« PreviousContinue »
Is the soul convinced of its own unworthiness, and with a depression of spirits, bordering on despair, led to inquire, 66 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?” The reply of inspiration is ready and definite ;—“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil ; learn to do well ; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.' Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimsou, they shall be as wool.”
Are we conscious of frequent departures from virtue's consecrated path, and disposed to veil our faces as with sackcloth, and bowing down to the dust, exclaim, “Save, Lord, or we perish”-Jehovah answers from between the Cherubims, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the uprighteous man his thoughts : let him return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy, and unto God for he will abundantly pardon.”
While the worshipper at Mammon's golden shrine is counting over his thousands, which for half a century have laid unused, do his fingers recoil on touching the rebuking coin, while his cheeks redden, or his blood freezes, at the recollection of the means by which it was accumulated? Does he sigh, and in bitterest reflections become his own accuser, muttering, as he points—This was obtained by unlawful usury—that was the price of sacrificed honorthe other accrued from, alas me! from perjury! but there is the chiding silver and gold, that honesty designed for the starving widow's and her orphan children's support; but I robbed them of the scanty substance, which a dying but tender husband and father, bequeathed for their maintenance. If this be no chimera, but the sad memorial of human depravity, may the voice of inspiration and reason convince them that honesty and uprightness of conduct would constitute a new and far happier era, in the calendar of life. An exhibition of justice, by making a full restoration of property wrongfully accumulated, is a service far more acceptable to the God of mercy, than rivers of tears, years of abstinence, or strains of lamentation and confession, plaintive and protracted as the songs of woe. Confessions, though written in characters of blood, and reported or posted in every corner of the synagogue, are inadequate to the relief of the wounded, bleeding conscience, unless accompanied with a restitution according to the ability we possess. They may conceal crimes with the varnish of cob-webs, but remove not the cause of the flames of condemnation, and the eruptions of guilt. Let the miser, buried alive in his wealth, hear the words of the apostle; “Behold, the hire of the laborers, who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, CRIETH; and the cries of them, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth," and instantly reform; then, the trembling, fluttering, sighing of the breast, will be exchanged, for
“What nothing earthly gives or can destroy,
"The soul's calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy." But hark! do I hear the murmurings of unbelief, threatening despair?--'Ah me! fain would I walk by the light of virtue, and enjoy the rewards of the just, but my sins and transgressions, like impenetrable clouds or inaccessible mountains, prevent my possessing the glory which"I behold afar off. To such, are the directions of wisdom and mercy addressed, and they may leave their mountain-sins behind, in preferring and pursuing the path of penitence and virtue, “But if the wicked will return from all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions which he hath committed shall not be mentioned unto him; in the righteousness that he hath done he shall live.” The most profitable confession of iniquities is, their renunciation. It is the safest antidote for the malady of hypocrites, and the fantasy of religious rogues.
What moneyless bacchanalian would not confess his intemperance, if it would purchase a bowl of strong drink? What knave would not own his villainy, if it would defraud you of all your estate ? What notorious liar refuses to acknowledge he has reported a falsehood, when the confession entitles him to the veracity of the man of truth? Or point out the puffing hypocrite, that will not sigh, and confess he is a great sinner, provided others will virtually deny his assertion, by hailing him as a saint on earth. And what
will the candid and enlightened think of that religion, whose professors take the most pride, on learning that their confessions of unworthiness, under pretence of humility, are disbelieved? Will he call it the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus? As soon would the profane merriment of the sea-beaten tar" be mistaken, for raptures of religious praise. Real religion consists in actions, not in mere professions. The eye of infinite wisdom scans every motion and intention of the human heart; while mere formality, destitute of genuine piety, but serves the more full exhibition of its moral deformity. Let our profession be as free from “the leaven of the Pharisees," as the religion of our Master is distant, from the impositions of Mahomet. Like the luminary of day, may it continually impart the animating beams of love and friendship, till the frost of misanthropy and the coldness of pride, shall cease to render the region of society, sterile and unfruitful. Then shall the converted world say of devotion,
“ If thus delightful thy enrapt’ring pleasures,
6 Blooms in perfection.”
FOR THE CHRISTIAN INTELLIGENCER.
