« PreviousContinue »
gross, inert, and uncongenial material- | facts on which it rests, and nothing ity, have so free intercourse with more just or obvious than the dockindred natures—those hosts of celes- trinal and practical deductions drawn tial beings in that unseen world, from these by the inspired writers. which is itself in harmony with But while it thus adapts itself, as to spiritual existence—as to become those points which immediately conreally acquainted with the modes of cern salvation, to the humblest underaction and communication, the laws, standing, it transcends the powers of the capacities, the habitudes of that the highest human intellect in its ulmysterious energy, that vivifying in- timate tendencies and results. Thus fluence, that divine effluence or crea- the mountain which shelters indeed tion which we term spirit ? Alas! the lowly cottage at its foot, lifts itself he can see now but a feeble glim- aloft amidst the clouds of heaven until mering of the light of that world, it becomes lost to view. Its general compared with its full effulgence- outline may be traced by the distant though even this faint gleam may be beholder ; but when he approaches brightness indeed contrasted with the and attempts to ascend, he is confused darkness of that dwelling which is no by its magnitude ; he endeavours less the prison, than it is the abode of often in vain to find his way
amidst And the cause of his iroper- its deep recesses, or to expose to view fect knowledge may be found in this the unknown depths in which its very constitution of his nature - so richest treasures are concealed. How that if there be things by him seen often in unexplored realms of naand known, it is because they are ture – how much oftener in religion, material and temporal : if there be do men from confidence in themselves things unseen and unknown, it is be- push their inquiries and researches cause they are spiritual and eternal. too far, and become lost themselves,
Is it not strange that man should and fatal guides to others, in their be most dogmatic in regard to that eagerness to signalize themselves by of which he knows the least ? Yet new discoveries ! he is disposed for the most part to All sectarianism is dogmatism, treat in a magisterial and positive bigotry — religionism, the pride of manner the subject of his spiritual opinion, the insolence of self-esteem, relations—the deep things of religion, and stubbornness of ignorance. Think a science which, above all others, you such principles would look well ought to be approached and studied in those who profess to be engaged in with reverential humility. It is here a warfare against it? And yet, how in fact that we have more masters often are men insensibly influenced than diseiples. But it is not so in by the same feelings which they reproother sciences. Even in those which bate in others ! Forbearance, toleraare adapted for his perceptive powers, tion, humility, candor ; firmness in and examined by the sure methods of truth, openness to conviction, and observation, experiment, and induc- freedom of opinion in things unknown, tion, the conclusions of the learner are should be the grand features of reforcautious, modest, and unassuming. mation from partyism, an evil which How much more so should they not owes its very life and being to a posibe in regard to things invisible, in- sitive and overbearing spirit. But tangible-things that are higher than religious, is as great novelty in the the heavens !
world, as is political freedom. The atI would not, however, be under-tempt to organize a free religious comstood to intimate that religion is an munity, is as much an experiment, as uncertain or doubtful matter. No- the attempt to form a free political thing can be more certain than the government, and it is exposed equally
to the the same vibrations and danger- him”- “ for fear of the Jews," ous extremes which arise equally and others because " they loved the in both cases from ignorance or am- praise of men more than the praise of bition — from pride, selfishness, or God." There is abundant evidence passion.
to prove that multitudes believe the Men are not content to preach the gospel without obeying it. This I gospel — to scatter abroad the good might, if I had now space, present, seed of the kingdom and leave the though indeed the above scripture result to God, but must needs quarrel declaration and case in point are with each other about the manner in sufficient to prove the proposition. which the seed is made to grow! It Your premises, then, here being inwould have been happy for the world correct, I conceive you have entirely if there had never been a single con- failed to account for the difficulty troversy upon “converting power ;" which you have attempted to explain and if all, believing as they do, that -to wit, how it is that if faith deit is proper to proclaim the gospel pends wholly upon the word, but few to sinners, had co-operated thus in of a large congregation, the major the accomplishment of the divine part of which profess to believe it, purposes, rather than wasted their will obey it when it is fully presented time and energies in contending with to them? each other. As well might the farmer For my part, I would maintain this have suspended or neglected the sow- position, that in no case is conversion ing of his fields, to occupy himself in effected by the word alone; or rather, vain contention with his neighbour I would enter upon this inquiry, is it about a theory of vegetation. not necessary that a power or in
When, however, theories are in- fluence DISTINCT FROM the word, troduced and believed and acted upon should always accompany in order to --when they are made to govern and conversion and salvation ?
