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our readers to pursue the subject to some definite and satisfactory issue. On whichever side of it the mind of God may be discovered, it is certain that the question is one of such press. ing and practical importance as to demand, at the least, the gravest and most conscientious deliberation. It ought not to be cavalierly, or lightly dismissed. The affair, sub judice, is too large, too comprehensive, and involves interests of too high a moment to be shuffled through with unreflecting haste. If they to whom we have addressed ourselves be not right, they are deplorably wrong. The error by which they deceive themselves masks the spiritual destruction of thousands. Their silence adds length of days to a pretence, the full extent of whose pernicious influence no intellect can measure. They defraud others by doing themselves an injury. The blame is by no means trivial, when in matters chiefly affecting our own personal character, we bury our Lord's talent in the earth. But if our knowledge of certain revealed truths be really committed to us in trust for others; if while we sleep, Christendom also sleeps as the consequence of our stupor; if, in short, the world waits the energetic application of that moral remedy which we have in our possession, and whilst it waits sinks deeper into ruin ;-then will our inaction burden us with a responsibility, the weight of which we may well shudder to contemplate. The bare possibility of being mistaken in a case involving consequences so serious, should bid us pause, examine, reflect, and spare no pains to satisfy ourselves. How far the good or bad influence of our example may reach, none of us can tell. Thus much we know, that we do not, cannot stand alone. Whether we do or leave undone, we are, unconsciously perhaps to our. selves, producing correspondent impressions upon other minds. Under these circumstances, we hope our readers will forgive the urgency of our request that they ponder this subject with a solicitude befitting its unquestionable importance, and resolve to review the position they may have taken up with a prayerful concern to ascertain how far it coincides with the will of the Great Head of the church.
We ask them further and conscience must be our apology for the intrusion to deal honestly with themselves. Ere they ascend the judgment seat, it would be at once manly and just, by a resolute effort, to divest their minds of all the bye influences likely to warp their decision. They will be aware how easily our wishes lead our reason, and how insensibly prejudice imparts to the clearest evidence a tinge of its own foregone conclusions. The views they have hitherto held of their duty in respect to the movement against establishments, they have been accustomed to regard as the natural and legitimate off.
spring of an attachment to the vital doctrines of the gospel. They may be so, but is it certain they are so ?
Let the supposition be made, for the sake of experiment only, that any reader of this paper should see sufficient cause to change his mind, and as the result of that change, to commence a course of active exertion to enfranchise christian truth from the thraldom of civil government. What are the inconveniences which would first present themselves to his mind as necessary, in such an event, to be encountered? Whose laugh would he have to brave? Whose good opinion would he forfeit? What friendship must he give up? Wherein would his reputation suffer; his worldly prospects, his social enjoyments, or his domestic peace? As with the wand of a magician, the question
Shall I so resolve?' if put home to his conscience in earnest, will start up the shadows of the evils which he must meet, and, fleet as thought, they will pass in succession before the eye of his imagination. Now, is he satisfied that these things, never before distinctly called up before him, have had no hand in the formation of his opinion-have never, in any instance, unseen and unsuspected, given a bias to his judgment ? Might he not with great propriety, on the very threshhold of this inquiry, exclaim with an authority which could not be resisted, 'Shadows avaunt!'
It may be unnecessary. His piety may be elevated above that sphere in which such influences take their walks, and exercise their witchery. But recollecting the frailty of human nature—the extraordinary facility with which it surrenders itself a victim to self-delusion-and the more than common gravity of the subject which asks his impartial decision-were it not a wise precaution to guard himself at the outset against the possibility of hearing the whispers of these intruders—whispers which may be conveyed into his mind with such exquisite subtlety as to be mistaken for the suggestions of his own conscience. Severe self-searching is one of the best preparations for arriving at sound conclusions in all questions which touch the practice, and none but the frivolous or the self-sufficient will deem the ordeal a superfluous one.
Fully conscious that we are about to tread upon delicate ground, we cannot forbear urging upon our readers, nevertheless, their individual responsibility in this matter. As they must not take counsel of their interests, so neither must they give judgment by proxy. They must think, reason, decide, and act for themselves. Their ordinary opinions may, perchance, be nothing more than a faithful reflection of the opinions of some other mind to whom they are accustomed to render defe.
And on a subject seriously affecting the well being of the church of Christ, they may regard it as not only safe, but
becoming, to sit at the feet of the masters in Israel, and on their authority to draw conclusions. Far be it from us to assert that no respect is due to the deliberate judgment of men occupying eminent stations in the church. But how should it operate ? Not in silencing inquiry, but in making it tenfold more searching and more careful. They are not infallible. They are but men, and, consequently, they may err. They are the subjects of human frailties, and it is therefore not impossible that their reason may be lured out of the way by their affections. The very position they occupy may surround them with temptations to lean to the quieter side of this matter, the force of which can scarcely be appreciated by others. Be this, however, as it may, it would be but a miserable consolation to any truly religious man, if events should hereafter prove his course to have been mischievous one, to reflect that he was carried astray by his implicit credit in men whom he highly revered.
revered. Truth is independent of all authority save one; and it is always safer to ask for arguments than for names. No christian should dare to take his convictions of religious duty on trust. Our faith must stand in the word of God, not of men. It is due to our own consciences, due to divine truth, and due, we may add, to the very persons whom we venerate, to claim for ourselves the right of private judgment, and to make good that claim by exercising it forthwith. We trample upon the highest dictates of love by loading others with the responsibility of our decisions; and whilst it is certain that we thereby bring guilt upon ourselves—the guilt of moral indolence-we may unwittingly add much to theirs by allowing their errors or inconsistencies to determine our practice. It would be well if every man would bear in mind, in reference especially to the subject under notice, that 'to his own master he standeth or falleth.'
