« السابقةمتابعة »
petual lacuna. I hoped it might be otherwise with the philosophers, and so it was; but even here it was curious to see what strange ravages the visitation had wrought. Some of the most beautiful and comprehensive of Bacon's Aphorisms were reduced to enigmatical nonsense.
Those who held large stocks of books knew not what to do. Ruin stared them in the face; their value fell seventy or eighty per cent. All branches of theology, in particular, were a drug. One fellow said, that he should not so much have minded if the miracle had spunged out what was human as well as what was divine, for in that case he would at least have had so many thousand volumes of fair blank paper, which was as much as many of them were worth before. A wag answered, that it was not usual, in despoiling a house, to carry away anything except the valuables. Meantime, millions of blank Bibles filled the shelves of stationers, to be sold for day-books and ledgers, so that there seemed to be no more employment for the paper makers in that direction for many years to come. A friend, who used to mourn over the thought of palimpsest manuscripts of portions of Livy and Cicero erased to make way for the nonsense of some old monkish chronicler,-exclaimed, as he saw a tradesman trudging off with a handsome morocco-bound quarto for a day-book, “Only think of the pages once filled with the poetry of Isaiah, and the parables of Christ, spunged clean to make way for orders for silks and satins, muslins, cheese, and bacon !” The old authors, of course, were left to their mutilations; there was no way in which the confusion could be remedied. But the living began to prepare new editions of their works, in which they endeavoured to give a new turn to the thoughts which had been mutilated by erasure, and I was not a little amused to see that many, having stolen from writers whose compositions were as much mutilated as their own, could not tell the meaning of their own pages.-Eclipse of Faith.
(To be continued.)
BARKER'S ADVICE TO INFIDELS.
I would urge all present to read the New Testament for themselves. What Lloyd Jones has said, that he has confined himself to what was done by Christians, or, as he ought to have expressed it, by parties who called themselves Christians, is true. He has done just so: all his arguments refer to that one point: he has not said a word about Christianity as taught in the New Testament, though we agreed to make that book our only standard. I may say, that had I only known Christianity from what he has stated of it, or had I only studied it as I found it imperfectly exhibited in the characters or wiitings of some professing Christians, I too could not have loved it. Or if I had only read what infidels have said about it, instead of reading the Scriptures themselves, I too might have yielded to infidelity. Indeed, there was a time when I looked at Christianity as it is misrepresented by intidels and false pretenders to Christianity, and I had almost turned infidel myself; but, thank God, I went to the fountain head; I read the New Testament; I looked on Christianity as unfolded there, in the examples and doctrine of its first teachers, and I found it to bewhat I still find it to be THE TRUTH. The New Testament has truth without any mixture of error for its contents; it makes us wise, it teaches us to do good; this is its sole end and tendency, and whoever yields to its teachings, it makes holy and useful,--happy for time, and happy for eternity. I am not answerable for you; but I wish you well, and I would have you, when the busi
ness of this meeting is over, to sit down to a careful and rigid eximination of the New Testament. If you do that once or twice in a proper manner, you will be enlightened and directed; your souls will be struck with the purity, and tenderness, and siinplicity of the Gospel system; and unless your hearts are set against the truth, you will be convinced in your own consciences, that the reli.gion of Christ is from God. I hope you will thus examine the subject, and I pray that God's blessing may rest on you all.
I thank God, Christianity has taught me my duty better and better every year, and it is still my wish to leave the things that are behind, and to go on to those that are before. Before I fell under the influence of the Gospel, I was a savage, as my father, here present, can testify: I hope I have not spoken as a savage to-night. The Gospel has softened my temper, and i he power of the Gospel to produce this change in all who yield to its influences, is most abundant.
Never, at any period of my life, did I ever, either believe the religion of Christ more firmly, or value it more highly, than I do at this hour. Religion is my all. It is the very life and strength of my soul; the comfort and joy of my life. Life would be cheerless without it, and earth' would be gloomy and dark. My hopes, both of happiness for myself and of happiness for the world, are all wrapped up in religion. Man's nature is not complete without it, and the world cannot go on without it. Leave me religion, and I can rejoice or hope for ever: take religion away, and I am lost. And religion is the life of the world. If religion prevail, the world will inprove; if it- influence be checked, the world wiil go back. The world will be good and happy just in proportion as the religion of Christ is understood, and believed, and practised ; the world will be profligate and miserable in proportion as it is slighted or unknown. Religion, the religion of Christ, is the light and salvation of the spiritu il universe. It is the great civilizer, the great liberator, and the great peace maker of the human
It is the lifter up of the down-trodden and trampled-on; it is the preacher of good tidings to the poor; it is the guide and coinforter of all. It is the image of the immortal Gud; the brightness of eternal light; the spirit of almighty love, --it is the fairest offspring of the skies, and the best, the truest, the mightiest, the universal and eternal friend of man. It was given by the infinite mercy of God, to draw man forth to the light and purity of heaven, and to fit him for its boundless and eternal joys. It brings with it the light, the purity, and the joy of heaven to earth, and lifts up man to the joy and blessedness of heaven for ever.--1838 and 1842.
