Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

eties, over those of pagan nations, is, we Christianity has exercised on the ameliorathink, sufficiently obvious.

tion of modern society. Of it we cannot Nevertheless, we frankly avow our disbe. say too much. If slavery is banished from lief that civilization, without Christianity, amongst us, if our females have assumed can establish any essential difference among their proper range and dignity, if we have mankind. In our opinion, an uncivilized a legislation and a jurisprudence, liberal heathen, and a civilized European, without institutions, academies, hospitals, and asyChristian faith, are not such totally dissimi- lums; if we are distinguished by our benelar beings as some imagine. The exterior ficence and amiability of manners, it is to is, certainly, not feature for feature exactly Christianity we are indebted for these inapthe same in the one as in the other. In the preciable benefits; for it is this principle inhabitants of our towns are to be found which has united, little by little, into one many modifications to which the heathen mass, this morality infinitely more pure tban are total strangers; but at the principle they that of the ancients, and to the influence of are the same, morally speaking, as we shall which, all men born in the nineteenth cenpresently see.

tury more or less submit; nevertheless, as The savage retains all the harshness of an individual, he does as little love or pracunpolished nature; the civilized man, all tise the gospel as an Indian or a negro. the polished and easy manners of the soci- But, let us here investigate the European as ety in which he lives. The former aban. a stranger to the faith and life of Christidons himself without reserve to all the im- anity, glorying in a civilization which has petuosity of his passions; the latter studies not and cannot change his heart, erring, as to restrain his within certain bounds; and that of all other men. either his ideas of convenience, personal Now let us establish a comparison beinterest, or conscientiousness of duty or dig- tween savage and civilized man, considernity, rarely allow of their explosion. The ing them in a religious point of view. former is negligent and idle ; the latter ac- What do we discover in the greatest portive and enterprising. The one spends day tion of pagan nations still living in a savage after day in merely satiating the wants of state? Gross idols, monstrosities, bloody the moment, regardless of the future; the worship, fanatic priests, and homicidal saother is provident and economical, and pre- crifices. Amongst others who have risen a serves the fruits of his labours for the suste

step higher, out of a state of barbarism to nance of himself and family; the one is a species of civility, we find the worship of without civil, as he is without moral, laws; the stars of heaven, or the adoration of the the other recognizes a society and a social plants and animals of the fields. In a third order to which he submits himself, and to altitude of civilization, we with difficulty which, as a citizen, he believes it his duty discover any manifestations of religious to contribute, by his obedience to established sentiment. But without attempting a full order. But here we must close this altoge- account of pagan worship, let us examine ther antithetic parallel. If we have sketch- the distinct and characteristic feature of its ed the leading traits and principal points of theology. barbarism and civilization, it is but to According to our ideas, it consists in an shew that we know full well how to distin- absence of true notions of the moral chaguish, in a social point of view, a savage racter of God; a substitution of an ima. from a European. But what we maintain, ginary in the place of a true deity, and a and what may appear paradoxical to many, total want of solid hopes and consolations. is, that the heart of the one and of the other. The reader will doubtless perceive, that a if not regenerated by the gospel, is the difference in expressing various religious same in the eyes of Him who knoweth sentiments, is not essential to an argument. what is in man.

Without, then, stopping to view the various Let it be understood that we do not aspects which the pagan religions are carange all heathens under the same line, as pable of assuming, (for these variations to their intellectual capacities and moral de- serve only to establish, not to constivelopment; and without wishing to estab- tute, fact,) we would ask, can it be imalish ourselves judges of the hearts of men, gined that the student of the civilization of we discover shades sufficiently distinct be- the nineteenth century, has a God less fictitween the inhabitants of New Zealand and tious, more true or more real, than the pagan? the Hottentot; the Hottentot and the In- He does not appear, we agree, under the dian; the Indian and the Chinese; the hideous character of an idol, and thus the Chinese and the Persian. Moreover, while difference seems immense. But that God speaking of European civilization, we have in whom he believes, from whom he derives not forgotten the prodigious influence which his ideas, and seeks his knowledge, has the

same source as the pagan deities, in himself, of God be united to this industrious and and from his own conceptions.

