Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and its power on their hearts. Acoustomed more to retirement than to active life, you have more leisure and consequent disposition for religious contemplations. It is, also, infinitely honourable to your character, that you ever feel a secret sympathy with a Religion which unlocks all the sources of benevolent affection, which smiles on every exercise of compassion, and every act of kindness. We may say too, perhaps, that your hearts, not hardened by the possession of power, the pains of avarice, or the emulations of public life, are more alive to the accents of pardon by Jesus Christ, more awake to the glories of the invisible world. The Gospel came to throw a charm over domestic life; and, in retirement, the first objects which it found were Mothers and their child. ren. It came to bind up the broken hearted; and for that office Woman was always best prepared. It came to heal the sick; and Woman was already waiting at their couches. It came to open the gates of life on the languid eye of the dying penitent; and Woman was everywhere to be seen, softly tending at the pillow, and closing the eyes of the departing.

With this superior susceptibility of religious impression and apti. tude to the practical duties of the Gospel, I know there are evils asso. ciated, against which it is sometimes difficult to guard. Sensibility de. generates into weakness, and religious awe into Superstition, in your sex, oftener, perhaps, than in ours; yet, with all these dangers and in. conveniences, I believe that if Christianity should be compelled to flee from the mansions of the great, the academies of the philosophers, the halls of legislators, or the throng of busy men, we should find her last and purest retreat with Woman at the fireside ; her last altar would be the female heart; her last audience would be the children gathered round the knees of a Mother; her last sacrifice, the secret prayer, escaping in silence from her lips, and heard, perhaps, only at the throne of God.

J. S, BUCKMINSTER.

CHRISTIAN POLITICS.

CHRISTIAN Politics are the Politics of the New Testament. To the individual Man are the truths of Christianity addressed, for his mental, moral and spiritual enlightenment were they given, to redeem Man from ignorance, slavery, sin, misery, death, was Christ sanctified of the Father. There are no distinctions of classes in the Christian commonwealth. Its principles are for each and for all. Its rule of right is for Nations as for individuals, for governments and the governed. The God who has made of one blood all Nations of men to dwell on the face of this his earth, is the Father of all its families, the universal Father. There is no respect of persons with Him. Natural enemies there cannot be, for all human creatures are children of one Father, and therefore brethren. Clashing and conflicting interests there cannot naturally be, for love of man our neighbour, our brother, is blended with love of God our Father in Christian commandment. The great rule of Christian equity is this, “ As ye would that men should do to you, do

ye

also to them likewise.” That rule is the law of action to the Christian, applicable at all times, in all circumstances, in all the relationships of life, every where. Coupled with other Christian principles, “Honour all men ;” “No man liveth to himself;" “ We are all members one of another;" “co-heirs of the same glorious inheritance,” and recognizing thoroughly and practically the truths and purposes which they embody, they constitute the Rule of Life to individuals, families, communities, the world.

Politics constitute one great branch of human duty. That duty is not complicated, is not difficult in performance, if viewed with the singleness of Christian principle. Human duty cannot be faithfully discharged unless by a due appreciation of obligations from man to man. The laws which bind Society together cannot be upheld if individuals slight their practice, trench upon or violate them; if they sacrifice right to might, and immolate the Man for the multitude. For the good of Man was Society formed and not for the aggrandisement of a corporation. The worth of man lies in his capacity of thinking and being. His rational and moral nature constitutes his distinction, and to develope, and exercise and discipline it, is the business and bliss of his endless existence.

That which distinguishes modern from ancient Society is the diffusion of knowledge, influence and liberty, among the masses, the whole People. This has not been an accidental, but a necessary result of human progress heralded by the principles and morality of Christ. It may have been sometimes ascribed to various secondary causes, to the discovery of the art of printing, to the Protestant Reformation, to the spread of education, but the true reason is the constitution of the human soul as disclosed and defined by Christianity. There has been a regular growth to the idea that Man, as Man is the true object of interest, and that all Institutions which make him tributary to Society, or, to any of the departments of Society, are essentially imperfect and false. All the triumphs of freedom, whether political, social or religious, may be considered so many consequences of the resistance of the human soul, of human nature, of Man, against the contempt or violence of Institutions which did

not recognize his inherent right to turn them to his account, instead of being turned to theirs. The whole value of all such conquests is measured by the opportunities thus gained for human nature to act itself out more freely, and with no other restraints than such as God himself has put upon it. What is freedom as enunciated in Christian principle, as realised in human experience, but the freedom of the human soul ? It is not an outward thing. It is not exemption from oppressive taxes, or imperious authority. It is the emancipation of thought, of conscience, which lie torpid and dead beneath the grasp. of tyrannical Institutions, We look with horror at the Feudal system, or, the social fabric of the ancient world, not merely on account of the sufferings and wrongs of the Masses, but because Man was buried under the State. It is the vast amount of smothered intellect, of slumbering conscience, of prone affections, of prostrate humanity, that excites our grief and moral indignation. No Institutions are right which do man wrong; no opinions true which violate the principles of his nature, and no precepts or laws valuable which do not tend to advance his ra. tional and moral progress. Man has no vital interest except his salvation from ignorance and Sin, from intellectual and moral death. All political and social Institutions are to be sustained or condemned by their tendency to promote or to defeat this great end—the emancipation of Man and all men from the dominion of Ignorance, and Sin. All doginas, like all institutions, all laws, which tend to enslave the mind, to substitute other aims than personal excellence, to furnish other supports than those proceeding from human nature itself, to remove responsibility from the individual to corporations, to swamp the individual by caste privileges or class monopoly, or in any way to enfeeble the individual Man by concessions to his weakness, are fatal to human welfare, and to be wholly condemned for this very reason. Man does not ask kindness or generosity from Civil Rulers, but justice, Christian equity, and he has no justice while he lives chiefly to maintain the government, however meekly the government may carry itself.*

