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a conversion, by means of thunder and lightning, has in it something improbable and unpsychological, inasmuch as the real rise of such a perception, intended to last for all eternity, can never take place in such a manner: this perception must be a still approach of the soul in its inmost relations to God." The historian does not say that the conversion was effected by means of thunder and lightning. We have the authority of Dr. Carus, however, for saying that the infidel-rationalistic theory, which resolves the whole into a thunder-storm, is “improbable and unpsychological.” Truly, we think so. Conversion is needed because of “erring from the truth,” and is effected by God's grace, as the efficient cause, working by the presentation of truth to the conscience, as the instrumental cause. Peter was brought to repentance by the crowing of a cock, just because this reminded him of “the words of the Lord Jesus ;” and it was by thinking thereon that he was caused to go out, and to weep bitterly. Saul of Tarsus thus had the truth brought home to him. He heard the words, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest !” It was this that sent him into Damascus to fast and pray; this it was that produced the approach of the soul in its inmost relations to God. We thank Dr. Carus for thus contrasting the unpsychological theory of thunder and lightning, which is the theory of the German rationalists, with the philosophical statement of historical (not mythical) Christianity.
But what is this infidél philosophy effecting on the Continent? Look at its offspring in French Communism ; a theory of atheistic selfishness, claiming to be so absolutely and unquestionably right, that no majority, however great, is to be permitted to oppose its advocates, though they may be a merely fragmentary minority; and that their submission, if not promptly made, may be obtained by the compulsory force of sanguinary insurrection. The awakened common sense of France has sent to the National Assembly an immense majority of anti-Louis Blancs and LedruRollins. What then? This majority is to be driven by a RobespierreReign-of-Terror, to allow the minority to resolve society into a hideouslychaotic anarchy, that it may be reconstructed on the foundation, and according to the plans, of a communistic despotism. Such are some of the fruits of infidel philosophy in France. Dr. Carus will find there, at all events, no reason to complain that the Sabbath is observed with pedantic and puritanic strictness.
It is only too well known that similar principles are to be found in other parts of the Continent; and that wherever they exercise a decided influence on public opinion, a similar laxity prevails on the subject of Sabbath observance. But other effects are likewise evident. Simultaneousness of movement in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and other places, sufficiently proves identity of cause. It is by the rationalistic philosophers and students of Germany, seeking to revolutionize society according to their infidel theories, that Europe has been shaken to its centre, agitated as by the upheavings of a terrible earthquake. It is not intimated that there were no evils requiring correction, no social rights and benefits which had been wrongfully withheld. But of the movement taken as a whole, the causes, the character, the tendencies, are the same as at Paris; and if the power of counteracting circumstances had not occasioned a greater resistance, the actual results would not have been less mischievous and extensive. The same principles that lead to systematic Sabbath desecration, lead also to disunion and disturbance in society. God's actual rule over man, and man's actual condition in the sight of God, among such principles have no place. The theory is one of practical atheism. Even of those who think most, it must be said, “God is not in all their thoughts." Who could make a suit of clothes for a being whom he had never seen, and of whose shape, or size, or power and direction of movement he knew nothing? Old Frederic of Prussia, the infidel sensualist and tyrant, knew the philosophers of his day well, and willingly enough aided them in their daring attacks on Christianity ; but he always spoke of them as utterly unfit for independent political rule. Can that man remove disease and restore health, who knows nothing rightly of anatomy and physiology, and treats his patients as though no disease existed ? Sieyes, the celebrated constitution-monger, framed political systems which seemed admirable on paper ; but they all of them had this one capital fault : they were so devised that, among living men, men as they really are, men as they have been, and will be, they either would not work at all, or produced by working nothing but mischief.
Nor is this disturbing, unsettling tendency the worst of these principles. They are most destructively combustible. They who view man only as an animal, lose sight of the true value of human life, and therefore will never be deterred from war by a dread of the terrible slaughter which it occasions. Flocks and herds are slain for food, and men may be slain for the conquests which ambition desires. They who lose sight of God, and of the infinite loveliness and grandeur of his moral perfections, fix all their attention on themselves ; and no fact is better established by history than this, that where inordinate vanity is so general as to become a national characteristic, it seldom fails to awaken and perpetuate the passion for military glory,—of all passions the most destructive and lasting. Its devastating effects let the history of the last European war be summoned to describe and testify. And still may the association be witnessed. Where Sabbath-rejecting infidelity most prevails, there does the passion, the deep-seated volcanic passion, for military glory prevail likewise, and prevail proportionally. And had there not been at work powerful principles of counteraction,principles whose only origin and support are to be found in Christianity, and which Christianity has actually produced, even though the producing cause may not be acknowledged, perhaps not perceived,—had it not been for these, a war-flame, rapid and resistless as the lightning, kindling the vast masses of combustible matter on which it flashed, in the course of the last few months, would have spread over Europe, and involved the whole, town and country, in one ruinous conflagration.
