« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
changes which have taken place are to , disdain, while they saw them busily embe ascribed. But the slightest investiga- ployed in raising from their degradation tion of the ancient philosophy will con- the very lowest of mankind. But in a vince us, that though perhaps not so few years the most striking and beneficial gross as the idolatry, it was imperious, effects were produced by the amazing licentious, and cruel. Will the friends influence of the new principles and the of this philosophy point us to any one new spirit. The heathen temples were system of pagan ethics which disapproved forsaken, and idolatrous vices abandoned. of what we as Christians condemn? or The character of countless multitudes will they name any of their most eminent underwent a complete renovation. So philosophers who expressed detestation exemplary were the lives of Christians in of practices which we justly consider the first and purest ages of the church, horrible ? So far from this, they expressly that their very enemies represent them approved and recommended the worst of as a devout, innocent, and charitable sort them. But had philosophy possessed all of men, and the ancient defenders of the the truths and motives of a pure and faith challenge their adversaries to profaultless virtue, its proud, unaccommo- duce one of their number “that was dating spirit would have rendered it condemned as a thief, or a murderer, or useless. It despised "the million,” and who was guilty of any gross enormities for suffered them to continue without pity which the pagan world was so infamous.” in all the darkness of superstition. It It is of importance to remarš, that the had no apostles: it looked with com- abolition of the unjust laws and inhuman placency on the favoured few. No vulgar customs which were the greatest barriers or plebeian feet were allowed to pollute to the full civilization of the ancient the grove of Plato, the lyceum of Aris- world, was effected by Christian princes totle, the porch of Zeno, and the shades and Christian legislators. With respect of Epicurus. While priests and legisla- to paternal power, the first Christian tors surrounded the great body of the emperor, in order to prevent the destrucpeople with intellectual and moral dark- tion of grown children by their fathers, ness, philosophers stood by with cold (a practice at that time too prevalent,) indifference, nor made one effort to dispel very wisely and humanely advised that the gloom, though the horror of it was the public should maintain the children every moment increased by the wailings of those who were unable to provide for of guilt and the agonizing shrieks of them. In the year 319 he put an despair. But in the darkest hour a "day- effectual stop to this horrible practice, star from on high” shed its lustre over by making it a capital offence, and the regions of Judea, indicating the ap- even affixing to it the punishment deproach of “THE SUN OF RighteoUS- nounced against parricides. The exposure ness,” who was to arise upon the nations of infants however still prevailed: this “ with healing in his wings.”
he also restrained by an edict, in the Christianity began its course unaided year 33). Under the emperors Valenby policy, unsupported by power; with tinian, Valens and Gratian, this crime all the habits, prejudices and feelings was made capital. Another branch of of mankind against it, this religion domestic tyranny-perpetual servitude, made its dignified and simple appeal to was greatly discountenanced by the the understanding and the heart. It Christian religion; and about the 12th embraced the ignorant and miserable or 13th century, when ecclesiastical legisof every character and every clime. It lation was at its height, is dated the applied itself to the important task of extinction of slavery in Europe. The enlightening the most abject votaries of first edict against gladiatorial shows was superstition. Philosophers regarded the by a Christian emperor; and Honorius missionaries of the Cross with proud afterwards completed what Constantine
had begun. This horrid exhibition was The inhumanity and cruelty, so long by his laws finally abolished. To this the disgrace of our criminal code and of we may add, that the savage punishment our colonial relations, are dying away of crucifixion was also terminated by before a religion whose genuine character Constantine. In these instances (and is universal love. The abolition of the more might be produced) we see that slave-trade and the legal extinction of some of the greatest miseries which op- slavery itself are glorious achievements pressed mankind in the heathen world of the gospel in modern times, and show were actually renounced by the laws and what a friendly aspect it bears towards edicts of Christian rulers. Here, then, social happiness-nay, how irresistible there can be no doubt that the happy is its power to bless. This godlike work effects of these laws are to be ascribed in both its great divisions was accomsolely and exclusively to the beneficent plished by the labours of Christian men, spirit of that heavenly religion which who carried it through to its happy meliorated the heart and humanized the consummation by the energy of Christian dispositions of those who made them. principles. At a time when these prinAnd we are therefore warranted in con- ciples were little felt, and all the policy cluding, that many of the other great and power of the world were combined improvements in civil, social, and domes against them, this noble band of brothers, tic life, which render our situation so in- breathing one spirit, devoted themselves finitely superior to that of the ancient as to one cause; before the altar of their well as the modern pagan world, are to God they pledged themselves never to be attributed to the operation of the same forsake Africa! After struggling with principal cause. The ferocity of war has difficulties and dangers unparalleled, at likewise been softened, and philosophy length they vanquished their foes. The has condescended to learn virtue and hosts of Moloch fell back before them humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. Without the field was their own. And then attempting what our limits forbid, we came the Emancipation question, after may just glance at the beneficial effects some of the veterans in the former conof Christianity in our own happy country, flict had ascended to their reward : but which has been most eminently indebted the few were multiplied to legions, and