« PreviousContinue »
ILLUSTRATIONS OF INFIDELITY.
reading Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, and indulged Taking the most favourable view of Hume's case in a fanciful conversation between himself and Cha- -with no disposition to make the unhappy man ron, the one stating, and the other repelling, reasons worse than he was it must be admitted by every in Hume's case for continued life; the result of which thoughtful and candid mind that his closing scene is, that the philosopher had no reason for prolonged was deeply melancholy. Apart altogether from existence, and did not wish for it. Five days before his Christianity, this must be his judgment. Here is a death, he wrote to the Countess de Boufflers, “I see most powerful mind-at the moment of its greatest death approach gradually without any anxiety or re- maturity and vigour—in opposition to the convictions gret. I salute you with great affection and regard for of the greatest minds of all ages, deliberately bethe last time.” Dr. Black, the day after the event, lieving, and rejoicing in the belief, that itself now decribing it, says : “He never dropped the smallest perishes, and perishes for ever with the beasts. Here expression of impatience; but when he had occasion to is a mind which sports and amuses itself with foolish speak to the people about him, always did it with Pagan Dialogues at a moment when it is about to affection and tenderness. He died in such a happy solve a tremendous mystery-a mystery which, howcomposure of mind, that nothing could exceed it.” ever confident its anticipation of nothingness and anOn opening his will, a codicil was found, written nihilation, may (it is impossible to prove the reverse) three weeks before, in which he makes some jocular turn out to be an awful reality on the wrong side. bequests.
In such circumstances as these, is it philosophical or There can be little question, then, of Hume's tran- natural to be sportive? There may be calm thoughtquillity and even cheerfulness in death, and as little fulness; but are amusement and wit becoming when that he retained his Infidelity to the last. In his will engaged in parting with friends for ever, and when he made provision for the publication of his Dialogues there is no absolute certainty but that there may be on Natural Religion. This was done after retaining the unwelcome life and eternity beyond the grave ? No work by him for thirty years, out of deference to what one can say that this is natural or reasonable. It is he would call the prejudices of friends. So injurious the reverse. Hence the forced and artificial air did they account the work, that one after another to which overhangs Hume's death-bed, and which has whom he had spoken on the subject previously to his led many to believe that he was acting a part, or that death, refused to have any hand in giving it to the his friends and biographers, while giving a part, have public. Apprehensive that this book might be doom- not given the whole truth. On his own principles, it ed to silence, he took effectual steps for the publica- was an unsuitable and unworthy close to the life of a tion. Nothing can better proclaim his determined philosopher of the eighteenth century. To be going Infidelity, and that to the very end.
back upon the dialogues of a poor Pagan, instead of And now what is the reader's judgment of the calmly stating grounds of reason and conviction! death-bed of Hume? Is he disposed to regard it as We have no desire to make out this particular Infidel's a strong recommendation of Infidelity; and to con- death-bed to have been worse than his biographers trast it with the gloom and apprehension which some- describe. It does not affect our estimate of his phitimes cloud the last moments of the Christian? If losophy, what was its precise character. The Word of any such sentiments be ready to arise in his heart, God nowhere declares that the death of unbelievers let it be remembered that this is not the ordinary ex- shall always be miserable. On the contrary, it teaches perience of Infidelity, as the death-beds of Voltaire, us, as a general experience, that“ the wicked”-wickand Paine, and many other leading unbelievers, can tes- ed in the sense of Scripture—the irreligious and untify. Then let it be remembered that this is the death- godly—“have no bands in their death.” But it is no bed of the very prince of sceptics—of a man natur- more than just to state a current report given in ally of uncommon coolness and pleasantry. Let it be detail by the London Christian Observer (vol. xxxi. p. remembered farther that Hume had committed himself 660), that while Hume was so calm and cheerful in in his writings, again and again, to the nothingness of the presence of his literary friends, he was in his death-that he had a character to support in dying- latter days very uneasy and disturbed when left alone that the vanity of a nime among men clung to him with his domestics. The statement is alleged to to the last. Moreover, let it be remembered, that rest on the authority of the nurse who attended him
