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of Christianity, and too deeply im- of human nature is most conspicuous. bued with its spirit, to answer this Here, from the very nature of the description. Nevertheless, it is un- subject, he is unable to make any happily true of multitudes, and espe- original discoveries, and is wholly decially of those who, from their ac- pendent upon foreign aid. Here he | tivity and zeal, acquire conspicuity must receive every thing upon trust, and influence, and give character to and yield in every thing to authority ; this age of partyism.
for faith is but the confidence of hope, We are, however, by no means to and the evidence of invisible things. be understood as deprecating perso- From the depths of an unseen spiritnal attachment in religion. A religion ual universe he must hear the voice which did not make provision for the of revelation ; he must sit at the feet influence of personal regards, would of divine wisdom ; he must listen, with be quite unsuited to man, who is reverence, to the accredited ambashimself a person, and who, from his sadors of heaven ; he must believe very constitution and habits, requires mysteries too deep for reason to fathom, to be thus guided. No mere princi- and obey an authority which he is ples, however acceptable and just, unable or unwilling to dispute. Hence will ever suffice for his government he yields himself, with an unreserved and direction. His tendency to place submission, to those spiritual guides, reliance upon some select and favor- of whose powers he has become asite individual, is not to be repressed. sured ; and every where on earth, From the earliest dawn of perception and in every stage of civilization, is and reason, he has found it to be his found to entrust his dearest interests safety and his happiness to repose to their care, and render an implicit upon the bosom of affection—to be led obedience to their requirements. Conby the hand of trustful power, or to sequently, there is, among men, no receive with ready confidence the in- | influence, so extended and so powerstructions of experienced wisdom. (ful, as that of religious teachers; and Without this dependence upon others, no principle so controling as a personal, and this acquiescence in the dictates or individual regard for a favorite of authority, no human being could leader. be either reared or educated. Every When we come, now, to contemplate one is trained to reverence, and Christianity, we find that it is, in this schooled in submission to superiors respect, precisely adapted to human by an inexorable necessity, arising at nature. It not only makes abundant once from the helplessness and the provision for the free exercise of the ignorance of early life. Nor is any sentiments of respect, veneration, and one, at maturity, released from the love for individual character, but even influence of the habits thus impressed, rests its power to save and reform or from the inherent tendencies of his the world, upon a personal attachment nature in this respect. He still leans to its Author. It is not a mere voice upon others for support — he still from heaven ; nor does it consist in yields submission to authority - he a system of abstract principles ; or in still learns by the experience of those a code of well digested laws, which around him confides in their judg- should so commend themselves to ment-considers often more the per- human reason, as to secure observance. son who speaks, than what is spoken Neither is it presented to the world as
-and is governed and directed, far an ingenious theory of spiritual life, more than is commonly imagined, by nor as a complete and consistent men rather than by principles. formula of religious doctrine. On the
It is in spiritual relations espe- contrary, it is to us the history of a cially, that this striking characteristic person—the life; the death ; the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It which saves, is, as stated by Paul, has to tell us of his conception and the facts of his history; and what is birth ; his growth and progress ; his the great central truth of Christianity temptation and obedience; his travels --that rock on which the church seand his travelling companions ; his curely rests, but simply a declaration work of wisdom and his deeds of power; of what Jesus is ? To have faith, his sorrows and his fortitude ; his then, is to believe in him — to have poverty and beneficence; his courage hope, is to trust in HIM—and to have and his patience ; his gentleness and eternal life, is to know him, and the benignity ; his prudence and modera- God He has revealed. tion ; his compassion and magna- How different, however, is the renimity ; his purity and devotion of ligion which partyism presents to us! soul ; his firmness