« PreviousContinue »
the Bible, on the contrary, some of the most scorching, awful words, found within its covers, are those spoken by God against such as injure the fatherless and widow. Their cause Jehovah made his own, and whoever injured them were the objects of his severe displeasure. " Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in anywise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be orphans, and your children fatherless." Exod. 22. 22. So terrible are the denunciations, that sceptics themselves sometimes object to them, as inconsistent with the divine benevolence. But there is no inconsistency whatever. Justice is in perpetual harmony with goodness. There is nothing noble in that softness which would sacrifice the interests of a community to the happiness of an individual. Deep sympathy with the oppressed, and stern opposition of the oppressor ; tenderness toward suffering, and severity toward brazen-faced injustice are two sides of a symmetrical character. Either would be an imperfection without the other. Does Jehovah speak for the consolation of the sorrowing and the trustful? He comes with all the gentleness and coinpassion of a parent. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Does he speak as the judge of the unrighteous and the protector of the needy; he clothes himself in terrible majesty. “The Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and the widow; and loveth the stranger in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger : for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10. 17. 19.
These are but specimens of a large number of passages scattered throughout the Old Testament scriptures, recognising with the utmost explicitness, the rights of the poor, and redolent of the tenderest and most practical concern for their well-being. Let those who assail the Bible, only have the honesty to quote some of those passages, and the labouring classes will perceive that that old book defended their rights, as well as specified them, centuries before they were thought of by sceptical writers.
Working men! do not trust to the representations made of the Bible by those who vilify it. Study its precepts and its spirit for yourselves, and you will be convinced that it is not the friend of the despot, but of the poor ; that its statutes have only to be universally observed, and its spirit imbibed, in order that want and misery may be chased away from the earth, and that a day of righteousness and peace may dawn upon our world, such as it has never seen. If
you have complaints to make of your employers and of those above you in the social scale, and they are professors of religion, think what would be their conduct if they really at all times and everywhere were actuated by the precepts and principles of the Bible. For yourselves, make that book “the man of your counsel," and you will act justly, honourably, and generously towards others; in assurance of forgiveness for past sin, through the sacrifice of Christ, you will enjoy a peace which neither wealth nor philosophy can give; and when the shadows of death gather around you, it will be “a lamp to your path, a guide through the gloom."
THE KNOWNOTHINGS AND THE DONOTHINGS OF ENGLAND.
I have frequently been asked, in my private intercourse with society, what I think of a new sect of philosophers which has sprung up among us—I mean the Secularists; and perhaps you will not, my fellow-countrymen, deem it out of place for me to put down the character and intentions of this erratic body. They have done me no harın and no good,-I entertain for them no personal wrath or distinguished respect,—and I will, therefore, deal with these gentlemen in a quiet tone of voice, without any expressions of surprise, excitement, or passion. They appear to me to be the last and the most recent exhibition of a lost humanity, sailing without a rudder, and steering without a compass.
It is now, as far as I can judge, some two years ago since a personal friend ** asked me to accompany him, one
Sunday night, to hear a Secularist oration, in a great Secularist-hall, the name of which I do not recollect, but certainly somewhere within or without the walls of London. I went. I paid twopence to get in. I took my seat amid a great crowd. I saw, I listened, and I was amused. The whole business was of a commercial character,—as much so as if we had gone to a Drury-lane opera or a gin-place saloon. The performing star of the evening was a gentleman of the name of Cooper,-playbills informed us of the nature of the performance,-admission was to pit, gallery, and boxes according to tariff of charges,--persons went round the assembly hawking books and pamphlets,--and a professional orchestra diversified the entertainment with stringed instruments and vocal score. Then came the lecture. In coarse, rude, ludicrous, and outrageous language the orator dwelt, for an hour and a half, upon the sublime doctrine of a resurrection from the grave, speaking with all the dogmatism of a Heliogabalus, and with all the impertinence of a buffoon. Everybody who believed in a resurrection was, according to the orator, a blockhead or a knave, and the audience was ever and anon plunged into loud gustos of laughter at ridiculous pictures of a spiritual state, at the expense of the sincere and the pious all over the world. When the orator resumed his seat I rose from mine. I asked permission to speak. Then followed one of those picturesque and unique scenes, which no Hogarth could paint or Shakspeare dramatise. Sunday night, said they, was not the night for discussion. I persisted, and got out a few sentences. The orator got out a few sentences also, telling the noisy assembly, in pretty plain terms, that I was an ass. One man received orders to blow an organ, another man began to make it play—the orchestra set up a tune-the door keepers put down the lights—there was the roaring of voices, the shrieking of females, the protestations of unknown friends, the stench of gas and cigars, in fact, a Charybdis, if ever there was a Charybdis on this earth, created simply, by an attempt to secure free debate and liberty of speech. Amidst the darkness and confusion a party recognised me, put his hand upon my shoulder, and whispered these consolatory words in my ear:—"Sir" said he, “I perceive you are the victim of a great delusion,—the delusion that the people who come here want any opinion but their own.” Others came round, and equally sympathetic, they formed a body guard for my protection, and I was safely escorted from the roaring and raging waves that threatened to engulf me. On my way home I mused and meditated, and said to myself, “ Is a Secularist-hall a better place than a church or chapel ?"
