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is the mode of advancement in the work of human improvement. The depressions of to-day are antecedent and auxiliary to the elevations of to-morrow.
The backward movement has respect to the onward progress. On the shores of the ocean there is a constant vibration in the waters of the rising tide. Each receding motion is followed by a greater advance. The retiring waters come back more forceful, and reach a higher point. So rises the tide in human affairs. Recession is followed by advancement, which ministers to a more exalted attainment. Here reverses are victories. The darkness and the light are both alike. All things work together for the good of those objects, which Christianity seeks to secure. The cloud which at times rests upon any of these objects, causes the instrumentalities, by which it is carried forward, to feel more deeply their dependence, and to keep in mind more constantly the source of their success, and thus fills them with greater strength, and fits them for higher action. When difficulties present themselves in the track of human improvement, and when, in consequence of these, the wheels of the enterprise are reversed, and all things connected with it move back for a time, it is to the intent that those engaged in that enterprise, may kindle the fires into an intenser heat, and come back under such a pressure of the motive power,
and with such increased momentum, as will carry them up that difficult ascent, and place them on higher ground, The shadows, then, which pass over the scene of any
moral enterprise, and which dim the prospect, and seemingly embarrass its progress, are subservient to its advancement. They lead to reflection, and send the minds of men kindling to the throne of God, that they may thence return to the conflict with mightier energies, furnished, like Milton's angels, with resources till then unknown, with which to overwhelm whatever opposes.
There is much in the aspects of the present, which shows that Christianity will triumph in this matter. Wherever it exists, or its influence is felt, we see movement in this direction. It differs in different countries only in degree. In all there is some advance towards improvement in the political condition of the people. Every vessel afloat on the bosom of this common tide, whatever may be its structure or management, and however other forces may act upon it, is moved forward by this mighty current beneath. Even that old crazy ship, which, for a thousand years, has been anchored in the Tiber, darkening its waters, begins at length to feel the force of this rushing tide, and seems half inclined, under the guidance of a new and more wakeful Palinurus, to weigh anchor, to spread some canvass, and to sail in the same direction. In all places, there is improvement. In many aspects of men's political condition, there is a manifest advance. The ends and uses of civil government are better understood, and the conviction deepening that its powers cannot be lawfully exercised except for the general good. Enlightened principles are gaining the ascendency, and legislation is coming into a closer sympathy with the true interests of men. Prejudices, the growth of ages, are yielding to the force of truth. Selfish and oppressive laws are disappearing from the statute-book. The rights of the people are assuming a higher place in the action of governments. The control of affairs is passing from the hands of the few, into the power of the many, and, consequently, the labor of the latter is ceasing to be taxed, in order to sustain the pomp, and splendor, and magnificence of the former. The recent triumph in England, in favor of the laboring classes, over the long continued and oppressive policy of an idle and bloated aristocracy, is a sign of the times—is proof enough of the strength and the direction, which Christianity is giving to the currents of human legislation-proof enough of that overpowering sympathy with the injured and oppressed, which it is awakening in human hearts. A noble elevation was it, on which the late premier planted himself; and a fine spirit did he breathe, when, on retiring from office, after his memorable victory over a restrictive policy, which for ages had oppressed and starved the laboring population of Britain, he said :- “I shall leave a name execrated by every monopolist, who maintains protection for his own individual benefit. But, it may be, I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of good-will in those places, which are the abodes of men whose lot it is to labor and earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow-a name remembered with expressions of good-will, when they shall recreate their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice.”
We see also the certainty of this triumph, on the part of Christianity, in the character of its principles. These are right-are the principles of benevolence, and are mighty. They will be inculcated wherever the gospel is preached ; and will be embraced wherever it is believed; and when adopted, will as certainly control the conduct of men. In every heart in which these principles, therefore, find a lodgment, they will awaken an interest in man-will lead him, who is influenced by them, to overleap the barriers of cast and color—to pass by the boundaries of all selfish action—to take the part of the oppressed and downtrodden-and to look upon man, wherever found, and however degraded, as a member of the human family, and as possessed of the same rights and privileges, and to act for their elevation as social, intellectual, and moral beings. As these principles spread, the work of human improvement will go forward. Like the returning sun of spring, they will thaw the icy selfishness which freezes up the sympathies of mankind, and cause the heart, like the smitten rock, to pour forth a stream of pure, benevolent feeling, which will gladden the face of a sorrowing world. Interesting man in man, these principles will, of course, affect nations in the same way when they gain an ascendency in their counsels. They will ally them closely to each other-make them feel that they are brethren—and by the sympathy thus awakened-by the fellow-feeling thus produced — and by the thousand other ties growing out of these, will bind them together in the harmonies of an uninterrupted peace : and thus banish from our earth that terrible scourge, whose history is written in blood, and published to the world in groans. A striking instance of the cohesive attraction thus produced, has recently been seen. When some turbulent spirits endeavored to stir up England and this country to hostile action respecting a point of territorial jurisdiction, a voice in both nations, loud as many waters, and with a feeling of indignation, as deep as the ocean that rolls between them, cried out, shame!-burning shame on the thought! and thus rebuked the foul spirit from both lands.
We say once more, that Christianity will triumph, because it is pledged to this result. It is committed on the point of filling the earth with truth and righteousness. This work, therefore, will go on.
