Sidor som bilder

joices the heart,-gives light to the eyes,-is not only true, but righteous altogether."

If Paul indulges the glowing expression of his own gratitude, it is to communicate the sacred flame to those he addresses: if he triumphs in "the enlargement of his own heart," it is because he hopes by the infection of a holy sympathy to enlarge theirs. In catching, however, the sacred flame, let us never forget that, in his warmest addresses, in his most ardent expressions of grateful love to his God and his Saviour, he never loses sight of that soberness and gravity which becomes both his subject and his character. It is the King eternal, immortal, invisible—the blessed and only Potentate--King of Kings, Lord of Lords,--He, who hath immortality-who dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto,-He, who hath honour and power everlasting, to whom, and of whom, he feels himself to speak.

May we venture to express a wish, that some persons of more piety than discernment, among whom there are those who value themselves on being more particularly the disciples of Saint Paul, would always imitate his chastised language. When the apostle pours out the fulness of his heart to his Redeemer, every expression is as full of veneration as of love. His freedom is a filial freedom, while their devout effusions are sometimes mixed with adjectives, which betray a familiarity bordering on irreverence.*

This remark applies more particularly to certain Hymns written in a very devout strain, but with a devotion rather amate{ry than reverential.

"If I am a father, where is mine honour; if I am a master, where is my fear?" They may indeed say with truth that they are invited to come boldly to the throne of grace. But does not the very word Throne imply majesty on the one part, and prostration on the other? Is not" God manifest in the flesh" sometimes treated with a freedom, I had almost said, a fondness, in which the divine part of his nature seems to be swallowed up in the human? Coarseness of whatever kind, may, it is true, be palliated by piety, but is never countenanced by it it has no affinity to piety; it is only as the iron and the clay at the foot of the magnificent image, and is just so far removed from the true refinement and golden sanctity of taste, which will be learned by a due study of the first of models. If the persons so offend. ing should plead warmth of affection, their plea will be admitted as valid, if in this feeling they can prove their superiority to their great master. In our own admira. ble church service, this scriptural soberness of style is most judiciously adopted, and uniformly maintained. Portions of it are indeed addressed to the Second Person in the blessed Trinity; but we look in vain for any familiar expression, any diminishing appellative.

Much less do Saint Paul's writings present an example to another and more elegant class, the learned speculatists of the German school, as recently presented to us by their eloquent and accomplished eulogist, Some of these have fallen into the opposite extreme of religious refinement; too airy to be tangible, too mystic to be intelligible. The apostle's religion is not like theirs, a shadowy sentiment, but a vital principle; not

a matter of taste, but of conviction, of faith, of feeling. It is not a fair idea, but a holy affection. The deity at which they catch, is a gay and gorgeous cloud; Paul's is the Fountain of Light. His religion is definite and substantial, and more profound than splendid. It is not a panegyric on Christianity, but a homage to it.

He is too devout to be ingenious, too earnest to be fanciful, too humble to be inventive His sober mind could discern no analogy between the sublime truths of Christianity and "the fine arts." Nor would he have compared the awful mysteries of the religion of Jesus with those of "Free Masonry," any more than he would have run a laboured parallel with the mysteries of Eleusis, or the Bona Dea. Nor does he love to illustrate the word of God by any thing but his works. His truth has no shades; in Him, whatever is right is absolute. Nor does he ever make error perform the work of truth, by ascribing to "enthusiasm" any of the good effects of religion. In the celestial armoury of Christianity no such spiritual weapons as enthusiasm or error are to be found.

Had the apostle placed the doctrines of revelation as congenial associates with the talent of poets and artists, he would have thought not only that it was a degradation of the principle of our faith, but an impeachment of the divine dispensations. God would have all men to be saved; Christ would have the gospel preached to every creature. Now if we compare the very small minority of etherial spirits, who are fed by genius, who subsist on the luxuries of imagination, who are nurtured by music, who revel in poetry and sculp.

ture, with the innumerable multitudes who have scarcely heard whether there be any such thing,-such a limited, such a whimsical, such an unintelligible, such an unattainable Christianity, would rob the mass of mankind of all present comfort, of all future hope. Paul would have thought it a mockery, when the Holy Spirit could alone help their infirmities, to have sent them to the Muses. To refer them to the statuary when they were craving for the bread of life, would be literally "giving them stones for bread." Nor would he have derided the wants of those who were "thirsting for living water," by sending them to the fountain of Aganippe.

To be more serious,-To have placed the vast majority of the human race out of the reach of privileges which Christianity professes to have made commensurate with the very ends of the earth, and to have adapted to every rational inhabitant on its surface, would have been as base and treacherous, unjust and narrow, as the totality of the actual design is vast and glorious.

Even had those few eminent men who ruled the empire of intellect in Greece and Rome, attained, by the influence of their philosophical doctrines, to perfection in practice, (which was far from being the case,) that would neither have advanced the general faith, nor improved the popular morals. In like manner, had Christianity limited its principles, and their consequent benefits, to evangelists and apostles, or to men of genius, how insignificant would have been her value in comparison of the effects of that boundless benevolence which commands the Gospel to be preached to all,

without any distinction of rank or ability. Through this blessed provision the poorest Christian, rich in faith, can equally with Boyle or Bacon relish the beauty of holiness in the pages of Saint Paul, though he may not be rich enough in taste to discover its " picturesque beauties," as exhibited in the pages of some modern philosophic theologians.

Ours is a religion, not of ingenuity, but of obedience. As we must not omit any thing which God has commanded, so we must not invent devices which he does not command. The talent of a certain Lacedemonian was not accepted as an excuse, when he added to his warlike instrument a string more than the state allowed. Instead of being commended for his invention, he was cashiered for his disobedience; so far from being rewarded for improving his music, he was punished for infringing the law.

Much were it to be wished, that these deep thinkers and brilliant writers, to whom we allude with every consideration for their talents, would make their immense mental riches subservient to their spirtual profit and as Solon made his commercial voyages the occasion of amassing his vast intellectual treasures, so that they would consecrate their literary wealth, and devote their excursions into the regions of fancy to the acquisition of the one pearl of great price.

Too often persons of fine genius, to whom Christianity begins to present itself, do not so much seek to penetrate its depths, where alone they are to be explored, in the unerring word of God, as in their own pullulating imaginations. Their taste and their pur

« FöregåendeFortsätt »