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I have mentioned for what class of readers the article was designed. It was for those who have doubts and difficulties in relation to the subject. If there are any, whose faith is nourished by the common views of the subject, the writer has no wish to disturb them. His only wish is to remove every obstacle in the way of the universal reception of the religion of Je
He hopes, too, that the friends of Christianity will be careful how they rest its defence on arguments, which will not stand the scrutiny of the most rigid logic. For the extent and variety of the evidences of our religion, founded in its own nature and in historical truth, are absolutely overwhelming.
Introduction to Sacred Philology and Interpretation : by Dr. G. J. PLANCK: translated from the original German, and enlarged with Notes, by Samuel H. TURNER, D. D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Interpretation of Scripture in the Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and of the Hebrew Language and Literature in Columbia College, New York. New York : Leavitt, Lord, & Co. 1834. 12mo. pp. 306. — This is but an indifferent version, we are bound to say, of the chapters on sacred philology and interpretation in Dr. Planck's Introduction to Theological Literature in general. We regret that Professor Turner should have thought it worth his while to translate so dry and meagre a treatise, out of date even in Germany, and particularly worthless in this country, because most of the little value it possesses consists in its literary notices of German works, that can be of no imaginable service to the mere English reader. Dr. Planck is reckoned among the Orthodox; and yet some passages in his work bear a character so neological, that the translator has felt himself bound to omit them altogether, and others which he has retained are sufficiently bold. Take, for example, the following:
“ It cannot, by any construction but the most unnatural, be concealed, that our sacred writers, and even Christ himself and his Apostles, did occasionally direct their instructions in reference to imperfect views current in their age, and even to views not strictly correct; and as little can it be concealed, that the latter, the Apostles, sometimes brought forward these views as their own, which most probably they held in common with their age.” — p. 144.
Professor Turner has appended almost a hundred pages of notes, nearly a third of the volume, to supply the defects of the Introduction, especially as regards English and recent German theological literature; yet he has succeeded but very imperfectly, and the whole is little better than a confused medley, The translator himself, with half the time and labor bestowed on an original work of the same general purpose and charac
ter, would have produced one, we doubt not, every way more valuable, and of higher authority. The indifference formerly manifested by English and American scholars for German books, seems rapidly giving place to the opposite extreme of a weak and indiscriminate preference, still less creditable, and for which no one good reason can be assigned.
The late Outrage at Charlestown. - No public event can be adapted to produce deeper humiliation or more serious thought in an inhabitant of this country, than the exhibition of depravity which has lately broke forth among us. A depth of evil has been laid open to view, which none perhaps previously knew to exist. We are not the people whom we thought ourselves to be. The expressions of indignation and abhorrence with which the perpetrators of that crime must feel themselves blasted, if they are capable of being touched by such things, cannot do away the fact, that they, and wretches like them, exist in the bosom of our community. The aspect of society around us has been changed, as would be the aspect of nature, should a tropical whirlwind carry its ravages through our northern fields. The first excitement caused by the event, strong as it has been, will not equal the deep sorrow and apprehension which a calmer consideration of it must produce in every one capable of reflection.
The moral depravity of the outrage committed, the causeless and wanton defiance of all human laws as well as the laws of God, the reckless disregard of all the purposes for which government is instituted among men, and the tendency of such acts to reduce us to a state of ferocious barbarism, in which we must band together for mutual defence, each little tribe at war with its neighbour, are characteristics of the transaction which strike
every one at first sight. If such events are to occur among us, our boasted institutions will be the scorn of the world. Only the remembrance of them will hereafter remain, as a warning to men against forms of government falsely called free; but which will have brought us to utter wretchedness, and covered our land with hordes of ruffians. The worst tyranny of a Russian despot would be preferable to the restless and capricious tyranny of the vilest class of society, banding together, and waking us from sleep by the yell of their barbarities. It may be thought, that this is too strong language. We do not think
It is more the language of reflection than of transient feel. ing, much more that of anticipation than of present apprehension. Dark as may be the prospect around us, our institutions, we doubt not, will last for the little time that we may need their protection. But unless such atrocities are to be put down
by the strong arm of power, exerted fearlessly and effectually, by a severity of punishment which shall terrify those who can be acted upon only by fear, and, far more than all else, by the indignant expression of public feeling; unless this can be done, there is small hope for our children. What we have thought, and justly thought, the blessing of God upon our country in our free institutions, will, through our own faithlessness to our trust, be turned into such a curse as never fell upon a nation before.
