Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

making preachers for churches, in which the demand is so exacting and the expectation so high, in six months or in a single year, is preposterous. The success of some men of peculiar genius is no proof that such basty work has any good promise ? There are very few “preaching geniuses," very few born preachers, as there are very few born poets; and the biography of these usually shows a degree of study and culture nearly equal to the measure of a school. More time for preparatory study, rather than less, is the word of reason and common sense. Every year cut off from the term is a year of loss instead of gain. The students know this, the professors know it, the churches know it, the very men who get up half-way schools know it, though they do what they think is best in the emergency. To shorten the time of study is inevitably to lower its standard.

But if this is necessary; if, for the sake of getting preachers and meeting the call, we must lower the standard, – then it is well to consider what is best, and what is essential, in the short time that is given. And shall we not agree, that these three things, at least, are essential as preparation for a useful ministry anywhere,-a settled basis of faith and opinion, a habit of clear and orderly thought, and an understanding of the principles of effective address ?

1. In the first place, a settled basis of opinion on the general questions of theology and religious philosophy. While every preacher ought to keep his eyes open and his mind open; to be ready for more light from any quarter, and not to hold any opinion as a finality, - he ought to know, before he begins to instruct others, what he believes himself; ought to know where he stands, what he believes now, what he has really to affirm; ought to have something positive to say. A man who has no system of truth, no defined opinions ; who is only an inquirer, — however honest he may be, is not yet fit to teach other men. They do not want his doubts and uncertainties: they want his belief, and, if he has none yet, he must wait until he gets one. This is the dictate of com

I do not mean that one must have his opinions squared to the parties around him; that he must be able to

mon sense.

say whether he is of the right wing or the left, conservative or radical.

All this talk about “wings," in a body which allows freedom and has no creed, is foolish and pernicious. I mean, only, that a preacher who is to do any good must have come to solid and clear ideas concerning the great themes of God and man, of duty, salvation, and the spiritual life. Until he has these ideas, brilliant as his gifts may be, whether he has studied a longer or a shorter time, – in my judgment, he is not yet ready to preach to men. Our pulpits had better remain empty, than be filled by men who do not know where they stand or what they believe.

2. In the next place, before a man is ready to preach, he must have acquired the habit of orderly thought, - the habit of thought which makes him competent to guide the minds and thoughts of others. This habit is worth a great deal more than any mass of facts and lore; and, without it, the lore is all lumber, and only increases the chaos. Education for the ministry, in this day and in our body, means more the training of mind than the storing of mind, — mental discipline in religious questions, more than information about them. This may come afterward; but right habits of thought, if not gained in the beginning, never will come. I have no time here to dwell upon this topic, which indeed demands the special treatment of a full essay.

3. And equally may this be said of the third necessity of ministerial education, that, before one is ready to preach, he must have learned the principles of effective address. Some would say that this is not the third, but the second and the first thing as well; that the main work of preparation must be in learning “how to preach.” External as it is, it is essential to all success and usefulness in the sacred calling. No theological school, with a course of three months or of three years, has done its work, — whatever it may have given of knowledge, of mental excitement, of devotion kindled, of faith fixed and deepened, - unless it has taught its students how to make their truth real and effective to the hearers. This is the art of the place of religious training, to which its science ought to minister. And here is where our education has been so fatally lacking, and is open to the public complaint. I know that it is easier to suggest the need, than to show how it is to be met; and I shall not weary your patience, already taxed too far, by any doubtful demonstration of the way. I can only trust that the hints of this imperfect essay may be the opening words of a more profitable discussion.

ART. II. — VITTORIA COLONNA.

Some names have for us a magic charm, out of all proportion to our knowledge of the persons who bore them. Zoroaster, Confucius, Pythagoras, stand as representatives of high moral and spiritual being to those who know little of their lives and nothing of their doctrines. Hero, Sappho, and Hypatia, no less represent the loving and lovely in woman.“ All mankind loves a lover ;” and to the triple crown which the world has awarded to Michael Angelo, his age and ours add a less ambitious but more beautiful title, " the friend of Vittoria Colonna.” Embalmed in the pure amber of his affection, her name has become precious to our hearts; and, trusting in the supreme wisdom of a nature so lofty and pure, we at once accord to her all the graces and virtues that can ennoble or beautify her womanhood.

