Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

light of Christianity underwent an the stipend of those already existing ; obscuration. The mystery of iniquity and thus to extend the lesser, would had begun its work ; and, from annihilate the greater; and in fact, as various causes, the existence of Chris- | events have fully proved, the only tianity was broughtintoimminent peril. power that can rapidly and irresistibly Numerous hordes of barbarians, in advance the influence of Chistianity rapid succession, assailed and es- upon the earth. tablished themselves in the various Subsequent to the time to which countries subject to the Roman power, we have been referring, the only counand ultimately in Rome itself. They try in Europe still unchristianized, was very generally embraced the religion Prussia ; and the work of its converof the vanquished ; and thus the sion was allotted to the Teutonic Goths and Lombards in Italy, the Knights, who employed for that purVandals in Spain and Africa, and pose an argument that could neither the Franks in Gaul, received Chris- be evaded nor resisted the power tianity. Their old errors were speedily of solid steel. From a Master of that exploded, when placed within the order has arisen the illustrious house reach of the Christian light and in- of Brandenburgh, the present reigning fluence.

family of Prussia. Still the greater part of Europe,

1. A review of these events, emoccupied in general by races distin- bracing the conversion of at least ten guished for physical and mental power, considerable nations, and the overremained in heathen darkness and throw of their previous superstitions, barbarism ; and the work of their is important, as indicating the exevangelization was one scarcely less istence of a permanent propagative important and wonderful, than that vigour and energy in Christianity, to which was effected in the earlier ages. the period of nearly one thousand

years after its first publication. In the second period to which we have made reference, the Irish, the 2. It manifests the vitality and Scots, the Saxons in Britain, nearly

power of the principle of charity and the whole of Germany, the Sarmatians

beneficence, which thus, amidst many or Poles, the Danes, the Swedes and

disadvantages, errors, and ignorance, Norwegians, the Muscovites or Rus

nevertheless so signally maintained sians, were gained to the Christian

the credit and reputation of Chrisfaith ; and we may state that, with tianity. slight exceptions,* the power that 3. We perceive that the Protestantmollified and subdued the minds of ism of modern Europe contrasts most these untractable barbarians, whom unfortunately even with the regenerate the power of Rome could never awe, Christianity that then existed ; and was the power and action of mercy, the “great fact,” that during three benevolence, and love. Wherever hundred years of its existence, not religious houses were established, the one considerable nation in any part work of charity and kindness formed of the world has embraced Christianity a principal object of ministration. by its instrumentality, is a decisive The prevailing religious genius of proof of the general inefficiency of the modern times would have appropriated means that have been used for that such funds to the maintenance of purpose, and that the work of charity additional ministers, or to increase and love is “a more excellent way,"

| and one of infinite greater power, than **The Saxons in Germany, after sustaining repeated defeats from the Emperor Charlemagne,

the verbal and intellectual exhibition embraced Christianity as one of the conditions

of doctrines on which, as a means, of peace, about anno 800.

| Protestants have too exclusively relied for the diffusion of the faith of Christ, very many cases the exclusive proprie1 Cor. xii. 31.

tor, of all the available ecclesiastical That daring spirit in whom the funds. By this proceeding, contrary reformation originated, was not des- as it was to the Papal as well as the tined to any wide extent to direct primitive practice, the power of the its future progress. The somewhat reformation was paralyzed, its progress anomalous tenderness he manifested was arrested, and its moral influence for many of the relics of Rome, with reduced even below the level of old the exception of the Anglican church, Rome.* was not participated in by the leading From that time to the present spirits of the reformation Calvin Protestantism has but feebly and must be regarded as the principal equivocally expressed the genius of framer of the institutions of Protestant true Christianity. Christendom. The institutions he | The consequences arising from such originated have been received by the a system are what might have been Protestant States of Switzerland, by predicted from its peculiar organizathe reformed churches in Germany, tion. With a very considerable scope (including for many years the royal for theological disquisition and inquiry, family of Prussia,) the Protestants of and a very inconsiderable one for the France, the United Provinces of Hol- expression and action of the great land, the kingdom of Scotland, the Nonconforming churches in England

* A recent account of the proceedings of the and Ireland, and the majority of the the maiority of the assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, con

tains a report of a committee appointed by that religious population in the United

body to inquire into the causes of the progress States of America.

