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law than that which regulates the proprieties of domestic or social life, seeks carefully to obey that law, but forgets the great law of his spiritual being, and lives well nigh regardless of judgment and eternity ? No. Depravity still lives within, and incubates, and broods over her offspring there, and the beart remains at enmity with God. But not thus are the reformations of Christianity. Christianity works its amendments, by taking dispositions to evil out of the heart. It helps man to break away from evil, by making him love virtue. To the deceiver, Christianity gives the love of truth ; to the thief, the love of honesty; and to the impure man, pure thoughts. And the man thus reformed is better, not by constraint, but as the spontaneous action of a better heart. All this, as the legitimate and unvarying result of the agencies of the Christian system in the believer's soul, to say nothing of the mighty helps which God gives, in times of special need, against temptations without and remaining corruptions within, in the positive aids of the Holy Spirit,-aids which are real, and ready, and effective. Christianity awakens a new life in the soul,-a life repellant of antagonist principles, ex pulsive of whatever cannot be assimilated to its own nature, and which, in its ultimate and sure development, makes the entire soul heavenly,—not failiny, in its progressive assimilation, to mark the outward life with corresponding holiness and beauty. Thus, by patient continuance in well-doing, by reliance on God and watcbfulness against sin, the believer,—even if he have been more deyraded than the brutes, a worse slave of appetite and passion than they, -gains one moral conquest after another, until reason and righteousness triumph, and he becomes, in his spiritual being, intimately allied with the angels on high. Such is the power of Christianity. Such are the effects wbich it has wrought, which it is still working, and will continue to work, till man is every where renovated. And is it possible, that that religion, which so exactly adapts itself to man, which thus reforms him, not by an outward force, but by the impulse of a new agency within, can be a cunningly devised fable? It is an insult to reason, to say it.
Finally: As the culminating point of its blessings, Christianity pledges and ensures an introduction into immortal happiness beyond the grave. Man knew, indeed, without Christianity, that he needed such an introduction. Although thick darkness hung like a pall over the future world, and the realities of that
VOL. II.--NO. V.
world were matters of conjecture rather than of certainty, there was yet, in the eternal connexion between sin and misery, a foretokening of judgment to conie; and the sinner, as he gazed on that darkness, must have felt, that death would light it up witb Jurid flames, and that his future condition would be worse than the present. But Christianity takes away the veil from the coming world, bringing life and immortality to light in the gospel. By supplying the conditions of holiness, it pledges to those, in whom these conditions are fulfilled, a world of joy. It does not, indeed, promise a paradise, where sense shall revel in its unworthy delights; nor does man need such a one; he has already found, in the experience of bis niortal existence, that to be carnally-minded is death. It reveals a world of pure spirits and of eternal blessedness,—a world made of such characters as those to which the Christian's own spiritual being is approximating, and convinces him, that that is the paradise he needs. It draws his affections, as by a magnet, to the skies, and attracts bis hopes to the throne of Jehovah and the presence of Christ. Nor is this anticipation of a future and blessed immortality the mere day-dream of a delusive hope. No. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. At the moment of his spiritual birth, he feels the rush of a new life-current through every vein and artery of bis spiritual being, -the current of a life, which, as the river, rising in the mountain-top and flowing steadily on to the ocean, is one river, is emphatically ONE LIFE,-a life which is a well-spring within him, springing up into life everlasting,—so that bis faith becomes the very substance of thinys hoped for, and thus the evidence of things not seen. His faith' becomes to his spirit what the eye is to his body; it becomes the eye of bis spirit ; and, under the influence of a warm, apostolic piety, it beholds heaven, as certainly as the eye does the sun, when it blazes on high at mid-day. For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with bands, elernal in the heavens.
Such, then, is Christianity. It finds man ignorant and perplexed, and instructs bim, and solves bis doubts. It finds him following a thousand erring lights, and gives him one unchanging standard of duty ;—the victim of conscious guilt, and gives bin peace. It finds him weak and depraved, and strengthens and sanctifies him ;-lost, and saves him. So perfectly is it adapted to man, that it would not benefit beings differing in character and condition. And wbile man does not enjoy its blessings, he is the victim of painful want. Ignorance, perplexity, error, remorse, depravily, danger, present spiritual ruin, and the sad presage of direr ruin 10 come !—are the elements in which man, without God, bas bis beiny, and constitute an afflictive moral want, which the mind can conceive only as it feels it unrelieved, and in ignorance that relief is provided. Philosophy cannot supply the longings of man's fallen spirit; no, -it bas tried in vain. Mohammedanism canvot do it; Paganism, Deism, Atheism, cannot. Give to man any thivg else than Christianity, and you mock bis fears,—you tantalize bis hopes, -you sport with the wants which distress him. It is like seeking to allay thirst with the air, or to satisfy hunger with sand. Christianity is the religion for man. It bas about it all the marks of heavenly and beneficent design; and as certainly as God gave light for the eye, or sound for the ear, or food for hunyer, or the crystal fountain for thirst, so certainly did he bestow our faith. In fine, all analogy is false, or Christianity is true. All logic is deceptive, all consciousness mistaken, all knowledge illusive, or Christianity is from the skies.
