« AnteriorContinua »
the single one on which I have been remarking, but to confine attention to the subject under consideration, let the abolitionist and colonizationist, each press in his own way, but harmoniously, the GREAT PRINCIPLES OF DUTY, OF RIGHT, OF BENEVOLENCE TO MAN, OF LOVE TO GOD, OF GRATITUDE TO Jesus Christ.
But, perhaps it will be inquired, more particularly, what the benevolent who take different views of the subject before us, shall do in the present crisis of affairs in relation to it. swer, first,-Govern their passions ; second, — Maintain the law of love in their heart and on their tongue; and third-Do with their might what, by light and love,' they can to meliorate the condition of the species--of the African and of every other man.
And if it be said this is all general, vague, and indeterminate, and the inquiry still be put, “How shall a man do this? I answer, by speaking-by writing-by printing and distributing what is printed among all who can read. It must, of course, be the truth and be presented as such with all plainness and fidelity. But such is the way; and whatever other way there may be, as that particularly of pecuniary contributions and prayer, let it be improved.
The present crisis evidently calls for moderation, kindness, and discretion in every thing. What is called for beside what is suggested in these particulars, is what has been dwelt upon in general, namely, harmony, union, concord, with consequent energy and strength. Indeed, this one thing of union, if it be in holy love with prayer and benevolence, will do wonders, anu accomplish everything; because this is what I leaven smiles on, and where he smiles, success crowns the effort. Controversy is sometimes necessary, and good comes out of it; but it is to be deprecated among friends, and where the parties are both the advocates of truth and patrons in common of the general objects of benevolence; nor is it controversy among such, but love, faith, prayer, effort and the giving of the substance yea, the giving of one's self, that is to accomplish the object. Yes, it is love and compassion for the wretched, the love of Christ and compassion like that which he manifested--it is these that are to melt down the the world and prepare it for the impress of his holiness.
Behold how they love each other, should be the irsesistible appeal; and then another scarcely less effectual, and no man said ought that he had was his own. Let these traits of character be acted out—let them appear throughout the nationlet there be harmony and love and benevolence after this sort; and who need care for nullification, or tariff, or abolition in opposition to colonization, things once dreaded, but now known only as past and gone. O yes, union, this blessed union of all the good! the gates of hell even, shall never prevail against it.
It may require some apology, Mr. Editor, that I should wish to speak in your pages after this manner, and I confess I am not sure that there is any occasion. It is to be hoped, that the growing excitement on the subject of slavery may prove only as the necessary but harmless effervescence accompanying the action of affinities and repulsions in the glorious change so devoutly to be wished; but it is to be remembered also, that it may prove as the preparatory action of a galvanic battery of sufficient power in the discharge, to sever the Union and dash the hopes of the world. No exceptions, therefore, need be taken. Caution, if it do not stifle enterprize and prevent effort, will do no harm; and it was the maxim of the father of his country, 'in peace to be prepared for war.'
φρόνημα το Πνεύματος, OR THE GRACE AND DUTY OF BEING SPIRITUALLY MINDED. By John Owen, D. D. Abridg. ed by EBENEZER PORTER, D. D., President of the Theological Seminary, Andover. Boston Peirce & Parker. 1833. 12mo. pp. 211.
Every age has its own peculiar character. Take the entire lifetime of the world thus far, and no two have been alike. Call up any of the long series of past generations, and not only will their costume and behavior appear peculiar, but so will their intellectual, social and moral character. How different the simplicity of patriarchal times from the luxury and splendor of the times of Solomon. And where are the points of resemblance between the thousands who partook of the universal phrenzy of the Crusades, and those who afterwards commenced and led on the Reformation, or those who in our day have commenced and are carrying on the work of Missions and the various other modern enterprizes of benevolence.
Now whatever the age, it is important for those who live in it and would be useful, to study well its characteristics. Calvin and Luther and the other reformers were powerful men in the age in which they lived. But were they to come forward now, just as they were when they lived and did so much, they would find themselves ill adapted to engage at once in the labors of the present age. They would quickly adjust themselves, no doubt, to whatever should invite their efforts, but they would need to become aequainted with the character of the age, before they could employ themselves to the best advantage; and the more perfecıly they should become acquainted with it the more perfectly would they become adapted to be useful, and the higher usefulness would they attain.
What then are some of the characteristics of the present age? We cannot go into them at length, but they are, generally, and in a word, wakefulness and enterprize; and this is true of evil as well as of good.
