« FöregåendeFortsätt »
unruffled, the brightness of fortune's cloudless sun, yet he could not grasp from this a permanent satisfying joy. Beautiful and majestic, glorious and awe-striking, as are the numberless material objects which adorn the universe, yet the knowledge and contemplation of these cannot appease man's craving soul. And, for why? Because happiness is the consequence of holiness. And neither well-arranged mundane circumstances of any class, nor Nature with all her splendid scenes, gifts, and instructions, can purify the soul. Man needs a reunion with Jehovah, who is the first cause and centre source of holiness and bliss. He himself has provided the means by which this union can be effected. And it is THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
The advocates of the different faiths respecting the coming age, are all strenuously maintaining the truth of their respective systems. Each has a goal of perfection in view, and, with anxiety, hastens towards it-being fully persuaded that it is the concentration of love, rest, and joy. We are all like citizens rushing to the fortresses when the city is stormed. But more determined vigour is manifested by one party than by another. It may be affirmed, as being too generally true, that in proportion to the refinement of the faith does the energy of its supporters fail. Hence they who regard a political reform as the only panacea for human woe, are, too often, more zealous and active than they who believe that the glorious period must be a religious one. This proves to what a great extent we are governed by our carnal appetites, and how little by a purified intellect and moral feeling. We shall endeavour to maintain and firmly establish our faith, and shall strive to the utmost to arouse our brethren and urge them into action.
Ye who are awake, assist us! The world is working unceasingly, but it requires a regulator to guide its movements. The churches are based on right principles, but need more definite conceptions of organization. The brethren do not as yet distinctly perceive that God has united together our duty to Him and our duty to Man, and that he will not pronounce us perfect unless both obligations are strictly regarded. The CHRISTIAN RELIGION is able to supply all these essential requisites. Let us, then, unite in soul and spirit to develop its principles and to bring its mighty powers into full action.
And Biblical Treasury:
CONTAINING THE WRITINGS OF ALEXANDER CAMPBELL AND COADJUTORS
IN AMERICA AND GREAT BRITAIN.
CHARITY. TFVERY age is governed by a religious principle. Either by one
which ruled the preceding period, or by one which has come into
< power during the age itself. This principle is constituted of the idea which men entertain of their religion, and of the predominant moral qualities which they derive from it. All men must of necessity have an idea respecting the truth and importance of their religion. And every religion infuses certain qualities into the mind, because they contain those of the founder: for every religious and moral system is a full exemplification of its author's character. The qualities of a religion are impressed upon its disciples by their observance of its laws and institutions. Because every instituted action which man rationally and willingly performs, and every command which he observes, stamp deep upon his own soul that disposition of mind which dictated them. These moral attributes, then, in conjunction with the abovenamed idea, constitute a principle or cause of action. Thus, he who has the idea that his religion is the only true and saving one, and who derives from it the qualities of pride and severity, will be actuated by a spirit of bigotry. But he who holds that idea, and is inspired by his religion with humility and love, will possess the principle of an energetic yet mild and persuasive zeal. The first was the principle of the Scribes and Pharisees; the other of Christ and his Apostles.
"A religious principle is truly called a cause of action : for very few are the deeds of its disciples of which it is not either the originator or director. Its power is not confined to the religious sphere. In every circle the principle of the age is the governing influence. Thus in the days of persecution, when intolerance was the ruling power, man was austere and morose in all the relations of life : for every faculty of his soul inhaled a severe spirit which was manifested in all his deeds. When once a principle has established itself in the world, its power is not only extensive, but endurable. One has seen the birth and burial
of empires. Intolerance held the souls of men in thraldom for ages. Not many centuries have carried their deeds and generations into eternity, since, with crushing power, it enchained the intellect, destroyed the affections, and spurred on the passions of mankind, so that they murdered each other because their creeds in every shade would not accord. And even now, although that awful night is departed, the moral horizon is skirted with its gloom. But this period is near closed, and a new one is approaching. Already the heavens are enkindled with its blaze. This is called, The Age of Charity. There is mirth and music in the sound; and men congratulate each other as they discern the distant landscape of the age glowing in beauty and smiling in peace. We would not damp the rising joy—but be it known, that charity, like every
other moral and religious principle, must be regulated by law.
But we must pronounce no hasty verdict. Our duty is to inquire with candour, What is charity in religion? Charity and love are generally considered synonymous. But a difference certainly exists between them. Charity has a wider extension than love. It begins where the other ends. Thus, in morals, we love the virtues of a friend, but are charitable towards his infirmities. In religion, we love the sentiments which are in unison with our own, but are charitable towards those which differ from them in minor points. We remarked at first, that a religious principle is constituted of the idea which men entertain of their religion, and of the moral qualities which they derive from it. What, then, is the idea which the intelligent Christian has of Christianity? It is this : That it is not so rigorous a system that it is requisite a man should believe all its expressed and implied truths before he can be a Christian, and be entitled to the fellowship of God's people. This idea, then, is the first constituent of scriptural charity. The moral qualities derived from pure religion, and which make the other constituents, are, humility and love. The charitable man therefore, considers, that although a searcher for truth may not believe the same number of doctrines as he does, that this should not prevent their communion of heart and hand: and that if a bold thinker should express a sentiment which is considered not to be scriptural, yet it may not be of that character as to demand that their fellowship should be forbidden or severed. But there are certain truths in Christianity which must be believed by every one before they can be accounted Christians. No one, we think, will deny this assertion. · Consequently, there are certain truths, at a denial or perversion of which, Christian charity cannot connive. Christianity is a divinely constructed system of the most immense value of the most solemn importance. Now every system, whether scientific, moral, or religious, possesses certain fundamental truths or facts. Sometimes both these constitute the foundation of a system. But whether there be the first alone, or the latter alone, or both united, those which constitute
the basis cannot be denied or perverted without destroying the whole system. Its supporters, therefore, always strenuously maintain these against all opposition. Neither will they acknowledge any one to be an associate who refuses an acquiesence to them.