If, then, Christianity is true, it is practical for all men. This thought bas, indeed, been developed in the mode of argument which we have pursued, but it deserves a distinct consideration. All truth is thus practical. Is it true, that an unsupported body will fall to the ground, in obedience to the law of gravitation ? If so, the practical lesson here furnished is, ihat we should avoid the precipice, and secure the benefits of the law by placing ourselves in harmony” with it.* So of the organic laws, and so of all the laws under which man is placed. Our Creator has made our good inseparable from our living in harmony with the truth. Nor is truth the creature of circumstances, changing with time and place,-a sea, whose stormy bosom no bark may safely trust. Truth is every where and for ever the same, at once the condition and the pledge of well-being. If, then, Christianity is true, let man place bimself in harinony with it. If it is the law of moral recovery, the power and the mode of man's restoration to God, its claims are enforced by appropriate sanctions, and, like all law, it appeals to our hopes and fears. As well might we throw ourselves from the precipice and escape unhurt, as persist in
* Combe's Constitution of Man.
refusing the claims of Christianity and yet become reconciled to God. Heaven is the full development of the new life awakened in the soul by the Redeemer, and for man there is no other heaven. To hope for it, is to shut the eye against all analogy, and to silence the intuitions that speak within.
But the doubting reader,—if such an one shall cast his eye upon these pages,—may object, that we are calling upon him to receive Christianity as true, on testimony which, having its ground in the believer’s consciousness, he cannot be supposed able to comprehend. We shall not stop to test the sincerity of this objection, but at once we return this answer:
"Christianity is not a Theory, or a Speculation, but a Life. Not a Philosophy of Life, but a Life and a living process. Therefore,
Try it. It has been eighteen hundred years in existence, and has one Individual left a record, like the following? [I tried it; and it did not answer. I made the experiment faithfully, according to the directions; and the result has been, a conviction of my own credulity.] Have you, in your own experience, met with any one in whose words you could place full confidence, and who has seriously affirmed, (I have given Christianity a fair trial. I was aware that its promises were made only conditionally. But my heart bears me witness, that I have to the utmost of my power complied with these conditions. Both outwardly and in the discipline of my inward acts and affections, I have performed the duties which it enjoins, and have used the means which it prescribes. Yet my Assurance of its truth has received no increase. Its promises have not been fulfilled : and I repent me of my delusion.] If neither your own experience nor the history of almost two thousand years has presented a single testimony to this purport; and if you bave read and heard of many who have lived and died bearing witness to the contrary; and if you have yourself met with some one, in whom on any other point you would place unqualified trust, who has, on his own experience, made report io you, that “he is faithful who promised, and what he promised he has proved himself able to perform:' is it bigotry, if I fear that the Unbeliet, which prejudges and prevents the experiment, has its source elsewhere than in the uncorrupted judgment; that not the strong, free Mind, but the enslaved Will is the true original Infidel in this instance It would not be the first time, that a treacherous Bosom-Sin had Suborned the Understandings of men to bear false witness against its avowed enemy, the right though unreceived Owner of the House, who had long warned it out, and waited only for its ejection to enter and take possession of the same.” *
S. S. C.
* Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, pp. 131, 132.
CHURCH'S PHILOSOPHY OF BENEVOLENCE.
The Philosophy of Benevolence. By PHARCELLUS CHURCH,
A. M. New-York. pp. 355. 1836.
We gave, in our last number, a brief notice of this book. We have hoped to receive, from an able pen, an extended review of the work and a thorough examination of the principles which it unfolds. We have been disappointed; but we cannot dismiss it from our pages, without some additional remarks.
The author is the pastor of a Baptist church at Rochester, N. Y. He has had considerable experience as a minister; he possesses the habit of accurate observation, and his style, though occasionally negligent, is neat, perspicuous and forcible. Mr. Church well understands the principles of political economy, and he draws from this science happy illustrations and arguments. He has watched the operation of human passions, and has embodied in his book many striking remarks on the modifications of character, and the subtle motives wbich affect mankind. Several narratives of individuals are introduced, as illustrations of different errors and passions. These are apposite and well told. That of the miser, Mr. Harding, is a highly graphic and awful sketch. These personal narratives are useful and attractive, without being so numerous as to make the book a medley of grave discussion and amusing gossip. This style of writing, we may remark, by the way, is becoming too common. Several gifted writers have made it popular. It is desirable, to employ so much illustration as to attract, enliven and impress; but it is an evil, if didactic instruction degenerates into story-telling. The taste for light reading is already too prevalent, and there is some danger, that the public mind will lose all relish for truth, unless it be insinuated in the form of an amusing fiction, or be constantly enlivened by sprightly anecdotes.
We will now give a brief view of the train of thought in this book, with some remarks on particular topics.