of Popery in Scotland. In that report they Two great peculiarities present consider the relief afforded to the poor as a themselves to our view in contem- | means which has materialy tended to the proplating this widely extended system.

gress of that system, and it recommends that a

similar course be pursued in order to oppose its 1-Its system of ministration.

progress. The equalizing principles of the The report is important, as exhibiting the reformation—the diffusion of letters tendencies of modern Protestantism in one of the and education that marked that age

most popular and vigorous forms it assumes at the the spirit of free inquiry, generating

present day. Opposed as we are to Popery, even

8 on strongergrounds than those commonly enterin every Protestant country a large tained by Protestants, we would nevertheless amount of intellect-the free access to yield to its members and to their activity, the the divine word—the practice of the judgment, not only of justice, but of charity. original churches ; in short, every

From this account it would appear-

| 1. That the Catholics of Scotland are in the circumstance of the reformation called habit of contributing to a considerable extent to for a liberal and extended system of the relief of the poor. ministration. And yet the system of 2. That the Protestantism of Scotland has Calvin was more restricted and ex- failed in its duty in this respect; otherwise, in clusive than that of Rome. The

a country of such strong anti-papal tendencies,

it is most evident that the exertions of their monastic orders of that church possess- opponents would have been neutralized. ed, in common with the regular clergy, 3. After thus tacitly admitting that even the authority to teach ; and these Catholics arein some matters of great importance orders were widely diffused through

in the eyes of God, better men than they are

themselves, they affect an earnest desire for out Christendom. Calvin's authorized

their expulsion from the Scottish soil. minister, on the contrary, became the

4. In the case of their succeeding in that only fountain of religious instruction endeavour, it might not be improper to require to the people.

them to enter into recognizances to furnish 2—Its system of subscription.

themselves a continuance of that relief which

their opponents have administered, or else it In a majority of instances Calvin's

ority of instances Calvin's must be admitted that the great cause of huminister became the principal, and in 'manity will have suffered by their expulsion.

uniting and reconciling principle of good men, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleacharity, the true balance of the Chris- sure more than lovers of God, having a form of

to godliness, but denying the power of it. Now tian system, was disturbed, and its

from these turn away. Hold fast the form of equilibrium lost: and thus we discover | sound words which thou hast received. Let no the causes of the divisions, and separa man take thy crown.” tions, and endless sects into which it 1 WE learn from the above portions has been divided.

| of Scripture, that men may have a But the capital vice of the system form of godliness of their own, but was that it necessarily gave the su- which is not the form given to the premacy among Christian institutions world by the apostles of the Lord. and exertions, to the forms and services We apprehend that this is the case to of religion, thereby displacing from its a considerable extent at the present proper position, the holy work of day, and is one principal reason why benevolence and love.

Christianity, so called, does not proBut while thus candidly stating our duce, on the masses of the people, exceptions to certains parts of this an impression as decided and benign widely-extended system, we would as when it was originally promulgated. not deny that it possesses some very Latterly, there has been much inconsiderable exellencies. By some quiry as to the cause of that alienaof its provisions the rights of the tion of heart from the Bible, and from laity in the regulation of individual the religious institutions now in exchurches, and even in their General istence, which characterizes the conAssemblies, are much better secured duct of so large a portion of the inthan in the Episcopal, or even some | dustrious classes. It is pleaded, by other Christian societies that have some individuals, that any form or more recently started into existence. order of worship is acceptable to the

But, whatever may be its merits or Lord ; that it rests with man to its defects, it is as legitimate a subject arrange in what manner, and through of discussion, as any within the range what medium, he shall worship God, of theological inquiry.

privately or publicly. Hence it is From this review we conclude that contended, that we may, in public the great success which illustrated the worship, speak or not speak, sing or first ages of Christianity was not a not sing, pray or not pray, use bread portentous event, nor was it a mere and wine, and contribute of our submatter of arbitrary divine appoint- stance, or not, according as we feel ment; but that it was an effectthe disposed : each and every way, in the necessary result of the existence and estimation of such persons, being action of an appropriate and adequate alike acceptable to God. It requires moral cause-capable in general of but little reflection to exhibit these producing similiar results in any other views as incorrect. age of the world's history.

