Imatges de pàgina

stinctively awakens the admiration of the good, than any of the miraculous works which the evangelists ascribe to him. Nothing recorded of him appears to me more sublimo, than his equable self-possession and serene benignity, when,

"Even in rebuke of sin,

Love brooded over all,
As the mild rainbow's lovely arch

Rests on the waterfall."

But if others can see in the miracles a contradistinguishing and pre-eminent display of divine characteris tics, --if they can behold in them a more satisfactory proof that he was a true teacher, and a pure moral exemplar; and if they derive spiritual strength from a belief of them, then, so be it. With those who find comfort in the miraculous narrations, and to whose spiritual development and cravings they minister, I have no controversy. I respect the conscientious convictions of all my brethren; and on this, as on all other subjects of mental speculation, I say, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."

The great essentials, which, as I humbly conceive, we need chiefly to attain, are these : an unwavering confidence in our heavenly Father; a rational, consoling and spiritually elevating belief in sentient human immortality; a perpetually realizing idea of the great fact of human brotherhood; and the vigorously active spirit of child-like moral obedience. And if I reach these, through some other medium than a belief of supernatu

ralism, ought I to be denounced, and stigmatized by harsh and unbrotherly epithets ?

I have heard it said, there are many different ways by which travellers reach the great city of London. So, I cannot but believe, there are various routes leading to the New Jerusalem, which has descended from God, out of heaven,--the Holy City of Truth, and Love, and Peace. And if one prefers to pass over the mystic bridge of Faith in Miracles, I will not pause, dissatisfied, while travelling upon Nature's grand highway, that is flower strewn, shaded from burning heat, and toll-free; nor will I call out, in angry tones of reproof, to my brother who has consulted his own conscience, and taken the route he liketh best,-though should be, after a while, think the bridge insecure, or find himself in danger of falling through, into the Gulf of Doubt, no one will rush to his relief with more alacrity than myself.

It may

Before concluding, I ought, perhaps, to offer a remark in regard to what I anticipate will be the most formidable objection presented against these Lectures. possibly be feared that their influence will tend to undermine the foundations of religious belief. Some may feel disposed to adopt the lamentation of a certain editor, who not long since exclaimed thus, through a column of his journal:

“It is a sad feature of our times, this falling away in reverence for the Bible...... The Bible is our last hope.

Take this away, and we are in a maze of uncertainty. Every man's whim will be his guide."*

I do not question the perfect sincerity of those who reason thus,-though I think their fears for the stability of religion are altogether premature and unfounded. No doubt, from their stand-point, and to their vision, the prospect appears as dubious as they represent it. But I wish to inquire, if the various sects have not always been and are not now “in a maze of uncertainty, notwithstanding all their reverence for the Bible”! Does not each religious party, from the Roman Catholics down to the Mormons, bend and twist the Bible to suit the shape of its own creed? How is it possible for the religious world to be in a much less harmonious state than it is now? How much worse is it for every man to be guided by his own "whim,” than for the mass of the people to be directed by the whims of the priesthood?

“Who with another's eye can read,
Or worship by another's creed?
Revering God's command alone,

We humbly seek and use our own." Our own "whim," if you please to call it such ;-although to us, it is the dictate of conscience, the conviction of our reason.

But I have no wish to take away" the Bible. I only plead that it may be read discriminatingly, with the mind unfettered; for, like the world in which we live, it contains the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

* Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, of August 8th, 1846.

I simply desire that we may all use it, “as not abusing it.” Then, in view of its wisdom and philanthropy, its heavenly precepts and its devotional spirit, its instructive parables and eventful records of the toils and triumphs of progressive humanity,—and with a full and intelligent appreciation of all other real excellencies it may contain,--we shall heartily respond to the sentiment of the amiable Leggett:

"This single book I'd rather own

Than all the gold and gems,
That e'er in monarch's coffers shone,

Than all their diadems;
Nay, were the seas one chrysolite,

The earth a golden ball,
And diamonds all the stars of night,

This book were worth them all.''

I rejoice at the movement which has recently been made, by the Salem Bible Society, for the more thorough distribution of this book in our immediate vicinity. The more diligently the Bible is read, in the spirit of candor, and with the single purpose of gaining a knowledge of truth, the more rational will be the estimate of its value. A superstitious and indiscriminate veneration for its entire contents, on the one hand; and an unfair depreciation of its real worth, on the other, will alike be avoided.

Not always have the common people, even in so-called Christian countries, had the privilege of reading this volume, and of exercising their judgment in regard to its meaning. The time was when they were prevented, by the civil authorities, from catching even a glimpse of

its pages. It was contended that the right of reading and interpreting it, was the especial prerogative of the clergy. And all efforts to diffuse a knowledge of its contents abroad among the people, were looked upon with extreme jealousy. When the reformer, Wickliffe, in the fourteenth century, made his translation of the Bible, he was most violently opposed by the priesthood. It is said that one Henry Knighton, a canon of Leices ter, thus bitterly complained of him:

“This Master John Wickliff translated out of Latin into English, the gospel, which Christ had intrusted with the clergy and doctors of the church, that they might minister it to the laity and weaker sort, according to the exigency of the times and their several occasions. So that by this means, the gospel was made vulgar, and laid more open to the laity, and even to women who could read, than it used to be to the most learned of the clergy, and those of the best understanding. And 80 the gospel jewel, or evangelical pearl, was thrown about and trodden under foot of swine."

The same distrust of the people which is evinced in this extract, and the same fear of the general diffusion of knowledge, was manifested at a much later period. In 1671, Sir William Berkley, one of the early settlers of Virginia, thus expressed himself, upon this subject :

“I thank God there are no free schools nor printing; and I hope we shall not have, these hundred years : for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects

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