Images de page

it is an anchor to the windward. But there let it hold, until the agitated church rides out the polemic storm. There let it hold; and, though mortal tongues condemn me, in God I am safe. This places the humble Christian at his Saviour's feet, and leads him to say with the immortal Chillingworth, "Propose to me anything out of this book, and require whether I believe it or no; and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe to it with heart and hand; as knowing no demonstration can be stronger than this-GOD HATH SAID SO, THEREFORE IT IS TRUE."-Respiciam trementem sermones


[blocks in formation]

Your country is having a silent though powerful influence on ours; and I have a great curiosity to learn from some trustworthy source, the nature of your institutions. You cannot be ignorant that innovations in our region is the order of the day; and that our old relics of past ages and feudal times, are disappearing like old pillars from a temple, which some architect has taken into his hands to repair. I myself am neither a strenuous conservative nor innovator; I have not yet joined any of the political or religious parties of the day; and I wish to hit the true point of middle wisdom, whenever it can be found.

But I find that your example, in America, is having a powerful influence in all parts of Europe. It is true, it is less frequently quoted than you would suppose; but, you are aware that, in politics, the strongest objection against schemes of reformation, is derived from their alleged infeasibility; none say that they are not grand theories, fitted to captivate the youthful imagination, and roll in the declamatory periods of some popular orator. But the great question is, can they be put in practice? Are they not to be numbered with those sublime delusions, which speculation imposes on youthful minds at first, but all wise men are compelled to abandon them? This is the great problem; and this the example of your country is quoted as solving. In this way, you are having a silent influence, more powerful than that of fleets and armies; an influence like the subjacent stream, which, low in its channel, glides by the walls of some mouldering castle; whose creeping power is not suspected, until the battlements fall and the ruin is complete.

But against this influence, there are numbers who struggle. They say that the nature of your institutions is not fairly represented. Neither your constitution nor its administration are known; and still less is known the happiness or misery which your government imparts. It is said, that your government, in some respects, is republican, rather in show than reality; that sometimes it is vastly lax, and sometimes despoti

cally coercive; that it is managed by corruption, as much or more than ours; that places are sought for with the same eagerness, and bestowed with the same partiality as among us; and as to the freedom of the press, it is asserted, on the one side, to be gross licentiousness, and on the other, greatly restricted when it resists the popular will. The impulses of your mobs are said to be more exclusive than the influence of our throne, even when defended by the decrees of the star chamber.

As to the state of religion in your country, we hear strange representations. It is said that, released from the decency and order of a legalized establishment, it is bursting out in the excesses of fanaticism, and in the wildness of ungoverned feeling. Instead of a religion, growing up from the mild principles of Christianity in the heart, and acting on a moral life, we hear of periodical convulsion; of passions substituted for reason and inflamed to excess; of the heat of enthusiasm and the cold reaction of indifference; of fire and frost; of the ebbs and flows of popular feeling; of camp-meetings and protracted meetings; scenes where religion is deformed, because decency is violated. In short, your church is represented as being broken into sects which are daily breaking into new divisions; as if the edifice of the sanctuary were crumbled into the powder and dust of individuality; with no unity, no consistency, and no hold on the human mind. We hear that there are whole villages,

whole regions, who are not supplied with teachers of the gospel, because their choice is left to a popular election, and there are not ten men who can agree.

In short, it is represented that both in church and in state, the cords of liberty have become so excessively loosened, that they cannot much longer hold an organized system together.

Even your manners have been assailed by some. It is said, that while the definite lines drawn by the different ranks of men among us, in which each knows his station, and is bound by prescription to keep it, prevents encroachments, and softens the jealousies and evils of competition, with you it is very different.

The beggar does not even take off his hat when he asks for charity; and the servant approaches his master with a look of insolence and independence. All the civilities of life, instead of being the soft emanation of politeness and humanity, become harsh and repulsive. Social intercourse with you is a dispute for place; a jealousy of encroachment; a vain attempt to settle shadowy distinctions; and a contest between presumptuous pride and wounded modesty. Republics do not extinguish the ambition of men; but set them scrambling for indefinite shadows and visionary rewards, and are thus very unfriendly to private virtue and domestic peace.

With us, a nobleman knows his place; he knows that his rank and precedence are undisputed; and

« PrécédentContinuer »