« AnteriorContinuar »
temples, and paying the rapacious and unfeeling priests that minister at their altars? What shall we think of the practice of Christian Britons sending forth a body of idol-missionaries, far exceeding in number all the Christian missionaries, perhaps, throughout the world, who, from year to year, propagate delusion, and proclaim for the sake of gain—the transcendent efficacy of beholding “a log of wood 1” “Be astonished, O ye heavens at this.” No wonder if Christian missionaries have the most formidable opposition to encounter, when the very nation that sent them forth to undermine the fabric of Pagan superstition, gives direct countenance and support to every thing that is abhorrent and debasing in the system of idolatry.
How appropriate the wish expressed by Dr. Buchanan, “that the proprietors of India stock, could have attended the wheels of Juggernaut, and seen this peculiar source of their revenue !” I would live on “a dinner of herbs,” or even on the grass of the fields, before I would handle a sum of money procured in this way, to supply the most delicious fare. From whatever motives support is given to this system of Idolatry, it will remain an indelible stain on the British nation, to generations yet unborn, and its miserable and demoralizing effects will only be fully known in the eternal world.
oN THE ABSURDITY AND IRRATIONALITY of
THE Creator has endowed man with mental faculties which, if properly directed and employed, would be sufficient, in many cases, to point out the path of virtue, and to show the folly and unreasonableness of vice. All the laws of God, when properlyinvestigated as to their tendency and effects, will be found accordant with the dictates of enlightened reason, and calculated to produce the greatest sum of human happiness; and the dispositions and vices which these laws denounce will uniformly be found to have a tendency to produce discomfort and misery, and to subvert the moral order and happiness of the intelligent system. On these and similar grounds, it may not be inexpedient to offer a few remarks on the folly and irrationality of the vice to which our attention is directed.
In the first place, the irrationality of Covetousness, will appear, if we consider the noble intellectual faculties with which man is endowed. -
Man is furnished not only with sensitive powers to perceive and enjoy the various objects with which his terrestrial habitation is replenished, but also with the powers of memory, imagination, judgment, reasoning, and the moral faculty. By these powers he can retrace and contemplate the most remarkable events which have happened in every period of the world,
since time began; survey the magnificent scenery of nature in all its variety and extent; dive into the depths of the ocean; ascend into the regions of the atmosphere; pry into the invisible regions of creation, and behold the myriads of animated beings that people the drops of water; determine the courses of the celestial orbs; measure the distances and magnitudes of the planets; predict the returns of comets and eclipses; convey himself along mighty rivers, and across the expansive ocean; render the most stubborn elements of nature subservient to his designs and obedient to his commands; and, in short, can penetrate beyond all that is visible to common eyes, to those regions of space where suns unnumbered shine, and mighty worlds are running their solemn rounds; and perceive the agency of Infinite. Power displaying itself throughout the unlimited regions of the universe. By these powers he can trace the existence and the attributes of an Invisible and Almighty Being operating in the sun, the moon, and the starry orbs, in the revolutions of the seasons, the agency of the elements, the process of vegetation, the functions of animals, and the moral relations which subsist among intelligent beings; and in such studies and contemplations he can enjoy a happiness infinitely . superior to all the delights of mere animal sensation. How unreasonable then, is it, for a being who possesses such sublime faculties, to have his whole soul absorbed in raking together a few paltry pounds or dollars, which he either applies to no useful object, or employs merely for the purposes of pride and ostentation We are apt to smile at a little boy hoarding up heaps of cherry stones, small pebbles, or sea shells; but he acts a more rational part than the covetous man whose desires are concentrated in “heaping up gold as the dust, and silver as the stones of the brook;” for the boy has not arrived at the full exercise of his rational powers, and is incapable of forming a comprehensive judgment of those pursuits which ought to be the great end of his existence. The aims and pursuits of every intelligence, ought to correspond with the faculties he possesses. But does the hoarding of one shilling after
another, day by day, and the absorption of the faculties in this degrading object, while almost every higher aim is set aside-correspond to the noble powers with which man is invested, and the variety and sublimity of those objects which solicit their attention? Is there, indeed, any comparison between acquiring riches and wealth as an ultimate object, and the cultivation of the intellectual faculties, and the noble' pursuit of knowledge and moral improvement ' If man had been intended to live the life of a miser, he would rather have been formed into the shape of an ant or a pismire, to dig among mud and sand and putrefaction, to burrow in holes and crevices of the earth, and to heap up seeds and grains against the storms of winter; in which state he would live according to the order of nature, and be incapable of degrading his mental and moral powers. There cannot be a more absurd and preposterous. exhibition, than that of a man furnished with powers capable of arresting the elements of nature, of directing the lightnings in their course, of penetrating to the distant regions of creation, of weighing the masses of surrounding worlds, of holding a sublime intercourse with his Almighty Maker, and of perpetual progression in knowledge and felicity, throughout an interminable round of existence; yet prostrating these noble powers by concentrating them on the one sole object of amassing a number of guineas and bank notes, which are never intended to be applied to any rational or benevolent purpose; as if man were raised no higher in the scale of intellect, than the worms of the dust! Even some of the lower animals, as the dog and the horse, display more noble and generous feelings, than the earth-worm, from whose grasp you cannot wrench a single shilling for any beneficent object. And shall man, who was formed after the image of his Maker, and invested with dominion over all the inferior tribes of animated nature, thus reduce himself by his grovelling affections below the rank of the beasts of the forest and the fowls of heaven? Nothing can afford a plainer proof of man's depravity, and that he has fallen from his high estate of primeval innocence and rectitude ;