if Hume really believed (and there is no reason to -a nurse who was so much distressed with the specdoubt his sincerity) that this world is the whole of tacle which she witnessed, that she declared her reman, and that he perishes for ever in the grave, there solution never to watch over the death-bed of another is nothing wonderful in his peace and calmness; that Infidel. It might be possible to harmonize the two the matter of amazement is how he should have statements. Certainly the latter would be more conbrought himself to this belief; not that, having once sistent with real philosophy and nature than the for. reached it, he should be tranquil and at ease. It is mer; but, as we have already said, we have no desire not strange, as Dr. Cullen seems to think, that men to make out that Hume's death-bed was a miserable should be alarmed at the approach of death. Hold- one. Its mirth and jocularity are sufficiently melan
ing the faith of a futurity, and uncertain about its choly. Let the reader peruse the following note, issues, or doubtful whether there be a futurity at all written by Colonel Edmonstone to Hume within a few -perhaps thinking, with the sceptic poet, that there days of his death, and say whether there be aught in may be dreams in Death's sleep-it is not superstitious, the closing scenes of Infidel philosophy to recommend it is perfectly natural that there should be concern it to the acceptance of man's sympathy and heart. We and anxiety.
have repeatedly borne testimony to Hume's general
kindness and warm friendship. He was certainly a an house not made with hands, eternal in the heacontrast to the French Infidel school, in whose society vens "_“I am now ready to be offered, and the he rejoiced. They could not bear the thought of time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good death, and hence the moment that a friend died there fight; I have tinished my course; I have kept the was immediate, and studious, and perpetual oblivion. faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of Sometimes, the better to obliterate the thought, there righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, was a gay party of pleasure on the day of the death, or shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but of the funeral! It was not so with Hume. He was unto all them also who love His appearing.” concerned to hear of the death of friends. There Has Infidelity, then, any ground of boasting? Is ; were tears at parting; but see how Infidelity, instead there anything in the death of Hume, though calm of soothing, aggravated the stroke. The more ami- and cheerful, really to attract ? To be sportive when able the infidel, the greater his wretchedness. The all men, whatever their creed, should be serious—to last interview always terminated with an “ eternal be amusing amid eternal separations from much adieu"-reminding us of “the eternal sleep" of the loved friends - is this amiable ? does this recombloody Revolution which followed.
mend unbelief? What would have been thought or “My dear, dear David,—My heart is very full. I said of Christianity had this been its character? could not see you this morning; I thought it was betier for us both. You can't die; you must live in
THE GLACIER. the memory of all your friends and acquaintances, “Poets and philosophers have delighted to compare and your works will render you immortal. I could the course of human life to that of a river; perhaps never conceive that it was possible for any one to a still apter simile might be found in the history of dislike you or hate you. He must be more than a glacier. Heaven-descended in its origin, it yet savage who could be an enemy to a man of the best takes its mould and conformation from the hidden
womb of the mountain which brought it forth. At head and heart, and of the most amiable manners.”
first soft and ductile, it acquires a character and firm | The note closes with a few French verses, which a
ness of its own, as an inevitable destiny urges it on friend of poetic taste and talent has thus translated, its onward career. Jostled and constrained by the.' keeping strictly to the original.
crosses and inequalities of its prescribed path, hedged!
in by impassable barriers which fix limits to its more. " Oh, thou ! the dear half of my soul !
ments, it yields groaning to its fate, and still travels, Thou in whom, in rare union, I find
forward, seamed with the scars of many a contlict 1 Woman's delicate love in the heart's hidden scroll,
with opposing obstacles. All this while, although With the strength of man's friendship combin'd.
wasting, it is renewed by an unseen power-it Yes, David-soon, soon cruel fate
evaporates, but is not consumed. On its surface it, Cometh, sternly asunder to tear
bears the spoils which, during the progress of its ; Bonds the sweetest of mortal estate, Relentless to grief's idle prayer.
