« ForrigeFortsæt »
li it may be said, that, in proportion to the ability with which a publication is sustained will be the wideness of its circulation, it may with equal truth be said, that in proportion to the wideness of its circulation, will be the ability with which it is sustained. A work which is read only by a few hundred individuals, cannot, generally, command great literary resources, Great minds love a wide field to act upon. And it is with such a field before them, ordinarily, that they put forth all their strength. The reflection that one is writing for a whole community, and that thousands are to weigh his arguments and canvass his opinions, creates within him that ardour and elevation of mind which alone can prompt him to his highest efforts. Patronage, we repeat, therefore, is essential to success; and if we have never seen an American religious miscellany which has been waited for, and widely circulated on the other side of the Atlantic, as some foreign periodicals have been on this, it is because we have never seen an American religious miscellany, which could distribute its 20,000 copies' in a day
Those who have been acquainted with the Christian Spectator, will be in no danger of inferring from these remarks, that it is exclusively a controversial work. While we have laboured to convince the enemies of truth, we have not forgotten the importance of practical godliness among its friends. Much, it is believed, may be found on our pages, to edify the Christian; and something, it is hoped, to interest the worldly-minded—who, though they may
bc too busy, or too'indolent, to give their minds to elaborate discussions, may read occasionally, a lighter essay, and feel their hearts inclined to virtue.
The occasion reminds us of our obligations to all who have assisted us, either by their talents or their patronage. Expressing our gratitude for these favours, and soliciting a continuance of them, we commend our work to Him whose cause we humbly hope to serve, and without whose blessing, all who labour spend their strength in vain.
DERSTANDING AND THE INTERPRE
GONNEXION BETWEEN SPIRITUAL UN- only by feeling. It is a simple men
tal sensation, and description can no TATION OF SCRIPTURE.
any such sensation to
him wbo has not felt it, than it can Some kinds of writing can be un- illustrate sight to the blind, or sound derstood and interpreted by intellect to the def. Could we suppose any alone; others require the united as- one so constituted by nature as not sistance of intellect and feeling. to be qualified to exercise filial affecWhere the subject is purely intel- tions—that in circumstances where lectual, as in mathematical or phi- the minds of others glow with love losophical investigations, he who and gratitude, his mind is a blank fully comprebends the whole train can language supply the defect, or of the intellectual process, is entire cause him to understand those emomaster of the subject, for he com- tions which never moved his breast ? prehends all which the author in. Or as the joyous freeman exults in tended to communicate. But if the bis blessings and pours forth in all sobject be not merely intellectual, but the conscious dignity of indepenthe powers of intellect are called dence, the deep feelings of his soul, into use merely to describe the can the slave on whom the light of emotions and passions of the mind, freedom never dawned, and whose the language cannot be fully under- breast is a stranger to the exalted stood, unless those passions and aspirations of the orber, understand emotions are felt ; for so long as the language which describes these these are unfeli, the entire meaning lofty emotions ? But on the other of the author is not apprehended. hand, let the son begin to love his Is it not an acknowledged truth, that father, or let the dark mind of the the simple bodily sensations cannot slave be illuminated by the feelings be understood except by sensation? of a freeman, and immediately the Can language cause a blind man to language which describes such feelunderstand the sensations of sight? ings, becomes intelligible. It deCan it bring before him the glories scribes something which has been of the sun, and cause the smiles of felt, and the feelings of the heart the landscape to charm bis mind ? sympathize with the description. Can he who is deaf, understand the If the feelings do not at the time sensations of hearing? Can the exist, yet the remembrance of them, language of signs communicate to if they ever have existed, will in him the melody of sounds ?--So measure illustrate the lanliketvise feeling can be understood
But most of all, will the
actual existence of them throw a ally discerned ; and again we read flood of light upon the language by of the darkness of the heart, and of which they are described. As the spiritual blindness.
