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ON WORLDLY CONFORMITY. | The subject of this essay is Worldly ConTHERE is a mode of scriptural interpretation formity-the point to be arrived at is, in what which is altogether unsound, and which has does this conformity consist? There can be tended in a very great degree to lower the no doubt that it is forbidden by the apostle ; standard of religious feeling; it is that which for he expressly says, “ Be not conformed confines many of the apostolic injunctions to to this world.” (Rom. xii. 2.) the peculiar circumstances of the early con- The question is, what was St. Paul's real verts, at the time when the epistles were meaning when he uttered this solemn prewritten, under the plea that these injunctions cept, and to what extent is that precept bindcannot, in any sense, refer to Christians at the ing now? present day. Now there can be no doubt but It may be maintained by some, indeed, that the situation of these converts was very nay, it has been maintained, that such a different from ours. The greater part of passage as this refers simply to the peculiar them had very lately been immersed in all circumstances of those to whom it was adthe darkness, and consequent licentiousness, dressed. By the world, it is maintained, that of heathenism. Their admission within the the apostle meant the heathen world, with pale of the Christian Church was accompanied | all their idolatrous practices, obscene rites, by a striking and manifest renunciation of and impious worship; and that when he calls their former notions, habits, and practices. upon the Roman converts not to be “conThe Corinthian or Ephesian convert, for formed to this world,” he simply means, be example, had openly and avowedly come careful not to be drawn aside to an indulgence forth, and desired to be separate from those of your former habits; not to countenance with whom he was formerly associated. He any of those gross violations of God's law, of was exposed to peculiar difficulties. Peculiar which you were formerly guilty ; not to bring temptations surrounded his path : and in order disgrace upon yourselves, and discredit on rightly to comprehend the apostle's meaning the religion which you have so lately emin each of the epistles, it is necessary to have braced. A similar interpretation is given, a clear and distinct view of the peculiar cir when one evidence of being “ born of God" cumstances of the Church to which he wrote. is said to consist in overcoming the world. Yet the apostolic injunctions appear to be of But this is a very low standard of interpreuniversal application, suited to men of every tation. If it be the correct one, it may inage and of every clime; and not to be con- deed well be affirmed, that the apostolical fined to the early converts. And there can precepts very little concern us now. The be no question but that the humble, prayerful writings of the apostles may indeed be well Christian of the present day, who studies worthy the study of the divine ; but they any one of the epistles, will find the peculiar may safely be expunged from the Bible of exigencies of his case as fully met as if he the private Christian. St. Paul's admowere a converted Roman, Galatian, or Thes-nition, however, unquestionably contains a salonian,
I decided injunction to the disciples of Christ TOL, I.-NO, VI.
of every age, and of all ranks and degrees, and more calculated to further the Divine not to be conformed to, not to be moulded glory. The spiritual benefit, for instance, after, not to be influenced by, the world or age which has accrued from men of piety, holding in which they live. And by “the world” is commissions in the army and navy, is incalto be understood, not the licentious pleasures, culable. Incalculable blessings have resulted the profane rites, the disgusting obscenities, from true Christians being found in the legal of those on whom the light of Gospel truth and medical professions, and among those has never shone, which strikingly mani engaged in mercantile and scientific pursuits. fest the deplorable condition of man, not in Would the cause of Christianity have been a state of barbarity only, but even of civilisa- | more benefited by such persons minis tion and refinement, when ignorant of God's at the altars of the Church? Unquestionably truth; but those maxims, and habits, and not. A pious layman may be, and often is, amusements, and indulgences, which are not the instrument of more extensive good than only permitted, but even patronised as fa the most devoted and zealous clergyman. shionable, and esteemed innocent, in a pro But the subject leads more directly to the fessedly Christian land; which have not un- consideration of worldly habits and amusefrequently the sanction of great names, and a ments. What are, and what are not, compatible conformity to which is by many deemed per- with the Christian character ? A test has fectly compatible with the Christian pro- very frequently been laid down--and it is fession.
