Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

But this is not all. In all the great industrial nations, so called, or where the new order prevails, and especially with us, the great mass of the people are ill-at-ease. They belong in more senses than one to the “ movement party.”

Rarely do you find one contented with his lot, or satisfied to remain in the social position in which he was born. The absurd notions of equality which have been propagated turn all heads, and make every one feel that he ought to occupy the first rank. No one is willing to occupy a subordinate station. We are all equal, and, therefore, all would be first. The poor man cannot content himself in his poverty to serve God where he is, and count himself as living well, if living for God. No; he must be another ; he must be rich ; he must stand as high socially as his neighbour. So he puts off his spiritual duties, neglects the goods he might obtain, and risks every thing in trying to be what he is not, and in striving to win what when won would be worse than useless. No one seems to remember, none seem to believe, that “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”; that “ Better is the poor man that walketh in simplicity, than a rich man that is perverse in his lips and unwise ; or that “ Better is a dry morsel with joy, than a house full of victims with strife.” We look with pity and contempt on those who show no ambition to rise in the world. We regard it as a “lower deep” in the degradadation of the Austrian or Italian peasant, that he is contented to live and die a peasant. We regard him who neglects an opportunity to rise in the world, to acquire wealth or distinction, as wanting in the proper spirit of a man. Hence, everywhere strife and contention ; everywhere rivalry, competition, envy, jealousy, heart-burnings, efforts to rise, pull down, keep down, — at all events, to be ourselves at the top. And what avails all this uneasiness and discontent ? What avails all this struggle, uproar, and confusion ?

understood of popular government not in itself considered, but where the people are not Christian, where they have not the Christian faith living and active, or, as we have said, where the dominant passion of the people, as with us, is for worldly wealth and distinctions. The fault is not in the form of the government, but in the spirit of the people. Were the people what they should be, the government would be all we could wish. But no popular government can be wiser and better than the people, rarely so wise and good as the general average. It is not the government that needs changing or reforming, but the people from whom it emanates. If our politicians would bear this in mind, and seek to secure better governmental results by increasing the intelligence and virtue of the people, instead of studying merely to ascertain and conform to the popular will as it is, they would render us some service, and would not deserve the very general reprobation which they now receive from the wise and good.

Does it make us happier here? Does it help us obtain the end for which our Maker intended us? No, no. What, then, does it all prove, but that we make a false estimate of life, that we place greatness, whether national or individual, in that in which it is not, and in which it cannot be ?

It is sometimes asked, what is to be the fate of this republic ? If we continue on as we are, it is easy to foresee what it will be. We shall be what were Tyre, and Sidon, and Carthage, and what they are now. It is written, that “ the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalm ix. 18. And, say what we will, we as a people do forget God. We have, it is true, our meetinghouses, and places where we assemble on Sundays; and we call ourselves by the name of Christ, to take away our reproach. But the exchange is our temple, and mammon is our god. We are an idolatrous people, and pay our devotion to the meanest of all the spirits that “ kept not their first estate. For an idolatrous people there is no good, no hope ; because every people that forsaketh the living God shall sooner or later be blotted out. The Lord God hath said it, and it is not for us to reverse his decrees. We must put away our idolatry, return from our groves and a high places” to the Temple we have deserted ; for there is no good for nations, any more than for individuals, but in loving God and keeping his commandments.

This conclusion, doubtless, is not remarkable for its novelty. It is, we own, but the old story which is constantly repeated by those the world heeds not.

But truth is old, not new, and our good rarely comes from novelties. We have followed after new things long enough. We have sought out many inventions ; we have followed the suggestions of a lying spirit, and been deceived wellnigh to our ruin. It is now the part of wisdom to retrace our steps, to return to the old things we have left behind, from which we have wandered so long and so far, seeking rest and finding none. Nay, if we want novelty, we may find it in the old paths so long deserted; for to the greater part of us the old is newer than the new.

We mean not, in what we have said, to condemn industry, nor even wealth, in their place, and when pursued with reference solely to God. We believe voluntary poverty for the sake of God is highly meritorious ; but a man may also be rich without sin, although riches are a temptation and a snare, and he who has them not is more blessed than he who has them. What we have meant to condemn is the worldly spirit, is the tendency to make wealth and luxury, or the goods of this life, ends for which we may live and labor. This is always sin, as it is always folly and madness. We may make our industry and wealth meritorious, by pursuing them for the sake of God, and using what we acquire according to the law of charity. We are to seek first, as the end of our exertions, the kingdom of God and his justice, and all else we need will be added unto us. But all are not required to seek this in the same mode. There are diversities of gifts and callings. Some are called to follow the evangelical counsel to forsake houses and lands, wife and children, for Christ's sake. These do nobly, and have the promise of a hundred-fold in this world, and of eternal life in the world to come. Others are called to serve God as pastors and teachers, by ruling the Church, feeding the flock, instructing the ignorant, strengthening the weak, reclaiming the erring, comforting the sorrowing, and befriending the friendless ; others by exercising authority in the state, watching over the public weal, executing the laws, and maintaining justice between man and man; others, again, by industrial efforts, by the production and exchange of the necessities and conveniences of life. Each to his calling ; and each in his calling may, if he will, serve God, and gain the salvation of his own soul. But whatever the calling, it must be pursued for the sake of God, in the spirit of humble obedience, and whatever the act performed, it must be referred to God, who is our ultimate end, as he is our first beginning.

