« PredošláPokračovať »
One must, detecting, address himself sentiments which have an extensive to the thoughts and views of the multi. circulation, though upon the whole tude, and not content himself with a they may be pronounced false, are simple exposition, however just and totally so. There is always some luminous, of his own thoughts and radical verity contained within them; views. He must convict the multitude and this is the property of the Gospel, of the fallaciousness of their principles, to which every moral truth belongs. and convince them of the veracity of Christians, then, should appropriate to his own out of their own mouths, themselves whatever truth may be otherwise he will reason to the winds. discoverable in current errors; by so He must understand the pre-occupa- doing they will pluck the soul out of tions of the public mind, meet them those errors, and lead, in the name of and draw his reasonings out of them their Master and his Church, the from that very source. To endeavour world in their train, as they have to demonstrate to the secularists of the done heretofore up to a modern date. actual epoch, either the
corruption of In order to this result, however, on Popery or the truth of Protestantism, which the prosperity, we may almost or even of Revelation itself, by rea- say the existence of the Church de. soning from the proper peculiar evi. pends, they must not regard the world, dence by which these propositions as they have lately got the habit of may be respectively established, would doing, as an alien orb, as it were, to be throwing zeal utterly away. They which, indeed, the Gospel is to be would not listen to an angel from proclaimed, but with whose spirit they heaven addressing them through this should hold no communion; but, on old, approved, excellent, but hackney, the contrary, they should be thoroughly ed mode of argument. The reason's convinced that it is only by studying mintage of the moment must be re- that spirit, and by attaining to a suimpressed whilst hot and glowing. perlative knowledge of its most subtle The intellectual aspirations, which workings, of all its specious deceptions, have the most decided tendency to- of its passions, of its aims, of its inwards any divergent point, should be ward cogitative processes, as well as involved in the embrace of Christianity. its outward development, that ChrisThese aspirations at present constitute tianity can compass and comprehend it the heart of every nation, on which in her grasp, and leaven it with that the Gospel should plant her lever leaven which is to issue in the multiThence she may derive a power, or, to plication of the redeemed, and is, beuse a phrase of Burke's, what work- sides, the salt of the earth, to preserve men call a purchase, which elsewhere it from utter corruption, from that must be sought for in vain. To ad- exorbitant overgrowth of evil, which dress men now after the manner in would soon overrun and strangle to which they were so effectually ad- death Christianity itself, if Christianity dressed at the time of the Reformation, put forth no counter-vigour within its and down to the date of the French very core, to keep it under partial Revolution, or later, would betray a control. total ignorance of the period in which These remarks apply not more di. we live. Evangelical effort should rectly to the French newspapers we change its character according as the have mentioned, than to journalism antagonist it has to encounter changes (under which name all periodical pubits form ; and this can be done with lications are included) in general, out the slightest deflection from con- conducted by Protestant believing sistency: for it is a marvellous pecu
It seems to us that this species liarity of the religion of Christ, that it of literature has, with reference to se. can follow humanity through all its rious moral Christian purposes, two transformations. When this religion, grievous defects. The first is, that therefore, halts behind the age, the works having a professedly religious blame-the dreadful blame_lies at the character, which treat nevertheless of door of its teachers. It should ever be civil and political matters, have a in advance, ever prompt to extract spirit too exclusively theological ; and aliment, to derive a fresh juvenile the second, that works which profess activity from the mastery of the new. not religious objects, have too little, fashioned errors which every genera- or not any at all, of the theological tion brings forth. No opinions or
temper; whereas, we deem that the
