Obrazy na stronie

Verses 13, 14.... Thou wentest forth for salvation to thy people, no Tireurve thine elect: thou woundedst the head of an impious race, overturning his foundations even to the middle. Thou emotest through with his own weapons the chief of his villages, who were rushing to our de. struction, with madness, as to devour the poor secretly—Cast. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed : thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundations unto the neck. Thou didst strike through with his staves, the head of his villages : They came out as a whirlwind to scatter me : Their rejoicing was to devour the poor secretly-Bib. The Prophet in this passage appears to allude to some war in which the people of God had been engaged, and in which God had mani. fested his goodness, in saving them from imminent destruction. And here it is manifest at once, that the allusion is clearer, and the sense better expressed by Castellio, than by our translation.

Lastly, verses 15, 16.... Thou rodest through the sea with thy horses, through the mass of great waters. My breast trembles at hearing this ; my lips quiver at the fame of it: My limbs totter, and I tremble in my steps: Yet shall I be at rest in an adverse time, when he shall ascend, who shall come to invade my people-Cast. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice rottenness entered into my bones ; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble : when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops-Bib. In the latter part of this passage, the obscurity of the Bible translation is quite removed, by the turn given to the sense in Castellio ; it is a declaration of his pi. ous trust in God, let who will invade the land with his troops; and then he goes on in the next verse to express his reliance on the same power, in the midst of other calamities, such as drouth and famine ; even though the fig-tree should not blossom, nor fruit be in the vine. But in this beautiful passage there is no difference in the two translations ; nor thence to to the end of the chapter.


THE story of the forty Martyrs of Sebartè would happily illustrate a discourse that treated on the necessity of perseverance : the unexpected desertion of one of the holy band, if properly com: mented upon, would exhibit a terrifying example.

These illustrious soldiers suffered for their faith, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Lucinus, A. D. 320: they belonged to the same company, and were enlisted into the Thundering Legion. Agricola, the governor of the province, having published an order directing the army to sacrifice to the Pagan deities, forty Christian soldiers represented their peculiar situation, and refused to join their comrades in the act of sacrifice. This refusal irritated the governor, to whose menaces they returned this heroic answer :That his power did not extend to their will ; it only extends to the infliction of corporeal pain, which they had learned to despise when

they became soldiers. The governor, highly incensed at their courage, devised an extraordinary kind of death. Under the walls of the tower was a river, which was frozen. Agricola ordered :be protesting soldiers to be exposed naked on the ice ; a warm bath was prepared at a short distance, for any who should relent. They readily consented to undergo the severe trial; and having for a considerable time endured the thrilling agony of the freezing air, one unhappy sufferer relented. While the gates of heaven were just opening to his view, while bands of angels were preparing his crown of victory, and saints expecting his ascending spirit, the wretched apostate rose from his icy couch, crawled to the seductive bath, and stooping into the warm emollient water, expired.

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THE subject of my last essay was an attempt to shew that Christianity, so soon as it gained any considerable footing, was found to produce a much greater degree of purity in morals and manners, than was observable among the professors of other religions ; that this was so remarkable as to have forced a confession of its truth from the greatest enemies to the Christian name. To make this appear more satisfactorily, some additional testimony should be ad. " duced.

And perhaps we cannot pitch upon a better than that of Julian the apostate, as he is usually called ; of whom, it is believed, few Christian readers have not heard. After Constantine and his three sons, who succeeded him in the empire, had professed themselves Christians, and of course Christianity had become the established religion ; Julian having been educated in that religion, on coming to the throne, renounced his profession, and attempted to re-establish paganism. This attempt was not indeed made by persecution and violence, as all Christian writers allow, but in a way far more artful and likely to succeed, by persuasion and flattery, by heaping honours and preferments upon pagans and pagan teachers, having them about his person, and in his counsels, by rebuilding, ornamenting and endowing pagan temples ; and above all, by labouring to reform the abuses and corruptions which prevailed among the worshippers of the pagan divinities ; by striving to introduce a purermorality, and more decency of manners. There is preserved a letler of his, written in prosecution of this design, to one of the pagan chief priests ; almost the only purport of which is, to represent the necessity of such a reformation among those who served at the altars. And the chief argument on which he dwells above all others is, the superior morality of Christians, which he directly admits contribut. ed much to the success of that profession. His concessions are so full, that almost the whole epistle deserves here to be transcribed.

