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ILLUSTRATIONS OF INFIDELITY.
while in regard to his French friends it is notorious, amid all their gaiety and wit, there was a vast amount of real misery, combined with gross immorality and corruption. Yet who can question that these parties were familiar with varied knowledge far more knowledge than the mass of society, by all schemes of mere secular education, can ever hope to reach? and how vain, then, is it to expect that mere knowledge, distinct from divine knowledge, will regenerate and rejoice society? If it has failed in the hands of Hume and of his friends, is it likely to be more successful with others? Nay, may it not be feared that much at least of their knowledge, instead of contributing either to the purity or happiness of man, will, and must, have the very opposite effect? Who can question that the tendency of Hume's moral philosophy is to the relaxation of moral ties? and who can doubt, with the example of the French literati of Hume's days and of subsequent revolutionary times before them, that knowledge, disjoined from divine revelation, is not only weak as a restraint against evil, but may prove an encouragement to sin? Let none, then, deceive themselves and society with vain hopes. Where the Scriptures of truth are unknown, general knowledge may be rendered subservient, by Divine Providence, to moral restraint and usefulness; but where God's revelation is despised and rejected, he is almost pledged to show the vanity of any substitute of man's devizing, by allowing even philosophers to fall into moral degradation. 4. Our last remark respects the responsibility of the Christian Church for the Infidelity of the world. We apprehend that Hume stood so much upon independent ground of his own-was so much under the influence of vain-glorious selfishness, in his scepticism, that scarcely any condition of the Christian Church would have made much difference on the state of his personal convictions, or brought him nearer to true religion; but we are strongly persuaded that the state of Christianity in his day, and his own experience of professed ministers of Christianity, were well fitted to deepen and perpetuate his personal Infidelity, and to give it strength and currency, through his works, on society. The footing on which Hume stood with Robertson, Blair, Jardine, Carlile, Home, and other ministers-their consenting to be silent on religion-the warmth of their friendship, though he was busily subverting the foundations of all religion, natural and revealed-their sneers at the more serious and godly part of the brethren in the ministry-the freedom which they allowed him to use in his correspondence with them, and the service which they expected and received from him, in connection with the distribution of Church patronage-must all have given him a very unfavourable impression of the reality of their belief, or of religious principle at all. What could Hume have thought of Christianity, when a minister of Christ could write him in such terms as: "The society at Paris," says Dr. Blair, "to one who has all your advantages for enjoying it in its perfection, is, I am fully convinced, from all that I have heard, the most agreeable in the whole world." The ungodly, infidel, immoral society of Paris, with which Hume was sur
rounded, is pronounced by a professed minister of the Gospel, the most agreeable in the whole world! Another (Jardine), writes him: "The enemy had kindled such a flame, that the old burning bush was like to have been consumed altogether. I know it will give you pleasure to hear that my endeavours to preserve her have been crowned with success." What could an Infidel think of such sentiments and language from a minister of Christ, who perfectly knew his character and views?
Such notices in the Correspondence, and others could be given, indicate, to say the least, a miserably low religious tone-a blending of Christianity and Infidelity which could have no other result than to harden the sceptic and the scoffer. What effectual remonstrance could either Blair or Jardine, or any clergyman of similar spirit, present to the progress of Infidelity? Their greatest strength must have been very weakness. Accordingly, there is a visible growth of Infidelity in society through the lifetime of Hume. At his starting, there was the greatest resistance; as he advanced it lessened. In 1744, when aiming after a professorship of moral philosophy, Hume says: accusation of heresy, deism, scepticism, atheism, &c., &c., was started against me, but never took, being borne down by the contrary authority of all the good company in town." Eight years after, in 1752, when appointed, after a contest, librarian of the Advocates' Library, he says: "What is more extraordinary, the cry about religion could not hinder the ladies from being violently my partisans. I owe my success in a great measure to their solicitations." Twelve years after, 1764, Blair writes: "The taste for French literature grows more and more amongst us." No one can question that such Infidel literature as the French literature of that day could not increase in its popularity apart from the previous and simultaneous spread of Infidelity; while the popular interest and homage discovered at the Infidel's interment, and connected with the sepulchre, where, “on a Sunday evening, the company from a public walk in the neighbourhood flocked in such crowds to the grave, that Mr. Hume's brother actually became apprehensive upon the unusual concourse, and ordered the grave to be railed in with all expedition," bespoke the same unhappy progress.