existence, it has made its own; often weighty burdens
devoid of beauty or value-at times precious masses And despite of our cries, and our wishes. so vain,
sparkling with gems or with ore. Having at length An ABSENCE ETERNAL must seal up our pain : Fare-thee-well, then, for ever!-We meet NOT AGAIN."
attained its greatest width and extension, com
manding admiration by its beauty and power, waste What can be more melancholy? Cultivated minds predominates over supply, the vital springs begin to warmly attached, in the hour of theirgreatest strength fail; it stoops into an attitude of decrepitude; it drops || and attachment, take an eternal farewell of each | aloft - its dissolution is inevitable. But as it is
the burdens one by one which it had borne so proudly, other, believing that they perish as the brutes at their resolved into its elements, it takes all at once a new, feet-that there is no substantial difference between and livelier, and disembarrassed form; from the them and the meanest and most loathsome reptile! wreck of its members it rises another yet the same
What a poor attainment is Infidelity! How little -a noble, full-bodied, arrowy stream, which leaps i does it bestow upon its votaries ! Rather, what a
rejoicing over the obstacles which before had stayed bitter thing is sin, which drives men from God, and its progress, and hastens through fertile valleys to
wards a freer existence, and a final union in the ocean encourages them to take refuge in such hopelessness with the boundless and the infinite.” — Projisor and degradation! Any thing is better than the face Forbes.
of an angry God. What a contrast to the prospects This is an exquisite passage both in conception and which revelation opens up in the Old Testament as in expression. But has not the author omitted one well as the New! How different the happiness of the point worthy of being noticed in the comparison
which he has instituted? Is it not to be remembered devout disciples of the word! Instead of “eternal
that alike over the law-bound progress of the glacier, adieus,” there is everlasting union and friendship in and the freer and still more mysterious movements the presence of God and of the Lamb. “ I know that of the human life-stream, there presides the agency my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the lat- of that mighty Being who sits behind the machinery ter day on the earth; and though after my skin worms
of the universe, and controls its every change? What destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;whom scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; He casteth forth
saith the Book ? “He giveth snow like wool; HE I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, bis ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold? and not another”-“The Lord is my shepherd - He sendeth out his word and melteth them; He
.... though I walk through the valley of the causeth his wind to blow and the waters flow; He shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his with me, and thy rod and staff they comfort me
judgments unto Israel. Praise ye the Lord.” “ We know that if our earthly house of this taber
“Ye ice-falls ! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amainnacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge !
PRAYER-MEETING ON HORSEBACK.
in a course of education, was removed from the valley
of Ooroomiah to the heights of Mount Seir. The -Alexander's Switzerland.
students, who had before found it difficult to find places of retirement for the performance of their
private devotions, were often discovered, at their THE CHURCH NOT CONSUMED.
new place of residence, communing with God in
secret among the rocks and the hills of Mount Seir. The long existence of the Christian Church would On a previous occasion, as some of the Nestorian conbe pronounced, upon common principles of reasoning, verts were
travelling from village to village, they held impossible. She finds in every man a natural and
a prayer-meeting on their horses -- a novel, but not inveterate enemy. To encounter and overcome the when religion takes hold of the heart, times, and
uninteresting mode of social worship; showing that unanimous hostility of the world, she boasts no poli- places, and circumstances, are made to contribute, tical stratagem, no disciplined legions, no outward with wonderful facility, to promote the work of God coercion of any kind. Yet her expectation is that in the soul. she will live for ever. To mock this hope, and to blot out her memorial from under heaven, the most
