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Some Ol-servations on the Sermons of Missionaries.
703 are called for, they will receive prompt the existence of God, or strip the soul as well as general support. The Uni- of its immortality. All the errors of tarians are a wealthy body; and if, on these misguided men proceed from conevery such occasion, a small number templating the Deity as an inexorable only of those who are able would im- judge rather than a merciful Fother; mcdiately subscribe, each, his guinea, and to shake off the dread inspired by a most iniportant object would be easily this idea, they use cvery effort to delude obtained.
theniselves into the belief, either that Your's respectfully,
there is no God to punish them, or that A CONSTANT READER. all they have to apprehend is some
slight and temporary chastisement, for Some Olservations on the Sermons of example, some worldly misfortune.
Missionaries. Translated from the But what do they gain by this perSpanish of P. Feijoo, a Alonk and suasion ? they are exactly in the situa. Pullic Writer to the King of Spain, tion of a criminal, who, Aying from in the last Century.
justice, flings himself down a precipice, (Concluded from p. 639.) and to avoid a probable punishment, I FIND I have imperceptibly as- embraces certain death they seek to
sumed the style of the pulpit, no avoid Divine justice by the mosi trewhere more superfluous than in a letter mendous of all precipices, that of imaddressed to a preacher: all I intended piety: yet even those who deny the was simply to propose the subject, existence of God, when they would leaving to you, who are so well accns- dethrone the awful Judge who will tomed to the ministry, to chiuse the pronounce sentence on their iniquity, nieans of persuasion. You may perhaps do not so much flatter themselves that apprehend, that by not denouncing they can fly from Divine justice, as the threats of God's anger against sin- thai Divine justice will Ay from them. ners, your sermons will be bui of little Other unbelievers who assert the use. It is this fear that in reality in- soul to be mortal, think by this means duces so many zealou, missionaries to
to escape from God and eternal miinsist so frequently on the torments sery: one party seek to amuibilate the and horrors of hell. I shall not deny Deity, the other to annihilate theinthe utility of these images if properly selves, hoping their souls will perish introduced : however, ihe sentiment when their bodies return to dust. Both of love to God has not only a superior schemes are impious, but the first is value and dignity far excelling any in- much more horrible and more palpably centive derived from fear, (as I before false: it is therefore probable that the hinted), but it should also be considered supporters of this opinion have been that the impressions made by love on fewer in number, because all nature the soul are inore lasting than those of proclaims the existence of its Maker in fear. The reason is that love being so loud a tone, that it seems impossible sweet, gentle and pleasing, the heart any intellectual deafness can be so finds itself at ease, and far froin repel- great as to resist its impression. ling, opens to receive and cherish'it: The majority of infidels giving up fear on the contrary, is severe, violent this cause as desperate, have ranged and disagrecable, the heart therefore themselves with the second party: rejects it as much as possible. Love freed alike from the hopes and fear of allures, fear oppresses ; love is enjoyed, a future life, they feel at liberty to fear is suffered ; lore being always an enjoy the present, and give a loose to act of the will, is likewise often the all their disorderly passions. But there object of it, that is, the will loves with is as much inadvertence as impiety in another act of reflected love: but fear this attempt to escape from God. If is invariably an irksome guest wherever the terror of Divine justice iinpels thein it gains admission, and is received to shun it, (and I acknowledge they much in the same manner as we grant are right to fly from its punishments, a lodging to an enemy who forces us what criminal but would do the same?) to open the door sword in hand; we ac- yes, let them fly from justice but not cordingly apply all our power to expel from God. How is this possible? To the invader, and frequently succeed. avoid justice they must Ay from the
The pernicious and horrible doc. judge. Every human tribunal has a trines of various unbelievers, spring limited jurisdiction; the culprit may from this principle; they either deny escape to another province, or he may retreat from one kingdom to another; Testament; for in comparison of their but if God is omnipresent and omni- power to affect the mind, the eloquence potent, whither can we flee from his of Demosthenes or Cicero on other vengeanee? This is not what I mean subjects is but unmeaning words. when I allow we may fly from Divine In one place we meet with a shepjustice ; I am sensible it is impossible here so solicitous for the preservation to escape from God: where then can of his flock, that he seeks the lost sheep we take refuge? where, but in Divine over hills and mountains, climbing mercy? Ifin a certain sense this may steeps and treading on thorns, and be decmed escaping from God, it is to having found it, he places it on his shelter ourselves from the terrors of our shoulders to secure it from the attacks judge under the protection of our Fa. of the wild beasts. In another we bether; to appeal from the God of terror bold a kind and tender father highly to the God of pity, from the God of insulted and offended by his son, who, vengeance to the God of mercy. after having forsaken him and spent
I infer from all that has been said, all his wealth in riot and dissipation, that the principal or only end that the when forced by necessity he returns evangelical orator ought to have in home, he is embraced and received by view, is to instil the love of God into his forgiving parent with erery demonthe hearts of his hearers. It may in. stration of affection. Who is this deed be in general proper to attain this Father but the Redeemer of the end by motives of fear. “ Timor Dei world, the Sovereign Lord of heaven initiuin dilectionis ejus,” says the sacred and carth? who the strayed streep, the Text in Ecclesiasticus, – The fear of prodigal son but the man who abanGod is a preparatory disposition to love Jons Jerusalem for Babylon, the dehim. The greater number of coni- serter from the noble army of the just njentators indeed explain this to mean to the infamous squadron of the wicked. filial fear; but it may with propriety be Notwithstanding he has outraged and extended to servile fear also, when the offended his God, let but the sinner latter conducts to love, as I have al- have recourse to his clemency; all he ready endeavoured to shew.