We would not expose ourselves to the charge of being cynical and captious, or doubtful of the good, and disposed to aug. ment the evil. We fully accord to what we suppose is the prevailing sentiment of the community around us, and of the world in general, that no age has ever been so buoyant in hopeful expectation. The day we believe has more than dawned—the day of redemption. The twilight is passing away. Already the summits of the distant hills are crowned with golden Justre. Vallies remain here and there where the shadows still linger, but in these, and even in the remotest glen, the darkness has disappeared or is fast retiring, and the sun is coming up rapidly to his meridian height, to shed on all at once the effulgence of his glory. Not only are the enterprizes which have been alluded to in successful progress, but so also is all that which is opposed to their complete accomplishment, in a state of decay and disso lution. Paganism is crumbling and tottering to its fall. Mohammedanism is qualmish with mortal sickness. And Infidelity and Popery, though active through restiveness, and fitfully bold and daring through conscious guilt and incipieni despair alternating with lingering hope, are ghastly and pale ; anticipating more and more their doom, and knowing apparently, ihat their time is short. The results contemplated in the moral providence of God are developing more and more, and cannot be prevented. The winter may struggle to hold dominion, and yield reluctantly to spring, but spring must come, and the summer succeed. And if in the life of man, youth and manhood and the full maturity of years, are destined in due time to succeed infancy and childhood; so in the life of the world, that maturity is coming fast to be realized. The changes which in everything and everywhere, are taking place-ominous though some of them may be in themselves considered—will no doubt
VOL. VI.NO. VII.
hasten it. Indeed, we fear not for changes, merely because they are changes. Improvement implies change, and unless we would be stationary and never improve where we really might, we must not be offended or alarmed at changes. What a change from the Jewish to the Christian dispensation! yet who would not have had it take place. What a change from Popery to Protestantism ! and who would go back to the dark ages. How great, too, the more recent and more gradual change which has taken place within the last century or even half century! and yet who would return to the state of former ages when not only science in some respects and the arts of life, but principles and modes of education, the reciprocal ok ligations of man to man, and all the activities of a more and micre wakeful, expanded and expansive benevolence, were but imperfectly understood. It would be to turn back the sunny morning into the sliadows of the night--though we had slepi long encugh, and would now be at our work. No; the prospect we would hail with joy. The same God reigns, who reigned of old, and they who leared in former days, were they now alive to see what has become of the things they feared, would blu h for their want of faith, and awake to new anfidence and diligence in duty, leaving events with God.
Yet one thing further. With all that is so cheering and animating--and though'God will provide,' it is through nieans that he operates, and we have need of caution. We cannot specify everything in relation to which we need it, but we need it in relation to many things, and to none more, perhaps, ilian to that self-confidence and self-gratulation, which from ihe circumstances of the age in which we live, so naturally jusinuate themselves and win upon our acceptance. We speak of professors of religion, particularly, and the caution we would suggest is: “ Be not high-minded, but fear." It is lamentable for a Christian professor to be in the condition of the spouse in the song of Solomon, when she complains,' bul mine own vineyard have I not kept,' but it is to be feared, that not a few in this age of religious activity, have too much occasion to adopt her language in relation to personal piety and the state of their hearts towards God; and we verily believe that here lies the principal danger in relation to all that otherwise is so fair and promising. Our dangers, like our duties, are as our circumstances and the character of the age in which we live. We need wakefulness and enterprize, and these guided by discretion and Chuistian wisdom, cannot be possessed in too eminent a degree ; but in order to possess the wisdom, we must “ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not ;" and this is necesary, not
only for the few who lead the movements, but for the many who furnish the means. Only Moses' hands need be stayed up,' but they must be sustained by others as well as himself, not excepting, through their faith, the whole congregation. And if Israel failed at first to enter Canaan, as they might, through want of enterprize and confidence in God, it was yet a huinble confidence and a holy enterprize that was needed ; and often afterwards when they would prevail against their enemies, they were discomfited to their confusion and the exposure of their presumption. Nor need we fear, that a humble dependence on God and the cultivation of a broken and contrite spirit, will damp the ardor of religious zeal, or check the wakefulness of religious enterpriz”. Whatever danger of this sort there may have been in a former age, it has pissed away now. Holy love is active in its nature, and now that the channels for it to flow in, are opened so broad and deep and in such numbers, too, there can be no danger of stagnation. The only danger is, that the fountain in the Christian's heart will become dricd up, or degenerate into a spurious character, through lack of frequent, near, lonely communion with God and Christ. Ministers are in danger, and private Christians are in danger: while there. fore the diligence and the activity cannot be too great, the aim cannot be too single to glorify God, nor the dependence for success too entire on his GRACE.
And here is just where, if Christians will read and apply the truth to their hearts, we anticipate an advantage from such works as this before us. We regret not being able to go into the subject as we could wish, but we are convinced of nothing more fully, than of the importance of a continually growing state of piety in all our churches, in order to permanent valuable Christian enterprize and action; and we venture the few suggestions here presented, not only to welcome the publication of Owen, which we think timely in this respect, but in hope also of calling out some of our correspondents or others who may have time and ability to present the subject as it should be presented, and do it justice. It is a subject which deserves a thorough discussion, and whoever will take it up as it ought to be taken up, will do a good work and promote the cause of Christ. In the mean time a revision of some of the old authors may be of service, and this of Owen is commendable and worthy. The Spiri}ual Mindedness is a book which, in this day of act've exertion, is well worthy to be possessed by every Christian family, and to be repeatedly read with prayer and meditation, hy every professor of religion who would have even 'a name to live.' Dr. Owen lived in an age very different from the prescut, and