RELIGION AT ROME. furious efforts of fanaticism, the most ingenious arts
WHAT IS PENANCE? of statesmen, the concentrated strength of empires, have been frequently and perseveringly applied. The SOME friends informed us that a ceremony of no blood of her sons and her daughters has streamed small interest was to be witnessed every night at a like water; the smoke of the scaffold and the stake, particular church which they described to me. where they wore the crown of martyrdom in the mentioned the subject to our valet-de-place, and recause of Jesus, has ascended in thick volumes to the quested him to conduct us to the spot. He gave that skies. The tribes of persecutors have sported over peculiar shrug of the shoulders, which to be underher woes, and erected monuments, as they imagined, stood must be seen, and which none but an Italian, of her perpetual ruin. But where are her tyrants, I believe, can fully enact, and said he was there and where their empires ? The tyrants have long once, and never wished to go again. It seems that since gone to their own place; their names have de- some of the professedly self-inflicted penance had scended upon the roll of infamy; their empires have been misdirected, and had fallen upon Luigi, the passed, like shadows over the rock; they have suc- bare recollection of which made him cringe. Howcessively disappeared, and left not a trace behind ! ever, he consented to conduct us to the door, and
But what became of the Church? She rose from wait for us there till the fearful devotion was over. her ashes fresh in beauty and might; celestial glory When we arrived we found one single light glimbeamed around her; she dashed down the monu- mering near the altar; the church itself seemed mental marble of her foes, and they who hated her badly kept, compared with most Roman churches, fled before her. She has celebrated the funeral of and the worshippers appeared coarse and squalid. kings and kingdoms that plotted her destruction; None but men were admitted, for a very good reason, and, with the inscriptions of their pride, has transmit- as the reader will presently see. Everything around ted to posterity the records of their shame. How looked suspicious, and if some of our countrymen had shall this phenomenon be explained? We are, at not been there before us and described the scene, we the present moment, witnesses of the fact; but who might have supposed ourselves in dangerous circumcan unfold the mystery? The book of truth and stances. For myself I passed back of some broken life has made our wonder to cease. “ The Lord her forms that lay near the wall, behind which I enGod in the midst of her is mighty.” He has betrothed trenched myself at a little distance from the theatre her, in eternal covenant, to himself.
Her living of action. The door was then bolted. The single Head, in whom she lives, is above, and his quicken- candle was then carried to a small temporary plating Spirit shall never depart from her. Armed with form, beside which stood a crucifix, and a palmerdivine virtue, his Gospel, secret, silent, unobserved, like gloomy ecclesiastic ascended and commenced an enters the hearts of men, and sets up an everlasting impassioned harangue, the tenor and burden of which kingdom. It eludes all the vigilance, and baffles all were the sufferings of Christ, and an exhortation to the power, of the adversary. Bars, and bolts, and the people to be willing to suffer with him; that as dungeons, are no obstacles to its approach; bonds, Christ was chastised and suffered for their sins, and tortures, and death, cannot extinguish its influ- much more should they be willing to chastise them
Let no man's heart tremble, then, because of selves for their manifold transgressions. The solitary fear. Let no man despair (in these days of rebuke light was removed, and in the midst Egyptian and blasphemy) of the Christian cause. The ark is darkness the tragedy commenced. It was as though launched, indeed, upon the floods; the tempest sweeps you had suddenly been ushered into one of the chamalong the deep; the billows break over her on every bers of Pandemonium. The first thing we heard side. But Jehovah-Jesus has promised to conduct after the extinguishing of the light was the cracking her in safety to the haven of peace. She cannot be of whips or thongs, and the
of simul lost unless the pilot perish. - Dr. Mason.