and consistency of The question here is not “What think purpose ; his meekness and conde- you of Christ ?" but what think you scension ; his faithfulness and truth. you of the founder of our religious It has to detail to us his resignation society ? of Calvin ? of Wesley ? of to the Divine will; his self-possession Swedenborg ? What think you of when, in the hour of danger, he is our doctrine ? of our liturgy? of our betrayed and forsaken ; his noble mode of worship ? Instead of a perdemeanor before an unjust and pre- sonal attachment to Jesus, we have judiced tribunal ; his silent submission extravagant admiration for some zealto contumely and reproach ; his calmous partizan. Ins: ead of belief in and unshrinking fortitude amidst the gospel facts, we have a passion for a terrible scenes of the crucifixion ; his particular set of doctrinal opinions ; burial and his tomb ; his resurrection for history we have substituted phiand his unfailing love ; his consolations losophy; for things divine, things to his disciples, and his glorious as human ; an erring mortal for Imcension to the throne of the universe ; manuel, and earth for heaven. his promise of return, and his procla- | Where is now the abandonment of mation of forgiveness. It has to state self and of the world “ for the excelto us the names of places—of towns lency of the knowledge of Christ," and cities, because he dwelt in them; that we may be “found in him." and of districts, because He traversed “know the power of his resurrection" them ; of lakes, because HE sailed and the fellowship of His sufferings?” upon them, and walked upon their Where now the love of John, who waves, and stilled, by a word, their leaned upon his bosom, or stood beraging storms. It has to record the side his cross? Where that personal names of men, because they were his interest in Christ—that indissoluble companions ; and to relate to us inci- , and intimate communion with HIM, dents, because they reveal HIS cha- that opened the heavens to Stephen, racter and perfections. It has to that “ he might see Jesus standing speak of geography, because he was on the right hand of God ?" How upon earth; and of the celestial man- cold and distant is now an intercourse sions, becanse He went to heaven. In once so dear and intimate-So social a word, Christ is to Christianity what and so personal ! How weak and he must ever be to the Christian, transient now, an individual attach“ ALL IN ALL.” He is the theme un- ment, once stronger than death, and varied—the beginning and the end more enduring than the grave ! How the first and the last. He is present- disparaged now, a Christian union, ed as the object of regard, admira- once dearer than life, and more pretion, and love-as the model for imi- cious than all the treasures and honors tation, the Leader, the Master, the of the world ! Captain, the King. The gospel itself,': Nothing can be more evident than
that the true genius of Christianity of Christian union. That love which has been lost sight of by the greater | unites to Jesus, must also unite Chrispart of its professors ; and that an tians to one another. If they are not undue zeal, for special doctrines, has thus united one to another, it is a clear led away the minds of men from the evidence that they are not truly united contemplation of the character of to Christ. În the attempt, therefore, Christ, and created an attachment to to reform religious society, it becomes human leaders, which is due to him the first and principal object to conalone. This is the great evil of party- | centrate the attention of all upon him, ism, and the besetting sin of Protestant- and upon those simple facts, and ism. Men love one another no longer | truths, almost univerally accredited, for Christ's sake, bnt for, opinion's which are the only possible grounds sake ; and labor no longer in the of intercommunion, and which lead service of Christ, but in that of a party. the soul in loving Christ, to love also They have mistaken the proper object his people and his teachings. R. R. of regard, and their affections are misplaced. Their judgment is per COMMUNINGS IN THE verted, and both their profession and SANCTUARY.-No. VI. their practice are at fault. An entire “I will come into thy house in the multitude and thorough reformation is required, of thy mercy; and in thy fear will I worship not so much in forms and ordinances, 1 toward thy holy temple,” Ps. v. 7. as in spirit and temper; not so much The subjects to which our attention in the nature of their faith, as in its is here invited, are of the most serious object; and less in the minute points | importance. Religion does not occupy of Christian knowledge, than in their herself with trifles, or present to our conception of the Christian institution. consideration the light matters of a
