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nexions in blood; for it appears to me that like the kindred of grandmother Lois, of Stephanus, of Lazarus of Bethany, Zebedee, Cleopas, &c., many natural connexions, like the Bereans, are more noble—that is, more candid, conscientious, and inquisitive than others; and, therefore, yield with more readiness and pleasure to the force of truth. And not only this, but they are more influential and useful in the world. From some connexions and from some congregations the gospel sounds abroad, has free course, runs, and is glorified in saving many. This is also true of this connexion. I do not think that there is any connexion in Scotland that exerts a more effectual influence in the churches than the family of the Drons. I think our brethren in Fifeshire are more numerous than in any shire in Scotland-at" least as far as I learned from various sources, the greatest cluster of churches are around the village of Auchtermuchty, in a circuit of some fifteen or twenty miles. The fine hills, or rather mountains, bold and majestic, that stretch along east of this rich and beautiful valley, in the centre of which Bethany Cottage and Auchtermuchty stand, add something more than beauty-I might say grandeur, to the landscape. The high cultivation of much of this county, and the very rich and golden wheat harvest which I saw in progress there about the end of August, give a very high character both to the agricultural science and art of busbandry in North Britain. I think that this very large county must have much improved since the days of king James, one of whose palaces stood there, the ruins of which I glanced at while passing; if there be any truth in the rhetorical comparison which the king instituted between Fifeshire and his royal coat. “Like my old coat,” said the monarch, “all the riches and grandeur of my kingdom of Fife is on the sleeves and skirts—the centre is bare enough.”
I was refused all the sectarian meeting-houses in Auchtermuchty, a very good proof of the fears of the sects of exposure-and also of the power of the truths which had been propagated in Fife, despite of their opposition. The meeting-house of our brethren, though comparatively small, is very comfortable. The evening was favorable. Wę filled every inch of the house; then opened the windows and doors; so that many from without, as well as those within, heard an analysis of the apostolic method of preaching the gospel.
Good taste, good sense, and piety, can make a cottage much more acceptable to either a Christian or a philosopher than the most gorgeous palace with all its surrounding magnificence. I felt more SERIES III.-VOL. v
real enjoyment at Bethany Cottage, and its exquisitely beautiful garden, than at Windsor or Hampton Court Palace. The samples of refined taste were, indeed, in its hedges and grottoes, the shrubbery and flower beds, its alcoves and recesses, just as beautiful a ininiature, as the others were a splendid development of all that gives pleasure and delight to a richly cultivated mind in the most felicitous combinations of Nature and Art. But that which graces all, is a refined sentimentalism-an elevated and exalted piety.
But I must leave these enchanted spots where Christianity blooms and fructifies in all the grace of intellectual, moral, and spiritua} excellence, and hie away to Dumferline in company with brother White, who is just waiting with his horse and gig to convey me to the city of Ralf Erskine and the church cemetry of Robert, alias king Bruce. We took the parting hand; and, commending each other to him that "keeps Israel, who slumbers not, nor sleepo," without "casting one longing, ling’ring look behind,” we went on our way anticipating that blissful era when from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South, they will come and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Paradise of God. May you and I be so inexpressibly happy as to obtain admission there! Your Father,
REFORMATION.-N. VIII. The influence of personal attachments in religion is a matter of too much importance not to merit a greater degree of consideration than we have yet given it. In attempting to effect a religious reformation in the community, there is nothing, as we have before stated, which so imperiously requires a just government and direction, as that sentiment of dependence and of implicit confidence, to which, especially in spiritual things, men are so universally and so strongly disposed. And a religious movement which does not direct the human soul to Christ himself, as the only source of religious authority and truth, and the supreme object of faith and trust, can never deserve the title of a “Reformation."
It would be a small matter, indeed, to exchange the dicta of one fallible teacher for those of another; or to transfer spiritual fealty from one spiritual usurper to another. Yet such has been the result, for the most part, of religious revolutions which have even moved the very foundations of society, and changed the entire political condition of nations. Such movements, indeed, have often more affinity to politics than piety, and will never fail to betray their true nature, in the course of their progress, by the character of their effects. Allied to mere temporal interests, and based upon worldly ambition, they can accomplish only selfish ends, or, at most, give rise to beneficial changes accidentally, rather than necessarily and legitimately:
But how different was the progress of that spiritual revolution effected under the labors of Christ and the Apostles! With what sedulous care did they avoid all entangling connexions with the world; all corrupting admixture of things temporal with things spiritual; all substitution of inferior interests and objects for the transcendant glories of the heavenly kingdom! With what singular ingenuity did our Lord escape from the snarés of political religionists, and with what consummate skill did he introduce doctrines and principles directly opposed to all that the world admires and worships! And with what watchfulness did his Apostles guard against the carnality of selfish attachment, and with what noble indignation repel all love and homage which were not rendered to Christ alone! It is to the influence of their precepts, and to the power of these examples of unselfish devotion and self-denying obedience, that we may justly attribute whatever the world has since witnessed of the triumphs of the divine principle of faith, and the disinterestedness of Christian love.
