Images de page
PDF
ePub

ready to be trodden under foot of men.' And oh, ye ecclesiastical judges, organs of the hierarchy, ere it be too late we implore you, though unworthy to be censors, to listen to the divine voice within, which warns you that the practices you are now pursuing and de fending are identical with those which brought down the last curses of Jesus Christ our Lord on the rulers of Jerusalem. Yes, Hell itself gapes with red and flaming mouth for all liars,' and thirsts for no blood more deeply than that of those who, through covetousness, with FEIGNED WORDS, make merchandize of souls, and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward ! Surely, it is an evil time when the chief institution for teaching goodness and truth to the vation becomes the chief example of paltering with language for worldly ends. No other ends are conceivable in your tortuous policy. Your solemn and difficult arguments, pleadings, and precedents, your mitres and robes, and grave faces, cannot conceal that this, in plainest English, is the condition of your case. Let your own children, Mr. MacNaught, Mr. Baptist Noel, and Dr. John Henry Newman, be the three witnesses of your iniquities. It is not the moral condition of the working classes, but of the educated classes, and of the clergy, which is the bane of Great Britain, and the chief ground of alarm to those who yet believe that there is a 'God who judgeth in the earth.My heart within me is broken because of the prophets.'

AIDS TO REFLECTION.

I. The Bible contains traces of two different inspirations—the one of ideas and words, the other of moral impulse and character. The one is as real as the other, but the effects are diverse. The first makes a man more or less infallible, the second makes him tender and great and good. It is this second inspi. ration which continues to the present day. Every one who would be saved must be inspired. If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His.' The .gifts of the Spirit' vanished away when their purposes were accom: plished; the fruits of the Spirit' remain until this present. The life of Paul was of infinitely greater value than his languages, and this life was the effect of an inspiration which has descended through all subsequent centuries. An uninspired life is a life without God in the world. Work out your own salvation, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.'

II. Nations in their totality resemble, in the conduct of foreign affairs, great public boy-schools, much more than communities of disciplined men and women. In both you see a predominant reference to force rather than to reason or right. In both you see that the fear of being thought afraid overtops all other fears

. In both you see that the patient endurance of a wrong is not even reckoned theoretically among the virtues, and that to overcome evil with good' is

thought the part of a milksop. In both you see the purely heathenish disregard of moral considerations, and the decision of the judgment by a balance of forces in the field. The reason is that however numerous may be the wise and good in a nation. they are always in a trivial minority compared with the animalmen, who form the opinion of the public; and animal-men? are only grown up school-boys. The cry of every nation therefore is, 'who is like the beast ! Who is able to make war with him! And this cry drowns the protestations and remonstrances of the Christian party. Truth and nobleness are always in the position of Christ before Pilate, surrounded by the Jewish multitude. They were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.'

III. Bat the multitude of heathenish voices ought not to be permitted to dictate the course of national affairs without a vehement effort on the part of wise and good men to stem the torrent, or to suggest the nobler principles of action. There is no stronger temptation that besets a man of Christian principle than that which arises from the overwhelming din of crowds shouting aloud in a passion. The silence of the wise does as much mischief in this world as the speech and noise of fools. “Wisdom crieth without.' She will not be heard in the streets if she speak in a whisper. Boldness in the utterance of moral principles of action is that which all reformers require—a 'forehead of adamant' to face the wicked mob of Jerusalem. There is always this encouragement; Passion spends itself, and soon grows weary of shouting. After about the space of iwo hours,' the town clerk can be heard. Principle grows stronger the longer it speaks, and patient continuance in faithful testimony is certain to secure at least a hearing at last.

IV. It is not in the highest classes' of English society that the greatest intellectual and moral refinement prevails. On the contrary the grossest vulgarity of taste and conduct is to be found among the leaders of fashion, just as the lowest type of coarse and selfish feeling is to be found among many of the most popular preachers' of Christianity. Living in a blaze of worldly success is not favourable to the nurture of the graces of character and intelligence.

[ocr errors]

The general views which a man entertains of the attributes of God are always brought to a focus in his opinion of the condition of children. His opinion on an infant is a reflex of his opinion on God. Perhaps it is a test of true theology that we can teach it to a child, without any sensation of shocking the child's moral constitution. Under this aspect let the mother consider the following statement of Jonathan Edwards. If those who complain so loudly of frighting poor innocent children with talk of hell-fire and eternal damnation, really believe what is the general profession of the country, such a complaint betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration. As innocent as children seem to be to us, yet if they are out of Christ they are not so in God's sight, but are young vipers

