus speaks of the Sermon on the Mount, the model for all sermons, and the pattern upon which many ancient preachers framed their discourses. He quotes St. John, “I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals;” and this book, he says, is the life of our blessed Lord, written with the characters of all virtues—within, in His most holy soul; without, in His sacred body. It is sealed with seven seals. St. John continues, “I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” Who, then, was worthy to open that book? None save Christ Himself. He opened it in the Sermon on the Mount, wherein He taught all men to follow and observe the virtues which He practised Himself. Hearken and consider as He opens each seal:— “Blessed are the poor in spirit:” and behold Him at the opening of this first seal, poor and of no reputation. “Blessed are they that mourn:” and this second seal displays Him offering up prayers for us, “with strong crying and tears.” “Blessed are the meek:” and we see Him meek and lowly of heart, before the judgment-seat answering not a word. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness:” this fourth seal exhibits Him whose meat it was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and who on the cross could still cry, “I thirst,” in the consuming thirst for the salvation of our souls. “Blessed are the merciful:” and “His mercy is over all His works.” “Blessed are the pure in heart:” and who was purer than the Virgin Son of the Virgin Mother? And the seventh seal opens with: “Blessed are the peacemakers;” showing us Christ who made “peace by the blood of His cross” between Jew and Gentile, between God and man. Every sermon preached since that mighty discourse, which opened the life of Christ to man, what has it been, but a turning over of leaf after leaf in that most mysterious book? There is something very striking in the accidents of that first sermon, that fountain whence every rill of sacred eloquence has flowed to water the whole earth; delivered, not in the gloom of the temple, in the shadow of the ponderous roof, like the burden of the law to weigh it down, but in the open air, free and elastic like the Gospel, on a mountain-top, in the soft breeze beneath an unclouded sun; the Preacher standing among mountain flowers, meet emblems of the graces which should spring up from His word, sown broadcast over the world. We can picture the scene: the twelve around Him, bowed in wonder, like the sheaves of the brethren bending before the sheaf of Joseph; and beyond, a great multitude with eager uplifted faces, a multitude hungering and thirsting after righteousness, drawing in the gracious words which proceeded from Christ’s lips; whilst far below, gently ripples and brightly twinkles the blue Galilean lake, over the waters of which that Preacher walked, and the waves of which by one word He stilled. We may say with the angel, “The waters which thou sawest are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. xvii. 15), and see in them a type of the world once tossing in the darkness and terror of a night of ignorance without God, but now to be calmed in the daylight of His presence, and lulled at the sound of His voice. The following analysis of the Sermon on the Mount, taken chiefly from Dr. J. Forbes, will give some idea of its arrangement:— Introduction. A. The character of the true members of Christ’s kingdom diametrically opposed to the expectations and character of the world. The Beatitudes, or progressive stages of Christian life (verses 3-10). The reward of those who keep the beatitudes in this world (11) and in the next (12). B. The duty of Christ’s servants towards the world (13-16). The Subject. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” I. (Ver. 17.) “Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets.” A. (Negative proposition) I am not come to destroy, B. (Positive proposition) but to fulfil. Negative proposition explained (18, 19). Positive proposition explained (20). Christ then shows how that the law is made of none effect by the Scribes and Pharisees, and not by Himself. II. A. The Teaching of Christ contrasted with that of the Scribes. Perfect form of the Second Table of the Law. 1. Law of Individual Life (VI Commandment, V Beatitude) (21-26). 2. Law of Family Life (VII Commandment, VI Beatitude) (27-32). 3. Central Law of Truth (IX Commandment) (33-37). 