The Lord Jesus Christ, after his (To be continued.)

resurrection from the dead, when

addressing his chosen ambassadors, THE WORKING CLASSES AND

said emphatically, “ All authority, RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS.

both in heaven and on earth, is given

to me. Go ye, therefore, into all the MORAL AND RELIGIOUS CAUSES OF

| world, and teach all nations, bapALIENATION.

tizing into the name of the Father, “ This also know, that in the latter days of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. perilous times will come. For men will be | Teach the disciples to do all things self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, de- | whatsoever I have commanded.” The famers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without natural affection, covenant break- apostles, then, had a definite object ers, slanderers, incontinent, fierce, haters of' before them, as well as definite con

ditions to propose for acceptation by it is the latter which most frequently crosses

| their path, attracts their notice, and proves the people. In order to produce ;

| inadequate to the subjection of their hearts. faith, hope, and love in the minds of Candid and careful thought will, we apprehend, those whom they addressed, the apos- detect in the character of modern practical retles presented testimony, proclaiming ligion, the main cause of the feeble hold it has

obtained over the minds of our working men. certain facts, commands, and pro

It is defective in many respects--in those we mises, as to the medium of pardon, I are about to enumerate, especially. qualification, sanctification, and eter- Were we able to forget the gospel of God's nal life. Nor could the blessings of book, and were we to search for a true notion of salvation be received, cherished, and it in the character and conduct of those bodies

which are understood to give to the world a enjoyed, except through one and the living interpretation of it, we should be led, we same defined process. This same think to the following conclusions :-That feaplan of conrerting sinners, and of ture of it which would strike us as being most forming churches, is recorded for our prominent, and most characteristic, would be

the large proportion in which external observances guidance in the New Testament ; but

enter into its composition. It may almost be it is seldom presented in all its ful

described as an endless round of spiritual means, ness, simplicity, and adaptation to the trodden with as little concern for a spiritual wants of the people. Now if there result, as that cherished by the nun when countbe not scriptural uniformity in the ing the beads of her rosary. To be a regular

attendant at a place of worship—to listen with method of converting sinners, and of

decorum to what proceeds from the pulpit—to planting churches, it appears to be

be present at, and occasionally to bear part in, most unreasonable to expect that the more or less services on week-day evenings—to masses of society should believe that communicate with the church as often as it

celebrates the Lord's supper-to observe a daily the various systems now in existence,

form of domestic devotion-to read a certain marked as they are by, so much dis

class of books, and abstain from a certain class cordance, originate with God; or of acts, on Sundays—these things, all of which that they are in any way capable of are expedient, and most of which are necessary, blessing the world. Is it, then, too | for the formation and exercise of Christian cha

racter, and for bringing the heart into contact much to say, that the present teachers

| with the truths, principles, and influences of of Christianity are one main cause of religion, are regarded very much as constituting the spread of infidelity among the religion itself or at any rate, the principal working-classes. This is a fearful sphere in which its energies are to be displayed. statement, but is it not, nevertheless,

When active and earnest within this sacred in

closure, evidence of its power is scarcely looked true ?

for elsewhere. Indeed, there are some walks For several weeks past, a series of of life, and those in which most of our time is articles has appeared in the NONCON

spent, in which religion, as the master-principle,

would be generally esteemed out of place. BeFORMIST newspaper, inviting inquiry hind the counter, in the warehouse, at market, into the moral and religious causes on 'Change, Christianityis set aside by necessity, why the poorer classes of this coun by custom, by the received maxims of the worlà, try are so generally alienated from

by the common notions of expediency which the Christianity of the present day. I dishonesty and Christian integrity between

may chance to be uppermost. Between palpable The following extract is a fair speci downright lying and Christian truthfulnessmen of these articles :

between unbridled cupidity, and Christian in

difference to riches-in a word, between all the CHRISTIANITY, as contained in the Bible, and forms of evil sanctioned by the world's comChristianity, as exemplified by its professed mercial code of morality, and the opposite virdisciples, differ widely. In the one case, re- tues which Christianity prescribes there is a vealed truth exists in its native purity-in the tolerably wide belt of border-land, which religious other, it is combined with a considerable admix- men, in our day, seem to fancy they may conture of human alloy. The first is light, as it sistently occupy, and the nether boundaries of streams forth from its original fount—the last, which they may closely approach. Hence, the the same light as it reaches the secluded, after lofty, the generous, the pure, the truthful prinhaving passed through a very imperfect and ciples of the gospel, are seldom found to be strangely discolouring medium. The former embodied in a religious tradesman's modes and is comparatively little known to our masses habits of business, or in a religious gentleman's laws of social etiquette, or in a religious citizen's though there is much embodied in maxims of State policy. To a great extent, the practical gospel of the present day can hardly

other of these communications, which be discovered out of the precincts of religious

we could have also wished to place exercises and observances.

