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By this title, we mean the cross, naked, rugged, and desolate, not pictured, save on the eye of faith, and upon the pages of Scripture-not graven, but by the finger of the Spirit on the regenerate heart; the cross, as Paul preached it, and the first Christians received it. This doctrine we suppose to have two aspects. The first, Christ crucified, as becoming our free and full justificution by a blood that purges from all sin, and avails for the world. It was the re, assertion of this doctrine which wrought the glorious Reformation. The second, Christ crucified, as the principle of our sanctification, under the influences of the renewing Spirit, that conforms the believer to his Lord, and crucifies his evil nature within him. Thus it was that Christ was not only crucified himself, but required also every disciple to come after him, taking up also his own cross, and Paul speaks of himself as crucified unto the world. This last aspect of the doctrine of the cross, we have thought, has been rather overlooked by some of the Reformers, in their zeal against self-righteousness, and against a false and ascetic piety. Such was Cecil's opinion, whom none can suspect of any want of reverent feeling for the Reformers. But if we look to the New Testament, it is very evident that both were blended in the doctrine as the early Christians received it. The cross was not only their contidence, but the model of their conformity. It is, we have supposed, a defect here--a neglect of aiming at this high standard of devotedness, on the part of many of us Protestants, that has given to the Oxford Tractarian movement, and to the present efforts of Romanism, most of their hold upon the public mind. Apparent estrangement from the world, and a self-denial that rises superior to the ordinary idols of society, will eommend to the respect of mankind even much error in those thus estranged and self-denying. It throws a glistering veil of sanctity even over the gross corruptions of Romanism; and her impostures and enormities are often overlooked by those who see standing in her shrines her martyrs of charity, her Vincent de Pauls, and her Francis Xaviers. A pining recluse, scourging himself in sober sadness, as the expression of his deep sense of sin, may be a pitiable spectacle of delusion; but he is not, in the eyes of the world generally, as odious a sight as that presented by a self-satisfied, self-indulgent professor of a purer creed, living in all ease and pleasure, conformed to the world in all its follies, and waunting of a doctrinal orthodoxy that produces no eminence in holiness. Christians must live more upon the cross, seeing in it not only the principle of their faith, but also the pattern of their obedience—the cross not only as cancelling their sin, but also as crucifying their lusts. Such is the twofold aspect of the great truth, the basis of all Scriptural doctrine and practice, the centre of all its mysteries, and all its morality—the cross of Christ.
We might glance at the effects upon the interests of literature, of the resurrection of the true doctrine of the cross at the era of the Reformation. We might look to the splendid and varied literary results of the revival of this doctrine among the Jansenists of France, when the literature of the nation, in logic and in style, in sobriety and manly vigour of thought, as well as in purity of moral and religious character, was so rapidly advanced by the devout Port Royalists--when Tillemont produced the erudite, candid, and accurate history that received the praises of Gibbon; when Nicole wrote so beautifully on Christian morals, Le Maistre stood at the head of the French bar, De Saci furnished to the nation what remains yet their best version of the Bible, Lancelot aided by his grammars the progress of classical science, Pascal in so many walks displayed such? rare and varied excellence, while Arnauld thundered as the doughtiest theologian of the schools, when Racine, the pupil of the community, became the most finished of French poets, Boileau, their friend, the most perfect and most pure of French satirists, and Madame de Sevigné, their admirer, the most graceful and simple of French letter-writers.
The cross of Christ thoroughly appreciated and ardently loved, is an adequate remedy for all the evils of the world's literature. It contains the only elements which can counteract all the perils we have described, satisfy the demands of the human heart, and correct the wanderings of the human reason, and thus remedy the evils, be they literary or political, of society, by supplying those wants of our nature out of which these evils have sprung. and by restraining the excesses to which these wants lead. As to the casuistry and superstition, the fanaticism and persecution, that have sometimes abused the name of the cross for their shelter, we can only say that the doctrine is no more chargeable with these its perversions, than is the dread name of God responsible for all the fearful profanation made of it, when it is used as an oath to give sting to a jest, or to add venom to a curse.
But some feel, and others have intimated, that the cross of Christ has been tried, and has failed. The church has tried substitutes for it indeed, and these have ever failed. But the cross itself has not yet been tried by the church continuously and fully. Protestantism even has talked too much of it as justifying the sinner, but shrunk from it as sanctifying him. As to its failures, when really tried, they have never been more than apparent. In the hurry and cry of the conflict, the voice of evil is louder than that of good. When most seeming to fail, the cross is but like its Founder, when, amid the growing darkness of his last agony, the dragon seemed writhed around him, and the fatal sting of death was trarsfixing him. For a time the race of mankind might seem to have lost their Redeemer, and the gates of Hope, as they swung slowly back, appeared about to close for ever upon a sinking world. But when that darkness was past, and the field of battle was again seen, it was the dragon that lay outstretched and stiffened, with bruised head—all feeble and still, in the shadow of that silent cross; while radiant in the distance were the open portals of heaven, and earth lay bathed in the lustrous dawn of a new Hope.
