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of the tiesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life,” that if all their theories of religious reformation were to be tested by their fruits, we are sorry to be constrained to admit that it would not always be easy to say which of them, as respects spirituality of views and affections, has a very clear and decided superiority.
Some, indeed, may, and, no doubt, will, object to this way of deciding the comparative excellencies of the different professions of Christianity. Still, despite of all that may be said on the other side, we strongly incline to the opinion that the aggregate morality or immorality of a town, a city, or a nation, is the test of its religious creed, just as the general condition of any population is the best test of the genius and character of their political institutions.
But, as the Saviour said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples;" and "By their fruits you shall know them,” we are sustained in making benevolence, fraternal affection, and good works; that is, works of kindness and humanity, the only true tests of Christian doctrine and of the sincerity of those who profess it.Even those who seek to deceive, have always to assume these, and, in some form, practise them in order to success.
But I intend no discussion of this matter here. I advert to these convictions as indicative of the course which, with all our premises before us, we are constrained to pursue. The views of the Bible, Old Testament and New, which we have been now promulging, together with our views of original and modern Christianity, as developed in our five and twenty annual volumes—Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger-have been more and more corroborated from year to year, and more within the last year than in any preceding year during the quarter century of our periodical labors.
The people every where say, that our exhibitions of divine truth are to them new and strange. They are better judges of what is new in our doctrine and manner of teaching than we are ourselves. We had the attentive audience of Episcopal ministers, Romar Catholic, and of some other denominations. We have heard their opinions from reliable sources, and they all admit that there is in our doctrine and manner of teaching that which was to them new, stri. king, somewhat rational, and,"at least, plausible—very plausible.” One minister, an English Baptist too, a er hearing James Henshall and myself in Manchester, England, in th: Wesleyan Chapel, filled with some fifteen hundred auditors, arose and in their presence said, “My friends, I have listened attentively to these brethren from America, and I believe that it is due to my God, myself, and you, to say, that this is the first time that I have ever heard the Bible expounded and Christianity set forth in the true Baconian style, according to the true inductive philosophy, and I must think that this method, and the views which we have heard from these gentlemen must command the approbation of all candid and intelligent men.
I arise to tender my pulpit to these gentlemen should they pass through my neighborhood in England, and hope that they may do me the honor to occupy it as long as they can make it convenient.” Similar testimonials, to the same effect, though none so off-handed and public, accompanied with similar invitations, were made to us. We have, then, good reason, in our judgment, for the conviction that we are, in the providence of God, dispensing a more scriptural development of Christianity than any one now known to us in Christendom, and feel not only more and more confirmed in it, but more determined to contend still more earnestly for it than ever before.
Still we would not have our readers nor the public conclude that we do not think that, in several instances and in some points, certain matters have had an exaggerated importance given to them by over-zealous and less informed brethren-that there has been much mismanagement, also some unchristian developments and speculations promulged amongst us, as well as a too dogmatical spirit displayed on the part of certain writers, editors, and preachers.We have, indeed, had as little of these as could have been rationally expected amongst so many disconnected and unassociated editors, writers, preachers, and teachers, coming from parties and schools as numerous and as various as all the parties and schools of Protestant Christendom. Had we not had cohorts of other minds well read and better balanced, zealous, indefatigable, and influential, we must have been greatly disappointed or signally defeated. It is all, indeed, the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes.
But all we intend at, present to say to our readers is—that we commence this volume with as much zeal as we have ever felt in commencing any former one-with more experience, with deeper convictions of the truth of our plea and of the importance of our position, and with much reliance on the wisdom and grace that come from above.
