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of Father de Ligny, and it was he who made him finally determine to publish the history in question of the Life of Jesus Christ.

This History is, in fact, nothing more than a commentary upon the Gospels, and it is that which constitutes its great merit in our eyes. Father de Ligny cites the text of the New Testament, and expounds every verse in two ways; the 'one, by explaining in a moral and historical point of view what you have just read ; the other, by answering any objections which may be urged against the passage cited. The first commentary is in the page with the text, in the same manner as in the Bible of Father de Carrières; the second is in the form of a note, at the bottom of the page. In this manner the author offers to your view, in succession, and in their proper order, the different chapters of the Evangelists; and by thus bringing to your observation their affinity, by reconciling their apparent contradictions, he developes the entire life of the Redeemer of the world.

The work of Father de Ligny was become very scarce, and the Typographical Society have rendered an essential service to religion in reprinting a book of such eminent utility. We know of many histories of the life of Jesus Christ, among the productions of French authors, but not one which combines, like the present, the two advantages of being at the same time an explanation of the Scriptures, and a refutation of the sophisms of the day. The Life of Jesus Christ by Saint Real wants grace and simplicity ; it is much more easy to imitate Sallust and the Cardinal de Retz, than to acquire the style of the Gospel.* Father Montreuil, in his Life of Jesus Christ,


* The Conspiracy of the Count de Fiesco, by Cardinal de Retz, appears to have served as a model for the Conspiracy of Venice, by Saint Real. There subsists between these two works the difference which always must subsist between the original and the copy, between him who writes with rapture and genius, ard he who by dint of hard labour is enabled to imitate this rapture and this genius, with more or less truth and happiness.

revised by Father Brignon, has preserved, on the contrary, much of the charm of the New Testament. His style being a little antiquated, contributes perhaps to this charm; for the ancient French language, and more especially that which was spoken under Louis XIII, was well calculated to display the energy and simplicity of the Scriptures. It would have been fortunate had a good translation of them been made at this period. Sacy was too late, and the two best versions of the Bible are the Spanish and English versions.* The last of these, which in many places retains the force of the Hebrew, was made in. the reign of James I ; the language in which it is written has become a sort of sacred language for the three kingdoms, as the Samaritan text was for the Jews; the veneration which the English have for the Scriptures appears to be augmented by it, and the antiquity of the idiom seems as if it increased the antiquity of the book. Finally, it is impossible not to be aware, that all the histories of Jesus Christ which are not, like that of Father de Ligny, a simple commentary upon the New Testament, are, generally speaking, bad, and even dangerous works. We have copied this manner of disfiguring the Gospel from the Protestants, not observing that it has had the effect of turning many persons to Socinianism. Jesus Christ is not a man; we ought not therefore to write his life in the same manner that we would write that of a simple legislator. We

We may endeavour to relate his works in the most affecting manner, but we can never paint him any other than as a human being ; ---to paint his divinity is far above

* M. de Chateaubriand was not acquainted with the excellent German version of Luther."


our reach. Human virtues have something corporeal in them, if we may be permitted the expression, which the writer can seize; but the virtues of Christ are so deeply intellectual, there is in them such a spirituality, that they seem to shrink from the materiality of our expres. sions.

It is this truth so delicate, so refined, of which Pascal speaks, and which our grosser organs cannot touch with out blunting the point.* The divinity of Christ is no where to be found, and cannot possibly be found any where but in the gospel, where it shines among the ineffable sacraments instituted by the Saviour, and amid the miracles which he performed. The apostles alone were able to pourtray it, because they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They were witnesses of the wonders performed by the Son of Man; they lived with him; some part of his divinity remained stamped upon their sacred writings, as the features of this celestial Méssiah remained, say they, impressed on the mysterious veil which wiped the sweat from his brow. There is besides some danger, that under the idea of producing a work of taste and literature, the whole gospel may be transformed into a mere history of Jesus Christ. In giving to fácts a certain air of something merely human, and strictly his. torical, in appealing incessantly to an assumed reason which is too often nothing more than deplorable folly, and in aiming at preaching morality, entirely divested of all dogmas, the protestants have suffered every thing like ex. alted eloquence to perish from among them. In effect, we cannot consider either the Tillotsons, the Wilkins's, the Goldsmiths, or the Blairs, notwithstanding their merits, as great orators, more especially if we compare them with a Basil, a Chrysostome, an Ambrose, a Bourdaloue, or a Massillon. Every religion which considers

* Pascal's Thoughts.

it as a duty to avoid dogmas, and to banish pomp from its worship, condemns itself to be dry and cold. We must not presume that the heart of man, deprived of any assistance from the imagination, can have resources within itself sufficient to cherish the undulations of eloquence. The very sentiment of eloquence is destroyed even at the moment of its birth, if it does not find itself surrounded by things capable of nourishing and supporting it; if it finds no images to prolong its duration, no spectacles to fortify it, no dogmas which transporting it into the region of mystery, prevent its being disenchanted.

The protestants boast that they have banished gloom from the Christian religion; but in the Catholic worship, Job and his holy melancholy, the shade of the cloisters, the tears of the penitent upon his rock, the voice of Bossuet delivering a funeral oration, will create more men of genius, than all the maxims of morality devoid of eloquence, as plain and unadorned as the temple where it is preached. Father de Ligny has then considered the subject in its proper point of view, in confining his life of Christ to a simple concordance of the different Gospels. Who, besides, could matter himself with being able to equal the beauty of the New Testament? Would not an author who should aspire to such pretensions be already condemned. Every Evangelist has his particular character except Saint Mark, whose Gospel seems to be nothing more than an abridgment of Saint Matthew's. Saint Mark was a disciple of Saint Peter, and many people think that he wrote under the direction of this prince of the Apostles. It is worthy of remark, that he has related the heavy fault committed by his master. That Jesus Christ should have chosen for the chief of his church precisely, the only one among his disciples who had denied him, appears to us at once a sublime and interesting mystery. There do we see all the spirit of christianity ; Saint


Peter is the Adam of the new law; he is the sinful and repentant father of the new Israelites; his fall teaches us, that the Christian religion is a religion of mercy, and that Jesus Christ has established his law among men subject to error, much less for the innocent than for the repentant.

The Gospel of Saint Matthew is to be recommended above all things, for the pure morality which it inculcates. It is this Apostle who has transmitted to us the greatest number of moral precepts in the sentiments recorded by him, as proceeding so abundantly, from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

Saint John has something more mild and tender in his manner.

We recognise in him “the disciple whom Jesus loved," the disciple who was near him on the mount of Olives, during his agonya sublime distinction undoubtedly, since none but the cherished friend of our soul is worthy to be admitted to the mystery of our griefs. John was, besides, the only one among the Apostles who accompanied the Son of Man to the cross. It was there that the Saviour bequeathed to him the care of his mother. “Mother behold your Son; Disciple behold your Mother.Divine expression! ineffable recommendation. This was the well beloved disciple who slept upon

the bosom of his master, who retained in his soul an image of him never to be efaced; who was the first to recog. nise him after his resurrection ; the heart of John could not be mistaken in the features of his divine friend, and faith was given to him as a reward for kindness.

For the rest the spirit breathed throughout the whole of Saint John's Gospel is comprised in the maxim, which he went about repeating in his old age. This Apostle full of days and of good works, when no longer able to preach long sermons to the new people whom he had brought forth to Jesus Christ, contented himself with this exhortation : “ My little children love one another.

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