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Two PSEUD0-A POSTLEs.
RELIGIOUs imposture is, in its proper nature, evil, and only evil, and that continually. It is huge impiety and systematic sin, organized as if at once to injure man and offend God. In its conception and origin is it literally infernal; in its termimation, as well as its tendency, unutterably and desperately dreadful. In its secular relations, to a great extent, the genus of imposture, however versatile in form and feature, is in the main popularly known ; hence its temporal ravage is commonly execrated as imposture. People like not to be duped and cheated, except in the matter of their souls. Hence counterfeiting, forgery, getting money under false pretenses, the perfidious courting or deceiving of women, quackery, and all kinds of professional murder, and the ways multifarious of mendacity, for the sake of gain, of artful and specious lying, “to get an honest livelihood,” and other false methods of practicing on the credulity of the million—ever having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage; all such villainy becomes suspected, and probably detected ; as certainly it is, then, the horror of the nations; the object of legal punition; the peril of principals, accomplices, and accessories; as well as redounding to the damage or the sacrifice of its victims. Touching these lower relations, men are ordinarily severe, and even inexorable, as well as just in its reprobation; and mainly the penalty of the law of the land is exacted to the wttermost farthing, at least sentimentally—though practically its due execution is not always the result. In some places, however, this side of Oregon and California, as emi
278 IMPOSTURE OF WARIOUS CLASSES.
nently there, lynch-law is peculiarly prompt and sure; and not always without “method in its madness,” sometimes appearing quasi just and exemplary, if not quite vindicated at last, in the summary and the capital vengeance of its visitations. The criminal practitioner, who kills a patient by nosology, or for the want of it, or by doses infinitesimally small, or by those analogously too large, or by corrupt and blundering pharmacy, as a matter of course, suffers for it—rides on a rail, instead of a rail-road; is costumed cap-à-pie, unfashionably, in tar and feathers; is publicly or covertly scourged with ignominy; or, it may be, swung immediately from the limb of a tree, into that dread eternity' in all his unfitness, unpardoned, unprepared, untaught,
With all his imperfections on his head.
Well, how much better or more innocent than secular is religious imposture? when, sparing their adorable property, it only seduces and kills the souls of men; only calumniates or abolishes the glory of God; only adulterates the gospel; only poisons the waters of the well of life; only fumes and struts, in its dignified short-sightedness, for a moment, at the expense of its votaries; only gives falsehood the precedence against truth, sorcery substituting for inspiration, and foolery preferring to the heavenly and incomparable wisdom ; and so only counteracts Christ, and assists the strategy of Satan, in his own proper work, as a MANSLAYER (āv6postokróvog Živ dir' dpxic) from the beginning—oh we republicans, loving freedom so intensely and so immensely, may well tolerate the infelicity; we politicians and office-hunters, expectant or candidating, may profitably flatter it—for votes, a cheap purchase—at present; and we sycophants may court it, cunningly, whenever it radiates prosperous, and glorious, and satisfactory in its alliances with wealth, fame, worldly learning, Party success, civic station, or official power: Short-sightedness recks not of the day of judgment:
That ON HAND RELIGIOUS. 279
Dies irae dies illa, solvet sacclum in favilla.
These are the sentiments and the principles that we-do not hold. How God esteems it, how HE regards imposture of every kind—false doctrine, lying preachers, spurious piety, superficial man-traps, vain assumptions, all sorts of religionizing charlatanry, however vaporing in his name, even if an angel from heaven were its patron or its propugnator, his word copiously informs us. See the whole Bible; especially Deut. 13: 1–5; 18: 20–22; 29:18–28. Gal. 1:6–9; 3: 1. Rev. 21 ; 27.
