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ance, without, as Dr. Chalmers beautifully expresses it, "any positive lodgment of faith within the breast, with her great and constraining realities." It is thus that the preacher expresses himself on those fugitive feelings of devotion and of self-congratulation raised by sacred music.
"Amid all that illusion which such momentary visitations of seriousness and of sentiment throw around the character of man, let us never lose sight of the test, that "by their fruits ye shall know them." It is not coming up to this test, that you hear and are delighted. It is that you hear and do. This is the ground upon which the reality of your religion is discriminated now; and on the day of reckoning, this is the ground upon which your religion will be judged then; and that award is to be passed upon you, which will fix and perpetuate your destiny for ever. You have a taste for music. This no more implies the hold and the ascendency of religion over you, than that you have a taste for beautiful scenery, or a taste for painting, or even a taste for the sensualities of epicurism. But music may be made to express the glow and the movement of devotional feeling; and is it saying nothing, to say that the heart of him who listens with a raptured ear, is through the whole time of the performance in harmony with such a movement? Why, it is saying nothing to the purpose. Music may lift the inspiring note of patriotism; and the inspiration may be felt; and it may thrill over the recesses of the soul, to the mustering up of all its energies; and it may sustain to the last cadence of the song, the firm nerve and purpose of intrepidity; and all this may be realized upon him, who in the day of battle, and upon actual collision with the dangers of it, turns out to be a coward. And music lull the feelings into unison with piety; and stir up the inner man to lofty determinations; and so engage for a time his affections, that as if weaned from the dust, they promise an immediate entrance on some great and elevated career, which may carry him through his pilgrimage superior to all the sordid and grovelling enticements that abound in it. But he turns him to the world, and all this glow abandons him; and the words which he had heard, he doeth them not; and in the hour of temptation he turns out to be a deserter from the law of allegiance; and the test I have now specified looks hard upon him, and discriminates him amid all the parading insignificance of his fine but fugitive emotions, to be the subject both of present guilt and of future vengeance." (P. 219-221.)
We do not doubt that a mind finely disposed to receive religious impressions, or prepared by some cultivation and exercise for the accelerating effects of exterior accompaniments, may derive assistance and invigoration from the charms of devotional melody; but it is too possible for the imagination to be captivated while the heart is free, for the conscience to rest on a fancied advance in holiness, while the work of practical piety has had no beginning. Neither eloquence nor music nor decoration are more to be relied on as the means of fixing in the heart the religious principle,
than the elaborate ceremonial and imposing spectacles of the Romish church. As soon as the pageant is removed the image vanishes like a morning dream, or a summer cloud. No permanent joy, or comfort, or conviction, settles in the thoughts. The senses are often the only register of these impressions, and with the passing scene they take their trackless departure. Sometimes, indeed, they rather divert the mind from, than determine it towards, the only real object of grandeur. The creature too often stands in the Creator's light; earthly pomps hide from us the pure Majesty of Heaven, and all that is spiritually august. Between God and the soul a carnal veil of splendour is thus interposed which obstructs the communication. To worship God in the beauty of holiness, every thing should be significant of that sacrifice with which he has declared himself best pleased, the sacrifice and dedication of all the heart and all the mind, and all the soul; such as does not escape in vague admiration, or fume away in fleeting rapture.
It is not the business of sound religion to drown the senses in delirious wonder, or to agitate the spirits with indistinct emotions, but to plant in the soul a devotion deep, composed, and meditative, and to teach that even this reverential contemplation of Divine perfection is in itself nothing unless it is accompanied with silent self-examination, produces "the fruit of good living," and speaks peace in accents not to be mistaken to the troubled conscience; unless, in short, it covers the splendid mechanism of human celebrations, and services, and solemnities, and all the instruments of a spurious self-complacence, with the mantle of gospel humility. Dr. Chalmers, in this last discourse, has expressed himself on this subject in terms so forcible, so fine, and so full of wisdom, that, long as this article is becoming, we cannot withhold the following page or two from the reader.
