Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

may observe, that nothing can more conclusively show the antagonism of the principles of Popery to the truth "as it is in Jesus."

This outrage has given occasion to the presiding Judge to deliver a testimony to the unspeakable value of the sacred volume, worthy of Sir Matthew Hale, himself.

""We may thank God," says he, "that no legislation has ever attempted to interfere with that firmly established principle that the Holy Scriptures are the basis of the common law of the land. It must be now understood that Christianity, which so happily forms the basis of the common law, is not of a sectarian or denominational character, but general and universal. All Christians acknowledge the divine character—upon that all men art supposed to agree. The foundation of this general or common Christianity is the revealed Word of God—the Holy Scriptures—the Holy Bible—and it is an offence against God and religion, and a misdemeanour at common law, either to write or speak blasphemously against the Almighty, denying His being, His power, or divine character, or using contumelious reproaches towards our Saviour Jesus Christ, or doing anything calculated to bring His Holy Word into contempt. Exposing a Bible to ridicule, is an offence punishable by fine and imprisonment; it matters not whether the book held up to public scorn be the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or English translation of the Bible—whether it be the authorized version, the version that the Church of England use, or the Douay version, or any other translation —if the object be to hold up the volume to public execration and contempt, the result is the same in point of law, and a party guilty of such a profane act is liable to be indicted. I need not enlarge on the tendency of such profane conduct; but, sitting here as a judge and as a guardian of the law, I cannot but admire the wisdom of the principles I have referred to, and observe upon the mischief which would result from suffering such principles to be destroyed. I would say, using the words of the great and good Lord Hale, 'that religion is the chart by which all the obligations of civilized societies are preserved.' Considering that in this country the administration of justice, civil and criminal, is founded on our belief in the Christian religion, and the reverence in which the Holy Scriptures are held; considering that every witness (with a few exceptions) in every case, in this and every other court, is sworn on the Holy Gospel of God to tell the whole truth, it must be reverenced and respected. Every petty juror is sworn on the Bible in like manner 'to find a verdict according to the evidence;' and every grand juror is sworn on the same book to present 'without fear, favour, or affection ;' indeed, I may add, that there are few public officers in the realm, from the sovereign down to the humblest bailiff attending our courts, whose duties are not secured by the sanction of an oath taken on the Book of God; but if the respect of our people for that sacred book, on which all our public officers and jurors are sworn, be changed into hatred and contempt, what will become of the sanctity of an oath? The sacred obligation would be destroyed and become a mockery, and the whole system of our constitution would be subverted. No doubt that ignorant and bigoted persons, whom I may call trading patriots, may draw distinctions between the authorized version of the Bible, and that sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church; and, while they profess to respect the one version, hold up the other to contempt; but such distinctions are as erroneous in law as they are weak in fact. Errors there are, perhaps in every version of the Bible, for what is there in which the hand of man is engaged, which is not liable to error? Theologians may contend that their own particular translations are the correct ones, but every honest and well-informed Christian must acknowledge that a different version of the Bible from his own, differing, as some Bibles do in many similar matters, is still the Sacred' Word of God. The great principles of Christian faith, are found in all editions of the Bible—each contains the same fundamental truths, and while enlightened Christians of different creeds, may please their own conscientious conviction as to the version they will use, let the ignorant fanatic take warning, and learn, tbnt whosoever will dare to vilify and dishonour the Bible, whether it be the Douay or the authorized version, commits a serious offence against the laws of the land, and is liable to be fined and imprisoned for so doing. Let us hope that the period of intolerance, which has had a long reign, is passing away, and that Christian charity will take its place."

The Grand Jury, at the time of our going to press, had found a true bill against Father Pecherine, but we have since learned with astonishment, that although the witnesses proved there were copies of the Scriptures in the bonfire-w-that these copies were conveyed to the bonfire by Father Peeherine's orders—that, in fact, Father Pecherine directed the kindling of the bonfire in which these copies of the Scriptures, and of parts of the Scriptures, were consumed, yet an Irish jury, of which the majority were Roman Catholics, brought in a verdict of acquittal. What a commentary on Romish morality! What an illustration of Romish notions, with respect to the sanctity of an oath! How true is the maxim, "Like priest, like people!" But there is a singular uniformity everywhere, in the means by which Error seeks to achieve its triumphs, both over rival superstitions, and over Truth, itself. Whenever men go wrong, either in morals or religion, they are sure, if possible, to have recourse to violence. Take as examples the Santal insurrection, and the religious War between the Mohammedans and the Hindoos, with which we have lately been threatened in the kingdom of Oude.

