Page images


How could the Christian pas:) sin; there is an inbred dispothrough this vale of tears, and cope sition, a natural and corrupt prowith the numerous, and severe pensity, which is ever tempting the trials and sorrows which he must Christian to that which is, in some of necessity meet with here below, degree at least, opposed to the holy were he not sustained by the com- and regenerate course of his life. forting and encouraging promises The apostle Paul explains this feelwhich God has condescended to ing, against which even he himself transinit to us in his word ? These had to strive, when he says, " The are his only sure support, and cheer law is spiritual, but I am carnal, his weary and oppressed soul, when sold under sin : for that which I do, beset with harassing cares and I allow not; for what I would that trials. When the believer sees do I not; but what I hate that do afflictions approaching and threaten. 1.” Satan also, that malicious ing to overwhelm him, what does and subtle spirit, whose aim has be do ? Does he, relying on him. been to pervert mankind from their self, go forth to encounter them right course, to alienate them from no, he knows that his own strength God, and from all good, and finally is perfect weakness, and therefore to bring them to the same place abandoning all ideas of his own of torment, from whence he himability to save himself, and reflecting self can never escape, is the Christon the unbounded love and com- ian's foe, his most powerful and passion of that Almighty Saviour, most inveterate adversary, who who said, “ Call upon me in the day will never cease to tempt and perof trouble, I will deliver thee,” he plex him till death transports bim Alees to him with eagerness, saying, far out of his reach, to realms of Lord, save me or I perish!” perfect bliss. With these fues, the Then in the strength of that Christian has continually to conAlmighty Redeemer, and having tend, and by them he must unavoidon the breastplate of righteousness, ably be overcome, unless he seek and taking with him the shield of for strength and support from the faith, the helmet of salvation, and only right source, Jesus Christ. the sword of the Spirit, he is en. But if in humility he fee to Jesus abled to overcome. But, why, it for support, in difficulties and danmay be said, should the Christ. gers, he shall find Him a present jan be represented as being so help in every time of need, no surrounded with trials, and afflic. one ever has or ever shall perish tions ? the reason is evident, the at the foot of the cross; and life and conduct of the true the faithful follower of Christ, Christian, being opposed to the having at length accomplished his conduct of the generality of man- warfare, may without hesitation kind, must necessarily render him or reluctance boldly enter the at variance with the world. God valley of the shadow of death, and mammon can never both be assured that it will soon lead him served. But the world is not to that blessed place where the the Christian's only adversary, wicked cease from troubling, and there are three grand enemies the weary are at rest; where he with whom he must engage in a sball without a veil contemconstant and vigilant warfare, plate with never-ceasing satisfacnamely, the world, the flesh, and tion, his glorious and adorable the devil. We are all born in sin, Redeemer. and our natural inclination is to



PROFESSING CHRISTIANS. . Next to the conversion of a sinner, prepared to adınit that a spread of there is no topic of such manifestly religion is the most characteristic extreme importance, or one more feature of modern times. It is a intimately connected with the glory fair and goodly prospect ; would of God, and the eternal interests to God all were Israel, who are of of men, then the prevailing habits Israel. But we must for one moof professing Christians. They ment look within the church, and are “a city set on a hill,” exposed note in what proportion the religion to the observation of all men. of Christians keeps pace with the They are the “ peculiar people" extension of Christianity. In doing chosen to represent God on the this, much that is painful is excited, earth: and who ought never and the conclusion is forced upon lightly to estimate the high re- us, that spiritual religion though it sponsibility which attaches to them. has uxdened, has not deepened, and Who that looks abroad upon the that a flourishing church is not face of things as exhibited in necessarily a spiritual church; but the present remarkable times-on rather the contrary. For where is the infidelity which is stalking the self-denial, the simplicity, the abroad in open day on the one separation from the spirit of the hand, and the growing influence world which the religon of Jesus of a corrupt church on the other, enjoins its followers? Is not the each adding to their ranks in the line of demarcation well-nigh face of a popular and wide-spread- obliterated, which should ever be ing Christianity, but must anxiously preserved distinct between the peoacknowledge the necessity of a ple of God, and the people of the high endeavour amongst the people world? We are exhorted to of God to sustain the fainting in “come out," not only from the terests of their most holy faith. outward iniquities of a world lying