And when some forty days have passed, there is seen in the glittering air over the summit of Olivet, the form of the unharmed and ascending Redeemer. As victor over death and hell, he is leading captivity captive, returning to his proper and native glory, and going before to prepare a royal mansion and a crown of righteousness for all his cross-bearing followers. Thus was seeming failure the secret and the forerunner of real victory. So has it since been. The day of the French revolution, when infidelity was ready to triumph, ushered in the era of foreign missions, when Satan's oldest seats underwent a new invasion. So will it continue to be. Every conflict, sore and long though it may be, will but add to the trophies of the Redeemer's cross, till around it cluster, as votive offerings, the wreaths of every science and the palms of every art—and that instrument of shame and anguish be hailed as the hinge of the world's history and destiny, the theme of all our study, and the central sun of all our hopes, the sanction to the universe of all God's laws, and the seal to all the faithful of our race of an endless redemption from the belief, power, and practice of all evil. In the coming years of the world's history, the presaging eye may look foward to the fierce clash of opinions, the tumult of parties, and the collisicn of empires. But when the waters are out, and one barrier after another is overwhelmed, and one sea-mark topples and disappears after another beneath the engulfing flood, God is but overturning what man has built. The foundation of his own hand will remain unshaken. The floods of the people cannot submerge it; the gates of hell cannot prevail against its quiet might.
W. R. WILLIAMS. * Montgomery.
FREE-SPEECH TO MR. G. J. HOLYOAKE.
You have largely professed your anxiety to rid debate of personalities, and imputation, and have taken credit to yourself for having, on your side, accomplished that desirable object. Had you really done this you would have deserved the thanks of every lover of truth; for little advantage is to be gained by the public in listening to the mutual recriminations of angry disputants. I have no fault to find with your theory of debate; it is your practice that shocks
An occasional violation of your rules might be regarded as not inconsistent with honourable feeling towards an opponent, but what shall we think when the violation is almost constant? Can you name one gentleman with whom you have at any time debated, whose character or ability you have not afterwards attempted to lower in the estimation of the public? There are men who, in the maturity of their reason, repent the follies of their youth; but years and experience appear to bring to you no improvement. Loud as ever in your professions of fairness, your treatment of your antagonists looks more determinedly hostile than it has ever been. Your demand for “justification by conduct" can never be conceded by men who have marked the course you are pursuing:
Not satisfied with having attempted in the Glasgow discussion to fix the suspicion of being in "an unconverted state" upon Mr. Grant; the authority on whom you had relied having entirely failed you, you return again this week to the charge and try to substantiate it in a way which does honour to you neither as a debater nor a man. You think the matter of sufficient importance to devote to it two whole pages; and if ycur secularist readers come to the conclusion which you wish, on the evidence there presented, they must be as devoid of logic, as they believe themselves of souls.
As you accord to Mr. Houlding, on whose anthority you first rested the suspicion, the full benefit of his total denial of the remark; the items of proof are only two, and to these I call the attention of your reasoning faculty, which must surely have been “taking a nap” when you wrote. The first item of proof stands before us in these words of yours;
appears that two members of Mr. Grant's committee, 'strait-laced men did make the declaration as to Mr. Grant's unconverted state."! You underlined the “two," in ecstasy I suppose, because you thought that thus the suspicion would be greatly confirmed, and the "did" to help your readers to a conclusion, which I do not think any jury of Englishmen would adopt on examining the grounds for it. Admitting, however, for the sake of argument that two men had made such a statement, does it follow that the statement is true? Two men, of whose character, capabilities, and opportunities of judging we know nothing, are of opinion that Mr. Grant is an unconverted man; therefore Mr. Grant is an unconverted man? Is this, sir, your logic of secularism? Is this your sense of right? In a British court of law, two or ten thousand opinions of the best men would not in the balance of justice have the weight of a feather against a criminal, if no fact were forthcoming on which those opinions rested. And to suppose that the working classes of Britain will condemn an advocate of Christianity on the mere opinion of any two or twenty men is an insult to their judgment. They have too much good sense to be led astray by such a perfect mockery of reason; and will set down your attempt to undermine the character of your opponent to the proper cause.
Your second and only other item of proof is found in your statement; "Mr. Houlding, one of Mr. Grant's committee at Todmorden, had been reported in the Reasoner as having said, that Mr. Grant was not 'a converted man'-a fact
obvious enough to hundreds whether he said it or not.” This item is still more worthless than the other ; for when analyzed it is nothing more than your own opinion. Deprived of Mr. Houlding's testimony, you become wise after the fact and say it was not needed. If the “fact was obvious enough to hundreds” you were not required point it out or to search for proof. “It is obvious enongh”, is one of the desperate efforts of a bad cause when evidence fails; and your having recourse to it speaks not well of your generosity toward your opponent. Who made you a judge of his moral and spiritual state? Is it not because you cannot dispute the facts marshalled against you, as drawn from your own pages, that you seek to stab the Christian reputation of your assailant? These facts will remain even though his character should fall, and will carry with them the conviction wherever they are known, that your policy,” but ill conceals an inveterate and undiscriminating hostility to the purest religion known among men. People will
you are weak in attack as you are in defence, and that when foiled at every point, you seek to escape by undermining the character of your opponent, which you should hold as sacred as your own.