There can be little question that the degeneracy of the Church, or rather the Churches of Christ for, with slight exceptions, the decay was general -had an important share in the creation and disHad the semination of the Infidelity of the age. Church been evangelical and her ministry faithful and consistent, humanly speaking, the tone of society could never have sunk so low. It is a melancholy fact, that the only man who seems to have written to Hume on his death-bed, on the subject of religion-and the letter, considering the party to whom it was addressed, was well fitted to awaken serious thought-was not a minister, but a layman at a distance, Mr. Strachan, the London bookseller. The letter was probably too late to reach the dying man; but the fact, that it seems to have been the only effort which was made to recall his mind to the idea of an unseen world, and that upon his own prin
ciples, is solemn in itself, and peculiarly so as indicative of the prevalence of irreligion and Infidelity. Where now were all his clerical friends? The whole is well calculated to show the connection between Irreligion in the Church and Infidelity in society; and, therefore, the responsibility of the Church for the Infidelity of the land. We do not say that there may not, or that there has not been, decided Infidelity in the midst of the purest Christianity; the very success of the work of the Spirit of God may call up the zeal of the spirit of darkness, but certainly the tendency of Irreligion is towards Infidelity, and the colder and more corrupt the Church, the arguments in behalf of Infidelity are always the stronger and the more popular. It is well for the Church of Christ to feel that her labour ought not to be limited to the irreligious making a profession of the Christian name-that the avowed Infidel has strong claims upon her-that a serious part of the responsibility of his unbelief, it may be, belongs to her.
We have detained our Christian readers long with these successive papers on Infidelity illustrated by facts. We are afraid that we may have wearied some; but many important lessons are taught by the lives and the deaths of Infidels. Christians should not think that they are so far a-head of such scenes that they have nothing to learn from them. In one sense this is happily true, but much instruction may at the same time be gathered from contrasts. As the occasional study of Paganism, and Mohammedanism, and Judaism, and Popery is useful, these acting as a foil, the better to bring out the right spirit and character of Evangelical Truth; so is the occasional and serious contemplation of Infidelity fitted to read the Christian various and valuable lessons-lessons of boundless gratitude to God for divine revelation, with all its incomparable blessings, especially for Christ and his great salvation, with all the happiness, purity, and hope which these imply-lessons of humility, when Christians think that they can claim nothing of God, that it is he who makes them to differ from Infidels, and that their inconsistency and unfruitfulness may have had a hand in making or in hardening the sceptic, and also when they compare their own defects, in particular points, with the attainments of some unbelievers-lessons of deep sympathy for those involved in the temptations and snares of unbelief, whilst their Infidelity is condemned as criminallessons of duty-as carnest desires and efforts to deliver. In short, the survey of Infidelity, in contrast to Gospel Christianity, is well fitted to lead Christians to prize their distinguishing privileges more highly, to hold fast by them in the face of all hostility, and to use means to extend the experimental knowledge of them to others, even the most hardened and hopeless. We feel that, if possible, our own conviction of the truth and excellency of Evangelical Christianity has been strengthened by reading the biography of Hume, and drawing up these papers as the result of our meditations. We have seen how little Infidelity could do for its advocate, even at its best estate-how defective and miserable its attainments, even in the most unexceptionable cases-how
the powerful intellect of the greatest of Infidel philosophers, with all the lights and advantages of ancient and modern times, could not penetrate its way to the certain proof of immortality without revelation; or rather, arrived at the opposite conclusion of settled materialism. Instructed by the darknessthe moral and religious doubts-the misery of the Bible rejecter-we grasp the Scriptures of truth with a firmer hand, more satisfied than ever of the neces sity of divine revelation; and we pray more earnestly that neither the character, the life, nor the death of Hume, with all its worldly glory, may be ours, or that of our children.