Rev. Sir-Perhaps the following, taken from Dr. Watt's “ Souls in fetters," "may be interesting to most of your readers.
There are some noble souls imprisoned from their infancy within the pale of a particular clan or narrow tribe, and they must never dare to think beyond those limits. What shameful bars are laid in the way, to obstruct the progress of knowledge, and the growth of the intellectual world ? Generous sentiments are stifled and forbid to be born, lest the parent of them, who perhaps belongs to one particular sect, should be suspected of being intimate with another, and a thousand brave and free thoughts crushed to death in the very bud, lest they should look like the offspring of a foreign tribe, when they appear in open light.
What a wretched influence names, sects and parties have upon the commonwealth of christianity! we hardly dare believe ourselves, when we have found out a truth if our ancestor did not believe it too: 0 where shall that city stand, whose inhabitants shall traffick in intellectual treasures, and set forth all their new improvements, and acquisitions in open day light, without the danger of public penalties and reproach ? Where shall that happy race be born, who shall see truth with an unbiassed soul, and shall speak it freely to mankind without the fear of parties, or the odium of singularity ? When shall that golden age arise, in which every rich genius shall produce his brightest sentiments to the honor of God, and to the general profit of men, and yet stand exempted from common slander ?When shall the sacred mines of scripture be digged yet deeper than ever, and the hidden riches thereof be brought out of their long obscurity, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour ? O that these dark and stormy days of party and prejudice were rolled away ; that men would once more give leave to their fellow christians to spell out some ancient and unknown glories of the person of Christ which are contained in scripture, and to unfold some hidden wonders of the gospel! The wisest of men know yet but in part : and it is always possible to grow wiser, at least on this side heaven; but public prejudice is a friend to darkness ; nor could ignorance and error, without this shield have defended their throne so long, among creatures of reason, under the light of divine sun-beams.
Dr. Watts, says the ingenious and independent author of a work, entitled, " The Science of Sanctity" in his improvements of the mind, gives some very good directions as to study, which have not been followed, either by himself or others in theological researches. “The first direction is to distinguish between words and things. The greatest danger is in the sacred science of theology, when settled terms and phrases have been pronounced divine and orthodox, which yet have had no meaning in them. The scholastic divinity furnishes with numerous instances of this folly.For many ages all truth, and all heresy have been determined by such senseless tests, and by words without ideas ; such shibboleths as these have decided the secular fates of men ; and bishopricks or burnings, mitres or faggots, have been the rewards of different persons, according as they pronounced these consecrated syllables, or not pronounced them. To despise them, to doubt or deny them, was torture and death.'
FOR THE CHRISTIAN INTELLIGENCER.
may be considered a principle peculiar to mankind ; as
we are not certain that any other earth-born creature possesses it in the same manner and degree. It appears to be implanted in us by the Author of our being, as the gift of infinite Parental kindness, and of course designed for wise and noble purposes. His works are great and marvellous,' and as said the inspired writer, “in wisdom hast thou made them all."
We are informed in the sacred Register, written as with sun-beams in columos of light, that “every good gift and every perfect is from above ; and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning ;" and that “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” Hence we may safely infer, that hope is designed for a blessing ; not only co-existent with reason and reflection, but commensurate with our being. In the earlier periods of our existence, we look forward through the extended vista of life, and behold happiness, which, however imaginary, captivates our attention, and is enjoyed by hope ; and while progressing to the meridian of manhood, and thence to the sunset of life, we are attended by this companion of mortals, this soother of wretchedness and woes ; nor could we, without hope, long support ourselves amid the various trying scenes, which quicken our descent to the gloomy mansions. Hope supports the unfortunate in the dark hour of adversity, and causes them to anticipate the joys which will follow, when the black cloud is blown over, and they are restored to the sunshine of prosperity. It is this alone which gives tranquility to the dejected bosom, when every ligament of friendship and love is wounded by the arrows of death. We behold the agonized mother, weeping over the corpse