Images de page
PDF
ePub

786 On the Apathy of the Church of England in Missionary Exertions. (Dec. of sorrow upon the multitudes of those who have reached “that bourne from which no traveller returns,” without “having so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost;" as well as of those still living even in nominally Christian countries who are so utterly ignorant as to deny this grand fundamental truth of the Gospel, or even so profane as to turn it into ridicule. Look again into the world, survey the lives of mankind in general, and see how fearfully numerous are those who preclude the inlet of the life-giving Spirit by devoting all their energies to “ labouring for the meat that perisheth,” while they are utterly unconcerned to seek to “drink of the fountain of living waters.” How little do such persons reflect—they do not reflect at all-upon His all-powerful efficacy in awakening men dead in trespasses and sins, to become the servants of God.

With regard to the evidence of our being led by the Holy Spirit, when the sinner, who, like the prodigal son, has been wasting his substance in riotous living, oppressed by the burden of his transgressions, “comes to himself,” and with humble repentance resolves to return to his Heavenly Father, and to become a new creature ; he, hitherto destitute of Divine grace, now begins to feel the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit working within him holy emotions, removing “an evil heart of unbelief,” and shew. ing the way of “ access to the Father.” He who has been “ called out of darkness into marvellous light,” and “ from the power of Satan unto God," can never assuredly hesitate to admit the reality of the Holy Spirit's work, since he is indebted to it not only for the greatest and most beneficial, moral, or more properly spiritual, change that it is possible to conceive, but because he feels that it is only by the perpetuated supply of His sustaining grace, that he will be enabled to continue stedfast and unmove. able amidst the opposition of the world, the allurements of the enemy of souls, and the depravity of his own heart. Next, all true believers are said to be “ led by the Spirit,” to live in the Spirit,” and to “ walk in the Spirit.” The love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. Revelation diffuses around them the glory of Christ's kingdom; the inestimable treasures of the Almighty become spiritually visible; God himself is, as it were, manifested to them; and the light of the Spirit shines within their souls.

Men of Christian integrity and sound judgment cannot but lament the enthusiastic feelings and the unwarranted pretensions to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, which have of late exhibited themselves in the metropolis and elsewhere. Such falsely termed Divine illuminations awfully tend in the public estimation to sully the glory of what is really Christian ; but we are not to yield scriptural truth because some men mistake or abuse it.

M. G. H.

ON THE APATHY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN

MISSIONARY EXERTIONS.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. The present aspect of affairs, in regard to Christian missions, may justly afford pleasure, and call forth gratitude to God, in comparison with the apathy of former days; and appropriately may we apply to ourselves the language addressed by our Lord to his disciples : “ Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see; for many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Yet, on the other hand, when we reflect on the hapless condition, mental

"TT

and bodily, as well as spiritual, of hundreds of millions of our fellowcreatures, still ignorant of the “ way of salvation,” living

way of salvation,” living“ without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world :" it is afflicting to think how very inadequate are all the exertions of the Christian church to supply their “ lack of knowledge.”

In regard to our own communion, every faithful member of the Church of England, must feel pain when he compares her prominent station, and ample means as to wealth and opportunity for the propagation of the Gospel, with the feebleness and paucity of her missionary exertions. The chief cause, I conceive, of defect, is the ignorance of our congregations generally, respecting the unhappy state of Pagan lands, and of their bounden duty to do all in their power to convey the Gospel to their inhabitants. And if it be asked, how it comes to pass that the frequenters of the services of the Church should remain in greater ignorance on those important subjects than the attendants at Dissenting places of worship; I fear the true answer is, that our clergy do not make a matter of conscience, of prominently and zealously setting forth the urgent and everpressing claims of the heathen upon our sympathy and bounty. The Methodists, although comparatively a very poor people, raised fifty thousand pounds last year for missionary purposes. The Church of England has but one missionary society to the heathen, the Church Missionary Society, (the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel extends by its charter only to the colonies ;) and yet this cannot raise so much as the poor despised Methodists. And whence the difference? Why, in this, that wherever there is a Methodist chapel, in town, village, or hamlet, there the claims of the heathen world are affectionately urged upon the conscience of their congregation, in a regular and systematic manner; whereas, in our churches, they are well nigh forgotten. The great majority of our bishops themselves do not contribute one penny to promote the kingdom of Christ out of the British colonies. The claims of the vast body of the heathen world are utterly neglected. It behoves, then, the ministers of the Church to bestir themselves, and wipe away this reproach from her communion. Let the dark places of the earth, and the degrading and horrid superstition of hundreds of millions of idolaters, engage their attention and awaken their sympathy. The diurnal press has been deemed by some the best public instructor; but surely the Christian pulpit, when rightly employed, is an engine of greater power, and will take a stronger hold on the affections of the people, and how great would be the beneficial results, if every pulpit within the pale of the Church was, at stated opportunities, employed in pleading the cause of its missions ? The funds now collected would be largely increased : nor would suitable missionaries be wanting, or hopeful spheres for their location. Ought things to remain in their present state ? Oh that those who fill high and responsible situations would answer this matter to their own consciences, and to the Master whom they profess to serve!

