Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

other circumstances may determine. In this distinction of results we think may be found what we seek for. A man's character is formed by the circumstances about him, and by his use of those circumstances. Now, his Free Will is never the sole determiner of the former, the country and age he lives in, affect them; but in the choice between right and wrong, his Will and nothing else acts. In the circumstances of life, then, we see always God's hand; in the certain, and immediate influence of choice over our own souls, are we alone free agents. But God, being Omniscient, and thereby knowing how, under given circumstances we shall act,-(for if you say he cannot foreknow the course of Free Will, you merely deny him Omniscience, measuring his infinitude by your infinitely finite conception,)—God, we say, knowing how man will act under given circumstances, has so placed all things as to make man's free will work out what He wills,--with the same certainty, and on the same principle, that man, knowing how steam will act under given conditions, plans his machinery to bring about what result he desires. Thus does God make man, as well as inanimate nature, his agent to place around others and himself, those circumstances through which He would educate them, leaving him, however, the sole choice among these circumstances, and therein mainly the fate and formation of his own character. We say “educate," for it is strictly education; what does the parent do to educate, but place around his child those circumstances which he thinks best fitted to aid him onward? and this God does, acting, however, with infinite wisdom and love, and moreover doing what the human parent can seldom do, making the child an agent to produce what He desires. Suppose the human parent to know what his child will do under certain circumstances,-for instance, rob an orchard, he may so arrange other circumstances as to bring about a desired result from this action, which springs from the child's free will,-for instance, he may put a dose of physic into the apples of the orchard, thereby influencing his child through his own act;* making him the agent to punish and reform himself:-and this without touching the free will of the child.-Free Will is not freedom from motives, but a power of choosing between them:-and its effect is, upon the actor's character, independent; upon things without, dependent, and governed by God. But here, it may be said, comes this difficulty.-If we can, but as agents only, affect outer things, we have no motive for action. We answer, you

* We select this homely instance because we have known the thing done.

act independently, upon your own self, and you act by choosing this or that course of outward action; you therefore cannot but act, unless you think it right to lie ever idle:-and the germ of all morality and wisdom is this, Act always with reference not to outward, but inward results, in other words, obey the rule of right. Your idea of right may be varied by what will, in accordance with some natural law, be the result of a certain course of action; but never will you seek to bring about some outer good, unless it be approved by your sense of right, and of course tending with certainty to your good within. Here, we repeat, lies the germ of wisdom and morals; this is that true faith which doeth right, leaving the issue with God; which planteth and watereth, knowing that if it be well, He will give the increase.

That the outward result of an exertion of Free Will depends on other things than the Free Will; and that under some conditions, an act of Free Will will produce one result, and under other conditions, another—all men see.All feel, moreover, that it cannot be that I, a poor and ignorant man, can sway the fate of this, that and the other of my fellow beings, except as an agent; for if I can, then they suffer without regard to deserts. I am then a free agent only inasfar as the exercise of my will immediately affects my character; the moment you go beyond this immediate, inevitable influence, you find me an actor of God's will; you find Him using my

will to bring forth that which He desires.

And let it not be said that, viewing the subject as we do, the generous motive of acting for others' good is taken away, because we are not free agents in the matter; for although we cannot shield our brother from what woe and temptation God wills he would be tried with, nor give him one thrill of joy beyond his due,—yet does it rest with us, and us only, whether we shall be the messengers of joy or woe, reward or punishment.

We give to others, and we receive from others,"under God.” -We are punished by being his ministers of wrath, and rewarded by going forth from Him on errands of mercy. Napoleon then, erred not widely when he said he was the child of destiny,” for he was the minister of God, doomed to work evil, because himself evil. In the same sense are we all children of destiny.

There is but the poetry of truth in the strong words of Everett applied to Alaric -

“Not for myself did I ascend

In judgment, my triumphal ear;
'Twas God alone on high did send

Th’avenging Scythian to the war,
To shake abroad with iron hand,

The appointed scourge of his command.”

Nor less true the words of England's great philosopher and bard,

“He guides the Pestilence—the cloud
Of locusts travels on His breath;

The region that in hope was ploughed
His drought consumes, His mildew taints with death.

He springs the hushed volcano's mine;
He puts the earthquake on her still design;
Darkens the sun, and bids the forest sink.