The Santals, a tribe of mountaineers in the district of Bengal, had, it appears, pretty generally exhausted their means of paying their debts. Their creditors were pressing them hard for payment, and a person of influence among them named Manjee, called all the headmen of the villages together, and while speaking to them of their difficulties, he had a vision of the Deity descending in the form of a cart-wheel. Two pieces of paper are also said to have fallen on his head, in which he was ordered to exterminate the individuals to whom the Santals were indebted. This was enough. From henceforth,— dishonesty, superstition, and violence, went hand in hand. They began forthwith to organise the insurrection; scores of villages were burnt —numbers of people, sacrificed—the peace of an extensive district, disturbed, and life and property so jeopardised, that Government were, most reluctantly, obliged to proclaim martial law in the regions round about.

Again, the population of some portions of India contains a very considerable proportion of Mohammedans. These people have no faith, it would seem, in Sir J. Mackintosh's doctrine with respect to the utter folly of persecuting men for their opinions, on either moral or religious matters. A Mohammedan fanatic, named An—an ominous name in India—has threatened to march on the Hindoo Temple at Fyzabad. In the latter part of the last century, a ruler of that name acquired some celebrity by his performances among the Hindoos, in the way of conversion. Tippoo Saib is said to have converted 100,000 of them, from the Brahmin to the Prophet, in one day. The Mussulman's method was short and easy. He made them eat flesh, and had them forcibly circumcised, and they were treated as followers of the Prophet from that hour. Moulvie Ali appears rather as the Nemesis than as the Regenerator; or if Regenerator he be, he seeks to regenerate by destroying. He meditates the destruction of Hindoo Temples as a means of destroying the Hindoo Faith. But this is beginning at the wrong end; it would only lead to a religious "War between the rival superstitions, and after much slaughter, the follower of the Brahmin, and the disciple of the Prophet, would, according to the teaching of all history, be tenfold more the victims of Bigotry than before. The overthrow of the Brahminical superstition is, no doubt, a noble enterprise. We rejoice to behold so many symptoms of decay, in this, the dominant superstition of our Eastern Empire. Found out to be false in its facts—false in its science-—false in its literature—cruel in its rites—and impotent in its influence as a means of human happiness—it begins to feel the ground tremble beneath it. Crevices, here and there, begin to admit the light of Heaven into dark chambers, which no ray of intelligence had penetrated for nearly three thousand years. Marks of dilapidation in all parts of the superstructure, indicate the rapid approach of Final Ruin. Let it perish! and with it the three hundred millions of gods, which throng the portals and crowd the recesses of its Pantheon. Let it perish, though the concussion shake our Empire to its centre;—perish, though the sound of its fall, vibrate through the Universe, and the Demon of Superstition send forth a wail of anguish, that shall rend,

"Hell's concave and beyond, Frighten the reign of Chaos and old Night!"

But we have no sympathy with the means by which this fanatic would precipitate the event. However successful his Violence, this would be only one superstition giving way to another, and the latter, by far, the more intolerant of the two. Besides, we are firm in the belief that the overthrow of Hindooism and the other superstitions of the pagan world, can be effected, alone, by the publication of the Gospel under the influence of the Holy Ghost. We have no faith in Persecution against even Falsehood, itself; nor have we any confidence in human agents, when most completely accoutred in the panoply of truth, apart from the dispensation of the Spirit, as a means of spiritual renovation. Nothing can be more unreasonable than the anticipations of those persons, who hope for great moral revolutions in the state of mankind, without the dispensation of divine influence on the preaching of the Word. This were to expect the result without the intervention of the efficient cause, and that too, while all experience shows the inadequacy of the instrumental means, to the end contemplated. What would be the judgment of our readers concerning the Visionary, who should take giants from Patagonia, and snow from Mount Atlas; and attempt the destruction of the Pyramids by an attack of Snow-balls, in the vain expectation, that the fleecy suhstance of yesterday, would prove effectual to the reduction of those huge piles of Granite, which, for Thirty centuries, have survived the shock of War, and the power of the Elements? Would it not be a judgment against the unutterable folly of the men who should engage in such a mighty enterprise, with such disproportionate means? But this folly would be less extravagant in its character, less pernicious in its results, than that which calculates on the overthrow of Superstition, and the removal of moral and social evil from the world, apart, from the dispensation of the influence of the Holy Spirit; as if, after the failure of every human Expedient, for the last Six Thousand years, we are entitled to expect that human Power shall ultimately "gain the day." An Apostle—the most successful of the Apostles, held a very different doctrine. He said, "Paul planteth, A polios watereth, and God giveth the increase."