4. Law of National Life (VIII Commandment): On its Negative or Passive Side (III Beatitude) (38-42). On its Positive or Active Side (VII Beatitude) (43-48). III. The Practice required by Christ of His Disciples contrasted with the Practice of the Scribes and Pharisees. First Defect of Pharisaical Righteousness, Ostentation, or Hypocrisy. God must be regarded in all our Acts (chap. vi. 1). α. In the Duties owed to our Neighbours (2-4). β. In the Duties owed to God (5-15). γ. In the Duties owed to Ourselves (16-18). Second Defect of Pharisaical Righteousness, Worldliness. God must be regarded in all our Affections (19-34). Third Defect of Pharisaical Righteousness, Spiritual Pride. God must be regarded in all our Judgments (chap. vii. 1, 2). We must acquire Discernment to judge, a. How to give (3-5). b. To whom to give (6). c. What to give (7-12). Conclusion. The conclusion sums up, in three practical exhortations, the whole sermon. Such being the spirit of the Law and the Prophets, and the strictness of the righteousness required, I. Beware of Supineness (13, 14). II. Beware of false Teachers (15-20). III. Beware of empty Professions (21-27). The other sermons given in Holy Scripture are those of St. Peter, St. Stephen, and St. Paul; in all of which arrangement is discernible. But passing from the apostolic age to those succeeding it, we find that preaching consisted chiefly in scriptural exposition, the only order observed being that of the sacred text. Such was the nature of the sermons of St. Pantænus ( A.D. 180), the Sicilian Bee, so named from the way in which he gathered honey from the flowers of prophetic and apostolic fields. He is said to have travelled preaching the Gospel as far as India, whence he brought back a Hebrew copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel, left by St. Bartholomew. St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen succeeded him; adding polish and refinement to the matter. These great men, so well versed in the history of the Old and New Testaments, were also probably masters of the art of preaching, though but few of their genuine homilies are extant by which we might judge. In Africa, St. Cyprian preached with eloquence and vigour. A few sermons and homilies of St. Athanasius remain; and fifty sermons preached by the Macarii to the monks in the Thebaid. St. Ephraem Syrus, Deacon of Edessa, was a voluminous writer, and an eloquent preacher. Sozomen observes of him, that, though he had never studied, yet he had so many beauties in his style, and so many sublime thoughts, that the traces of his eloquence are discernible through a translation. St. Gregory Nyssen says that he had read and meditated more than any one else on the Bible; that he had written expositions upon all Holy Scripture; and that he had, besides, composed many fervid and touching exhortations. “All his discourses,” says he, “are filled with weeping and compassionate expressions, which are calculated to move even the hardest hearts. For who that is proud would not become the humblest of men, on reading his sermon on Humility? Who would not be inflamed with Divine fire, by reading his treatise on Charity? Who would not wish to be pure in heart, when reading the praises he has lavished on virginity? Who would not be alarmed on hearing his discourse on the Last Judgment; wherein he has described it so vividly, that not a touch can be added by way of improvement? God gave him so profound a wisdom, that, though he had a wonderful facility of speaking, yet he could not always find words to express the crowd of ideas which flowed into his mind.” Every one knows what was the success of the homilies of St. Augustine, of the two Gregories, of St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Ambrose. “There were giants in those days.” We will not speak of them now, as their lives and their works are well known. Suffice it to say, that they spoke so as to suit the capacities of their hearers. Sometimes they preached without preparation, and in a homely manner; seeking rather to instruct than to please. St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, and St. Leo, among the Latins, pass with justice for the most eloquent orators of their time. St. Augustine is more simple than they; but he preached in the small town of Hippo, to shopkeepers and labourers. In the age after Augustine, perhaps the most famous preacher was Salvian (390-484), surnamed the Master of Bishops, not that he ever was a Bishop himself, but because so many of his pupils at Lerins became eventually prelates in Gaul. Among the most eminent of these was St. Cæsarius of Arles (470-542), son of the Count of Chalons. He passed his youth in the shadow of the cloister of Lerins, and left it only to succeed the first fathers of that peaceful isle, Honoratus and Hilary, upon the archiepiscopal throne of Arles. He was for half a century the most illustrious and most influential of the Bishops of Southern Gaul. He presided over four Councils, and directed the great controversies of his time. He was passionately beloved by his flock, whose hearts he swayed with his fervid eloquence, of which 130 still extant sermons bear the indelible stamp. Another of the early preachers of Gaul was St. Eucher (434), whom Bossuet calls “the Great;” and he, too, issued from that great nursery of saints, the Isle of Lerins. Valerian of Cemele (450), has left behind him sermons plain and sound, but devoid of eloquence. Basil of Seleucia was a preacher of fame in the East. Photius says, that “his discourse is figurative and lofty. He observes, as much as any man, an even tone. He has united clearness with agreeableness, but his tropes and figures are very troublesome. By these he wearies his hearer always, and creates in him a bad opinion of himself, as an ignorant person, incapable of blending art with nature, and powerless to keep from excess.” Photius is rather