Upon control all action, and to interfere this I will offer you some thoughts with human happiness and the gene- when I can find a little leisure. ral diffusion of the gospel, it becomes
Your's truly, a duty to expose them. But we
L. should not attempt to introduce other theories in their place. If one have LETTERS FROM EUROPE. received a bullet in the flesh, it is necessary that the forceps should follow it to whatever depth it may have · MY DEAR CLARINDA,—Not to hold penetrated : but the surgeon would you in suspense-if, indeed, it be to but ill consult the welfare of his you a matter of suspense-I must patient, if, after extracting it, he distinctly state the capital error in should leave the forceps in its stead. the Magna Charta of Great Britain,
And now, as my sheet is almost so pregnant with evil to the governfull
, permit me to say, my dear E. ment and nation. But you anticipate that while I approve of many things me, and point to that article which in your remarks to your friend R. says, 6 The King of England joins to there are some things which do not the dignity of Supreme Magistrate meet my approbation, It is not cor- that of Head of the Church." This rect in my view, to say that all who being constituted HEAD do not obey the gospel, give thereby CAURCH,“ gives him power to conevidence that they do not believe it. voke national and provincial Synods, In the course of our Saviour's ministry, who, under his approbation, establish many, we are told, “ believed on dogmas and discipline,” and also him,” but “would not acknowledge authorizes him to appoint the chief
ecclesiastical dignitaries. Thus the Church of England, now greater than King or Queen Monarch of Great all the revenues of the Popedom of Britain is, in fact, made the visible Europe, (though these in some counand efficient Head of the Church of tries, as in Spain, are double the. England, presumed to be the Church imposts and revenues of the political of Christ. He is, therefore, as much government,) have become so onerous a spiritual as a civil Monarch. This and unendurable as to excite not only assumption constitutes him a Pro- hatred against the prelatic officials, testant Pope—as true and real as he but also against the civil government of Rome, though with a jurisdiction itself, that not merely tolerates it, more limited in territory and in spi- but solemnly and powerfully supports ritual supervision. He does not, in- and sanctions such enormities. The deed, profess to be infallible ; but ecclesiastic revenue of some two only acts as though he were. He Archbishops, and, till lately, of but virtually enacts all the dogmas or some four and twenty Bishops, doctrines, as well as discipline of the amounted to an annual tax on the church, and creates its church digni- industry of the subjects of the crown taries, and sometimes inflicts severe of more than eight millions sterling, penalties on the refractory and dis- or forty millions of dollars per annum. obedient. He appoints officers I call it tax because it sequesters so civil, military, and ecclesiastic—and much of the national wealth, and is thus aggrandized with all the therefore throws upon the people honors of a spiritual and political burthens intolerably grievous. This Prince—a greater than Melchizedec ; both Christian and Infidel regard as for he was only King of Salem and a superlatively unrighteous burthen ; Priest of the Most High God ; but because they receive forit no spiritual the Monarch of England is Prince of nor temporal equivalent. The serboth Peace and War, and sacerdotal mons and services of these Prelates dignitaries. All this, too, he may and their Clergy are commonly reconstitutionally become at the age of garded as of no salutary advantage eighteen years. This power is granted to soul, body, or estate. The Christo him and is retained to him on the tian portion of the community prefer ground of his being Head of the State. to select their own Pastors, and to So that the supremacy of the Church minister to their wants ; while a is contingent on the supremacy of the great majority of mere parishioners State, and held in virtue of it by con- look upon the whole establishment stitutional authority. Henry VIII. as a solemn mockery of religion, or rival of the Roman Pontiff, assumed as a legalized system of robbery and this headship, and, despite of the in- oppression. creased light of Protestantism, it Now the tendency of things under is yet retained
as firmly as the such a system is to depreciate, to crown in the person of the reigning undermine, and ultimately to deMonarch.
molish not only the ecclesiastic This association of political and despotism itself, but that political ecclesiastical supremacy in the person despotism that supports it and incorof a Monarch, in virtue of fleshly porates it with itself. This, indeed, lineage, without regard to intellectual, all history attests. Hence the Hiermoral, and religious qualification, is archy and the present Monarchy are so far behind the progress of the age, regarded as inseparable by a large in the esteem of saint and sinner, portion of the people ; and as soon that no one of much reflection can as they feel themselves possessed of think of its long continuance. Be- power, is by them doomed to one sides the enormous revenues of the common destruction.
But from the indications of past What an insult to the Author and history, and from the usual course of Founder of the Christian Instituthings in human experience, the in- tion ! congruity and glaring absurdity of It may, indeed, yet be a question making a youth of 18--a male or a undecided amongst the wise men, and female-head of the church and su- those better acquainted with the inpreme arbiter or dictator of scriptural ternal and suppressed spirit of the disloctrine and Christian discipline, so sidents of all orders of the empire than as to make one opinion orthodox and I am, or could possibly be, whether another heterodox ; and this institu- the growing disaffection to the English tion divine, and that human, accord- hierarchy by remonstrance through ing to his or her notions, or according the press and the liberties of public to the dictation of some interested discussion, be able to create and decounsellor or ecclesiastic, is so revolt- velope a public opinion so strong and ing to human prudence and discretion, so efficient as to abolish it without that we cannot imagine how such violence and a bloody revolution. institutions can be endured by any If I were to judge from two indicapeople any longer than they have not tions that seem to be manifest to all power to repudiate them. Indeed, spectators and auditors of passing these old relics of less enlightened and events, I should incline to the more less favored ages, are, from present acceptable opinion, that it can be efindications, annually becoming more fected by the triumph of reason and and more obnoxious to the vengeance truth, without blood and carnage. of oppressed millions, who are assert- These are the constant yielding, ing, and will still more loudly assert, more or less, to popular opinion on their own rights and the wrongs of the part of the government, and the the despotism that has impoverished consequent increasing boldness and and degraded them.