The year 1848 has witnessed an approximation to these principles more general than could have been anticipated on its advent. Long and powerfully will its events influence

* The Writer of “ Christian Politics," has embodied in his remarks, some sentences of a Sermon by the Rev. H. W. Bellows of New York, preached at Savannah, 1843.

the destinies of humanity, With its early months, the people of a neighbouring Nation, cheated of their rights by chicanery and fraud, duplicity and hollowness, wearied of the perfidy which made them the instruments of personal cupidity and family aggrandisement, and untaught by the past inveigled thrones and dynasties in the meshes of diplomatic craftiness, wakened up once again to the conviction that Right is might, and that for the Millions to be free, it is sufficient that they will it. Will it they did, and with that will came the power to enforce it. Perceiving clearly that the People are the strength and the only rightful governors of nations, the sentiments of their minds, and the aspirations of their souls to Liberty, with lightning celerity they reduced to practice. On the first outburst, the Royal Culprit, despite his armed hosts, fed in aífright from the throne he had tarnished and forfeited, and sought shelter in a land the treaties with whose Sovereign he had madly sacrificed and violated to the insane lust of accumulated dominion. Magnanimous was the spectacle exhibited by the people from whom he fled. Few are the events in the history of mankind, which can bear comparison with its moral grandeur and sublimity. Holy the emotions, beatific the visions which it evoked from every Christian philanthropist. Peace to Nations, inviolability of human life, equality of right to the millions, freedom of religious opinion and worship to all, these were the inangurations of its new born liberty, this the baptism with which it was baptized withal. Other peoples, kindred and tongues, heard the tidings and were glad. Other peoples, kindred and tongues, heard the tidings from afar, and made them Home news also. The throne which of all others seemed indomitable in its sway, whose Royal edicts had made Ignorance a heritage, and bristled round by bayonets, might have been imagined invulnerable to popular appeal, bowed also to the storm of a people's indignation against wrong, and after alternate defeat and triumph, slaughter and victory, saved its dynasty by transferring the reins of Imperial authority to other and younger hands. More wondrous still, the gentle South glowed with the divinity of manhood, and, in the firmness of patriotic resolve, brushed aside Ecclesiastical power, when its infallibility perpetrated temporal injustice, and sanctioned Civil wrong; and the Servant of servants was added to the list of fugitives.

True, Nations like individuals may fall into error, the inexperienced, in the very ardour and earnestness of philan

с

Yet are

thropic and patriotic enthusiasm may give sanction to theories apparently conducive to general well being, and pregnant with promise of plentifulness and happiness. Those promises may

be as delusive as Dead Sea apples. such efforts when springing froin desire to alleviate human misery, and uphold the right, and benefit the indigent, false though they may be in theory, and pernicious, socially and individually though they may prove in practice, to be treated with candour, and judged with leniency. Better are they ten thousand times, than the Inquisition and the rack, better than Slavery with all its multitudinous atrocities. The carnage unhappily occasioned by reactionary attempts in the great national convulsions which have occured, though to be deprecated and lamented by the Christian disciple, it should be remembered, does not in aggregate amount, after all, equal that of one St. Bartholomews' day. The disarrangement and destruction to Commerce, consequent on attempts to bolster up illusive theories, does not equal that of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Christian philanthropist may lament that Nations are not always wise, and that bright promises of good are seemingly blighted, and fairest prospects beclouded in their dawning. But let him recollect the issue is not yet, that Nations no more than individuals attain manhood by rapidity of growth, that principles if true will work their way into the heart of Society, and that Time will germinate the seed, and rear the plant, and ripen the harvest. No earthly power can force backward the shadow on the Dial, Forward it must go, this year, next year,

the

year after, by various degrees it may be, but still forward. The Nations have tasted of the waters of despotism. Marah. They know them to be bitter. Drank also have they of the sweet and pure Fountain of Liberty, and they will not forget the taste. Subdued outwardly may they appear to be to the very quality of their lords and masters, but it can only be for å season. Knowledge is ever spreading, and wherever that spreads, no disciple of Jesus need despair of the improvement and welfare, the freedom, and blessedness of humanity. With its diffusion, the barbaric splendour which once captivated and deluded will charm no longer, the cloud incense, the gewgaw and the glitter will give place to simplicity and truth.

Eventful has the byepast year proved to this Nation. Intimately connected as is this Country with the Continental States, its coinmercial relations have necessarily suffered from

« AnteriorContinuar »