페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

name of heaven, do you wish to vote for such men ? what have they done for you—what can they do, that

better men cannot as happily accomplish? And will 75 you incur all this guilt and hazard all these consequen

ces for nothing ? Have you no religion-no conscience -no love to your country? No attachment to liberty -no humanity-no sympathy-no regard to your own

welfare in this life ; and no fear of consequences in the 80 life to come?

Oh, my countrymen, awake! Awake to crimes which are your disgrace-to miseries which know not a limit - to judgments which will make you desolate.

Beecher.

108. Character of the Puritans. The puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with

acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Prov5 idence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will

of the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him, was with them

the great end of existence. They rejected with con10 tempt the ceremonious homage which other sects sub

stituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on the intolera

ble brightness, and to commune with him face to face. 15 Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinc

tions. The difference between the greatest and meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race

from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fix20 ed. They recognized no title to superiority but his fa

vor; and confident of that favor, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philos.

ophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of 25 God. If their names were not found in the registers of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

heralds, they felt assured that they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels

had charge over them. Their palaces were houses not 30 made with hands: their diadem crowns of glory which should never fade away!

On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt: for they esteemed

themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and elo35 quent in a inore sublime language, nobles by the right

of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance

belonged-on whose slightest action the spirits of light 40 and darkness looked with anxious interest, who had

been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away. Events which short

sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been 45 ordained on his account. For his sake empires had

risen, and flourished, and decayed. For his sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist, and the harp of the prophet. He had been res

cued by no common deliverer from the grasp of no com50 mon foe. He had been ransomed by the sweat of no

vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It was for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had arisen, that all

nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring 55 God!

Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men, the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion ; the other proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. He pros

trated himself in the dust before his Maker : but he set 60 his foot on the neck of the king. In his devotional re

tirement, he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears. He was half maddened by glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the Tyres of angels, or the tempting

whispers of fiends. He caught a gleam of the beatific 65 vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting fire. Like Vane, he thought himself intrusted with the sceptre of the millenial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God had hid his face

from him. But when he took his seat in the council, 70 or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings

of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans

and their hymns, night laugh at them. But those had 75 little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or in the field of battle.

The Puritans brought to civil and military affairs, a coolness of judgment, and an immutability of purpose

which some writers have thought inconsistent with their 80 religious zeal, but which were in fact the necessary ef

fects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hatred,

ambition and fear. Death had lost its terrors, and pleas85 ure its charms. They had their smiles and their tears,

their raptures and their sorrows, but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them stoics, had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and of corruption. It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. They went through the world like St. Artegales's iron man Talus with his flail, crushing and trampling down

oppressors, mingling with human beings, but having 95 neither part nor lot in human infirmities : insensible to

fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain : not to be pierced by any weapon, not to be withstood by any barrier.

Such we believe to have been the character of the Puritans. We perceive the absurdity of their manners. 100 We dislike the gloom of their domestic habits. We

acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach ; And we know that, in spite of their hatred of popery,

they too often fell into the vices of that bad system, in105tolerance and extravagant austerity. Yet, when all cir

cumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hes

itate to pronounce them a brave, a wise, an honest, and a useful body.

Edin. Review.

109. An enlightened Ministry. Christianity now needs dispensers, who will make history, nature, and the improvements of society, tributary to its elucidation and support ; who will show its

adaptation to man as an ever progressive being; who 5 will be able to meet the objections to its truth, which

will naturally be started in an active, stirring, inquiring age; and, though last not least, who will have enough of mental and moral courage to detect and renounce the

errors in the Church, on which such objections are gen10 erally built. In such an age a ministry is wanted

which will furnish discussions of religions topics, not inferior at least in intelligence to those, which people are accustomed to read and hear on other subjects.

Christianity will suffer, if at a time when vigor and 15 acuteness of thinking are carried into all other depart

ments, the pulpit should send forth nothing but wild declamation, positive assertion, or dull common places, with which even childhood is satiated. Religion must

be seen to be the friend and quickener of intellect. It 20 must be exhibited with clearness of reasoning and varie

ty of illustration ; nor ought it to be deprived of the benefits of a pure and felicitous diction, and of rich and glowing imagery, where these gifts fall to the lot of the

teacher. It is not meant that every minister must be 25 a man of genius ; for genius is one of God's rarest in

spirations; and of all the beamings and breathings of genius, perhaps the rarest is eloquence. I mean only to say, that the age demands of those, who devote them

selves to the administration of Christianity, that they 30 should feel themselves called upon for the highest culti

vation and fullest developeinent of the intellectual nature. Instead of thinking, that the ministry is a refuge for dulness, and that whoever can escape from the plough

is fit for God's spiritual husbandry, we ought to feel that 35 no profession demands more enlarged thinking and

more various acquisitions of truth. .

In proportion as society becomes enlightened, talent acquires influence. In rude ages bodily strength is the

most honorable distinction, and in subsequent times 40 military prowess and skill confer mastery and eminence.

But as society advances, mind, thought, becomes the sovereign of the world; and accordingly, at the present moment, profound and glowing thought, though breath

ing only from the silent page, exerts a kind of omnipo45 tent and omnipresent energy. It crosses oceans and

spreads through nations; and at one and the same moment, the conceptions of a single mind are electrifying and kindling multitudes, through wider regions than

the Roman Eagle overshadowed. This agency of mind 50 on mind, I repeat it, is the true sovereignty of the world,

and kings and heroes are becoming impotent by the side of men of deep and fervent thought. In such a state of things, Religion would wage a very unequal

war, if divorced from talent and cultivated intellect, if 55 committed to weak and untaught minds. God plainly

intends, that it should be advanced by human agency: and does he not then intend, to summon to its aid the mightiest and noblest power with which man is gifted ?

Channing. . 110. Prayer. Prayer is an action of likeness to the Holy Ghost, the spirit of gentleness and dove-like simplicity; an imitation of the Holy Jesus, whose spirit is meek up

to the greatness of the biggest example, and a con5 formity to God, whose anger is always just, and march

es slowly, and is without transportation, and often hin. dered, and never hasty, and is full of mercy : prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the

evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest 10 of our cares, and the calm of our tempest; prayer is

the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts, it is the daughter of charity, and the sister of meekness; and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troub

led and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into 15 a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out

quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be

« 이전계속 »