Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

rayed in the very senses of the pagan for the tions toward their contemporary relatives, dogmas and fables and immoral principles the idea of an ancestry extending back established in his faith!

through unnumbered generations, all hav. “ Or we may suppose the protester in ing had their whole intellectual and moral the name of the true God to be led to the existence involved inseparably in their reliscene of one of the grand periodical celebra- gion, and surrendering in succession their tions of the extraordinary rites of idolatry. souls to become a kind of guardians or porThere, as at the temple of Jaggernaut, con tions of it, must add a more vital principle templating the effect of an intense fanati- of attraction to the majestic authority and cism, glowing through an almost infinite sanction of such an antiquity. Generations crowd, he may perceive that each individual of little account in their own times may acmind is the more fitted, by being heated in quire, when passed away to be contemplated this infernal furnace, to harden in a more as ancestry, a certain power over the imadecided form and stamp of idolatry as it gination by becoming invested with somecools.

thing of the character of another world,-a “ Antiquity is, all over the world, the venerableness which combines with and augfavourite resource of that which is without ments the interest which they hold in our rational evidence, especially so, therefore, of thoughts as having once belonged to our superstition ; and the Brahminical supersti- mortal fraternity. This combined interest tion rises imperially above all others in as- going wholly into the sentiments of religion, sumption of dignity from the past, which it in the pagans of whom we speak, they will arrogates as all its own, but emphatically feel as if a violation of that would be an inthat which appears the most solemn by re sult to each of the innumerable souls of the moteness. Unlike most other dominations great religious family departed, all worthier over human opinion, which deduce them- of respect than any that are now living in selves from an origin, and attain their ho- the world from which they have vanished. nours in and by means of their enlarging This habitual reference to their ancestors, progress downward in time, this proud im- with a certain sense of responsibility, is posture makes the past, back to an incon- maintained by various notions and rites of ceivable distance, the peculiar scene of its their superstition, expressly contrived for magnificence. And it teaches its devotees the purpose, as well as by the pride which to regard its continued presence on earth not they can all feel, though they be but little as the progress of a cause advancing and sensible to the kind of poetical charm which brightening into greatness and triumph, but might be felt, in thus standing connected, merely as something of the radiance reach through identity of religious character and ing thus far, and with fainter splendour, economy, with the remotest antiquity. from that glory so divine in the remote past. “ Nor can the influence be small, in the Its primæval manifestation was of power to way of confirmed sanction and cherished prolong the effect to even this late period, pride, of beholding that which has been the in which the faithful worshippers have to element of the moral existence of an almost look back so far to behold the glory of that infinite train of predecessors, attested still, vision it once condescended to unfold on this as to its most material parts, by a world of world. The grand point of attraction being beings at this hour coinciding with the dethus placed in a past so stupendous as to as votee, in regarding it as their honour, their sume almost a character of eternity, the sanctity, and their supreme law. Let the contemplations, the devotional feelings, and Hindoo direct his attention or his travels the self-complacency, are drawn away in a whichever way he will, within the circuit of retrospective direction, and leave behind in a thousand leagues, he meets with a crowd. contempt all modern forms of faith or insti- ing succession, without end, of living thinktution, as the insignificant follies sprung from ing creatures who live and think but to bethe corruption of a heaven-abandoned period lieve and act as he does. And what, in efof time. The sentiments excited in them fect, do they all think and act so for, but as by the many signs of decay in the exterior evidence that he is right? The mind can apparatus of their system, such as the ruin. rest its assurance of its own rectitude of pered state of innumerable temples, will rather suasion on this wide concurrence of belief, coincide with this attraction in carrying the without therefore acknowledging to itself a homage and the pride to the glory that was degrading dependence. Its mode of seeing once, than lead to any suspicion of a futility the matter is, not that the faith of a large for which the system deserves to grow out assemblage of other minds is its faith, but of use. This retrospective magnitude, this that its faith is theirs ; not, I think and act absorption of all past duration in their re as they do, but, They think and act as I do. ligion, this reduction to insignificance of This sort of ambitious expansion outward, whatever else has existed, (if, indeed, all from the individual as a centre, saves his that has existed has not becn comprehended pride of reason from being humiliated by in it), cannot fail to produce a degree of ela- the consideration of the sameness of his notion in the minds of the Hindoos, notwith. tions with those of the great mass. The standing their incapability of genuine su. sense of community in human nature is blimity of conception and emotion. strongly and delightfully admitted, when