Well, countrymen, I meet a Secularist, and when I meet him, I shake hands.
with him, and I say, “What believest thou?" "Believe !", says he in astonishment, " We do not believe." “What!" says !, “is there a future life?"; “Mum” says he. " Is man immortal," " Mum” says he.
Was the world made?” says. I. 6 Mum"
" Is there a Divine Creator ??? säys I. “ Mum”
he. “Is there a future retribution for evil and a reward for good ?” " Mum
“Good heavens !" says I, “then believe nothing !"
Nothing at all,” says he. .“ What! is there not a God?”, “Dont know." ☺ Is there not an eternal glory?" " Dont know." “Is there not a Divine justice ?” “Dont know." “ Where did you come from?" 6 Dont know." “Where are you going to ?” Dont know." " What are you?" “ Dont know." “What may you be ?" " Dont know." " Then what do you know?” says I. Only what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell," says he. “ And is this philosophy ?" says I. " It is," says he. “ Indeed”
Ỉ, and I may take the liberty to add that it is also the philosophy of dogs, cats, lions, and kangaroos, and their only philosophy, for they are the creatures of sense, not of intellect, and reason, and faith.
However, the Secularists, as I am aware, put aside all questions of faith, in order that they may turn their attention to practical pursuits. We are told thát they think Christians have preached so much about faith as to forget tħere are duties to perform in this world, and they call themselves Secularists because it is to secular purposes they apply themselves. Very well; it therefore becomes my purpose to ask my friend, the Secularist, not what he believes, but whát he does. If he is the genuine English Knownothing, I may be able to discover that he is truly that great Do-something who has been expected to visit the earth for many years. I am aware that the Secularist has no chapel
, or pulpit; but he has his hall and his platform. True, he may not preach ; but he lectures, and is as much a hired teacher as any priest whom he may condemn. “ But come, now, Mr. Secular Secularist, what are you about-have you formed a teetotal society to save the land from intoxication ?" “ Can't say," says he. “Well, perhaps you have created a society to give the slaves of America liber
"Can't say," says he. “Well," says I, “ have you established a ma, chinery to save the world from war ?"
"Have you established schools ?" "Can't say."
“ Have you any scheme for the people to get land or freeholds ?" “ Can't say." “Do you visit the homes of the poor?”
Can't “ Have you been among the Spitalfields' weavers to inculcate habits of independence and comfort ?”
“ Have you taken steps to redeem the streets of London from the desolating floods of prostitution ?” Come, tell me have you established a penny bank ?" " Can't say." “ Oř a
"Then, of course you have sent out no mission to elevatė savage nations ?”
“Can you say you intend to sacrifice friends, home, reputation, country, and life, that the human race may be exalted throughout the earth ?”
“I suppose you snuff, smoke, drink beer, and read Reynolds ?" " I suppose we do." " And I suppose you go to your hall, you hear the music, you listen to the lecture, you pay your money, and you go home and eat your supper ?” “Yes," And what else do you do ?” " We do what we think should be done."
"Pray tell me what you think is that which should be done ?". "Why the thing which should be done is the very thing that is wanted.” “What is wanted, says I ?" " Securalism is wanted," says he." " What is Secularism ?". says
I. think it is,” says he ? "Is it getting up a dance and going to a play," says I ; and here the conversation drops.
And I understand, fellow-countrymen, that large portions of the working classes of England are disposed to accept Secularism as the religion for humanity, and the Secularists as the prophets of a new dispensation. Why the humblest and the most despicable religious seçt on earth may boast of a Sunday, school, a Dorcas society, or a mission of charity; and I do not know a single
ci Can't say.”
soup kitchen ?
6. Cånt say.
6 Can't say."
6 Can't say:
1 What do you religious sect in England so degraded as to imagine that the human mind may be. only a modification of gas, and a futurity of justice, an idle dream. Yet I will not deny to the Secularists a mission. They overlook the fact that no nation or people has ever risen to greatness, and no man to sublimity of character, whose doctrines were materialistic and hopes but earthly; yet the Secularists have this mission among mankind, a mission nanıely, of scourging and chastising Christendon, because of the corruptions of the Christian religion.
Yes, countrymen, if the religion of the Son of God had only been known in England as it was originally known in Judea-the religion of Faith, Liberty, Justice, and Love-our dear country would never have given birth to philosophers who preach eternal negation.
SAXON in the Empire.