That spiritual religion is on the in wickedness, but also from its increase, no unprejudiced observer spirit : while the low standard of can deny. In almost every house- professors is marked by many hold one or two of a family accommodating compliances, and are being brought unto Zion. In carnal views. Oh! that in Christalmost every town and village in ian families, expensive entertainour own country, Sunday, Infant, ments might be abandoned, though or National Schools are laying a expediency might appear to dictate foundation for the piety of a new their necessity : that levity in congeneration : and if we turn to a yet versation, and vanity in attire, and surer criterion; if we look on the habitual worldliness, were only to pulpits of our land, who are the be found amongst those who live most honoured, the most blest, the “ without God in the world.” The most popular of our instructors ? aspect of modern times greatly Even those who publish in all facilitates the profession of religion, their strength, and in all their and presents a special snare to the purity, the doctrines of the cross superficial and the active. The and the reformation : the doctrines openings for Christian exertion are of Luther and Paul: even the so multiplied, and of such easy blessed doctrine of “ Jesus Christ, attainment; they afford so cheap a and him crucified.” That this is method of acquiring a reputation the state of protestant England, for that which is, to a certain decannot be controverted, and all are gree, popular, that strict vigilance

is necessary to detect the enemy in must become a separate people; we his angel-form, and discover the must beware of joining hands even reality of our faith. If indeed we in trifles with a degenerate world, have chosen Christ for our por- but must cultivate decision and tion, we shall soon discover the consistency of conduct: this God path of true religion is strait and requires of us; our brethren expect narrow, and that a conscientious it; and the world will be constrained walk is still obnoxious to the de. to honour it, and the very persons rision of the world, and will pro- we desire to conciliate will be the voke the animadversions of many first to detect and censure those professed disciples. If, howeyer, compliances which are contrary to we would be Christ's disciples we the principles we profess. M. H.


[The following letter, addressed to the Editor of the Hull Adver tiser, appears to us so excellent that we gladly avail ourselves of the suggestion of a valuable corre. spondent to insert it in our pages.]

Sır,--One of the ill effects produced by the discussion of the Catholic Question is, that, in the beat of controversy, men who profess themselves the Protestant advocates of liberal principles, have permitted themselves, perhaps yn intentionally, to speak contemp, tuously of Protestantism and respectfully of Popery, .

Whether the concession of the Catholic claims be right or wrong. let us never forget that the two religions are the antipodes to each other-or we shall be in danger of producing a confusion of creeds where, perhaps, we only intended a community of political privileges.

On this ground, I have ever felt extremely jealous of the attempt frequently made to shift the charge of persecution from the principles of Popery, to the times in which Popery flourished-to ascribe the intolerant spirit of our forefathers to their ignorance, rather than to their bigotryand to draw from these premises, the inference that the diffusion of knowledge which is ROW taking place, is the certain pledge and assurance that the days of darkness are for ever passed,

and that fire and sword shall never again be used as instruments to establish a religious system, or to punish those who dissent from it.

In proof of such positions, an appeal is made both to the history of past and present times. And to the mode of arguing, adopted by the advocates of Catholic Claims, on this subject, I wish to draw the attention of your readers.

With respect to the past, it is contended, that thougb Romanists were persecutors, they were not the only persecutors—that Protestants, when in power, were as intolerant as they-and that persecution being common to both parties, when the opportunity was afforded, the religion of neither was properly to be considered as its cause, but rather the fashion of the tiines—the peculiar modes of thinking which belonged to a dark unlettered age, and which nothing but the progress of intellectual cultivation could subdue,

I shall not stop to confute this argument by an examination of the records of the Reformation. It requires some bardihood to affirm, what is contradicted by all evidence, that the persecutions of Elizabeth equalled the rage of the Marian fires, and that Cranmer delighted in blood like a Bonner. We may safely leave the decision of the question respecting the comparative tole




The Catholic Question.

83 rance of the Romish and Protestant Never would this concession to churches to the broad and general the right of private judgment have facts which stand on the page of been made, had Popery retained its history. And the conclusion must dominion in our land. Then perbe, that the first principle of Popery secution would have been the rule, is intolerance, and the first princi- toleration the exception; whereas, ple of Protestantism is charity in the earliest periods of the Refor

