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On the other hand, the Patriot newspaper declares, that to divorce trade, politics, or any other affairs whatever, which affect us as individuals, or as members of a community, from the direct motives and principles which Christianity teaches and insures, is practical infidelity. This we regard not, unless it can be shewn, that our views are opposed to scripture : and in the mean time, the editor of the Christian Observer himself gives up to us in one sentence the whole ground of non-conformity. “Should a king adopt a bad creed, rogues may conform, and honest men become dissenters." Honest men themselves being judges of course of the “badness” of the Established faith. Here then we are at all events agreed. Private interpretation of scripture being alone followed, according to the principle, “ The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants," which is recognised by the Christian Observer, as the very soul and life of Protestantism: why is not our private judgment as much to be relied upon, as that of the editor of the Christian Observer Should the government of the country fall into the hands of a monarch of the Romish faith (and many things are more improbable), he must immediately become a dissenter. We, according to our judgment (whether right or wrong does not alter the argument), are dissenters now, and that for the very same reason.
The principle of an Established Church and the Protestant principle of private judgment cannot stand together. The supreme power in the state, if it take up religion at all, may at any time consistently adopt the doctrine of Kamehameha III.-" It is not proper that two religions be found in this kingdom.” What then is the duty of dissenters ? Here our agreement with the Christian Observer would terminate! We say let them submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, and suffer if need be for obeying God rather than man; but let them not seek to change the government. But if Christians have rightfully any secular power, how can they stop short of the Romish axiom. “ Christians are not bound, nay they ought not with evident peril to religion, to tolerate an unbelieving king."* We have dwelt long on this topic, because we feel strongly regarding it. We fear that the wider scope gained of late years for the interference of dissenters in political affairs, the apparent good effected by appeals to the voice of the people, and the favourable light in which National Christianity in the islands of the South Seas presents itself at present to our notice, have in the minds of some weakened those principles of confidence in God and mistrust in an arm of flesh, which may shortly prove the only refuge in times of trouble.
PECULIARITY OF DRESS NOT THE BADGE OF DISCIPLESHIP.
AMONGST the observances which God enjoined upon his chosen people, is one which has been but too little noticed in modern times, which yet must have exercised a powerful influence. In Numbers xv. 38, and Deuteronomy xxii. 12, we find enjoined upon the Israelites a certain peculiar and distinguishing dress. A young Israelite, strongly tempted to join in one of the heathen idolatrous feasts, must have felt his fringed garments and his ribbon of blue upon the fringe, a powerful check upon the fulfilment of his forbidden desires. The voluptuous temptations of the scene, the song, the dance, the revelry so attractive to his
* The statute of William and Mary, st. 11. c. 2d. and 9. declares the people in such case absolved from their allegiance: but what saith the scripture !--Bellarmine,
imagination, and so exactly chiming in with the inclinations of his treacherous heart, might solicit on the one hand: but on the other, in addition to the awful penalties threatened by the laws, the thoughts would arise—“ They will know by my dress that I am a Jew; that these things are forbidden to me; that I belong to the people chosen by the Lord ; and that I have no business amongst their scenes of dissipation and idolatry.” Doubtless, many an one paused, and was preserved from joining himself to Baalim ; yet is it almost wonderful to notice that, notwithstanding all these guards, the people, at different times, seem to have rushed, almost in a body, into these forbidden allurements.
The peculiar dress we have adverted to, like some other of the ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation, were so many outward and visible signs, ever reminding them that they were a holy nation, a peculiar people; and were to have no fellowship with the sinful nations around. Like all other commandments of God, this too was holy, and just, and good: and if a law could have been given that could have given life, verily, righteousness should have been through the law. But in this, as in other things, the treachery of man's heart was brought into view by his abuse of the very things which were given him for his preservation from evil.
Let us trace the state of things in connection with this subject as it existed in the time of our Saviour's ministry, - we now find a set of people who were very strict in the observance of these precepts ; they enlarged the borders of their garments ; they made broad their phylacteries. Appearing outwardly righteous unto men, they made clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; they abstained from intercourse with idolators, and thought it disgraceful indeed to sit down at meat with publicans and sinners. A holy nation, a peculiar people, they were, in their own eyes, and to a great extent in the eyes of the people too : for all their works they did to be seen of men. Had they been preserved from evil? A careless observer would, probably
, have said, “Yes—to a great extent at least ;” but what was the estimate which He who knew what was in man, gave of their character ? Mark the severity of his condemnation ! The meek and lowly Jesus was not wont to employ such language as serpents, generation of vipers.” They were bad, beyond the common condition of human evil—hypocrites, who had seized upon what was external in religion to gratify themselves; and, proud of their outward righteousness and fancied fulfilment of the law, scornfully rejected Him who alone could have healed them.
