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end by infinitely different means; means as unlike, as light is to darkness, as holiness is to sin, as divinity is to humanity. Desiring the happiness of all, it remodels all. Seeking for the victory of benevolence, it plants it in the centre of human action. Wishing to bless the world, it offers to redeem the world from the curse of sin. In a word, man as a Christian is to esteem all alike, though he cannot love all alike. Here is the key to the law of Christian brotherly love. All are esteemed alike worthy of our efforts to bless and save in every proper manner; but all cannot be loved equally, any more than holiness can love sin. It is thus with God. He treats all alike in one
He sends the rain upon the evil and the good. He provides for the wants of all. But while he is a being of infinite love, he is a being of infinite holiness, and can no more approve or love with approbation the vices of mankind, than sin and holiness can exist in the same infinitely perfect being. Thus in the law of earthly love. We are to esteem all men, in however abject condition they may be found, as worthy of our pity and benevolence; but not as worthy of our approval of their conduct. Taking this as the principle of action, we may go the length and breadth of the land, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and becoming philanthropists in the widest and noblest sense of the term, breaking the false and artificial barriers of society, and preserving those given us in the word of God; preserving the truth, and cultivating the social affections in the subliinest meaning of the termloving our neighbor as ourselves.
Again. Christianity claims the moral influence of these affections. The first blow atheism levelled at the existing institutions was at the family relation. This shows the actual connection between our most holy faith and the fireside at home. The ruthless hand of infidelity would blot out the idea of a God, and make the world such a desolate wilderness that religious impulses could not exist in its poisonous atmosphere. It would tear down the domestic altar, annihilate the sacred impressions of childhood, and shut out every restraint which is breathed forth from the family circle. It assumes the throne of the heart, trampling upon all that is lovely and dear in the human bosom, making the human sympathies a desert, and banishing from its domains the love of a mother, the protec
tion and guidance of a father, and the reciprocal bond of brother and sister.
But Christianity avails itself of this moral power, arising from the domestic attachments, when no other can be ernployed successfully. Let the wanderer stray from the reach of other influences. Let the ordinary restraints of society be removed and fall powerless upon him; there will still be found in the recesses of the lieart a finer chord of feeling, which may be touched with thrilling power; and, by means of its notes, “the sacred burial-places of his fireside-memory will readily yield up their dead." The scenes of childhood will rush upon him with tenfold power, and amid its hallowed associations, he will trace back each step in his progress towards ruin. At such an hour, a feeling of tender sympathy will creep over him; and when he thinks of the crushed hopes of a father, or the broken heart of a mother, there will be efficacy in the reminiscence which will fasten itself to his soul, follow him to his haunts of vice, and give him no peace until with the prodigal son he exclaims, “I will arise and go to my father.” Moot not the antiquated doctrine, that our affections hinder our piety. Let us not be found in the hour of bereavement, grieving that we have lavished our love too profusely upon some creature of God. The demand of Christianity is not that we should love our friends less, but that we should love our God more. A high and holy devotion to our Master's service will give new strength and ardor to our social natures, and transfuse the earthly into the heavenly.
Again. Christianity adds the spiritual to our natural affection. What is the sympathetic bond between a fondly cherished attachment and the exercise of prayer? What prayerless sailor ever lived, who, when sundered from the object of his love, will not put forth some petition for the absent, even though it may be unacceptable? He retires to his hammock; he seeks some sequestered spot, where he may intercede for the welfare of those who are dear to hiin; and the accents of his heart will be those of Mizpeh : " The Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent one from the other.' There may be no holiness in these aspirations. They may be merely the uprisings of instinctive love; yet such instances show the devotional elements of our being, upon which religion fastens itself.
How natural it will be for those thus united by love, to seek and pray for each other's salvation! That affection which fixes its eye upon an unregenerate son or friend, which watches his footsteps, and beckons and beseeches with the inward promptings of an endless love, shall, like the mother of Augustine, receive its reward. Tears may accompany the petitions; but the petitioners shall return with rejoicing, “bringing their sheaves with them.” Says one, "0! if ihere is a spot on earth, on which God looks down with pleasure, it is the altar of family prayer. Precious incense is that which goes up, each morning and each evening, from the sanctuary of affectionate hearts. Humble may be the scene of gathering, and lowly may be the voice of petition ; but there is a sacred light encircling the group, and a solenın eloquence investing the words of common penitence and common gratitude; the few kneeling together with hearts that throb with one affection for each other and with one desire towards God. Changes may come over that family circle. They may be changes from sorrow to joy, or from joy to sorrow. Poverty may strip the old mansion of its costly adornments, or fortune may turn the cottage into a palace, and the smiling faces that once beamed among them may give place to the memory of the absent and the dead; but that ancient Bible, and those words of prayer, and the spot where old and young used to kneel together shall all linger in the mind, gathering richness and beauty in the lapse of years, and giving to the eye of age a picture which shall never lose its greenness or its grace.
