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Sayings of the fathers
society, the president of
not enough to die with
Time, value of
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a Weekly Magazine,
OF CHRISTIAN EXPOSITION AND ADVOCACY,
Who knows not that truth is strong, next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious, those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.—MILTON.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1855.
SIX OF THE ARTICLES. Our Prologue....
Progress of our Race...
7 How Dan Mitchell became a Secularist
8 12 14
In commencing our work, we wish to say as little about ourselves as comports with courtesy to our readers. We would rather secure their support by efficiency of performance, than by largeness of promise. There is, no doubt, an ided before our
our mind, but we are solicitous that those who favour us with their attention, should get glimpses of it in our weekly efforts, rather than from its delineation here, lest as ability falls so often short of intention, they form expectations which may be doomed to disappointment. If, however, aspiration has any connection with success, we are not without hope of achieving good among those for whom we write.
Our object is the defence of Christianity, and we believe that its fullest and cleatest exposition is its ablest defence.' Our pages will, therefore, contain articles of a purely instructive character, presenting its facts, stating its evidences, expounding its teachings, developing its principles, illustrating its effects, and exhibiting its spirit. Not satisfied to rebut the cavils and objections of its enemies, we 'shast endeavour to show its adaptations to the wants and sorrows of humanity. Believing that the political and social regeneration of nations is im*: possible without their moral renovation, we shall seek the diffusion of those
No. 1, Vol. 1.
truths which have ever proved themselves powerful, under the agency of the quickening Spirit of the universe, in the regeneration of individual man. We shall labour to take off the mask by which superstition and secularism would conceal the divine original of Christianity; assured that thus we shall silence nine-tenths of the cavils by which it is assailed. When its caricatures are removed, and itself, in native majesty, confronts the foe, if his opposition is not disarmed, he at least holds out the flag of truce, and instead of attempting to drive it from the earth, he proposes, if possible, to share with it the field,
We are not among those who think it matter of indifference what a man believes. We have no hope for the progress of our race but in the spread of true and pure beliefs. A man is to a great extent what his thoughts make him. The dominion of ideas is powerful and universal; and where these ideas are false, it is the most crushing and degrading tyranny in the universe. If it is of no consequence what a man believes in reference to his nature, condition, relationships, and destiny, there is motive neither for study nor propagandism ; search for truth is useless, and its defence and diffusion are equally vain. Take away faith, and you rob reform of its only weapons; you clip the wings of progress, and darken the sunshine of life.
We believe in the objective reality of truth. It is not a feeling, a dream, an experience, an image, a phantasm, but a reality. Truth will not hide herself from those who reverently seek her; God's own star will guide them, like the wondering magi, to her beautiful abode. Honesty and love will woo and win her. Truth is God's voice to man; physical truth, as that voice speaks in the material universe; psychological truth as it is heard in the breathings of human consciousDess; moral truth as it resounds in the Bible, and in the moral history of our race; redemptive truth as it whispers in the still small voice of the gospel. All truth is important, and deserves attention, but especially that which relates to man's spiritual nature as a sinful and ruined being. To the Bible, and the Bible alone, must we appeal for the revelation of God's thoughts toward man. That book we shall defend as the oracles of the living God, and the charter of the highest interests of humanity.
A solemn responsibility attaches to the knowledge of truth. It belongs not to us alone, but to the entire race. We are traitors to it if we attempt to keep it to ourselves. From no prudential considerations must we fail to give it its full and clear utterance. We must not conceal it from fear of ridicule, nor swerve from it because of persecution. It is better than life. Apart from it, life has neither beauty nor usefulness. “We believe, therefore we speak.”
We profess not to know all truth, nor even to know any truth perfectly; we shall, therefore, be glad attentively to listen to those who differ from us, and learn what we do not know. We have deep convictions of the perfection and the value of Christianity; we shall therefore labour to the utmost of our ability to conserve, to defend, and to spread it. The love of God to our race, the propitiation of the Son of God for human sin, and the agency of the Divine Spirit in our regeneration, appear to us the great truths essential alike to the salvation and growth of man.
Truth has its enemies on earth. Servility, apathy, arrogance, selfishness, bigotry, intolerance, and persecution are leagued against it; and these enemies are ever most dangerous within the camp. May we and our readers be delivered from them all! Truth's triumphs are achieved neither by force nor fraud; by chains nor faggots. We shall not in wantonness provoke, neither shall we in cowardliness, avoid controversy. “The other side,” if only free from scurrility and abuse we shall patiently hear. Our readers will find it useful to hear what can be said against their views; and will value them all the more that they have been thoroughly sifted. Let them not dread the struggle between truth and falsehood. Error cannot have a permanent foothold under the reign of God. Truth must eventually prevail. To be victorious, she needs only the homage of loving hearts, the service of willing hands, and the sympathy of noble lives; and those who give her these she will crown with glory.