commercial life, to sanctify it; and occupaThe God whom he fancies he serves, is tions which are entirely terrestrial, be elenot that God manifested throughout the vated and ennobled by his Spirit. vast works of creation, not the God of the But the love of God, the glory of God, Bible, but a god which man has made for has no more existence in the literary or himself, after his own taste, bis particular mercantile works of the greatest portion of inclinations and passions; it is a god form- our citizens, than in the brutal expeditions ed on a human model which is his proto- of a savage army. The object of every type, whom he regards scarcely as his equal, one appears to be enjoyment. The whole fears as little as he loves, loves as little as world is explored a thousand times, to yield he fears, to whom he bears a perfect indif- pleasure to sensuality-here, in a hideous ference, and who follows him closely in all and disgusting form ; there, in a manner his sins.

refined and distinguished. In Europe, egotThe pagans

of Greece and Rome had a ism lies concealed, for it is a squeamish patron saint of robbers, a goddess presiding conscience which inspires it, and frequently over lewdness, a murdering Mars, and those who are the most attached to this vice, many other rival deities, vain, lascivious, declaim most warmly against it. Amongst proud, and ambitious. The gods of pagan pagans, where a dread of exhibiting this Europeans are the same, for their spirits are feeling does not exist, egotism walks in employed in attempting to destroy the mo- broad daylight, and each individual sacriral perfections of the only true God; in fices to his wishes general and particular annihilating his sanctity and justice, through interests. the medium of his mercies. Thus by re- In Africa, and in the forests of America, presenting his imaginary goodness and there exists hatred between one chief and mercy always ready to forgive sin, they another, rivalry between one tribe and anhold, perpetually, that the gates of heaven other. In France, at Paris, we have intrigues are open for all men without distinction; and squabbles amongst our literary socienor is there a man, from the honest trades- ties, political discussions between our naman, to the villain and criminal, who does tional representatives and the nation itself, not flatter himself that he shall obtain com- rancour amongst members of all bodies, plete lulgences for his vices.

and persons of all states. The savage gloBut a god who neither sanctifies nor ries in the strength of his body, the plia. consoles ; inspires neither joy nor love; bility of his limbs, the perfection and ease whose threats are no more dreaded than with which he can throw his javelin or they are felt, and from whom succour can

wield his mace. With us, we are proud of not be derived, either in the time of afflic- every thing, of birth, of rank, of riches, of tion or the hour of death : does such an exploits, of mind, and of science. When one deserve the appellation of a God ? we look closely into this subject, civilization And those who are united to a divinity of is but a deceitful varnish, through the means such a nature, in what do they differ from of which man seeks to shield himself, and that wretched being, who has for his only disguise his moral misery to others. But, refuge in times of calamity, in the moment despite of his externally depicted beauty, of his quitting this sublunary world, and his natural corruption pierces through the entering an eternal one, but a piece of wood whole surface, and discovers his internal deor stone fashioned by his own hands? The formity. definition which the word of God gives of Are you yet proud, men of modern paganism, is philosophical; all men, ac- Europe ! of a civilization which has scarcecording to it, are pagans, who live without ly changed you, which has, morally, so lit. God and without hope in this world. tle elevated you above the savage; of a ci

In a moral respect, we discover the same vilization which has contributed so feebly traits of resemblance between the savage to your true happiness, to the happiness of and the civilized man. For what is the aim your souls? Were you serious or reflective, of the former? It is to enjoy life as much would you not already have profited by the as he possibly can, in drinking from all the many experiments you have made, and streams of sensual gratification. And, which must have convinced you of the amongst us, what is the ultimate intention of insufficiency of the remedy you have emall our boasted establishments, of all our ployed ? alliances and contracts, of all our educa- Tell us, in particular, Frenchmen, fellowtion, but either to acquire a name, secure a citizens, how comes it to pass that, in the fortune, open a bright career, or to live in nineteenth century, after two revolutions, ease and affluence ? O could but the thought performed in the space of forty years, and