to the gospel, and stands amongst the every one bore a cross, and every one nations a living monument of its un fought, by “the dear might of Him" rivalled excellence. Even our populace who came to proclaim “deliverance to are humane: nor are they disgraced by the captives and the opening of the prisons that ferociousness in agitation and tu- to them that were bound.” Religionmult, which has been exhibited by our Christianity, was their solace, their politer neighbours, especially at the strength, and their triumph! period when they repudiated Christianity But if we would behold the social test and adored Reason as a goddess in the to the divinity of our religion in its most person of a Harlot. How is it that we vivid and impressive confirmation, and alone, among all the people of the earth, brought home to our times in the comcan boast of “mutinies without murder, pletest manifestation it has ever assumed, of triumphant mobs without massacres, of we must turn to that portion of the globe bloodless revolutions, and of civil wars which now obtains the appellation of unstained by a single assassination ?". It Polynesia, and which comprehends the is not because Englishmen are naturally islands of the Southern Ocean. This more virtuous than other men, but be- seems to have been selected by Providcause religion has diffused around them ence in our own day, as a theatre on a moral atmosphere, which restrains their which to try the grand experiment, and violence and prompts them to noble and to hold up to the world the most unvirtuous attainments,
equivocal and convincing proof that the
influence of Christianity is altogether in with the blood of her unoffending people, favour of social happiness; and that the has displayed courage, magnanimity, and simple operation of its principles, without unexampled forbearance. The Christian any other aid than is secured from its virtues triumph, though their civil rights own sanctions, is at the same time the and social liberties have fallen before the most beneficent and the most mighty merciless invader. “0," said one of her power that has ever been brought to bear chiefs, “had this attempt been made in upon the improvement of the species. the days of our idolatry, we should have These islands, a few years since, were driven these intruders into the sea; not peopled by hordes of savages.
Their one would have lived to tell the tale." religion was idolatry in its worst and Thus the social test applied to Chrismost revolting forms; their laws and tianity proves that it is what the Apostle customs were so sanguinary and cruel, Paul declares it to be—"a great mystery of as materially to diminish the population ; godliness”—every step of whose progress and their most prevalent vices such as to leaves the impress of its Divinity. And threaten the very extinction of society. | from all that has been said, we may disNor had they any redeeming virtues. cover who are the genuine philanthroTheir intercourse with Europeans had, pists—those who are concerned to mainmoreover, imparted to them all the evils tain and propagate Christianity, or those of civilization without any of its benefits. who resist its influence, impugn its auAt the peril of their lives our mission- thority, and reject its evidence. The aries took up their residences with these gospel is a positive good, the greatest atrocious barbarians. The simple remedy blessing which Infinite mercy has bewhich they proposed for all the social stowed upon a guilty race. If its spirit, enormities with which they were sur- its doctrines, its consolations, and its rounded was Christianity--Christianity moral authority be abandoned, with what alone—without any imposing adventitious is it to be replaced? With Idolatry? appendages. What has been the result? With Philosophy ?—with its perfect and Let the most disinterested eye-witnesses last refinement-Atheism? Indeed, there testify. Let the intelligence that is borne is no real medium between the admission by every breeze to Europe and America of Christianity and the denial of God as be heard. They are rising to the dig- the moral Governor of the universe. nity of nations; their civil polity is Are we prepared for this alternative! erected on the solid basis of universal | Are we indeed willing to surrender our justice ; their social economy exhibits in civil government, our social economy, a remarkable degree the ethical purity of and all the interests of our country, the the religion which they have embraced. | interests of our species, to Atheism, to The sensual vices are under a check, Socialism, to Rationalism, (they are one which keeps them down below the average and the same), to that hateful pomer of the same vices in the most Christian- described by Robert Hall as "inhuman, ized parts of our own country. Every bloody, ferocious—equally hostile to every cruel custom has vanished with their useful restraint and to every virtuous idolatry; and they who were incessantly affection—that, leaving nothing above engaged in the most sanguinary conflicts us to excite awe, or around us to “learn war no more.” Tahiti, afflicted awaken tenderness, wages war with with a French Protectorate, nefarious in heaven and with earth ?" The only real its object, and ferocious in its character, friend and renovator of our fallen nature and which has been eloquently described is the religion of the despised Nazareneas "a violation of the faith of nations by Christianity. Wherever she has been perthose who call robbery justice, and mur-mitted to walk forth in the native majesty der protection"— Tahiti, through all the of her form, and the native loveliness of scenes which have deluged her plains her character, a blessed influence has
travelled by her side. What enlightened | defiance to the tempests of life-Charity, and sanctified mind can view the glorious blessed with a numerous family around procession advancing through the world, her, thinking no ill of any one and doing without admiration and delight, without good to every one-Repentance, with feeling all its affections drawn forth, and gleams of comfort brightening a face of riveted to the scene? We acknowledge sorrow, like the sun shining through a at once the Queen of Heaven, * FAIR watery cloud-Devotion, with eyes fixed Religion, with her lovely train-Faith, on Heaven-Patience, smiling at afflicever musing on the holy book-Hope, tion- Peace, carrying on a golden sceptre resting on her sure anchor, and bidding the dove and the olive-branch—and Joy,
with an anthem-book, singing Hallelu. * Bishop Horne. | jah!