courage of remonstrants and petitionQueen Victoria, as a woman and a ers in urging their demands. Tbe Queen, is as respectable and popular more the government yields, the more as any woman in her station could it has to yield ; and the more the be. But as the head of the church, people gain, the more they are likely as creator of Bishops and Arch- to demand. Add to this constantly bishops, and as supreme arbiter of growing tendency of things for almost Christian faith and Christian disci- half a century the recent revolutions pline, when dogmatically propounded, and commotions of European governwho could either respect or admire ments, one might hope that possibly, her ? She has her Theatre, and is for once in the annals of the world, a much better qualified to be head of great nation might be wise to give up that and of the pastimes of the nobility old encroachments and usurpations at and gentry of the island, than to be war with the enlightened morality head of Christ's church. The incon- and policy of the age. sistencies, and contradictions in these But yet the history of the past assumptions becoming annually more furnishes not much encouragement and more apparent, are, indeed, most for such an honorable movement on abhorrent to a Christian's conscience the part of those in power. Men part and moral feeling. The head of with power as they part with life. Christ's church the patron of the Its charms, its magic potency, what fashions and amusements of the heart of man can resist? History world! First at the altar, the furnishes but a few, a very few, illustheatre, the toilet, and the court, and trious examples of this kind ;
and first in all the pomps and pageants of these not a moiety are free from of the age! What an inconsistency !'ambiguity and all suspicion.
But England is a nation sui generis, prelates and dignified clergy, by a a nation of its own modelling. The new race of Norman chiefs and Norfreedom of Englishmen is but a shade man prelates, whose tenure was based behind our own in all that pertains to upon the sword of William and their the tongue and the press. I heard allegiance and support of his throne.* but one political speech of one of the According to the records in Doomsday candidates of Yorkshire for a seat in Book, during his reign he had the Parliament. It was delivered in whole kingdom surveyed and disHuddersfield, and was as bold in its tributed amongst his nobles. review of some critical portions of “But only a few years passed away, English history, and as strong against and one or two short reigns, till these the aristocracy of the empire as any Barons had ingenuity to legislate speech I have heard in America themselves out of their obligations to against any alledged encroachment pay the consideration on which their upon the rights of the people. estates were conceded them; and to
In giving his views of the extent roll off themselves upon the nation at of that reform for which he would large the expense of all national wars. pledge himself to his constituents, if I think, then, gentlemen, the time is elected, he said, in sense and meaning almost come when this matter should
“ Gentlemen, I am willing to push be examined, and that either the the question of reform to the very Barons should pay the expense of centre of the aristocracy of this empire. our wars, or give back their estates I think the time is almost come when to the nation.' even the titles by which our nobles Certainly this is bold enough for hold their rich baronies, or rather America, said I to myself; and if in haronages, should be thoroughly can- an English assembly of enlightened vassed. They have long since ceased subjects, and within hearing of some to pay the consideration on which of these self-same Barons, these words this kingdom was partitioned among of a candidate, who came within some them by the Norman Conqueror, twenty or thirty votes of being electWilliam, as many of you know, and ed, could be heard with acclamation, all may know, who will be at the amidst cries of Hear! Hear! this pains to examine the subject. I people cannot complain on the ground say, William rewarded his particular of a restrained liberty of speech. friends, and distributed his realm Free discussion seems to me to be as amongst his nobles and distinguished much the order of the day in Britain chiefs on certain conditions. Amongst as in the United States. Still there these the most essential are now and may be more constructive abuse of long have been unfulfilled. The speech under that government than Barons accepted the grants from the under this. King on condition that they would, But the great question is, whether out of the tenantry of these estates, the hierarchy of England shall fall' by raise certain proportions of soldiers the tongue or by the sword ? Fall it and be at all the expense of training, * The allusion here is to the fact that Wilarming, clothing, and satisfying them liam of Normandy, the conqueror of England for their services in fighting the in the latter half of the lìth century, after King's battles, and in preserving the seizing the principal estates of the ancient
nobility and gentry of England because of their safety and integrity of his kingdom. insubordination to the King, gave or sold them Such was the King's liberality, pre- out to his Norman Barons who had fought his ceded indeed by an unprecedented battles, for small considerations in hand, under Thus tyrannically were
the condition of not only in person aiding the rapacity.
King, but also in raising and maintaining troops superseded the old and venerable to fight the King's battles--which was, indeed, Barons of England and most of their but to defend their titles to their own estates.