“And again, however slight their affece agreeing multitudes corroborate a man's

opinions without depriving him of the self- tive patronage. The administration of complacency of believing that he holds them the funds for the ceremonial of idoin the strength of his own wisdom.

latry has been taken, he observes, un“ This corroborating influence of the con

der the authority and care of the reignsent of contemporary multitude in the most essential points of the system, has, as we

ing power have already hinted, its effect among the

" Composed of persons zealous, on this Hindoos even without the intervention of so

nearer side of a certain extent of water, for cial affection. Never did any where a great lishment has also been recently

extended to

the established Christian religion, which cstabnumber of human creatures exist together with so little of the attachments of kindred that further side, with what effect towards and friendship. It is a striking illustration exploding or even modifying this very marof the tendency of their superstition, that it vellous policy, or whether deemed to be nearly abolishes these interests, keeping the perfectly harmonious with it, we must

wait

to be informed. In the mean time, the rewhole population in the state of detached and most selfish particles. This seems in- ligious public is amply informed of a course deed to be foregoing one of the strongest sued tending to support and prolong the as

of measures having been deliberately purmeans of power, since a system of notionscendency of paganism. It has been disand moral principles might find the greatest closed to their view, that the highest auaccount in so combining itself with the affecthority has taken upon itself the regulation tions of nature as to engage them for auxi. liaries. But then what a triumph of this of the economy of idols

' temples, has rebad cause that while, instead of enticing and has made additional allowances from

stored endowments which had been alienated, these charities into its service it tramples on the public revenue, where the existing apand destroys them, it can notwithstanding make this assemblage of dissocial selfish be propriations have been judged inadequate

to ings act upon one another in confirmation of preserve to those establishments the requitheir common delusion, with an effect even

site dignity ;-requisite for what, but to greater than that which might have arisen prevent any relaxation of the hold which the from friendly sympathy. Of little worth imposture has on the people ? And, be it in one another's esteem as relatives and this aid is constantly pressing heavily for its

remembered, the revenue which is to afford friends, it is as things which the gods have

means of competence on the distressed reset their stamp upon that they have their

sources of this Christian country.” grand value. The religion is regarded as attaching in so very personal a manner to

Having thus stated the nature of the all its subjects, that they have the effect of evil, Mr Foster devotes the remainder figures sculptured on their temples, or of of his admirable discourse to an enleaves of their sacred books of mythology. lightened and profound

argumentation The seal or brand of the deities set upon on the duty of a great Christian counthem does not indeed dignify them all, but try, to do all that in it lies to overit makes them all vouchers to the religion. come the evil. As a specimen of nearly They all in conjunction personify, as it 50 pages of noble reasoning, we quote were, that system which as much requires the following passage.the existence of Soodras to verify it as of Brahmins. The ‘miry clay' of the feet is selves, in imagination, in the case of being

“ If they would for a moment put themas essential a part as the royal material of

contemporary with Wicliff, or with Luther, the head. “ Thus the vast multitude are made to

and of being applied to by one of these darserve just as surety to one another, and all ing spirits for advice, we may ask what to each, for the verity of the superstition, given? They cannot but be instantly con

counsel they can suppose themselves to have And as the existence of any of them on any scious that, though they had been protesother account had been impertinent, their existence in such prodigious numbers must

tants at heart, their dispositions would have needs seem to demonstrate a mighty im- been to array and magnify the objections portance in that for evidence and exemplis and dangers ; to dwell in emphatic terms fication of which it was worth while for resistless dominion of the papal church, es

on the inveterate, all-comprehensive, and them to be so many."