The princiheart glows, the language becomes ples already stated, furnish an easy lucid, and the sympathy of feeling explanation of all these modes of complete.
expression, and illustrate clearly the Another fact ought here to be no. nature of this spiritual understandticed : feeling will influence the lan- ing and this spiritual blindness. guage by which it is communicated. Man by nature has no holy feelings. What that influence is cannot per. Whatever else he has of intellect haps be defined, but the fact is un- or of social affection, the love of doubted. There is a colouring, and God is not in him. Sorrow for sin, a glow in the language correspond faith in Christ, love to the brethren, ing to the state of mind in which it and in short all the emotions of a was uttered. It influences the mode holy mind, have ceased from the of arrangement, and the selection of whole race of man. There is none words of different degrees of intensi- that doeth good, or seeketh after ty, and causes the accumulation of God, wo not one. But on the other similar intensive epitheis, and other hand, every exercise of a holy artifices of language indicative of mind is described in the word of different states of excited feeling. God-all the emotions of the sancIf the mind of the reader is excited tified beart, from the first sensation by the feelings which glowed in the of sorrow for sin, to the last emomind of the writer, he will feel all tion of triumphant joy in the dethose proprieties of expression which parting saint, are thereio exbibited are descriptive of that state of feeling, with all the fervid eloquence of holy and the glow oi the language will cor- feeling. Now, can the mind which respond with the glow of his own has never felt one of these emotions mind. But on the other hand, if any enter into the spirit of such lanone in a cold wnd frigid state of mind, guage, or feel is expressive eloattempts to read the language whieh quence ? No chord will vibrate ; was prompted by excitnd feeling there will be no sympathy of feelnever experienced by bimself, he ing, no harmony of soul. This then is entirely senseless of all those is spiritual blindness : and spiritual niceties of expression; nay, there understanding is the reverse of this. will often arise a feeling of repulsion It is the sympathy of the holy between his own mind in its cold in- heart with the language of the Bianimate state, and the glowing lan-ble. By the agency of the Holy guage of a fervid mind. In short, a Spirit, the same feelings are excited mind warm with feeling impressez its in the renewed heart which glowed own image and superscription upon in those holy men who wrote the the language which it selects, and word of God; and thus their lanthe mind which would correspond guage is understood, because the with this impression, must be like feelings which prompted it are felt. the original.
If now we appeal to facts, and inThese principles, of extensive quire how and in what circumapplication in the concerns of com- stances spiritual understanding first mon life, are no less applicable to displays itself, and what is its prothe religious world. We read in gress, we shall tind an abundant and the Bible of spiritual understanding striking contirmation of these views. and of spiritual discernment ; we
Take then the singer dead in tresread of the natural man to whom passes and sins, in childhood or in the things of the Spirit are foolisli- mature age, and in what parts of the ness, by whom they cannot be un- Bible is he interested ? He can derstood, because they are spiritu- read historical narrations, or the
biography of holy men, because the word of God is still incomplete. eren an unsanctified man can here Though the sinner can sympathize exercise his sympathies. He can entirely with passages which decalculate chronology,
chronology, expound scribe the existing feelings of his prophecies, illustrate manners and soul, yet with those which speak of cestoms, and historical allusions, for the emotions of him who is born of here intellect merely is concerned. God, he has no sympathy. Upon He can also admire the beauties of thein the veil still remains untaken poetry, and descant upon its rhetori. away. But while the sinner fears cal decorations But there are parts and trembles under a sense of the of the Bible, and those of great ex- wrath of God, when the law las tent, which to him are without form done its work, and his hopes from and void-upon which darkness bimself are slain, let Him who comrests, and with which no feeling of manded the light to shine out of his soul accords. These are spirito darkness, shine into his heart, and val parts, which are not discerned give him the light of the knowledge by the eye of the natural man. of the glory of God as it shines in But let the work of the Spirit com- the face of Christ Jesus ; let old mence in this man, let him feel his things pass away, and let all things sinfulness, and his exposure to the become new; let repentance, and vrath of God-be may have believed faith, and love, by turns rule in his them before, but now let bim feel soul, and let him rejoice in Christ them, and let fear and trembling with joy unspeakable and full of take hold on him as a mighty man- glory; and immediately a new upon what class of passages will di- class of passages is illuminated with vine illumination now fall? He spiritual light. He bas felt the loveopens his Bible, and all those pas- liness of the Saviour, and the infisages which express the feelings of nite mercy of God