« PoprzedniaDalej »
of that law, namely, the law of incest, that it is not suited 10 our circumstances? What reason had we to expect it to be better adapted to our necessities, than the more general law of marriage, of which it is a part? The writer promised at the outset not to discuss this point, any further than it should be found to be involved in the question of interpretation. But it is appropriate here to ask the reader, if the whole Levitical law of marriage, including that of incest, does not bear pretty clear marks of having been intended for the Jewish state, rather than for universality or perpetuity ?
Is it still asked what is our security against incestuous marriages ? It may be answered, that it certainly is not in forcing an interpretation on the laws of Moses which they will not bear. Any who may be found engaged in such an effort, will prove in the end to have been poor defenders of public morals. The truth seems to be, that our safe reliance for the purity and sound morality of Christian nations, on many points of great importance, lies, not in any specific divine enactment, but on the enlightened and benevolent general morality of the gospel, and on the obvious inexpediency and injurious tendency of certain acts and usages; and to this general class we should refer both polygamy and incest. They are proved bad, by the common experience of the civilized world-the civil law condemns them and there are no indications of any disposition to throw down the barriers which are erected around them. These barriers are defended by the voice of nature, and cherished by the sentiments of civilized man. It is admitted, for example, that there is no law, human or divine, against the intermarriage of first cousins; and yet in this country such marriages are rare, and the common sentiments of the people are decidedly against them. Still stronger will be found to be the prevailing popular voice against the intermarriage of those nearer blood relatives which in two or three instances are not prohibited by the Levitical law, as we have interpreted it ; nor while the morality of the Bible continues, in any degree, to influence our legislation, is there any danger
that the law of the land will cease to forbid them. Here it would seem that wise men, wise rulers, and most of all, wise and righteous ecclesiastical judges, should be content to let the question rest. The suggestion may not be out of place, that it would be well for ecclesiastical judicatories who are governing the church of Christ, and trying to bind
the consciences of mankind, by a law of incest, professing to derive its authority from the Levitical code, and yet covering about twice as many cases as the Levitical law ever embraced, to see to it that they be not found to lord it over God's heritage. It is time for them so to modify their laws on this subject, as to be more consonant with the law which they profess to enforce, and to do this as speedily as possible, that some reparation may be made to the good men who are already suffering under the execution of a law, which God never enacted, and that no more victims may be immolated to this system of intolerance and oppression.
The NecessitY FOR EDUCATION Societies.
By B. B. Edwards, Professor in the Theol. Sem., Andover.
This world appears to be a state of discipline for men in an associated capacity. Societies of Christians meet with the same trials with which as individuals they are beset. The same hard warfare is to be encountered, the same sleepless vigilance to be maintained. Alternate sunshine and storm are alike experienced ; and it is sometimes equally difficult to ascertain the cause of adverse providences. Not unfrequently the lowliest and the most delicate flower in the valley is crushed, How often God's wrath lieth hard upon some gentle, loving and broken-hearted creature, who had been already trained in the school of sorrow, and who of all others seemed least to need any further trial. A cause exists, but it is behind the clouds. So of a public institution. It seemed essential to, or intimately connected with, the progress of Christianity. God had set the seal of his approbation upon it, by repeatedly dispensing the gifts of his grace. Those who directed its affairs were wise and upright men.
It had gained that general confidence which was the best token of the integrity of its guardians, and the usefulness of its labors. Suddenly it is plunged into affliction. Without any apparent adequate cause, it is subjected to a series of embarrassments which menace its total ruin. It has
hardly emerged from one difficulty before another succeeds. Its credit is impaired. Its friends stand aloof. Its enemies find a fulfilment of their sinister predictions, while the multilude of indifferent people see in its declining fortunes the folly or fanaticism of its founders. Such has been the experience, substantially, of more than one important institution, which has at length outrode the storm, and become fast anchored in the affections and respect of the entire community. It is finally manifest that the clamor which was raised against it was unfounded. It was condemned by those who would not, or did not, examine into the charges which were laid against it ; who were contented to join in an outcry or a suspicion which was popular; or who were so much influenced by general rumor as to give it only a cold and hesitating support.
Hence we have hope that the American Education Society will come out of its present depressed condition. We have strong confidence that it has not seen its best days. We believe that the men who laid its foundations, who were regarded as wise men, (not a few of whom have gone to their reward in Heaven,) shall yet stand amply justified. It is experiencing the same afflictions that have been accomplished in many of its sister institutions that are in the world. What the Lord loveth, we may say, as well as whom, he chasteneth. Its afflictions, we trust, will produce patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.