former should embrace the profane, faiths. The wild hopes of revolution and the latter the spiritual mind of -despite their restless revolutionary society, interchangeably: so would habits-occupy no longer the place of the popular intellect, in all its new, a creed in their hearts ; but indecision, experimental, transforming energies, or a vague intermingling of impresbe prolifically impregnated and straitly sions from all the past, and weak interlaced by Christianity. With re- feverous anticipations of the future, spect to religionists, we have endea- have left their character without any voured to show that they should look distinct stamp; there is no image or out beyond their own narrow circles superscription upon it. Now, then, upon the world, and into the future ; is the time to write the name of Christ and it is equally incumbent on men of there, and it must be, to all human apmore strictly mundane intellectual pearance, now or never : for it cannot pursuits to entertain constantly retro- be supposed that the state of mind we spective reflections—to gather up, as have slightly depicted-so auspicious, it were, the past, and carry it with one should think, from its troubled them as they advance; but, above all, voidness, to the reception of religious not to suppose, or to act through luke- convictions, (which infer reason, not warmness and indifference as if they credulity,)—can have any long endu. supposed, that they can leave religion rance. Yet is the intellect of Frenchbehind them. Divine revelation is men so closed and hardened in a strong throughout prospective --- germinant armour of proof, against any direct through all ages. It has this pecu- appeals of the Gospel to the conliarity, too, that whilst ever essentially science, that it is only by pointing the same, it is ever apt to receive new one's darts so that they may arrive secular developments in accordance with precision within the joints and with the changes of the times. Those, crevices of this armour, that any effect therefore, who see not, or who obsti- can be produced ; and the archery of nately refuse to see, that its immutable
a newspaper seems to be more effec. truths must, to be effective, assume at tive-more likely to penetrate
within differing epochs differing modes of the scales of the panoply, than any less action, obstruct the Christian faith agile means. quite as much as others, who, partly Second, Throughout the whole conowing to this retrograde tenacity of tinent of Europe there is no single mistaken zealots, regard the religion of popular organ of Protestantism, whilst, the Gospel as no longer capable of not to mention Switzerland, Holland putting forth any master.influence over has a purely, Prussia a predominant, the affairs and movements, political and France a considerable Protestant and mental, of public active life. population. The immense results that
The journal we have alluded to was might ensue from the establishment of established with the intention of show. such an European organ, belonging to ing how fairly Christianity might be the daily press, may be anticipated at brought to parley with the thoughts of à glance. Certain it is that Protesan unbelieving revolutionary nation; tantism affords a basis of infinitely and how with apt words, out of their more momentousinterests, particularly own vocabulary of prineiples, she at this crisis, on which to found a might obtain an audience and some power of opinion, than more strictly polidegree of attention. The enterprise tical subjects can ever possess.
Thus was a bold one; but many considera- the enterprise referred to, which altions seemed to justify it, especially ready, having been begun on a small two, which we will now specify. scale, has met with success beyond ex
First, The French are at present, pectation, contains, it is evident, a germ nationally, in a state of mind per- of growth which may gradually expand fectly nondescript. They are not it into an importance superior to that generally, except by name, Papists. of any other species of journal whatThey are not, in the old positive sense Paris, too, is the most active of the word, infidels, neither are they centre-the heart, we may say, of the believers; but they halt dubiously, civilized world. In that capital, it neither affirming nor denying, be- follows, the great effort should be made tween an inclination towards and dis- to re-invigorate Christianity, ere the inclination from some unknown reli- dissolvent principles which universally gious faith, or jumble of religious prevail, become so decidedly triumph
ant as to make all exertion for the criterion to judge of the success of purpose vain and useless.
Other other societies engaged in the same considerations, likewise, have strongly work. We have, therefore, taken recommended the undertaking. Ro- pains to procure a correct statement of manism is either openly or by subter. the agents it has employed, and the ranean proceedings, which are felt sums it has expended during the seven and not seen, advancing every where years it has been in operation. By its influence. It has torn Belgium this statement its rapid extension may from Holland; it has made a bold at- be estimated without the danger of tempt to set up a supremacy over the mistake or exaggeration. We give it, Protestant Government of Prussia. At as follows, in a tabular form :the same time, infidelity or rather lati. The society employed in tudinarianism, the present form of
6 agents unbelief, has given the hand to the 2d
17 Romish Church. Affecting to despise
34 her, it is kind to her and helps her. 4th
43 This alliance between Rome and a 5th
46 wide semblant indifference towards all 6th
63 creeds, is the most characteristic and 7th
66 portentous sign of the times. Anunbe
It received the lieving democracy is fully in earnestPopery is fully in earnest; and both
3,459 frs. are animated with mighty prospective
3d hopes of a thoroughly antichristian
40,306 tendency. In this state of things,
59,223 then, is it fit that Protestantism should
79,270 remain on the Continent quite passive ?
