Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

vision of a glory that was to fill the universe. It was this called up a power before which monarchs bowed, which armed itself with the terrors of hell and crowned itself with the stars of heaven. It was this which gave genius the sublimity of religious inspiration, and which has left for a colder age the forms of beauty to which faith gave life; it was this which could speak to the world as to single audience with an eloquence that must live while language has existence. It may be called fanaticism and ambition, but it is a fanaticism and an ambition that had something unworldly to dignify them. The reformed church had preserved the creeds of the ancient one, but not its creativeness ; it has not given conscience freedom, but it has stripped faith of poetry. Even the ceremonies and forms which it has preserved are without energy and inspiration—the mere mimicries of superstition unfraught with a single breath of its enthusiasm. Writings of no common eloquence have eulogized the cathedral service; it deserves all that can be said of it, and so do the temples themselves ; no one can hear the one when it receives right expression without solemn emotion, and no one can behold the antique majesty of the other, but in silent veneration. The poetry of these things is beautiful, but what is the reality? A sad contrast in general, a cold and heartless utterance of the service, unoccupied pews, a few listless hearers, feeble choirs, that seem rather to sing the requiem than the triumph of the church, ostentation without grandeur, and formality without grace. Here, as in every other department, we find the dominant spirit of worldliness. Though this service depends for much of its impression on ritual beauty, yet the higher clergy continually encroach on the revenues and means of sustaining it. “When we see,” says Dr. Wiseman, “ the cathedral service shrunk into the choir originally designed for the pri vate daily worship of God's special ministers, or when we find the entire congregation scattered over a small portion on the repaired chancel, while the rest of the edifice is a majestic

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ruin, as I but lately witnessed, assuredly one must be more prone to weep than to exult at the change which has taken place, since these stately fabricks were erected.” I would not have the world hurled back into Popery; but if we are to have Romish creeds, rather than have them in repulsive nakedness, give them to us covered and adorned with the grace of Romish ceremonies; if we are to resign our liberty, give us at least grandeur and pageantry to amuse our slavery.

But creeds exist otherwise than in formal expression. A creed is the standard of a church, it may be the spirit of a sect. And from the antagonistic aspect which each sect bears to another, and the centralized organization which it has within itself, this spirit may have a fierce and powerful operation. The Church-creed is defined; the Sect-creed is vague, and may depend for interpretation on narrow and bitter prejudice : the Church-creed may possibly lie dormant, but there is no escape from the wakeful vigilance of a religious surveillance. What some sects do by enlarged and rigid co-operation, others effect by compact and separate unions. The smallness of the assemblies, or the gradations of dependency, puts one individual within the immediate ken of another, and thus, if by chance a free thought should be born, there is little hope that it shall live. Take methodism as an illustration ; so gigantic and yet so minute : with its band-meetings, its class-meetings, its district assemblies, and its general conference-leaving not a spot where a heretic could hide himself. In such a system there is neither room nor a name for liberty, from the preacher who is under the brow of his conference to the member who lives in the eye of his class-leader. It is not that such a system creates a terror of expression, from the first it initiates a slavish intellect—and tends to all the vices of rancour, bigotry, hypocrisy, and subserviency, to which such an intellect is allied.

It may be said that my own community in being also a sect, is open to similar accusations. I do not say that a

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[graphic]

dictation of belief is essential to a sect, but it may possibly attach to it with all the despotism of the most formal creed. If a creed in spirit or expression be necessary to the constitution of a sect, those then are no sect with whom 1 would desire to hold communion. If all in my own belief or any other, which is great, good, pure, and eternal, inspired by the mind of God and blessed to the heart of man; if all which disseminates virtue; which justifies Providence, which emancipates and glorifies society, goes onward with undeviating pace, if the Kingdom of Jehovah extends, and the throne of Christ is reared, and the temple of righteousness is beautified, then, forgetting ourselves and forgetting our sect, we should rejoice with an honest and generous exultation. We trust the day will come, when the spirit and the life of Christ, and not the formularies of men, will be the standards of true religion ; when we shall have unity instead of divisions, when we shall have charity instead of creeds, when heretic and orthodox shall be lost in the common name of Christian.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic]

essential to a sect, but i pesa me despotism of the most irans or expression be necessary to be

use then are no sect via the ommunion. If all in my on the reat, good, pure, and eternal and blessed to the heart of a rue; which justibes Pouridzes res Society, goS ONಹಾರ ಗಳು ಈ

zdom of Jehorah estat al ed, and the temple of tikan iting ourselves and herpetuig 1 with an honest and generale will come, when the state

THE CHRISTIAN VIEW

e formulanes of man, E7 when we shall here at ich ! hare charitr interest all be lost in the sun and

OF

MORAL EVIL.

arning

relatie ricare

[graphic]
« EdellinenJatka »