[ocr errors]

which ought to have purged society of all days. These joys imagination paints in such loathsome and heterogeneous elements ; pos- lively colours that we almost sigh at their sessing so many distinguished men in all remembrance; nations, so many able orators, legislators,

The pleasing spectacle at once excites public men; enjoying the value of such Such recollection of our own delights,

That viewing it, we seem almost to obtain lofty institutions; instructed and enlight

Our innocent, sweet, simple years again. ened as you are by the experience of all

Cowper. people, and all ages; seeing the arts, the We cannot at times help fancying that sciences, and industry, flourishing among the sun shone brighter in those days, and you; in a word, finding yourselves placed that the sky was more cloudless. The at the very head of European civilization, to fields and trees seemed to have put on a which you give impulse, and which, with. richer green then, and the flowers bloomed out you, is checked ;-how comes it to pass, more beautifully, and diffused a richer scent, that, in the midst of such riches, you are than they do now. But are not these in a yet in trouble, without security either for the great measure the delusions of imagination? present or the future? It is because civili

Is Nature changed since then? Has it be. zation without Christianity is a disguised, a come more accursed? Oh, no! masked paganism ; it is because you yet There is a disposition in man to slight the lack one thing, “the one thing needful.” advantages and pleasures of the present time, That which alone can give you solid peace, in the anticipations of hope, or in the retroassure your hope, complete your happiness, spection of the past. Such a disposition realize your wishes, and be a lasting bless- manifests itself more peculiarly in the poet ing, is the gospel of Jesus Christ; for who loves to dwell on the happiness of “ that which is born of the flesh is flesh, days gone by, and to throw a melancholy and that which is born of the Spirit is spi- shade on passing events. Thus so many rit.” “ Therefore if any man be in Christ, bards have sung of the period of childhood he is a new creature, old things are passed as that stage of existence which is almost away ; behold, all things are become new.” unalloyed by sorrow or care; but whether “Godliness is profitable unto all things, hav, such a position is strictly correct, or correct ing promise of the life that now is, and to the extent supposed, admits perhaps of of that which is to come.” " Who hath

some doubt. ears to hear, let him hear!!"

In childhood the bud of life has not yet opened its bosom to the storms and adverse gales that await the riper years of life. The limits of the youthful mind are not extended

to that degree which can feel, in their highest “Ye days that balmy influence shed,

sensation, the keenness of anguish or the
When sweet childhood, ever sprightly, bitterness of sorrow, And yet the obvious
In paths of pleasure sported lightly,
Whither ah ! whither are ye fled."

cause which precludes children from these
serious calamities, at the same time prevents

their participation in the refined enjoyments In the reminiscences of childhood, there is of a more advanced age. Their crosses are something peculiarly affecting. The retro- light when compared with those which they spect of early years affords many mournful afterwards experience, and yet they unreflections. In the lapse of time, how many doubtedly affect them as seriously. The incidents have arisen, how changed are happiness of childhood seems to arise chiefly circumstances! Youthful companions, se- from a thoughtless buoyancy unused to reparated from each other by the roaring sea; fection, and heedless of causes or consethe friends of childhood lain in the grave; quences. Gray writes, those spots which once witnessed the sports

-“Where ignorance is bliss, of boyhood, so changed that they exist in

'Tis folly to be wise.” memory alone; the initials graven on the bark of some favourite tree, now grown over But to a thinking mind, how worthless and scarcely legible; another generation oc- is bliss that is based on ignorance! Who cupying the place where we once sported in would prefer the vacant, unmeaning inanity thoughtless happiness. These reflections kin- of an idiot, to sane reasoning and warm sym. dle the chord of melancholy, and throw a pathy, which, though they may suffer much, pleasing shade over the past. In the varied are nevertheless capable of refined enjoyincidents of after-life, all the little troubles ment. The one is as the unconsciousness of and anxious fears that then harassed the sleep, the other as an awakened sense of mind are forgotten, and we think of nothing what is passing around. So in youth ; mebut the joys participated in those gone-by mory has no scenes to trace.