manifested in a soul bowed down with a sense of his atoning sacrifice ; and now he sin, and terrified with anticipations recognises with sympathetic delight, of coming wrath, meet his eye, and those expressions of ardent love to ibrill through his soul. What the Saviour with which the pages of Christian, who has ever felt the the scriptures abound. They shine ivormwood and the gall, does not with heavenly splendour, and glitremember this hour ? When the ter before him like gems, so that he Ford of God became indeed quick rejoices in them more than in gold, and powerful, and the arrows of the yea, than in mucb fine gold, and his Almighty pierced his spirit. The heart burns within him as the glories sinner now sees in passages long of the Son of God illumine his soul. familiar, a new and unutterable The testimony of Edwards, that depower. They pierce eren to the voted servant of God, concerning bis dividing asunder of soul and spirit, own experience, is exactly in point. and search the secret thoughts and He says. “ Oftentimes in reading it, intents of his heart, and he wonders every word seemed to touch my by what delusion all these things beart. I felt a harmony between have been before concealed from his something in my beart, and those vision. In some parts, the Bible sweet and powerful words. 1 seemseems no longer a dead letter, it ed often to see so much light exhibglows with the freshness of novelty, ited by every sentence, and such a and speaks with the authority of refreshing food communicated, that God.' But bas the Bible changed; I could not get along in reading ; ofor does the beart of the sioner for ten dwelling long on one sentence, the first time swell with the sellings to see the wonders contained in it; iherein recorded? Yet at this stage and yet almost every sentence seemof bis progress, the illumination of ed to be full of wonders."
Again, he says of himsell, “On God, he sympathizes with them and one Saturday night in particular, I is comforted. had such a discovery of the excel. If it should here be said, that lency of the gospel above all other particular feelings may often lead a doctrines, that I could not but say man to adopt language apparently to myself, “This is my chosen applicable to them, but in reality light, my chosen doctrine,' and of spoken in a different state of mind, Christ, “This is my chosen proph. and for a different purpose, 1 grant et.' It appeared sweet beyond all the truth of the remark. But it expression, to follow Christ, and to does not interfere with what I have be taught and enlivened and in- said. It merely shows that the structed by bim ; to learn of him existence of feeling in addition to and to live to him.” If, in this state its effect in enabling a man to unof mind, he had opened the word derstand those of God, how would such passages as the same feeling is really described, hese bave caused bis heart to glow has also the power of causing a man with holy sympathy! “For God to adopt language as applicable to hath not appointed us to wrath, but his feelings, which was in reality to obtain salvation by our Lord intended for another purpose. Now Jesus Christ, who died for us, that if this be a defect, it can be correclwhether we wake or sleep, we should ed by an increase of intellectual live together with him.”
light; whereas if the feeling be not having seen, we love, and in absent, although it should be true whom, though now we see him not, that a man will not commit this fault, yet believing, we rejoice with joy it is equally true that he cannot unspeakable and full of glory." sympathize with those passages And in every part of a Christian's where feeling is really expressed. experience, as feelings of any par Nor can any increase of knowledge, ticular class glow in his beart, he has enable bim to do this. the spiritual key of a correspond- The same principle extends to ing class of passages in the Bible: the writings and conversation of and as the Bible was written by pious men. Whence is that mystemen of all ranks of society, and who ierious union of soul which enables passed through all the vicissitudes Christians wherever they meet, to of providence to which men are speak and to understand a common subject, it is of course a very exten- language? It is the harmony of holy sive record of feeling, and in propor. feeling. What is that which chills tion as the experience of a Christian the warmth of the heart, and checks enlarges, he is surprised and de- all freedom of conversation, when lighted to find something in the the holy heart would communicate Bible to correspond with every state to the unsanctified its sacred joys, of feeling, the beauty and richness and hearenly communion ? On all of which he would never have other subjects they can sympathize, known, bad not the providence of and converse freely; but here oue God placed him in circumstances heart glows with feelings unfelt by which excited corresponding emo- the other, and silence ensues. Why tions. In sorrow, or in sickness, are diaries of eminently pious men, when persecuted or slandered, when so barren of interest; nay, why are in doubt or in darkness, he turns to they so disgusting to the unsanctifithe word of God, and finds that the red world? Why do infidels and children of God who bave gene be. Unitarians, and all who are unholy, fore him, had been in the same so often ridicule the pious effusions circumstances, and as he reads the of such men as Edwards, and Brainpious effusions of their souls before erd? Why do they call them cant,