PICTURES FROM LIFE.
And lovelier sunshine followed every shower.” Early pleasures! Why the very ex- ! How much do we see of the kindness preseion is beautiful, most beautiful ; of God in attuning the mind to early teeming with thoughts and recollections pleasures; in communicating a disposiwhich are animated and delightful, and tion to receive gratification, and gratificaawakening spontaneously a train of asso- tion of the highest kind, from a thousand ciations, the most vivid in their charac- sources, which, in succeeding life, would, ter, and the most inspiring in the effect perhaps, not awaken the same enjoyment produced. In such a world as ours, at all—at any rate, not to the same exwhere, as we advance in life, we realize tent. Thus it is that we see the goodness so many anxieties, have to pass through of our Heavenly Father-the endearing so many changes, and to encounter so kindness of that Providence which is ever many storms, where is the individual ready to bless us, and to render us truly possessed of any sensibility, cherishing happy. Thus it is that the ruggedness of any appropriate thought and emotion, the road in early life is diminished, or who does not recur, with powerful and slightly felt; and those elevations which enkindling feeling, to early pleasures ? we have to ascend are reached, not only to that sunny and delightsome period without difficulty, but with emotions of when the mind was vivacity itself; when pleasure. the spirits were nothing but buoyancy; If in early life everything wore an aswhen the whole nature was not only pre- pect of gloom; if at that interesting and pared for enjoyment, but was full of it. important period depressing and painful Every object was novel in its aspect ; emotions were awakened, and there was every scene appeared to be clothed with little or no capacity for enjoyment, how radiance and beauty. The sky which different would be our condition in the arched over us was not only fair, but | initiary stages of existence! How dull, without a cloud; and loveliness of the how sombre, how clouded everything purest order was visible in every direc- | would appear! As we advanced in
years, how dissimilar would be our feel
ings, and the habits of our minds—in- | luxuriant clusters which we have seen deed, our entire character, from those on every side! How difficult to repress sentiments which we have been accus- our wonder and our joy ! tomed to cherish. Therefore, let us ex- How have we ascended the lofty hill, press lively gratitude to a kind and graci- and surveyed the wide expanse of nature, ous God, that he has rendered us pecu- stretching, to an almost immeasurable liarly susceptible of early pleasures, which distance, before and behind, and, indeed, are pure, healthful, and most beneficial, all around, while beauty and grandeur, and communicated to us so many, during variety and harmony, have been delightthe spring and the may-bloom of our fully blended! How have we traced the existence.
meavdering river's course, or walked, Our early pleasures, with those of half-knee high, in the shallow stream; thousands, and hundreds of thousands, or hunted after the tiny fish which were have been derived from rural scenes swimming so happily in the little pelfrom rural sights and sounds—from fami- lucid brook, while the sun-beams have liarity with the objects of creation : from been playing so brightly on it! rambles, quiet, long, and habitual ram- How have we gone down to the seables, amid the beauty and luxuriance of side, and roamed, for hours, on the sandy nature. How have we traversed the fine or pebbly beach, seeking after shells and meadows of our lovely country, especially curious sea-weeds, and wondering at the during early spring! How have we ad- breakers, as they came successively dashmired their rich verdure, and trodden, ing to the shore! These, and a thousand with exquisite and ever-fresh delight, on circumstances in connection with nature, their soft carpet, in “the leafy month of have rivetted our attention, inspired our June !” How have we plucked “the meek- interest, and enchained our minds, in eyed daisy," and the golden buttercup, early life. These have been, and still conwith which they have been enammelled! tinue to be, some of our purest, sweetest, With what eagerness have we gone out and most unsating pleasures, and, the into the beautiful lanes and dells in best of all is, they are pleasures which April, to gather "the pale primrose," and can always, to a great extent, if the mind to hunt after the fragrant violet, and to be in a proper frame, be realized. How bring home, with delight, a hand well full of eloquence and beauty are the lines filled to adorn our mantel-piece. In of our favourite Beattie : early May, how have we repaired to the well-known place for cowslips, and what
“ O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms, which Nature to her rotary a burst of joy has been induced, when
yields, hundreds and thousands of them, fully The warbling woodland, the resounding shore, blown, on some extensive field, were first The pomp of groves, the garniture of fields, descried! What a treasure was the first
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even, nosegay of cowslips!
All that the mountain's sheltering bosem How have we plunged into the thick shields, and umbrageous wood, or the more ex
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven,
O how canst thou renounce and hope to be tended forest, fearless of danger, and find
forgiven ?" ing something as we advanced, step by step, to awaken our astonishment and Our early pleasures, with those of muladmiration! How have we ranged some titudes, have been derived from readingbeautifully-ornamented park, and deeply varied, appropriate, instructive, reading. felt the loveliness expanding around ! | And what art is more valuable to acHow have we delighted ourselves in our quire? What taste is more desirable to own garden, or in that of some dear form? What habit is more important to friend, and rejoiced either in the pro- cultivate? What treasures does the pemise of rich fruit
, or in the ripe and rusal of interesting and sterling books,