And whe as been the principal seat of these counteracting principles, thus inestimable in their value? Where, but in England, Sabbath-loving England ; in England, because Sabbath-loving. The general feeling of England in relation to war clearly and undeniably demonstrates, whether as illustration or proof, the fact which has been already mentioned, that infidel theories, as held at the present day, are inseparably connected with the love of martial pomp, operation, and fame. They who perceive not the nobleness with which man is invested by the scriptural doctrines of moral government, redemption, and immortality, care nothing either for human suffering, or for human life. Napoleon read Homer and Plutarch more than his Bible. The studies of such persons are rather classical than biblical. Popery put down Bible-reading in France, and eclipsed the sanctity of the Sabbath by the dazzling glare of days and services dedicated to the honour of ecclesiastical saints ; and the people, shut out from Jerusalem, learned from Athens to be heathen, republican, and warlike, till they turned their ploughshares into swords, and their pruning-hooks into spears; and whereas the cordial reception of evangelical principles causes men to “ learn war no more,” the rejection of them produces an opposite effect, turns a nation into an intrenched camp, and so trains them up to be a terror and a curse to surrounding countries, that warlike preparations are perpetuated among the most pacific, because rendered unavoidably necessary for their security.
Sabbath-keeping England has, indeed, fearful faults to deplore. Her improvement is not in proportion to her advantages. Her acknowledged principles do not always, or in every point, influence her practice. Little cause has she for boasting. But if humility requires the confession of evil, gratitude demands the acknowledgment of good. The same cause which produces this “ pedantic and puritanic observance of the Sabbath,” inasmuch as it is the admitted supremacy of the Decalogue as the summary expression of religious and moral obligation, purifies, elevates, and strengthens that undefinable, yet powerfully operating, something which is called public opinion. In no country is the generally admitted standard higher or more correct than it is in England. And in nothing is this more evident than in the general feeling respecting the inhabitants of other countries. There is no lack of the genuine, the safe love of country ; but the false patriotism of heathen Rome, which was essentially an inflated selfishness, which knew no law but that of “the stronger,” no power but that of “the sword,” which directed the whole energy of the State to its own aggrandizement, and, in the pursuit of that, was utterly disregardful of justice, and mercy, and truth, trampling on humanity for the exaltation of country ; of that false virtue, of that splendid but often ferocious vice, Christianity is destroying the very trace. In England no government could exist a day which moved a step towards preparation for war on any other ground than the unavoidable necessity of self-defence; or that acted towards another nation inconsistently with the acknowledgment of the universal rights of man. In fact, I have often thought that both Britain and the British Government have frequently been misunderstood for this very reason. They who stood on lower ground, and could only judge of others by themselves, have not been able to realize the conception of such unselfishness, nor to think of a people as actuated by a pure philanthropy or honesty, without any regard to motives of aggrandizement or ambition.
And has there been no reward for these puritanical Sabbath observers ? “ Yes, verily : there is a reward for the righteous; there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” “Here is firm footing, here is solid ground;" while all around has been unstable, yielding, and fluctuating as the ocean. Thrones have been shaken, and even overthrown; civil and political institutions have been shattered and subverted ; a perfect want of mutual confidence has pervaded and paralyzed society, so that commerce has for the time become extinct, and poverty has become the social rule, instead of its exception ; authority has been powerless in seeking to repress disorder, or bridle revolt, and, amidst the clangour of arms madly wielded in civil commotion, law has been silent, or spoken with a voice too feeble to be heard. Such has been the appalling condition of the lands where Sabbath-despising, infidel philosophy has sown the dragon's teeth, and shrunk with terror from the crop of armed men.
Has there been no reward for the nation which, notwithstanding the contagion of continental principles on this very subject, so observes the Sabbath as to move the displeasure of Dr. Carns, who talks so philosophically about the “myth of the last judgment,” and the conversion of St. Paul by “ means of a storm of thunder and lightning?” I confess that I cannot remember three of the leading occurrences of the present year, without mingled thankfulness and awe.
