« PoprzedniaDalej »
of eternal life. Many commentators of this word, appear to be good for little else, than to perplex the head and suppress the ardour of the heart. Do read the scriptures, as you would the last will of some dear departed friend, in which you would expect a large bequest; and tell me, then, in the sincerity of your soul, what you there see to circumscribe the social affections, to depress the risings of benevolence, to check the generous effusions of humanity? Littleness of mind and narrowness of temper, were certainly no parts of our Saviour's character; and there is nothing contained in his gospel which he did not exemplify. Strange that an institution that begins and ends in benignity should be prostituted to countenance the workings of malevolence! should produce animosity between those minds it was intended to unite! But there is not a corruption in the human heart, that has not borrowed, sometimes, the garb of religion.
Christianity, however, is not the less precious to the humble and honest believer, that knaves and hypocrites have so long abused it; for let bigots and sceptics say what they will, it softens and enlarges the heart, warms and fills the mind of the believer, as certainly and as sensibly too, as the sun does the earth. This criterion is as obvious as it is decisive. A steadfast faith in the gospel of the Son of God is always accompanied with an upright and cordial obedience. Whoever would be thought pious without this genuine seal of piety, be his behaviour as starch, and his face as sanctimonious as you will, mark him as a hypocrite. But the man whose bosom heaves with kindness, who would not do or say any thing to hurt his neighbour, whose ruling disposition is to be benevolent and kind, lives under religion's influence. Contemplate the life and imitate the character of Christ Jesus our Saviour. In him we behold a character free from every shade of human weakness, yet softened by every tender feeling; a man of sorrows and severely tried, more ami. able than all the sons of men. His religion breathes love and good will to men; no selfish principle, nor any but that which leads to immortal happiness through faith in his blood.
From this heavenly wisdom flow pleasures that are satisfactory, and advantages that are lasting. This descendant of heaven, is the parent of all our virtues, and guardian of all our happiness. Peace and contentment, twin sisters, follow her footsteps. The spirit of God divests the heart of care, and pours on the mind where it enters a flood of light, and joy unspeakably divine. By it the spirits of darkness are dispelled, and an angel band are sent to guard this scene of our mortality. The religion of Jesus, wherever truly known and practised, promotes love and good will among men-heals the wounded spirit-dissipates the gloom of sorrow-sweetens the bitter cup of afflic
tion-extracts the sting of death, and shields from the law's direful curse, in the awful hour of judgment. Religion raises man above himself-irreligion sinks him beneath the brute. The one makes him like an angel-the other like a devil: this binds him down to every thing that is earthly, sensual, devilish: that opens heaven's portals, and lets loose all the principles of an immortal mind amongst all the glories of an eternal world. There, believer, you may view the regions of mercy without a cloud, unsullied by a vapour, unruffled by storms; where the heaven-born charities of your renewed nature never cool, never change, never die! Ere long, if now united by faith to him, who in your nature is exalted
to the throne of the universe, you will break the fetters of mortality, and escape from the brittle cage of confinement, ascend, as with the wings of a cherub, to the throne of God.
A PROPOSAL TO CHRISTIANS OF ALL DENOMINATIONS.
Every man's religion ought to regulate his politics. This will not be controverted by any Christian in argument, even though his whole conduct in civil society should be in opposition to the maxim.
It will be agreed too, that it is desirable, in every government, to have rulers who fear the Lord, and are conscientious in the discharge of their private and public duties.
The question now arises, how shall we obtain such rulers? The answer seems to the writer to be obvious. We live under republican constitutions of government, and directly or indirectly, all civil officers, from the highest to the lowest, are created by the election of the people. Among the electors we find a great majority of persons professing the Christian religion; and a majority of votes is requisite to constitute an election. How, then, can any person who is an avowed enemy to Christianity, or who is known to be openly irreligious in his moral conduct, ever secure the honours and emoluments of any office? He must disguise his infidelity, and play the hypocrite, so as to appear friendly to virtue and Christianity; or else, Christian electors must have been unfaithful to their God in the discharge of the duty of their elective franchise. In any case, in which the majority of the legal voters in any electoral district are professing Christians, it is their fault if any but the apparent friends of religion and morality are constituted officers, either of the city, town, county, state or nation, through their suffrages.
It is humbly proposed to Christians of every denomination, to abandon party politics, and come individually to this conclusion, I will never give my vote for the election of any man,
to any office, who is, according to my belief, an enemy to Chris. tianity, or a man of bad moral character. If this resolution were formed by all the Christians in our land, not in public meetings called for the purpose, but in the season of meditation and prayer to God for direction in every political duty, we should soon have no more avowed infidels, scoffers, and enemies of true religion, in any office, which is to be filled by future elections.
We should be filled with hope concerning the lasting prosperity of our highly favoured country, if real Christians of every name, would but resolve, in the fear of God, never to vote for any man, of any religious or political party, who was not believed by them to be a friend to the Bible, and a man of good moral character.
Is such a union of pious men undesirable? Is it impracticable? Would it not honour Christ? Would it not tend to secure the lasting happiness of America?
