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we have “religious" democrats--men who, notwithstanding they belong to Christian churches, and even hold high office in them, are forward in the ranks of those who look upon governments, and even thrones, as objects for contumely, and derision, and attack-who can fraternize with foreign rebels, and decry and denounce time-honored and time-tested institutions, for no other reason than that they have counter-crotchets of their own to set up against them.
I have often wondered, and I dare say some of you may have done the same, where our disaffected professors, in the present day, find a warrant for their opposition to the powers that be. I think, indeed I am sure, that they have no authority for it in the New Testament. Whatever may be said of our Saviour's theory of taxation, we have the great fact placed evidently before us that he paid tribute to Cæsar. No “ conscientious scruples" were raised in the breast of Him who was Conscience itself embodied. He made no passionate appeal to those who hung upon his gracious words, inciting them to mutiny against a government that could extort the payment. And yet, from that exchequer into which, of his deep poverty, he thus cast his mite, how large a sum flowed forth for purposes of which it were a shame to speak. The religion which could even deify the emperor himself, and erect temples to the gods many and lords many of old Rome, was surely bad enough to call for the immediate organization of an anti State-Church league, had such a littleness formed any part of His high mission; for you perhaps remember what Juvenal says upon the subject :
“ The majesty of Riches all avow
Most holy; although Cursed Money! thou
Of birds, oft visiting their progeny." It seems to be a discovery peculiar to our own day, that we are at liberty to withhold our allegiance from a government as soon as it applies any of its resources to objects with which we think it ought not to interfere. But should it not give us pause to find our authorities and examples in the days of Christ and his successors, yielding cheerful and unmurmuring compliance to the demands of such men as Tiberius and Nero ? The commands of Paul, and of Peter, are absolute and unconditional, not only to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates and to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king or to his deputies; but to “ render tribute" also, without entering into very nice calculations as to the portion of it which might go towards deifying the defunct nursling of the infamous Poppæa, or carrying out the decree of the Senate, that she was to have a priest, an altar, and sacrifices for her sole use and benefit! And these injunctions, I imagine, extend to all time and to “every soul" without exception, qualification, or compromise, civil or religious. .
But supposing, my dear young friends, that there may be many things which we believe to require modification or removal in the laws and institutions of our happy land, is it at all seemly to wrangle about these, when by so doing, we are cheering on a reckless crew who neither fear God nor regard man? “ God has called us to peace," and it is certainly no part of our duty (to quote a very homely proverb,) to make distress, distraction. And, after all, we may be wrong. Think seriously of this. Matters of opinion are surely of less moment than matters of command. The standard around which we are to rally is not the Banner of Dissent, or Churchism, or Chartism, but “ The Common Salvation.” If we must live in an atmosphere of contention, of agitation, or provocation, let us “ provoke to love and to good works.” Let us think nothing really great or glorious but the emancipation of each and all from the love and power of sin. Never did bigotry appear so truly little as it does at the present moment. And never did the living oracles appear so great. Take then your stand upon “The Common Salvation," and determine with the magnanimous apostle of the Gentiles, to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified.
And this resolution let it be your aim, my dear young friends, to manifest, by zealously combining in a common duty-the duty of contending for the one faith of God's saints in every age and country. When we look at the extreme views held by different denominations of Christians on religious and political matters, and all the “fly-gods,” the buzzing, stinging, noisy, little Baalzebubs, that swarm between them-notions, and figments, and prejudices, and crooked crotchets, exalted to the rank of deities in the imaginations of those who hold them, we might almost think that there were no great points upon which the believers in one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, could agree. But is this the case ?
Many of you, perhaps, know that there exists amongst us a compact of holy, peace-loving men, under the name of “ The Evangelical Alliance,” consenting to differ, without wrangling, upon many points of lesser moment, but all“ holding the Head.” Like their Great Master, they seek to sow the principles of peace rather than the elements of confusion, and if they strive at all, strive only to agree, and to manifest not in word merely, but in deed and in truth, the beauty of that holiness which springs from the fealty of love towards Him who was without sin. They ask, they expect, no compromise, even in those prejudices which a matured experience may melt away, or a growing assimilation to the Great Master lead us to look upon with wonder and sorrow. All that they require of you is, that you should maintain the faith once delivered to the saints, believing, loving, and living out, the great principles of gospel truth.