But His most dreaded instrument,
In working out a pure interest,
Is man

Nor yet those others, so different,

66%Tis nature's law,
That none, the meanest of created things,
Of form created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good"

The highest are but God's ministers, and as such and not for themselves should they be bowed to, and the meanest are above contempt, for they likewise do their Father's will.

J. H. P.

Art. IX.-AN ANCIENT PARABLE AND A MODERN FACT.

BY J. F. CLARKE, LOUISVILLE, KY,

THE PARABLE.—“And he spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”

“Two men went up into the Temple to pray.” THE Fact. It was Sacrament Sunday in the Presbyterian

# Wordsworth.

church, in Louisville, Ky., and the two churches met in one building to eat bread with Jesus.

THE PARABLE.—“The one a Pharisee.”

The Fact. The chief priests, elders, scribes, &c. of that denomination were assembled together.

THE PARABLE.—“And the other a Publican."

The Fact.-And behold there were two females, members of the Unitarian church, who heard that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, and came in to see their master, and stood behind him, weeping. Presently they heard the following liberal invitation:-“Christians of every denomination are invited to partake with us of the Lord's Supper.” They joyfully tarried, and no exceptions being made, prepared to join in the feast to which the pastor had so freely invited them.

THE PARABLE.—“The Pharisee stood by himself,”

The Fact.—Directions were given to the church to go by themselves into the body pews, and leave the side pews for the sinners and the world.

THE PARABLE.—“And prayed thus: God, I thank thee that I am not as other other men are-extortioners, unjust, adulte

rers,”

The Fact.—The prayers really offered, probably did not vary much from those common on such occasions. If so, God was thanked because they were the elect, chosen, called, redeemed, sanctified, and saved-and not like the world's people, going to dances, and theatres, &c.

THE PARABLE.—“Or even as this Publican.”

The Fact.— The elements were given to the Elder. One of his church pointed out to him these two Unitarians, and told him that they were communicants, and asked him to hand them the bread and wine. He made this answer—THEY ARE NO CHRISTIANS,—and passed them by.

THE PARABLE.—_“I fast twice in a week, I give tithes of all that I possess."

The Fact. This Elder was probably a subscriber to Missionary Societies, and Tract Societies, and Bible Societiesand was no doubt very constant at all prayer meetings, and protracted services.

THE PARABLE.—“And the Publican, standing afar off,"

The Fact. As all the uppermost seats in the synagogue had been filled up, the two females contented themselves with a seat in the space allotted to the sinners and worldlings.

THE PARABLE.—6Would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying: God be merciful to me a sinner!"

The Fact.-When the Elder refused them the bread and wine, they sat still in patience and quietness of soul. He could not keep them from approaching their Lord in prayer, and washing his feet with their tears. Though he could refuse them the elements of bread and wine, he could not keep from them that bread, whereof if a man eat, he shall live forever. He had the key of knowledge confided to him, and he would neither enter in himself, and those who were entering in, he hindered. But, praised be God! he could not lock up the gospel of glad tidings—he could not shut from their eyes the love of

Jesus.

Art. X.-EARLY DISCOVERY IN THE MISSISSIPPI

VALLEY.-No. I.

The first European who penetrated to the Mississippi, was Fernando de Soto. Starting from Eastern Florida, he arrived on its banks in 1541, and having crossed and ascended to the North on its western shore, almost to the Missouri, and westward two hundred miles or more, he returned in 1542, to the Mississippi to die. His body was carried out, and at midnight sunk in its current. His death took place near the mouth of Red River, and with his death the soul that kept the enterprize of his followers alive, was gone. It was one of the most wonderful expeditions recorded in history, whether we regard the bold and enterprizing spirit with which it was planned, the amount of men and means engaged in it, or the skill and indomitable energy with which it was conducted. Until lately, the adventures of De Soto were known to few ;-but the accounts given of them by Theodore Irving, and by Bancroft in his History of the United States, have made them generally familiar to the public.

After the death of Soto, more than a hundred and thirty years elapsed before another European is known to have looked on the Mississippi. The progress of western discovery was now from the north, on the line of the St. Lawrence and the Lakes. The earliest pioneers of the West were Catholic Priests, in whom the spirit of discovery was kindled

.

« AnteriorContinuar »