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CENSURES-WHAT THE WORLD IS. 9
tempting to propitiate the critics, to favor this or any better production of its class. “To attempt to disarm the severity of criticism by humiliation or entreaty, would be a hopeless task. Waving every apology, the author, therefore, has only to remark, that the motives of a writer must ever remain a secret; but the tendency of what he writes is capable of being ascertained, and is, in reality, the only consideration in which the public are interested.” But how often do the public go a motive-hunting, alike careless and ignorant of the character or tendency of the production'
If to some my free remarks on several, and even a great variety of topics, and the censures I have felt required boldly, but wisely, to utter, should seem to present the work as characteristically a fault-finder, I only say that it is a very faulty world in which we live; and how any well-informed writer can deal with it honestly and truthfully, or even with the Church of God, in its present schisms and its manifold imperfections, and not find fault with it, that is, with its constituent population, their manners, their ways, their opinions, their maxims, and their practices, I candidly acknowledge that I do not know ! So far as its character may be deemed polemical, while this is in a qualified sense sincerely regretted, yet, in such a world as this (see 1 John, 5 : 19. 18–20) I feel honestly compelled to it. This has been the crushing burden of the man of God in all ages. The tender and refined spirit of the weeping prophet recoiled from his duties with horror and amazement, and even with extravagant expressions of almost disobedience and seemingly impious refusal; as the record shows, Jer. 20 : 14–18. 7–13. He exclaims elsewhere, Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife, and a man of contention to the whole earth, 15 : 10. If there exists a frightful controversy between the footstool and the throne, between our God and his own human creatures, so that every one of them is
* Robert Hall.
10 BENEVOLENCE-TRUE AND FALSE.
his enemy by wicked works, and so continues till, by renewing grace, he obeys cordially the Gospel, then—we must testify and defend these positions; then—God is not more strong than right, and they not more weak than wrong; then —any religion that denies this is plainly false; then—to disparage the fact, or obscure the doctrine of it, is no more philanthropy than it is piety; then—the friends of error are the enemies of mankind, and wisely to love a human being implies that we faithfully deal with them in the truth; then— in doing our duty, with the kindest motives and in the wisest way, it were no strange thing that we should become specially interested in the richest of the beatitudes spoken by our blessed Savior in his sermon on the Mount. Matthew, 5 : 10–12. The world is inimical to God and true religion; hence the varying systems of falsehood that have been invented, because the truth does not suit the world—the truth is not good enough for it ! ERRoR or NoTHING, is practically the motto of the world. Hence we must censure it. There is properly, and safely, and hopefully, no other way. The greatest fault-finder, or reprover, as I should say, that ever spoke of it, or spoke to it, was our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ himself. To some of his own household he said, The world can not hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. And to his own disciples, the apostles of his kingdom : If the world hate wou, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own ; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. A few such scriptures as these, and as those I will quote presently, may convince us that one might possibly be both kind and right in such censures; but the world are not convinced, because they are not ingenuous; they love not the truth, and they are deceived by the sin they do, to call evil good, and good evil; to put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, and to
hold on their erratic and reckless way, with no remorse, no apprehension, no self-examination, no faith in the word of God, no prayer for Divine illumination, and no sense of their great need of it from HIM, who made for each other both the mind and the Bible, and who knows through his truth how to conciliate the former to the latter, with gladness and sincerity, in his own wonderful salvation, and by his own triumphant grace. The other scriptures to which I refer, may all be read in the twenty-eighth of Proverbs; and however disparaged by the frivolous and the vain, they will by you, my brethren, be appreciated as the truth of the Eternal God. They that forsake the law, praise the wicked; but such as keep the law, contend with them. Evil men understand not judgment; but they that seek the Lord, comparatively, understand all things. Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory; but when the wicked rise, a man, who is a man, a man of God, is hidden. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth, and forsaketh them, shall have mercy. Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved; but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. To have respect of persons is not good; because for a piece of bread that man will transgress. He that rebuketh a man shall afterward find more favor than he that flattereth with his tongue. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. Many religionizers of the present day either desire no food for their souls or their thoughts, in the way of preaching or printing, and so of hearing or reading, or they desire any thing rather than the mind enlightened, rectified, exercised in truth, convinced by evidence, habituated to REASON of nighteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, and edified luminously in the faith of God's elect. They desire to be