, and are infinitely more hateful than vipers, and are in a most miserable condition, as well as grown persons; and they are naturally very stupid and senseless, being born as the wild asses’ colt, and need niuch to awaken them.' Let the mother take her baby in her arms, and repeat over it these words of the great New England divine, along with the Niath Article of the Church of England, and let her steadily resolve to instil these views of God into her child's opening intelligence; and she may look for the love of God in her boy, when she may bope to gather · figs from thissles.' We remember once walking, on a splendid May morning, through the

fields in the West of England, and encountering a peasant child of twelve years old at a style between two lofty ledges, covered with a snow-shower of blossoms. Well my boy,' was the question, 'look up at the blue sky, and tell me what you know about God.' The boy gazed steadfastly up towards Heaven, and looked at the glorious firmament for some moments; then facing his questioner, in a devout tone he replied,— He sends us to Hell, sir. It was the natural out-come of a one-sided system of instruction truly infernal. Ah, if but one baby in its cradle could have been present at those councils of Christendom where the articles of belief were fixed, its voice might have counted for something in the framing of the formularies. But the men who were neither husbands nor fathers, and to whom a mother's breast was an inscrutable mystery, thought and seasoned in a thick Egyptian darkness on matters in which, though evil,' the heart of maternal affection offers the best guide to the comprehension of the Eternal. Christ has himself taught us that Divine compassion is much more' than parental love. The extirpation of the family spirit from the hierarchy of the Christian church was of itself sufficient to ensure the utter corruption of theology. No wonder that those who ‘forbid to marry,' are threatened by the God of Love with a punishment horrible enough in hell-fire to avenge the delusion of a world, and the concealment of all the tenderness of heaven.

VI. A service for the visitation of the healthy is wanted quite as much as a service for the visitation of the sick. In neither case is a form of exhortation or prayer exactly the most suitable mode of reaching the soul. No one will reveal himself to a black ecclesiastical official. The heart yearns for a wise and sympathizing friend. The gifts demanded in spiritual dealing with individuals, are far higher and deeper than those demanded for preaching to congregations. The Roman Confessional represents in a perverted form, a great want of struggling humanity, the need for a wise and able counsellor by the young and weak. Many young men are enfeebled during the earlier years of their Christian life from the want of some ductor dubitantium, which helpers are found among the laity, perhaps, as often as among the ministers. The elder women are the proper confessors' of maidens, the elder men of youths; and, perhaps, nothing is more lamentable than the small pains taken by elder Christians to smooth the path of beginners. Jesus said to Peter, ' Feed my lambs.

W.

SHORT NOTICES OF BOOKS.

Leisure Hours in Town. By A.K.H.B., of his readers ?' we should with one

Author of 'Recreations of a Country voice cry out, A. K. H. B. We are Parson.' Parker, Son and Bourn. all the willing parishioners of this 1862.

parson. We ‘sit under his ministry

with great delight. We are disapThere is no doubt that if the ques- pointed if he leaves us alone without tion were asked, Which of the con- a visitation service for more than two tributors to magazine literature during months together. We are all of his the last five years has succeeded in denomination, and we make a point gaining most of the love and gratitude of believing all he tells us, whether

[ocr errors]

publicly, or from house to house. We the verdure and beauty of country never yet found ourselves questioning meadow-land. A man might soon any of his deliverances, let him .con forget what a field is who lived in descend upon' whatever topic he may. London. We shall see what the effect To continue our little stock of Scotch, of town life

upon our minister. we'homologate' all his utterances, and There is far less of nature in this voour minds become Presbyterian di lume than in the former two. Perhaps rectly he opens his mouth.

it is a compensation that there is a There is no other man in Scotland fuller picture of human life. The essay who exercises so much inward power on ‘Future Years' is a master-piece. in England. Indeed, on reflection, we It reminds you of Mendlessohn's don't believe he is really Scotch. Songs without Words,' of Keller's There must be some mistake; he will * Reverie,' and of twenty other beauthink it no compliment, but he has es tiful pieces of minor music; but there sentially a southern intelligence; his is a blessing within the charm. There nature was never developed on brose is a quiet tone of holy wisdom which and haggis. Let the audacious Pro makes you promise never to forget the fessor Blackie rave as he may about man that wrote that essay; you thank his native barren land, and the stu him again and again, and you wish pidity of the English, A. K. H. B. that the life of all your neighbours was not born to be a trans-Tweedine could be rendered interesting to them Calvinist, and it is certain that he is by just such a pure habit of daily conmore appreciated by his kindred spirits templation as he possesses and here exin the South, than by his reputed re hibits. The interest of life depends lations in the North.

