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Go onward with your labours, ye that love
CHRISTIANITY AND HUMAN NATURE.
IT may be observed, in further illustration of our subject, that no fair and ingenuous mind can read the historic facts of Christianity, as recorded in the New Testament, or of the early periods of the Christian Church in other histories, without an impression of the truth we are aiming to establish. The deep-seated and powerful instincts of human nature, the heart of man in all its urgent passions and gushing affections, is perpetually presenting itself on the page of Scripture. In the most touching manifestation of its weakness and woes, its sufferings and sins, it is constantly recognized there. How does the Christian Prophet greet and address it? From his own heart of sympathy and love; he sighs, he groans, he "weeps" at the spectacle of human suffering. And, whether it is in the alleviation of mental distress or bodily affliction, his looks and demeanour, his words and deeds, all show that the peace and purity, the comfort and assurance of man's heart was the object of Gospel Grace and Mercy. When, also, in the primitive era of the Church, Christian love led to the community of goods; or when, with a love stronger than death, and the devoted impulse of Christian faith, like a rock, and hope brighter than sun-light, the willing Confessor and Apostle and Martyr moved to the cross or the stake; when the song and the psalm rose from the consuming flame; all showed what in human nature was most interested in the revelations and spirit of the Gospel; and,
with how divine, how holy and affecting truth and wisdom, that Gospel was framed for the wants and wishes of man's heart.
In the previous observations, there has been no design, no aim at any subtle metaphysical argument, on the accordance between the spirit of Christianity and the essential nature of the soul of man; nor any intention to ground such a question on mere sentiment, on feeling, or imagination. We cannot but think that the subject admits of a simple inquiry and examination, which, to every ingenuous mind, must result in this conclusion, that such is the constitution of both, and fitness for each other, that they have had a common origin; and that he who made the heart of man, and who "looks upon the heart" planned, also, in his divine counsels, the Grace of Christian Truth expressly for the wants and weakness of the same heart. There is no other argument, either of the Reasonableness or Excellence of Christianity so affecting, so strong. It is ever appropriate as man is ever the same; it comprehends the facts and realities of the past, the present, and the future of human history and life; and, if man in his present state of refinement and intellectual strength, still carries a heart in his bosom, whose hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, weal and woe, cry out, loudly as ever, for the aid of Religion, the specific aid of Christian faith, piety and virtue, so may it be affirmed, that here rests a fixed evidence, one great availing miracle, the moral wonder and spiritual prodigy, to instruct, impress, and convince, while Man remains.
We think it vain for any one to urge, what, in the pride of intellect and knowledge, is urged by some, that Man's weakness will be conquered; his moral infirmities and wants be no longer felt under the growing power and perfection of his understanding; the heart will not only be ruled and guided, but strengthened by the head; and all its impulses and sensibilities no more nor less than right reason and true knowledge will approve. Fact and feeling deny this; the conditions of human life, and the very essence of human nature cry aloud that suffering will come, that sin and sorrow will prevail, and the heart of man ever be pervious to pain, as well as open to pleasure. The intellectual superiority supposed to lift man above suffering, has often exposed him to greater suffering; and is it not the natural result of high mental culture, and the refinements of greater civilization, to make the sense of suffering more keen? And, in the
man of greatest knowledge and deepest science, is there not the humblest sense of human ignorance, and of the weakness of human powers and efforts? That Christianity accords with this, as it really does, so graciously, so beautifully and effectively, we cannot too much nor too gratefully admire. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," is language the heart of man can never be indifferent to, as expressive of that spirit of the Gospel, which his heart will ever need for its consolation and its peace. When an individual man, let him be a hundred times more a Newton or a Locke, humbly laments the narrow limits of human knowledge, and the weakness of human faculties, and man's many deficiencies, can we conceive of anything like the revealings of the Gospel to reassure such a one; to open to his admiring view a loftier sphere, a wider expanse, an endless perspective, and faculties and powers exalted,strengthened and refined in correspondence with the wondrous change and elevation? For now we are the "Children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be;" "Now we see through a glass darkly;" "We know in part only now, but then shall we know even as we are known;" "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived the things prepared for them who love God."