But while the Superstitions of the World, present an invulnerable front to man, unaided by the Deity, they are weak enough, when assailed in the strength of Jehovah. They are really formidable, only, to such as overlook, at once, the most memorable facts of Scripture history, and the doctrine of Spiritual influences, in connection with the ministration of the Truth. Surely, the Strongholds of Superstition are not more formidable to the eye of Faith, than were the Walls of Jericho, to the eye of Sense, and the proclamation of divine Truth, will hardly be regarded as a more impotent instrumentality, than the sounding of the Rams' Horns by the Army of Israel. Nor can the Fall of the Strongholds of Error, all over the world, after the preaching of the Gospel "to every nation, kindred, people, and tongue," be regarded as a whit more marvellous than the fall of Jericho, after the Israelitish Army had encompassed the City, for the space of Seven Days. The great secret of success, is the same in both cases. As the one was, so the other will be, the result of Divine Agency in the fulfilment of a promise given to human Instruments. With respect to Jericho, God had said; "Behold I have given it into thy hands J" We have the same Divine assurance, with respect to the final issue in the case of all the strongholds of Error. Jehovah has promised his Son, " the heathen" as "an inheritance," and "the uttermost parts of the Earth," as "a possession." He hath declared that he will " famish all the gods of the Earth, and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the Heathen." The foundations of the Empire of Evil, however deeply laid; the walls however high and towering, must crumble to atoms before that Awful Power, which in early times, divided the Red Sea—rolled back the stream of the Jordan—laid flat the walls of Jericho, and ultimately overthrew the Superstitions of Greece and Rome. It is enough for the Herald of Mercy, in his most faint-hearted seasons, that the Lord hath said, I will give it you! I will give it you!

"He trusts the All-creating voice, i And Faith desires no more."

11

TRUt WORSHIP.

"But the hour cometb, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth : for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship, must worship in spirit and in truth." —John iv. 23, 24.

In the Lord's land, a small old city may be seen, standing between two mountains in a narrow valley, Sychar and Sychem anciently named j but now called by the Arabs, Naplouse. A short distance from it, at the base of one of the mountains, there is a well dug in the solid rock, it is three yards in diameter, and thirty-five in depth. By this well a Jewish stranger once sat; he appeared about thirty years of age, of noble and majestic mein, and you could see blended in his countenance mildness and dignity, truth and grace. He had had to flee from Judea into this part of the land called Samaria ; his enemies, because he had spoken unto them the truth, were bent on taking away his life ; he looks wearied and wayworn with his flight, and is resting by this well, " his drooping frame to cheer."

A woman from the city approached with a large pitcher to draw water for domestic use, to whom the wearied stranger said, " Give me to drink." And she, seeing him to be a Jew, wonderingly replied, " How is it, that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." There were several reasons for this exclusiveness. First, the Samaritans were a mixed race, partly descended from the ten captive tribes of Israel, and partly from a people sent by the king of Assyria to colonize Samaria, and called by the Jews, Cushi, or black. Secondly, because of the opposition they offered to the Jews in their rebuilding of the Temple, after they returned from Babylon. But, thirdly, the chief cause of Jewish alienation was, the Samaritans having built a Temple on one of the mountains between which Sychar stands, in opposition to the Temple of God at Jerusalem. A young Jewish priest had married the daughter of Sanballat, the Governor of Samaria, and bitter enemy of the Jews; he refused to put away his heathen -wife according to the law, and Nehemiah excommunicated him from the society of the Lord's people. He repaired to his father-in-law, who built this Temple and made him its priest. They also claimed a preference for this temple, because they said, " The Lord put the curse on Mount Ebal, and the blessing on Mount Gherasim." They rejected too all the canonical books of the old Testament, save the five books of Moses.

Our Lord replied to this daughter of Samaria, " If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." She in greater wonder, said, " Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the -well is deep, whence then hast thou this living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob? who gave us this well, and who drank of it himself, and his children and cattle with him." And Jesus said, " Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall thirst no more: it shall be in him, as a well of water springing up to everlasting life." "Give me of this water," she replied, "that I thirst not, nor come hither to draw." At this point of the interview, he laid before her, her antecedents, told her " all she had done in her life," when, her wonder rising to the highest pitch, she said, " Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, (pointing to Gheiasim at the foot of which they then were) and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship; explain this to me?" Jesus saith unto her, " Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." And then in the text, he teaches her

« AnteriorContinuar »