« AnteriorContinuar »
civil government can reach. Blessed indeed would that community be which was subject to its benign and omnipotent sway! Apart from its operation no maxims of worldly policy, no lessons of moral duty, will be effectual in restraining the evil passions of men. There will be no reign of peace, no universal brotherhood, no true socialism in the absence of Christian love, and when this prevails all inferior organizations will become unnecessary. Philanthropists, absorbed in their particular pet project, often forget all other claims on their benevolent activity except those of the one they have selected ; but Christianity embraces and gives energy to them all. It is the mighty steam-engine which extends its influence throughout the whole factory and gives motive-power to every part of the machinery. What unavailing, disappointing efforts are those which men make, while the wheels they try to work are detached from the great central force! There will be no sustained harmonious and efficient action for the restoration of a ruined world, except under the influence of the constraining love of the Man Christ Jesus !
Reader! you perhaps have long lamented the misery that is in the world. You may have been yourself its victim. You have struggled with poverty, injustice, oppression. You have toiled during many long years and have reaped but little fruit. You have not been absorbed in your own cares, but have felt true commiseration for the woes of others. With an aching heart you have seen the wide prevalence of poverty and degradation, how power becomes oppressive whoever wields it, how every class is apt to trample on the one below it, how all persons are prone to become reckless of other's interests in the struggle to advance their own-how, in the mad rush of selfishness, the few only obtain prizes while the many are borne downward and crushed to death in the scramble, though there is enough to supply the wants and to gladden the hearts of all—how abuses are cherished because they are old, and honest efforts to amend the world are met with opprobrium, ridicule and opposition-how wealth is too often worshipped as if it were synonymous with virtue, and poverty punished as if it were a crime. You have seen all this, and honestly laboured to mitigate the evils you deplored, but mortification and disappointment have attended all your efforts. You are asked to believe in Christianity, but you are suspicious of it and hold aloof, as if it were enlisted on the side of wrong. You perhaps are saying in reply to such appeals "I look upon Christianity only as one of the numerous systems by which the world is checked in its intellectual, social, and political progress. It has been employed as an engine for cramping the minds of men, and fastening on them the chains of a spiritual despotism more terrible than any mere physical thraldom. Its history has in great measure been one of contention, and its march tracked with blood. What terrible persecutions has it instigated, inflicting tortures the mere recital of which makes the blood boil with indignation at the cruelties to which superstition may urge its votaries ! What a gloomy record would a faithful history of the Church present, of bitter controversies, and political intrigues, and bloody wars, what a terrible picture of captives pining away life in dismal dungeons, and torture chambers ringing with the shrieks of their dislocated bleeding victims, and fires surrounded by demons in human form, in which not men alone, but delicate women and feeble children are being burnt to death, and all for the glory of God, and the truth of his gospel! And though such atrocities are no longer enacted, we have to thank the spread of enlightenment and liberal principles, for the spirit of persecution is still vigorous, and only needs opportunity for its manifestation. Evidence of this may be seen in the way in which free inquiry is often condemned, and opinions contrary to the received faith denounced, in the mode in which men are held up to scorn for their creed, and in the intolerance with which controversy is often waged on the most trifling points, between the numberless sects into which Christians
are divided, leading a bystander to infer that if the tongue and the pen can exhibit so much ferocity, the rack and the stake, or at least the prison and the penal settlement would be invoked, were it practicable, in order to convince the heretic, and prevent the spread of his pernicious notions.”
“I see moreover,” continues our friend, “ that the worst abuses have been defended, and the most salutary reforms resisted, on the plea of Christianity. King-craft has been upheld by priest-craft, and tyranny has muffled itself up in the cloak of piety. Peaceable and loyal citizens have been deprived of political privileges because their religious opinions were thought to dishonour the gospel, and because they were too conscientious to pronounce a shibboleth which they did not believe. Injustice has been sanctioned under pretence of honour done to God. Christianity has been a plea for levying additional taxes, which have been wrung, not merely from professed friends but from open foes, in order that if they refused the homage of the heart, they should