tablished in every soul and body of the Mr Foster, after a good deal more people; on the vigilance and prompt maof the same fine disquisition, speaks lignity of the priests ; and on the insigniboldly of the conduct of the Christian ficance, as to any effect, of an obscure indigovernment over India, in becoming vidual's efforts against an immense and an auxiliary to the power of this in- marvellously well organized system of imfernal superstition. The aid has been posture and depravity, even if that indiviafforded, not in the way of securing, that his protestation would not soon bring

dual could be beguiled enough to expect, in observance of the principle of tole- him to encounter the ultima rutio of his proration, the pagan worship, and means

voked enemy, in the form of tribunals, of worship, from violent interference, dungeons and death. In short, if in those but in the form of a positive and ac instances such counsel had been acted upon

as they would have given, that zeal which terious hand threw a particle of a cause, if was kindling and destined to lay a great we may so speak, among the elements;i: part of the mightier Babylon in ashes, had the principle of attraction in it; it would have smouldered and expired in a found something akin to it to combine with, languid listless hope, that the Almighty obtaining so an augmentation, to be inwould sometime create such a juntture of stantly again augmented, of the attracting circumstances as should admit an attempt at and assimilating power, which grew in a reformation without the folly and danger of ratio that became at length. stupendous ; useless temerity. And so we might, for and it exhibits the final result, (if any result Wicliff and Luther, have been immersed in yet attained could be called final), in perthe half paganism of popery at this very day. haps a grand modification of the condition

“ And to descend to the undertaking in of a people, a continent, a large portion of favour of which we are at present assembled; the globe. What was the commencement -all that has been accomplished by it in of the true religion in this land, and of those India, and is now accomplishing, as intro- several reformations which have partly reductory, we trust, to a religious change not stored it from its corruptions ? And what less glorious or extensive than the Reforma- would be the term of proportion, according tion, may be regarded by its active friends to our principles of judging, between the as, in some sense, a reward for having re- object as seen in the diminutiveness of the fused to be controuled by the dissuasive ar- incipient cause, and in its present extent of guments, and desponding predictions, of prevalence ?-between, (if we may be allowmany very, worthy deprecators of rashnessed the figure), the germ in the acorn and and enthusiasm.

the majestic oak ? “ It is from this quarter that we may “ A result thus growing to an immense hear disapprobation in form of the question, magnitude from a cause apparently so inWhat can we do against an evil of such considerable at the commencement, is the enormous magnitude, and so consolidated ? collective consequence of a great number of It may be answered, (and this has indeed causes progressively starting and multiply. been already suggested), What you can do, ing into consentaneous operation, each of in the sense of what precise quantity of ef- them respectively having in the same manfect a severe calculation may promise from ner its enlarging series of consequences. a given effort, is not always to be the rule And in looking to the future progress of this of conduct ; for this would be to deny the undertaking in India, is it not perfectly raabsolute authority of the divine Master. tional to assume, that many small means We refuse to obey him for his own sake, and little events will be, in their respective and refuse with an impious arrogance, if we times and places, the commencements, and insist on being endowed, or on the right of in a sense the causes, of trains of conseacting as if we could be endowed, with his quences interminally advancing and enlargown foresight of consequences, that foresight ing?" on which, we may presume, are founded After the eloquence of Foster we the wise reasons of his commands. It may fear that our readers will be little disbe added, that the contrary spirit has been posed to care for any of our opinions signally honoured, iriasmuch as some of the

on this subject, expressed in our own most effectual and the noblest services rendered to God in all time, have begun much

more homely and feebler words. Yet more in the prompting of zeal to attempt they may perhaps excuse us for atsomething for him, as it were at all hazards, tempting to state the whole argument than in rigorous estimates of the probable in a concise form. measure of effect.