perhaps difficult to find a better — that every It may not be easy, indeed, to define the habit and indulgence should be tried by the bounds of worldly conformity ; to state pre- effect which it produces on the mind with cisely, in every particular, what line of con- regard to religion; whether the train of duct is compatible with a walk with God, and thought to which it gives rise is of a serious what is not. The Christian is necessarily character; and whether the individual would brought into contact with the world. The be willing to be summoned from such a scene sphere of life allotted him by Providence may or occupation to the judgment-seat of Christ. be a very active sphere. He must not relin- It may be said, there is nothing new in all quish that sphere, under the plea, that he will this. The aim of these remarks is not novelty, serve God more entirely as a recluse. This but usefulness--not to attract the imaginais not the case. God may be, and often is, tion, but to improve the heart. And the served as acceptably, as sincerely, as fer- above test may very safely be employed in vently, amidst the necessary pursuits of life, all ordinary cases. as in the retirement of the cell, or the seclu Many persons, who would be very seriously sion of the cloister. Nay, he is served better. offended if their title to be esteemed true Qur Lord did not pray that his apostles might | Christians were called in question, see no be removed out of the world ; for they were | harm in attendance at the theatre, at the called to activity, energy, and zeal, in preach race-course, in the ball-room, or other places ing his name to Jew and Gentile ; but he of public resort. They are interested with prayed that they might be kept from the evil a good play, they are enlivened with the that was in the world-a prayer which de- gaiety of the racc-ground, they enjoy seeing serves the serious consideration of those who their friends and neighbours at what they think a life of active worldly duty incom | term an innocent dance ; and although they patible with a life of faith. The Christian's highly approve of clergymen and their famiconversation will be in heaven, even while he | lies absenting themselves from such places, is a diligent man of business. He will labour yet they cannot really see wherein the harm for the meat which perisheth not, even while lies of being present themselves; and they apparently engrossed with earthly objects. are at a loss to comprehend the principle, It is often to be lamented, that the truth is while they condemn as enthusiastic the conlost sight of, that in whatever situation a | duct of those who feel, that to mix in such man is placed, in that, he may, and is bound amusements, which, in fact, would afford to glorify God, and to benefit his fellow- them no pleasure, is utterly at variance with creatures. A man, for instance, placed in a their high and holy calling, as professed dissphere of activity, becomes more decided inciples of the Son of God. But will such perhis religious views, or embraces them for the sons affirm, that on their return from the first time, and his heart glows with the desire theatre, or the race-course, or the ball-room, to serve God, and to benefit his fellow-crea- they are in a frame of mind fitted for private tures ; and he feels that to do this, he must re devotion, or intimate communion with God? linquish his former line of life, and enter the Will they not allow that there is something ministry of the Church. The probability is, fearful in a person's being found dead in that his labours as a layman would have been such places of public resort ? Would they infinitely more beneficial to the community, not shudder at the thought of their own spirit being summoned from such scenes to a for himself; and that though it would be heavenly tribunal? No reference is here made sinful for the individual to mix in them, who to the evil influence of bad example, to the conceived it to be inconsistent with his Chrisdiscredit brought upon Christianity by such tian character, yet it cannot be sinful in those inconsistency, to the temporal and eternal who neither think them wrong, nor are hurt ruin of thousands, which may be traced to in any way by them. It need only be said, attendance on such places as have been in reply, that God's word, and not our own referred to ; but simply to the effect on the feelings, is to be the standard of right and individual himself. Why, also, it may be wrong--that word studied with prayer for asked, is it proper for a clergyman to absent the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit ; himself from such places of resort, and yet and that the hurt derived, though for a season not incumbent on a layman? Does not this unperceived, may become a wound, which very statement convey a confession that all will destroy soul and body for ever. is not right? The Christian minister, in- The Bible, indeed, does not specify what deed, has duties peculiarly his own; and amusements are lawful, and what are not. It these duties may render it not only expe- does not say to the reader, Thus far shalt thou dient, but necessary, that he should not en- go, and no further ; but it does more than tangle himself with the things of this life; this, it sets forth the principle which should but it is difficult to prove, that what is un- guide the Christian's conduct; and when this lawful for a minister, is not unlawful for a principle is not only acknowledged to be private Christian, in the way of recreation. true, but is inwardly engrafted in the heart, Erery man requires recreation, and God does then there is the fullest security that the life not forbid it. The body requires it, the will be spent, not in conformity to the world, mind requires it, the whole temper and spirit but in habitual conformity to the will of that require it. But the question is, what recre- ever-glorious Jehovah, who is able to supply ations are allowable, and what are not ? And every want, and gratify every desire, of his the above test will, in general, be found a believing people; in whose presence alone very fair one.