too hard on Basil, whose sermons are really stirring and good. The discourses of Andrew of Crete (740) are also excellent; those of John Damascene are poor. Turning to England, we shall find Bede instructing our Anglo-Saxon forefathers in the faith of Christ and in the mysteries of the Gospel; and Alfric, in 990, compiling homilies in the vulgar tongue, to the number of eighty, and, among others, that famous one on the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, which Matthew Parker could flourish in the face of his Romish opponents, saying, “What now is become of your boasted argument of apostolic tradition? see here that the novelties with which you charge us are older than the doctrines which you oppose to them!” Wulfstan, Archbishop of York (1003), is known through one remarkable sermon, “Sermo Lupi ad Anglos quando Dani maxime persecuti sunt eos.” We have now arrived at the true middle ages, and I will say but little of the history of preaching in that period, as it has already been treated of by that distinguished ecclesiastical scholar, Dr. Neale, in his volume “Mediæval Sermons.” And, indeed, but for his labours, the bulk of this introduction would necessarily have been extended beyond its due limits, for the middle ages teemed with preachers, and preachers very striking for their originality and depth. The monasteries were great nurseries of preachers, sending forth continually multitudes of carefully trained and orthodox teachers. These preaching monks and friars exercised an immense influence over the uneducated laity, and for long they worked in harmony with the secular clergy. Let me give one instance from a chronicler of the thirteenth century, Jacques de Vitry, who has left us some interesting details concerning a very celebrated preacher of his time, Foulque de Neuilly. “He excited to such an extent all people, not only of the lower orders, but kings and princes as well, by his few and simple words, that none dare oppose him. People rushed in crowds from distant countries to hear him, and to see the miracles wrought by God through him.… Those who were able to tear and preserve the smallest fragment of his dress, esteemed themselves happy. Besides, as his clothes were in great request, and as the multitude were constantly tearing them off him, he was obliged to have a new cassock nearly every day. And as the mob commonly pressed upon him in an intolerable manner, he struck the most troublesome with a stick he held, and drove them back, or he would have been suffocated by the throng eager to touch him. And, although he sometimes wounded those whom he struck, yet they were by no means offended, and did not murmur, but, in the excess of their devotion, and the strength of their faith, kissed their own blood, as though it had been sanctified by the man of God. “One day, as a man was engaged in ripping his cassock with considerable violence, he spoke to the crowd thus, ‘Do not rend my garments, which have never been blessed: see! I will give my benediction to the clothes of this man.’ Then he made the sign of the cross, and at once the people tore to rags the man’s dress, so that each obtained a shred.” Pass we now to the wane of sacred eloquence at the close of the fourteenth century. By this time pulpit oratory had become sadly debased, though still a few noble orators, as Savonarola at Florence, Louis of Granada in Spain, and Philip of Narni at Rome, shone as lights. In the place of earnestness came affectation: the natural movement of the body, when the feelings of the preacher are roused, was replaced by studied gestures; the object of the orator was rather the exhibition of his own learning than the edification of his hearers, and the lack of matter in sermons was supplied by profanity and buffoonery. Preachers became the slaves of rule, their sermons were stretched on the same Procrustean bed, and were clipped or distorted to fit the required shape. By this means all natural eloquence was stifled; every action of the body, every modulation of the voice, was according to canon; and to such an extent did this run, that some preachers made it a matter of rule to cough at fixed intervals, believing that they were thereby adding grace to their declamation. In some old MS. sermons, marginal notes to the following effect may be found: “Sit down—stand up—mop yourself—ahem! ahem!—now shriek like a devil.” Such is a sermon preached by Oliver Maillard, and printed with these marginal notes at Bruges in 1500, black letter, quarto. Balzac describes a lesson given by an aged doctor to a young bachelor on the art of preaching, and it consisted of this—“Bang the pulpit; look at the crucifix with rolling eyes; say nothing to the purpose,—and you will be a great preacher.” Throughout the fourteenth century sermons were for the most part hammered out on the same miserable block. The same text perhaps served for an Advent or a Lenten series. Maillard in the next century preached sixty-eight sermons on the text, “Come up … unto the mount” (Exod. xxxiv. 