We have yet several letters to publish from Europe, and much to say on European society-English, Scotch, and Continental.We will resume our regular series of Tracts for the People, Notes on Acts of Apostles, &c. &c. Our co-Editors will also continue their energies and labors, and SERIES I-VuL. V.
we cannot but flatter ourselves that, from the developments they have already given of their ability to entertain and edify our read. ers, and from the approbation of those labors already expressed from 60 many and so various sources, that the Harbinger will still have stronger claims than before for a more extended patronage-a still larger class of readers, more proportioned to its inereased size, its great amount of original matter, and the still more improved style in which it is sent forth to the public. All of which is most respectfully and affectionately submitted by their well known and long tried friend and humble servant,
" He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under
the shadow of the Almighty.”—Ps. xc. 1. There is a religion of the imagination, as there is a religion of the intellect, or of the heart; for God may be an object of fancy, as well as of reason, or of love. Alas! how many are the gifted souls who dream away the trial-time of life in vain illusions, wawakened to the realities of true devotion. And how earnestly they seek to prolong those visions of ideal beauty,and dwell within those palaces of enchantment which have arisen at their pleasure!
To them this universe is but as a fairy mansion, whose cerulean dome is studded with sparkling gems, and sustained by mountain columns whose capitals are brilliant glaciers of magnificent propor. tions, and carved with more than Corinthian elegance. To them the sun shines forth through the stained windows of the east, only to sparkle in the dew-drops, or to paint the flowers, or to relieve with light and shade the imagery of earth and heaven; and he sinks into the golden ærial seas of the west,amidst clustered islands, glowing with the tints of the ruby and the amethy:t, the fancied residence of perpetual delight. The orbs of the firmament are, to them, the lamps which night suspends to the Ibfty vault, to cast a silvery radiance over field, and stream, and forest, and increase enjoyment by the charms of variety, and the mysterious wonders of her still and shadowy hours. The whole earth, indeed, to them, is but a magnificent suite of apartments, carpeted with verdure, or paved with marble, and embellished with living pictures. In the vast halls and spacious courts of their abode, the ear is soothedi with the melody of birds, and the senses lulled by the murmur of gushing fountains, and the sweet odor of flowers, borne on the wings of gentle zephyrs. In its secret cabinets, are treasures inexhaustible of gold, and silver, and precious stones. Its pleasure grounds; its gardens; its groves; its rivers, and lakes, and oceans, filled with the various tribes of animated nature, are created to be adınired; and are but varied orders and forms of beauty. In a word, the world, with all that it contains, is, to them, but an exhibition of glory and beauty; an emanation from the Beautiful, which is their Deity and their IDOL.
To this alone they offer the incense of their hearts. To.this alone they build their altars, not only in the fair fields of Nature, but in the temples of Art. The sculptor, the painter, the musician, the architect, the poet, and the orator, are the true priests of their religion; praise is their only oblation, and pleasure their sole pursuit.
How generally are these the dreams of youth! How often, too, are they the only realities of manhood! How many there are who live merely to cull earth’s fading flowers! How many there are who worship at no other shrine than that of an ideal perfection of beauty—a sensual image-a worldly sanctuary-an earthly Zion, out of which the true Jehovah has never shone! With them, a refined taste is the true standard of piety; and an admiration of the works of the Creator, true devotion. Nor is their discernment of moral beauty less acute, or accurate, than their perception of the charms of Nature. They contemplate, with delight, its noble examples; they honor and admire magnanimity and courage; patience and fortitude; benevolence and mercy, and all the moral virtues; but, unfortunately, as they commit the error of thinking piety to consist in a proper reverence for the beautiful in the works of God, so, they imagine that, in morals, to honor virtue is to possess it; and that to admire morality, is to practise it.
A thousand charms, however, cluster around this religion of the sancy, as compared with the barren and undecorated religion of the intellect. Here, calm Philosophy seeks to analyze the organisms of the spiritual system; or prying Curiosity would dissect those outward forms from which all life and beauty have departed. Here minute distinctions; remote discoveries; ingenious speculations, are the grand essentials of both piety and morals. And, while the religion of the fancy would revel in the sun-light which imparts its splendors to earth, and delight to range amidst the charms of a terrestrial home, the religion of the intellect would soar aloft to seek the source of day; and, in the vain attempt to gain superior knowledge, become lost beyond earth’s limits, in outer darkness and perpetual winter. It is this religion which inspires that spiritual