Vittoria Colonna was the daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, grand constable of the kingdom of Naples. She was betrothed, at the almost infantile age of four years, to a child of about her own age, - Francesco Ferrante, the son of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis de Pescara. Alfonso d'Avalos died by treachery in 1496; and his family were left to the care of his eldest daughter, Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess de Francavilla, a woman of remarkable ability and energy of character, and of superior taste in literature and art. When left a widow, the Government did not fear to confide to her the administration of the island of Ischia, in the Bay of Naples, one of the most important posts in the kingdom. In this beautiful island, Costanza d'Avalos fixed her abode, and added to her public

cares that of the education of her brother and her future sister-in-law. The greater part of Vittoria's youth was passed here, amid circumstances admirably adapted to form her intellect, and to develop her love of nature and of art. The most illustrious men of the age were the guests of the Duchess de Francavilla in her beautiful retreat. At sixteen, the young girl already had a reputation for distinguished talent and extraordinary culture. She understood Latin well, and wrote her own language elegantly, both in prose and verse. To these rare accomplishments, she added every feminine charm. If we may believe the reports of her contemporaries, the very cestus of Venus was hers. A beautiful blonde in person, she possessed also the more seductive powers of engaging manners, and an amiable and generous temper; and the still greater merit of high and noble principle.

The aspirants for this treasure were, of course, numerous. Among them were the Dukes of Savoy and of Braganza. But even the prospect of a crown could not tempt this true heart from its sworn allegiance. Affection and loyalty both held her true to her young betrothed. Ferrante being the sole representative of the family name, an anxiety to preserve his noble race from extinction urged on the marriage, which was celebrated with great pomp, in the ducal palace at Ischia, Dec. 27, 1507. Without possessing the lofty character of his wife or his sister, the 'Duke de Pescara was yet esteemed to be worthy of his beautiful bride. He had the advantages of a fine person, great military ability, a chivalrous courage, and love of adventure; the taste of an artist, and the manners of a courtier; and, above all, a passionate love for his fair wife, and entire confidence in her high and noble nature. Even the severe disappointment of his hopes, in the failure of all issue, did not abate his passion. He is said to have borne this trial better than Vittoria herself.

During the eighteen years of their married life, Vittoria enjoyed the society of her husband only at brief and rare intervals; but the growth of his military renown gave her sincere pleasure. He contributed largely to the success of the

He was ap

Imperial arms against France, and was high in favor with the emperor and his court. The troops under his command were mostly Spanish, and he was partly Spanish himself; which perhaps accounts for some of the hard things which Italian and French historians delight to say of him. One act of truly chivalric kindness, which he was privileged to perform, must have specially delighted the heart of bis wife. It was the lot of Pescara to soothe the dying hour of the Cheralier Bayard, who was mortally wounded at Biagressa, in 1524. He was himself severely wounded at the battle of Pavia, and obliged to seek repose for a season. pointed, for a time, joint commander with Prosper Colonna; but, this arrangement not working well, his pride was wounded by Colonna's being named first in rank. About this time, a conspiracy was formed by the princes of Northern Italy, together with the Pope, to throw off the yoke of Charles V., which seemed likely soon to inthrall all Italy. The throne of Naples was offered to Pescara, as a bait to lure him into this alliance. He is said to have been strongly tempted, and to have wavered in his allegiance; but the firm and earnest counsels of his wife, in whose soul loyalty was a predominant virtue, held him true to his oath. According to Paulus Lovius, her friend and historian, she wrote to him," that he ought to remember his accustomed virtue, whose honor and praise raised him above the fortune of many kings. For honor is not acquired bỳ the greatness of kingdoms, or of titles; but by the path of virtue, which goes down to one's descendants with illustrious praise. For herself, she did not desire to be the wife of a king; but rather of that great captain, who, not only in war by his courage, but in peace by his magnanimity, had known how to conquer the greatest kings.”

The counsel of Vittoria was as prudent as it was loyal; for the emperor was already acquainted with the designs of the conspirators, and punished them with severity. Pescara is accused of having overstepped the bounds of duty, in betraying the secrets confided to him, and in rigorously pur. suing those whose accomplice he so nearly became. If so,

« AnteriorContinuar »