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

A CONSTANT READER.

METRICAL SKETCHES ON THE FESTIVALS, BY

BISHOP MANT.

If our readers were, as much interested as we were with the specimens of the Bishop of Down and Connor's devout metrical effusions appended to

ST. PHILIP AND JAMES.

his biographical notices of the Apostles and Saints, they will not be displeased at our presenting them with another chaplet.

Struck on his dazzled eye ;

And how, when smitten to the ground, (See the Collect.)

His ear received th' accusing sound,

“ Me wherefore does thy fury wound? Holy Jesus, Saviour blest,

Hard task and painful hast thou found : As, by passion strong possest,

Thy Saviour, Saul, am I.” Through this world of sin we stray,

Appall’d, to guide his footsteps blind Thou to guide us art the Way.

He seeks another's sight: Holy Jesus, when the night

But on the darkness of his mind Of error blinds our clouded sight,

Has dawn’d a holier light. Round the cheering day to throw,

Paul, on thy truth's unshaken base Saviour, then the Truth art thou.

Our faith’s foundation firm we place : Holy Jesus, when our pow'r

Nor less with adoration trace Fails us in temptation's hour,

The riches of celestial grace All unequal to the strife;

In thy conversion shewn. Thou to aid us art the Life.

And though no change like thine we seek, Who would reach his heavenly home ;

Nor hope to hear our Saviour speak, Who would to the Father come;

Nor hope to see his glory break Who the Father's presence see;

Through opening clouds; with spirit meek

His ceaseless grace we own: Jesus, he must come by thee.

And lowly beg, that, when away Channel of the Father's grace,

From his straight path we roam, Image of the Father's face,

His grace may meet us as we stray, Saviour blest, incarnate Son,

And lead the wanderers home. With the Father thou art one.

JUDAS. SAUL, WHO ALSO IS CALLED PAUL.

Blot from the sacred book the page, Behold yon horseman hurrying by,

Erase the dread record,
With armed hand, and ruthless eye! Which points to each succeeding age
Damascus-bound, he dooms to die,

Tbe traitor of his Lord !
Or deep in dungeon gloom to lie,
Or feel th' apostate's shame,

That Lord so gracious and benign,
Whoe'er the stamp of Jesus wears :

Image of God above, Nor sex nor innocence he spares,

So full his words of truth divine, Nor beardless cheek nor hoary hairs,

His deeds so full of love! All-reckless if his victim bears

To be the object of his choice,
The Galilean's name.

To tend him day by day,
Mark well the man! 'tis Saul, 'tis he, To see his life, to hear his voice;
Jew fierce as e'er ye saw ;

To kiss him, and betray!
Of straitest sect a Pharisee,

Ob, blot it out, the fearful page,
A slave to Moses' law.

Erase the dread record ;
Behold yon preacher patient stand, Nor point to each succeeding age
With placid mien and aspect bland !

The traitor of his Lord!
Persuasive, lo! he waves his hand,

Forgive the thought! For not in vain And tells of toils by sea and land,

That page recording tells, Of dangers and of loss;

How deeply fix'd the guilty stain
His limbs by bonds and scourges torn,

In Adam's offspring dwells.
With weariness and watchings worn,
The Gentiles jest, the Hebrews scorn, It tells, how rankling deep within
Assaulted, trampled on, forlorn,

Breaks forth the deadly taint;
Yet all for Jesus gladly borne,

How foul the character of sin; The triumph of the Cross !

How sure its punishment! Mark well again : 'tis Saul, 'tis he, Then let it stand; for so decreed From legal bondage freed :

The Spirit of the Lord, Strong in the Christian liberty,

That all of Adam's race may read True to the Christian's creed.

And mark the dread record : List to his tale! ye bear him say,

May still the traitor's awful fate What vision met him on his way:

With pitying thoughts deplore; How from the heavens a piercing ray, And scan their own uncertain state, More brilliant than the orb of day,

And tremble, and adore !

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

DEANE'S WORSHIP OF THE SERPENT.

The Worship of the Serpent traced throughout the World, and its Traditions

referred to the Events in Paradise : proving the Temptation and Fall of Man by the Instrumentality of a Serpent Tempter. By the Rev. J. B. DEANE, M. A. London. I Vol. 8vo. 1830.

It is a misfortune incident to mounting a hobby, that it is wondrously apt to run away with its master. The worthy author of this book has found a hobby which had been already amply spurred and bravely over-ridden by Bryant, Dr. Stukeley, and a score others, and its present owner has not spared its flanks or its fleetness. Yet, in consideration that to a certain extent it has taken the right road, we will indulge it with a handsome feed of corn ; but we must be excused vaulting into the saddle, and accompanying all its mettlesome curvettings and excursions over bog and briar where there is neither pathway nor safe footing.

