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to one of the duties which we owe to Christ, why not to all? If we may impose silence upon ourselves in respect of one glaring . act of disobedience, why not of all? Surely this maimed exposition of divine truth cannot be that ‘foolishness of preaching’ by which the world is to be saved. And what is it, we would further ask, that the world wants? Why does it lie prostrate under the power of a moral sickness which breaks out in loathsomeness over the whole surface of society? Why is its countenance ploughed up with the wrinkles of distress? Why roll its restless eyes, and heaves its labouring bosom? Is it not after truth—heaven-given truth? Can this be given it in too great abundance? Is it not this which will purge it of every grosser humour, and send a new and bounding life through all its veins? To our view there is a fulness of significance in the apostle's declaration, ‘The whole creation groaneth and travelleth in pain together until now . . . . waiting for the adoption.” Behold the wide desolation caused by disobedience to God’s moral government See how the deadly poison which has wrought our ruin permeates the whole frame of society, and perverts the choicest gift of paternal love, into the heaviest and most afflictive evils' Civil government, designed to defend the defenceless, and protect the weak from the aggressions of the strong, is it not, in almost every nation, the first to trample upon all human rights, the last to redress the real grievances of the poor? And the christian church itself, has not pride turned it into an engine of tyranny, and made it the instrument of intenser misery to mankind than any other institution under the sun ? Slowly alas, but, thanks be to heaven, surely, does the work of regeneration go forward. Scantily as yet, fall the fertilising showers upon the scorched and gaping soil. Who can gaze upward into the moral firmament and see the ‘clouds without water, carried about of winds,’ without betraying emotions of passionate regret? Whence is it that men filled with the truth of God, resolve to retain it, or at least to let it fall in such niggard drops—in portions so nicely , measured, that the soil can derive from it no strength to bring forth fruit? Humanity, enervated and trembling under the operation of the curse, calls out for truth—for all truth which the Creator has vouchsafed to communicate for its advantage. Let those who have it beware how they hold it back Theirs is but a weak and worthless faith that fears to publish in every ear, what God has spoken in theirs. They know little of the power of right principles who hesitate to proclaim and enforce them, lest in doing so they should do more harm than good. Let them rest assured that the social system will absorb, by a process more or less rapid, all that knowledge of the divine will which
christians can impart. They cannot overdo their work. Their labours are not likely, for some time to come, to overtake the evil which requires them. What they know, therefore, it were well that they dispersed with liberal hand. All times should be with them the time of sowing—all truths derived from scripture, the seed to be scattered. Let them pour out of every kind, in imitation of that benevolence which has blessed them with every kind! Wherever error reigns, thither should they carry the truth which will confound and overturn it.
One more consideration we submit to the notice of the candid, and with it we shall close the present argument. It is not a little remarkable that not a single promise of the divine blessing is extended to the sagacious management of the trust committed to us. No stress is laid in Scripture upon the importance of exercising a prudent forethought as to the effects likely to follow from the exhibition of truth. No intimation is given of the necessity of a far-seeing statesmanship in our attempts to rid the world of error. We are cautioned against leaning to our own understanding—we are commanded to be fools that we may be wise—we are told that “this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. The cautious suppression of any portion of the divine mind, dictated by whatever motive, can fall back for encouragement upon no promise, no pledge, with which Christ has condescended to bless his church. To honesty of purpose, to the courage which braves all shame, to simple-hearted reliance upon the power of God's word, to industry, perseverance, fortitude, zeal, there are assurances given upon which they may confidently lean in the darkest hour of difficulty and danger—to policy, none whatever. Were any one of those who counsel silence and inaction in regard to the spirituality of the Redeemer's kingdom, called to account before his heart-searching Master for this feature of misconduct, what direction contained in the New Testament could he offer as a valid plea. He thought, looking at the present position of parties, and at the anomalous state of society in this empire, that an earnest exhibition of particular truths would peril the safety of evangelical religion. But where did he find written in his commission an injunction to regulate his duties by such considerations ? Who devolved upon him the management of events? Who bade him consult the clouds before he sowed ? Who required it at his hands that he should be weather-wise and understanding in times and seasons ? That which he had freely received, he might with a clear conscience have freely given. What, now, is his answer? What can it be? Whereas, for proclaiming the truth which is in him, he has sure warrant. The very fact that he has something God-given in his heart, is his commission to preach it to the world. That the world turns away from it is proof strong enough that the world specially needs it. And it is precisely to those who, in the discharge of their duty, are likely to be involved in perplexities and perils, that the promise of assistance from on high is graciously extended. The simplicity which speaks—'whether men will hear or whether they will forbear,'—the fidelity which will not allow sin to sleep unmolested,—the courage which walks forth for God, heedless whether there be or be not 'a lion in the way' the faith which 'frets not itself in anywise to do evil-these are qualities in the christian disciple which can always reach high enough to pluck a blessing from the tree of revelation. But wariness ending in defeat, where will it find consolation ? Whither will it turn for support? What cordial has Scripture to administer to disappointed foresight, or to mistaken sagacity? The answer to these questions—for they admit of but one answer,-is full of significance. It implies that the real vocation of christians is to proclaim the truth, not to reserve it—to bear witness, not to play the advocate-to give what they have received, not to hoard it against future exigences. And the conclusion which we thus gather from the tenor of divine revelation, experience has amply confirmed--for the church of Christ may in every instance trace her best and richest acquisi. tions to the ‘foolishness' of those who would not and could not hold their peace, even when the world was up in arms against them. The laurels belong not to the brows of skilful statesmanship—and, certainly, the history of the progress of God's truth on earth justifies in this, as in other respects, the humbling inquiry of the apostle, 'Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ?' .
