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have no idea of the influence which may have been exerted on the mind of an individual unless he chooses to manifest it ; and we should be likely to err greatly if we supposed that they only were unbelievers in the divine origin of Christianity, who favored the operations of infidels. We cannot doubt, however gratifying it might be to us, but that there are some who attend upon the ordinances of religion, and outwardly conform to its requisitions, and yet are far from being convinced of its truth in their own minds. Every Christian congregation will furnish all possible degrees of belief and unbelief, beginning with those most firm in the faith, and descending through those whose faith, sometimes clear and sometimes dim, is always wavering, down to one who knows nothing from experience of what are the hopes and blessings of the Gospel. Of such circumstances we must be ignorant.
Nor is it much easier to discover what part of those who openly declare themselves infidels, by their conduct and company, are absolutely and totally dead to all religious principle. Their ranks are continually changing. This is equally observable in small as well as in large communities. As we have recently seen, where an infidel lecturer makes his appearance in a country town, some few will collect around him from various motives, — from simple curiosity, the love of something new, discontent at certain religious movements by which they have been affected, or an aversion to all religion, originating in a prejudiced or vicious inclination. Where this has been the case, it is easy for the chief mover in such operations, to select an inbabitant of more or less influence in the place, and make him the " receiving and distributing the means of corruption. If great exertions are used, much temporary evil will undoubtedly follow. But where mild and judicious measures are exercised, no permanent evil consequences are likely to ensue. Even where these have not been used at all, very slight causes have sometimes entirely removed the evil, at least for a time. It was remarked a short time since, that, in one of our large manufacturing towns, where many were under the influence of infidelity, the panic caused by the expected approach of the Cholera put a most salutary check upon their labors. Revivals in religion, and the agitation of questions of great general interest, have often produced the same effects.
Still there are some who continue to labor in the spread of infidelity. They are well furnished with means, such as they are, and often show an earvestness and zeal which would be honorable to a holier cause. The sentiments which are advocated in their publications, are of such an accommodating nature, as to suit those who are at enmity with some other of our institutions besides the Christian religion. Temperance, tract, missionary, and Bible societies, are all spoken of in an abusive manner, while political matters are by no means lest out of view.
The difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of giving infidelity an influence over the respectable and enlightened portions of our comrnunity, has suggested the practicability of spreading it in the less cultivated and newly settled parts of the country.
The West is the field of exertion for the infidel, as well as for the enterprising farmer, the man of genius, and the Christian minister. The accounts which are given of the state of religion there, if they be not exaggerated, are such as to arouse the energies of the most indolent and unconcerned among us, who care at all for the present happiness and future welfare of our country. If we wish that our religion should plant its institutions there, in order that it may prevail in the growing prosperity of that Jarge portion of our country, we cannot but feel that we are called upon to labor, even though the enemies of our faith were inactive. That their unhallowed zeal makes our duty more urgent, is plain to every one.
We would not picture forth in all their startling colors the legitimate and inevitable consequences which would ensue, were infidel sentiments to gain supreme ascendency in our land. He who attempts to do this in proper colors, will be shocked at the productions of his own imagination, before he has half completed the work. We would recommend to those who are as yet unaware of the consequences which must assuredly follow the general diffusion of the principles of modern infidelity, to peruse the Arguments of the Commonwealth's Attorney,* where they are strongly and accurately delineated. “ Blasphemy,” says Mr. Parker, “is but one part of the system. It is but one step, a fatal one indeed, still but one step in the road to ruin.” The
disorganizing and deadly scenes, which were for a short period acted upon the comparatively narrow soil of France, will scatter ruin and despair over our whole continent, if the germs of that pois, nous weed are allowed to grow and ripen. Though the work of desolation would be gradual, it would be none the less certain. The first step taken, to go on would be easier than to recede. Once let the wholesome restraints of Christianity be removed by a denial of all the truths of revelation, and the Creator himself will next be blotted out from his creation. Atheism will reverse every principle of morality and justice, – passion will reign supreme, and man's intellectual part will be content to grovel among the perishing objects which it acknowledges as its equals. The consequences of sin will be thought to be confined to this life ; and, if they can be avoided here, vice will possess all the rewards and honors of virtue. The principles upon which society depends for its proper order, and even for its existence, will be destroyed. Children are no longer to be dependent upon their parents for education and support. The rights of private property will be at an end. Marriage is no longer to be binding, even as a civil contract. The physiological laws which the Creator has established for the reproduction and continuance of the human species, are to be perverted from their end, and made to minister only to the most licentious gratification of sensual appetites. Murder in one of its foulest and most atrocious forms, - infanticide before birth, is even now acknowledged as a privilege, a right, and in some instances an obligation. The most villanous treatise that ever secured a continued existence by being committed to print, has been written by a criminal in one of our prisons, for the express purpose of teaching the easiest method by which this horrid result may be attained, and is now in the hands of many of the young of both sexes in this city.
