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from the very thought of pain and suffering, have calmly faced the angry reproaches of the multitude, and resolutely met death in its most terrific forms, sustained by the power of an approving conscience, whose decisions were, to them, of more consequence than the applause or censure of the world, and whose sustaining power bore them, as on a prophet's chariot of fire, above the pains of torture and the rage of infuriated men.
Not less is the power of an accusing conscience. Its disapprobation and censure, though clothed with no external authority, are more to be dreaded than the frowns of kings or the approach of armies. It is a silent constant presence that cannot be escaped and will not be pacified. It embitters the happiness of life, cuts the sinews of the soul's inherent strength. It is a fire in the bones, burning when no man suspects but he only who is doomed to its endurance; a girdle of thorns worn next the heart, concealed, it may be, from the eye of man, but giving the wearer no rest, day nor night. Its accusations are not loud, but to the guilty soul they are terrible, penetrating her inmost recesses, and making her to tremble as the forest trembles at the roar of the enraged lion, as the deep sea trembles in her silent depths, when her Creator goeth by on the wings of the tempest, and the God of glory thundereth. The bold bad man hears that accusing voice, and his strength departs from him. The heart that is inured to all evil, and grown hard in sin, and fears not the face of man, nor the law of God, hears it, and becomes as the heart of a child.
How terrible is remorse! that worm that never dies, that fire that never goes out. We cannot follow the human soul beyond the confines of its present existence. But it is an opinion entertained by some, and in itself not improbable, that, in the future, conscience will act with greatly increased power. When the causes that now conspire to prevent its full development and perfect action, shall operate no longer; when the tumult of the march and the battle are over ; when the cares, the pleasures, the temptations, the vain pursuits, that now distract the mind with their confused uproar, shall
die away in the distance and cease to be heard, in the stillness of eternity, in the silence of a purely spiritual existence, the still small voice of conscience may perhaps be heard as never before. In the busy day-time we catch, at intervals, the sound of the distant ocean, as a low and gentle murmur. In the still night, when all is hushed, we hear it beating, in heavy and constant surges, on the shore. And thus it may be with the power of conscience in the future.
THE DEMANDS OF INFIDELITY SATISFIED BY CHRISTIANITY.
By Samuel Harris, D. D., Professor in Bangor
You are associated,' gentlemen, to inquire respecting the interests of Christ's kingdom; to study its dangers and the means of averting them ; its resources and the means of making them available. At this moment no enemy threatens the churches so deadly in its nature, or so formidable in its position and resources, as infidelity. It is befitting this occasion to consider how this enemy may be most successfully opposed.
It may aid us to consider, for a moment, the true relation of Christianity to heathenism. The heathen religion is not unmingled diabolism. It is the expression, though distorted, of universal spiritual wants which Christianity alone can satisfy; wants buried, with their immortal life in them, beneath mountains of error and depravity, and therefore manifesting themselves, like Enceladus beneath Aetna, only in volcanic groans and struggles that terrify the world; and
1 This Article is an Address delivered in the Seminary Chapel at Andover, on the Anniversary of the Society of Inquiry, July 31st, 1855.
yet wants of the spiritual nature which can never die. Heathenism also prefigures Christianity; it shadows the facts which Christianity alone reveals and the truths which it alone expresses - adumbrations monstrous indeed; like fantastic shadows from a flickering fire dancing on the dimness of a kitchen wall, and yet shadows of divine reality. Therefore there is an important sense in which Christianity may address to the heathen world the words of Paul : “ Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”
And Christianity is to be vindicated, not by claiming that it teaches the contrary of all that man ever desired or thought, but by showing that it meets the wants of the spiritual nature uttered in all religions, and reveals the realities which they have dimly shadowed; that whatever of good the Greek philosophy taught, whatever of beauty the Greek mythology embodied, whatever of sublimity the Eastern mysticism dreamed, is taken up in Christianity and set forth in its reality, and in its harmony with God's actual work of redemption; that thus not Aethiopia only, but all nations have stretched forth their hands unto God; that thus Christ has been, as the Scriptures declare, "the Desire of all nations,” and “in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
These views of the relation of Christianity to heathenism, have of late been gaining the assent of Christian scholars. It is not yet clearly understood,- to some minds, the assertion may seem both startling and untenable,- that Chris
1 A missionary, hoping to facilitate his work by introducing the arts of civilization, caused an American plough to be imported, and carefully taught the rude natives its use. They danced in ecstasy, and, at the missionary's request, took it away to their own fields. On visiting them a few days afterwards, the missionary found to his amazement that, instead of ploughing with the plough, they had set it on end, daubed it with red paint, and were worshipping it. A missionary recently returned from Bombay stated to the writer that, whenever the cars leave the station, natives may be seen prostrating themselves in adoration of the locomotive. Facts like these exemplify the truth that the wants met by religion exist earlier than the wants met by civilization, and are more prompt, extensive and powerful in their action; and that it is necessary to satisfy, guide, and develop these religious wants in savage and partially civilized tribes, in order to the most expeditious and effective civilization.