"An exquisite relish for music is no test of the influence of Christianity. Neither are many other of the exquisite sensibilities of our nature. When a kind mother closes the eyes of her expiring babe, she is thrown into a flood of sensibility, and soothing to her heart are the sympathy and the prayers of an attending minister. gathering neighbourhood assemble to the funeral of an acquaintance, one pervading sense of regret and tenderness sits on the faces of the company; and the deep silence, broken only by the solemn utterance of the man of God, carries a kind of pleasing religiousness along with it. The sacredness of the hallowed day, and all the decencies of its observation, may engage the affections of him who loves to walk in the footsteps of his father; and every recurring Sabbath may bring to his bosom, the charm of its regularity and its quietness. Religion has its accompaniments; and in these, there may be a something to soothe and to fascinate, even in the absence of the appropriate influences of religion. The deep and tender impression of a family-bereavement is
not religion. The love of established decencies, is not religion. The charm of all that sentimentalism which is associated with many of its solemn and affecting services, is not religion. They may form the distinct folds of its accustomed drapery; but they do not, any, or all of them put together, make up the substance of the thing itself. A mother's tenderness may flow most gracefully over the tomb of her departed little one; and she may talk the while of that heaven whither its spirit has ascended. The man whom death hath widowed of his friend, may abandon himself to the movements of that grief, which for a time will claim an ascendency over him; and, amongst the multitude of his other reveries, may love to hear of the eternity, where sorrow and separation are alike unknown. He who has been trained, from his infant days, to remember the Sabbath, may love the holiness of its aspect; and associate himself with all its observances; and take a delighted share in the mechanism of its forms. But, let not these think, because the tastes and the sensibilities which engross them, may be blended with religion, that they indicate either its strength or its existence within them. I recur to the test. I press its imperious exactions upon you. I call for fruit, and demand the permanency of a religious influence on the habits and the history. Oh! how many who take a flattering unction to their souls, when they think of their amiable feelings, and their becoming observations, with whom this severe touch-stone would, like the head of Medusa, put to flight all their complacency. The afflictive dispensation is forgotten-and he on whom it was laid, is practically as indifferent to God and to eternity as before. The Sabbath services come to a close; and they are followed by the same routine of week-day worldliness as before. In neither the one case nor the other, do we see more of the radical influence of Christianity, than in the sublime and melting influence of sacred music upon the soul; and all this tide of emotion is found to die away from the bosom, like the pathos or like the loveliness of a song." (P. 221-224.)
To these reflections on the delusive fascinations of what is here called a religion of taste, Dr. Chalmers is led by considering how possible, how probable, indeed, it is for the attention to be charmed awhile by the sublime and interesting topics on which he has been expatiating through his six previous discourses, without any real, permanent, practical, or vital profit. He reminds us, and he appeals with too much justice to the experience of most of us, how easy it is to be wafted, for a few hours, by such contemplations, "above the grossness of ordinary life; to be raised to a kind of elevated calm above all its vulgarities, and all its vexations;" how easy it is to look around us with a kind of religious rapture from a commanding height, upon the rivers and fields and waterfalls, and forests and precipices and mountains, and then turn upwards our wondering eyes to the glories of the celestial scenery; to look upon those golden suns, and their accompanying systems; to feel all their magnificence, and
to yield oneself up to their overpowering ascendancy for some hours at least, and yet to possess a conscience unmoved, a soul unawakened, and a heart unreformed. How easy to hear or read descriptions of all this might and magnificence, and to feel a pleasurable warmth kindling our minds into sublime conceptions of Heaven, and to see in thought the goings forth of the Majesty of the great Potentate amidst the wonders of His omnipotence, and yet atheistically to disown God in His true character of Godliness, and practically to deny His sovereignty over that quarter of His empire, -the spiritual life and kingdom within us,-in which it pleases Him best to dwell and to govern.
In all that Dr. Chalmers has said upon this subject, we most cordially and unreservedly agree. And we more particularly desire to express our thanks to him, for his disinterested and righteous reproofs of that spirit of vain curiosity, and vainer admiration, which brings such occasional crowds to the House of God.