there is fulness of joy, and at whose right As far as concerns genuine Christians, there hand are pleasures for evermore. is little or no difficulty in pointing out to them Until this principle is implanted in the soul, the line which separates innocent intercourse religion will be more or less a business of with the world from sinful conformity to it. forms and ceremonies, a round of observThe principles by which they are actuated | ances, an external worship. It will be a will, in this case, generally keep them right. matter of calculation how much of the world They love God, and are anxious that this may be enjoyed, and how much must be love may be a reigning principle in their overcome. The aim will be, to do just so hearts. They seek to glorify God; they will much for God as, it is conceived, will entitle be scrupulously cautious to bring no discredit us to escape his righteous displeasure, and to on religion. They aim at holiness; they enjoy the pleasures of life to the utmost exwill shrink from contact with sin, even under tent which is supposed compatible with the its most seductive forms and apparently soul's safety. palliating circumstances. They have a just | Nor let any one suppose, that in thus awe of appearing before their righteous Judge; deprecating worldly conformity, a sombre, they will place the.nselves in no circum- gloomy, melancholy life is the result of the stances, from which they would dread to be views here entertained and inculcated. Quite summoned to his tribunal. The life-giving the reverse. No one is so joyous as the true principle implanted in their soul is the guide Christian, though the world may be inclined of their actions; and though there will be to doubt it. No one has more reason to be inconsistencies, there will be heartfelt prayer so, and no one is more so in reality. Errothat there may be none. They desire that neous views of the Gospel may make a man their light may so shine before men, as to sad ; but correct views will make him cheerhave a beneficial influence in inducing others ful. To the true believer the declaration is to come to the light, and to walk as children addressed, “ Your hearts shall rejoice, and
your joy no man taketh from you." Religion It may seem a breach of charity to sit in does not consist in abstinence from this or judgment on a brother's spiritual state. It | that amusement, or in nonconformity to the may be said, that we have no right to lay world; but in the surrender of the whole man down such a test as that referred to; that to God-a surrender voluntarily made, from the amusements here alluded to, and others the consideration that we are not our own, of a similar character, are among the things but bought with a price, and are therefore which are indifferent, as to the propriety or called upon to glorify God in our bodies and impropriety of which, every man must judge. spirits, which are God's. Any thing short of
this is vain. God has a right to the heart, | whose dress was the common working habit of the and to the whole heart. He will admit of no
Iceland population ; a costume which, like their lan
guage, manners, and simplicity of character, has condivided affection. He will not share with
tinued unchanged for at least nine centuries. the world that which belongs to himself. He Having obtained leave to examine the cottage, will permit no rival to sit upon his throne. I penetrated the four several ramifications, which its “ No man can serve two masters; for either
peculiar form-that of a cross-produced. The in
terior had a disagreeable atmosphere, from a quantity he will hate the one, and love the other, or
of sea-birds hanging from the roof, or lying about the else he will hold to the one, and despise the floor, and a tub of train-oil standing in one of the other.” “ Love not the world, neither the compartments, and there being no windows, two things that are in the world. If any man
openings in the roof serving the double purpose of
emitting smoke, and admitting light, Connected love the world, the love of the Father is not
with the cottage were two little huts, with distinct in him. For all that is in the world, the lust entrances; one of which was employed as a ware-room ; of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the and contained all their stockings, mittens, Hocks, pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of
sheep-skins, and other articles of like nature, in
tended for trade. The cottage and contiguous huts the world. And the world passeth away,
were built of a framing of wood filled in with clay; and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the
the roofs were covered with sods, and the floors will of God abideth for ever.” Happy is were mud. that believer, who feels the vanity of all
To the extent of their ability the good people were
disposed to be hospitable, though the only article of earthly joys, whose heart is weaned from the
refreshment they seemed to have at hand was a bowl of follies and vices which so often estrange the
butter-milk, which we tasted. Sea-fowl, fish, and the soul from God, and chain it down to the gro milk of cows and sheep, with meal, obtained from the velling objects of time and sense ; who can factories on different fiords on the coast, appeared to
be their principal food in summer. exclaim, with the ardour of the apostle,
The boisterous state of the weather, and our entire “ But God forbid that I should glory, save
ignorance of the nature of the coast as to concealed in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by dangers, somewhat interfered with our enjoyment on whom the world is crucified unto me, and I shore, and prevented that deliberate research which
might have led to most interesting results, and hastened unto the world."
our departure to the ship; not, however, until we
had made the people understand that we wished them A GLANCE AT ICELAND.-No 1.*
to bring on board a couple of sheep.
We had not been long on board before we observed “From the uttermost parts of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous.”-Isaiah, xxiv. 16.
| a boat, in which the Langaness party were embarked,
push off from the beach. It consisted of the principal RETURNING from a whale-fishing voyage on the coast
peasant, his wife, their son, and an elderly relative; of West Greenland, in the summer of 1820, we were
and the cargo was composed of a small sheep, a lamb, deflected from our course by a prevalence of easterly
| with a quantity of mittens and stockings. The dress of winds, to the northern shores of Iceland. On the
the female had been altered and improved for the morning of the 3d of August, we came suddenly in
visit. sight of land in the south-west quarter, the exact Receiving them at the gangway, I endeavoured to situation where we expected it. Soon after midday,
| dissipate the timidity which the sight of fifty men, the fog clearing away, a mountainous country became
crowding with excited curiosity as near as they might, visible, and also a long narrow point of land to the
seemed to have upon them; and after giving them a southward, jutting far out into the sea. This was the
cursory view of the deck, they were conducted below. peninsular promontory of Langaness. Coasting the It was evident, from their amazement, that they had western side of the promontory towards Thiselfore, we
never seen any ship so large; nor was the amazement fell into smooth sea; and about 3 P.M., when about a lessened on their proceeding into the cabin. Every mile from the shore, we made signal for a pilot; but object excited their attention, especially articles of use, none came off. At 6 P.m., being abreast of a hamlet,
which they seemed desirous to purchase. They were I took boat, and proceeded to the shore. As we ap- | easily satisfied in their demand for the sheep, and proached, several persons were observed watching us much delighted with the various little presents which by the side of the hamlet, who on waving our hats to were made to them. I presented the woman with an them, came running towards us. We landed on a
inkbottle, pens, and a little paper, which she received beach of large rounded stones, the Icelanders await
with the liveliest expression of thankfulness. She ing our arrival within call. They received us cordially,
read the paper I had written, and was delighted to and unasked gave us a hearty and effectual pull with the
find that my Christian name was the same as her boat, by which it was secured from the action of the surf.
son's. Then, at my request, she wrote with a ready Totally ignorant of each others' language, so that hand the names of herself and friends. The general our intercourse at first was mere dumb show, we pro
intelligence and literary acquirements of the inhabitceeded directly to the bamlet, which, on examination,
ants of this remote, frigid, and forbidding country, has resolved itself into two or three humble babitations,
been the subject of invariable admiration to travellers, where we were met by all the inmates of the principal
particularly where the only means of education, except cottage, consisting of a good-looking middle-aged fe
occasional catechising by their clergy, is, for the most male, and four or five children, who, with three men
part, confined to domestic tuition, there being (rethat accompanied us from the beach, formed to us a
cently at least) but one school in the whole island. curious and interesting group. Knowing the scarcity
After receiving some refreshment, of which they parof bread on the island, a bag of biscuits was brought
took with moderation, I shewed the whole party the along with us, which was emptied in the hut. The
different compartments of the cabin and steerage, regift was most thankfully received by the good woman,
specting which they evinced no little curiosity. But
my "state room" proved the place of greatest attrac• Abridged from an interesting volume, Memorials of the Sea, by the Rev. William Scoresby, B.D. incumbent of Bedford
tion. Being fitted up with considerable neatness, its Episcopal Chapel, &c. &c. London, Nisbet. 1835.
comforts and convenience formed such a contrast with
their humble bench, that it called forth, above every | deficiency with a multitude of pictures, on panels of thing else they had seen, their unbounded admiration. wood, all round the church; and to these “likenessés," The furniture of the bed, a chest of drawers, bookcase, no less than the Latins to their “graven images," they &c., were examined with the minutest attention; and pay almost profound respect, bowing, touching them, Dothing could be more striking than the peculiar kissing them, and crossing themselves before them. action, and, to us, otherwise unintelligible words, by The fervour of their devotion to the saints is not less which our female friend vividly expressed her con. remarkable. If a man is ill, or meets with any misceptions of the happiness of the possessor of so much fortune, he makes a vow to some saint, that if he will comfort and splendour.
