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Schools, because given in the simplicity of a higher wisdom to all the simple hearted, that those whom human wit has only dazzled or led astray, may find, without mistake, the way to Heaven, and walk therein with a cheerful and certain hope : a Christianity by which every man is brought, without any human mediation, directly to the Great Mediator himself, for light and salvation.
No religion ever appeared in our world under so meek and unpretending a form as Christianity; and yet none ever appeared with such divinity and dignity; none ever appeared with so little display of argument or erudition, and yet none ever appeared with such authority of truth. It came into our world without causing its voice to be heard in the streets, without garments rolled in blood—it came in gentleness and love, and calmly reposing upon the consciousness of its own worth and purposes, it performed its mission without respect of persons, and in perfect independence, fearing no man, Aattering no man, but loving all men. It claimed to abrogate the priesthood and priestly rites, by fulfilling at once their whole intent. "It claimed to supersede all philosophies, in the matter of human salvation, by a Wisdom from on High. It claimed to separate itself from all earthly dominion by proclaiming its kingdom not of this world, and the true authority and might of this kingdom to be manifested in the heart of man.
It was unavoidable that such a system should meet with stern opposition. The Hierarchies opposed it—the Judæan Hierarchy put to death its Divine Author, and with mortal hate persecuted his disciples. And they fled from Jerusalem only to be met by the Pagan Hierarchy at Rome with fire and sword, and the fury of wild beasts in the arena. The schools of philosophy opposed it, whether at Jerusalem or at Athens, when they denied the resurrection of the dead; and in the pride of learning and eloquence, despised as foolishness the preaching of the Cross. The State opposed it. The imperial Cæsar frowned upon a system which, instead of deifying his authority and clothing his decrees with the terrors of superstition, reduced him to the condition of a culprit before the King of Kings.
But all opposition melted away before the unendurable splendors of heavenly Truth; and the Priest, the Philosopher, and the Emperor, were alike fain to make friends with the majestic visitor. But how did they make friends? Did the priest yield up his sacred pretensions, the philosopher become a little child at the feet of Jesus, and the Cæsar throw down his royal diadem to receive it again only from the hands of Love and Justice? By no means. The priest assumed to be the appointed and only legitimate minister of the heavenly grace—to be Christ's Vicegerent; and reared an altar on which, in a portentous mystery, he professed to offer daily the victim who was once offered on the Cross of Calvary. The philosopher boasted himself the expounder of the truths and facts of Christianity. And the emperor, emblazoning the Cross upon his standard, proclaimed, By this sign we conquer. The Hierarchy, the schools, the State, indeed, adopted Christianity, but it was only to corrupt, to debase, and to mould to their own purposes. They bowed to the universal voice of humanity in yielding to Christianity an apparent triumph; but in reality they triumphed still. They assumed the titles and professions of the kingdom of heaven; but they only the more securely established the ancient mysteries of error and the kingdom of this world. A true Church remained, but it was a Church in the wilderness; there were faithful souls who still, as at the beginning, bore and had patience, and labored and did not faint, but as at the beginning they were confessors and martyrs. At the beginning they were put to death under the infamy of the Christian name; it was a strange revolution by which they were now put to death as heretics from the Christian Faith! The enemy sowed tares among the wheat, and the dark counterfeit overtopped the golden ears.
“ Truth, indeed, came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on : but when he ascended, and his Apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up limb by limb, still as they could find them.” As the “ sad friends of Truth,” let us seek for her scattered limbs, and attempt something for the restoration of her glorious form, still looking, with the noble Milton, for “her Master's second coming,” when “he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.”
CHRISTIANITY IN CONFLICT WITH POLITICS.
By Rev. JAMES W. McLANE, Williamsburgh, N. Y.
ANTAGONIST influences exist in our world. Principles of action, differing in character essentially from each other, obtain as the basis of sentiment in the community. There is on the one hand the wis-, dom which is of this world, and which is throughout affected by the poison of an ignorant and narrow-minded selfishness; on the other, there exists the legislation of Heaven-Christianity, inculcating the lessons of an enlightened and expansive benevolence. In most cases, the former has ever had the control of the human mind,-has shaped the thoughts and directed the conduct of men. But with this the latter is in stern conflict-pronounces it foolishness, and seeks to overthrow its dominion, and to introduce in its place higher principles—the wisdom which is from above, and which is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Our object at present is to speak of this latter system of influence in one of its many aspects; namely, its conflict with politics. We use this term in its widest sense, as comprehending both the frame-work and the administration of government. We wish to call attention to some of the more prominent points of this conflict, and then to show that Christianity will triumph-will bring all the arrangements of man's political condition into sympathy with its own legislation. Its great object, we are well aware, is a spiritual one-the salvation of men; but in effecting this it will gain other victories—will subdue opposing influences, and convert them into important auxiliaries to its main design. Whatever, therefore, there is in the principles and practices of men, or in the arrangements of their social and political condition, which is unfriendly to the great object of Christianity, is destined, we believe, to be known only as that which has been. It matters not where or what the obstacle may be; if it is in the way of the coming of that kingdom which is righteousness and peace, it cannot continue. The decree has gone forth. Christianity, in the attainment of its chief object, is to triumph on the soil of our sinburdened world. In gaining this it will effect many subordinate ends—will bring into friendly relation to man's spiritual interests the whole influence of his political condition.