We have spoken freely, and not flatteringly, of our countrymen; and yet we have not spoken without feeling an American heart beating in our bosom. A great people in the higher and truer sense we are not. That we have in the industrial order achieved much, and that as to our simple material condition we compare favorably with any other people, we are far from questioning. That in education, so far as it tends to prepare us for success in this world, we have done much, we freely admit ; and that, as a people, we are by no means deficient in natural acuteness, strength, or activity of mind, or wanting in the ordinary regard for the general welfare of one another, we are far from asserting. Compared with other nations, we have undoubtedly no special cause for national mortification, though less cause for pride and vanity than we commonly imagine. Yet we know no reason why a man should blush before the native of any other country to be called an American. It is not between us and other nations that we have been instituting a comparison. We have compared our nation not with others ; but have sought to measure it by the standard of greatness furnished us in our holy religion, — the only standard by which it becomes us to try ourselves. Tried by that standard, we are indeed most shamefully wanting, and should blush and hang our heads.

In saying this, we do not feel that we forfeit the character of a true patriot. We may be wrong, but we have always held that the worst citizen of a republic is he who flatters the people, assures them they are wise and virtuous, can do no wrong, and have the right, irrespective of the laws of God, to do whatever they will. We have never believed that we must consult the will of the people as the rule of our faith or of our practice. We have believed it the duty of every citizen to do all in his power not to conform to public opinion, but to set it right whenever he has good authority for believing it wrong. We are not to do what will please the people, but to do what we can to influence the people to will what is pleasing to God. Such has been our belief ever since we commenced addressing the public in speech or in writing, and such is our belief now, and probably will be as long as we live. It is too late for us now to turn courtier or demagogue.

If this is a fault in us, there is no lack of aspirants to public favor to atone for it. We love our country. We are resolved to do all we can to sustain her institutions ; but we are not of those who have great facility in shouting Democracy, and praising the dear people. We see evil tendencies at work ; we see the golden, or rather paper, age of demagogues advancing, and we tremble for our country. To us, the direction things are taking seems likely to prove disastrous.

We raise our voice, feeble though it be, and unheeded as we fear it will be, to contribute our mite to stay the advancing tide of ruin. We have raised it with a patriot's love, and with a patriot's grief ; but with the Christian's hope. Bad as appearances are, a good God as well as a just God watches over us, and we dare not distrust his mercy. . It may be he will have mercy on our nation ; that he will yet make ours the chosen land of his abode ; that he will in very deed be our God, and we shall be his people. We would not see our experiment in behalf of popular freedom fail ; we would see it succeed. It will not fail, it will succeed, if we return to God, put our trust in him, and live for the end to which he has appointed us.

Art III. Dangers of Jesuit Instruction. A Sermon

preached at the Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, September 25, 1845. By Rev. Wm. S. Potts, D. D. 8vo.

pp. 21.

The author of this sermon, we presume, from its doctrine and tone, is a Presbyterian minister, and most likely pastor of the church at which it was preached. We know nothing of him except what the sermon itself tells us. From that we gather that he stands high in his own estimation, has some earnestness and zeal, but is rather deficient in theological and historical knowledge, as well as in the meekness and sweetness of the Christian temper.

The sermon is from Eph. vi. 4, — “ Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” or, as the Catholic version has it, “ in the discipline and correction of the Lord”; and is designed to set forth the solemn obligations of Christian parents to give their children a truly Christian education, and io point out one remarkable instance in which they violate these obligations.

“The text,” he says, “ is an apostolic precept given to those who hold in the Church of Christ the important and responsible relation of parents. The Church, consequently, requires, in every case in which the Sacrament of Baptism is administered to a child, that the parents bring themselves under a solemn obligation to endeavour, by all the means of God's appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.'

“ As in the administration of this Sacrament in the case of an adult, he gives himself up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life ; so parents, in presenting their children, make a formal surrender of them to God, and obligate themselves, as guardians and instructers appointed for the express purpose, to bring them up as God's sons and daughters. For their diligence and faithfulness in the discharge of this duty every parent is to answer, first, to the Church officers, whose duty it is to see to the fulfilment of the vows publicly made in the Church, and secondly, to the great Judge of quick and dead. Hence arises the double duty, that officers should see to it that the Church is fully instructed in reference to the nature of this covenant engagement, and that pa. rents carefully consider the meaning of the vow that rests upon them." — p. 3.

The inquiry might arise here, Who are these “ Church offi

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »