Images de page
PDF
ePub

many excellent and useful thoughts and occasions of reflection. It comes from a well cultivated and discriminating mind, and from the oldest "reformer” in Kentucky; whose private and public character as an instructor of youth and a teacher of the Christian religion, and whose moral excellencies are not confined to the knowledge and admi. ration of Kentucky alone, but are both known and highly appreciated throughout the Valley of the Mississippi.

The extract is a part of the answer to the question, "Why was the Christian religion established in the world?"

A. C. Secondly.--"Why was the Christian religion established in the world?'

Keeping in view the principle on which the Christian revelation has proceeded, and on which it has been established, namely, that an example is necessary to the comprehension of its truths, we can have no difficulty in understanding this point.

What, for example, is the primary idea of the Christian religion respecting the Divine Being? "To us, there is but ONE GOD." The unity of God, then, is the first lesson taaght us respecting him in this religion. This idea it is necessary to impress on the hearts of our fellow-beings, for correct knowledge of God is essential to their piety and humanity. It will not do 10 teach them that there are "Lords many and Gods many." The God whom the world long tried to find is revealed by the Christian religion.

Now how is this to be done? By the church, of course. But by whnt means? By telling the world that there is but one God? This is not enough. No general or primary truth can be, by any means, so well impressed on the mind of a learner, as by permiting that truth to force itself upon him as the result of previous observation. The most natural way-God's way of teaching is, to present to man a number of particular facts, that, from the study of them, may infer the law that governs them. And thus we arrive at the primary truth.

Precisely on this plan is the world to be caught that there is but one God, and it is to be taught by a contemplation of the church. No man has seen God at any time; but we have seen, and felt, and handled, and listened to the Word of Life; and we can now see the church which, it is declared, partakes of the divine nature.

Still we are not at the point. I may be asked, “How is the church to impress this idea upon the world, if not by what it says? Can it do this in any other way? Certainly: By ITS OWN UNITT.

Suppose an individual to have heard that a religion has been introduced into a part of the world, that is destined to make all who yield to it happy, in the only true sense of that word, in this world, and in another, which thai religion alone describes. He cannot but feel great interest in this communication, both because he has found that he never yet was happy; and because he is ignorant of what follows that event which all men dread-namely, death.

He starts in search of some one who can give him information on the subject. He arrives at a city, and inquires where he can learn what he desires to know. He finds the people apparently unconcerned about the matter; but is carelessly directed to some "house of

word ship,” which he accordingly enters. He beholds a man who calls himself the servant of God-lhe minister of Heaven; who tells his hearers that God has sent to the world a message, by him, and that he has qualified him to deliver that message which he proceeds to unfold. In doing this a certain number of "essential doctrines," say five, are propounded, and reference is made to a small book which he has sworn to teach, as embodytng the system of truth contained in the Bible.

Not only does the inquirer learn this, but he sees a certain routine performed, and hears that Book called the Bible, extolled; but he is told that the book the minister has sworn to teach, contains an epitome of what the Bible teaches.

Not feeling perfectly satisfied, he makes farther inquiries; and is pointed to another “place of worship,” where he can learn all he wishes. He enters. There, likewise, he is told that the speaker is "called, qualified, commissioned, and sent forth" by God to teach what he hears. But the very doctrines that were taught in the other house, 'ar farly denied in this, and are opposed by five other messential doctrines." The Bible is still extolled; but another book, quite different from the former, is said to contain "views of what the Bible teach-s.” lle observes, 100, that the rites in this house differ from those in the other.

His mind is now more unsettled than ever, and he approaches a third place of worship. What now does he see and hear? While the leader professes siill to be sent of God, he declares another set of dootrines, performs another set of rites; and claims for both the homage of all men, as did the others.

