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the Apostles not had this power of self-denial and of selfsacrifice, they never would, they never could, have established Christianity. Had it not been for this, the Reformers of Germany would hardly have succeeded, the Puritans would not have withstood the Prelates, left their homes, and all the fond recollections of childhood and youth, to brave the dangers of the deep and of a new and hostile world, to maintain liberty of conscience; nor would our fathers have staked life, property, and honor, to gain a country for their children, and liberty for the world.
But this power, or rather spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice, which Christianity was sent into the world to cherish and clothe with omnipotence, pertains solely to the sentiments. The understanding knows nothing of it. That, at best, knows only the self-denial of calculation, of temporary pleasure to obtain a lasting good, which is nothing more than selfishness would every day command.
We are not willing to dismiss the topic of self-denial without a farther remark. We speak not now of its necessity. We have already shown that. But we would refer to man's love of self-denial, of sacrifice, and to the power of that principle on which it depends. It is, - perhaps always was, extremely fashionable to speak of interest as man's strongest, man's governing principle of action. If there is a good thing to be done, a religious institution to be patronized, a moral or political reform to be accomplished, appeal is almost invariably made to interest, to selfishness. But in this we do not show our deep knowledge of human nature. Paradoxical as it may seem, men will do more from a disinterested, than from an interested motive. It has been asked, how could Christianity, a self-denying religion, as it was, be established without a continual miracle ? Had it not been a self-denying religion, its establishment would have required a miracle indeed. Once awaken the sense of duty in a man, and it is infinitely stronger than his sense of interest. Men will see every thing dear to them die, see their children drop into the grave, have their own flesh torn off by inches, sooner than they will abandon duty,
we mean those in whom the sense of duty is not dormant. But has interest ever shown itself equally strong ? And what is the sense of duty, but another name for the spirit of self-denial, of self-sacrifice ?
There is a standing proof of the weakness of men's sense of interest, obvious to every eye, in the indifference shown to religion. Who is not convinced, that it is for his highest interest, even in this world, to be religious ? And does every one follow this conviction ? Far from it. You may go into the pulpit and speak with the tongue of an angel, you may prove, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that it is for the highest good, the greatest possible interest of every one of your hearers, for tine and for eternity, to be religious, and induce no one to forsake a single sin, no one to cleave to a single virtue. Your success would be immeasurably greater, would you insist on self-denial, and show clearly, that heaven is not to be won without a struggle, without a costly and painful sacrifice. The successes of different religious sects, clearly evince this. With all the drawback
. of a most irrational creed, those sects among us who insist most upon self-denial and sacrifice, spread much faster than those sects, albeit they have a much more rational creed, who attempt to show, that religion demands no sacrifice, no self-denial.
We do not, in this, shut our eyes upon the fact, that a large proportion of mankind are selfish, governed by a sense of their own interest. We admit the fact, and we account for it. Our own good has its place. The faculties which lead us to seek it, are on the surface of our nature, and are almost the only ones to which appeal is ever made ; consequently, the only ones much developed, and the only ones suspected by those who never penetrate beneath the surface. But let us go deeper into human nature, let us go down into the depths of the soul, and stir up, from its bottom, the sense of duty, of the good, the beautiful, the true, and the holy, the spirit of disinterestedness, of self-denial, and of sacrifice, and we shall find a power infinitely stronger than our sense of interest.
it costs us an effort to awaken this sense, effort to obey it. But so much the better. The sentiments all demand an effort, a self-denial, a sacrifice ; it is their very nature to carry us away from ourselves, to seek a good which does not centre in ourselves. But this is their praise. It costs us an effort to obey them, we own, and we are glad that it is so. Men love to make an effort. There is that in man, which delights in the struggle, which disdains
To be sure,
repose, and pants for strong, varied, and continued action. The sailor on land feels its workings, and longs to be on his loved ocean, to be again amid the fury and excitement of the storm. The old soldier proves it; though he have lost a leg, an eye, or an arm, in battle, still, as his ears catch the strains of martial music, he is ready 10 rush into the conflict. Why? Because there is excitement there, because there is danger there, because there is a struggle, an effort, there. Take away the excitement, the danger, the struggle, and men would lose their passion for
This shows us there is something within us, that loves the conflict, that delights to war with danger, to grapple with the enemy, even to the death-struggle. This at bottom is a noble principle. It is one which belongs to all
We were made for war, to brave danger, and to face the enemy with a dauntless courage. But it was for a spiritual war, a war of the spirit against the flesh, a conflict with sin and satan, not with our fellow beings. Now this principle which delights in the struggle, pants to put itself forth in strong and continued effort, is very nearly allied to the spirit of which we have been speaking, if indeed it be not the same. This, then, explains wherefore it is that self-denial is so powerful, and wherefore it is, that the cause which demands it will always have adherents.