tianity sustains the same relation to infidelity itself; that it is to triumph over this its most formidable foe, not merely by disproving its arguments, but also by satisfying the wants which it unconsciously utters, and by realizing the ideas which it is blindly groping to grasp. It is easy to say that infidelity is the result of human depravity. But if this is true, it is a proposition too general to be of service in our endeavors to remove the evil. We must know more specifically in what principles of the mind, in what laws of thought and feeling it roots itself in the soul, and from what it draws the nutriment of its vigorous growth. In itself, it is a mere negation. As such, it can have power, only as it allies itself with the devilish in man, to deny and resist Christianity because it is divine. But this negative character, even when energized by its alliance with depravity, is insufficient to account for the prevalence and power of infidelity both in the schools and the shops. There are real and universal wants of the soul which it aims to meet, and true ideas which it aims to express. By pressing into its service these real wants and true ideas, it acquires a positive character not intrinsically its own. It rejects Christianity, on the supposition that it is inadequate to meet these wants and to realize these ideas.
But whatever strength infidelity gains in this way, it draws from misapprehension of the actual comprehensiveness of the Christian system; misapprehensions legitimately arising, it may be, from an inadequate appreciation and presentation of Christianity on the part of its believers. The religion of Christ comprehends the true satisfaction of every legitimate want of the human soul. It is capable of satisfying the one great class of minds, which, speculative like the Greek, seek in Christianity, wisdom; it is equally capable of satisfying the other great class of minds, which, practical, like the Jew, seek in Christianity, signs. To the former, it presents the true rationalism, it solves their profoundest problems, harmonizes their chaotic systems, and carries reason into fields of thought, vaster than reason ever discovered. To the latter, it presents itself the true wonder-worker,
proving its divine power, by perpetually performing divine works.
We can cope with infidelity successfully, only as we can reveal Christianity in its true comprehensiveness, both as a system of truth, and a power of life; only, as we can make the thinker see that it meets all the legitimate demands of his reason; only as we can make the worker see that it furnishes both the light and the power to realize all that he legitimately demands for his work. So only can we silence the pretensions of infidelity, to possess a positive character of its own, prove that it has no right to exist, from the necessity of filling up what is lacking in Christianity, and drive it back, as a bare negation, to depravity and Satan as its only allies.
This is the subject which I have chosen for this evening: The capacity of Christianity to satisfy all the legitimate wants, and to realize all the true ideas of the human mind, of which modern infidelity is more or less consciously the exponent.
I. The first source of modern infidelity, is the demand of the human mind for an established law, order, or course of nature in all things. It is the demand that whatever claims to be religion be a development and not an interruption of this order or course of things; not above it, nor parallel to it, but a part of it, evolved out of it, one with it, subject to its law and expressing its unity.
This is the source of the infidelity of modern science. Christianity is rejected, because it is falsely supposed to be incapable of satisfying this demand; because its miracles are regarded as merely supernatural, its law merely a positive and arbitrary enactment, its redemption a forcible intervention of a Deus e machina, and its final consummation the destruction and not a new development of the universal order of things.
This demand is legitimate. However browbeaten as the pride of intellect, it can be silenced only by being satisfied. The capability of Christianity to satisfy this demand I am now to show.
In order to proceed intelligently, however, I must premise,