After congratulating his correspondent upon the happy consequen. ces of what had been done, and observing that it was more than he could have hoped, he adds, “ What then ? shall we acquiesce here,


6 and think these things enough, and not rather cast our eyes upon “ those things that have advanced the impious religion of the Chris« tians? I mean their kindness and compassion to strangers, their “ diligent care in burying the dead ; and that feigned seriousness « and gravity that appears in their whole carriage; all which, I am “ of opinion, we ought really to put in practice. Nor is it enough " that you alone are thus qualified, but all the priests in Galatia ought « to be altogether such : and to that purpose, either shame or per“ suade them into it, or remove them from their sacerdotal function, “ unless, together with their wives, children and servants, they stu" diously apply themselves to the worship of the gods; nor suffer their “ servants, children or wives to be Galileans ; who are despisers of the 6 gods, and prefer impiety before religion. Moreover, warn every “ priest that he go not to the theatre, nor sit drinking in taverns, nor « apply himself to any mean trade. Those that comply, give them “honour and respect ; those that continue obstinate, turn them out.

Appoint several hospitals for poor travellers in every city, that “ indigent strangers, not of ours only, but of any other way, may “ enjoy the benefit of our grace and charity. For the defraying « which expences I have now made provision ; for I have ordered " thirty thousand bushels of wheat to be yearly distributed through“ out Galatia, and sixty thousand quarts of wine ; a fifth part wherec of I will have allowed to the poor officers that wait upon the priests; “ the remainder you shall distribute among the poor and strangers : “ For it were a great shame that when none of the Jews go a begging, " and when the wretched Galileans relieve not only their own, but « ours too, that our poor only should be deserted by us, and left na6 ked and helpless. Wherefore adınonish the Gentiles that they « contribute liberally to these services."

It should be remembered that these concessions come from perhaps the most determined, though subtle and crafty adversary that Christianity ever had to contend with. To these he was manifestly compelled, as much by the nature of the craft he proposed to use, as by the force of truth ; for notwithstanding his commendation of the lives and manners of the Christians, he cannot help shewing his spleen towards them by descending to use harsh names, and unfair insinuations, such as, feigned seriousness, impious religion, wretched Galileans, and the like. These are decided proofs of his enmity, and, at the same time, of the power of truth ; that he was mortified at being compelled to such commendation. Sobriety and regularity of manners, with charity and benevolence to the needy, are among the greatest virtues ; on these, in an eminent degree, depend the peace and happiness of the world ; and these, after the example of Christians, he recommends to his pagan votaries. Can there be a more desicive proof than this, that there was something very conspicuous in the manners and conduct of a set of people thus commended by their greatest enemy!

Among other things here recommended to the imitation of the pagans, we find hospitals and charitable institutions for the relief of the indigent, which, it has been remarked in a former essay, were exclusively the offspring of Christianity ; and are a blessing to the

