Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fy to Providence and Deity."* His belief he has left us in a well written confession of his faith, embracing the usual articles of the christian religion. His prayers, which are preserved, breathe a spirit of true devotion, in a style and form which are not surpassed by any compositions of that period, in our language. It would be easy to transcribe page afier page of his recorded sentiments; and we mnight trace at every step of his lise, his profound deference for the theology of the bible.

We do not believe that the christian religion depends for its evidence on the suffrage of any one philosopher; or on the bright constellation of names which have expressed their profound regard for the truths of revelation. Still a christian cannot but look with deep interest on the fact that such men as Bacon, and Boyle, and Newton, bowed their mighty intellects to the authority of revelation ; came and brought all the rich and varied treasures of their profound investigation, and laid them at the foot of the cross; and spent their lives increasingly impressed with the belief that the God of nature is also the God of the bible. While we do not claim, that on their authority the scriptures should be accredited as the word of God, we do claim that they should be allowed to rebuke the flippancy of youthful and unfledged infidelity; that they should be permitted to summon men to inquire, before they prorounce; we claim that their authority is sufficient to call on the youthful skeptic to pause, and to suspect that possibly he may be wrong. When mighty minds like those, have left their recorded assent to the truths of the christian scheme, it is not too much to ask of minds of far less power, to sit down and inquire, at least, whether christianity may not have come from God. When Newton, after having surveyed world on world, and measured the heavens, and placed himself for profound inquiry at the head of mankind, sat down in the full maturity of his days, and passed the vigor of his life, and the serene evening of bis honored age in the contemplation of the New Testament; when Bacon, after having rescued science from the accumulated darkness and rubbish of iwo thousand years; after baving given lessons to all mankind about the just mode of investigating nature; and after having traversed the circle of the sciences, and gained all that past generations had to teach, and having carried forward the inquiry far into nature, powed at every step to the authority of the bible; when Hale, learned in the law, not only believed christianity to be true, but adorned the christian profession by a most humble life; when Boerhave, perfectly acquainted with the human frame, and skilled in the healing art, sat with the simplicity of a child at the feet of Je. sus Christ; when Locke gave the testimony of his powerful mind to the truth of the christian religion ; when Davy, first of chimists, came on this subject, to the same results as the analyzer of light, the »inventor of fluxions, and the demonstrator of the theory of gravitation; as the author of the Novum Organum; and the writer of the treatise on the Human Understanding; when each science has thus contributed its founder, its ornament and its head, as a witness to the truth of the christian religion, it is not too much to conclude it may be something different from priestcraft and imposture. When we turn from these lights of men—these broad stars that spread their beams over all the firmament of science, and seek after the wandering and dim luminaries of infidelity, when we make a sober estimate of what the high priests of unbelies have done for the advancement of science, and the welfare of man, we are struck with the prodigious advance we have made into chilly and tenebrated regions. We have passed ainid spirits of another order. We wasder in climes as remote almost from science, as from christianity. We should know where we are as readily by their superficial, but pompous pretensions; by dark, but most confident scientific claims; by erroneous, wandering, but most flippant demands in science, as we do by their infuriated and bitter raging against the claims of the christian religion. Who are these men ? Volney, Dides rot, D'Alembert, Voltaire, Paine ; Herberi- the best and greatest of them-Shafisbury, Tindal, Morgan, Bolingbroke,Gibbon, Hume. What have they ever done for science? What advances have they ever madle? So far as we know, not one of them has any pretensions to what gives immortality to the names of Boyle, Locke, Newtor, Bacon, Hale. What valuable fact have they ever presented in ston ence? What new principle have they originated, or illustrated? What department of science have they adorned ? Not a man of them bas ever trod the regions that constituted the glory of England, and c the world--the regions of profound science; of deep and penetrating investigation of the works of nature. In spite of such men, science would still have slumbered in the regions of eternal night; and madelity, but for christian men, might have swayed a scepter as she de sired, over regions of profound and boundless shades of ignoranci and crime. We are accustomed to care little for names and author ties in religion. We believe that religion natural and revealed, at cords with the constitution and course of nature. We believe that is sustained by a force and compass of argument that can be adds ced for the truth of no science. On the ground of the independent and impregnable proof of revealed religion,we are christians. B

* Essays Civil and Moral.

there are men who pride themselves on names. There are those whose only reason for an opinion is, that it was held by some illustrious man. None are really so much under the influence of this feeling as the infidel. That Hume was a skeptic; that Gibbon was capable of a sneer; that Paine was a scoffer; that Volney was an atheist, is to them strong as proof of holy writ. Hence they feel that to doubt, is the most exalted state of man ; that there is argu-. ment enough for mortals in a sneer and a jibe; that scoffing becomes a human being; and that to come to the conclusion that man has no Father and no God, that he dies like kindred worms, is the supremacy of felicity, and the perfection of reason. When such have been the apostles and high priests of unbelief-such the hosts which they have mustered, we feel that apart from all argument in the case, we would rather accord with the sentiments of the great luninaries of mankind in science; and that it is not unworthy of reason and elevated thought to suppose, that true religion may be found where we have found every other valuable blessing for mankind; and that the system, attended every where with science, refinement, and art, and that has shed light on the intellect, and honor on the naines of Locke, and Boyle, and Bacon, is the system with which God intended to bless men.

ART. III.-ECOURAGEMENT FOR THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

OF CHILDREN.