partly upon its great objects and geIf we ask ourselves what is the spe neral methods, and partly upon the cial charm of our minister's discourse undergrowth of its habitual meditawhich makes us think him English, tion. To possess a wise and happy and prevents us from ever deeming faculty of constant musing, redeems either his sermons or his visits too life from half its waste; and we can long, we suppose the answer to be that

conceive nothing better fitted to awaken he is blessed with that rarest of all fa and sustain such a faculty, than a culties, the gift of profitable musing. pretty frequent study of the books of He has an interesting way of medi this admirable writer. They are tating on common things, and bring written in nearly the best and purest ing the deeper interests of life to bear English of the day. We will give one upon the panorama of daily life. His golden paragraph heart has a look southward upon all • Your children will not always be the sunny aspects of nature. We re children. Enjoy their fresh youth marked in a notice of his former vo while it lasts, for it will not last long. lume, how much he used to love grass,

Do not skim over the present too fast It is said that he has recently removed through a constant habit of onwardfrom the country to a large city in looking. Many men of an anxious Scotland. Now, in most weathers, a turn are so eagerly concerned in proScotch city is an awful sight to look viding for the future, that they hardly upon. May the love of grass con

remark the blessings of the present. tinue to flourish in his heart! It is a Yet it is only because the future will trial of faithful affection,

some day be present, that it deserves near great cities is not genuine. It

any thought at all.

And many men, has a roué, blasé, worn-out look. It instead of heartily enjoying present does not'stand dressed in living green,

blessings while they are present, train It is clothed in themselves to a habit of regarding a thin deposit of smut; it oppresses

these things as merely the foundation rather than exhilirates the spirit of

on which they are to build some vague any man who has spent years among

fabric of they know not what. I have

The grass

but in dying brown.

known a clergyman who was very nounced as the offspring of Souther fond of music, and in whose church prejudice :the music was very fine, who seemed It was well for the fore-describe incapable of enjoying its solemn mother that it was recently she can beauty as a thing to be enjoyed while forth from Popedom on her pilgrimag passing, but who persisted in regarding in quest of her infant among Prote each beautiful strain merely as a pro- tants. I speak especially of the Pre mising indication of what his choir testantism of Scotland. Even so lat would come at some future time to be.

as sixty years ago, unless she ha It is a very bad habit, and one which chanced to enter at some singula grows unless repressed.

You, my

corner, she would have found it bette readers, when you see your children for her heart to return to Rome, an racing on the green, train yourselves quiet her anxieties as she best could to regard all that as a happy end in with the reflection that the Popis itself. Do not grow to think that Limbo was not so woeful as the Pro these sturdy young limbs promise to testant Hell. Our Protestantism, com be stout and serviceable when they are mencing with the Sovereign decreea those of a grown-up man; and re- Election, equitably assigned to thos joice in the smooth little forehead, who died in infancy their proportiona with its curly, hair, without any share of the mercy, but not less equi forethought of how it will look some tably their proportional share of thi day when overshadowed (as it is sure judgmentthe judgment of reproba to be) by the great wig of the Lord tion or preterition; so that calculating Chancellor. Good advice: let us all the infants' share by that of the adults try to take it.

Let all happy things as manifested in faith and a holy life be enjoyed as ends, as well as regarded there was left a vast multitude wh!

Yet it is in the make of perished eternally. Parental affection our nature to be ever onward-looking, early demanded, and easily obtained and we cannot help it.'

as means.

the modification, that the whole of

such children of pious parents as died Words of Comfort for Parents be

in infancy should be included in the reaved of Little Children. Edited

decree of salvation. With this the by William LOGAN, of Glasgow. heart of Scottish Protestantism for a Nisbets. 1861.

long time remained satisfied. With This book supplies a large number the exception of those born of pious of extracts in prose and verse froin parents, and the proportion saved by pieces on the death of children, and the general decree, all the rest, in will, doubtless, be found valuable by millions upon millions, were doomed the sorrowful persons for whom it is to everlasting woe. For two centuries designed. The expression of our and a-half after the Reforination this emotions is always sought for both in was the prevailing dogma. And when joy and grief, and here is every variety fifty years ago, Common Sense, warmof passionate lamentation over de- ing into life out of its dreadful torpiparted children. To us the chief in- dity, began to vindicate the character terest of the book is the noble preface of God, the rights of Christ, and the on infant salvation, by the eloquent feelings of humanity, it was with heDr. Anderson, of Glasgow, and from sitancy and bated breath, and amid this introduction we extract the fol- suspicions of their soundness in the lowing passages, warning the reader faith, that a few voices were heard that they are the composition of a suggesting the possibility that all who Scotchman, who ought to know the die in infancy are saved. things whereof he affirms. If the The question was agitated in this same things had been said by an En- form for a considerable time, and glishman respecting Scottish theology, Common Sense gained ground. About they would at once have been de- forty years ago, when he who sketches

« PrécédentContinuer »