To drop allegory, there is undeniable truth in the general doctrine that the annals of Paganism bear strong traditional testimony to some of the facts now known with certainty only through the disclosures of Holy Writ; so that, for example, a man might as well assert that the sun never shines within the tropics as that there are no vestiges of the Noachic deluge in the primitive records and customs of the family of nations; or that the story of a primæval golden age followed by a period of degeneracy, a story common to all countries that boast any ancient memorials, does not fairly trace itself back to the traditional recollections of the paradise of Eden. But when such a general, undeniable, and eminently important truth comes to be minutely illustrated by a man of large phantasy ; and history, chronology, mythology, etymology, and every rite and custom of every nation living or dead, are pressed, willing or unwilling, into the argument; then what is true in the outline becomes false in the detail; and an unbeliever, far from being convinced by the illustration, only admires the credulity of the illustrator. Father Harding the Jesuit found Moses and the Prophets, and Christ and his Apostles, every where in the Latin classics ; Horace's celebrated ode in particular, “Non usitata, non tenui,” &c. was a prosopopæia of Christ triumphing over the grave, and addressing the Jews, and sending out the Dominican friars to preach the Gospel. Yet this is scarcely more absurd than some of the reveries of learned men in tracing heathen customs to alleged foundations in Holy Writ.

Now what we should covet to see is the winnowing of the grain from the chaff; though we readily do the zealous and learned author of the work before us the justice to add, that it is not altogether his or any man's fault if they are mixed; for as a farmer is obliged to store both, though only one is valuable, so the collector of illustrative customs, etymologies, and analogies, must adduce many which separately are but of remote or doubtful application, and yet in the aggregate may add to the moral force of the argument. The illustrations of the worship of the serpent are of this kind. The effect of the accumulated facts is irresistibly powerful ; and yet it would be the veriest hobbyhorsism to take any one separately, and insist upon it detached as a vestige of primæval tradition. Their force is in their combination ; and though many of the illustrations may be, and probably are, irrelevant; though twenty reasons might be assigned to account for local facts, and not a few of the serpent relics which Mr.

CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 372. 5 I

[ocr errors]

Deane and others notice have probably no connexion with any mythological superstition whatever; yet when we look at their united testimony we cannot but come to the conclusion, after abating for every exception, that serpent worship was not a mere casual superstition : nor does it seem possible to account for the vast aggregate of facts but by referring them to some common source. The serpent has entered in one way or another into the mystic rites of so many nations, and under such varied circumstances of era, climate, and mythological opinion, that to consider the matter fortuitous would be a most improbable conclusion. That there was some central origin of many of these varied ceremonials seems almost demonstrable, and the most striking certainly is the temptation and fall of our first parents. There is indeed nothing else to which we can refer it; so that if we should think that conjecture unlikely, we must be content to forego all attempt at discovering any probable hypothesis. The class of writers to whom we have been referring feel no difficulty whatever in the identification; and yet when we view the matter without the aid of fancy, there is nothing in the account of the Fall that would naturally lead the nations to regard the serpent as an object of worship : nor are we satisfied with the solution of some divines, that Satan doubtless seduced man to worship him in revenge for his discomfiture. There is no doubt of Satan being the tempter to what is evil; but the application of this solution in the present case begs the question, that serpent worship was in allusion to the temptation in paradise. The most probable solution to our minds is, that from the devil having entered into the serpent, and in that form tempted our first parents, the serpent was viewed mythologically as the personification of the evil principle, and came to be worshipped in that light, according to the well known superstitions of barbarous nations, who worship a supposed good deity for his goodness, and an evil one to placate his malice. Mang of the serpent rites were connected with offerings and living sacrifices, which agrees very closely with this idea. Revolting as is the worship of devils,

we know that it has prevailed among many pagan nations ; if therefore the devil was early known to the inhabitants of the world, from primæval tradition, under the symbol of the serpent, the whole mystery of serpent worship is accounted for; more especially when we add, that in juxta position with the serpent, or the supposed personification of evil, we often find connected some symbol of the supposed personification of good, which is quite consistent with the two-fold worship just mentioned.

It is clearly proved, that serpent worship widely prevailed; and the only imaginable solution of the fact is, that it had some remote allusion to the temptation in paradise ; and this fact is very important as adding another ray to the cluster of sun-beams with which the evidences of the Bible being the word of God are illuminated. But to go one step beyond this is in our view fanciful. The general truth, as a whole, is striking and important; but when we take any particular instance of heathen worship, and begin to analyze it, and to find in it vestiges of Adam or Eve, or paradise, or the blessing or the curse, we fear we have begun to mount the hobby, and are not very certain as to whither he may carry us. We shall have occasion, before we conclude our remarks, to notice a few of these erratic wanderings in the volume before us; but in the mean time, to do full justice both to the author and the subject, we will quote his own summary of his argument. It is long, and will need some of the aforesaid winnowing; but it contains much curious and interesting matter, and, after blowing away the chaff, the wheat will reward the pains of collecting.

“ In the preceding pages we have traced the worship of the serpent from Babylonia, east and west, through Persia, Hindústan, China, Mexico, Britain, Scandinavia, Italy, Illyricum, Thrace, Greece, Asia Minor, and Phænicia. Again, we have observed

« PrécédentContinuer »