taneous lashes well laid on
bitter groans and wailings, as from miserable wretches pulpit. The faint light of our lantern gave a solemn writhing under the torture. The sounds became gloom to this dark but hallowed resting-place of the commingled--the strokes fell thick as hail — and great modern evangelist. Three coffins lay before groans and howlings filled the temple. It was an us, two containing the remains of ancient pastors of awful scene! After it had continued for several the church. minutes there was a pause, and the same voice The lid of each vas open sufficiently to show the resumed the exhortations to the assembly. It was head and chest, and the skeleton faces stared us in perfect darkness still, and the sharp voice of the the countenance with ghastly expressions as we held preacher, keyed up almost to a falsetto, rung through over them the dim light. Our footsteps and our the invisible arches of the church, and died away in subdued voices called forth a faint and trembling the distance. He paused, and again the flagellations echo, and even this tomb of glorified saints seemed and howlings were resumed. At the second pause filled with the gloom and dread of death, reminding the light was restored—a person went round and us of the doom of the fall. collected the thongs or ropes, to preserve them, I A slight depth of black mould covered the bottom suppose, for future penance, and the assembly broke of Whitefield's coffin, and on this lay the bare bones. up. Whether they lashed themselves, or each other, I took his skull into my hands and examined it with or the floor, I cannot say. I had intended, when the intense interest. What thoughts of grandeur and flogging commenced, to have put myself in a situa-power had emanated from that abode of the mind, tion to have received some of the blows, being and stirred with emotions the souls of hundreds of willing to run some risk of a lash or two to determine thousands-emotions which will quicken their immor, for myself whether the blows were laid on with effect tality! I held it in silence, but my mind ran over or otherwise. But the light was extinguished unex- the history of the "seraphic man," and started and pectedly, and I had made no arrangements that endeavoured to solve a thousand queries respecting would have enabled me, situated as I was, to make the the attributes of his character and the means of his experiment satisfactorily. I can only say there were wonderful power.-Zion's Herald. blows enough, and they were sufficiently loud to have done good execution; and they were accompanied by
NEVER BE HAUGHTY. enough of wailing and of woe, to have indicated an indescribable amount of suffering and this is reli
A HUMMING bird met a butterfly, and being pleased gious worship! in a Christian assembly, and at the
with the beauty of its person and glory of its wings,
made an offer of perpetual friendship. very seat of the infallible Church !-Dr. Fisk.
“I cannot think of it," was the reply, “as you
once spurned me, and called me a drawling dolt." OUR FRIENDS IN HEAVEN.
“Impossible !" exclaimed the humming bird. “I The expectation of loving my friends in heaven, always entertained the highest respect for such beau-, principally kindles my love to them on earth. If i tiful creatures as you." thought I should never know them, and consequently
"Perhaps you do now," said the other, “but when never love them, after this life is ended, I should
So let me give number them with temporal things, and only love you insulted me I was a caterpillar. them as such. But I now delightfully converse with you a piece of advice; never insult the humble, as my godly friends, in a firm persuasion that I shall they may some day become your superiors.
converse with them for ever; and I take comfort in those that are dead or absent, as believing I shall shortly meet them in heaven; and I love them with
USES OF ADVERSITY. a heavenly love, as the heirs of heaven, even with a
SWEET are the uses of adversity! In God's hand in. love that shall there be perfected, and for ever exercised.-Baxter.
dee: they are; when he puts his children into the furnace of afiliction, it is that he may thoroughly purge away all their dross. A great writer has
spoken with great beauty of the resources which God THE TOMB OF WHITEFIELD.
bas placed within us for bringing good out of evil, or In a late journey through New England, I stopped at
at least for greatly alleviating our trials in the cases ! Newburyport to see the tomb of Whitefield. The of sickness and misfortune. The cutting and irritatvisit will always be memorable to me. It suggested caution has got within the shell, incites the living in- i
ing grain of sand,” he says, “ which by accident or inreflections inapressive and profitable.
mate to secrete from its own resources the means of His remains are deposited in a vault under the coating the intrusive substance. And is it not, or may Federal Street Church-a church in which he has it not be, even so with the irregularities and unevenoften preached, and in sight of the house in which
ness of health and fortune in our own case? We, too, he expired. As we passed near the altar our atten wonderful are the wisdom and mercy of God in mak
may turn diseases into pearls." But how much more tion was arrested by a massive marble cenotaph, ing the spiritual temptations and distresses of his erected by the town.
people their necessary discipline for their highest The sexton having lighted his lantern, led us into good, the means for the greatest perfection and a little vestry behind the pulpit, in the floor of which stability of their characters! This, indeed, is a is a small trap door. This he opened and we de
wonderful transmutation. "God," says the holy Leighscended into a dark apartment, much like a common
ton,“ hath many sharp cutting instruments and rough
files for the polishing of his jewels; and those he! cellar. On one side of this apartment is a door especially esteems, and means to make the most reopening into the vault, which extends under the splendent, he hath oftenest his tools upou."-Claver.
THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE CHRISTIAN POOR.*
1. “The Lord maketh poor, and maketh peared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the rich.” (1 Sam. ii. 7.) God measures out to children which did eat of the portion of the every person his proportion of these things. king's meat.” (Dan. i. 12, 15.) The widow He makes what dividend and gives what allow. was reduced to a low ebb: there was left but ance he pleases to every man in the world. Is a little oil in the cruse and a little meal in the this considered ? I wish we could see it, in barrel; yet these held out, and the more she the calmness of their minds who are under a spent of them the more they increased. (1 low estate. The father divides his estate Kings xvii. 12.) What strange things are done among his children, giving to every one of with small pittances, where the blessing of God them his share, more or less, as he thinks meet; is ! and this being his act and will, they all submit 5. The saint's little is better than the sinand acquiesce therein.. And shall your heaven. ner's all. “Better is little with the fear of the ly Father's allotting to you what he thinks | Lord, than great treasure, and trouble theremeet, signify nothing to the making of you con- with.” (Prov. xv. 16.) “A little that a tentedly to rest in his will ! May not this great righteous man hath is better than the riches of Dispenser of blessings do with his own what he many wicked.” (Ps. xxxvii. 16.) pleaseth?
6. No man can judge of God's love or hatred 2. None so poor but they have more than by these things. (Eccles. ix. 1.) For he often what they deserve. Who can claim or chal- "gives riches to those whom he hates, and delenge anything at God's hands? Surely he nies them to those whom he loves.” It is very that merits nothing must not murmur because usual for those who have most of his love to he hath but little. (Matt. xx. 15.) Thy ap- have least of worldly things. Joseph and Mary parel is very mean, thy diet is very coarse, thy themselves could bring but “a pair of turtlehabitation very uncomfortable : be it so, yet doves”—the poor man's offering. (Luke ii. 24.) even in these there is mercy; it is from the Nay, how poor was our Lord himself! “The wisdom of God that thou hast 10 better– from foxes have holes,” &c. (Matt. viii. 20; 2 Cor. the mercy of God that thou hast so good.
viii. 9.) 3. As low as you are in these things, hither- 7. God keeps you low in earthly possessions, to the Lord hath provided for you and yours; but how is it with you in higher and better and assuredly, you being his people, walking in things ? You are poor without; are you not lis fear, trusting in him, he will still provide. rich within ? “There is that maketh himselfrich, You have in the promise what you want in the yet hath nothing : there is that maketh himself visible estate. Discontent is in part founded poor, yet hath great riches." (Prov. xiii. 7.) “I in distrust; take but this out of the heart, and know thy poverty, but thou art rich." (Rev. the other vanisheth. Now, why should God's ii. 9.) No riches like to soul-riches. To be poor (I speak only of such) distrust his provi. “ rich in faith" (James ii. 5), “in good works" sion? What abundant assurance hath he given (1 Tim. vi. 18),“ towards Ged” (Luke xii. 21)— thereof! Read Ps. Ixxiii. 3, xxxvii. 25, cxi. this is to be rich indeed. Mountains of gold 5, cxxxii. 15; Matt. vi. 25, to the end of the are nothing to one drachm of true grace in the chapter; Rom. viii. 32; Heb. xiii. 5; with many
sonl. other Scriptures.
8. You think God is strait-handed toward 4. A little with God's blessing will go very you in temporal, but is he not abundantly grafar, and do very well. “I will abundantly cious in spiritual and eternal, blessings? Ho bless her provision : I will satisfy her poor denies the pebble, but gives you the pearl; with bread.” (Ps. cxxxii. 15.) “Ye shall serve withholds shadows and trifles, but gives you the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy what is solid and substantial. You have not bread and thy water." (Exod. xxiii. 25.) Daniel worldly wealth, but you have the pardon of sin, and his companions fed upon nothing but pulse the love of God, adoption, union with Christ, and water; and yet " their countenances ap- &c. You have no inheritance here, but
you * From sermon, by Dr. Jacombe, in the Morning Exercises.
(James ii. 5); the No. 51.*