Suppose that, in like manner, this inquirer were to enter the houses of all the religious denominations, and were to witness all the riles, to listen to all the doctrines, and to examine all the claims, made upon all men, for submission to each system in its turn. What would be his conclusion? Could he possibly decide that all those teachers were sent by one God—that all the people worshipped the same God? I do not see how he could. And yet the impressions made on his mind, if any, are not what the religious world, in its present state, would make. He certainly would decide that there are “Lords many and Gods many;" and that he would be no better off by embracing any one of these systems, than he is under the influence of his own.

But suppose him to enter an assembly, and 10 hear the Bible read; ils truths permitted to make their own impression-its writers to speak for themselves. Were he to see those truths exemplified in the deportment of the worshippers, and to behold the spirit by which all were animaled, to be the spirit of that book. Were he to enter any number of places of worship, and to witness in all the same acts, to see in all the same spirit, and to hear in all the same truths; were he all over the land to pursue his inquiries, to find things every where the same-would he not exclaim, "The unity of these people in word, in actions, and in feeling, convinces me that there is but one God; that he speaks by them, and that here am I to find what I have long sought.”

I shall not now dilate upon that system of unities, if I may so speak, of which Christianity consists. I only intend to show that if the

church would convince the world that there is but one God, she must herself be one. She is left on earth to propagate the knowledge of the Lord the responsibility of it is thrown upon her; and how can she answer for the impression she makes upon those who behold her unhallowed schisms. "Is it possible to persuade a thinking man that the God of the Calvinist is the God of the Arminian? In character, in sentiment, in government, in practice, in feeling, they differ wide as the poles. One loves all men—the other only a part. One gave his Son to die for the human race-the other for the elect. One sends his spirit into the heart of every rational creature-ihe other confines it to those whom he selected in eternity as the bride of his Son. Their differences are endless; and wholly and irreconcilably separate them, as the revelations they have made have done the two great schools of Divinity.

Now I do not undertake to say which of these is the God the Bible reveals. I neither approve nor condemn either Calvinism or Arminianism, or the advocates of either. But one thing must be clear to all thinking persons.

These two Gods, so different in every point, cannot be one and the same. These systems, therefore, present to the world two Gods; and the same remark will apply to all the variant systems of the day. Each one describes and defends a separate God. Another feature of the God of the Bible is Love.

Now how can the church declare this divine perfection to the world? It will not do even to mention this attribute of the Divine Being, while the members of the church do not love one another. By the church, it must not be forgotien, is intended the religious mass; and not any denomination exclusively.

Does the church. then, now declare to the world that “God is love?" It cannot be by its conduct that it teaches this; for the members of the church seem to try how far they can separate themselves, and to work themselves up to the highest possible degree of difference and animosity.

In the prayer the Messiah offered before his crucifixion, he asked the Father that the disciples might be one, that the world might believe on him; and he likewise said to them, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”

But it is not my object to dwell on this theme: let me say only, if the church would exhibit the love of God, it must be by its own love.

The Bible reveals the JUSTICE of God. Now how is the church to teach this? Of course by being perfectly just itself, in all things, in all relations. And does any one "branch" of it treat another justly?

The MERCY of God is also every where displayed in the Bible. And the church must not only do justice.” but it must “love mercy." 'The TRUTHFULNESS

the church is to convince the world that God speaks the truth. And thus every moral attribute of the Divine Being may be presented to the contemplation of our associates.

It has already been seen that our own characters are formed by the views we take of the character of God. We cannot study his character, under the influence of his fear, without being assimilated to him. If, therefore, we are in all things the opposite of what we ought to be, We certainly do not know God, or think upon him. If divisions, hatred, strife, emulation, injustice, falsehood, unmercifulness, instead of their

VOL VI.N.S

opposites, distinguish the church, how can the church exhibit the perfections of God to mankind?

We have now asceriained the ends had in view in giving the Christian r«ligion to man; and have seen that it was intended to ex. hibit the character of God and of human nature under proper infloences, to the world. We have shown that the religion was introduced to give this knowledge, and was establisbed that the church might pripgale il

Il now becomes proper to inquire if Christianity, as it is now beheld by an impartial inquirer, answers these ends? And if this does not, what will?