THINGS SEEN, TEMPORAL; THINGS
How insecure our state! anon
A noble bark afloat I saw;
As she gallantly did steer
Through the churmed deep. With a frown
Its fierce wrath an hour did last;
A fair forest I beheld,
And right pleasant 'twas to be
RICHARD BAXTER TO THE ROMISH PRIESTS.
Scarce had I spoken, when a blight
Like goodly trees our hopes do grow,
A worm doth gnaw-that worm is death.
On the river bank did dwell
My journey led one summer day
Brother! cheer thee, there is hope,
Change: nor death, nor aught has power
If thou wouldst have it, thou must look
The cup of woe, that He might bring
Freely offers it to thee!
With it, no longer shall it grieve thee
The years; for thou wouldst straightway where Thy unfading treasures are!
ROMANISM AND HINDUISM COMPARED. A BRAHMAN, for the purpose of showing the folly of rejecting Hinduism and embracing the Roman Catholic religion, instituted the following comparison between the two systems:-" Has the Feringhi cheap pardons? So have we. Can the Romanist by the mass rescue his ancestors from purgatory? We, by ceremonies at Gaya, can do the same for ours. Can the priest change the bread and wine into flesh and blood? Our muntras can impart divine attributes to images. Who are the Romish monks, but the counterparts of our Sunyasees? Do the Catholics count their beads? So do we our malas. Do they pray to mother Mary? So do we to Ganga-mai. Do their priests eschew marriages? So do our Gosalies. Have they nuns ? So have we our nach-girls, dedicated to the service of the temple. Do they boast their antiquity? Compare eighteen hundred years, the period they claim as the age of their Church, with the four jugs of Hinduism.
RICHARD BAXTER TO ROMISH PRIESTS.
ONE of your dissimulations which increaseth my dissatisfaction is, your pretending to the ignorant people that you are all of a mind, and there are no divisions among you, and making our divisions the great argument to raise an odium against our doctrine, calling us schismatics, heretics, and the like. When, indeed, no one thing doth so much turn away my heart from you as your abominable schism. Do we not know of the multitudes of opinions among you, mentioned by Bellarmine and other of your writers? If you call me out to any more of this work, I mean the next time to present to the world a catalogue of your divisions among yourselves, that it may appear how notable your unity is! If the Jesuits are to be believed, what a silly sottish generation are your secular priests! If your priests are to be believed, what a seditious, hypocritical, cheating pack are the
Jesuits! I speak not the words of your Protestant adversaries, but of those of your own Church. Do I not know what Guliel. de Santo Amore and many others say of your own Church? Do you think I never read Watson's Quodlibets, and the many pretty stories of the Jesuit exploits there mentioned by him? I do not think that you suffer many of your own followers to read these books that are written against one another by yourselves. But the great division among you, that quite overthrows your cause in my esteem, is that between the French and Italian, in the very foundation which all your faith is resolved into. You have no belief of Scripture, nor in Christ, no hope of heaven; you differ not from Turks and Infidels, but only upon the credit and authority of your Church; and this Church must be infallible, or else your faith is fallible—at least it must be of sovereign authority. And when it comes to the upshot, you are not agreed what this Church is? One saith it is the pope with a general council; and another saith it is a general council, though the pope dissent. One saith the pope is fallible, and the other saith a council is fallible. One saith, a pope is above the council, and another saith the council is above the pope. And now, what is become of your religion? Nay, is it not undeniable that you are of two Churches specifically different? Certainly a body politic is specified from the summa potestas. And therefore, if the French make a council, the summa potestas, the sovereign power, and the Italians make the pope the sovereign, and a third party make the pope and council conjunct only, the sovereign, are not here undeniably several Churches specifically different?
