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ing or opinion of our ability to reach the object. Thus these abject ideas of our own mii ds injure ourselves by preventing us from virtuous and noble effort, and also make us act to a far different end than that of glorifying our Crea

Not only does the argument fail in both of its points, but the examination of it leads us to conclusions directly contrary to those it would establish.

But we return to insist more directly on the idea that this shrouding religion in mystery and uncertainty is a dreadful wrong to the human soul. How fearsully must the mysterious mode of preaching injure hearts which are piously disposed, which have that overflow of love to God and love to man which is the fulfilment of the whole law. A pious man struggles to comprehend his duty as it is announced from the oracles of God, but it slips from his grasp. Again and again he endeavours to seize it, but meets with repeated delusion and ill success. Gladly would he fold the truth in his embrace, but he is condemned to disappointment ;

“ frustra comprensa manus effugit imago, Par levibus ventis, volucrique simillima somno. Christ came to bring life and immortality to light ; — why will men cover bis message with darkness and doubi? The condition to i bich we are brought by mysterious preaching is one of great suspense. Suspense is a source of m sery in the most trivial affairs. This is a iruth of which almost all wbo speak have spoken, and almost all who write bave written. When there is a long balancing between good and evil fortune, the vexed mind is almost tempted to defy fortune to do her worst. Misery itself is preferable to a continual doubting whether mi-ery or joy will be our portion. Now if this be the case in inferior matters, how much more strongly and decidedly will it be so in matters the most iinportant. If the feelings are fretted when the scale hesitates between a moment's joy and a moment's sorrow, how shall we describe the state of the mind when the gloom of uncertainty is cast thickly over its whole condition and duty ? If we should be more kind and compassionate than to torture a man with doubt about so small a thing as the arrival or departure of a friend, how can we have the beart to over

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whelm him with dark sayings and vague mysteries in announcing that message of duty, on bis treatment of which hangs his everlasting happiness or woe ? Yet dreadful as this course is, we fear it is sometimes pursued. We fear that the imagination of the preacher sometimes kindles the fames of hell about the trembling victim, and gives biin but dubious directions how he may force his way through them. He describes the way of escape indeed, with great sollemnity, and the appearance of strong personal conviction ; yet it is a dark

way,

clouds are at its entrance and over its whole extent, - it is rough with precipices and torrents, –

the surest foot is sure to stumble, miracles must bear up him who does not fall to be dashed in pieces. How different from this the calm and clear language of Jesus Christ, wben, from the mountain, he spoke to the multitudes who had assembled, expecting to hear the voice of a temporal conqueror ring in their ears. Strangely, in this particular, has the whole religion of Christ been mistaken by the lovers of mystery. That religion requires the direction of certain affections to definite objects, and the performance of definite duties. Mystery is something we must place upon the mind without receiving it into the mind, - something which we must regard without understanding, and obey without applying. It is soinething which rises up gradually and gloomily from the plain ground of religious faith, — which we must gaze at from a distance with indefinable feelings of awe, but into which it were impious for any curious eye to search too closely. Nor let it be said that we describe, under the narnes religion and mystery, two things which are both parts, though somewhat dissimilar parts, of the Christian system. The truth is, they are not only dissimilar, but opposite in nature. Light and darkness are not more opposed to each other than a clear and an incomprehensible doctrine. Neither do we insist too strongly on the character of determinateness as belonging to Christianity. The Bible continually implies, on this point, the principle which is acknowledged and verified by reason. The spirit of preciseness marks its inculcations of doctrine and duty throughout. This truth is a glorious thing for human nature and human character, and it is wonderful it has not been more clearly seen and thoroughly practised on, blazing as it does like fire on every page of Holy Writ. And when we say that the Scriptures, in describing man's duty, speak in terms the plainest and most precise, we do not of course mean to say that they are continually marking out the external courses of a religious life. These, in order to express the same spirit, must be constantly changing with the changing state of society and of the human mind.

It is the principles of duty that stand out on the pure pages of the Holy Book clear, distinct, and bright as the stars in heaven. Let the eye be fixed upon them, and, with all the fearlessness of faith and hope and love, we may hold on safely and surely in that path we must make for ourselves over the troubled yet trackless waters of human life. We shall be surrounded with mysteries, yet the brilliant light that streams from Heaven will give us no dark decisions as to the direction that will lead us to the celestial region.