demands is an humble and contrite Suppose now the first object of a heart. Let him only confess, “Father missionary sermon should be to alarm I have sinned against heaven and before ihe auditors by a description of the in- thee, and I am no more worthy to be tenseness and eternal duration of fu- called thy son," this alone is requisite ture punishments; terror being once to obtain forgiveness. The Saviour of raised in every bosom, it ought to be the world has assured us of it by the intimated that the only way to escape pen of the Evangelist (Luke xv). this fearful and boundless abyss of mi- It is plain the mercy of God must be sery and torment, is an humble appli- infinite towards sinners, since nothing cation to Divine mercy to shield' us less could make him receive the crifrom Divine justice. The better to minal with caresses, who had evinced impress the minds of the congregation, his hatred by insult and disobedience. the preacher may represent on one Do earthly monarchs thus admit to hand the awful tribunal of offended their favour a vassal who has not only Deity surrounded by the ministers of been ungrateful but rebellious? No, his avenging wrath, and on the other their clemency is as limited as their a throne of grace on which is seated a existence is finite; the mercy of God compassionate and forgiving God, who is boundless, because his being is inopens wide his arms to embrace all who finite. will have recourse to this mercy that By these and similar representations, benignant Being whom the greatest of the ininds of the auditors may be clethe apostolic preachers defines as the rated above the servile dread of puFather of mercies and God of all con- nishment to confidence in the Divine solation. Oh! what a spacious, what mercy; and one step is alone wanting a beautiful field is here displayed to to lead them to that height of love we the preacher on which to exert his are desirous they should attain. The zeal and eloquence. The latter indeed gradation is natural and easy; for man is superfluous : let him but use the being convinced that God is supremely energetic phrases, the appropriate si- merciful and full of loving-kindness, miles, or rather the animated images therefore infinitely amiable; that his of Holy Scripture, especially the New forbearance is so great that even aftes
Some Observations on the Sermons of Missionaries.
707 repeated provocations he is ready to against itself. Experience confirms this forgive the returning penitent; that opinion. The very reverend Father even whilst in the actual commission M. Fr. Bentio Angerich, in an account of sin he requires no satisfaction from which he published of the life and virthe offender, nothing but what is ne- tues of our celebrated legate of Mont. cessary for his own sake to ensure his serrate, Fr. Joseph de San Benito, eternal felicity; how can he resist such chap. X. relates that this monk enjoyed powerful motives to love his God, and throughout the principality of Catalonia prostrate before him say from his heart, the reputation of a mosi enlightened * Most merciful and heavenly Father, understanding, not only amongst the I have sinned against thee like a most ignorant but amongst learned men, and vile and ungrateful creature, therefore was frequently consulted when any I am not worthy to be called thy son, doubts were entertained in spiritual but to be treated as a vile and rebellious affairs. An apostolic minister belong. slave."