2); and he took for his text throughout Advent, Christmas, and the festivals immediately following—in all forty-four sermons—the words of St. James i. 21, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” The preacher having given out his text, pronounced a long exordium, in no way to the purpose, containing some scriptural allegory, some supposed fact from natural history, or a story extracted from a classic historian. He then returned to his text and began to discuss two questions, one in theology, the other in civil or canon law, remotely connected with it. On the theological question he quoted the sentiments of the schoolmen, on the other he cited legal authorities. He then proceeded to divide his subject under heads, each of which was again subdivided, and each subdivision was supported by the authority of a classic philosopher, and illustrated by an anecdote often pointless, sometimes indecent. Indeed, to such an extent were classic allusions and quotations in vogue, that the story is told of a peasant who had “sat under” his priest for long, and had heard much of Apollo in the Sunday discourses, bequeathing his old cart-horse “to M. Pollo, of whom the curé had said such fine things.” This absurd affectation continued long the bane of the pulpit. In the sixteenth century a monk preaching on the feast of St. Peter, saw no impropriety in mingling mythology with Gospel history, and in quoting the fable of Daphne to illustrate the denial of the Apostle. “The nymph of the wood,” said he, “being pursued by the shepherd Apollo, fled over hill and dale, till she reached the foot of a rock up which she could not climb, and, seeing herself at the mercy of her pursuer, she began to weep,—in like manner, St. Peter seeing himself arrested by the rock of his denial, ‘wept bitterly.’” And Camus, Bishop of Belley, who flourished in the beginning of the seventeenth century, could use such words as these on Christmas Day:—“We now, skimming over the sea in our boat, come to behold the Infant born into the world to conquer it. He is our Bellerophon, who, mounted on the Pegasus of His humanity, winged by union with the Deity, has overcome the world, ‘confidite, ego vici mundum;’ the world, a true and strange Chimera! lion as to its front by its pride, dragon behind in its avarice, goat in the midst by its pollution! He is our youthful Horatius overcoming the three Curiatii of ambition, avarice, and sensuality! He is our Hercules, who has beaten down the triple-throated Cerberus, and who has in His cradle strangled serpents. The one crushed only two, but ours has destroyed three, the vanity of the world by His subjection, the avarice of the world by His poverty, the delights of the world by His mortification.” Sometimes preachers, carried away by their feelings, gave vent to the most violent and indecorous expressions. As, for instance, the Père Guerin preaching on the danger of reading improper literature, could not refrain from using the following language with reference to Theophilus Viaud, who had written a very immoral poem, “La Parnasse des Poètes,” 1625, for which he and his book were condemned to be burned. “Cursed be the spirit which dictated such thoughts,” howled the preacher. “Cursed be the hand which wrote them! Woe to the publisher who had them printed! Woe to those who have read them! Woe to those who have ever made the author’s acquaintance! But blessed be Monsieur le premier Président, blessed be M. le Procureur Général, who have purged our Paris of this plague! You are the originator of the plague in this city; I would say, after the Rev. Father Garasse, that you are a scoundrel, a great calf! but no! shall I call you a calf? Veal is good when boiled, veal is good when roast, calfskin is good for binding books; but yours, miscreant! is only fit to be well grilled, and that it will be, to-morrow. You have raised the laugh at monks, and now the monks will laugh at you.” Preachers have been quite unable at times to resist the chance of saying a bon mot. Father André, being required to give out before his sermon that a collection would be made for the dower of a young lady who wished to take the veil, said—“Gentlemen, your alms are solicited in behalf of a young lady who is not rich enough to take the vow of poverty.” I believe it is of the same man that the story is told, that he halted suddenly in the midst of a sermon to rebuke the congregation for indulging in conversation whilst he was speaking. One good woman took this in dudgeon, and standing up, assured the preacher that the buzz of voices came from the men’s side of the church, and not from that reserved for the females. “I am delighted to hear it,” replied the preacher, “the talking will then be sooner over.” This reminds me of Gabriel Barlette’s dictum, “Pone quatuor mulieres ab unâ parte, decem viros ab aliâ, plus garrulabunt mulieres.” Kings even have been publicly rebuked for something of the same kind. Every one knows that Mademoiselle d’Entragues, Marchioness of Verneuil, was mistress of Henry IV. One day that the Jesuit father, Gonthier, was preaching at St. Gervais, the king attended with Mademoiselle d’Entragues, and a suite of court ladies. During the sermon the marchioness whispered and made signs to the king, trying