It is, then, the object of the present passing hour, or of a fleeting fancy. effort at reformation, if it be properly Ah ! no. Her themes are serious, understood, (which it is not, even by and they are urged upon us with a many of its professed advocates) to solemn earnestness, appropriate to withdraw the religious classes from their character. We come not to the unprofitable doctrinal discussions and house of God to gaze upon a display controversies; and from those unhappy of beauty or of finery ; to listen to attachments to party names and party the voice of earthly pleasure, or dwell leaders, which have been the great upon the idle vanities of the world. obstacles to Christian union and re Far different objects meet here the ligious progress ; and to induce the eye of faith : far different are the adoption of the simple and original themes that here engross the soul. gospel, as the basis of faith and union; It is with life and with death we come and the reception of Christ himself to hold communion ; and, amidst the into the affections, as the essential solemn darkness and awful secrets of means of grace, and the only just hope the grave, to find the light and the of salvation. It proposes to discard revelations of eternity. Surely, that and abolish the creeds and formula which thus regards the deepesť interand every thing else that tends to ests, must be itself important; that perpetuate the existence, or the re which thus deals alone with realities, membrance of the feuds, and follies of must itself be real ; that which allies Protestantism ; and to adopt alone itself equally to the dreary desolations those divine scriptures which reveal of the grave-our mortal fears ; and to us Christianity as it was in the to our eternal hopes—the smiling joys beginning, and Christ as he was, is of life and light and love, must claim now and ever will be—the true object our earnest and sincere regard. How of Christian love, and the true bond serious should be our thoughts of life!
How solemn our meditations upon the My strength is dried up like a potsherd; mysteries of our being ! How im- and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws, pressive our consciousness that we are and thou hast brought me into the raised up from the dust, to move dust of death. For dogs have comamid“this breathing world,” to wrestle passed me ; the assembly of the with its giant forms of evil; to strug- wicked have enclosed me; they pierced gle with the ever-watchful destroyer ; my hands and my feet. I may tell and to contend for life even unto death! all my bones ; they look and stare How abiding should be the conviction, | upon me. They part my garments that we are inhabitants of two worlds, among them, and cast lots upon my and partakers of two natures ; asso- | vesture.” ciated as well with the lowest form of The crucifixion of Christ was the animal existence, as with the loftiest greatest crime ever committed by development of spiritual being—that men. He died By sin as well as for there are ties which bind us both to sin. Well did he say that “the blood earth and heaven ; the seen and the of all the Prophets which was shed unseen ; the temporal and the eternal! from the foundation of the world How earnest should be our efforts to should be required of that generation;" maintain our relations with life, and for his death was the consummation of especially with that“eternal life which all their crimes. It is, indeed, often was with the Father” and was “mani- | | hard to realize that human beings fested” to the world!
could be guilty of so cruelan enormity; Who can contemplate unmoved, that they could so harm the harmless, the dissolution of this mortal nature ; and pursue with such cruel animosity the cessation of the life-pulse that that good and gentle One. It seems sends the vital current through the so contrary to the common occurrences frame ; the breaking up of those of life, and to the common sympathies conscious springs of existence which of humanity, which will be awakened we feel within us! How solemn and in behalf of even the most atrocious how sad, those moments when we criminal whois led along to execution, approach the last hour of life, even that we pause for a moment in astonthough our pains may be soothed by ishment and wonder, to inquire, How the kind hand of affection, and our can these things be ? But again, hearts comforted by the tender voice when we reflect upon the power of of sympathy; or consoled by sweet Satan to inspire the human heart with assurances of forgiveness, and sus- his own malignity ; when we rememtained by the cheering promises of ber what reason he had to seek the Hope! How dreadful, then, must destruction of Jesus, who had resisted have been that death we now com- all his temptations, invaded