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virtuous resentment through the bosom of a whole community, it is very possible that, in many bosoms so gracefully and feelingly alive to the degradation of their species, the Allseeing Eye may discern the substantial existence of that very principle which is at the bottom of all this cruelty and abomination. God looks at principles; we regard their effects. When the sinful purpose has embodied itself in action ; when sin is finished and bringetb forth death ; when it confronts us with the ghastly malignity of its essential character ; when hatred puts on the guise of murder, and sensuality grovels as beastly drunkenness, we cannot help regarding it with unmingled indignation and horror. But to the Omniscient Mind, under all its disguises, and in all its forms, it is only that spirit which everywhere worketh in the children of disobedience. Amidst the latency of a disembodied principle it appears to him only as that accursed thing which his soul abhorreth; and he considers that individual in whose bosom it dwells, and whose conduct it rules, just as truly joined to his idols, as if he bowed down every day to a graven image which his own hands had made.
Having thus established our general position, I proceed to illustrate it in a few particulars :
First. Take that class of our fellow creatures, for example, who are lovers of sensual pleasures more than lovers of God. Read the history of that man's life who has made pleasure his idol, and sacrificed everything at the shrine of selfish gratifications, who, day after day, has sat down to eat and risen up to play, without ever calling to mind the giver of those blessings of which he was in the habitual enjoyment; who, instead of eating and drinking in order to live, lives only to eat and to drink; who is so completely occupied in his pleasures and his appetites that God is not in all his thoughts; who thinks it no profit to pray unto him, and who cares not to serve him ; whose glory is in his shame; who minds earthly things, and covets earthly gratifications, and is altogether of the earth, earthly. Peruse the melancholy history of such a life, from beginning to end, and then say what circumstance is wanting to complete that eritire alienation of the heart from God which he stigmatises as idolatry. How
could the Supreme be more effectually deposed from his throne than he is from that man's affections? How could he possibly pour greater contempt on all the pure commandments of his Maker than by such a life as we have described? Would it in the least heighten his apostacy, or aggravate his forgetfulness of God, were he even to personify his pleasures, or to raise a molten image to his lusts, after the most disgusting example of the ancient idolaters? Would it, in fact, add to the estrangement of his affections from the most high God, were he to perform the orgies, and chant the pæans, and adopt all the folly and all the mockery of the former superstition ? Were he actually to embody the inward conceptions of his lust, and surround them with all the pomp of an outward and visible adoration, would it alter his intrinsic character in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do? No: if the high consideration and honor which belong to God, and to bim only, are taken away from him, it matters little whether they are bestowed on the devices of a refined sensualism, or on the grosser objects of Pagan idolatry. The Supreme is, in either case, dethroned from his lawful sovereignty, and another reigns in his stead. His holy law is violently torn from that preeminence which it justly claims, and some other principle made to occupy its place. Whether they are the abstract devices of a corrupt imagination, or the personifications of a beastly sensualism, which are thus exalted in the place of Deity, he cannot but look upon the wretched being, who has given himself up to such a wilful delusion, as plunged in all the guilt, and obnoxious to the punishment of those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge.