to make him laugh. The preacher, indignant at this conduct, turned to Henry and said, “Sire, never again permit yourself to come to hear the word of God surrounded by a seraglio, and thus to offer so great a scandal in a holy place.” The marchioness was furious, and endeavoured to obtain the punishment of the preacher, but Henry, instead of consenting, had the good sense to show that he was not offended, by returning to hear Father Gonthier preach on the following day. He took him aside however, and said, “My father, fear nothing. I thank you for your reproof; only, for Heaven’s sake, don’t give it in public again.” I have said that the preachers of the fifteenth century often degenerated into the burlesque, in order to attract the attention they failed to rivet by the excellence of their matter. Unfortunately this fault was not confined to the fifteenth century, but we find it again and again appearing among inferior preachers of the next two centuries. It must be remembered that the monasteries had then fallen from their high estate through the intolerable oppression of the “in commendam,” and that learning was far less cultivated than in an earlier age. The popular friar-preachers, the hedge-priests, who took with the vulgar, were much of the stamp of modern dissenting ministers, men of little education but considerable assurance; they spoke in the dialect of the people, they understood their troubles, they knew their tastes; and, at the same time, like all people who have got a smattering of knowledge, they loved to display it, and in displaying it consisted much of their grotesqueness. The following sketch of one of these discourses is given by Father Labat, in his “Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, Amst., 1731, 8 vols. in 12mo.” He says that he was present on the 15th September, 1709, at a sermon preached in the open air under a clump of olives near Tivoli. The day was the Feast of the Name of Mary. “Those who did the honours of the feast placed me, politely, right in front of the preacher. He appeared, after having kept us waiting sufficiently long, mounted the pulpit, sat down without ceremony, examined his audience in a grave and perhaps slightly contemptuous manner; and then, after a few moments’ silence, he rose, took off his cap, made the sign of the cross on his brow, then on his mouth, and then on his heart, which after the old system he supposed to be on his left side; lastly, he made a fourth sign, which covered up all the others, since it extended from his head to the pit of his stomach. This operation complete, he sat down, put on his cap, and began his discourse with these words, ‘I beheld a great book written within and without,’ which he explained thus: Ecco il verissimo ritrato di Maria sempre Virgine; that is to say, Behold the veritable portrait of the ever Virgin Mary. This application was followed by a long digression upon all books ever known in MS. or in print. Those which compose the Holy Scriptures passed first in review; he named their authors, he fixed their date, and gave the reasons for their composition. He passed next to those of the ancient philosophers, of the Egyptians and of the Greeks; those of the Sibyls appeared next on the scene, and the praise of the Tiburtine Sibyl was neatly interwoven into the discourse. Homer’s Iliad was not forgotten, any more than the Æneid; not a book escaped him; and then he declared that none were equal to the great book written within and without; a book, said he, imprinted with the characters of divine virtues, bound in Heaven, dedicated to wisdom uncreate [1] , approved by the doctors of the nine angelic hierarchies, published by the twelve Apostles in the four quarters of the globe; a book occupying the first place in the celestial library, in which angels and saints study ever, which is the terror of demons, the joy of heaven, the delights of saints, the recompense of the triumphant Church, the hope of the suffering, the support, the strength, the buckler of the militant. He never left this great book, the leaves of which he kept turning, so to speak, for three good quarters of an hour, and then finding that it was time to rest, he quitted us suddenly without a ‘good-bye.’ I mean without the blessing, and without having spoken of the Blessed Virgin in any other light than that which served him in the explanation of his text. “I confess I never heard a sermon which pleased me better, for I was not a bit wearied during it; and, in his style, I suspect he was unequalled. The Passion of Father Imbert, Superior of our mission at Guadaloupe, his sermon on St. Jean de Dieu, that of Father Ange de Rouen, a Capuchin, on a certain indulgence, had hitherto appeared to me inimitable masterpieces; but I must award the palm to that which I have just reported, and to do the preacher justice, he surpassed the others mentioned as the empyrean sky surpasses the lunar sky in grandeur and elevation.” I must speak here of a famous preacher of the fifteenth century, to whom I cannot afford a separate notice, and who is more offensively ridiculous than the man spoken of by Labat; I mean Gabriel