Its pleasures

ON THE REMINISCENCES OF EARLY YEARS.

Beattie.

chiefly lie in anticipations of hope, and it ples, must have seen how very far they fall scarcely believes it will be deceived. The short; how much deception lurks within, and happiness of childhood is an undefinable how little true ingenuousness ! Or, supposing feeling; it enjoys, without caring whence this to shew itself but partially on account its enjoyment arises. A physical buoyancy of the absence of temptation, to what an imparts an elasticity to the mind that makes extent does selfishness manifest itself in disit soon forgetful of the past. Yet who would respect to parents or instructors ! Indeed, desire, though he were the most miserable the principle of every vice exists as much in wretch in existence, that he should be de- the bosoms of children as in those of riper prived of the memory of the past; that years. It becomes more developed by recollection should be steeped with the dull change of circumstances and frequency of potion of Lethe? What if there is much temptation, but the principle remains the sorrow to be traced in the contemplation of same in youth as in other periods of existence. events and feelings that are past, is there That which once received extenuation on no treasure in the remembrance of happier account of the weakness of reason, is in after hours ? Surely no one would consent to years stamped with the more serious name lose the one, because of the pain of the other. of crime. No; we do not thus prize unconsciousness The idea that childhood is happy because and insensibility.

it knows but little of sin, is delusive. Sin In childhood, the mind revels in fairy exists as really and operates as fatally in bowers, and scenes of ideal felicity supply the minds of the young, as in those of more the place of reasoning. But who would advanced years: “The heart is deceitful soberly prefer the ramblings of fancy, even above all things, and desperately wicked.” in her most delightful excursions, to the calm Though it may be sufficiently concealed, realities of truth? Who would prefer dream- the germ of every evil lies buried in the ing through life, to a consciousness of all its bosom of a child. Yet it is not by any transactions ? Few indeed. Fiction has means entirely concealed there; it buds charms, but they are delusive; the enjoyments forth, and produces its fruit - death. of truth are real. The delightful anticipa- Whence the sorrows that arise in their tions of hope are soon dissipated; "the minds ? Are they not generally the consebaseless fabric” is soon swept away; but quence of derelictions from the path of the pleasures of reality are more perma- duty ? Disobedience, deceit, ingratitude, nent.

dislike of religion, are they not most freSome have asserted that childhood is quently the cause of youthful sorrow ? Let happier than any other period of existence, it not then be asserted that childhood is because it is a state of innocence, its impulse free from sin; for it contains its germ, generous, its actions confiding, open, and though it may not manifest itself to a superupright; that inhumanity to the distressed, ficial observer, by reason of the restraint of and insolence to the fallen, those besetting education or guardianship. Yet it is true sins of manhood, are utter strangers to the that they are not generally subject to that heart; that but little of sordid interest or painful remorse which attends the crimes selfishness, and that much of intrepid honesty of riper years. There is often a certain is there displayed. Yet are such assertions degree of peace shed over the mind by correct? Will an unprejudiced person say, comparative innocence in childhood, that that he has often met with young persons so affords a calm happiness, which they never amiable, so sinless ? It is true that we see feel afterwards when exposed to temptation less of crime in early years, but it is not and sin. As Cowper affirms, because the mind is less corrupt. The “In early days the conscience has in most desires of youth are limited; they seek those A quickness, which in after years is lost." gratifications which are most in their reach. Still, it is evident that generally they are by They are less exposed to temptation, on ac- no means free from the sorrow and trouble count of the vigilance of parents and guar- that arise from misconduct and vice. The dians, therefore the more precluded from same demon reigns within, and brings forth the commission of crime. Nevertheless, their the same corrupt motives and feelings. conduct sufficiently betrays the depravity of There is one thing that more particularly their hearts; and though a complacency of mars the happiness of a child, and that is disposition may lead them in after life to restraint. His mind is constantly soaring extenuate the errors of childhood, they are beyond his years, for that imaginary pleanot the less real. Whoever has closely con- sure of which he is deprived at present. templated the dispositions of children from He fancies that when he is older he shall be their earliest years upwards, and compared happier, for he will not then be refused them with pure motives and religious princi- this, nor annoyed with that. But he will 2D. SERIES, No. 24,--VOL, JI.

