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Here there is a clear and double echo from the word of Truth. We hear the voice of Solomon crying “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child”;' and the warning declaration of S. James, who associates envying and strife with ruin and confusion. Again ; Let them obey that know not how to rule.
King Henry VI., Part II., v. 1. The grand duty inculcated both by the Apostle S. Paul and by Shakspere is submission to Authority. “ Order is Heaven's first law,” a law by which “some are and must be greater than the rest." 2
Let us hear how Shakspere carries out this thought.
When that the general is not like the live,
1 Ecclesiastes, x. 16.
? Pope's Essay on Man.
But by degree, stand in authentic place?
Troilus and Cressida, i. 3. According to the Apostolic rule, all things should be done “ decently,”li.e. fittingly “and in order," and that they may be done “ decently,” they must be done “ in order.” The “ many members"2 are to act together with a single eye to the welfare and prosperity of the “one body." This unity of action is indispensably requisite, both in the body spiritual and in the body politic.
Livy, the Roman Historian, has handed down to us an Apologue which was spoken by Menenius Agrippa to the popular seceders. This Apologue Shakspere has given us in his “ Coriolanus.” “In those days,” says the Historian, 66 when all was not at unity, as now, in man, but every member had its own plans and its own language, the other members became quite indignant that they should all toil and labour for the belly, while it remained at its ease in the midst of them, doing nothing, but enjoying itself. They therefore agreed among themselves, that the hands should not convey any food to the mouth, nor the mouth receive it, nor the teeth chew it. But while they thus thought to starve the belly out, they found themselves and the whole body reduced to the most deplorable state of feebleness, and they then saw that the belly is by no means useless ;
1 1 Corinthians, xiv. 40. 91 Corinthians, xii. 12, &c.
3 Hist. Lib., II. cap. xxxii.
that it gives as well as receives nourishment, distributing to all parts of the body the means of life and health.”
The moral of the story is so good and scriptural, and the strain in which Shakspere gives it so lively and humorous, that I shall be pardoned for quoting the entire passage. The speakers are Menenius and a discontented citizen. Menenius.
I shall tell you
Men. There was a time, when all the body's members
Cit. Well, sir, what answer made the belly ?
Men. Sir, I shall tell you.-With a kind of smile,
Cit. Your belly's answer? what!
Cit. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd
Well what then?
I will tell you,
Cit. Y'are long about it.
Note me this, good frieud,
Cit. Ay sir ; well; well.
“ Tho' all at once cannot
Coriolanus, i, 1.
Menenius then proceeds to apply the Apologue to the case of the senators, and of the mutinous members of the Roman state ; and to show that there was no benefit which the latter received, but it was derived to them from the higher Powers, whom they foolishly imagined to be living in a state of idle inaction and profitless enjoyment.
Connected with the Moral Teaching of the Divine Founder of our Religion, there is a striking peculiarity, which proves at once his immeasurable superiority over all the moral teachers, whether Jewish or Pagan, who had preceded Him. The nature of man is fallen and depravedever averse from good, and continually lusting after evil. If then we would live unaffected by the turbulent disorders, which follow upon sensual indulgence, our natural propensities must be subjected to timely and proper regulation. But where is the check to be placed? Is the heart of man free to run riot among the extravagancies of unchaste
desires, provided only that no overt act of sin is admitted, no outward act of guilt allowed to obtain the dominion over us? Our Blessed Lord meets the difficulty, and places the check, where alone it should be placed, on the heart ;1 He (for He knows what is in man) nips sin in the bud ;' He lays the axe to the very root of the tree. With Him heart-purity is everything. To make the fruit good, He aims at first making good the tree. He follows the polluted and bitter stream up to its very source, and there throws in the salt of Divine Grace, and straightway the waters are purified and sweetened. “ All things are naked and opened unto the eyes” 4 of the Great Searcher, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the human heart. He it is who knoweth our downsitting, and our uprising, and understandeth our thoughts afar off.5
“ Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion” (I am quoting from our Poet) “all the interim "6 is known to Him. Sin has its source and origin in the thoughts, and if unchecked there, will gradually and almost imperceptibly, attain to its full growth, and develope itself in violent and unrestrained action.
Great floods have flown
Lust, when it hath conceived bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.7
Shakspere introduces Brutus employing a very lively and forcible figure, in order to set forth the danger that would ensue, if Cæsar were allowed to bring his ambitious thoughts
* Cf. Proverbs, xxiv. 9. 2 Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24. 3 2 Kings, ii. 21. 4 Hebrews, iv. 13. - Psalm cxxxix. 2. 6 Julius Cæsar, ii. l.
7 James, i. 15.