Must, then, all hopes of preservation from evil association and from the corruptions of the world be abandoned in despair ? No! a better hope founded on better promises was now brought in. Man had utterly failed, and had turned even the observances commanded by the Lord into an abomination ; now the mercy and the power of God were displayed in creating anew unto himself a pecujar people, zealous of good works. But this was to be no longer in the way of carnal commandments contained in ordinances ; but by putting a new heart and a new spirit within them. To every believer in Jesus was that thing performed, of which he spoke to the blind Pharisee, when he bid him cleanse first that which is within the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also. The Holy Spirit was sent to dwell in their hearts, because they had received the adoption of children in Christ Jesus; and now was given a power to resist evil, which no hedge of peculiarities or outward observances could ever have supplied.
Soon, however, did a portion of the Christian Church, turning its back on its high and spiritual calling and privileges, revert to the outward rites and carnal ordinances of the old dispensation, or to others invented by themselves.
They did not realize the powers of the Holy Ghost, nor the efficacy of living faith; consequently, they needed something tangible on which to lean. “ Except ye be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved," expresses the earliest symptom of this disease. We know with what severe cauteries the Apostle Paul had to treat it. But, alas ! man will ever be wise in his own conceit, and think he can find out a better way than that of God's appointment. Again and again, and in multifarious forms, has the same tendency exhibited itself; and diverse have been the means which have been contrived to “ keep" from “ the evil.” Some by “ taking out of the world” to the hermit's cell, or the cloisters of the monastery ; others, by the badge of a peculiar dress, which, like the Jews of old, should at once mark its wearer as not belonging to the people around
Low views of the covenant of grace have generally, as might be expected, accompanied these plans ; and they have always tended much more to the forming of Pharisees than of truly spiritually-minded Christians. We would not
as under the peculiar dress of the Friends, there have been many truly Christian and devoted men, who, though not all equally enlightened as to many points of Scriptural truth, yet did indeed evince that they were believers in Jesus, in the Scriptural sense of the term. But it was not the dress which made them so: we think it had no tendency to make them so; but that, on the contrary, being a thing which Christ never enjoined upon his people, its tendency was the other way.
But is there no peculiarity of dress and address enjoined upon the Christian ? Assuredly, yes; such as originates, not in outward regulations, nor in the imitation of others; not in a badge which shall distinguish him as belonging to a sect ; but such as springs spontaneously from the changed heart, and affections set on things above. He whose conversation is in heaven must be singular, from that very circumstance: he can no longer pride himself in any of those things by means of which the men of this world seek to express their preeminence. He cannot now seek worldly distinction; and from the altered tone of his affections, will result a change in his outward demeanour, extending to every part of it, and which the world quickly enough espies, and forthwith says, “ that man does not belong to us.” A Carmelite's or a Quaker's badge he might wear, and yet be on exceeding good terms with the world; but the external signs of saintship are quite another thing-a thing which the spirit of his Lord's injunctions forbids him to parade, and yet which cannot be altogether hid ; and which stamp him as a revolter against the prince of this world, and as such, the object of the world's enmity; but a subject of another and a better master. He is distinguished as belonging to the peculiar people—the one brotherhood; called by various names, it is true, and not always recognising the oneness of that brotherhood ; but, in the world's vocabulary, a saint, or a Methodist. And this distinction will amply serve the purpose of keeping aloof those who would lead him into the world ; and, as it is carried out in the education of his children and the management of his household, will sufficiently mark them as being under the care of one who seeks to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and will serve much more effectually than any mere peculiarity of dress, to warn off the dangerous intimacies of the worldling.
But the flesh is weak; and even in Apostolic times a warning was needed : addressed, it is true, to the sex which is usually considered most liable to the temptation of personal vanity, yet, of course, not intended to leave open the door of indulgence to the man whilst closing it to the woman, “whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel (évdúoews ipariwv kóduos) but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Again, through another Apostle“ In like manner that women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but, which becometh women professing godliness, with good works.”
Now, it appears to us evident that there is utterly a fault in this matter amongst us. If we look around upon women professing godliness--and upon men too—and upon such as we cannot but believe that there is some good thing to be found in them, what costly array—what adorning-—what wearing of gold—what pomp shall we not witness amongst too many of those whose circumstances permit them thus to indulge ? Brethren, these things ought not so to be; we cannot make light of the injunctions of the New Testament with impunity. It is in vain for the believer to say—“I am under no bondage to these things; they are no snare to me: they are clean' to me.” Let such an one try these things by the Gospel standard, and by the injunctions of the inspired Apostles. Let such an one consider the wide import of the injunction, “ Set your affections on things above,” and see whether the directions of Peter and of Paul do not harmonise more with this standard than their practice. We must remember, too, how much our bad example may encourage those who are without in indulging in the “ pride of life;" and that, in so doing, we are the reverse of that which all true believers ought to be—the light of the world.