Again: The truths and facts which immediately derive their existence or power from the fundamental ones, are as resolutely defended, because these are component parts of the system, and to deny them would be to question the truth of those from which they originate. And although the system might not be destroyed, it would be deranged in its harmony, marred in its beauty, and depreciated in its value. Thus a fundamental fact in Astronomy is, that the planets, of which our earth is one, revolve round the sun. From this fact several others derive their existence. One of which is, that the sun is the regulator of their movements. Another is, that it is the first instrumental cause of their actions. These, and other deductions from that fact, must be believed, and, to an extent, understood, as well as the fact itself, ere any one can rightfully claim a seat amongst astronomers. Again : In Morality it is a foundation truth, that man is a free agent. One truth derived from this is, that be is an accountable being: and another is, that he deserves punishment, if, in a knowing and deliberate manner, he commit sin. No one who believes these deducted truths can be charitable towards that action or doctrine which attempts to subvert them. Again: Every practical system originates certain operations. The scientific has experiments, solutions of problems, &c.; the moral produces well regulated deeds; and the religious has certain actions, called institutions. Now the workings in every system are but its fundamental principles, or truths, reduced to practice. The mathematician and chemist, in their most complicated operations, do nothing more than work out, to a greater extent, the first principles of their sciences. And every deliberate action of the moral man proclaims his principles. Through these operations, the value of the first truths is obtained. Indeed, the worth of every system, is its practical usefulness. A man, therefore, who embraces any system, is not considered by its professors as worthy of the name of associate, unless he is engaged in working out its principles. If he be not often thus occupied, it argues, that either he does not believe and understand them, or else, that he considers they are worthless. Now Christianity being a religious system, has fundamental truths and farts. It also possesses truths deduced from them, and institutions by which the treasures hid in them can be obtained. The trutlis are, that there is one God, that He is a Spirit, and the personification of Power, Wisdom, Love, and Holiness. These are the strata on which the temple of Christianity is reared. The facts are," that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again for our justification, according to the Scriptures." These constitute the foundation of our
religion. Many are the deductions from these truths and facts, especially from the latter. Indeed, the attributes of the Divine Being are so strikingly developed through the facts, and so fully exist in them, that the truths which are deduced from the one are also deduced from the other. The precepts and exhortations, which are but a peculiar form of truth, contained in the New Testament, are deductions from the facts. Thus, it is argued, that " If one died for all, then were all dead; and that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again.” The truths, termed promises, also derive their existence and power from them. For if he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also, freely give us all. things." These deducted precepts all unite in enjoining love to God and love to man. The exceeding great and precious promises are but parts of the one hope of a resurrection from the dead to life and happiness. The institutions ordained by God are, Reading the Scriptures, Baptism for the remission of sins, Breaking of Bread, Prayer, Singing, and Church Government. It is impugning the wisdom of God to argue that any of these is ordained for no essential purpose. Were it within the compass of our design, we could prove, that the Divine Being has appointed them to be the media through which mankind can obtain the blessings existing in the facts.—Even as by the workings in the sciences philosophers obtain the full value of the first principles. And as the truths are constituted of certain detinite terms, and the facts of definite circumstances, so must the institutions be constituted of certain definite attributes. There cannot possibly be contradicting primary attributes to one institution. It would be making it to resemble a misshapen monster, equally as unsightly as any beheld by John the beloved in his prophetic visions. If the institutions are essential to our holiness and happiness, (and assuredly they are,) then their attributes must be clearly stated in God's word. If they be not, who can discern them? and if they be not perceived, than the institutions are lost to us : and if these are hid, so are the blessings of which they are the channels. Christianity, then, is constituted of truths, facts, deductions from them in the form of precepts, promises, and institutions. All these are parts fitted to each other by Divine Wisdom, and compose the system for the redemption of man from sin and misery. Now pure charity cannot forbear with a doctrine which is hostile to one of these. The attributes of the Divine Being must be guarded with jealous care. The facts give us spiritual life and strength. No sentiment, aiming to injure them, can be tolerated. No disobedience, manifested in action, to a command, can be permitted ; nor can any violence which seeks to destroy a promise that is a component part of the gospel hope. Neither can charity connive at doctrines or actions which strive to destroy or pervert the institutions. The essential attri.