before our readers :The gospel of our Lord and of his apostles

TO THE EDITOR OF THE NONCONFORMIST. was eminently a harbinger of gladness to mankind. It was brimful of humanity. It went

DEAR SIR-Working men have given their amongst the people with a beneficence of spirit opinions as to the causes of their class standing which overlooked no channel by which it could aloof from the existing churches ; comments pour its blessings into their souls. All the con

upon them have appeared, and as I begin to ventional barriers between class and class it over.

fear that this movement will pass away without stepped without effort. It proclaimed its mis

mie. I a fair exhibition of the remedies, I take my pen sion to be to MAN, whatever his country, or

to show how they may be induced to become

To Mr. his circumstances-man, in all his diversified members of the family of heaven. relations-man, in all the varieties of his lot.

of his lot Hamilton you say, "Try your plan, and let us Whilst its grand aim was to dry up, in every

see the success." Good! but lest you should soul, the source of its miseries, by begetting in

| thus reply to me, I say, the course I am about it an all-commanding principle of love, it neg.

to submit has been tried, and some hundreds lected no avenue to the heart by which love

of that class have given to each other the right might enter. It had sympathy for the wretched,

hand of fellowship. I present them not as an even where it could give no direct assistance.

opinion, but a fact, (something done.) Suffering, in every shape, elicited its tender

“A Pastor of Working Men,” in your last, concern. Disdaining to flatter the multitude,

thinks that in the various letters the evils have it made its voice hcard, nevertheless, against

not been touched; I will, however, affirm, that injustice and oppression. The poor, the down

even were this true, they have not been overtrodden, the slave, the orphans and outcasts of

looked in your masterly comments. You, Sir, human nature, were made to feel its benignity.

have exhibited the evils, if they have not. And there was a noble directness of purpose

British Christianity (say you) is essentially about it. It began its work of mercy at home.

the Christianity of the middle classes. Again,

you affirm that among them it is “ degenerating It saw, and set about remedying, the evils next at hand. It dealt with everything--pleasure,

from a living principle to a lifeless form” —

| “that it strikes one as an almost impenetrable privation, leisure, business, devotion. It was scarcely better known in the circles of sacred

| mass of conventionalism, not positively dead, exercises, than in the broad tracts of the world's

| but completely overlaid, sickly, fanciful, effemioccupations and pursuits. In short, Christianity,

nate.” This is truly said of British Christianity, as exemplified in primitive times, was an over

but none dare to say it of Judean Christianity; flowing source of living love to God and man,

therefore original and British are two, and refreshing and fertilizing all the banks between

working men see in the systems of this age which it flowed, and manifesting its virtues in

called Christian, a thorough sham, which manly every sphere and in every department of every

| integrity repudiates.

Permit me to say that existing poverty, opday life.

presion, and political inequality, are not among The real question, then, after all, which we

the causes which keep the producing class from have to decide is not—why does Christianity our denominations. Let the State oppress a fail? because, to a large extent, Christianity

man to the utmost-steal his rights and his has not been tried—but why does not some

purse, and then show to the oppresed one that thing which we call Christianity succeed ? to

there is an association which will receive himwhich the reply is, simply because it is not

share with him their homes, their liberties, their what it professes to be—the main-spring, or

goods, as far as the nature of things will permit moving power of the whole man in all his re

will receive him into an atmosphere wherein lations.

liberty, equality, and brotherhood breathe and

expand; and I assert that his oppression will In response to these articles, nume- | not prevent him giving his hand and heart. rous letters, principally written by In the next place, Í affirm that the letters working-men, have appeared in the published by you do show the exact nature of columns of the paper already referred

the diseases which have destroyed “British

Christianity.” They are as follow :to ; but those to which publicity has

1. Ministers do not sympathize with the been given, are insignificant in num-/ working classes. ber, compared with the vast quantity 2. Want of union among the sects. addressed to the Editor. From these 3. Refusing openly to investigate the claims

and arguments of those who oppose. letters we select the following, writ

4. Confining the teaching of the church to ten by Brother King, of London - lone man, or to a preaching class.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »