Page images
PDF
EPUB

cases, so can a possibility of sprinkling or pouring be shown in the former.

3. The command being to purify, and the facts being as stated, the decided probability is that both modes were used, and Christian liberty everywhere enjoyed.

4. A tendency to formalism led to a misinterpretation of Paul in Rom. 6: 3, 4 and Col. 2: 12; and this gave the ascendency to immersion, which increased, as before stated, till it became general, though it was not insisted on as absolutely essential on philological grounds.

5. Various causes, even in the Roman Catholic church, at length produced a relaxation of this excessive rigor of practice. And most Protestants, at the Reformation, took the same ground. But,

6. A mistake in philology, after the Reformation, introduced a practice stricter and more severe than even that of the Fathers, and which reprobates Christian liberty on this subject, as a corruption of the word of God; because various causes induced even the Roman Catholic church to relax a little of the excessive strictness of antiquity. I know that all that comes from the Roman Catholic church is a priori suspicious. But bad as that church is, no one can deny that there is some truth there. The view I have advanced I hold, not on her authority, but on its own merits. And I will not reject or deny a truth, even if it is found in a corrupt church.

$ 38. Final Result.

It appears, then, that the whole subject turns on three points : 1; the import of Bantítw; 2, the significance of the rite; 3, early practice. On each, the argument in favor of immersion rests on a petitio principii. . It is assumed as improbable that Bentícw can mean purify, without respect to mode, if it also means, in other cases, immerse. The falsehood of this assumption has been shown, the existence of an opposite probability proved, and the meaning purify clearly established by facts. 2. The improbability of internal baptism in Rom. 6: 3, 4 and Col. 2: 12, has been assumed, and external baptism has also been assumed without proof. It has been shown that the external sense, and not the internal sense, is improbable, and that against the external sense there is decisive proof. It has also been assumed that the practice of the Fathers and others is proof of their philology, and that, therefore, they must have regarded the command to baptize as a command to immerse. The falsehood of this assumption has also been clearly shown. The result of the whole is, that as to the mode of purification we may enjoy Christian liberty; and that immeasurable evils attend the operation of those principles, by which many are now endeavoring to bring the church upon exclusive ground. There is no objection to immersion, merely as one mode of purification, to all who desire it. But to immersion as the divinely ordained and only mode, there are objections, deep and radical. We cannot produce unity by sanctioning a false principle; our Baptist brethren can, by coming to the ground of Christian liberty. The conclusion, then, to which I would kindly, humbly, affectionately, yet decidedly come is this : “ Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

The argument is now closed. I intend only to add a few words of a practical kind, as it relates to the translation of the Bible, the unity of the church, and Christian communion.

ARTICLE III.

THE STUDY OF THE CLASSICS AS AN INTELLECTUAL DISCIPLINE.

By E. D. Sanborn, Prof. of the Latin Lang. and Lit., Dartmouth College, N. H.

“He who calls departed ages back again into being,” says Niebuhr, “enjoys a bliss like that of creating ;” and, we may add, he, who carefully studies the records and memorials of past ages, enjoys the pleasure of a new existence. The sphere of his intellectual vision is enlarged, and the objects of delightful contemplation indefinitely multiplied. Such study is not only pleasant but useful. It awakens serious thought, checks presumption, chastens the imagination and rectifies the judgment. Without a knowledge of the past, we cannot act discreetly for the present, nor fully appreciate our privileges and obligations. Whoever, therefore, sincerely questions the past, becomes more prudent; and, whoever gives earnest heed to its responses, becomes a wiser and a better man. The Creator has implanted in the soul an instinctive reverence for antiquity. The r everlasting hills” derive not a little of their sublimity from their age. Truth is more venerable because it is permanent and unchangeable. Every tie, that binds us to former ages, is sacred; and every memorial, which time has spared, serves as a landmark to guide us or warn us in our pilgrimage to eternity.

If it were possible for thoughts, emotions and principles to be imaged upon the canvass, like the features of a natural landscape, and some divine artist had power to present to us a moral panorama of past ages, from the beginning of time to the present hour, with what eagerness should we all rush to the exhibition, to gaze upon this most instructive, most enchanting, unequalled representation of human life! How many thrilling associations would cluster round that period when the soul of man first waked to conscious activity! With what intense interest should we watch the subsequent conflict of reason with passion, and its final triumph over a depraved nature, as it gave birth to civilization, government and laws! With what delight should we scan all the operations of intellect, and scrutinize every new development of mind, as the light of science and literature gradually , broke forth upon a world of darkness ! With what admiration should we gaze upon the venerable features of antiquity, as generation after generation passed in review before us, with all their thoughts, emotions and feelings, as fixed and changeless as .eternity! With what reverence should we view those illustrious teachers of mankind, who have left the impress of their own characters upon the race, and the memorial of whose greatness is engraven, in living characters, upon the soul of man !

