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or even if it took place as often in daylight as in solitude and darkness, the constitution of the world would be changed.
And must it not be changed before it can be perfected?
SIR THOMAS MORE.
Perfected! perfection in what is mutable and perishable!
Perfect according to its capacity of perfection. Will it never again be as it was in the beginning, when Angels came to and fro between Heaven and Earth, and the Creator made himself visible to his servants?
SIR THOMAS MORE. Visible the Creator is to those who have eyes, and can see. He whose faith is what it ought to be hath Heaven within him and about him; and why should he be impatient for the society of angels who knows that the longest life must soon appear like a tale that is told, and that before the passing hour is at an end, he may be in Paradise? A direct communion with higher intelligences would unfit men for the cares and ordinary business of their earthly state. If I appear to you notwithstanding, it is because nothing could make you more unfit for the common affairs of the world than you are already; and that alone for which you are qualified, it is the object of these visits to promote.
MONTESINOS. Enable me to impress upon my fellow creatures one wholesome truth with effect, and you will indeed be to me more than a great Apollo.
SIR THOMAS MORE.
You would see as little of me as of Apollo if I thought that the desire of immediate effect produced in you anything like impatience, or disappointment. To you and to all, I say, look forward! To governments, inquire concerning the tendency and consequences of the course you are pursuing, the institutions which you are supporting, the alterations which you are about to make! For if
of the imperfections of men could now fill me with surprize, it would be their want of foresight. Beasts, birds and insects, even to the minutest and meanest of their kind, act with the unerring providence of instinct; man, the while, who professes a higher faculty, abuses it, and therefore goes blundering on. They, by their unconscious and unhesitating obedience to the laws of nature, fulfil the end of their existence; he, in wilful neglect of the laws of God, loses sight of the end of his. Enemy as you are, Montesinos, to
ILL EFFECT OF THE REFORMATION.
the Romish system, you must confess that, amidst all its corruptions, in the age of its darkest ignorance and foulest frauds, this object was kept in view, better than it has ever been in any country calling itself Reformed.
“ Calling itself reformed!” I did not expect to hear the phraseology of a papist from the lips of one to whom the veil has been lifted up!
SIR THOMAS MORE. There are neither Papists nor Protestants in the state to which I belong: we are one flock there, under one shepherd. In some things, and those essential ones, the Protestants brought back a corrupted faith to its primitive purity. But it is not less certain that the Reformation has, in its consequences, lowered the standard of devotion, lessened the influence of religion not among the poor and ignorant alone, but among all classes; and prepared the way for the uncontrolled dominion of that worldly spirit which it is the tendency of the commercial system to produce and foster.
MONTESINOS. How can that Reformation have lowered devotion, which has withdrawn it from stocks and stones, relics, beads, girdles, and scapularies, polytheism and idolatry?
SIR THOMAS MORE. You have taken all this from those persons whose religion goes no farther, and you have substituted nothing in its place. That the wiser and better Papists, though they may use some of these things as incentives to devotion, worship the Father in spirit and in truth, is what none but the blindest bigots would deny, and what no Protestant has ever acknowledged more amply than yourself. I admit that these things are often a hinderance; and you cannot deny that they are sometimes a help. But it was not of such practices that I spake. Before your Reformation, the momentous truth that the improvement of his moral and spiritual condition ought to be the first concern of every intellectual creature, was impressed upon the people by example as well as by precept. It is still preached from your pulpits, but where is the practice to be found? The Religious Orders, with all their abuses, brought this truth home to the feelings of mankind. Among you, such as might desire to join in devotional exercises, or take an active part in works of painful beneficence, must overcome the fear of ridicule at the outset, and be content to associate with those who bear the reproach of enthusiasm and who very generally deserve will, you
it. In Roman Catholic countries they would be encouraged by public opinion. The churches there are at all times open, and enter them when you
find some one intently employed in solitary prayer.
MONTESINOS. Are not those persons usually reciting prayers which have been imposed in therefore engaged in the practice of a very mischievous superstition?
SIR THOMAS MORE.
Even then the very act of performance implies a sense of religion, and tends to strengthen it. Is it not better that men should perform good works even from a vain trust in them, than rest contented with the non-performance in a belief that good works are not to be relied on? Religion may be neglected in Roman Catholic countries, but it cannot be forgotten; it is impressed upon the senses of the people; travel where they will its symbols are perpetually presented to them. They see the Cross or the Crucifix not in towns and villages alone, but in lonely places and by the way-side. The open shrine invites them to an act of devotion as wholesome as it is transitory; and the vesper bell unites them with all their brethren wherever dispersed, at one hour, in one act of adoration. You have