There have been mobs in all countries, and barbarous and bloody crimes have been committed by them. But they have usually been the result of a highly exasperated state of feeling, in which those who were ready to take the lives of others were equally ready to hazard their own. It is the very absence of violent passions in those guilty of the late enormities, which renders the transaction fearfully ominous. No crime could be less excused by provocation, real or supposed. There was not probably an individual engaged in it, who could complain that he had suffered any personal injury from the unhappy women, whom he was driving out at midnight from the shelter of their home, that they might see at a distance the blaze which consumed that, and all it contained which they valued or venerated, except indeed some articles portable enough to be stolen, and which were stolen. Those females, we understand, had been distinguished for their charities to the Protestant population of the town in which they resided; and their characters were of such established respectability, that Protestant parents entrusted to them, without fear, the charge of their daughters. But their dwelling has been burnt down, under circumstances of brutal outrage; not through any strong excitement of passion, but in a sort of diabolical frolic, as if such an atrocity were nothing more than the kindling of a great bonfire. The feeling which it is evident the perpetrators of this act must have entertained of the impotence of all government among us to restrain or punish their enormities, is an alarming indication of the present state of our society. But there is power enough to repress such disorders ; not the power only of truly moral and enlightened men, but the power of all who prefer civilization to barbarism, and who have any thing to lose by exchanging the authority of law for anarchy. And this power must be exerted. It must be understood that those who commit violent outrages upon property do, by the very act, declare war upon civil society, which exists for the protection of property as one of its chief ends, and that they are entitled to as little forbearance as a foreign enemy who should ravage the country. If government fail in that end, it is needless to say that it must fail in every other. When it cannot protect men's dwellings, it can
protect nothing. It should be well understood, that where an armed force can be legally brought into action, the destruction of property by a mob is never to be perpetrated by them but at the hazard with which one engages in a batile.
We have this moment, while writing the last paragraph, received the Boston Advertiser (of the 18th of August), which contains a narrative of a riot in Philadelphia also.
These narratives seem to be becoming as common in our newspapers as those of suicides and murders; and in the last case, if the accounts received be correct, murder, and crimes more brutal, if not more atrocious than common murder, were committed. We have no reason to doubt these accounts; but whether they are true or not, is a question of little importance. If a new spirit be not infused into our community, and more vigor into our governments, such accounts, if not true this year, will be true the next.
We have only to wait for the third or fourth new history of a mob, and we shall have them often, and no outrage, however lawless or brutal or cruel, will strike us as any thing strange or unexpected.
We doubt not that religious fanaticism, in its lowest and most brutalizing form, had some influence in producing the wickedness which has been perpetrated at Charlestown. It was excited in part by gross calumnies, which had been proved to be unfounded before the deed was committed, and in part perhaps by the writings and preaching of some one or more of those pests of our community, who seem to have little other notion of religion, than that it is a subject about which men's passions may be inflamed, and they may be made to hate each other. We fear, too, that among some individuals of more respectable character, unfounded reports and a feeling of bigotry have tended to weaken the indignation which they would otherwise have felt. Such men we would most seriously and earnestly urge to consider, that it is in the highest degree desirable, that the Catholics who land upon our
hores should feel the full influence of their faith. How desirable it is, recent events have fully manifested. The Catholics have a right to demand that their religion should be equally respected as that of any other sect. The apprehensions which have been expressed of danger from the prevalence of the Catholic faith, if we can suppose them to have been expressed in good faith, are among the wildest dreams of fanaticism. But
the Catholic teachers are making proselytes by their zeal, ability, and learning, and they have no other means at command, how are they to be met ? Surely but in one way; by the zeal, ability, and learning of Protestant teachers. Our faith is not worth defending, if it cannot be so defended ; and it will be guilt and infamy, if
we use or tolerate, or do not strongly discountenance, any other mode of defending it. Shall we persecute ? God forbid. Wise men have thought that the barbarous ages of religious persecution had long past. But if you are bent upon persecuting, let us at least have our tribunals to decide what is and what is not the true faith; and to apportion the degree of punishment which one merits as a member of the oldest church in the world, or as deviating on the other hand too far from some more recently established standard of belief. Let us, at least, not trust the administration of this fancied justice to the outcasts of society. If we do, they will soon take the whole administration of justice into their hands.
By their fruits ye shall know them. We cannot be suspected of any attachment to the peculiar doctrines of the Catholic church, and our feelings must be regarded as wholly unbiassed, when we say that under the outrage which has been perpetrated, the Catholics among us have displayed upon Christian principles, a degree of forbearance that does them the highest honor. All praise is due to their Bishop and his clergy for their efforts to preserve the peace of the community, and the whole body of Catholics share in the commendation that those efforts have not been ineffectual. The religion of those who have suffered, and the fanaticism, so far as this was operative, of the guilty, stand out in striking contrast with each other. Which sort of spirit is it desirable should prevail?
Painful as is this whole subject, there is one view, to which we are almost unwilling to advert, that to our minds is peculiarly humiliating. There is something in acts of violence, which require courage in their execution, that may redeem them from utter loathing. But in the present case the act was committed by dastards, disgracing the name of manhood, against women and children ; terrifying their victims, insulting them with indecent songs, profaning what was most venerable in their eyes, and what the associations of our common religion should have protected, violating the sanctuary of the tomb, and engaged at the same time in petty pilfering. To one who has been, and who fain would be, proud of his country, it is bitterness to think that all this was done by individuals entitled by birth to the name of New Englanders, in the very sight of the battle-field of our ancestors' glory.
And what is to be done to prevent the repetition of such scenes; and to save our country from sinking into the ruin that must follow ? This is a question not to be answered at once nor in a few words. It brings into view many topics of consideration, many subjects for change and reform. The evil to be cured is deep-seated. It will require not one nor