Lastly, it would seem hardly necessary on any other topic to observe that true conviction will assuredly be practical. A sound judgment is nothing worth, except as it prompts to useful and energetic action. It may be, and in many cases it will be, a severe trial of sincerity to take those steps which will put our change of mind beyond doubt in the estimation of those by whom we are surrounded. The danger is great when men, after they have discovered the path of duty, begin to debate with themselves whether they shall walk in it or not. It would, of course, ill become us to affirm that those of our readers who have gone with us thus far, are bound to join any existing association, the avowed object of which is the diffusion of correct views in relation to the exclusive spirituality of Christ's kingdom. Neither, perhaps, should we be warranted in declaring that an earnest desire to overturn the idolatry of heathen nations can
only show itself through the medium of some one or other of our missionary societies. But as in the last case, so in the first, he who repudiates the means at hand, is under a solemn obligation to employ better. And in respect of those means, it behoves him to reflect whether his objections to them be merely of taste or of judgment, and whether the fact that they are already in action be not a weighty argument against their hasty rejection. Some machinery there must be to lift a neglected truth into such prominence, that none shall stand excused for remaining ignorant of its claims. That constructed by the recent anti-state-church conference may be defective, or even faulty ; but at least it is recommended by this potent consideration, that it is a reality, not a dream-a something which is, not a conception which might be. And this to an earnest man will be no light matter. He will ponder seriously before he throws away the immediate advantage which this presents to him. Certainly, he will not allow himself to be pushed on to such a decision by rumours which he has never tested, or by antipathies which he cannot defend. He will exercise the common prudence of examining for himself. He will make himself acquainted, so far as they lie within his reach, with the origin, history, nature, and past and present working, of the only existing organization. And if at last he discerns such a want of adaptation between its means and its end, or so palpable a departure from the spirit of truth in its use of those means, as to render it unsafe for enlightened zeal to support it, he will be as anxious to shun inaction as to avoid imprudence, and will exert himself, as a man conscious of his individual responsibility, to do by more efficient methods what he believes the British antistate-church association is ill-fitted to accomplish. Thorough conviction and dreamy indolence cannot go together.
Our task is done. But ere we dismiss our readers to their own reflections, we would fain take them with us to one of those heights of contemplation whence they may gain the clearest, the most comprehensive, and the most impressive view of that whole field of obligation, some distinct portions of which it has been our aim to put before them. In the
presence only of the King of saints can the questions we have so feebly discussed be suitably resolved. And there, as it seems to us, all difficulty ceases. How glorious His throne, and how worthily He fills it! The only begotten Son of God, Redeemer, Mediator, Love—the truth incarnate—the light and life of the moral universe-holds from his Father's hands all power in heaven and earth to the end that he may conquer by his grace rebellious hearts, and build up for himself a spiritual kingdom the willing subjects of which shall inherit everlasting joy. Dim and inadequate are our apprehensions, even at the best, albeit we are aided by the glowing light of prophecy, of that fulness of blessings which the world is destined to realise from his magnificent and thrice hallowed undertaking. Slightly and imperfectly only can our dull spirits catch the import of that strain which announced his coming — Glory to God in the highest-on earth peace--and good will to men. Were it possible for us to discern the exuberant meaning into which that simple annunciation will ultimately expand—could we, purified from all grosser passions, trace its fulfilment, ever progressing, and ever widening, until it is lost in eternity-were we able to obtain a glimpse, clear although distant, of what the Prince of all the kings of the earth has purposed to do for the nations of men—the harmony in which he will unite them, the moral dignity to which he will raise them, the perfect liberty into which he will lead them, the unspeakable gladness which he will diffuse amongst them, and, in a word, the physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual refinement to which he will exalt them—what, with all this full in our view, would be our notions of that system, devised by human pride and worldly wisdom, which usurping his name, and availing itself of his doctrine, came right athwart his benevolent intentions, retarding, obscuring, misrepresenting, blighting, and rendering fruitless, so far as man's wickedness can, the developments of his infinite love? What would be our emotions at observing the dark cloud of unsanctified am. bition intercepting the bright rays of the all exhilarating and fertilising sun of righteousness?' And in what shape would those emotions embody themselves ? In connivance? in silence ? in a studied and systematic suppression of our knowledge ? Would there be no indignation would there not be effort ? Should we stay to ask ourselves what the world might think of our strenuous opposition to this its perversion of heaven's choicest gift? And with the sound of our Master's precepts in our ears, and a vision of his purposes spread out before our eyes, would it be possible for us to judge that it best becomes us to hide a portion of his counsel, lest, haply, we should rouse the prejudices of those who, some in sheer hatred of his government, and some in mistaken notions of its essential nature, are doing their worst to make void his grace? No! Boldly, and in the name of christianity, we answer, no!
It is not religion, but the want of it, which produces indifference to this state of things. The more eminent the spirituality, the deeper will be its resentment of that which secularises the gospel. The more ardent the benevolence, the more earnest will be its repudiation of whatever endangers the highest interests of mankind. The tenderer the charity, the less tolerant