Such a view of the past, however, is not absolutely essential to a competent knowledge of its history, We need not call up the sleeping dead to question them; for they have already bequeathed to us the results of their experience. In the records of the past, the thinking spirit still lives, still speaks. Whatever is truly valuable in the creations of intellect or art, “men will not willingly let die.” Of the world's benefactors and teachers, we may now say as the philosophic Tacitus said of his admired Agricola,“ Quidquid amavimus, quidquid mirati samus, manet mansurumque est in animis hominum, in eternitate temporum, fama rerum.” Through the instrumentality of written language, time and space are virtually annihilated. Nations living remote from each other are intimately associated, and the very ends of the earth are united. Through the same medium, early and recent ages meet, and, mingling their intellec

tual treasures, leave them as a rich legacy to coming generations. Thus the productions of gifted minds are not left to perish, neglected and forgotten; but embalmed in the literature of their age they escape “ decay's effacing fingers,” and live for ages after the animated dust of their authors has “returned to the dust as it was.” In the lore that has come down to us from other days, the student can still commune with the spirits of the illustrious dead. The philosophers, the orators, the historians and poets of antiquity still speak to us in the very words which they chose for the dress of their undying thoughts. “ Shining through the darkness of ages, they still remain stars of changeless and unequalled brilliancy.Their works have served to enrich and embellish the intellects of those, who, in later times, have created the literature of their respective countries. All the civilized nations of the earth have drank from the same common fountain. Many of the most polished modern languages are but channels, through which, from the same exhaustless reservoir, flow streams of knowledge, fertilizing and enriching the world of thought aud feeling. The imagination of the poet, the eloquence of the orator, the understanding of the historian and the critical acumen of the philosopher have all been trained and matured by these same great teachers. The principles of their philosophy, poetry and oratory originated in the nature of man, and are as permanent and universal as the essential attributes of humanity. Hence they are adapted to all nations and all ages. They have been so freely adopted by subsequent writers, and so fully incorporated in their works, that their origin is almost forgotten, and they are regarded as the common property of the literati. The golden coin has been so often exchanged that its superscription is effaced, and the fortunate possessor now enjoys the reward of the original miner.

Thus the treasury of modern science and literature is replenished by the spoils of ages; and our philosophers and poets are wearing laurels, plucked from the brows of ancient sages and bards. Every generation adds something to the world's intellectual treasures. The literature of our own age, therefore, possesses elements as ancient as the origin of human civilization. There is not a civilized nation of past times, to which our scholars are not indebted. They laid the foundations upon which we are building. They enriched the soil from which the human mind now derives its nutriment. They originated

many of the arts and much of the literature, which are reflect. ing honor upon our institutions. Yet our nation, like a pigmy perched upon a giant's shoulders, enjoying a purer air, a clearer vision and a more extended prospect, affects to despise the honored dead, and boasts of its own success in literature, in arts and in arms.

The languages to which modern nations are most deeply indebted are thus beautifully characterized by Coleridge: “Greek —the shrine of the genius of the old world, as universal as our race; as individual as ourselves; of infinite flexibility; of indefatigable strength; with the complication and distinctness of nature herself; with words like pictures ; with words like the gossamer film of summer, at once the variety and picturesqueness of Homer; the gloom and intensity of Æschylus; not compressed to the closest by Thucydides, nor fathomed to the bottom by Plato; not sounding with all its thunders nor lit up with all its ardors under the Promethean torch of Demosthenes: and Latin–the voice of empire and of war, of law and of state, rigid in its construction, reluctantly yielding to the flowery yoke of Horace, although opening glimpses of Greek-like splendor in the occasional inspirations of Lucretius, proved to the utmost by Cicero and by him found wanting, yet majestic in its barrenness, impressive in its conciseness, the true language of history, uniform in its air, whether touched by the stern and haughty Sallust, by the open and discursive Livy, or by the reserved and thoughtful Tacitus.”

But it is not my object to eulogize the ancient languages. They have outlived the ravages of time and barbarism. Like the native diamond, they have acquired a higher polish by incessant use, and, in some instances, have received new lustre from the very blows that were dealt to mar their beauty. Ounitting, therefore, the intrinsic excellence of these languages, as instruments of thought, and the rich materials of poetry, history and philosophy which they contain, let us contemplate the influence of a diligent and judicious study of them upon the development of the youthful mind.

The classics have probably been injured as much by indiscreet friends as by open enemies. When it is gravely announced that the classics are the storehouse of all knowledge, that every modern author only repeats, for the thousandth time, what was better said by the ancients, and that they are the only efficient helps to a liberal education, the common sense of the intelligent

« PreviousContinue »