The perversion or misdirection of the sentiment of personal regard, and a corruption of Christianity by worldly or political alliances, are naturally associated. The self-complacency that can willingly receive misplaced attachment, or venture to interpose unfounded claims, or transient popularity, between Christ and the entire affections of the human heart, can seek only to promote thereby the selfish purposes of an ambition which belongs exclusively to the world, and which, however disguised by the mask of religion, finds its highest enjoyment in the pride of power, and in a domination, which will be always found, at length, to be a true political, as well as a spiritual despotism.
The individual who seeks to establish such a tyranny will readily avail himself of the prevailing passion for “purity of doctrine,” a phrase which means little else than a favorite intellectual view of something supposed to belong to Christianity-an ingenious and well arranged system of speculative opinions. The admiration excited by the ingenious system of doctrine is readily extended to the person who has first promulged it. The doctrine being received with avidity, and regarded as an indispensable condition of saivation, the individual who has elaborated it becomes at once, in their view, the restorer of gospel truth, and occupies a station next to him with whom the truth is supposed to have originated. Nay, the originator is scarcely seen in the distance: the discoverer and restorer of these cardinal truths is less remote, and consequently more conspicuous, and more likely to engage the attention and engross the heart. Just as men will honor Columbus, the discoverer of the New World, yet think not of its Almighty Creator; so religionists will pay more homage to Calvin than to Christ, and the fanciful visionary of the New Jerusalem will be not merely a Baron Swedenborg, but an EMMANUEL to his disciples.
•Every such misdirection of regard, however, is disloyalty to the Messiah. To him alone should be “the gathering of the people:” to him alone the subjection of the soul, and the homage of the affections. His character should be the constant subject of contemplation; his actions and his teachings unfailing sources of edification and delight. A sacred intimacy should be established with him in the heart. A conviction of his presence, and an undoubting reliance
upon his faithfulness and power, should sustain and encourage amidst every trial. In short, the relations which are to be created and maintained with him are of a nature so close; so endearing; so social; so absorbing, that the real Christian desires to know him only, and to dwell with him forever.
There is nothing in Christianity, indeed, which does not indicate that the great Leader it has presented to the world is to be accepted as such to the exclusion of every other; and that the ties which are to unite him with his followers, are of the closest and most enduring nature. Their intercommunion is of necessity personal, since it occurs between individual beings, and is carried on without any intermediate agency. The address in PRAYER is direct; particular; personal. The divine presence which it invokes can be no less so. The righteous still “walk with God,” as they still address to him their petitions. He also “dwells” with his people, and "hearkens” to their supplications. He never leaves them nor forsakes them. He is "a God at hand, and not a God afar off.” Indeed, the great purpose of the gospel is expressly declared to be to introduce the faithful into a high and holy “fellowship” with "the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” To be without this, is to be without God and without hope in the world;" while to enjoy it, is to possess that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to the world.”
Hence it is that every thing in true religion is designed to create
and promote this direct and personal communion. The New Testament itself is almost wholly a history of a person-of the "things” which Jesus did and said, by which his character is fully developed before us, and he is presented to the heart as an object of supreme love, veneration, and trust. It is, for the most part, a simple narra. tion of past events, or a prophetic annunciation of future facts concerning him who is “the First and the Last," "the Alpha and the Omega” in all the revelations of God. It is not a formal treatise upon abstpact doctrine; it presents no philosophical or systematized theology; it delivers no regularly digested plan of church govern. ment, and establishes no specific code of laws. On the contrary, it addresses itself to man who is a person, in order to reveal to him Christ who is also a person; so that Christianity is personal both as respects its subject and its object, as it is also in the nature of its application. It presents actions, and developes principles of action, and seeks to secure conformity to its dictates by. renewing the affections, and enthroning in these a once crucified, but now living and exalted Saviour.
It is to him also that the institutions of the gospel have a direct relation. The ordinance of baptism is strikingly commemorative of the three great facts which the gospel reveals. The Lord's day is a memorial of the resurrection; and it is Jesus himself who has instructed his disciples, when partaking of the emblems of his sacri, fice, to “do this in remembrance” of him.
But it is unnecessary to dwell upon truths so obvious. Christ is now as truly brought into personal relation with his people by faith and love, as he will hereafter be by the sense of vision in the glories of his celestial kingdom. The objects of faith are not less real or less personal than those of sight. The method of communi. cation may differ, but the objects and the essential relations are the
The incredulous Thomas attained no higher or more intimate relation with Jesus by sensible evidence than was granted to those who had not seen, but had nevertheless believed. The Chris, tian Hope, which rests upon faith, and reaches to the heavens, reveals that same Jesus to the soul, and leads only to a loftier commu: nion; to a visible instead of an invisible presence; to One who, loved unseen, though not unknown, is still loved, not for the visible glory that surrounds him, nor for the joys to which he receives the righteous, but for that humiliation; that cross; that victory over death, by which the gospel preached on earth had revealed him to the affections.
SERIES 111.--VOL, V.