Our first business is with the points of conflict. We begin with the origin of government, or the source of civil power. The wisdom of the world makes this to be the will of the people. It teaches that government originates with man,—that the civil power comes from the social compact,-or, in other words, that the foundation of all government—the origin of the right to govern, and of the correlative duty to obey-is expediency-is in the conviction of men, that it is for their interests. But this view diminishes the influence of law, and weakens the power of government. It attenuates the moral atmosphere around men, and thus takes immensely from that pressure, which, under different teaching, would be felt by the disturbing forces in society. Hence, in places where this view prevails, the surface of society is ever and anon ruffled and thrown into commotion, and the rights of individuals trampled upon, in the mad effervescence of men, who have been brought up in the school of political expediency, and who feel that subjection to law is enjoined only by the statute book-that human rights have no higher protection than that of a human authority, based simply upon the convictions of men that it is for the general good.
Christianity denies this position, and opposes all the loose and mischievous conclusions drawn from it. It gives to government a far higher origin-to law a more sacred sanction. The powers that be are ordained of God. He made man-constituted all the relations of life—and has prescribed the action proper in each. The power to make laws, to govern, and to enforce obedience, comes from him. By him kings reign, and princes decree justice. The people are the medium-not the source of the civil power. God is the fountain of all authority. He ordained government; and it has power from him to enforce its legitimate acts. For while Christianity does not teach a passive obedience to whatever government may enjoin, nor leave the correction of evils in the political system to “ the reactions of outraged nature,” since it commands us to obey God rather than men,-yet it does insist upon obedience to the powers that be in all things, which do not contravene the biddings of a higher authority; and it does this on the ground that government is of Divine institution. He, therefore, who resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and will be treated accordingly. This is the teaching of Christianity, --this the mighty pressure with which it binds the hearts and consciences of men. In thus giving the highest sacredness to authority and efficiency to law, it secures, in the most effectual manner, the peace and order and happiness of the community.
Christianity is in conflict with politics as it respects the object, or end of government. In most cases this is practically made to be the elevation of rulers, and of those in the subordinate places of power. The great end is their own personal aggrandizement.
In many instances, men in power look upon office as something created for them, or as existing for their honor and enlargement, and not as the means of good to others—not as an elevation from which they can act more efficiently and extensively for the general good. It is desired and entered into simply for the sake of the emoluments connected with it; and not for the sake of diffusing, through all its channels of influence, the spirit of an enlightened and virtuous patriotism. The great object is put aside, and the whole bearing of government perverted, and made the means of cultivating, in one form or another, the spirit of a most revolting selfishness. In our country great advances have been made of late years in this fearful work of perversion. Some have gone so far in this iniquity as to speak of the avails of office as “the spoils of victory!" of elevation to the places of power as “the reward due” to the leaders of a political campaign. We know of nothing more corrupting to morals, and subversive of manly freedom. It perverts the great end of government. The effect of it is to convert the ordinance of God into a political mart, where office will be sold to the highest bidder—to the man who has the most money to expend in gaining it, or the least conscience in going all lengths in intrigue and reckless effort to gain the ascendency of his party. Christianity countenances no such perversion. It makes government a benevolent institution, ordained, not for the aggrandizement of a few, but for the good of the many—for the social, intellectual and moral elevation of the people. Its great object, as developed in the Bible, is to secure order and peace in the community—to protect the rights and lives of its citizens, and thus to minister to their industry, prosperity, and happiness. The ruler is clothed with authority in order to effect these high ends of benevolence. Office is created for the general good; and the first, great object of the man who enters it, should be to promote that good. Christianity, consequently, can never sanction any action, which changes the main design of government, and converts the institution into a machine, whose first and chief object is the benefit of those who manage it—their elevation above the people—the enslavement of men to their will. With such selfishness it has no sympathy, and can hold no possible communion.
Another prominent point in this conflict respects the kind or form of government which should exist. In most instances, that which exists is incompatible with the great end of governmentthe highest good of the people. The foundation principles are wrong Feudalism has shaped the whole formation. The central element which has given form to the entire system, is the mischievous idea, that the many are made for the few-the peasantry for the nobility—the people for the sovereign. In' framing these governments, therefore, the 'plan has been to exalt the few—to clothe them in all the magnificence which wealth and power can THIRD SERIES, VOL. III. NO. I.