It cannot be arrested. “ Men might as well plant their feet on the earth, and thus expect to stop its diurnal revolution,” as hope by any resistance in their power to stop the progress of this revolution, which Christianity is producing in the political condition of men, and which will ultimately place them on the high elevations of virtuous freedom, and in the enjoyment of an unbroken brotherhood of being with each other. This is its promised, glorious achievement, and it will be accomplished. No power on earth or under the earth can prevent it. The rulers, who will not yield to this gentle breeze in favor of human interests, will be swept away by the storm which their opposition will call into being. “Through this house, or over it,” said Lord Brougham, in the English Senate, “this reform bill must pass.” So we say to the nations of the earth on the point before us. Through each Cabinet--through each Hall of Legislation, or over it, this Reform Bill of Christianity must-WILL pass. The governments which take their stand against it, and attempt to prevent this elevation of mankind to the enjoyment of their rights and privileges, will be dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel. The work is of God, and they cannot succeed. Government is his institution. He ordained it for the good of man. It must and will, therefore, be made to exist for that great end; and, consequently, will be changed into those forms, and be administered on those principles which will best secure that end. Christianity will advance—will add one victory to another, until it thus brings into friendly relation to its main design every arrangement, and every influence of man's political condition. The whole of its promised work will one day be accomplished. The entire completion of its unfolding apocalypse will be seen, and the nations of the earth will rejoice in the light and glory of its achievements.
RELIGIOUS CHARACTER OF LORD BACON,
By Rev. SAMURL M. Hopkins, Avon, N. Y.
What may have been the religious character of Lord Bacon, or whether he had any, may appear to some readers a question of very little consequence at the present day. He was the father of the inductive philosophy, and he was the degraded chancellor of King James. He served his generation and the world as a student of Nature; he dishonored genius and humanity as a courtier. This is to most people,
The whole amount of that stupendous fame
A tale that blends the glory with the shame. We venture, however, to think it a question of some little interest, whether the great philosopher was or was not a good man. We write for those who believe the prophets; whose God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; whose faith peoples the unseen world with the immortal dead; and who expect to mingle in personal intercourse with the spirits of great men and of just men made perfect. They cannot think it an obsolete question, or one ruled out by a literary statute of limitations, whether any great light of former ages set in the blackness of darkness, or not. We feel some personal concern in the inquiry, whether when Judas and Lord Bacon went each to his own place, they took the same direction. As those who profess to be seeking a better country, we may take some interest in knowing who of the eminent benefactors of mankind, once resident like us in the city of Destruction, are already dwelling on Mount Zion. It was Pliable indeed who asked, What company shall we have there? but it was Christian who answered, on the word of the governor of the country, There we shall be with seraphim and cherubim, creatures that will dazzle your eyes to look on them; there also you
shall meet with thousands and tens of thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them hurtful, but loving and holy; every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. And Cicero but gave utterance to the common sentiment of those who think of immortality, when he anticipated the happiness of meeting in the islands of the blest, not only his own lost friends, but the eminent patriots and sages of preceding generations.
But on this subject, so far as Lord Bacon is concerned, no one has thought it worth while to attempt satisfying our curiosity. Bacon the philosopher, Bacon the fawning courtier and the corrupt judge, has furnished matter for large comment. Bacon, in the only character that is of any moment to him now, as a man, a sinner, a penitent, has been allowed to pass without notice. History and criticism have delighted to dwell upon his relations to science; his relations to God have not been thought worthy of attention even by biography. No auto-record has let us into the secresy of his soul. No contemporaneous hand thought it important to tell us how he walked before God, or how he met his end. The most the world knows of him, it has learned from the bitter couplet of Pope; and since that barbed shaft struck him a century ago, more noticeably still since the accomplished hand of a modern reviewer has stretched him on the ground, every passer-by feels entitled to spurn him; and making an apologetic bow to his genius, gives an unsparing kick at his character. His fate has been to have “ the morals blackened, though the writings 'scape;" to be at once exalted to heaven, and thrust down to hell.
We are not about to undertake the canonization of Lord Bacon —we shall not try to set him on the same platform with those ninety and nine which went not astray; still less to class him with the great religious lights of the world, who had as much less genius as they had more faith ; the seraphim of this lower sphere, whose office was not to know, but to love. But we think there is something remaining for that posterity which he left the guardian of his memory to do in his behalf. It is worth showing, that there was more of Lord Bacon than brilliancy of intellect and meanness of character; that there is at least as much evidence of his repentance and salvation, as of that of the crowned scholar, his only peer in the realm of thought, who also dragged the rubes of genius in the dirt, and whom yet the Church would not willingly consign to infamy.
In estimating the character of Lord Bacon, we cannot leave out of view, with any justice, the circumstances of his early life. There are men, who, starting from unfavorable positions, choose out a career of ambition, and school themselves in the art to rise. Bacon seemed born a courtier.
" At his birth, Nature and fortune joined to make him great."
He was the son of a favorite Lord Keeper of Queen Elizabeth's. The all-powerful Burleigh was his uncle by marriage. His cousin, Robert Cecil, was early started in the road to distinction, and Elizabeth rendered his destiny inevitable, by pronouncing him in his boyhood, her little Lord Chancellor.