صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

individual, and upon the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, then, except the conditions of the grant be violated by the sovereign or the heir, it would be an act of injustice were the nation to depose the reigning monarch, or attaint his heir. Men too frequently look at such questions through a glass that distorts and disfigures the real point at issue. The only sure foundation upon which to build an empire and establish a throne, has not yet been discovered by many men. There are two extremes of truth in this matter, and they who hold exclusively by either, are equally distant from a practical solution of this great social problem. There are those who worship the first beast, saying, “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him ?” According to their teaching, the perfection of social happiness would be attained, if all men who dwell upon the earth were united under one political and spiritual head. There are the extreme republicans who teach what they call liberty, equality, and fraternity, and who hold that the perfection of social happiness will never be attained, until all human authority be overturned, and every man made free and equal, and all men become brethren. It is not surprising that men, justly famed for their intelligence, their talent, and their ability, should be found ranked on both sides; and they will ever continue so, until they know something personally within their own heart, and practically in their own lives, of the power of truth. The banner of political truth unfurled in the world, has two sides, and two inscriptions. Just as the one side of the banner is the converse of the other, so the one inscription upon the banner is the opposite extreme of the other. Looking at the banner with the eye of the body, no man can see both sides at once, and read both inscriptions at the same time.

When he sees and reads the one, the other is beyond his view. Thus it is with the intellects of men; one party take up their position on one side of the banner, and, having read the inscription, declare their adherence to it. Another party take up their position on the other side of the banner, and having read the inscription upon it, declare their adherence thereto. Both are confident that they are right, and so they are, in so far as their reading of the inscription is concerned; but the error of both is the same, because each pronounces the other to be wrong. To speak without a figure, when the mind reflects upon objective truth, the man cannot by any possibility be preserved from error, for he will go to one of two extremes: when the mind reviews subjective truth, the man may be very far from either extreme, but having started from the true centre of the moral system, his progress onward, whether slow or swift, will be in the form of a circle, ever widening, but at all points equidistant from the centre and the extremes: he may know little, or he may know all, but in either case his knowledge is perfect, to the extent of his attainments.

“ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him: and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” There is a strange opinion prevalent among men who profess to be religious, which puts asunder what God has joined, but unites the same things together in a manner most objectionable and injurious. God has joined the life that now is with that which is to come. God has joined together political and religious truth. God has joined together the church and the state. But this divine union is only accomplished in Christ. Out of Christ they occupy an attitude of hostility to each other; where there should be harmony, there is discord; where there should be peace, there is war; where there should be union, there is division; where there should be strength, there is weakness. Men have attempted and effected the union of these things out of Christ, and wherever this has been done, the abomination that maketh desolate has been set up. “ In Christ!”—these are two mysterious words, the true meaning of which affects the endless existence of every single intelligent creature. In Christ, nothing can be wrong; out of Christ, nothing can be right. Although a man cannot control the time and circumstances of his natural birth; neither add one cubit to his stature, nor make one hair of his head black or white; these are all things which do not in the most remote degree affect his real happiness. There is no influence which the properties of a man's nature, or the circumstances of a man's appointed lot, can exercise upon him, which is not exactly counterbalanced by the wise and gracious arrangements of a holy God. Jehovah’s dealings with every living being now upon the face of the earth, are based upon the principles of strict justice and equity; and in so far as their moral responsibility is concerned, not even one is favoured beyond another. As an accountable being in the sight of God, the man whose dwelling is amid the habitations of horrid cruelty, is in no worse circumstances than the man who dwells amid the scenes of highest refinement and civilization. The man who lives where the gospel is unknown, is placed by God, who is his Judge, in no worse a position as to his conscience, than he who lives where the light of the glorious gospel shines. To hold any other opinion would be to arraign the Divine

Majesty, and reflect dishonour upon His holy character. To an inconsiderate mind, it may sound strange to say,

that the barbarian is placed in as favourable circumstances as the citizen of a free, civilized, and christian commonwealth, in regard to the great end for which he was brought into being. The strangeness of the truth cannot affect its reality; and although it could not be illustrated satisfactorily by one reviewing it, still the fact of God's justice being inflexible, is a sufficient guarantee, that no one man living shall be able to complain of being dealt with more hardly than his neighbour. Does any ask, how can it be that the barbarian, living in the daily practice of abominable idolatries, is morally in no worse a position before God, than the man accustomed to the regular observance of those external decencies and moralities, which characterise the every day conduct of the inhabitants of christian countries? I answer, because there is only a difference in the degree of their moral depravity, it being the same in its nature in both individuals; so that, while in the judgment of men the one may be esteemed as in the depths of darkness, and the other as in the altitudes of light; still in the sight of God, he that offends in one point is guilty of all, and out of Christ the condemnation of both will be equally severe in the sight of God. The question is not, how much better comparatively is the one man than the other? It is not how much wickedness has the one committed, and how much good has the other done? Between man and man these are questions which it may not be unlawful, although it may be unprofitable to propose. But between God and man the only question is, has either man committed one act of sin ? and if the reply be, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, then there is but one conclusion—both are on a footing of equality in the sight of the great Judge, to neither of whom will His justice permit Him to show any partiality out of Christ. Sin has made a wide separation between God and every man. They were joined together in Adam, but by his transgression they were sundered. Commencing with Adam, down to the last human being that shall come into existence, the dealings of God have been, and shall be, uniform and exact in the case of every one, as regards his moral responsibility; while every man has had something in his natural properties and external circumstances different from all the rest of mankind. Conscience does for every man what God's prohibition did for Adam in paradise; and if a man, in obedience to the claims of his conscience, does what it admonishes him to do, he is truly serving God. The simplicity and reasonableness of what God asked from Adam, is a figure of what He has ever asked from every man.

When Adam was created, he was a child, although made a man of full stature. His physical and intellectual powers were great. His knowledge of what could be apprehended through the medium of his senses was not less wonderful, for he could give names descriptive of their nature and use to every living creature, when God brought unto him the beast of the field, and the fowl of the air, to see what he would call them. Yet man's moral nature was dead; he could not distinguish good from evil, until God said unto him, thou shalt not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, man was not a free, and, therefore, was not a responsible agent, until God gave him this command. From thence, however, he became free, and the belief or disregard of what

« السابقةمتابعة »