The specimen now to be exhibited is, in several of its relations and aspects, sufficiently vulgar and squalid; still it is reality. It is a specimen. It actually occurred. It shows partially the way, or, rather, one of the changeable ways, in which, with occasional success, and resulting malady, its serpent-hissing or its serpent-trailing orgies are devotionally enacted, to beguile multitudes, and deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. If the manner of reception and treatment to which two of its infatuated angels, or more modest apostles, were subjected, on a special occasion, uncomfortably, may be useful to any one in similar condition, or for general instruction and warning, I shall be satisfied. In some directions, not quite utopian or imaginary, a few seasonable suggestions or hints may be conveyed as to the erect and honest skepticism with which Christian faith itself does, and human safety must, regard all such assumptions, from the manipulations of the puseyite to the scoundrel miracles of Jesuitism; from the diabolical religion of the Mormons to the specious pseudophilosophy of the pantheist; from the ignorant ventures of Miller's millennarian chronology, making ad diem appointments with Heaven, and repeating them by various considerate adjournments, all of which Heaven inexorably scorned, to the madcaps of IRVING, with their “unknown tongues;” or to the philosophico-sophistical day-dreams of a cracked Swedish nobleman, and his triple sense of Scripture, interpreted by
280 A VISIT OF IT'S OWN SORT.
“correspondences;” or to the sottish impudence of the Universalist; or, to the serene, religious self-complacency, and learned propagand excecation of the modern Socinian, deceitfully corrupting his word and hating its adorable Author; or to any other furtive system of delusion, ancient or modern, vulgar or refined, by which the devil and his angels prosecute their own work, in this world of sin and wickedness. A man who truly knows Christianity finds little perplexity in knowing the vanity and lies of all its rivals, or would-be substitutes, or self-lauded improvements on its known identity. May God teach us all to discriminate in favor of the truth as it is in Jesus, and of that alone ! I proceed to the narration; may it be to the glory of the God of truth! It was a day much of its own class, distinguished for terrible heat—the hottest of hot days of summer in this latitude; and one of the rare and oppressively hot days that make people talk, and newspapers show philosophical and wise ; as all remember “the three hot days” of the season, that the portentous visit occurred. Whether or not they deliberately chose such a day, though I incline to doubt, is not certain. It might possibly have suited their mission, their plan, or their convenience, as so hot ; no matter. They came them, unheralded, unknown, unintroduced, unsanctioned by any practicable authority or evidence. It was the Lord's day, and near the hour of worship, in the afternoon, some seven years since, that the event occurred which I am now to narrate. The bell was tolling, and I was descending from my study, contiguous, to enter the pulpit, and in the act of locking the door, while several of my people were passing near me into the church, and I recognized no others, when a strange voice from behind arrested my at
tention, in tones direct and earnest, as well as measured and articulate.
2. Is this Dr. Cox2
DIRECT AND AFFECTION ATE. 281
2. Sir, I am glad to see you. Dr. Cox, we have heard of you, have come to pay you a religious visit, and hope it will suit you to afford us an opportunity. 1. Gentlemen, you are entire strangers to me, and your request is at present impracticable. I should like, however, to know who you are. 2. Oh! we are your friends, and we wish to speak with you about the kingdom and the way of God. 1. Well, gentlemen, is it your mission to learn or to teach on this occasion ? 2. Why, doctor, we know well your character, and have a very great esteem of you. You are Brother Cox, a man of God, a friend of truth, a lover of righteousness, and a preacher of the gospel; and as for our object, we will explain it to you, as soon as opportunity offers. 1. It is now the hour of service, and I must leave you. If, however, you will wait till after it, and my strength may allow, I will receive you in the study immediately—although the heat is so oppressive that one feels more like dissolution than exertion at such a season. 2. Well, what shall we do in the mean time 3 1. Go into the house of God, and worship HIM. 2. But we are strangers, and have no seats. 1. No matter. I will show you seats, gentlemen. Please proceed. They were soon seated, and the service was performed in due order. With copious perspiration and exhausting effort, even when self-controlled and calm, on that day of memorable and inclement heat, I went through my public duties and returned. The study door was scarcely opened, before the two visitors, each “steady to his purpose,” were at my elbow ; when, ascending, we were soon together seated in the study. I sat in my ordinary chair, with a sliding leaf for writing closed before me, and my manual Greek Testament lying on it open, as I had left it.