« AnteriorContinuar »
seats of political power and honor. All should, therefore, be as carefully educated as the aristocracy of England. In monarchical governments, the heirs apparent to the throne are placed under tutors and governors, and receive the most thorough training. In America, all our sons are heirs apparent, and all should receive a royal education. Government should watch over the mental and moral culture of the masses with the same assiduity that Queen Victoria directs the education of the Prince of Wales.
Again I ask, who appoint our political incumbents? Who put down one and raise up another? Who give us our legislative, executive and judicial officers? The only answer is the people. An old proverb says: Like priests, like people. We may modify it and say: Like people, like officers. If intelligence and virtue predominate among the people we may hope for an intelligent and virtuous government. And just to the extent that ignorance and vice prevail may we look for such scenes as have now and then, for the last ten years, disgraced the halls of our National Legislature and tarnished our fair fame. If Government, accordingly, desire to sustain its own dignity and honor; if it would be faithful to its own nature and mission; if it would preserve the sacredness and moral force of the constitution; if it would perpetuate the supremacy and inviolability of law; if it would keep shut the flood-gates of degrading vice, vile passions, and rampant anarchy; it is sacredly bound by every obligation, human and divine, to advance the intellectual and moral culture of all.
But I can pursue this subject no further. Throughout this discussion I have laid equal stress on moral and intellectual culture. These dare not be divorced. The moral nature of youth must be trained with the same patience and care as the intellect. I know of no perfect code of morals but the Bible. I know of no remedial agent, for the depravity of fallen mankind, but the religion of Christ. Education without morality and religion are of no value to Government. The brightest and most learned men of which the world has boasted, have been among the meanest and most detestable. The most intel
lectual and refined nation of antiquity was Greece; yet it were censurable even to name, before a promiscuous assembly, the moral filth and shocking crimes that obtained among the highest classes of society. Among the most cultivated and learned nations in modern times is France; yet in point of morals, the land of Voltaire and the enthroned goddess, Reason, has the reputation of being the lowest in Christendom. Education divorced from a pure Christianity, does not, cannot, elevate. Depravity will only acquire new weapons to do its work of death. I plead, therefore, for an open Bible, without note or comment, in every common school. Let the holiest influences breath upon the infant mind, when, like a flower, it opens its petals to receive the sunlight of life. In the name of all the noble, self-denying, iron-willed men, who laid the foundation of the federal arch, I plead for the maintainance of all the great principles that formed their exemplary characters-one of the richest legacies of the American people. In the name of the stars and stripes that float proudly on every ocean, and are the token of civil liberty and republican institutions, from the Atlantic to the Pacific-in the name of the millions of blooming youth, destined for peace or wo, capacitated for virtue, honor, and immortality, who will determine. the internal condition of our whole nation throughout future generations, I claim as a qualification of first importance on the part of all teachers, decided faith in, and sincere reverence for, the religion of Jesus Christ.
E. V. G.
ART. VII.-QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE CHURCH.
I. How many Churches are there?
According to the word of God, and the Apostles' Creed, embodied in the Heidelberg Catechism, there is only one, called the Holy Catholic Church. It was founded and established by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in the following manner. On the day of Pentecost he poured out his Holy Spirit upon his disciples, through whose quickening and saving influences they became inspired with new life, new faith, new love, new hope; which animated them with a heaven-born zeal in the divine cause of their beloved master. Through the efficient instrumentality of these apostles, Christ extended the rich blessing of salvation to thousands of souls. Jews and Gentiles yielded to the irresistible power of God's Holy Spirit, and became living members of Christ's glorious kingdom. Thus the first congregation of Christians was established, and from this parent congregation the streams of salvation flowed out in every direction, filling the earth with gladness, and gathering into the one fold of Christ as many as shall be saved. This glorious institution of redeeming love, the Holy Catholic Church, is beautifully described by the apostle Paul, in several of his epistles. He considers the Church a spiritual, manymembered body, all animated and ruled by Christ, her divine head. He views the Church as the admirable fulness of Him, who filleth all in all; he represents her as the great tabernacle, founded and established upon the prophets and apostles, held together by Christ, the chief corner-stone, cemented with love divine, rising up to a temple of the Lord. He exhibits the Church as a great mystery of the divine union between God and fallen man, realized in and through Christ alone; she is
to him the holy, spotless congregation, acquired by the Saviour's self-sacrificing love, and purified by the washing of water; yea, he views the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth, as the flock of Christ, purchased with his own precious blood, watched over and fed by his servants, and ruled by his Holy Spirit. (See Eph. 2: 19-22, 4: 15-22, 5: 23–33. 1 Tim. 3: 15, 16. Acts 20: 28, &c.)