his own memorate—the death of our Re- dominions, and dispossessed his ledeemer! Those who had attended | gionary tormentors of their prey, we him in life“ stood afar off,” and the can comprehend the fact, and explain sins of a world oppressed his soul the enigma. And when we refer to with deadly anguish. By the mouth | the persecutions of the martyrs, and of the Prophet, he exclaims; “Re- to the inconceivable malignity evinced proach hath broken my heart ; and I against the true followers of Jesus, am full of heaviness, and I looked for on his account, we see but the agency some to take pity, but there were none ; of the same mighty Power of darkness and for comforters, but I found none. and of death. With how much bitter They gave me also gall for my meat ; animosity and hatred, has he inspired and, in my thirst, they gave me vinegar even the unbeliever, who, from his to drink.” “I am poured out like own principles, should have been but water, and all my bones are sundered. I an indifferent spectator of religious
controversies, and sectarian crimes. even his fellow-sufferers revile him, “Let us crush the wretch !” exclaims and see the disciples whom he had so Voltaire, the prince of Infidels ; and fondly loved and so highly honored, have not his followers in our day forsake him in the hour of his cabeen known with dying lips to curse lamity. But hearken to those piteous the name of Jesus? Here we have, accents — that sole complaint which so to speak, our own experience to he can be made to utter, “ My God, corroborate that wondrous tale of sor- my God, why hast THOU forsaken row related by the evangelists — to me?” The mortal pangs of expiring show that it is possible for men thus nature he can bear without a murto hate, with such deadly and bitter mur, and endure that he should be hatred, one who never harmed them, abandoned by his friends, but not but who, on the contrary, bestowed that God also should forsake him. upon them the most precious favors. He can suffer the death of the body | Yes, they hate him now, as they with unshrinking fortitude. but not | hated him then, “ without a cause.” that his soul should be separated from They would even now “ crush,” or God, the source of being and blessedcrucify him, and still vainly be called ness. Who can depict the expression upon to answer the inquiry which of agony which rests upon that gentle Pilate propounded to his murderers, countenance, when he is thus ex“Why? what evil hath he done ?” cluded from both worlds, and left, for
Who can approach, without trem one dreadful moment, alone with hubling, to look in upon a soul thus man crimes ! Upon that pure and filled with malignity ? Who can, innocent nature, how heavily presses without a shudder, gaze into that that sinful load ! Before his sacred dark abyss of wickedness, into which soul appear, in horrid array, the unhuman nature may thus be plunged ? numbered transgressions of the whole Who can duly estimate the capacities world, from that of Eden, the murder of men for crime, when the dark of Abel, the crimes of Manasseh, the Spirit of Evil himself undertakes to blood of Zechariah, the cruelty of his develope them ? Yet such are the own destroyers, the persecutions of scenes we are called upon to witness his martyrs, the revolting detail of all -such are the subjects we are here the forms of human guilt now known, invited to consider, where Christ or yet to be. And are not our sins, crucified is placed before us, and the too, there, while cruel lips mock that scenes of Calvary are brought to our cry of agony, and say, “Let us see if remembrance. From this position Elijah will come to save him ;" and we may survey that cruel spectacle, while cruel hands present him vinegar and hear the mockery and shouts of to drink? Surely he was wounded the infuriate crowd. They offer to for our transgressions ; he was bruised him that bitter (chole), that narcotic for our iniquities ; the chastisement bitter, in sour wine, which the Ro- of our peace was upon him, and with mans, to add the semblance of mercy | his stripes we are healed. For it to cruelty, were wont to give the pleased the Lord to bruise him to condemned before their crucifixion, to put him to grief—to make his soul an deaden their sensibility to pain ; but offering for sin ; and he hath laid on when he tastes thereof he will not him the iniquities of us all. drink it. No: it is the cup which For this “ he hath trodden the the Father hath given him that he wine-press alone, and of the people will drink. It is the punishment due there was none with him.” For this to our sins that he will endure with he is “ despised and rejected of men' out mitigation or alleviation. Behold for this “he is taken away by dishim in those mortal agonies, and hear 'tress and judgment,” and “ cut off