In this too you have failed, but had you succeeded, it would have afforded another illustration of the inconsistency of your course. You say that Mr. Grant is an unconverted man, that is, an unchristian man. That in him which you condemn, you regard as opposed to Christianity, why then do you reject Christianity when you
believe it does not sanction evil ? 'Your argument is suicidal, and you tacitly admit that Secularism is worthless. Mr. Grant's course, you say, is bad; therefore, you reason, Mr. Grant is in an unconverted state;" but an unconverted state is "a state of nature;" therefore, human nature is not, as you aver, sufficient for morality, but needs, what you deny, a Saviour from without. Of what
use, then, are your boasted “guarantees of morality,”—human nature, utility, and intelligence ? Mr. Grant has them all, yet according to you, he is not right, but wants Christianity to bring him out of a state of nature, and make him a model
High tribute this to the value of the religion of Jesus! Damnatory fact sto the Secularist doctrine that human nature is sufficient for morality?" Christianity is exalted, in the condemnation of its advocate; and, in the confession that human nature is powerless against evil, Secularism is given up.
In conclusion, for the present, permit me to suggest, as you profess great fondness for logic, that you put this argument in syllogistic form, for the edification of
your readers, and thus do something toward making good your claim to the title of "The Reasoner;" and permit me also to subscribe myself,
Yours faithfully, 19th December, 1854.
It is because God is visible in history that its office is the noblest except that of the poet. The poet is the interpreter of heaven. He catches the first beam of light that flows from its uncreated source. the message of the Infinite, without always being able to analyze it, and
often without knowing how he received it, or why he was selected for its cutterance. But history yields in dignity to him alone, for it not only watches all the great encounters of life, but recalls what had vanished, and partaking of a bliss like that of creating, restores it to animated being. The mineralogist takes special delight in contemplating the process of crystallization, as though he had caught nature at her work as a geometrician; giving herself up to be gazed at without concealment such as she appears in the very moment of action. But history, as she reclines in the lap of eternity, ,
sees the mind of humanity itself engaged in formative efforts, constructing sciences, promulgating laws, organizing commonwealths, and displaying its energies in the visible movement of its intelligence. Of all pursuits that require analysis, history, therefore, stands first. It is equal to philosophy; for as certain as the actual bodies forth the ideal, so certain does history contain philosophy. It is grander then the natural sciences; for its study is man, the last work of creation, and the most perfect in its relations with the Infinite.
Look round on this beautiful earth, this temperate zone of the solar system, and see how much man has done for its subjection and adornment; making the wilderness blossom with cities, and the seemingly inhospitable sea cheerfully social with the richly freighted fleets of world-wide commerce. Look also at the condition of society, and consider by what amenities barbarism has been softened and refined; what guarantees of intelligence and liberty have superseded the lawlessness of brute force, and what copious interchanges of thought and love have taken the place of the stolidity of the savage. The wanderings of the nations are greater now than they have ever been in time past, and productive of happier results. Peaceful emigration sets more myriads in motion than all the hordes of armed barbarians, whether Gauls or Scythians, Goths or Huns, Northmen or Saracens, that ever burst from the steppes of Asia and the Northern nurseries of men.
If Jehovah is the supreme governor of the universe; if God is the fountain of all goodness—the inspirer of true affection—the source of all intelligence-there is nothing of so great moment to the race as the con-ception of his existence; and a true apprehension of his relations to man must constitute the turning point in the progress of the world. And it has been so.
A better knowledge of his nature is the dividing line that separates ancient history from modern—the old time from the new. The thought of Divine unity as an absolute cause was familar to antiquity; but the undivided testimony of the records of all cultivated nations shows that it took no hold of the popular affections. Philosophers might conceive this Divine unity as purest action, unmixed with matter; as fate, holding the universe in its invincible, unrelenting grasp ; as reason, going forth to the work of creation; as the primal source of the ideal archetypes, according to which the world was fashioned; as boundless power, careless of boundless existence; as the Infinite one slumbering unconsciously in the infinite all. Nothing of this could take hold of the common mind, or make
“Peor and Baalim
Forsake their temples dim," or throw down the altars of superstition.
For the regeneration of the world, it was requisite that the Divine Being should enter into the abodes, and hearts of men, and dwell there; that an idea of Him should arise, which should include all truth respecting His essence;
that He should be known not only as an abstract and absolute cause, but as a perfect Being, from whose perfect nature the universe is an effluence not as a distant Providence of Infinite power, or uncertain will, but as God present in the flesh; not as an absolute law-giver, holding the material world, and all moral and intelligent existence, in the chains of necessity, but as a creative spirit, indwelling in man-his fellow-worker and guide.