THE LIFE-RENEWING VITALITY OF CHRISTIANITY.
The nations of the present age want not less religion, but more. They do not wish for less community with the Apostolic times, but for more ; but, above all, they want their wounds healed by a Christianity showing a life-renewing vitality allied to reason and conscience, and ready and able to reform the social relations of life, beginning with the domestic and culminating with the political. They want no negations, but positive reconstruction-no conventionality, but an honest bona fide foundation, deep as the human mind, and a structure free and organic as nature. In the meantiine, let no national form be urged as identical with divine truth, let no doginatic formula oppress conscience and reason, and let no corporation of priests, no set of dogmatists, sow discontent and hatred in the sacred communities of domestic life. This view cannot be obtained without national efforts, Christian discussion, free institutions, and social reform. Then no land will be called Christian which is not hallowde by charity,-no faith which is not sanctioned by reason.-Hypolitus.
CONFIDENCE AMID TRIAL.
Let the boundlessness of God's goodness bind us more closely to his service.. Our only business on earth is to love and honour God. Our safety, our glory, our felicity are all wrapped up in our full devotedness of soul and body to his service. To know the will of God and do it, should be the study and endeavour of our whole life. Anxiety after earthly things can lead only to disappointment and vexation; but anxiety to know and do the will of God, will turn into bless ings all the ills of life. While we are faithful to God, our bliss is as secure as that of the angels of heaven. A foundation is laid for our contidence, firmer than the pillars of heaven, or the deep foundations of the earth. While my soul is fixed in its affections to God, and unmoved in its efforts to please him, my welfare is secured; and whether the course of events be friendly or adverse, all is well. Where shall be my future dwelling,—what shall be my future lot, who shall be my friends, or who shall prove my foes,—what I shall be called to suffer, -or what I shall be permitted to enjoy,-how long I shall be allowed to live, and when I shall be called to die, are all wrapped up in uncertainty : but my mind is still at rest. I know that I am in the hands of God, and he will do all things well. He may lead me through darkness, or he may lead me through light,--he may surround me with friends, or he may surround me with foes, he may fix me in my native land, or he may send me far away beyond the seas,-lie may give me plenty, or he may allow me to want,- he may try me with sickness, or he may favour me with health, -he may lodge me in dungeons, or he may lead me forth at large;- but all will be well. It is true that sickness and want, reproaches and persecutions, desertion and treachery, are not joyous, but grievous; but they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. My flesh is not iron, nor are my sinews brass; when trials come upon me I am not insensible: but I am not overwhelmed. In the midst of my conflicts and tears I am still supported with the assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God.
J. Barker in 1839.
MR. BARKER IN TWO EPOCHS.
Somewhere about fifteen or sixteen years ago, I remember attending a meeting in the Methodist New Connexion Chapel
, in one of your northern towns, which was presided over by the Rev. Joseph Barker, then & very popular minister of that body. The meeting was especially devotional in its character ; I think it was designated “A meeting for Renewing the Covetrant.” A number of addresses were delivered, and prayers offered; and a very solemn feeling seemed to pervade the congregation. I think the meeting was held on the first day of a new year. Towards the close of the service Mr Barker stood up, and said something to the following effect- I do not vouch for the correctness of the words, but I do for the sentiment-"I am now going to make a request which I have never made before in any congregation. This is a solemn moment ; the eye of our Divine Master is upon us. ;
I wish, then, to ask those of you, my friends, who are willing to pledge yourselves to live more entirely and devotedly to the service and glory of God, to stand up." Immediately a large proportion of the assembly stood; and Mr. Barker, with deep solemnity and much apparent unction and fervour, clasped his hands, and, look ing upward, said, in tones which thrilled through the congregation, * Lord Jesus, ratify the solemn covenant which thy people have now made!' I was a young man then, but the solemnity of the scene I have never forgotten. That
was the last time I heard or saw Mr. Barker till a few months ago, when I went to hear him deliver a lecture against the Bible. While listening to the blasphemy he uttered, and the weak and shallow sophisms by which, in his own peculiar manner, he tried to undermine our confidence in God's blessed Word, I vividly recalled the scene which I have now described. While he, in no very respectful terms, was denouncing the ministers of the Gospel, not simply as being deceived themselves (for then, surely, they would need the pity of Mr. B.), but as knowingly deceiving others, I thought at the time, and still think, it would not be impossible to put the lecturer on the horns of a dilemma. Here is the dilemma; and if this paper should meet Mr. Barker's eye, it would be satisfactory to your readers to know which horn he would chose. Either Mr. Barker was sincere in the part he took in the religious service to which I have referred, or he was not: he was either honestly intent on deepening and improving the spiritual life of his congregation, or the whole thing was a mere piece of theatrical acting, in which he was a consumate artist. If he was sincere, then bis bitter denunciation of the insincerity of ministers is as unjust as it is un. called for; if he was not sincere —" acting under the pressure of priestly influence"-his dishonesty then is our warrant for distrusting his honesty now. If "priestly influence" ir ade him belie his honest convictions then, shrewd men may argue that infidel influence may lead him to do the same now. Mr. B. may select which horn he can most comfortably sit on.