12 GLOOM IN RELIGION.
soothed, charmed, conciliated by something musical, spirited away from themselves, and indeed from all the rugged realities of the words of truth and soberness, and by some super-sensuous, or refined and sensual minstrelsy, to be ecstatically ravished from the consideration of all substances, and facts, and events, and so stealthily serenaded into heaven, or, rather, into a refreshing and sleepy oblivion of all things created and uncreated ' This is quietism, or inanition, or spiritual apepsy; not the way in which the wise virgins in the parable forecasted the alarm at midnight, and anticipated with due preparation, with action and energy, the advent of the bridegroom. If such fanciful and fashionable stuff be piety, then the greatest of all difference between classes of men may not appear, or be shown—between the wise and the foolish, the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the chaff, them that are saved and them that perish. In every case, man, that is born of woman, is by nature, as a grand and an awful matter of fact, and hence as a cardinal principle in religion, so acting wrong, and so needing THE GREAT MORAL CHANGE, in his thoughts and his principles of action—so GREAT his need of this, that the alternative, in every case, is sure to be deceit, deterioration, and perdition. This is the plain truth of the Bible. And shall we seem to blink it, because it is disagreeable to the world of the ungodly 2 Hence it is that they tell us how gloomy is religion' how melancholy it makes them they can not endure any thing so doleful! It gives them “the blues.” It actually injures their health. So they insulted Noah, before the flood came and destroyed them all. Strange that they must ever confound as one two things of all others in the universe the most contrary and antagomistic to each other ' It Is SIN THAT is so GLooMY ; AND SIN Is NoT RELIGION | If this makes hell, is it the other that makes heaven 2 What impious nonsense ! Religion makes heaven, holiness, happiness, and hope. Of its essence God
SENTIMENTAL FALLACIES. 13
himself is alone the infinite and the perfect impersonation; and HE is over all, BLEssed forever. There is an element or a leaven of false religion, rampant in some places of our great country, which indeed I view as spiritual poison, fantasy, and death—as infidelity baptized, and, next to popery itself, the master-piece of Satan. I refer to neology or the rationalistic philosophy, which, for agreement with Scripture, is almost as good, but not as honest or as stupid as Islamism; and for sustaining the hope of immortality, about as fit and proper as the location of a massive temple of marble on the summit of a pyramid of sand. And amid the spasms and the inventions of souls, in their deep unrest, since the impracticable desideratum seems to be to get “a religion that is fit for gentlemen and for scholars,” according to the detestable King James and his base progeny, we may coincidently observe, that, as it is no part of their wisdom, or their purpose, or their effort, to obey THE Gospel, they generally alternate electively between neology and puseyism; not remarkably pertinacious which to choose, but governed there by circumstances. In either way they manage to escape scriptural regeneration; and this seems to be their grand policy, their chief desideratum, as it will be also their doom. If it happens to be convenient, since it is worldly respectable, even more, in some circles, oh! Churchism is all at once their divinity, and better men by myriads are organically consigned serenely to the desperation of “uncovenanted mercies;” or, if the convenience appears probably or plainly the other way, they can as easily, with tact, and with some more taking show of philosophy, be neologists or pantheists. Instantly the Bible becomes a museum of transcendental mystifications, and Christ is an ambiguity sublime; as created only; or possibly, by hypothesis, ideally, some way, for aught they know or care, uncreated; as dying for us, somehow, by imprudence or accident, as “he was a young man;” but not, by all means, as being homestly and really the pro