111,458 Out of Great Britain and Ireland she The labours of this society extend has no popular voice which is heard at present over a large portion of abroad; and even in these countries, France. It has agents in thirty towns she looks, like Lot's wife, behind her, and cities, each of an average popula. and is engaged, almost exclusively, in tion of not less than 25,000 inhabitants. fighting with the phantoms of defunct It has, furthermore, within the last controversies, which seem to be raised year, opened nineteen new urban up maliciously for the purpose of schools, which are attended at this wasting her strength. But in Paris, time by 16,000 scholars. In addition the currents of thought, on all topics, also to the labourers above mentioned, are so many and so varied, that som
it actually employs sixty-eight colbriety of mind is not conceived to be porteurs, itinerant venders of the synonymous with the backwardness Bible,) who, besides an immense numand contraction of its prospects. ber of other religious works, have not Where specific positive convictions scattered, but placed in good hands, exist, (alas ! in that city very rare,) forty thousand copies of the Holy they can there hardly fail to consist Scriptures. It has likewise established with broad views and new applications; and supports, at its own expense, a and it is precisely this enlargement, preparatory school to form young with fresh springs of vitality, that men for the ministry, of whom eight Protestantism actually wants, in order have already been graduated in the to assume a new development corre. Theological College of Geneva, and pondent to the new developments of three are about shortly to take holy society.
orders. We will at present furnish a few We are unable to notice any of the examples of the successful exertions work of this society in villages and which have been made by religious little obscure spots. We will furnish associations to diffuse the doctrines of one or two instances, however, of its the Reformation in France. Of these more ostensible success, and will take the Evangelical Society of Paris un- our first near home; it is one which doubtedly holds the first place. Its must have come under the observation metropolitan position, and its national of multitudes of Englisbmen. character, give it the precedence; but Boulogne-sur-Mer, and the departin other respects the measure of its ment in which it is situated, in fact success may be regarded as a very fair nearly all of the north of France, have
ever been known as purely Catholic. has been sent to them from Paris. In the town itself, till the English, This congregation, without having since the peace, made it a favourite separated from the Church of Rome, residence, there was no place of Pro- are determined, they say, to give the testant worship. Several, by the zeal Protestant doctrines a fair hearing. of our countrymen, have lately sprung Even should they not embrace these up. Among these, one at first opened doctrines, they consider them, they for their use is now attended and over- declare, worthy of their support, and crowded every Sunday by a French calculated to do much good by their congregation, formerly all Papists. In diffusion. This sentiment we know this manner, according to our infor- is not uncommon in France; but the mation, the event came about. An very earnest manner in which it has English clergyman was in the habit of been, in act and deed, expressed at performing Divine service in this cha- Dunkirk, is without precedent, and pel. By way of an experiment, he exhibits a spirit of rational moral se. invited a pastor in the employment of riousness which justifies the most santhe Evangelical Society to preach guine hopes of Christian philanthro. from the pulpit. The fact was an. pists. nounced, and a French auditory of a We have already alluded, in a curdozen persons or so were brought to- sory manner, to the notable advantage gether. The pastor, thinking he had which Protestantism gained at Sionmade a good beginning, afterwards ville, in Normandy, a little more than demanded and obtained permission, two years ago. Many of the inhabitsometimes of a morning, sometimes of ants of that place then invited a pastor an evening, and at last regularly on a of a neighbouring national temple to week-day, to officiate in the same come among them, proclaiming at the place. The number of his hearers same time their intention to abjure the increased rapidly. Many persons
Romish faith. The invitation was every day embraced the Protestant accepted; and there is now faith, till the conversions became so formed church, which increases daily, numerous, that the English minister belonging to the state establishment, conceived it his duty to yield up the in a town where one has never before church to the French pastor, who has, existed. Here we see a spontaneous as we have said, a full and overflowing movement on the part of Romanists audience.