world, and an honour to human nature, wherever they have appeared and been supported. • It is not indeed pretended that infidels of the present day, who in their writings or conversation oppose revelation generally, have ever felt or expressed a wish to abolish such institutions. All of them, at least, who possess the feelings of humanity, would, like Julian; heartily desire to see them more numerous and extensive. But since many of them think proper to accuse Christianity of being the cause of a great deal of mischief to the world, it is right that the goodit has done should also be put into the opposite scale, in order that a fair judgment may be formed. Now that we are in full enjoyment of so great a blessing, it does not become us to despise and set at nought the mother from whence it was derived ; but on the contrary, with gratitude and reverence we should be led cautiously to enquire, whether the alledged evils are fairly ascribable to a source, from whence so much good has been derived. The spirit of universal beneficence and good will, so repeatedly inculcated by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, from whence the institutions we are considering had their origin, has done and is doing good enough in the world to atone for all the real or supposed evils which have sprung from Christianity. As the sick were healed, the lame made to walk, the deaf to hear, and the tongue of the dumb to sing ; nay and the dead were raised to life by the mighty power of Christ ; so by the benevolent institutions which are supported in Christian countries, under the inspiration of his religion, the same events are now literally taking place. Hospitals and infumaries, with liberal endowments, for the cure of all manner of diseases and defects of body, or for the comfortable support of such as are incurable by any human means, are to be found wherever Christianity has come. By these means the lame walk, the blind see, and the heart of him who has no helper or friend is made to rejoice. Under the influence of the same benevolent spirit, in many Christian countries, provision is made by the public for the support of the indigent and unforlunate. By the like institutions the dumb are taught to speak ; and even the dead are raised to life ; for who hath not heard of the Humane Societies for the recovery of persons that have been drowned ? That all those who aid these benevolent designs are even so much as professed Christians, is riot pretended. But what then ? Christians first set the example ; and the spirit by which they act, came from the gospel. Let honour then be given to whom honour is due. Let the stream be traced to its fountain-head ; and let Christians know and consider to what they are indebted for so many of the temporal blessings they enjoy.

As Christians, we ought not chiefly to prize our religion on account of the temporal advantages and blessings we derive from it ; by no means; but it is chiefly to be prized for the peace of mind it affords under a sense of God's reconciled favour, and the glorious prospects of a future world, where there will be no more mixture of good and evil. To these the sincere Christian ever repairs for consolation, and the support of his spirits in the hour of affliction, and day of calamity. Yet still, since its temporal benefits to the world are denied by some, we may and ought to recur to facts to establish what they deny. And in the present case, the fact we insist upon cannot be denied. These benevolent institutions are exclusively of Christian origin. They were unknown in the world be. fore the Gospel of Jesus appeared. Notwithstanding the progress in arts and civilization made by some ancient nations, they were un. thought of : And in those countries where it has not yet spread, trav. ellers tell us of no such thing ; but the poor and destitute, the sick and infirm are left to depend altogether on casual benevolence, or perish by hundreds and thousands, as they are daily doing. And what is far more shocking, children are exposed by their parents to certain death, or thrown into rivers and drowned ; and this on the plea that they are unable to maintain them. A practice, so revolting to the feelings of a Christian, is to this day tolerated and encouraged by the law in the great empire of China, as is agreed by all who have ever visited that country; and the same barbarous practice prevailed, in a greater or less degree, in the ancient civilized nations, that existed before the light of the gospel shone upon the world. But wherever the spirit of Christian charity has prevailed, providing from the abundance of the rich for the necessities of the poor, and so soon as ever it has gained fooling, aided we ought indeed to suppose by natural affection, this outrage on human nature, this worse than brutal savageness disappeared. Nor can there be a doubt, but if the providence of God should so order, that Christianity might prevail in China, it would immediately produce the same happy effect among that people, as it bas elsewhere. Let parents be assured that the means of support may be had, by charity, if no other way; and the force of natural affection may be relied on for the rest.

Such have been, now are, and, we trust, will long continue to be, the blessed fruits of that Christian charity, inculcated by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, which considers all men as brethren, entitled to the bounties of Providence, and therefore from abundance makes provision for need. With Christianity such institutions began :Every Church had its treasury for charitable purposes, from whence the needy were relieved. This practice is mentioned by all the early Christian writers; it is appealed to as a proof of the goodness of their principles, and the happy tendency of their religion. The pagans were boldly asked for similar charities fsom the rich treasu. ries of their temples. Let them tell me” saith St. Ambrose, in his controversy with Symachus, the pagan, « what captives were ever redeemed, what hospitals maintained, what exiles provided for by the incomes of the temples ?” In various shapes, and appropriated to different objects, such munificent charities bave been continued to our times; and perhaps, notwithstanding too much indifference to religion in general, were never more extensive than at present ; so that mistortune and calamity of almost every kind, finds alleviation, if not relief. How truly commendatory are these things of that religion in which they have their origin! They surely ought to inspire veneration and respect for an institution which has proved so beneficent to the world, and check the forwardness of profane scof. fers.

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