It is assumed then, as a fundamen“ We may observe also, how all history tal principle, that the Christian reliabounds with great effects from little causes, gion is not only the best of all relithe constitution of the world. Some such gions, but the only true one-and that

it cannot exist among men without puconsequences now existing in magnitude, bear a peculiarity of character which will rifying, exalting, and enlightening the hardly allow us to look at them without a

character of nations. To introduce reference to their origination ; others have Christianity into any country whatso blended in the conformation of the ordi- ever, where it was not formerly known, nary state of things, that they do not neces even into a country where superstition sarily nor readily suggest the thought of may have assumed its least hideous their first causes. The actual condition of form, would therefore be to confer an our part of the world consists of a number inestimable benefit on its inhabitants. of grand, distinguishable, though combined This being the case, it becomes a duty effects, at various distances from their respective causes ; how interesting it would be incumbent upon all individuals and to survey backward their progress ; but they states, in proportion to their means, are so familiarised around us that we are

to attempt the conversion unto Chris seldom reminded of the manner and the di- tianity of all heathen nations. But it minutiveness in which they began. A mys. becomes, more cspecially, a duty in

cumbent upon all great Christian states, events in the history of man. And, to diffuse over the kingdoms subjected with respect to the Hindoo superstito their sway, that religion which has tion, in particular, as it has no foundabeen the cause of their own superior tion in nature—however strongly it is wisdom, virtue, happiness, and power; supported by custom and institutionand if they are deterred from so doing, but on the contrary, exists in defiance by any fears lest the knowledge so and violation of all the principles of communicated might ultimately render humanity-so must it be, of all relithe subject people independent, then are gions that ever existed, the strongest they, when enjoying the greatest bles- when unattacked, and the weakest sing of heaven, afraid of bestowing it when those passions and affections of on others, lest some part of their own the soul shall be made to rise up in temporal prosperity might be sacrificed array against it, which are now bowed to the eternal happiness of millions un- down before it in sad and hopeless capborn. But it is obvious, or demon- tivity. That the Hindoo superstition strable, that it is for the advantage of may therefore be overthrown, no raall nations of the earth, that they tional mind can deny. The question, should be all enlightened and free, and, then, is, how shall this be accomplishthat even politically, Britain, for ex, ed—and the answer at once is, by enample, would be benefited by the spread abling the natives to discover what is of Christianity over India. The ar- Christianity. This can be accomplishgument, therefore, against attempting ed only by Christian missions, and the to christianize India, founded on the dissemination of the Bible over India. danger that might thence result to our No one has ever said or thought, that dominions there (which by the way, is Christianity will soon be the religion now well known to be a bug-bear) is of those vast countries. But reason, untenable, because it is in direct op- sense, experience, all tell with one position to every principle of justice to united voice of thunder, that truth, our fellow creatures, or of gratitude to if only given a fair chance for its life, our Creator. It is now universally ad- will most miraculously prevail—they mitted, that the Hindoo superstition, also tell us, that we are placed here, is the most odious that has ever exist- not to wait for the decrees of God, in ed among mankind, because the most the blind indolence of fatalism, but immoral and unintellectual, and in all that the human soul is to work out on things debasing, polluting, and de- earth the mandates of heaven. We forming human nature. It is there- are not to expect to see the visible arm fore, clear as the light of day, that we, of God shivering the temples of idoa nation of Christians and philosophers, latry, and breaking into fragments are bound, by the very tenure on that fearful superstition which has been which we hold our elevated existence so long suffered to overshadow a mifrom the great God, to spread over serable people. Neither are we to exthe earth that religion, without which pect to do this ourselves. But our men are like the brutes that perish— trust is in the mystery of time-and and that we are not Christians, if we none who have understood the past dare for one moment basely to think, need despair of the future. Let any that there can be any spot on that of our readers consider this our conearth, for the sake of whose children cluding paragraph, as containing a Christ did die, over which Christianity number of consecutive propositions all ought not to be spread. But it is ar- linked together, and leading to the gued by others again, that certain su- establishment of the expediency and perstitions are indestructible. This is duty of missions to the east—and point a mere assertion, not only unsupported out to us, if he can, any weakness or by facts, but at variance with all the vacancy in the chain.