Again. Christianity teaches us to cherish our earthly attachments, with the hope of an eternal connection in heaven. It is recorded that the celebrated Dr. Johnson once read a manuscript copy of the book of Ruth to a fashionable circle in London, when the universal exclamation was, where did you get that exquisite pastoral? And if you will search the Old and New Testament, and contrast their pages with any thing you can find upon the subject in classic literature, you will learn that while among the ancient heathen world there is a signal deficiency in the sentiments of home, the more ancient literature of the Bible, from the patriarchal relation to the times of our Saviour, holds up the idea of a family among its choicest subjects. Indeed, the whole course of Jesus seems to
speak of peculiar harmony with social life. His miracles are directed to the happiness of real life. He graced the sacred institution of marriage with his first miracle; he healed the wounds of disappointed affection, by meeting the lonely widow as she was following to the burial the remains of her son, and restored him to his mother's arms. Nor should we in this connection forget the little circle at Bethany, where he made his Sabbath evening meal, and with fraternal love hurried to sympathize with the sisters and call back to life the object of their affection. But especially is this seen in the beautiful language expressed by him when hanging upon the cross. In the distressing agony of that hour, he singles out from the weeping group her who bare him; and passing by the bold and rash Peter, who would have thoughtlessly invited her to share the pittance of his poverty, he selects the beloved disciple, and to him, who was the most competent of them all, because the most amiable and the most refined, he commits the dearest earthly treasure of his heart.
In all this we behold the seal of divinity stamping the sacredness of the social relation, and revealing its important bearing upon our present and future bliss. Life and immortality are brought to light in the gospel, and this is the crowning excellence of our holy religion. When, therefore, our Saviour gives a more than ordinary attention to that which seems transitory and earthly, our objects of affection, he seems to speak with the authority of heaven, bidding is connect the present with the future; bidding us weave the fibres of the soul around the beings who reciprocate our love, with the hope that this earthly love will be matured for a fairer soil beyond the tomb. Eternity here imparts grandeur and depth to the devotion of the heart. Amid the trials and anxieties of the domestic circle, the idea of heaven bathes the soul with serenity and reconciliation. And when the hearth is made vacant by the departure of one we love, there arises the hope that our communion with each other will be holier and firmer in heaven. Our religion speaks to us from the vacant chair at the fireside and around the family board, and those gone seem with us, and with magic power the family hearth is made vocal with their presence. Yes, our religion cheers us even in the church-yard, proclaim
ing that this is not the home of the dead; that they livelive in our hearts, live in our lives, live in heaven.
“Dear is the spot where Christians sleep,
And sweet the strains which angels pour ;
They are not lost, but gone before." Yes, we know that they live and love is still; hovering about our pathway, hovering about the family altar, and cheering the gloom of this inconstant world. And is not such a religiou worthy of being adopted into our families, enshrined in our hearts, acknowledged at each religious festival, a religion which draws happiness and instruction from even life's ills, creating life in the dead, and uniting us together among the families of the blessed in an eternal thanksgiivog in heaven!
BY THE EDITOR.
The LIFE AND REMAINS, LETTERS, LECTURES AND POEMs of
THE Rev. ROBERT Murray McCheyne, Minister of St. Peter's Church, Dundee. By the Rev. ANDREW A. BONAR, Minister of the Free Church of Scotland, Collace. Sixth American, from the Twenty-First Edinburgh Edition. To which is added, “Familiar Letters from the Holy Land," etc. New York. Robert Carter. 1848. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 556, 518.
We welcome these interesting volumes, as a valuable contribution to biographical literature. Works of this class are of great worth. Theories of the religious life are not 10 be despised; but when we see them carried ont in the gentle spirit, the savory conversation, and the holy demeanor of a human being like ourselves, we feel their truth and acknowledge their power. Particularly does the life of a Christian, eminently devoted to God, appeal