Memoirs and Select Remains of an only Son ; by THOMAS DURANT, Poole,

Dorset, England. Memoirs of Nathan W. Dickerman, who died at Boston, January 1830, in the

eighth year of his age. Memoirs of John Mooney Mcad, who died at Last Hartford, April 1831, aged nearly fire years.

The christian, and especially the christian parent, must, we think, contemplate the grounds on which he may justly be encouraged to hope for success, in well directed efforts to bring the young mind under the appropriate influence of christian discipline, with the liveliest interest and the most substantial benefit. To thes grounds of encouragement, it is our wish at this time, to invite the attention ol our readers. On this subject, which in one form or another has so often awakened the feelings, engrossed the thoughts, and commanded the pens of powerful writers, we dare not promise to enrich their minds with any new views, or to animate and refresh their hearts with any new motives. But something we may hope to do. A fresh influence we may hope to give to motives, which were long ago welcomed to their hearts, while we again invite their attention to views, which are more or less familiar to all.

The structure of the human mind, when compared with the demands of the divine law, will, we believe, convince any careful ob. server, that man was made for the service of God. Something in the human constitution, he will find, manifestly answering to every requisition, which is brought by the authority of heaven to bear upon it. Every man is evidently capable of the views, which he is bound to adopt and maintain, of the affections which he is bound to admit and cherish, of the habits which he is bound to form and exhibit. Nor is this all : he actually puts forth in some form, those very affections, which if properly directed, would constitute him a virtuous man. Love, confidence, desire to please,—the natural result of his appropriate powers,—all will admit, are the very sentiments, which in some form or other, he ought to maintain.

In the human constitution, moreover, is found a tendency to action, which cannot fail to bring its powers into exercise. This tendency consists in the desire of happiness, which glows in every bosom. Under the impulse of this desire, every human being looks around himn for what he may regard as substantial good; for what may invite his confidence and attract his love; for what may meet his wants and refresh bis spirits, as his chosen and appropriated portion. On first opening his eyes upon the world, he will as certainly “feel after” some object on which he may lean his soul," as the young vine will stretch its tendrils to find the sustain. ing branch to which it may adhere. Thus, he not only has those powers and susceptibilities, which furnish ground for the obligations that bind him to the throne of God; but has also, wrought into the elements of his nature, tendencies which constrain him to give full play to those susceptibilities and powers.

It is a fundamental doctrine of the bible, however, that the earliest movements of the human heart are of a bad moral character. Of the truth of this distressing fact, we have irresistible evidence; and we are of the number who regard it as a sacred duty, to urge on the minds of all, that “ by nature” there dwells in us, as moral agents, nothing good; that whatever belongs to our moral character, unaffected by the transforming influences of the Holy Spirit, is sinful.

In the first exercise of his moral powers, every human creature fastens his affections on objects which cannot fail to mock his confidence and corrupt his heart. To resist the evidence wbich supports this fact, betrays, in our view, as gross stupidity, as to deny that every member of the human family is hastening to the grave. What pious parent, as he marked the earliest movements of his children, has not felt the evidence that they are sinful, come home to his heart like the point of a dagger!' But the young alsections, however they may be misplaced, are still awed by the voice of conscience. The heart treinbles under merited rebukes.

It deeply feels the shocks which disappointed hopes occasion. It is ashamed of the toys which engross the affections, and is often half resolved to throw them away. Tortured by a thousand disappointments, the pining spirit cannot fail, amidst its blasted hopes, either to seek relief by giving itself up to the gratification of the animal, to which it is wedded; or guided by an invisible hand, to rise in quest of rest and joy in the God whom it was made to love and serve. Now why should not the christian teacher take full advantage of these known tendencies of the human constitution ? Why should he not conduct the restless spirit into the presence of immaculate and eternal beauty ; in the hope, that under the dispensation of the Spirit, it may be smitten and subdued by the attraction of divine excellence? Why should he not do bis utmost to detain it amidst the deep calm raptures, and thrilling songs of paradise, in the hope, that under the dispensation of the Spirit, it may be led there, to lay up its treasures and fix its affections? We say, under the dispensation of the Spirit, for we cannot hesitate to pronounce him ignorant of the simplest elements of christian truth, who does not find himself constrained in bis efforts of love, to act upon the full conviction, that without divine influence the human heart will remain dead to the strongest attractions which heaven may present.

In our apprehension, the tendencies on which we have been dwelling, may in the work of christian education be appealed to, with far higher hopes of success in the young heart, than in the heart which has often been bewitched and debauched by worldly attachments. It is difficult indeed, to subdue the clinging attachment of the way ward vine to the bruised reed, which it may have embraced ; and 10 teach it to depend on a more substantial support. It is hard to awaken in the callous bosom of the worn out debauchee, a relish for the sober charms of domestic life. And can it be less difficult, to divorce the heart from those objects in which it has long sought forbidden joy, and to which it is fastened by a thousand entangling associations ? The rebukes of conscience, the pleadings of the heart, and the awful voice of God, have been long and madly disregarded. The world has been deified. God has been rudely thrust froin the scenes of his own creation. His compassion and his anger, his condescension and bis majesty have,' alike been scorned. The human animal has been permitted insolently to tread upon the human spirit. The soul has been bartered away for gratifications which a beast would disdain to cover. The voice of experience is choked and lost, amidst surrounding smoke and incessant din. Such are the habits of every devoted worldling. They cannot fail to produce in the minds of every benevolent beholder, mingled and conflicting

« EdellinenJatka »