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RELIGION BY PROXY.
There is not any burden, that some would gladlier post off to another, than the charge and care of their religion. There be, who knows not that there be, of protestants and professors, who live and die in as errant and implicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy man addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many piddling accounts, that of all mysteries, he cannot keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do ? Fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. What does he therefore, but resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor, to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs; some divine of note and estimation that must be. To him he adheres ; resigns the whole warehouse of his religion, with all the locks and keys into his custody; and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion; esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more within himself, but is become a dividual move. able, and goes and comes near him, according as that good man frequents the house. He entertains him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptuously laid to sleep; rises, is saluted, and after the malmsey, or some well-spiced bruage, is beiter breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem; his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in his shop trading all day without his religion.
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Our correspondents in different places will do us service by giving us prompt information of what goes on in their localities.
“A leap in the dark,” by E. received with thanks. Several articles under consideration. “Silverwater,” shall appear. Also the reply to a “Progressive Revelation.” W. K. Hyde, shall be attended to. Till within a few days, no one seems to have had any desire to take advantage of our “ Open Page.” We shall ever be pleased to hear the opposite side, and shall endeavour to keep as much room for it as possible.
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Who knows not that truth is strong, next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious, those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.--MILTON.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1855.
EIGHT OF THE ARTICLES. A Leap in the Dark
.81 Halifax Discussion The Glory and the Joy of Death
.84 A miserable Portion... Protestant Errors and Omissions
84 Our Open Page... A Sceptic's favourite Topics
Philosophy found wanting
.88 93 95 96
A LEAP IN THE DARK.
Emanuel Barthelemy has passed to his account, exhibiting a callousness and indifference to the awful position in which he was placed, it is painful to contemplate, and stubbornly refusing to the last to acknowledge the hand of Him who made him.
Had the creed of this wretched being any connection with the crime for which the offended laws of his country demanded the sacrifice of his life?
We hold that Atheism is not a mere opinion, to be condemned or vindicated as an abstract truth, having no relation to the duties and obligations of life; but that it is a positive crime of itself, of awful magnitude, a treason against the “Giver of life and all good,” destroying all responsibility, and setting wide open the flood-gates of iniquity.
In the scheme of Christian regeneration, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” is a stone and a statute.
The teaching of Christianity induces us to regard the life of a fellow creature the most sacred thing in his possession--as inheritance of far higher value, of more important purpose, than it can be by any other creed whatever. The Christian believes that life is that time of pro
XO. 8, Vol. 1.
bation which ends in an eternity of happiness or misery. To him life is a sacred loan, to be repaid back to Him who gave it with interest, or rendered up bare and unproductive. Sacred as he regards every possession of another from any attempt or desire on his part to despoil him of them, this is ten thousand times more sacred than all the rest; and is secured from every possibility of an attack from him by the most solemn and explicit commandment of the God he reverences, - Thou shalt do no murder."
How is it with the infidel? What claim has the life of another upon him who selfishly regards only the enjoyment and prescrvation of his own, or who admits no stronger law against taking away the life of another, than that of political necessity, which may be set aside or changed under variable circumstances, or whose only inducement to avoid murder is that he himself
may be safe?
What, to an infidel, is another's life, but a little red fluid, which may be spilled without criminality, under circumstances of ordinary occurrence ? Why, if we carry out the disbelief in a future state, and the refusal to recognize any accountability for actions in that future, what but the flimsiest barrier, the most imaginary of non-existences, is to retard them, if the inclination to commit murder should happen to be paramount.
But to return to this wretched culprit ; we would ask whether infidels find anything to glory in, in his hardihood and indifference ? Is it satisfactory to them that he exhibited no sign of repentance for the crime, for which he has suffered ? Is it desirable that men who murder each other should exhibit no regret for their cruelty? Now infidelity undoubtedly hardened this man, unquestionably brought him to the gallows a brutal, untamed ruffian. Was this a desirable spectacle for those who had congregated to see his exit? Was this calculated to vindicate the majesty of the law or deter others from the commission of a similar crime? This unholy, brazened indifference—this disgusting insensibility, an attribute alone of humanity in its lowest state of degradation. Why, if infidelity had softened this man ever so little, if it had brought one repentant tear to his eye, one human sob to his bosom, for the victims he had slaughtered, and the widow and orphans he had made desolate, it would have partially redeemed it. But no! that would have belied its nature; it could not be! This murderer's was the trųe picture of an infidel's death; what it ought to be; what God has made it to be; what, for the sake of humanity, we trust it ever will be,—the dumb, defiant death of a dog.
Now supposing Christianity to be false, supposing that it is what infidels would make it out to be, a mere opinion; since it does inäuence men's lives and affect their deaths; since it crects a standard for their actions; since it teaches them to eschew what is evil, and seek out what is good; since it endeavours to prevent crime and teaches repentance after it has been committed; is it not far better for mankind to believe in, than to reject it; is it not better for men to be restrained in their conduct towards each other by a supposed hereafter accountability, than, being unrestrained, to follow out any inclination for evil?