SERMONS PREACHED IN THE TRON CHURCH, GLASGOW, BY THOMAS

CHALMERS, D. D.

The Astronomical Discourses of this potence and all its unimagined works, celebrated Preacher produced, perhaps, the Deity cares for us the insects of a a stronger, if not a more lasting im- speck, and that we live and will live pression, on the public mind, than any in his mercy and redeeming love. The other display of pulpit oratory in our object of the Astronomical Discourses country during this age. They ap- is to fill the soul with a sense of peared when the author's reputation the omnipotence of God, and, at the for eloquence was higher than had same time, with a conviction that our ever been attained by any preacher own utter frailty does not exclude us in Scotland since the reformation-and from his thoughts. The preacher exit was instantaneously and universally plains the groundlessness of that scepacknowledged that the work which he ticism which fears because God is great, had sent from the press was equal in and we are less than nothing, -he power and splendour to his noblest ex- heaps image upon image, and follows hibitions in the pulpit. It proved to out train upon train of reasoning to the satisfaction of all men that his elevate our conceptions of the Deity, command over their minds was legiti- and to humble those of ourselves, mate,---and that though strengthened but he leaves us at last, not standing and made more irresistible by the live at a hopeless distance from Him, hut ing energies of the voice and eye,- like children, strong in piety and trustit lay in the highest faculties of our ing in the strength of their parent's nature, reason and imagination. They, love. Whatever objections may be however, who would characterise those made, either fairly or not, to the style discourses as exhibiting the boundless or spirit of "this great argument," it flights and fanciful illustrations of has been felt by all that the Astronopoetry,--and we believe many have mical Discourses have benefited incaldone so,-seem to us very ignorant of culably the cause of religion, by elev. their real merits. It is true that the ating, and at the same time, enlightlanguage often expands into the mag- ening and cheering our conceptions of nificence, and kindles into the lustre the moral government of the universe. of poetry, as all language does when Thatwork, therefore, excited throughgenius speaks of the great works of out Britain a strong desire for sermons God. But the power of the preacher by the same author, on subjects, we consists in distinctly presenting to the will not say of more universal interest, view even of unscientific minds, all the for that cannot be, but of more various glories of astronomy, in the grand out, applicability to the religious feelings of lines of its system,

--so that the very our nature. We longed for devotionhumblest is made to feel the omnipotence al helps from the same pious and powerof the Deity as profoundly as the very ful mind, in all the mysteries of our highest intellect. It is not because the faith,—and feeling that Christianity preacher utters any thing new, either deals with the profoundest passions in subject or illustration, that he thus that shake our nature, we wished to elevates our conceptions ; but he does hear of its operation on them, from so, by a grand and sweeping picture the same lips that had told us of the of wonders which all know to exist, wonders of the heavens, and of our and by a devout and empassioned ho- alliance with the Power that created mage of the Being who upholds them and sustains them. in his creation. While our souls are The present volume will, we think, be thus filled with the most august con- gratefully accepted as, in fact, conceptions of the Deity, the preacher does ferring upon us such a service. It is, not leave us in the hopelessness of our in most things, all that we hoped ; and conscious insignificance; but shows if there be certain faults of diffuseness to us, from the whole analogy of na- and repetition discernible in it, these, ture, that in the midst of all his omni- we are convinced, are almost necessari

Smith and Sons, Glasgow. William Whyte and Co., Edinburgh. Longman, London. 1819.

« ПредишнаНапред »