At the same time, it is not easy to see fully all the occasions of the great embarrassmenis to which ihe Society is now subjected. Ils annual resources since 1835 have been diminished more than one half. The number admitted to its patronage, during the last year, was but a little more than one-fourth of the number so admitted in 1838. Such a falling off in the means and consequent usefulness of this institution is not accounted for by the commercial relations ofthe country. None of its sister charities has been so crippled. The business arrangements of the community are no worse now than they were three or four years ago. Yet the Society has steadily declined in its means of fulfilling its engagements. Why should one mode of benevolent effort, which has been regarded as fundamental, be singled out as the object of particular suspicion and neglect? Is the preaching of the gospel no longer the main instrumentality, not only SECOND SERIES, VOL. VII. NO. II.
for the salvation of the soul, but for the production of every social good which is worth the name ? Has the growth of the nation ceased to outstrip the means of grace? Is the ride of population from the old world setting back again? Is
cry of the famishing pagan, which did come on the four winds of heaven, hushed ? None of all these things. The eurrent which is flowing westward is as deep as ever. The souls that are dying in heathen lands are as numerous as ever. The preaching of the gospel remains the instrumentality which saves the soul. For other objects, which are deemed important, pecuniary resources are not withheld. What then are some of the causes why the Society in question is not favored with its appropriate share of encouragement? Why must urgent and reiterated solicitations be necessary in order that it should obtain the little pittance which it now has ?
I. We shall attempt a brief answer to these inquiries.
1. There is an unfortunate association with the word beneficiary. It has come to mean one who receives a favor, but renders no equivalent ; one who lives on the bounty of others, but makes no return. It has a portion of the odium which is attached to those who dwell in a poor-house. A beneficiary is a charity-boy, a mere pensioner. The church has taken him up in his destitute condition, and, in her great pily, is feeding and clothing him. The boon is so great and so undeserved that a whole life of earnest labor and of overflowing gratitude is demanded in return.
But is his case so peculiar? must he be marked as the only one in whom an extraordinary degree of thankfulness is becoming? Is the term beneficiary applicable to him only? Not by any means. The nine hundred students who have been educated in the oldest Theological institution of our country are one and all charity students. A large part of their theological education has been furnished to them gratuitously. They are pensioners on the bounty of the rich and honored dead. And not they alone. Every teacher in that seminary is a beneficiary. He is living on charitable funds. He is as strictly indebted to the beneficence of others as either of his pupils is. And not he only. The founders of the institution were beneficiaries. Their ability to acquire and preserve their property was owing to the institutions of the gospel. What would their ships and warehouses have been
worth, if they had not been defended by that public sentiment which is created by the preaching of the gospel? Worth just as much as they would have been in the ports of the Barbary coast. These men, therefore, were beneficiaries to the very individuals whom they helped to educate. In a mere worldly point of view, they could not afford to dispense with the preaching of the gospel. It was the cheapest mode which they could adopt to render their own lives happy, and their property safe. Why then should one assisted by the Education Society be regarded as under extraordinary obligations to be grateful to his patrons ? Because, it may he said, of the mode in which he is aided. The funds for his support were gathered from the churches. They were hard-earned. They were made up of the widow's mite and the poor servant girl's wages. Uncommon responsibilities are resting upon him who is thus sustained. But are not all professing Christians alike bound to labor for the salvation of men ? Must you give yourself to an arduous work in some sickly region of the west, or under an equatorial sun, and must I, remaining at home, do nothing in contributing to your support, or in preparing you to labor? Is it charity in me so to do? I am giving a little portion of my property to assist in your education; while you give yourself to a life of toil of which I know nothing. No! you are the benefactor; I am the beneficiary. You are performing a part of the labor which belongs to me. We are both under equal obligations to our gracious Saviour, but you are willing to bear the heat and burden of the day, if I will contribute a little to help your outfit. A poor widow gives her mite to assist the son of another poor widow in becoming a missionary to the heathen. The first gives her money, but retains her son to be the prop of her declining years ; the latter gives no money, but parts with her only son, and that son is a missionary, and goes out, perhaps, to be devoured by the cannibals of the Indian Ocean. Which of those two young men is a beneficiary? Which of those two widows makes sacrifices for Christ? You have a son who is well qualified to be a missionary; but you think
* See the excellent remarks made at the last annual meeting of the American Education Society by the Rev. William A. Stearns, of Cambridge, Mass.