ing to the fraternity of Escernalbon, Thus the path is clearly marked out complained to him of the very little by which the missionary may lead men good his sermons effected, soliciting his from servile to filial fear: and it like advice and instructious how he might wise appears that both servile and filial render them more useful; to this refear verifies that sentence of Scripture, quest the holy ınan made the following “ T'imor Dei initium dilectionis ejus." reply, (I quote the exact words of the The consciousness of deserving punish- writer) “ that he should endeavour to Inent shews us the necessity of imploring inculcate the infinite mercy of God mercy; and as this attribute of the more than he had hitherto done, and Supreme Being is perfectly amiable, that he would assuredly reap that hare the transition to love is natural and vest of souls he desired." The writer easy. It may indeed be proper, and it thus proceeds: “ the event justified is frequently' requisite, to iinpress the the advice; the missionary adopted the sinuer with the hazard he incurs of counsel of his brother, and returned eternal perdition and the dread of ever- after some years to Montserrate, hav, lasting irent; but he ought not to ing converted innumerable souls
, and be left under the dominion of terror, raising many to a steadfast and chearful both because love is a more noble prin- hope that were before in imminent ciple of action, more snited to human danger of despair, by reading to them nature, and more efficacious to direct the short compendious treatise in verse him in the road of virtue, and because at the end of San Benito's works.“ unqualified terror overwhelins the soul The account concludes thus : Fr. and weakens our inclinations to obe- Joseph had a special grace by his disdience; for fear though it may restrain courses and writings to infuse hope a man from the commission of sin, into the heart and inspire it with con, wants the sweetness that incites to good fidence in the Divine mercy." works: it may deler us from evil, but The proper and distinctive character it will not render us virtuous. The of mind in this admirable ecclesiastic, business of the preacher is to recall was a profoundly rooted persuasion of sinners to God; but he who represents the mercy and clemency of the Supreine the Almighty armed with vengeance, Being. This formed the prominent is more likely to drive the criminal tó feature of all his discourses and condespair than to reclaiin him.
versations: by inspiring others with the It is easy to perceive that a conversion same sentiments, he accomplished the effected by love will not only be sincere most extraordinary conversions of sin. but permanent. God when considered ners who were reputed absolutely inas a inaster supremely merciful and corrigible. The method he pursued benignant, is an attractive object, a was to introduce his opinions casually magnet that with gentle force draws by way of conversation, as M. Angerich towards it the wills of men, and gives was assured by the monks of his conthem an admirable disposition to perse vent, who had witnessed many of the vere in their resolutions of not relapsing cases. The chapter ends thus: “ This into sin; for before the heart can be holy father was so intimately convinced torn froin so lovely an object, it must of the necessity of impressing sinners suffer great violeuce from the repeated with the hopes of pardon through the assaults of some most impetuons pas- infinite mercy of God, that he used to sion, or it must exert the strongest force say to a spiritual director, who fre
quently requested his opinion on par- doctrine would be highly injurious to ticular cases, that he should always the Deity, and derogatory from his treat his penitents with mildness, and most essential attributes as well as encourage them to confide in the mercy most pernicious in its consequences of their
Creator. To those who con- to the salutary purposes of true relifessed relapses into sin, the only re- gion. For this reason, when the Ismedy he ought to give them to relieve raelites, at Mount Horeb, meaning their misery, should be to advise them to worship the true God, erected the whenever they fell into the same fault golden call as a fit emblem of the to confess it anew, with a firm reliance object of their religious adoration, it on the mercy and forgiveness of their will not I presume be denied, that heavenly Father, not doubting but by they were guilty of the most blasphemous so doing they would ultimately reform; idulatry; and, when exulting in the which proved to be the fact: by degrees restoration of that mode of religious they became exemplary in their lives worship, in behalf of which they had and manners."
acquired an habitual prejudice in the For my own part I consider the land of Egypt, they loudly proclaimed conduct of this inonk highly calculated that four-tooted image to be a just to ensure the salvation of souls. To representation of the Almighty Being fear God is good, but to love him is whose miraculous interposition had still better; and what means can more so lately delivered them from their effectually contribute to this end, than Egyptian bondage ; whether we judge to impress men with the clearest idea their conduct by the dictates of reason, possible of his unbounded mercy. or by the law of Moses, they were
Goodness is the genuine object of most certainly guilty of speaking blaslove: the conceptions which we form phemously ayainst God. Let us suppose of the infinite mercy of God raises in then, for a moment, that the means our minds the most lively and sensible of forming the molten image had image of his infinite goodness. I have failed them, but that they had asserted before shewn that fear and love are not that the God who broughi them up out incompatible with each other; that of the land of Egypt, bad theretofore from servile fear we may rise to filial taken the bovine nature upon himn in love. I have also proposed the method the belly of a cow, been made an ox, to be pursued in conducting the sinner and had appeared in Egypt, and, from one to the other, adhering in this though then in heaven, still continued method to a proper and literal explica. incarnate in the body of that animal; tion of the sentence, “ Timor Dei ini. and, that even without the use of any tium dilectionis ejus,” comprehending in visible symbol, they had instituted a it even servile dread. But enough of form of divine worship, adapted to the missions. May heaven preserve you name and properties of the fabulous many years.