To illustrate the force of his love, the Almighty has borrowed illustrations from the most endearing and tender affections of the human heart. No affection can be more free and unrestrained, than the affection of a devoted husband to the wife of his bosom; and that we may know how fully and devotedly God loves us, he speaks of us as his bride, and calls himself our husband: " Thy maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name.” The love of a father is a strong affection, and no one but a father can tell how the afflictions of a child affect a father's heart. Yet "like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Of all affections there is none so tender as that of a mother for her little one. No tongue can utter the fulness of a mother's love; no heart but a mother's can understand it. Her first and last thoughts are for her child, and her chief concern is for its welfare. She tbinks nothing too much to do for it, and she thinks nothing too hard to suffer.. She will toil for it through the day, and watch for it through the night, and think herself repaid for all if she can see it peaceful and happy. If it be sick, she will stand by its cradle, or fold it in her arms, and gaze on it with a world of tenderness. If its life is in danger, her eyes are at once filled with tears, and her soul is full of sorrow; but if Providence removes the affliction, and her little one begins to smile again, her cup of joy runs over. If her child be lost, she is almost distracted; and when it is found again, she is transported with joy. A woman not far from Mossley, lost her child some months ago. It had gone with some other children to the moors to gather wild fruit, and was lost among the hills. When the rest of the children returned at night, this little one was wanting; and no one could tell where it might be found. The poor helpless child was left to weep many miles away, on the lonely mountains; and wander up and down in the dark amidst rocks and crags. The mother was in an agony. Her cries ran through the whole village, and there was nothing heard through the night but, Where is my child ? O what will become of my child ? I passed through thé village a day or two after, and the child had been fonnd, and had just been brought home. The street was crowded with people, and all seemed glad, but the mother was in an ecstacy.
"I was once,” says an English author, "going in my gig up the hill, in the village of Frankford, near Philadelphia, when a little girl, about two years old, who had toddled away from a small house, was lying basking in the sun, in the middle of the road. About two hundred yards before I got to the child, the teams (five big horscs in each) of three wagons, the drivers of which had stopped to drink at a tavern on the brow of the hill, started off, and came nearly abreast, galloping down the road. I got my gig off the road as speedily as I could ; but expected to see the poor child crushed to pieces. A young mah, a journeyman carpenter, who was working on a shed by the side of the road, see
ing the danger, though a stranger to the parents, jumped from the top of the shed, ran to the road, and snatched up the child from searcely an inch before the hoof of the leading horse. The horse's leg knocked him down; but he, catching the child by its clothes, flung it back, out of the way of the horses, i and saved himself by rolling back with surprising agility. The mother of the child, who had apparently been washing, seeing the teams coming, and seeing the situation of the child, rushed out, and catching up the child just as the car. penter had flung it back, and hugging it in her arms, uttered a shriek such as I never heard before, never heard since, and I hope shall never hear again ; and then she dropped down, as if perfectly dead !"" Her joy for the unexpected preservation of her child was too great for her frame to bear.
THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
The virulence with which the Infidels of the present day have attacked the character of Christ is symptomatic of their determination, were it possible to sweep away his religion from the earth. Mr. Joseph Barker is found among the detractors. He can unsay what he said some years ago, when he stood forward for the defence of Christianity, but he can never refute it. We propose giving some parallelisms of his sayings now and then in future numbers of The Defender. This week we give a contrast of his views of the Saviour's character when an Infidel, and a New Connexion Methodist Minister. It needs no commentary. “Look on this picture, and on that.”
JOSEPI BARKER IN 1854. We have something good in the character and teachings of Jesus. There is no such perfection in them as Christians suppose; but there is something good. For instance, Jesus shows a regard for the poor and afficted. He, hates pride and hypocrisy. He inculcates mercy and benevolence; and he exerts himself, according to the Gospels, in relieving distress and suffering. This is all good. He may have been a Jew merely. His benevolent regards may not have reached to the Gentiles. Still it was something to be concerned for the welfare and the comfort of his poor countrymen.
What Jesus really was, and what he really taught and did, we have not the means of knowing. The gospels give somewhat contradictory views of his character and teachings. But take what view you will, in no respect can he reasonably be held forth as a pattern of perfect moral excellence; or as an example of all virtue.
JOSEPH BARKER IN 1842. Christ was a man,-a perfect man. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh,-he was made in all points like as we are, yet without sin,-he was subject to human affections and infirmities,—he was born under the law,
- he was subject to temptation and pain,--hé had a human character, and human relationships, he took upon himself the form of a servant, and in this light we would now call upon you to contemplate him. Viewed in this light, he still stands alone. There is a perfection and loveliness about him, which can never be sufficiently admired, and which can never be sufficiently loved. There was not a stain upon his whole character. He did no sin, neither was any guile found in his mouth. His enemies laboured hard to