There was, first, the memorable Tenth of April. Encouraged by the success of French Communism, English Chartism, after much growling and barking, appeared to be resolved to act; and such were its threats, that a steady and deep alarm, if one might so term it, thrilled through the metropolis, and demanded the most efficient preparations for the maintenance of tranquillity. The preparations, though at vast expense, were made, and the breathless anxiety with which the day opened was only checked by the knowledge that the Government, though forbearing, was firm, and both ready and resolved to measure their strength with any who might choose to venture the adoption, on English ground, of the Parisian system of barricades. But if such were the fears of the morning, what were the feelings of the evening ? The heart-felt joy that exclaimed, “ Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people," was in danger of being checked, and in many minds was checked, by the sense of the ridiculous, impressed by the feeble array of the boastful terrorists, and their utter inadequacy to cope with the power they had first, with the utmost audacity of language, professed to defy, but from which they shrank with all the meanness of a conscious imbecility. Military strength, they knew, was provided, and made ready for immediate and decisive action ; but not a vestige of it was visible. The victory was won (if victory it can be called where there was no contest) by the mere representatives of civil authority. The admirers of the Decalogue, the keepers of the Sabbath, saw the powerlessness of the admirers of the Parisian barricades, and, in smiling at the fears which had vanished so completely and so soon, were almost in danger of forgetting that weakness is only comparative ; and that what appeared to be almost childish imbecility in the presence of efficient preparation, might, in its absence, have been gigantic for ruin and destruction.
Then, secondly, there was the usual State procession for the Prorogation of the Parliament by the Queen in person. The senators connected with the constitution that has now been established for ages, and has received from time to time those practical improvements which altered circumstances have shown to be necessary, and which have been made, not with the rashness of wild theory, but with the wise caution which has adapted novelty to antiquity, and preserved the whole in suitable relation to the actual habits of the people for whose benefit all was designed ; these senators, after a long and laborious session, in which they had firmly enacted laws for the more perfect preservation of order, were now assembled on its last day, to receive their customary dismission from the Sovereign in person. Everything declared the stability of the time-honoured edifice, and that the youthful and beloved Monarch, who was proceeding to her portion of the magnificent and important ceremonial, was not the ruler over “a people given to change.” In none at least of the leading nations of the Continent could such a spectacle have been witnessed.
And, lastly, there is the triumphant assertion of the authority of law, in the conviction of those unhappy, and some of them misguided, men, who sought to imitate the example of the Parisian Communists, and to produce in our own country the same agitation, dismay, and mischief, which have arrested—it is to be feared, for a long period—that course of graduallyincreasing prosperity in which, after long years of fearful suffering, France and the rest of the Continent were proceeding. Bold as the criminals had been, and dreadful as must have been the consequences of their success, there was no indecent haste, no departure from the ordinary modes of proceeding ; nothing, in a word, which might exhibit a vindictiveness utterly inconsistent with the solemn and majestic righteousness of the law. There was nothing in the proceedings themselves which might have indicated a revengeful eagerness for the conviction and punishment of the criminals. Let the conduct of the Law Officers of the Crown, and of the Judges, during the Chartist trials in London, and the State trials at Clonmel, be contrasted with the Government prosecutions of former days, when such a man as Jeffreys disgraced the bar or the bench. Everything declared that it was felt that the powers of law were undiminished, and were sufficient for the maintenance of truth and right. Neither did law succumb to triumphant rebels, nor act as the minister of alarmed and angry despots. As calmly, and searchingly, and honestly, was the inquiry conducted at Clonmel, whether the accused were, or were not, traitors, whose plans, if successful, would have filled the land with insurrectionary violence, in which none would have escaped without suffering, as though that inquiry had related to some ordinary commercial dispute, or to the legal ownership of a contested estate.
To sum up the whole : On the Continent, the Sabbath is regarded in a manner which disposes writers like Dr. Carus warmly to censure the greater strictness with which it is observed in Great Britain. That laxity is occasioned by principles which have other issues likewise ; and the true character of those principles is placed beyond doubt by their social influence during the present year. In England, all is different. Opposite principles, the principles of a generally-admitted divine revelation, lead to an observance of the Sabbath which, if not universally in agreement with the scriptural doctrine of the sanctity of the day, is yet far more so than that which is witnessed in other parts of Europe. The Sabbath is thus honoured in England, because the Bible is believed, and extensively studied, and permitted to diffuse its hallowing influence throughout society. Deficient, and in many respects incorrect, as national character and public opinion yet are, still they are far more closely conformed to truth and uprightness than where their diffusion is less extensive, their influence less powerful. And the strongly-marked contrast, so beneficial to all orders of society, between the public events of England and of the Continent since the present year commenced, is a commanding proof of the truth and value of the principles in which these events have originated among ourselves. In England, Sabbath observance rests on faith in revelation ; and recent public events, both at home and abroad, each in its own line of demonstration, will powerfully tend to strengthen that faith, and deepen the conviction of the obligation of that observance, in all pious and reflecting minds. The unmistakable language of those events is, “Godliness is profitable to all things; having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”