According to the apostle Paul, then, the Church is essentially: 1, neither a pompous, worldly minded hierarchy, nor a naked, common sense sect; but a divine spiritual life;—2, a life proceeding neither from Church tradition, nor from the Bible, but directly from Christ, the great and only fountain of life;-3, a life penetrating and animating all her true members;-4, a life keeping the members of the sanctified body in union and communion with Christ their glorious head, and with God the Father through the Son. As such the Christian Church must be regarded, by all friends of truth, the noblest inheritance and the most precious treasure, which in this life the parental love of our Father in Heaven has prepared for, and graciously bestowed upon his fallen, unworthy creatures. She is the paradise of heaven on earth, where poor sinners are trained for a blissful immortality in the "Father's house;" and what the hand of God has planted in her, no enemy shall ever destroy or take away. (Math. 18.) Let superstition deface her, infidelity traduce her; let thousands forsake her communion, and tens of thousands unite to break down her walls; they will only work out their own destruction, whilst the Church remains forever firm. For she is founded upon the Rock of ages, and the gates of hell even shall not prevail against her! The glory of her divine power has ever manifested itself in all her true and living members. Even in the darkest hours of bloody persecution the dying soldiers of the cross could sing "I see the heavens open!" "Death where is thy sting!" In the bosom of the Church springs the fountain of living waters for thirsty souls. She bears the healing balm for broken hearts and contrite spirits; because with her dwells the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world,
administering consolation and rest to the weary and heavy laden. Surely this glorious institution of infinite love can never perish, as long as there remains one sinner on earth, conscious of his relation to God and longing after immortality.
II. But if there is only one true Church, why are there so many divisions, each calling itself a particular Church?
These divisions are not the natural product of the essence and true spirit of Christianity. Like the Redeemer himself, so also his divine life, his Holy Spirit, his gospel, and all that belongs to the means of grace, are essentially one, and can never be divided. Nor is it in the nature of divine truth to cause separation among its real friends. On the contrary, it unites them most intimately, because the love of God, shed abroad in their hearts, causes them to be of one mind in all their higher and nobler aspirations. The element of Christian truth alone enables and persuades men to acknowledge each other as children of one common father, and as heirs of one kingdom of Heaven. Hence, we must never look for the origin of Church divisions, in the essence of Christianity itself, nor apologize for their existence upon this ground. They take their rise only after the infinite and holy life of the Saviour has come in contact with the finite and corrupt nature of man. And the principal reason is, because the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. Yet Christ and his holy gospel must be embraced by sinners, in order to effect their salvation; but sinners are like unclean and broken vessels, absolutely unable to comprehend and represent the whole of divine truth. Even after men have become regenerate, and their hearts are made fit temples for the living God, still their limited capacities cannot fully comprehend the entire plan of salvation. The mystery of godliness remains a mystery still. Nor do the natural peculiarities of men permit, that all should see and feel alike. Being differently constituted and related, different in feeling and views, it is utterly impossible that all should be affected alike by the power of divine truth. Neither have all men reached the same degree of actual transgression, when conviction overtakes them, and hence their sense of guilt, as well as