recover him, he will make him an offering of a lamp The weather having become again foggy, and the of oil. “What," I have often asked, “can the saints night drawing in gloomy, though not dark, I was not do for you? Had you not better pray to God ?” The anxious to detain our visitors when they moved to de answer has always been, “But if we pray to the saints, part. As they arose from the table, each one took my the saints will speak to God for us." I have quoted band in succession, respectfully bowing, and pro to them that striking passage of St. Paul, which one nouncing the word takker. I then accompanied them | might have imagined should have for ever precluded en deck, prepared only to expect a hasty repetition of this abuse: “There is one Mediator between God and the same acts on taking leave. But it was a more in- | man, the man Christ Jesus;" and asked where in teresting scene, especially with our female friend. As Scripture we are taught to pray to saints? They have the others were about to embark, she came up to me replied, “In the Psalms." Some of the passages which on the quarter-deck, her face beaming with an ex- | they allege as illustrative of this subject are as follow: traordinary expression of gratitude and affection, and, in Psalm iv. 3, the Greek of the Septuagint will seizing my hand, she kissed it with unrestrained, but bear translating thus : “ But know this, that the Lord modest fervour. Accompanying the action with words hath rendered marvellous his holy One,” which our full of earnest eloquence, she pointed in the direction translation thus renders, “Know that the Lord hath ef the harnlet to assure me of a welcome there ; and set apart him that is godly for himself.” Their next thent, with a combined expression of dignity, solemnity, passage is Psalm xvi. 3, which may bear rendering, and devotion, and lifting up her face towards heaven, God hath made his saints which are in the earth exhibited her elevated feelings in a fervent and ardent marvellous.” But the passage considered to be the prayer!
strongest, is that in the 68th Psalm ; in our Bible, Altogether the scene was so peculiarly touching, “O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places ;" but that one of my officers, who stood by, unable to resist they would render it, “ Marvellous is God in (or by) the impression her conduct inspired, exclaimed, in his saints." To them the last passage plainly carries feeling accents, “ Poor thing! poor thing !" whilst the sense, “God has worked miracles by his saints." he wiped with the sleeve of his jacket the liberal tear Scepticism on this point is viewed by many of the of sympathy that burst from his eyes, and rolled down more ignorant as equivalent to a disbelief of Chrishis manly cheeks. As soon as our interesting visitors tianity. I have therefore, in conversing with them, were fairly embarked, and had been carefully directed always admitted all that I safely could, quoting espeby us in their return to the shore, we made sail, and cially scriptural examples; and adding, "who can · stood out to sea.
doubt but that God has often worked miracles by his I considered myself happy by the opportunity af saints? But this does not prove that such an one or forded me in this short visit to Northern Iceland, of such another had been thus honoured. Least of all giving the inhabitants of this remote region a favour does it prove that we are right in praying to the saints, able impression as to the character of my country. which is not commanded in any of these passages For it must be obvious to those who are acquainted quoted from the Psalms." with the habits of British seamen abroad, that they The Greeks have three services in the day; one at are generally too regardless of this. Whilst no men about four o'clock in the morning; the second, a have more national pride, none perhaps are less care- / liturgy, and which is the principal service, takes place isl of meriting the superiority they claim. Some from about six or seven o'clock, differently in different levity, some from depraved babits, others from mere churches; and thirdly, vespers. Every week the thoughtlessness (but the whole from general want of priests are obliged to repeat the whole book of Psalms religious instruction, till of very late years, among their | through. By “repeating" is meant just so much as class), have been apt to throw off all religious principle to move the lips. Often, on entering an open church, in a foreign land ; and, claiming to themselves an im I have seen a priest sitting by himself performing this perious and unwarranted superiority, have not unfre silent duty. The Psalter, as they print it, is divided quently afforded a degrading specimen of the country into sixty-three parts, at the end of which they repeat to which they belong, and a miserable contrast to the the doxology. The common way of speaking is, that character of Christians, whose holy names they assume. the priest recites nine doxologies a-day. Besides this, And as persons in general arc naturally disposed to there is a large number of hallelujahs and Kyrie-eleeform their opinion of the character of a nation from a sons to repeat. The priests are required to repeat few individual examples rather than from an enlarged at least three times a-day, Kyrie-eleeson! forty times: view of the people, the misconduct of a single ship's they count by beads three times forty. Surely these company has often, probably, done more to degrade are vain repetitions; and were a man to multiply them the national character, and to bring reproach upon the a thousandfold, they would be still more vain; but he Christian religion, than the labour of many years of would be regarded as a very holy man.-Rev. William zealous exertion, on the part of the missionaries of Jowett. our holy faith, has been able to eradicate or restore. But the time, it is ardently hoped, has arrived, when, by the religious instruction of sailors, under increasing
PASSING THOUGHTS. efforts on their behalf, this evil will begin to give place
BY CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH. to the influential exhibition, through the means of pious seamen, of real Christianity to the remotest re
NO. V.-TIE BRANCII. gions of the earth.
One of those sudden and violent gales, that (To be continued.]
occasionally sweep over the fair face of sumGREEK CHURCH.
mer to wrinkle and deform it, bad blown so Is public worship the Greeks do not admit the use of strongly during the night, that morning preimages into their churches, but they make up the sented the unwelcome spectacle of a branch