to throw off the Romish yoke, and to The fact which we have next to com- adopt the creed of the Reformation. municate is not less encouraging than We pass over unnoticed, for want the preceding one, and much more sig- of space, the successes of other socicnificant and characteristic of the reli- ties, merely stating that the spots resgious sentiments of a comparatively cued from Popery mentioned in former very small number of Frenchmen who papers, continue to flourish and graare frequently to be met with in the dually to spread and to encroach upon provinces.
the gross superstition and incredulity At Dunkirk there has been for with which they are surrounded. This many years a Protestant church for shows that what has been done of late English residents; but the French years for the propagation of genuine inbabitants, all by birth Catholics, Christianity in France, has been done have lately, strange as it may appear, solidly. No evanescent triumphs, but built another at their own expense. durable conquests, though on a small The ministry of an agent of the Evan- scale, have been achieved by Chrisgelical Society has produced this effect. tian efforts in that country. ProtesThe singularity of this case is, that tant posts established there six years those who have constructed this edi- ago, under the most unfavourable cirfice for the Reformed worship make no cumstances, and so feeble to all seemprofession themselves of being Protes- ing in their commencement, that one tants. The mayor and préfet of the might well anticipate their disappeartown, both avowed Catholics, promo- ance in less than six months, remain, ted, by their personal influence, the have become strong, and acquire fresh undertaking, and form at present part strength and efficiency, by a sensible of the congregation, amounting to progressive extension, almost from about two hundred persons, who at- inonth to month. tend regularly to hear a pastor who We have now touched upon the principal topics by which we believe a they can promote no personal intervery decided progress of the Reformed ests, they can make no gain by god. faith in France may be fairly inferred. liness; there is no ugly mercantile For our own parts, we confess the bustle and competition in their demea. entertainment of very high hopes on nour ; and divisions, jealousies, and this subject. Great objects seem to recriminations are unknown among us to be intimately connected with the them. And further, whilst their faith religious movement that has lately ta- is genuinely orthodox, they consider ken place, and is increasing among forms and creeds, which have taken French Protestants; and these objects, shape in specific confessions, as matters if care be taken not to regard them of very minor importance. They have as little ones, may be compassed by little attachment to establishments, small means. Small means may in- except for the maintenance of order, volve a principle of expansion, but and have a decided repugnance to great objects can certainly contain no rules of a rigid discipline. Thus, exprinciple of diminution; and their terior impediments to their success, greatness is sure speedily to overwhelm generally inore obstructive than any the exertions towards their accom- others, existenot. Thus, they are truly plishment of those whose minds—the liberal. Their sympathies with huscope of whose efforts—are not dis- manity at large are not partially countended to a size commensurate to their teracted by any desire to uphold or to large and comprehensive completion. maintain a supremacy for any sectaBearing this truth, then, in mind, which rian or even national ecclesiastical our French brother-religionists fully, institution. To their peculiar position we hope, appreciate, we must not de- they owe this happy advantage, which, spise their comparatively feeble begin- it must be acknowledged, is counternings in the propagation of the Gospel. balanced by many great and grievous Let us rather recollect that eight years disadvantages. The defence of Chrisago, the Reformed population of France tianity is not with them, as with us, spread before the eye of the observer identified with the predominance of like a rocky waste, in which no whole- any particular organization of church some plant took root; whilst here and government. Hence the characteristic there sapless shrubs of a melancholy OPENNESS of the French Reformed comdwarf rationalism sprung up from its munions, which opens a wide admisfissures, giving an air of utter hope- sion to all denominations of really lessness to a scene which is now like serious men; and this openness being a wide and widening field, abounding occasioned by no laxity of doctrine, in spots of verdure and fertility, and but by a sterling Biblical charity with in gushing springs of life, and yield- respect to such variations of religious ing a more and more ample harvest sentiment as, like those of the comevery revolving year.
pass, point, not divergently, but with To conclude: there are two parti. wavering trepidations in the same diculars in which the zealous among the rection, bids fair to compose these French Protestants have the advan- variations into an harmonious differtage over those of England. The first
In a word, Protestantism in is, that in their humble labours in the France, we have no hesitation in afcause of religion they have a more firming, has, at the same time, more pure and simple spiritual earnestness of its original purity and a more Cathan their English brethren ; worldly tholic character than it possesses in motives have less hold upon them; any other part of the world.