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The sooner the change be set about, the sooner will Englishmen be walking in the path of duty.
Before I and my readers part, a few words upon the probable future.
In the past and the present, the young have been, and are being, instructed in dogmatic, unintelligible creeds and catechisms; and youth has grown up to manhood, and scoffed at its early lessons, so that Christendom has been filled with infidelity, and that in places not always suspected. Teachers and taught alike have shared in infidel opinions. Some have concealed their thoughts beneath a sanctimonious garb, while others have openly laughed at the Christian's faith. Of course, every rule has its exceptions. But exceptions evidence to the rule. The difference between the true and the false is so palpable that a thin outer covering will not always conceal the false. No doubt, a more healthy state of things has been coming on in Protestant Christianity. Infidelity in high and sanctimonious places is not so rife as of yore: nevertheless, it is easy to discover its existence here yet. And what shall be said in this respect of Pagan Christianity? Let the furtive glance of conscious actors in deceptive ceremonials be the sufficient answer.
Let now another system of teaching prevail. Let the young be instructed in the laws which govern man's being, as they are revealed in Scripture, and in Nature. Let them be made acquainted with their relationship to God, and the consequences of a disruption of that relationship. Let them be assured that every violation of the fundamental laws will assuredly bring punishment. And let them understand that only by a return to, and a reunion with, God, by the heart desiring fellowship with God, can man be restored to purity and happiness. Let them know that every relation of political, social, and domestic life will be coloured with good, or with ill, just in proportion as union with God is close or distant.
In the past, “the sons of God” have been in abeyance, alighted upon here and there, and known but little in the active walks of life. In the future, the scheme propounded will have the effect of raising them to demonstrative life. Chosen for government, as they will be, by the public voice, true Christianity will find its way into all a nation's institutions. As, in the past, a false Christianity has given a deadly hue to every phase of society; so, now, true Christianity will give a lively hue to every phase. War has been the symbol and the reality of the past: peace will be the symbol and the reality of the future. Known as men are in their respective circles, duplicity will have little chance of feigning righteous
The lynx-eyed public will be too sharp-sighted to be deceived by specious pretences. Righteousness will not be known by sanctimonious observances, but by an active life of general utility. Be sure, if " love to God and love to man be not exhibited, but violated by sordid acts of injustice, or brutal violence, let the plea be what it may, religious or other, that here is not “the righteousness that exalteth a nation.” The man who exhibits an unchastened temper will not be likely to be an elder who will rule well. Chosen by vigilant and informed constituencies, true men will rule, and the world has yet to see the glorious things which will flow from “ the manifestation of the sons of God.”
There are many earnest-minded men looking for the personal coming of Christ. The expectation is vain. Christ will come in a restored Christianity. The millennial reign will consist in the nations being no longer deceived by the pretensions of priestcraft, and in the exhibition of a state of society swayed by Christian sentiments.
A few further words to Churchmen and Dissenters, and my labours for the present are closed.
Churchmen contend that, in questions affecting the National Church, Dissenters should have no voice. This is surely a great mistake. It appears to me that Dissenters are they who should speak. Dissenters are dissenters because they think they discover something wrong, either in the polity or the doctrines, or both, of the National Church. They are not thereby rendered ineligible to have a voice in questions concerning the Church. It would be a curious proposition, that malcontents in Government should cease to have a voice in government when they dissent from acts of Government, and seek to become Reformers. Malcontents do not exclude themselves from a right to participate in a National Institution. Dissenters are now excluded from the National Church by religious scruples, but this does not put aside their inherent right to participate in the National Institution. Of all men, these are the very men whose voices ought to be heard, that what is complained of, if the complaint be just, should be corrected. It is plain that a National Institution should reflect a nation's sentiments. It will not do to say Dissenters have no right to be heard. It may do to say their voice is so puny it can't be heard. But, in these days, this can now not be uttered without impropriety. A process has been going on, by which Dissent has grown large, until nearly one-half the nation is in dissent. A very small movement would turn the minority into a majority. To Churchmen I would say, drive not, by a tenacious holding of dogmatic crudities, greater numbers to dissent. Rather, open wider the portals of the Church to dissentients. Let the National Church reflect the national religious mind.
To Dissenters I would say, persevere in your efforts for such a consummation. To Churchmen, wh sympathies are catholic, embracing all fellow-Christians, nay more, fellow-men, I would say, help forward the good work, not by extending Dissent, but by giving a hearty co-operation in a Reform movement.
J. UNWIN, Gresham Steam Press, 31, Bucklersbury, London.
CONTENTS OF NO. I. TO VIII.