But, in order to prove this, it is mation, toleration was the rule, and not necessary to show that no persecution the exception, while at Catholic was ever tolerant, and no this day the happy rule prevails, Protestant ever a persecutor. The and the exception has ceased to religion of neither party is answer occur. able for all the conduct of its pro- But the advocate for Rome fessed adherents. We must look appeals also to present times in to general results, and allow of proof of his position. He refers to particular exceptions. Besides, we many amiable Catholics of our must notice the gradual and imper- own day, and our own country, ceptible operation of religious prin- whose benevolent and liberal conciples. The Reformation did not duct deserve the commendation of begin with the question of civil mankind and he asks--" Could liberty, but of religious truth. The such men be persecutors ?” national creed was first thought of, I will not here insist upon the and then national privileges. This obvious reply, that it is always the was the right order; because, when custom of the party out of power religion takes precedence, every to plead for liberality of sentiment, thing valuable to the community in and to make great professions of it political institutions and privileges for themselves. I will concede, will follow. But one consequence and concede it with pleasure-that of this course may be, that some there are many Catholics who are time will elapse before the true kind and tender hearted, who hate religious principles shall produce persecution in all its forms, and all their collateral benefits:-So it whose blood would run cold at the was, at the Reformation Divine thought of a recurrence of the fires truth was maintained by many, who of Smithfield. did not yet follow it into all its But to what shall this be imramifications--the diffusive charity puted to their religion ? No; that of the gospel was not universally is semper eadem : if it did not teach apprehended. Habits of thinking moderation in Mary's time, it canhad been acquired under the pre- not now. To the progress of vious system, which the new one human intellect ? No: when men did not at once eradicate. The like Pliny and Tacitus could perrubbish accumulated by ages of secute or approve of persecution, superstition and bigotry was not to we cannot rely on such a preservabe swept away in a moment. But tive as this. To what then shall Protestantism began to contend it be imputed ? To PROTESTANagainst the mischief, it acquired TISM and Protestantism ONLYto strength as it advanced, and at that very religion which Catholics length, the mighty tide of religious despise-to the silent imperceptible truth has borne down before it every influence of a holy, temperate, and opposing principle of persecution in bepevolent creed, which, placed the Protestant churches, and has beside their own, commends itself caused it to be received as an to their consciences, and ensures axiom among them all, that no man its partial, though unacknowledged is to be compelled to adopt a spe- adoption. And not the creed only, cific form of religious belief. but the example of protestants has had its effect in softening down the Irish Catholics will confirm the asperities of character natural to positions which I have now laid Popery, Here Catholics have down. Where Popery prevails, hitherto been comparatively few in how cruel is the system-how unnumber, and they have been carried feeling are the minds of its adheonward by the influence of Protes- rents—how debased the character tantism to enlarged and compre- of the mass of its population ! They hensive views which never could are the slaves of an imperious have been imparted by their own priesthood; and rejoice to bind creed ;--so that just as Popery at around them the chains which keep first mingled with and debased them in hopeless misery and in Protestantism, now Protestantism deep delusio... Why is it that in mingles with and elevates the no country on earth are Catholics Popery of this highly-favoured land: more wretched than in Ireland; and Catholics are what they are, but because they are no where not because of their religion, but more abject tools of the papacy? in spite of it.

--and why is it that in no country · Much, however, of the ameliora are they more happy and ention in the general character of lightened than in England, but Catholics depends upon their being because, they are no where else so in the minority. If ever Romish free from the direct and powerful influence should again prevail, as it operation of their own system ? once did, the horrors of the system. The conclusion to which these would return. Their return how. reflections bring me, is, that men ever would be gradual, because the are as their religious principles 'better principles of Protestantism, that the general character of a nawith which Catholic minds bad be- tion is that which is impressed come unconsciously embued, would, upon it by its religious creed--and for a while, struggle against and I have endeavoured to account for check the evil principles of Popery; some apparent exceptions to this and it would not be till the former rule, which prove indeed, when were extinguished by the long rightly examined, not to be excontinued influence of an arbitrary ceptions against it but confirmations priesthood, that the latter would of it. Popery once made our nadisplay themselves in their true tion systematically cruel, but it was light. Then it would be seen, how by the silent workings of centuries. little education (as separated from Protestantism has gradually retraced religion) had been able to effect; and these steps, and rendered the counhow little dependance is to be placed try systematically tolerant. Shall on changes in national character and we then try again the effects of on intellectual progress, to stem that religion, which has walked the torrent of superstition and through our land, reeking with the bigotry. An enlightened and ele- blood of the saints ? Sball we not vated Protestantism is the only maintain as our most glorious antidote to Popery; if we are in- privilege the Protestant ASCENdifferent to the “ faith delivered to DANCY, which, while it sheds the the saints,” and maintained at the purest light of truth directly on the expense of their lives by our great mass of our population, does Martyrs, we shall present no also reflect no small portion of its adequate barrier against the en- rays upon Popery itself, and croachments of a system, which can ameliorates the operation of that brook no rivalry, and which, when religious system, the real character possessed of authority, can allow of which it cannot alter ? no difference of sentiment.

Your's truly, The comparison of English with


« EelmineJätka »