E. S. ELY.
3 Retrospect of the first Ten Years of the Protestant Mission to
China, (now in connexion with the Malay, denominated the Ultra Ganges Missions,) accompanied with Miscellaneous Remarks on the Literature, History and Mythology of China, fc. By WILLIAM MILNE. Malacca: Printed at the Anglo-Chinese Press, 1820. 8vo. pp. 376.
China, with a population, it is said, of more than three hundred millions, may in fact be considered as a “world within itself;" a part of human kind separate from the rest of the species. As this vast empire maintains no foreign alliances, it is necessarily shut out, in a very great measure, from the observation of other nations, as to its manners and laws, its religion and literature. It is true, that much valuable information has been obtained from the writings of the learned Jesuit, Du Halde, from the travels of Barrow, and the two embassies from England to the court of Peking.–But, notwithstanding, very much remains to be learned on all these subjects.
If, as is judiciously remarked, “ this empire, in its natural and moral history, in its chronology and typography, in its laws and jurisprudence, in the peculiarity of its manners and customs, and in the antiquity and singularity of its language, presents, without exaggeration, the amplest field on the face of the globe, for the researches of the naturalist, the historian, the antiquary, and the philosopher”—then assuredly the Christian world is under very great obligations to those individuals who
add any thing considerable to the stock of knowledge which we possess of this singular people.
To the benevolent Christian mind, this very populous part of the world presents a scene highly interesting and affecting.
For more than twelve years has a Protestant mission existed in China, and the result of it is presented to us in this volume.
The Rev. Dr. Milne was the associate of the first Protestant missionary, the Rev. Dr. Morrison, who was sent out by the London Missionary Society, and arrived at Canton in the year 1807.
After an appropriate Introduction, in which Dr. Milne shows that “ Christianity is suited to and intended for all nations,” and that the duty of making it known is recognised in every age—he adverts to the formation of the Missionary Society, and its attention to China.
With the origin and constitution of this society, most of our readers are acquainted; but its enlightened views, and Catholic principles, are so impressively stated by the author, that we are persuaded the following will be read with pleasure by all who love the gospel of our common salvation.
“ A just sense of the deplorable state of Pagan nations; a full conviction of the suitableness of the gospel to their condition; a firm persuasion of the truth of the divine promises; and a deep impression of the duty of all Christians to exert themselves for the propagation of divine truth, were the principles which led to the formation of the Missionary Society in London in 1795. Its specific object was, to spread the knowledge of the gospel among Heathen and other unenlightened nations; and it was the aim of those venerable men, who assisted in its formation, that its fundamental and distinguishing principle should be such as to admit, not merely of the pecuniary aids and good wishes of Christians of every denomination; but also to engage the talents of the wise among them, in the direction of its affairs, and to support the labours of such missionaries as they might severally furnish, in the promotion of its views abroad. They wished that the society should not be either Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Congregational or Methodistic, exclusively; but that it should combine all these, without being characterized by the peculiarities of any one of them: therefore they called it The Missionary Society. Hence its affairs have always been managed by a Board of Direction, chosen annually from the two established churches of England and Scotland, and from various bodies of Dissenters; and of the labourers whom it has sent forth, some are Episcopalians, some Presbyterians, some Lutherans, and some Dissenters. Thus they are united in the belief of the great truths of the gospel, and in their efforts to promote the diffusion thereof;
but they agree to differ in points of lesser moment, concerning which there never has been, and perhaps never will be, a perfect unanimity in the church."
Such are the enlightened and truly Christian principles upon which this society is founded, and that it is destined to become a most invaluable blessing to the nations of the earth sitting in Pagan darkness, is most abundantly manifest from the success which has attended its labours. It has planted the standard of the cross on every continent and in many islands, and its diffusive benevolence is limited only by “ earth's remotest bounds.”
For several years, says the author, the Missionary Society was occupied in the organization of missions to Africa, to the South Seas, &c. But no part of the world seemed so deserving of its attention as the empire of China. For notwithstanding various attempts had been made, in different periods of the church, to introduce the gospel into that country, still the thick shades of Pagan darkness hung over its immense population, who to the present hour, have neither tasted the sweets of political freedom, nor beheld the reviving beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
To show the importance of such a mission, and the sense which the society entertained regarding it, Dr. Milne in a concise and luminous manner, states the efforts of former ages to christianize China, and gives a “ sketch of the national and religious character of that people.” As each of these are highly interesting to the religious community, we are persuaded that no apology is necessary for introducing copious extracts from the work. According to' ecclesiastical history, “ the first attempts to make known the truths of Christianity in China, were by the Nestorians, who from the fifth century, when the sect arose, to the end of the seventh century, penetrated through the various countries eastward to Constantinople, to Tartary, where they spread their doctrines, and erected Christian societies. In the end of the seventh century, they came into China, where they also established churches.” Little more notice is taken of their proceedings for nearly five hundred years after. In the thirteenth century they are said to have had a flourishing church in the north of China, where it still continued to exist in the beginning of the fifteenth century.* In the commencement of the 16th century, Nestorianism is thought to have entirely died away in China.
Dr. Milne appears to doubt the truth of what is stated by Dr. Mosheim and other ecclesiastical historians in regard to this subject, and inclines to the opinion that Christianity was not introduced into China until the thirteenth century, when
* See Mosheim.