God, Apis ;-surely, in this case,
both the worship and the language of dn Answer to the Question, What is the Israelites would have been, at Blasphemy?
least, equally blasphemous as in the [This paper has been in print be- other. fore: : we copy it from a prinied sheet There may be some, perhaps, who communicated by a Correspondent. will readily allow the charge of blas
phemy in so monstrous and disgusting To speak blasphemously, as far as I an instance, as is here supposed, but pression, can only signify, to speak in any degree, blasphemous against dishonourably of God; to speak in Almighty God, to teach, that, in derogation of his Divine nature and another place and period, he became attributes. Now, since both reason incarnate in the body of an animal of and revelation teach us, that the only a more excellent nature and superior true God is IMMUTABLE, INCORPO- rank. But, certainly, whatsoever difREAL, and OMNIPRESENT, should ference there may be in the nature of any doctrine, on the contrary, assert finite beings, when coin pared with that the Divine nature hath under- each other, there is absolutely none gone a change, and assumed a cor- at all when we consider them with foreal form, ivhich must be local, I respect to the infinite and eternal ihink there can be no doubt but such Creator of the universe ; and conse
An answer to the Question, What is Blasphemy?
709 quently, both the blasphemy of the ex- obvious dictates of his understanding pression, and the impossibility of the respecting this first and most imporfact, must be exactly the same, whe- tant article of theology. For the legisther we affirm the Alınighty to be lative power having in consequence of incarnate, by having been made one this boldest and most unreasonable of the lowest, or one of the highest petitio principiż that ever was heard of, order of those creatures, which his proceeded to assert, that a particular own power and goodness hath called created being, an earthly animal was into existence.
the one true God and the proper object If then it should be found, that the of Divine worship; if any reflecting Emperor Constantine, and almost all conscientious Christian was led to those who have succeeded him in the question the truth and piety of that possession of either the whole or any orthodox persuasion, he was immedipart of the civil power of Europe, have ately, with the niost uncharitable and abused their temporal anthority to the opprobrious language, accused of depurpose of propagating, and enforcing nying the divinity of the legal and only upon their subjects, the doctrine of God; and the bigoted zeal of some, the incarnation of the infinite un- and the malicious rancour of others, changeable Deity, with all the gross recurred eagerly to the inhuman edicts absurdities and impieties that neces- and avenging arm of the civil magissarily flow from such a source, shall trate to condemn and punish, as a we not be forced to acknowledge, that blasphemer, the man who only meant they have indeed opened their mouths in to avoid the guilt of so heinous a sin, blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his and no longer dared to join his voice name and his talernacle? Shall we in uttering blasphemy against the infinot also both see and admire the sin- nite majesty and incommunicable gular propriety of the prophetic lan- attributes of that awful Being, whom guage, in fixing this charge of blas- an inspired teacher 'of Christianity phemy upon the temporal rulers and assures us, no man ever hath seen nor not the ecclesiastics, when we consider, that these arc of necessity under Having mentioned the impossibility the dominion of the former; ihat the of the Incurnation of God, as well as impiety or innocence of such a doc- the blasphemy of such a doctrine, lest trine is a question of common sense, I should appear to speak rashly, and not of theological science; that even to revile long established opinions if any Scriptures could be procured without sufficient grounds, I beg you wherein it was expressly warranted, to consider, that the Deity is, in his the doctrine itself would afford much very nature, omnipresent; that his bestronger reasons for rejecting such a coming incarnate, in a particular body, Scripture, than the best authenticated evidently implies his being more imme Scripture could do for admitting so diately present with that body, than blasphemous a doctrine; and that no with any other: whereas, the very thing less than that powerful influence meaning of omnipresence is, that he upon the strongest passions of the is equally present, equally close conhuman mind, which must needs be nected, as far as such a being can the effect of the rigid pains and penal- properly be said to be connected, with ties on one hand, and the alluring all the bodies in the universe. You rewards and emoluments on the other, will be pleased 10 recollect, likewise, annexed by the laws of the state to that God is imnutable, another attrithe rejection and admission of this bute absolutely inconsistent with his particular tenet, could have induced Incarnation. To evince this, let us inankind so far to abandon their own only attend to the commonly received sense of right and wrong, to give up opinion of man, as a' being comevery rational and becoming idea of pounded of two natures, the one spithe eternal Deity, and to submit pa- ritual, the other carnal. Allowing tiently, nay, to adhere with obstinacy, this idea to be just, and that, at the to so gross and impions a delusion ? dissolution of this composition by
But as things were long circum- death, man exisis simply in a spi-. stanced in every state of Christendom, ritual state, it is certain that the alterait was, in a very high degree, dange- tion made by death in the mode of rous for any man to venture to see with his own eyes, and avow the most
* 1 Tim. vi. 16.