FAMILY CULTURE. CONVERSATIOVS AT THE CARLTON HOUSE.-No. XXXII.

Futher Olympas. My family will now prepare for a close and minute examination of the apostolic family; and preparatory to this, we shall read Matthew x. in connexion with our present lesson in Luke, as well as some general readings in the sequel. William, read again the first seven versts of Maithew x. new version.

William. “And baving called to him his twelve disciples, he gave them power to expel unclean spiriis, and to core diseases and maladies of every kind. Now these are the names of the twelve Apostles: The first Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James, son of Alpheus, and Lebbens, surnamed Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and"Judas Iscariot, he who betrayad him.

These twelve Jesus commissioned, instructing them, and saying, Go not away to the Gentiles, nor enter a Samaritan city; but go directly to the lost sheep of the stock of Israel. And as you go, proclaim, saying, The reiga of heaven approaches."

Olympas. Observe that those who became Apostles were first called disciples.

William. Are they not afierwards called Disciples as well as Apostles?

Olympas. Very frequently. That was a generic name, while that of Apostle was special.

Thomas. Are they not called heralds 100?

Olympas. Paul calls himself a herald, a keeruz, and Peter calls Noah the keerux or herald of righteousness to the antediluvians. But their peculiar and divinely appointed name is Apostles-persons sed for h; Shilohs, messengers sent from the Lord; sometimes called Anbassadors,

Thomas. Is not Jesus called an Apostle by Paul, and a Shiloh by Jacob; and do not these two names indicate the same office?

Olympas. The Vulgate has qui mittendus est—he that is to be senthe ambassador, for Shiloh. So the Ancient Rabbis say that the Mes. siah is called the sent. The proper arrangement and sacred use of these are:-Jesus was himself first named the Shiloh, or Ambassador, and is afterwards called by Paul "the Apostle and High Priest of our religion." He calls himself the Apostle of God." As," said he in his intercessory prayer, “as thou hast made me thy Apostle, so have I made them my Apostles to the world." [New Version.] Jesus is God's Apostle, or Ambassador and Herald to the world; and the twelve already named are called the Apostles not of God, but of Christ.

Thomas. God, then, has but one Ambassador, ør Chief Apostle to The world, and Jesus our Saviour has twelve.

Olympas. Just so: they are his Apostles, and he is God's. Let us ihen attend to their history.

At the head of these stands Simon Peter, a son of Jonas, a citizen of Bethsaida, situate on the western coast of the lake Gennesareth. He was a householder in Capernaum at the time of his calling, and a fisherman by trade. His name was afterwards changed into Cephas, a Syriae word meaning petra, or rock. But though he was first in standing, he was not the first called of the twelve. His own brother Andrew having been a disciple of the Baptist, was first introduced to the Messiah, and became his disciple, and he introduced his brother Peter to the Lord. He also became his disciple, but went back for some time to his calling. It was the thirtieth year of Jesus that these two brothers enlisted in his cause. Next to the first pair were James and John, sons of Zebedee and Salome, natives, or, at least, citizens of Bethsaida in Galilee. This James is sometimes called the Greater or Senior to distinguish him from another James called the Less, or Junior. He and John his brother were intimate with the Lord, and were amongst his most confidential friends. They were present on the Holy Mount of transfiguration. They were also present at his ascension. James was exposed to martyrdom by Herod Agrippa, the grand-son of Herod. the Great, about A. D. 42. The next in order are the sons of Cleopas and Mary, the sister of the mother of Jesus. Of these sons three were Apostles-James the Less, Judas, and Simon. Two of these wrote epistles-James the Less, sometimes called James the Just, and Jude. This is that James, son of Alpheus or Cleopas, who was in Jerusalem regarded as a pillar, and who presided at the council of Jerusalem. This Simon is called the Canaanite, identical in our language with

« PrécédentContinuer »