Such are the acknowledged ends which the deluded victims of infidelity have in view.
We have no room to enlarge upon this point, nor to suggest preventives or remedies, even if we felt qualified to do so. Though we have endeavoured to give the characteristics of infidelity, as it exists among us, we would not be understood as inferring, that, as such, they should excite alarm, as if Christianity was now attacked with a bolder hand, than it has triumphantly withstood from the hour of its first propagation. Fear forms no part of the feelings which our subject should excite. Christianity has not passed through the storm and siege of nineteen centuries, in which power and wit and learning have been unsuccessfully arrayed against it, to be now overthrown by ridicule and bold impiety.
“ Its sacred fane
Above the waves and winds of time.” We repeat, that the religion of the Gospel contains within itself abundant means of resistance against every attack which may be aimed at it, as a Revelation from God, and a perfect moral code, adapted to man's weakness and his wants. But when its rejection by unbelievers is united with principles and practices destructive to morality and order, and utterly subversive of the peace, and even the existence of society, then the friends of the Gospel must come forth, as the friends of the law, and must enforce its obligations, in spite of the foolish cry of persecution, and the cowardly imputation of “priestcraft and hypocrisy.”
[For the Christian Examiner.]
Art. IV. – Review of the Essentials of Christianity.
. “ It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The reformation and salvation of sinners were the great objects of his mission and his ministry, and of the religion which he instituted and enjoined. As Christianity is a revelation from God, to teach men what they must do to be saved, it is reasonable to suppose that some things are essential, as conditions of pardon and eternal life. It seems also reasonable to suppose that those things which are essential or indispensable, are so represented by the faithful and true witness. To his teaching and his revelations, therefore, it behooves us to look for the essentials of Christianity.
By the essentials of Christianity we would be understood to mean, those things, without which we cannot be the obedient disciples of Christ, nor obtain the salvation which he came to effect. In regard to the question, What are the essentials of religion ? a great diversity of opinion has existed among the contending sects of Christians. But if we can obtain Christ's testimony on this subject, we shall have the truth from unerring lips. We may not expect to find him saying, of any one doctrine or duty, This is an essential of Christianity. But we may perhaps find that he has used language clearly denoting what is essential. Any thing which he represents as essential to discipleship, to the pardon of our sins, or to entering the kingdom of heaven, may be safely regarded as an essential of the Christian religion. So, if he has mentioned any thing by which bis disciples may be known or distinguished, this may be esteemed an essential. On these principles we shall enumerate some of the essentials of Christianity. But to prevent misapprehensions a few things may be premised.
First. The ministry of Christ was among a people, to whom had been committed the oracles of God, so far as these are contained in the Old Testament. From childhood they had been educated in the belief of one living and true God, who had revealed himself to them as
the Holy One of Israel.” These facts may be regarded as the reason why the Messiah did not mention a belief in the existence of God, as one of the essentials of Christianity.
Second. As the salvation of sinners was the object of the Messiah's mission, in his preaching he addressed men as beings who needed to be saved from their sins. Of course, his teaching was adapted to the reformation of mankind, and to correct false opinions relating to moral right and wrong.
Third. As Jesus came as God's ambassador to introduce the Gospel dispensation, and to make further revelations of God's forgiving love, both to Jews and Gentiles, it was of great importance that men should believe in him and rely upon him, as one commissioned and sent by the Father of all, to make known his purposes of love and mercy. Hence, we find that Christ was particularly careful to have it understood that he was not an impostor, that he came