Barlette. I do not give him other notice than this for two reasons; the first, because there is reason to believe that the sermons which pass under his name are spurious compositions, as indeed is asserted by a cotemporary, Leander Alberti, who says that they were the composition of a pretender who took the name of the great preacher. It is therefore not fair to judge of a really famous man from works which may not be his. Another reason why I have limited to a few lines my notice of sermons which were undoubtedly popular, if we may judge of the number of impressions they went through, is that there is positively no good to be got from them; they are full of the grossest absurdities and the most profane buffoonery. I have given an account of some three or four of this class of sermon, and I can afford no more room to similar profanities. Gabriel Barlette was a Dominican, and was born at Barletta in the kingdom of Naples. He lived beyond 1481, for he speaks of the siege and capture of Otranto by Mahomet II. as a thing of the past. In one of the sermons attributed to him is the following passage on the close of the temptations:—“After His victory over Satan, the Blessed Virgin sends Him the dinner she had prepared for herself, cabbage, soup, spinach, and perhaps even sardines.” In a sermon for Whitsun-Tuesday, he rebukes distractions in prayer, and he illustrates them in this unseemly way. He represents a priest engaged at his morning devotions, saying, “Pater noster qui es in cœlis—I say, lad, saddle the horse, I’m going to town to-day!—sanctificatur nomen tuum,—Cath’rine, put the pot on the fire!—fiat voluntas tua—Take care! the cat’s at the cheese!—panem nostrum quotidianum—Mind the white horse has his feed of oats.… Is this praying?” No, Gabriel, nor is this preaching! Another preacher of the same stamp was Menot. Michael Menot was born in Paris; he was a Franciscan, and died at an advanced age in 1518. Take this specimen of his reasoning— “The dance is a circular way; The way of the Devil is circular; Therefore the dance is the Devil’s way.” And he proves his minor by the Scriptural passages “circuivi terram,” “circuit quærens quem devoret,” “in circuitu impii ambulant.” In his sermon for Friday after Ash-Wednesday he thus expresses his sense of the value of magistrates: “Justices are like the cat which is put in charge of a cheese lest the mice should eat it. But if the cat lay tooth to it, by one bite he does more mischief than the mice could do in twenty. Just in the same manner,” &c. The following is a specimen of his style, a sad jumble of Latin and French. He is giving a graphic description of the prodigal son wasting his goods. “Mittit ad quærendum les drapiers, les grossiers, les marchands de soye, et se fait accoutrer de pied en cap; il n’y avait rien à redire. Quando vidit sibi pulchras caligas d’écarlate, bien tirées, la belle chemise froncée sur le collet, le pourpoint fringant de velours, la toque de Florence, les cheveux peignés, et qu’il se sentit le damas voler sur le dos, hæc secum dixit: Oportetne mihi aliquid? Or me faut-il rien? Non, tu as toutes tes plumes; il est temps de voler plus loin. Tu es nimis propè domum patris tui, pro benè faciendo casum tuum. Pueri qui semper dormierunt in atrio vel gremio matris suæ, nunquam sciverunt aliquid, et nunquam erunt nisi asini et insulsi, et ne seront jamais que nices et béjaunes. Bref qui ne fréquente pays nihil videt.” Of course this sermon was not thus preached, but it gives us an idea of Menot’s acquaintance with Latin, and of his utter inability to render the slang which had disfigured his vernacular by classic phrases. But it must not be supposed that all preachers of the fifteenth century were like these clerical jesters. Gabriel Biel was grave and dignified, his sermons remarkably simple in construction, and full of wisdom and fervour. The same may be said of Thomas à Kempis, John Turricremata, and Henry Harphius. With the sixteenth century a new phase of pulpit oratory was about to dawn. Men wearied of conventional restraints, and spoke from the heart, knowledge was profounder, less superficial, the conceits of schoolmen were kept in the background, and scriptural illustrations brought into greater prominence. Anecdote was still used as a powerful engine for good, but it was anecdote such as would edify. Similes were introduced of the most striking and charming character; and the preachers sought evidently rather to instruct their hearers, and to render doctrine intelligible, than to surround themselves with a cloud of abstruse doubts and solutions, to the bewilderment of their hearers, and to their own possible glorification. It is impossible not to see in this a fruit of the Reformation. To people famishing for the bread of life, the preachers of the fifteenth century had given a stone, and now their successors were alive to the fact, and strove earnestly to remedy it. They threw themselves forward like Phineas, and stood in the gap, so that it is to them, perhaps, more than to great theologians like Bellarmin, that the Catholic Church must look with thanks for having stayed the advancing tide of reform.