But infidelity is selfish in its nature, it prefers regarding a man's relations to the world, as they affect himself alone and not as they affect others. It prefers teaching, and its disciples prefer believing that self-interest is the only rule worthy of consideration. It is compelled to put on an assumed garb of
friendship towards others, but that it is only assumed, abundant evidence continually testifies. It holds out no sufficient inducement for uprightness of heart or virtuousness of conduct; it has no standard of excellence; no belief in purity; inculcates no avoidance of evil or practice of good. It has nothing in its nature to deter from crime, and nothing to induce repentance or regret for sin. It is revengful, because unforgiving, unforgiving, because unbelieving, implacable, because unrestrained. It is rugged rock by the side of flesh and blood; lifeless, inert, petrified fruit on a perishable stem.
The mere fact of a disgraceful death, has little to do with either Christianity or infidelity. Christians and infidels have alike undeservedly suffered one.
But when undeserved, how do they contrast with each other? Perhaps calm, probably fearless, undoubtedly unflinching, in some instances the conduct of the infidel has been when suffering death wrongfully. Proud, haughty contempt, and defiance have, however, been his most general characteristics ; disdain for his enemies the most prominent feature, denunciation and threats of revenge a not unusual accompaniment. Does the Christian, under the same circumstances, go to his death in a similar manner? Does he exhibit a wild defiance, a stubborn indifference, or contempt for his enemies ? He cannot, if he thinks upon the example of his master, with the words of that master's prayer, when suffering an unjust sentence and ignominious death, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do."
Is there any heroism in an infidel's death? Do we usually praise the conduct of those who rush into danger blindfolded, without preparation for, or means of, defence? Is an utter disregard for ordinary caution admirable ? Is that a wise traveller who enters upon a strange land naked and without a chart? Is that a sagacious warrior who attempts to pass through a defile where his enemies may lie in ambush, with his hands tied bchind him? Is that a hero or a madman, who challenges he knows not what, and rushes he knows not where?
It is not thus with the Christian, even when there is the consciousness of guilt. Repenting of the evil he has done, trusting in the mercy of his God, reliant upon Him who “ came into the world to save sinners,”' the future life is no blank, no dark obscurity, but a land of promise and of hope, where the infirmity, which has weighed him down here, will be removed, and where, criminal though he has been, redeemed by the blood of the Saviour, he will enjoy an eternity of purity and happiness. But what, is it under similar circumstances to the infidel? Either utter annihilation, a dim uncertainty, or a gloomy shadowy land, full of strange shapes, and horrible imaginations. He comprehends it not, and thence despises it; or dreams of an uncertain existence, and rushes madly towards it. But whether one or the other, it is, and ever must be, without a mitigating hope, or redeeming conviction,-a wild, desperate, and unaccountable leap into the fathomless abyss, and dark void of Eternity.
THE GLORY AND THE JOY OF DEATH.
“Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
When the immortal soul prepares to quit
Amid the ethereal song, his parted soul.
M. A. H; T.
We shall not attempt further to vindicate the omissions of Protestant religious instruction: it is a subject too vast for us to conceive, much less to execute. That there are great omissions, it would be claiming too much for human imperfection to doubt; that they are of vital consequence to the progress of true religion, the present state of Christendom and of the world demonstrates. We cannot attempt this great task, although we lament deeply that Christianity is suffering for want of a vindication which shall clearly separate the divine from the human. All the errors of Romanism were not left behind by those who came out of that church. The idea of a great mysterious organization, a heavenordai ned corporation, which is the medium of communication between Christ and his followers, still clings to the minds of many. The disposition to judaize, to“ tithe mint and rue, and pass over judgment and the love of God,"* has not been exbausted, but has been visible in every age since the days of the apostles. “Lading men with burdens grievous to be borne,"+ "putting yokes upon the neck of disciples,"I has been done in modern times, and continnes to be done, until a further reformation takes place, or until men become too enlightened to be fit subjects for such spiritual domination.
To step in between the soul of man and his Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, to assume the office of mediator between them, or of arbiter and absolute interpreter, is an act of usurpation so daring and impious as to be incredible, if our knowledge rested on less evidence than our own eyes and ears.
This intervention of man beteen God and his creatures, is not all confined to members of the papal church.
The assumption is not strange in the Protestant world. The gospel is to be preached to every creature; instruction is to be given to every extent that is practicable ; those for whom it is intended are to receive it humbly and teachably, exercising all their faculties to understand and digest ; but the opinions then formed, the faith then built up, and the working of the affections then excited, the union between God and the soul then formed, are operations wholly between God and his subject man, in which no church or other „Luko 11. 85. +Luke 11. 46.
#Acts 18. 10.