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have traced in the history of the past, how little these ties have been valued. No author sets this in a stronger light, than Tacitus in his Annals of the Roman Empire. The hand of that masterly historian must have trembled as he delineated the picture. There you will find a narrative of all that can shock the tenderest sensibilities of our nature; all that man can perpetrate in crime ; all that the 'arch enemy can bring up from his dark kingdom to disturb and ruin. Suspicion, massacre, and licentiousness; the conspiracy of wives against their husbands, and husbands against their wives; men everywhere falling upon their own sword; families whose peace is disturbed by violence and ruined by intrigue; children sacrificed by the machinations of a mother; the wife murdering her husband for the purpose of wedding her paramour; women “practised in the trade of poisoning;" this is paganism and in the most enlightened age of Rome. But it is not Christianity. Let a man compare the present state of society in Protestant countries with the state of society under the dynasty of the Cæsars, and he cannot fail to see what the Bible has done for the social institutions. Let him go into the interior of the first and most polished families in Rome, and he will bless God for a supernatural revelation. Let him mark the difference with which the social relations are regarded by the wisest and most virtuous of pagan moralists, and a well instructed Christian teacher; let him see how in Christian lands, they bear the test of experience, and endure the proof of trials; how the spirit that sustains them grows cold only in death, and is extinguished only in the grave; and then let him go into lands unenlightened by the gospel, and observe how the sweetest charities of life are destroyed by the suspicions of envy, the jealousies of love, the violence of ambition, the thirst for power, and at best decay when the flower of beauty and the graces of youth are gone; and he will adore the Father of mercies for that blessed Book “more to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold.”
And yet are there those who would have us believe that the religion of the Bible is a morose and unsocial religion. If to have no sympathy with wickedness is to be unsocial, then is it an unsocial religion ; but if to promote all that is kind and virtuous, and pure and trije, if to take pleasure in all that subdues what is malignant and ferocious, what is ambitious and cruel, if to sympathize with all that elevates and transforms the human character and makes it the ornament of human society here, and the glory of angelic society hereafter, be social ; then is it truly and in the highest degree friendly to social institutions. There cannot be a more gross misconception than that the religion of the Scriptures is an unsocial religion. Every where it inculcates the gentle and kind affections. If there be softness, sweetness, cheerfulness and honour in the intercourse between man and man, to what are they to be attributed, if not to the power of that heavenborn “charity, which suffereth long and is kind, which envieth not, which vaunteth not itself, and is not puffed up;" which “ doth not behave itself unseemly, and seeketh not her own;" which“ beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things;" without which we are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal !” We see not how an unsocial spirit can spring from such a source. And yet so it is that the Bible is made to answer for all the moroseness and severity in the world, when it is known to enjoin all that is benevolent and cheerful in the social
INFLUENCE UPON SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS.
Christian man therefore bear in mind, that the Bible, with wonderful wisdom, adjusts its claims to the relations which men sustain to time as well as to eternity; to this world, as well as the world to come; and that it is one of the distinguished glories of its religion, that while it lives above the world, and walks with God, instead of retiring from earth and renouncing the intercourse of social life, it carries its disciples into the midst of human society to purify, reform, and elevate it, and there “ let their light so shine before men, that they seeing their good works, may glorify their Father which is in heaven.”
THE INFLUENCE OF THE BIBLE UPON SLAVERY.
While treating of the influence of the Bible upon the Social Institutions, there is one subject we cannot pass over in silence, notwithstanding the difficulties attending it. I allude to the relation existing between master and slave. The difficulties are intrinsic, growing out of the subject itself, as well as the enterprise and character of the age. At the present day, and in the present condition of our country, it is a subject of great importance; and it becomes every one in forming his judgment concerning it, to turn to that sacred book in which we profess to find a guide and instructor, and submit his opinions to the unerring decisions of the oracles of God. I do not know that I have any personal interest in giving a perverted, or partial view of this vexed question. Indeed I find it no easy matter to take such a view of it, as satisfies my own mind.
The Bible is the fountain from which we are to draw, not only our religious doctrines, but our rules of duty. “I have always observed," said an able and wise divine, “that when people become better than the Bible, they are very apt to be wrong." We certainly cannot depend upon the reasonings of men, however plausible their arguments, as we may depend upon the decisions of God. All our notions of property, all our abstract reasonings upon the rights of man and his natural freedom and equality, all our principles of moral science and in all their varied • applications, must be ultimately brought to the infallible standard revealed from heaven. God is our teacher. It is not for man to sit in judgment upon any of the truths which he has made known. 66 God never left his works for man to mend." His wisdom is unerring; nor is there any greater presumption than for us to refuse to make the Bible the standard of our duty, and be satisfied with that standard. Have we a written communication from heaven, whose Author is a being of universal charity, boundless knowledge, and eternal truth? Then from this source, and this source alone, are we bound to derive our opinions and our instructions on every subject on which it addresses us. Not more truly “would an infidel be labouring in his vocation” in charging errors upon the inspired penmen of this sacred book, than in relying upon his own reason as the ultimate standard of moral duty, and in taking upon himself to teach the inspired writers, rather than suffer them to teach him. It is an unhappiness that the public mind is in such a state of febrile excitement in relation to slavery, that is is difficult to speak the whole truth in relation to this subject without giving offence. But we may not forget, that this state of feeling has nothing to do with our application of the great principles of moral duty as revealed from heaven. It decides nothing; is variable and fluctuating; while truth and duty, as God has revealed them, remain the same.