So also in the passages you have given us from his “ Christianity Triumphant" in the “ Defender." He tells us he knew Christianity was true; he enjoyed intensely the blessedness of the religion of Jesus Christ. He was happy in his faith. Now, however, he tells us (discussion with Grant) that “ he wrote his *Christianity Triumphant' under the influence of priests." 'If he wrote what he did not believe, under the pressure of any extraneous influence, he was not an honest teacher : and if he was not honest as a Christian teacher, by his own confession, th is no want of charity in hinting that may not be honest as an intiàel advocate. Will Mr. Barker's friends and followers candidly look at this statement ? and then, it may be asked, will they continue to put contidence in a man who, by his own confessions, has been guilty of the greatest sin a public teacher can commit-that of being dishonest to himself and his own convictions ?
Edie. Liverpool, April 3, 1855.
IS CHRISTIANITY A RELIGION OF LOVE OR OF FEAR ?
" JAMES's" DEFENCE EXAMINED.
The opponents of Christianity do not find it convenient to give a fair and candid representation either of its doctrines, its precepts, its principles, or its sanctions. If you tell them that it is a religion of gratitude, not of fear, and if you point out the high and thrilling appeals which it makes to man's moral nature, to his sense of right, of beauty, of truth, of love, they tell you
you do not preach Christianity. They will not allow you to inquire for yourself from the inspired records, and from a full and careful collation of facts to ascertain for yourself what is the nature of the religion of Christ. You must allow them to decide the matter for you. They will quote Scripture, but then they
to give you only one class of passages. They wish men to believe that the religion of the Bible is a religion of fear, and they point you to those passages in which we find the sanctions of the law, and the consequences attaching to a wilful rejection of the truth; but they ignore and would gladly
hide from you the more numerous class of passages that appeal to higher principles in our nature. Though it is impossible to read a page of the New Testament without finding such appeals, you may listen in vain for them in any infidel lectures, and search for them in vain in infidel writings. They dare not, in fact, allow such representations to appear either in their lectures or writings, for their position would be endangered, and they would be found false witnesses.
Some time ago a secularist gentleman heard the Rev. J. H. Rutherford preach a sermon in Newcastle, on Rom. 12. 1—“I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your reasonable service," a sketch of which was gent to “ The Reasoner.” The secularist declared himself well satisfied with it but asserted that it was not Christianity. A “ searcher after truth" wrote asking him to explain in what sense it was not Christianity. This he has attempted to do, by comparing the sermon, or rather his version of it, with what he finds in the Scriptures : and he takes care all through his paper to give only one side of the question. We intend giving the other in our next number, and shall leave our readers to judge. Meanwhile we shall briefly review some of the passages which he has quoted to prove that Christianity is a religion of fear.
* Mr. R. says Christianity is the religion of gratitude, not of fear. I find Christ frightening men into becoming his followers by such threats as the following :-Matthew c. I., v. 14, 15— And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city shake the dust off your
Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.': Mark, c. viii. v. 38–Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark, c. ix, V. 42.—' And whosoever shall offend any of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.' The verses immediately following this, and to which I beg your readers to refer, as the whole passage is too lengthy to quote here, embody a still more fearful threat, rendered so by repetition and terrible distinctness.
Are these not instances of a direct attempt to work upon the fears of men, and to compel them, aš I once heard it tritely expr:ssed, to jump into heaven just to keep out of hell? Mr. R. says Christianity does not call upon men to repent under the threat of eterpal damnation. Almost the last words Christ spoke previous to being received up into heaven,' and when instructing the eleven' to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creatnre,' were these, Mark, c. xvi., v. 16—'He that believeth not shall be damned.' The duration of the damnation we learn from Matthew, C. XXV. V. 46, where Christ says "These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Its nature may be learnt from Mark, c. ix., v. 43, 44, where the same high authority describes it as “hell, the fire that never shall be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' Paul in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, c. i., V-9, has this passage illustrative of the * religion of gratitude, not of fear-—"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels
, in faming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ : who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and f.om the glory of his power."
Now who that reasons carefully, does not perceive that such representations of the terrific consequences of unfrithfulness, selfishness, unbelief, and sin, are perfectly consistent with the proposition, that Christianity is the religion of gratitude. To prove the opposite he would require to show that it makes its only or its highest appeal to man's fears, that it presents no other, or no higher motives than tliose to which he refers. True kindness would lead a parent to urge every lawful motive upon the attention of a child that was about to leave