Will you not, then, join at once this brotherhood of worthy men ? Who, indeed, calling himself a Christian, should refuse to do it? “Is there not a cause” when men of all creeds are bringing their little, narrow, party, bigotries into collision, to the serious damage of the great cause of Christianity--when for the sake of a few favorite notions, they are driving headlong towards republicanism, latitudinarianism, and downright infidelity, or speaking of a loose, a reckless, a visionary rationalism, as a “ movement in the right direction?” Of all the civil wars that have disgraced the earth, a civil war in Christianity is inconceivably the worst. Yet “ to this complexion we must come at last," if we spurn the warning voice so startingly, so pointedly, addressed to us by Jude, and contend for the tiny prejudices which education, or position, or accident, may have planted in our natures, instead of the faith once delivered to the saints.
And now, my dear friends, unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of
His glory with exceeding joy, to the only Wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen! So prays, my dear friends, yours faithfully and affectionately,
THE PLEASURES OF A WORKING MAN. It was twenty years last February, since I set out, a little before sun-rise, to make my first acquaintance with a life of labor and restraint; and I have rarely had a heavier heart than on that morning. I was but a slim, loose-jointed boy at the time-fond of the pretty intangibilities of romance, and of dreaming when broad awake ; and (woful change!) I was now going to work at what Burns has instanced in his “Twa dogs" as one of the most disagreeable of all employments—to work in a quarry. Bating the passing uneasiness occasioned by a few gloomy anticipations, the portion of my life which had already gone by, had been happy beyond the common lot. I had been a wanderer among rocks and woods, a reader of curious books when I could get them, a gleaner of old traditionary stories ; and now I was going to exchange all my day dreams and all my amusements, for the kind of life in which men toil every day that they may be enabled to eat, and eat every day that they may be enabled to toil.
The quarry in which I wrought lay on the southern shore of a noble inland bay, or a frith rather, with a little clear stream on the one side, and a thick fir wood on the other. It had been opened in the Old Red Sandstone of the district, and was overtopped by a huge bank of diluvial clay which rose over it in some places to the height of nearly thirty feet, and which at this time was rent and shivered, wherever it presented an open front to the weather, by a recent frost. A heap of loose fragments which had fallen from above, blocked up the face of the quarry, and my first employment was to clear them away. The friction of the shovel soon blistered my hands, but the pain was by no means very severe and I wrought hard and willingly that I might see how the huge strata below, which presented so firm and unbroken a frontage, were to be torn up and removed. Picks, and levers, and wedges were applied by my brother-workmen, and simple and rude as I had been accustomed to regard these instruments, I found I had much to learn in the way of using them. They all proved inefficient, however, and the workmen had to bore into one of the inferior strata, and employ gunpowder. The process was new to me, and I deemed it a highly amusing one; it had the merit, too, of being attended with some such degree of danger as a boating or rock excursion, and had thus an interest independent of its novelty. We had a few capital shots; the fragments flew in every direction, and an immense mass of the diluvium came topping down, bearing with it two dead birds that, in a recent storm, had crept into one of the deeper fissures to die in the shelter. I felt a new interest in examining them. The one was a pretty cock goldfinch, with its hood of vermilion, and its wings inlaid with the gold to which it owes it name, as unsoiled and smooth as if it had been preserved for a museum. The other, a somewhat rarer bird, of the woodpecker tribe, was variegated with light blue and a greyish yellow. I was engaged in admiring the poor little things, more disposed to be sentimental, perhaps, than if I had been ten years older, and thinking of the contrast between the warmth and jollity of their green summer haunts, and the cold and darkness of their last retreat, when I heard our employer bidding the workmen lay by their tools. I looked up and saw the sun sinking behind the thick fir wood beside us, and the long dark shadows of the trees stretching downward towards the shore. · This was no very formidable beginning of the course of life I had so much dreaded. To be sure my hands were a little sore, and I felt nearly as much fatigued as if I had been climbing among the rocks; but I had wrought and been useful, and had yet enjoyed the day fully as much as usual. It was no small matter, too, that the evening, converted by a rare transmutation into the delicious “ blink of rest" which Burns so truthfully describes, was all my own. I was as light of heart next morning as any of my brother-workmen. There had been a smart frost during the night, and the rime lay white on the grass as we passed onwards through the fields; but the sun rose in a clear atmosphere, and the day mellowed as it advanced, into one of