Let us not, then, overlook the sentiments; let us rely on their testimony in their own sphere of action ; let us appeal to them, educate them, and depend on them to support us in all that is elevated, generous, or good. Let us venture to trust them for the support of religion. We may rest its cause securely on the disinterested and self-sacrificing affections. We shall not be disappointed. They will avail us immeasurably more than appeals to interest, for all ence will prove, that it is infinitely safer to league with the good than with the bad in human nature.
Art. VI. - Spirit of the Hebrew Scriptures.- No. III.
Public Worship : Social Crime, and its Retribution.
Moses does not confine bimself, in the exordium of his history, to lessons, even so general as the origin of sin in the soul, and its retribution by the laws of nature, physical and moral. He goes on with some other traditions, not connected enough to form a history ; and indeed so disconnected, as to have started historical doubts; but admirably arranged to convey the great lessons, which were evidently his object. By this remark, it is not intended, however, to start any doubts, as to their historical order. The events, as they arise, are so evidently natural, that they carry their own evidence.
Nothing more is said of Adam and Eve, directly. It seems, however, that they were not reprobates. Though driven from Paradise, they still worshipped God. Not in vain was the revelation of punishment, though the revelation of creation had been neglected. They, who, in the days of their passiveness, had not been able to restrain their hands from what was consecrated to remind them of God, even though they had the luxuries of paradise around them, when, in “the sweat of their face," they were earning
“ their bread, had the power and the will to institute, as a symbol of their worship, the sacrifice of the best of their hard earnings. What a difference between the active and passive man!
And the worship itself, - how beautiful it was, in that age, when the intellectual life was not known, -- and the relations of social life hardly existed ! How does the human heart, in all ages of the world, respond to it; for how spontaneous has it been, in all ages of the world, for love to annihilate something in the presence of its object! It seems as if the heart had felt that man could do nothing, which would not mock him, when done, by its finiteness, and so it desired to destroy something, or itself, symbol of the immeasurableness of the impulse from within. And, whether sacrifices were something more than the spontaneous expression of a blind feeling,
not as yet taught by reason in Christ, that the offering acceptable to the Creator, and alone satisfactory to the soul that makes it,
is the perfection of the nature which has been given to us,
-or, whether they were the contrivance of reflection for the purpose of instructing the young, and keeping up attention of all ages to religion, which is the rationale of all public worship, - how beautiful was this forın! All that has been said heretofore, of the forbidden fruit, as to its adaptation to the purpose of developing the mind, can be applied to this. The mode of its operation was also analogous. By means of it, the active and grateful mind would improve, and the passive mind learn its fallen state.
Moses states these two cases, as actually having occurred. Cain and Abel both brought their first-fruits, as an offering to the Lord, - but in how different a spirit is evident; “ And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering ; but unto Cain and his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, "Why art thou wroth, and why is thy countenance fallen ? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou doest not well, a sin-offering lieth at the door, and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.'" This has been so stupidly interpreted by prosaic minds, and so allegorized by subtile ones, that simple and picturesque as it is, it requires some reflection to get back to the original meaning. The reader must recur to what has already been said upon the habits of mind which grew out of the poetical genius of the language. Moses had not outgrown these habits; still less had his auditors or readers outgrown them. Simple as the words are, they make a picture to the imagination, of what was in a great degree mental. And those whom he taught, could learn from a picture only ; for they would not think out the meaning and force of artificial signs. With this key, let us review the story that is given above.
Supposing Moses wished to impress on his readers the fact, that outward worship was not always acceptable ; how could he do it in a better way than to present a picture of two individuals doing precisely the same thing outwardly, the moral effect being different ? And this difference of effect, - how could it be more impressively expressed to the Hebrews, than by the words, i And THE LORD had respect unto Abel and his offering ; but unto Cain and his