Second. Again, we read of a covetousness, which is idolatry. One of the most decided points in the controversy between mankind and their Maker, is respecting the relative value of the goods of this world. His word has stamped them with the impress of an inferior worth, and most emphatically commands us not to set our hearts upon them; while the constant endeavor of mankind is to exalt them into objects of preeminent importance; to attach to them an inordinate value, and bestow upon the attainment of them their most zealous and persevering labor. Now, of all the forms of idolatry, as this is the most common, so it is the least excusable. “ The covetous man,” says an able writer, “is not like the sensualist, goaded on by the power of native appetite, but by the force of a habit which he has himself created. Instead of embarking in the heat of passion, he sits down with all the calmness of calculating principle; he consecrates the best powers of his mind, the noblest faculties of his soul, and the warmest affections of his heart, to the great object of a fortune in this world; he makes the acquirement of gain the settled aim, and the prosecution of that aim the settled habit of his existence. With the wealth he has gotten by his own hands, does he feel himself as independent of God as the Pagan does, who, happy in the fancied protection of an image made with his own hand, suffers no disturbance to his quiet from any thought of the real, but the unknown Deity. Baal and Moloch were not more substantially the gods of rebellious Israel, than Mammon is the god of his affections." Nor would it in the least aggravate his forgetfulness of God, if the fortune which is first in his thoughts, and uppermost in his desire, were represented by a visible image and enshrined on a pedestal, around which he might assemble his household, and make it the object of their morning and evening devotions. It is thus, my brethren, that God may discover the essentials of idolatry amongst the men of a refined and enlightened period; thus may he maintain the charge against us, after the visible tokens of it have been abolished, and the material images of it have been overthrown. No wonder, then, that He who cannot be mocked by a vain show of lip service, while the heart is given to another, should so affectionately warn his ch from covetousness; no wonder that He who will not give his glory to another, should direct the exhortation of our text to every kindred and tongue and people, and wherever his name is heard, or his word is read, among the populations of earth, that he should solemnly admonish them, by his apostle, to keep themselves
Third. Again, let us consider the case of some who have exalted themselves into the place of the Deity. That mysterious and incomprehensible being called "self,” fixing the strong foundations of its empire in the pride of the human heart, rules over the lives and destinies of men with despotic sway. It exhibits an hundred shapes, and has an almost endless multiplicity of operations, but is at bottom the same principle of corrupt and selfish pride. ' In one it is the pride of opinion, in another the pride of learning, in another the pride of wealth, in another the pride of stations, in another the pride of fashion, and in another the pride of personal accomplishment, which seduce their affections away from Him, who is chiefest among ten thousand. Their hearts are as truly devoted to the service of another, distinct and separate from the God of Heaven, as if the invisible idol which they worship were wrought into one great collossal statue, whose head should reach the heavens, and he should stand one foot upon the earth, and the other upon the sea, and call upon all nations to bow down and do him homage. Among this crowd of worshippers, we will single out as the subject of our last illustration,
Fourth. The man who has enthroned his own intellect in the place of God. We have already defined idolatry to be the substitution of some other principle for obedience to the Supreme Lawgiver. And I apprehend the whole extent of the definition may be realized in the case of him who follows the devices of his own heart, the deductions of bis own reason, or the lifting up of his own imagination, as well as of him who has made gold his hope, and said, to the fine gold, thou art my confidence." There are those who have set themselves down to the acquisition of knowledge precisely as the covetous man to heaping up treasures, and labored as earnestly at the post of their ardent and unremitting exertions; who have contemplated their increasing stock of literature, with the eye of selfcomplacency, which the other casts upon his glittering hoards ; and have allowed their intellectual gains and their growing reputation to separate just as effectually between them and God, as do the treasures of the most hardened votary of Mammon. Although there seems but little danger at present of this form of idolatry becoming universal, from the general reluctance of our species to cultivate their intellectual powers, still, wherever its dominion is once established over the human mind, so deeply are its foundations laid in the nature of man; so consonant is the exertion of
DEATH PREFERABLE TO LIFE:
BY THE REV. SAMUEL FULLER, JUN.,
EDITOR OF THE EPISCOPAL WATCHMAN, HARTFORD, AND RECTOR OF ST. LUKE'S CHURCH,
Job vii. 16%" I would not lide alway."
THERE are few stronger principles in the human breast than the love of life. The desire of selfpreservation is instinctive, and operates long before reason dawns, or experience attaches us to the pleasures of existence. As it precedes the exercise of natural affections, so it is sometimes found to overcome and outlive the kind and social feelings of the soul. How strong and lasting in its nature, and how tender and constant in its exercise, is maternal affection ? Time or distance will not weaken it, nor the ingratitude or misconduct of its beloved object destroy its attachment; and yet it can be extinguished by the stronger instinct, the desire of selfpreservation. It would be incredible, were it not a recorded truth of history, that a famishing mother would appease her hun. ger with the flesh of her own children. The melancholy record proves that of all natural principles none is more powerful than the innate love of life.
Nor are men attached to life merely by the principle of instinct, "I could willingly die,” said an expiring Christian, “were there not friends, to whom it is hard to say farewell.” Life is made pleasant, and attachment to it is strengthened, by friendship and the social relations. Confirmed habits of honorable and useful employment, the prospect of doing good, and the apparent and real dependence of others upon them, may make men loth to die.
And then our fears have exhibited death with terrific aspect, and surrounded it with horrid drapery. The coffin, the shroud, the darkness and dampness, the silence and coldness of the grave, the worm and the corruption, and the untried and eternal state into which death introduces the soul, are circumstances calculated to make the stoutest heart recoil, and cling with closest grasp upon