The foregoing remarks may, possibly, beget in some minds, for the first time, a suspicion that a resolute determination to stand aloof from all attempts to sever the connexion between church and state can hardly be based upon enlightened piety. In some cases, we fear, men have admitted the conclusion, as an opiate, to ease the twinges of an upbraiding conscience. In other, and, we hope, the great majority of, instances, the conviction has been produced, as erroneous convictions usually are, . by looking exclusively at one side of the question. It is with this latter class that we have now especially to deal. We have endeavoured to meet their objections, and in doing so, we have marked out the grounds upon which our own decision rests. If, in the conduct of our argument, we have turned up a single thought worth further consideration-one in which truth seems to glitter, as grains of precious metal in the ore,—we intreat
our readers to pursue the subject to some definite and satisfactory issue. On whichever side of it the mind of God may be discovered, it is certain that the question is one of such pressing and practical importance as to demand, at the least, the gravest and most conscientious deliberation. It ought not to be cavalierly, or lightly dismissed. The affair, subjudice, is too large, too comprehensive, and involves interests of too high a moment to be shuffled through with unreflecting haste. If they to whom we have addressed ourselves be not right, they are deplorably wrong. The error by which they deceive themselves masks the spiritual destruction of thousands. Their silence adds length of days to a pretence, the full extent of whose pernicious influence no intellect can measure. They defraud others by doing themselves an injury. The blame is by no means trivial, when in matters chiefly affecting our own personal character, we bury our Lord's talent in the earth. But if our knowledge of certain revealed truths be really committed to us in trust for others; if while we sleep, Christendom also sleeps as the consequence of our stupor; if, in short, the world waits the energetic application of that moral remedy which we have in our possession, and whilst it waits sinks deeper into ruin;–then will our inaction burden us with a responsibility, the weight of which we may well shudder to contemplate. The bare possibility of being mistaken in a case involving consequences so serious, should bid us pause, examine, reflect, and spare no pains to satisfy ourselves. How far the good or bad influence of our example may reach, mone of us can tell. Thus much we know, that we do not, cannot stand alone. Whether we do or leave undone, we are, unconsciously perhaps to ourselves, producing correspondent impressions upon other minds. Under these circumstances, we hope our readers will forgive the urgency of our request that they ponder this subject with a solicitude befitting its unquestionable importance, and resolve to review the position they may have taken up with a prayerful concern to ascertain how far it coincides with the will of the Great Head of the church. We ask them further—and conscience must be our apology for the intrusion—to deal honestly with themselves. Ere they ascend the judgment seat, it would be at once manly and just, by a resolute effort, to divest their minds of all the bye influences likely to warp their decision. They will be aware how easily our wishes lead our reason, and how insensibly prejudice imparts to the clearest evidence a tinge of its own foregone conclusions. The views they have hitherto held of their duty in respect to the movement against establishments, they have been accustomed to regard as the natural and legitimate offVol. xv.11. C
spring of an attachment to the vital doctrines of the gospel. They may be so, but is it certain they are so? Let the supposition be made, for the sake of experiment only, that any reader of this paper should see sufficient cause to change his mind, and as the result of that change, to commence a course of active exertion to enfranchise christian truth from the thraldom of civil government. What are the inconveniences which would first present themselves to his mind as necessary, in such an event, to be encountered? Whose laugh would he have to brave? Whose good opinion would he forfeit? What friendship must he give up? Wherein would his reputation suffer; his worldly prospects, his social enjoyments, or his domestic peace? As with the wand of a magician, the question -Shall I so resolve ?' if put home to his conscience in earnest, will start up the shadows of the evils which he must meet, and, fleet as thought, they will pass in succession before the eye of his imagination. Now, is he satisfied that these things, never before distinctly called up before him, have had no hand in the formation of his opinion-have never, in any instance, unseen and unsuspected, given a bias to his judgment ? Might he not with great propriety, on the very thresh hold of this inquiry, exclaim with an authority which could not be resisted, 'Shadows avaunt!' It may be unnecessary. His piety may be elevated above that sphere in which such influences take their walks, and exercise their witchery. But recollecting the frailty of human nature—the extraordinary facility with which it surrenders itself a victim to self-delusion-and the more than common gravity of the subject which asks his impartial decision-were it not a wise precaution to guard himself at the outset against the possibility of hearing the whispers of these intruders—whispers which may be conveyed into his mind with such exquisite subtlety as to be mistaken for the suggestions of his own conscience. Severe self-searching is one of the best preparations for arriving at sound conclusions in all questions which touch the practice, and none but the frivolous or the self-sufficient will deem the ordeal a superfluous one.
Fully conscious that we are about to tread upon delicate ground, we cannot forbear urging upon our readers, nevertheless, their individual responsibility in this matter. As they must not take counsel of their interests, so neither must they give judgment by proxy. They must think, reason, decide, and act for themselves. Their ordinary opinions may, perchance, be nothing more than a faithful reflection of the opinions of some other mind to whom they are accustomed to render defe. rence. And on a subject seriously affecting the well being of the church of Christ, they may regard it as not only safe, but