May it not, then, be confidently affirmed, that however far man advances in his understanding, the Christian faith, in its spirit and power, will still be in front of his progress, and still sufficient for his moral wants and his heart's weakness; and, that in the sanctities and sublimities of the Christian Revelation, he will still find the highest source of his inspirations, and the true dignity and worth of his mental nature and powers ? In connection with this subject, of the "Accordance of Christianity with the mind and heart of Man," my original intention was to consider certain points of Analogy in Revelation and Nature; but as that is done elsewhere, I will here only notice the following, namely, a like position of human nature with respect to both, reminding us of the axiom or maxim, that if two things equally agree with a third, they agree also with one another.
And it is deeply interesting, and equally affecting and instructive to contemplate a human being; Man, as he stands in the midst of Nature; a master, a monarch, a priest; with instincts and sympathies, with impulses and powers which form a contact union with nature; and certainly there is more than a poetic meaning in the assertion, that the con
templative man will ever meet with whispering suggestions from Nature, where the Spirit of God ever breathes auspicious to his virtue, soothing his sorrows, and refining his pleasures. But I would chiefly observe now as a truth full of meaning and instruction, with respect both to man and nature, that when the former is most pure himself, he is most in harmony with the latter; that, to the pure mind, Nature speaks most eloquently, most lucidly and powerfully of the high and holy things most affecting man's happi. ness and honour. This is noticed here to remark the beautiful agreement of the truth with the character of Christianity. When we read the words of the Christian prophet, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," it is not the strong mind, but the pure mind which perceives and feels the truth best; and such a mind like the kindred one reading the Volume of Nature, has the mental eye cleared to read the whole Book of Grace; the benignity of its Author and origin; the beautiful oneness of the Sender and the Sent, the Mission and the Missionary; the One Spirit that speaks peace and pardon in the Gospel, and that breathes such sweet and gentle truths in the lily's whiteness, the balmy breeze, the verdant meadow, and refreshing rain. And however mysterious it may seem to the devout man, that, as he purifies his heart more and more, his understanding is enlightened, and he sees God and Heaven, and Virtue, Truth and Nature, with a more vivid clearness and certainty; and that these are the great realities of his being and life; while he reverently bows to the mystery of his own nature, he feels assured the design and end of that nature is thus revealed unto him, and that God and the wonders of his Providence and Grace are thus made one with his own soul.
As an important practical conclusion, we wish our Ministers and Christian advocates to be fully aware of their present position, in what it requires of them. Believing the reality of Christian evidence as it exists in history, miracle and prophecy, and urging it still on all suitable occasions, we would have them urge not less frequently the evidence which must ever be most appreciated, and felt as most impressive and conclusive. And, if it be true that the Christian scheme offers to man what he still needs, as much as he ever did, namely, for his Faith, what it is essential to believe, that he may either hope, or trust, or rely; and to his hear: wtth its affections and passions, what he must take
in and cherish there, alike for his peace and virtue; if it be also true, that, in the present position of the human mind, or in any conceivable increase to its strength and brightness, the Christian dispensation still meets the spiritual and moral wants of man, with full means and measure to aid his weakness, and hallow his strength; to keep him still from the delusion and danger of passion; to temper the severity of his suffering, and chasten and enhance his happiness and peace; if Christianity is still capable of making him a purer, a more virtuous and a happier being than he can be without its guidance and inspiration, let the advocate of Christianity dwell much upon it, and urge this as the standing, increasing, perpetual moral miracle of the religion of Jesus Christ. And while a heart beats in the breast of man; and, through his heart he suffers and enjoys as he now does, let the preacher be assured that such will be his powerful, unanswerable appeal to silence perverted wit, reason, or philosophy; and, together with the sophistry of scepticism, all the mystic refinements of the school, which makes Christianity little more than legend, fable, or romance.
EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.
RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION.
An attempt will be made, in the present article, to exhibit, in a connected form, the arguments which have been adduced in the six preceding papers of this series, in proof of the divine origin of the Christian Religion.
Christianity is the system of faith, practice, and hope, contained in the Gospels, and there inculcated as being the teachings of Jesus Christ, recommended by him, by both example and precept. On taking up the New Testament and reading these Gospels, every one is struck at once with the beauty and moral excellence of their contents. They recommend themselves to all the better feelings and nobler impulses of man's nature, and this is in itself a strong presumption in favour of the Divine origin of the Religion which contains them. There are some men, indeed, who are content to stop here, who require no further evidence, to lead them to embrace and hold fast Christianity. But to many minds this is not sufficient; those especially who have corrupted their souls, and deadened the powers of their minds