It must be seen, that what we have objected to in these remarks is not the acknowledgment of mysteries as existing in the world and in the soul. Such mysteries, through the necessity of the whole constitution of the universe, must exist. We rejoice that they do exist. We rejoice that the voice of God's providence in the world is continually speaking to us, as the voice of his grace has spoken to us in the Holy Word ; -“Behold I show you a mystery." If the mind be faithful to its powers, if the heart be faithful to its powers, we shall in this life be continually changing mystery into knowledge ; and, when this life shall end, we shall “ joice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” in having revealed to us, and in revealing to ourselves, those mysteries which will be perpetually unfolded as we live on in that endless life of God in which we find the redemption and regeneration of our souls. We have not objected to the conduct of those who teach the existence of mysteries, but 10 that of those who perplex and blind the simple honesty and clearness of the human will by mingling dark enigmas with the most important questions of duty, who create a warfare between faith and conscience, who refuse the most lawful claims of the understanding and withold the most solemn rights of the heart, and who press back the most holy principles in the soul when they are just struggling into religious life, by annexing to the enjoyment of that life unknown and perhaps undiscoverable and impossible conditions.

28

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VOL. XVII.

N. S. VOL. XII. NO. II.

Our limits do not allow the insertion of some remarks we had intended to offer, designed to describe more distincily the manner in which mysteries affect, first, the iotellect, and, secondly, the heart. These remarks may or may not appear at some future time.

Art. VI. - A Letter to the Executive Committee of the

Benevolent Fraternity of Churches, respecting their Organization for the Support of the Ministry at Large in Boston; by JOSEPH TUCKERMAN.

To THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE BENEVOLENT

FRATERNITY OF CHURCHES.*

GENTLEMEN, A fraternity of churches having been formed for the permanent establishment of a ministry at large in our city, and Messrs. Barnard and Gray, with myself, having been elected to this service, under the organization which has been committed to you ; it has been thought proper by my colleagues and myself that we should present to you, and through you to the religious societies which you represent, an exposition of our views of this ministry, in its claims, and in the measures which have been taken to sustain it, and to make it more effectual. It is highly important that both you, and we, should have clear and just conceptions upon these subjects, There is a demand for this ministry, or there is not. And the plan adopted for its support is a wise and Christian one,

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* An association, called “The Benevolent Fraternity of Churches," has been formed within the Unitarian Congregations in Boston, for the support of the ministry at large, which has for some years been in operation here. In organizing this association, the independence of our several churches has been scrupulously regarded. Five delegates from each of these congregations, or from each of the Benevolent Societies within these congregations, are the channel of communication between these congregations and the ministry at large. There is also an Executive Committee of five gentlemen, whose duty it is to devise, mature, and execute measures, by which the object of the Fraternity may be advanced It is to this Committee that the following Letter is addressed.

US

Have you,

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poor,

or it is not. Each of the queries, thus implied, has indeed received from you a most unequivocal answer. An association has been formed within our religious societies for taining this ministry, because they believe the ministry is required by the moral wants of the community ; and because they feel that those, “who, through the providence

, of God are possessors of blessings, to which others around them are strangers, have, in these blessings, a weighty responsibleness, and would discharge the trust."* then, or have we, fallen into any mistake upon either of these subjects? In resuming my service, after an absence of more than a year from it, and from our city, and after six years and a half passed in its active duties, I would bring home to my own mind the inquiries I have proposed, and, in as brief a space as

I
may,

would answer them. Is there, then, or is there not, a call for a ministry at large in our city ? Allow me to recur to the circumstances, which led to the first proposition of this ministry.

I entered upon the duties of “the mission to the as I called my service in my first Quarterly Report, on the 5th of November, 1826. There was, at that time, a young man in the field, in the employment of “ The Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction of the Poor.I had then but very little knowledge of this department of society in our city, and had to seek and obtain this knowledge as I could. My first object, however, was, to connect myself with such families, as I should find were not visited by any settled minister as a part of his flock; and to render them any, and every service, which could be looked for from a Christian pastor and friend. At the end of my first Quarter, on the 5th of February, 1827, I had fifty families in my pastoral charge. At the end of the next three months, I had ninety families; and at the close of the first year, I was the pastor of a hundred and seventy families. In that year I

I published four Quarterly Reports, in which, according to the light I had obtained, I brought before our public those interests of this ministry, with which I was at that time most strongly affected. My visits, during that year, had been frequent, — generally once a week, — at the House of Cor

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* Report on a Ur

the Churches for Benevolent Purposes,

P. 7.

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