THE CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLE OF OUR LITERATURE.
THERE are perils besetting the future course of our literature, not only real but formidable. The utilitarian aud mechanical spirit would threaten our literary glories with the fate of Holland, whose early splendour of scholarship was so fatally beclouded by her subsequent lust of gain. The prevalence of passion would conform us to the imbecile, luxurious, trifling, and vindictive character that mars so much the glory of modern Italy. The reign of lawlessness would soon revive in our history the later ages of Republican Greece, its anarchy, violence, and misery. The sway of a false liberalism would renew on British shores the crimes and sufferings of the reizn of terror in France, when Anacharsis Clootz led his motley representatives of the whole human race to do homage to the French Republic, and the Archbishop of Paris abjured Christianity; as the victory of superstition would bring us into a resemblance with the former condition of Spain, when rejoicing, as her king did, in the title of the “ Most Catholic" among the subject monarchs of the Romish See, the country saw absolutism filling the throne, and the Inquisition filling every other place. Utilitarianism, the first of these evil influences, would replace the Bible by the ledger, the pricecurrent, and the bank.note list. Passion, the second, would fill our hands with the viol, the song-book, and the stiletto, or perchance the bowie-knife. The third, or lawlessness, would compel every man to put on sword and pouch and turn robber and homicide in self-defence, snatching what he could, and standing sentry over his spoils. The reign of a liberalism, such as we have seen in Germany, would send us to the study of Polyglott grammars, and furnish us for
our religious reading with a manual of Pantheistic philosophy; while the domination of the fifth would give us the chaplet of beads, and the index of prohibited books, to guide our prayers, and direct our studies; and meanwhile the Inquisition would take under its paternal charge the erring and refractory press.
But where, it may be asked, is the remedy of the evils that beset us; and against these perils is it in our power to find and apply any preservative?
Such defence, we reply, then, againstithe possible corruption of our literaturer is not, amongst us at least, to be found in legislation. We look with jealousy. on every thing that seems to abridge the freedom of the press. And, again, legislation is with us but the emanation of the popular taste. When that taste has itself become vitiated, it: will of course hardly seek to reform itself, or submit to the necessary restrictions, Nor is there a sufficient guard in educution. Our scholastic education is itself but the utterance of the moral taste and fashion of the times, and will therefore be very slow to detect and check its own deficiences. Nor is there hope for us in philosophy. That never yet reached the masses, and often in the classes it has reached, it has been like the Epicurean philosophy in Roman society, a fermenting principle that hastened the decay and dissolution of the commonwealth. Nor in general knowledge, for that may be the knowledge of evil quite as much as of good, and the intelligence that stores the head and neglects the lieart, has cursed many,
but saved none.
And if all these resources are insufficient, what have we left?
The remedy that skall guard and purge, and invigorate and fructify our literature, must have power; and to possess power it must come from without ;, not from man, not from society—but from something older, higher, and mightier than society or man. But to avail with us, it must not only have power, but popular power. Our government is a government of popular opinion, and no i doctrine that confines itself to the schools, or to certain select classes in society, a sacerdotal or an aristocratic class, can suffice. It must also have permanent power, and be beyond the reach of change from the changing customs and fashions of the time. And where shall such a remedy be found; rebuking a cold utilitarianism, curbing the fierceness of passion, awing the lawless, enlightening and shaming the falsely liberal, and emancipating the slave of superstition? Looking at the variety and complexity of the evils to be overcome, where, it may be asked, shall we seek it? Human authority is insufficient, and mortal wisdom is dumb. Yet we believe that such a principle of recovery and conservatism exists, and one that has in perfection all the several elements needed to success.
It has power--for it comes from God, and stretches into eternity; popular power--for it was made by the Maker of man's heart, and has, in all ages of history, and amid all varieties of culture, proved its power over the masses, and commended itself to the hearts of the people; permanent powerfor it has lasted while empires have fallen, and sects and schools of philosophy have risen, vaunted, flourished, faded, and been forgotten. It: claims all times, and its rewards and denunciations are fetched from beyond the grave, and lay hold upon another world. Is it again asked: Where is this remedial agentthis branch of healing for the bitter waters, the Marah fountains of our literature?
We answer: It is the cross of Christ. Let us not shrink to say it.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS THE ONLY CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLE OF OUR LITERATURE.
Nothing else can save it. This can. Though alone, it is sufficient. The cross of Christ, we say it again, is the only conservative principle of our literature. Nor let any be startled. Bacon spoke of Theology as the haven of all science. It was said by a highly-gifted woman, Madame de Stael, who cannot be charged as a professional or prejudiced witness in the matter, that the whole history of the world resolved itself naturally into two great eras, that before Christ's coming, and that which has followed his advent. And we find John von Müller saying, “every thing there but Christ, and what is the history of the world without Christ?" *
* Tholuck in Princeton Bibl. Repertory, vol. iv., p. 229.