168.--VOL. XIV.

4 A

find, as he advances in life, that though one ment become refined and corrected, so man restraint may be removed, others will rise becomes more capable of pure and intelin its stead, and that vexation will con- lectual enjoyment. stantly attend him. Still, he knows nothing Beaconsfield.

J. A. B. of this, nor will he be convinced except by actual experience. The pleasures and pride

CREATIOX-NO. VIII. of manhood are his constant dreams, the consolation of some sorrows, but the de

(Second Series.) spoiler of his happiness. He thinks of the We now proceed to note the closing verses future as a guardian genius that shall rescue of the narrative of creation contained in him from the fetters of dependency. That the inspired volume. control which is wisely placed over his “And God said, Let us make man in wishes and actions, appears to him, through our image, after our likeness; and let them the false medium of ignorance, to be nothing have dominion over the fish of the sea, and better than odious tyranny. He sighs to be over the fowls of the air, and over the catindependent, as if he could then mould histle, and over all the earth, and over every own destiny. Little does he think how creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. dangerous an enemy to his peace lies So God created man in His own image ; chained up within, which shall arouse at in the image of God created He him : the watchword of liberty, and shall bind male and female created He them. him in misery with chains beyond his And God blessed them; and God said power to unloose; when those passions unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and which are now curbed, and lie dormant, replenish the earth, and subdue it: and shall raise their dominion of slavery. Little have dominion over the fish of the sea, and thinks he of these, as this worm at the core over the fowl of the air, and over every of his happiness destroys his peace with living thing that moveth upon the earth. dreams of liberty and independence.

And God said, Behold, I have given you

every berb bearing seed, which is upon the “ From disappointment on to disappoinment, Year after year, age after age pursued,

face of all the earth, and every tree in the The child, the youth, the hoary-headcd man which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; Alike pursued, and ne'er grew wise.”

to you it shall be for meat : and it was so. POLLOCK.

And God saw every thing that He had A painfully purchased experience may teach made, and, behold, it was very good. And him at last the vanity of his pursuits when the evening and the morning were the sixth reason does not sanction them, and that, as day. Thus the heavens and the earth were he anticipates happiness only in the future, finished, and all the host of them. And so he prepares himself for continual disap- on the seventh day God ended His work pointment.

which He had made: and He rested on Thus, upon the whole, it does not appear the seventh day from all his work which that youth or childhood is superior to every He had made. And God blessed the other stage of life as regards happiness. On seventh day, and sanctified it; because a close inspection, we do not find either of that in it He had rested from all His work them so free from sorrow as is commonly which God created and made.' thought. And, even if it were practicable, Or, as it may be rendered, Elohim exthere are few indeed, who, for the sake of claimed, Let Us create man in Our image; its enjoyments, would choose to lay aside Our similitude. Let them enjoy dominion their present condition, and submit again to over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the circumstances of youth. Let discontent the air, over the cattle, over the beasts, and then be banished from the minds of those over every prone animal, prone upon the who are advanced in years. Let them no earth, and over the whole terraqueous ! longer idly dream over those evanescent And Elohim created man in His image ; joys which have scarcely left a just remem- in the image of Elohim created He him: brance behind. There are advantages and male and female created he them. And peculiarities attendant on every stage of life, Elohim put His blessing within them. and it certainly does not augur well to im- And Elohim pronounced over them, Be ye pugn the wisdom of Providence in render. prolific'; multiply; replenish the earth, and ing the most useless and most dependent rule over it. Yea, have ye dominion over period of life the highest in the scale of the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, bliss. If happiness is inseparable from a and over every living creature of motion right discharge of duty, and a career of upon the earth. And Elohim pronounced, usefulness, then can it be confined to no Behold, I give you, even every herb bear stage of being ; but as the taste and judg- ing seed, upon the face, to the bounds of

« ForrigeFortsæt »