And then you have another deceit for the salving of all this, that increaseth my disaffection. You glory in your present judge of controversies, and tell us it is no wonder if we be all in pieces that have no such judge. And what the better are you for your judge, when he cannot or dare not decide your controversies? No; he dare not determine this fundamental controversy, whether himself or a council be the sovereign power, for fear of losing the French and those that join with them. So that it must remain but dogma theologicum and no point de fide, what is the summa protestas; and yet all that is de fide; even our Christianity and salvation, must be resolved into it? And doth not this directly tend to Infidelity? Would you have serious Christians deliver up themselves to such a maze as this for the obtaining of unity? What the better are you for a judge of controversy, in all those hundreds of differences that are among yourselves, when your judge either cannot or will not determine them? Are not we as well without him as you are with him? Plain things that are past controversy have no need of your judge! It is no controversy with us whether Christ be the Messiah; whether he rose, ascended, and will judge the world; and if we go to darker points, your own judge will say nothing or worse. Why do you cry out so much against expounding the Scripture otherwise than according to the sense of the Church, when your Church will give you no interpretation of them? Do not your expositors differ about many hundred texts of Scripture, and neither pope nor council will decide the controversies? These are, therefore, mere delusions of the world, with the empty name of a judge of controversies. And, indeed, you sometimes show yourselves that you have no such high conceit of your pope (whatever you would make the world believe) as to trust his judgment.
But yet I have not come to that point of your schism which above all things in the world doth alienate my mind from your profession; and that is your separation from all other Christians in the
world! I find in myself so great an inclination to unity, and the title catholic is so honourable, in my esteem, to them that deserve it, that if I had found you to have the unity and catholic religion and Church which you boast of, it would have much inclined me to your Church and way. But when I find you, like the Donatists, confining the Church to your party, and making yourselves a sect and faction, and unchurching and damning the far greatest part of the Christians in the world, this left me assured that you are most notorious schismatics. When I saw so much knowledge and holiness comparatively among the Reformed Catholics, and so much ignorance and wickedness among the Papists (even here where are but a remnant that adhere to their religion against the course of the nation), and when I read so many plain promises in Scripture, "That whoever believeth in Christ shall not perish, and that if by the Spirit we!! mortify the deeds of the body we shall live, and that if we repent our sins shall be forgiven, yea that godliness hath the promise of this life and that to come;" and then when I find that the Papists, for all these certain promises, do unchurch and damn us all, because we believe not in the pope of Rome as well as in Christ, this satisfied me as fully that you are most audacious schismatics, as I'am satisfied that you are Papists. What! must I be a Papist on such grounds as these? Must I believe because you tell me so, that all the most conscionable heavenly Christians that I am intimately acquainted with are unsanctified, ungodly, and in a state of damnation? When I am a witness of the earnest breathings of their souls after more communion with God-when they would not live in one of those sins that you call venial, for all the world; when they mortified the flesh, and live in the Spirit, and wait for Christ's appearance: and yet that such as the Papist shall be saved that are so far below them, because they believe in the pope of Rome? Why, you may almost as well persuade me to become a Papist, by telling me that you have eyes in your heads, and noses on your faces, and the rest of the world have none. Doth Christ say, "He that believeth and repenteth shall be saved;" and must I believe that all Protestants shall be damned, let them believe and repent never so much? This is to bid me cease to believe Christ that I may believe the pope -cease to be a Christian that I may become a Papist.. I am confident that I shall never be Papist, if it may not be done but by believing that all the godly that I am acquainted with are ungodly, and in the way to hell.
And (to speak of the quantity as well as the quality) I feel a kind of universal charity within me, extending to a Christian as a Christian, and, therefore, to all! the Christians in the world, which will not give me leave to believe if a hundred popes should swear it, that the far greatest part of Christians shall be damned, because they are not subjects to the pope! The Papists are but a handful of the Christians in the world, at least the smaller part by far! The most of them never acknowledged the sovereignty of your pope. And a few ages ago, before Mohammedanism and Heathenism diminished the number of Christians in Asia and Africa, the Papists were but a small proportion. There are but lately taken off from the Christian religion, it is probable, twice as many as all the Papists in the whole world: if it were but the kingdoms of Nubia and Tenduc, how far would they go on this account? A bishop of your own, and legate of the popes that dwelt in those countries, saith, that the Christians in the easterly part of Asia alone exceeded in multitude the Christians both of the Greek and Latin Churches. And which is more, the whole Church, for many hundred years after Christ, were far from being the subjects of the pope of
Rome! And, indeed, had Christ no Church till the Pope became universal monarch! Must Paul be damned because he was not one of Peter's subjects? Do not your consciences know that swearing obedience to the pope of Rome was a thing unknown for many hundred years, yea, that it is a novelty in the world? Must Christ lose for ever the most of his Church, even those that never heard of Rome, because they believe not in the pope? Never shall I be Papist while I breathe, if I must be engaged to send the most of the Christians on earth to the devil, and that upon such an account as this. These things are so uncatholic, so unchristian, so inhumane, that I wonder, and wonder a hundred times, how any learned, sober men among you are able to believe them. For my part I am a resolved Catholic, that own the universal Church of Christ, and cannot limit my charity to a corner or a faction, especially so gross a one as yours. I own not the errors or other sins of any of the Churches, so far as I can discover them; but if I must make them heretics, and unchurch them for these (yea, even those that go under the name of Nestorians and Eutichians), I must needs put you in among them, who I think do err more grossly then
BY MRS. L. II. SIGOURNEY,
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
"No God! No God!" the simplest flower
And trembles at the sound;
The solemn forest lifts its head,
The palm tree, with its princely crest-
The winged seeds, borne by the winds,
"No God!" with indignation high
The fervent sun is stirred,
And the pale moon turns paler still
And, from their burning thrones, the stars
HAVING entered a cottage to visit an old woman, for many years suffering from an incurable disease, I found sitting by her a young female, whose appearance bespoke that she also had been long tried by bodily affliction. Her form was wasted to a shadow, and as she sat, seemed somewhat deformed. Her face bore the aspect of intense endurance, and there was coupled with it an expression of discontent, that gave to features naturally plain an almost repulsive appearance. I did not feel inclined to address her; but the thought that her bodily condition might be but a type of her diseased soul, and the hope that a word spoken in season might do good, overcame my reluctance, and I inquired kindly as to the state of her health. She replied with a cold, uncivil air, that had almost turned me aside from my purpose; but again the thought of how much she must need consolation impelled me, and I addressed to her some sentences regarding the compassionate tenderness of that God who afflicts not willingly, nor grieves the children of men. that was evil seemed now stirred within her; she looked indignant, and rudely replied, that she knew this as well as I did, but what was she the better for it? It seemed that God did not design by me to convey to her any lesson, and I ceased, lest I should provoke her further to sin against him. Her hostess, to whom I discovered she was distantly related, expressed much regret at her conduct, and she soon left the room. I talked and prayed, as I was wont, with the old woman, not forgetting before God her poor visitor. On rising to depart, she said, "Ye maun forgie poor Jean; she has a queer temper, but she has muckle need of your counsel, and perhaps you'll be back and speak to her again."
Strange as it may seem, she had deeply excited my interest. I had not met with an instance of enmity of heart against God so openly expressed. "Surely," I said, "Satan is striving hard for the mastery; shall no effort be made to rescue the prey from his grasp?"
Days passed on, and the unhappy expression of the poor creature still rose before me; and as soon as I could again spare time for so long a walk, I took my way to the widow's home. In the same seat, with the same look of discontent, sat her young friend. She moved not when I entered, and to my inquiry as to how she now was, she scarcely replied.
I determined not again to address her, but sought, in conversing with her hostess, to utter such things as she needed to hear; and in supplicating before God, I made mention of her as one for whom I desired the healing and cleansing influence of his Spirit. As I left the cottage, she followed me with an excited air, and asked who had told me anything about her. "No one has spoken to me of you," I said; "I do