"And thus it is, that still on the impulse of the one principle only, people may come in gathering multitudes to the house of God; and share with eagerness in all the glow and bustle of a crowded attendance; and have their every eye directed to the speaker; and feel a corresponding movement in their bosom to his many appeals and his many arguments; and carry a solemn and overpowering impression of all the services away with them; and yet, throughout the whole of this seemly exhibition, not one effectual knock may have been given at the door of conscience. The other principle may be as profoundly asleep, as if hushed into the insensibility of death. There is a spirit of deep slumber, it would appear, which the music of no description, even though attuned to a theme so lofty as the greatness and majesty of the Godhead, can ever charm away. Oh! it may have been a piece of parading insignificance altogether-the minister playing on his favourite instrument, and the people dissipating away their time on the 'charm and idle luxury of a theatrical emotion." (P. 237, 238.)
We have never thought it a truly religious sign of the times, that the pursuit after preachers has become so prevailing a propensity. It is an addiction, branching out of the religious taste, so well described by Dr. Chalmers. The supreme, single, sole object of regard in God's own house, should surely be God himself; who, if he be a jealous God, has reason to be most jealous. there, where his title is most exclusive. A running after preachers is quite consistent with all those fluttering and vagrant feelings, if feelings they can be called, in respect to religion, its ordinances, and its obligations, which end in a mere gossip about the thing, a kind of pious small talk, an unholy mixture of gratuitous profession and incongruous practice, finishing the sacred side of the character of those biform religionists, the fashionable
frequenters of morning church and evening concerts. To these amateurs of preaching, Dr. Chalmers has addressed many observations of vital importance: they may not alter their practice, nor radically subvert their errors, but they may lay a foundation of silent slow-working self-dissatisfaction, which, with the help of a little godly sorrow, may destroy the gourd of a sapless divinity, to make room for the plant which "brings forth its fruit in season," and whose "leaf shall never wither." Except the practical lessons which Mrs. More has given us, there is not, perhaps, in the whole compass of preceptive divinity in the English language, soberer lessons for reforming the heart, than are found in this last of Dr. Chalmers's discourses. We most earnestly recommend the perusal of it to all who are willing to be what they ought to be, or are in danger of resting where they are; who forget that religion is a moving principle, and that when it stands still, it soons begins to vacillate; or, that with much stir and parade of motion, it may lose all real progression, in a perpetual oscillation forwards and backwards, like the planets in their arcs of retrogradation. In these wise, and manly, and searching observations, the pseudo-religionists of the day may read the character of that superficial creed, which consists in a dry acknowledgment of obligations that are never recognized in practice, or exhibited in a living form. To Dr. Chalmers we owe such a specification of the dangers of the soul, as, we trust, may in some cases, such is the force and accuracy of his pencil, excite ease into wholesome exertion, exalt formality into feeling, and alarm security into safety. To Dr. Chalmers we also owe a clear and faithful portrait of that speculative doctrinal divinity, which contents itself with a talking creed, and a professing faith, in which there is often no more vital heat than in the colour of flame; no more fragrancy than in the picture of a rose. He has taught us to see in Christ not a magister scholæ, but a magister vita; that the business of a Christian is not to dispute, but to do; that to know the Saviour is to keep his commandments; that He who, in the language of Holy Writ, says, "Son, give me thy heart! give me thy heart!" will deem all else without it but a vain oblation; that the kingdom of God consists not in words, but in life and in power. To Dr. Chalmers we owe a discerning exposition of that vague enthusiasm of sensibility, which buries, in abstractions and unintelligible notions, the simple severity of Gospel truth. The quackery of German sentimentalism and of Madame de Stael, with its mystical and ecstatic morality; that affectation which has made religion a thing of taste, and placed it among the fine arts; which, from finding Homer full of religion, and the Bible full of poetry, has at length found out for us a poetical religion; all this, at the rebuke of this master teacher,