Page images
PDF
EPUB

apostles by the Saviour himself, and Judas was a traitor." This is the language of a distinguished American bishop.* Is it not most extraordinary language? Judas in the chain! Judas among the first in the chain! Do they forget where their chain begins? Do they push their chain beyond the de. livery of the ministerial commission ? We had been under the singular impression that Judas was dead when Christ delivered the ministerial commission, and delivered the promise upon which the chain is fastened at the farthest end. Where was Judas when the ministerial commission and the after promise were delivered ? Echo answers where! Our Saviour never delivered any ministerial commission to Judas to preach the Gospel as a finished salvation scheme, and hence the case of Judas can form no precedent to involve the Saviour in a contradiction; is no precedent for the wicked bishops of the present or past history of the church. Such a precedent is not happily within the lids of the Bible. The world is defied to show it. Judas was in his grave, and likely in hell, no man on earth knows to the contrary, when the Saviour delivered the commission of ministerial office to the eleven holy apostles and subsequent bishops of the church. With what show then of legitimate argument, or scriptural authority can Episcopalian writers pen such paragraphs as we have just transcribed ? With what show of fair argument, or scriptural anthority can they proceed to affirm, that in virtue of the precedent of Judas, who was dead and in his grave when the promise was given upon which their doctrine is built, it is a prejudice to affirm that none but holy men, none but Christians can, according to the law of Christ, be officers in his church?

The express language of our Saviour and the historical record of the Bible place it beyond a doubt that the organization of the Christian church under the completed Gospel dis. pensation devolved upon St. Peter. St. Peter proceeded to organize a church of Gospel Christians by the celebration of Gospel rites after there were Gospel Christians in virtue of

* Bishop McIlvaine.

his preaching. What does the historical record say, from whose infallible voice there is no appeal ? St. Peter preached the Gospel. Sinners became Christians in virtue of Gospel preaching, according to the Gospel, Christ manifesting his miraculous presence, intervening as he had promised to intervene by his presence, and then church organization ensued. St. Peter never attributed, not more than Methodist ministers now attribute, the miraculous effects of his Gospel preaching to any power in himself personally. He was guilty of no such folly. When St. Peter preached the Gospel, he beheld the miraculous effects, but he was wise enough to attribute theni, as the Methodist ministers are now wise enough to attribute the same miraculous effects of the same Gospel preaching, to the presence and power of Christ according to his promise. Ministers preach the Gospel, but Christ is the mediator of the Gospel.

It was our purpose to have dwelt, at some length, upon the view, that if the promise of the Saviour's presence had relation to ordination, his presence has sadly failed to preserve his ministry, in the succession, from falling into capital errors in point of doctrine and church structure, and from frequently ordaining to office men, who might be regarded as the enemies of Christ, since they were led captive at the will of the Devil ; but the length of our article admonishes us to pause.

ART. V.

ROMAN LITERATURE.

By Joseph B. COBB, Esq., Columbus, Mississippi.

(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 333.)

THE GOLDEN AGE.

Entering upon the reign of Augustus Cæsar, commonly known as the golden age, many grave thoughts are suggested in connexion with literature and the refined arts. We have taken final leave of the iron era of the republic, and its glorious, even though more homely associations. The splendor, the grandeur, and the magnificent patronage which belonged to an imperial court, soon destroyed all love for the rough, though manly intellectual strifes of the forum, and for those matchless forensic displays which called forth the powers of Hortensius and Cicero. Swords were beaten into ploughshares, the guileful calm of despotism succeeded to the crash of contending arms, and to the glare of gorgeous military triumphs. The soft music and inspiring harmonies of poetry supplanted, in public estimation, the sturdier and more instructive prosings of Cæsar, Sallust, and their homely predecessors; the love of literature was concentred in the one absorbing passion for song ; the tender strains of the harp, vibrating to the melody of verse, ravished the senses of that grosser appetite which before had thirsted for the martial tones of the trumpet; the altars of Janus and of Mars were deserted for those of Apollo and the Muses. In fact, the literary tastes, munificent patronage, and, above all, the sagacious policy of Augustus, were combining to attract to the poet or the scholar, those evidences of popular appreciation and distinction, which, under the republic, had been offered only to him who had been signalized in fighting the battles of Rome.

The first emperor appears in history under three distinct characters. During the stormy period that elapsed between the death of the great Cæsar and his confraternity with Mark Anthony, he acted, under the guidance of Cicero and the orders of the senate, the true Roman and the patriot. His union with the unstable, though haughty and aspiring lover of Cleopatra made him a triumvir and a proscriptive, bloody tyrant. The eventful victory of Actium left him the liberty, as it afforded him the opportunity of handing his name and fame to a grateful posterity as the friend of the people and the father of his country. When he mounted the throne, and seized the sceptre which Brutus and his band had wrenched, unswayed as yet, from the dying grasp of his illustrious uncle, the stupendous empire of which he became master, embraced the fairest, the most fertile, and civilized portion of the known world. The coffers of Rome were filled to overflow with the tributes of wealth extorted from foreign dependant provinces; and this rich and glorious inheritance, gathered and bequeathed by the iron hearted fathers of the republic, was not to be rashly hazarded. His disposition and strong natural sense, added to the consummate dictates of policy, unfolded to him the important fact that Rome, in its present exalted situation, had much more to fear than to hope from the prosecution of distant and expensive wars, especially when viewed in connexion with the uncertain and fitful fortunes of arms. He therefore wisely relinquished the too ambitious design of subduing the whole earth ; and profiting by the instructive example of Alexander, chose rather to consolidate his government and secure his power, than to enlarge his dominions at the expense of a people prosperous with peace and satisfied with his mild despotism. Quartering and pensioning off his veteran bands in the fruitful regiops contiguous to the imperial city, he now grew, amidst all the cares and perplexities of state, unremitting in his devotion to letters. The same conqueror who had entered Al

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

exandria with the hand of Aricius, the philosopher, resting in his own, and who was accompanied from Rome to Philippi, amidst the dangers of war, by the learned Gallus and the astute Mæcenas, and who practised declamation even within the limits of the Prætorium, was not unmindful, in his day of power and renown, that true greatness and permanent happiness could be best attained otherwise than by the destruction of his kind. Robed with the royal purple, and once firmly seated on the imperial throne, he no longer sought that melancholy fame which is purchased by blood, and consecrated to immortality by the tears of weeping nations. His ambition impelled him no longer to blast and discolor, but to adorn and beautify the fair face of that portion of God's earth which owned him as its master. To him, the smiling cottage, and the blooming fields, luxuriant with the ripening harvests; and the cheerful fireside, and the merry demonstrations of tranquility and contentment, were far more wel. come than the sight of gory battle fields, or than the smothered wailing of hearts stricken by grief, yet struggling to glorify the author of their misery. His thoughts turned to peace, and his efforts were directed to the development of its blessings in every sphere and upon every theatre of life.

Augustus not only encouraged literature by lavishing rewards on learned men, but he paid them every attention and respect, feasting them almost daily at his sumptuous board, and allotting them apartments within the court of the imperial palace. He corresponded with the profound, though inobtrusive Atticus, attended public recitations, and admitted authors to read their works in his presence. His own attainments being far from inconsiderable, he not unfrequently honored his guests with critical remarks; and, in fact, we find that he often peremptorily ordered the expunction of certain passages, and suggested, with rare taste and discrimination, a proper and an apt substitute. It is related, also, that he was attended by a number of Greek secretaries, copyists, and librarians; and, as intimated sometime since, Rome is indebted to him for the endowment and erection of two public li

« PreviousContinue »