LETTER OF THE GRAND DALAI LAMA OF TIBET TO THE
POPE,JULY 8, 1742.
The Grand Lama of Tibet, Mi-Vang, wrote the following letter to Father Horatius, a Carmelite missionary resident in his dominions, who had, by permission, stated in writing his objections to the religion of Tibet. The Lama undertook himself to answer the objections raised by the missionary, and to state his objections to the Christian religion as expounded by the Carmelites. The original of this very curious letter is in the archives of the Propaganda at Rome, and was published by Father Horatius in his work on Tibet. It is also printed in the Alphabetum Tibetanum of Augustin Antonius Georgius, an Augustinian Eremite, who also had been a missionary in the Lama's dominions.
The Grand Dalai Lama is the king and incarnate deity of Tibet, the government of which is a sacerdotal theocracy. The people of this empire consider the reigning Lama really a God incarnate ; he is worshipped morning and evening with prayer, hymns, incense, or other offerings. The ceremony takes place thus: the Lama comes forth on a balcony and stands behind a yellow curtain, which is so much elevated as to allow his worshippers to see his legs from the knee downwards. A chorus of three thousand monks, men who have dedicated themselves to the “more perfect or virgin state,” then begin the service, and perform several chaunts to their divinity, in strophe and antistrophe, and in sounds exceedingly solemn and impressive. The Lama's sceptre is not hereditary; when the reigning divinity is dead, the priests, who in fact govern the whole empire in every department, go about the dominions to find some male child with the prescribed signs which they alone can recognise : this child or boy they elect to the throne of their theocracy, and educate him of course in most exact obedience to their system.
The Grand Lama, therefore, whose religion is that of Buddah, is in fact the Pope of the East; and indeed the perfection of adoration with which he is worshipped, is such as the Roman Popes have been long endeavouring, but in vain, to establish ; they have long given out that they have the authority of God upon earth, and can do all things; but it is not yet supposed that they are real incarnations of the Deity.
In other respects, the Roman Catholics have derived a large portion of their system from Tibet, and to such an extent, as to make their missionaries perfectly amazed with the resemblance. Father Georgius, in a very elaborate and learned treatise, undertakes to prove that the similitude has been effected by the craft of Satan, who has, in his malice, imparted some of the choicest ordinances of the papacy to the idolaters of Tibet : indeed he tells us, that till he hit upon this solution of the mystery, his mind was filled with inexpressible grief by the discoveries he was constantly making of the identity of the Tibetan and Roman Catholic practices. In his curious work on the Alphabet of Tibet, he has given some pictures of the ceremonies of the country; and one of these engravings which represents a procession of monks and priests going to the Grand Lama, seems to be a most exact portraiture of a Roman Catholic procession, banners, holy water, canopies, rosaries, &c.
Letter of the Grand Lama to the Pope. “ I adore the Master Sciaka, *
“ I have comprehended your answer: in elucidating this matter, some doubtful things remain. The God who exists by himself, and in whom are all things,t makes in creation men, spirits without eyes ; he also makes ears without the power of hearing, and feet without the power of walking ; he creates infirm persons—he makes persons without life, fevers also, and various sicknesses. Kings every where are suffering infinite causes of distress--men are seen without peace of the body. I cannot express all these things with my voice. And all animals extract the spirit (i. e. life), mutually from one another, the greater from the less, the strong from the weak. On every side there are infinite pains even to the spirit. The spirits of jithars, though they do not feed on material things, equally endure the greatest punishments. The infernal ones, condemned, dwell in the fire-on every side there are infinite torments, and the inhabitants feel the pain and the punishment
“ If the self-existing God is the Creator, it will come to pass that the self
Xaca, or Buddah. † The Lama here states the proposition of the Carmelite, “that the self-existing God creates every thing,” to which the Lama objects ; because, if the self-existing God is the Creator, then has he created evil, as we see by his making some men blind, others deaf, and others lame, &c.
And then by generally looking at the world, such as the distress of kings and governors, and the universal unhappiness of man, which the Lama says was too great for him to express in words, as well as by the contention amongst animals, the distresses endured by spirits in invisible torments, it is evident that evil predominates-now if the self-existent God created all things, he created all these evils, &c.
The fundamental doctrine of the Grand Lama's religion, is that there are two distinct principles, the principle of good and the principle of evil, and that the evil principle is the Creator. By this most ancient dogma they solve, in a certain way, the enigma of the origin of evil.