« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
than have been produced through these instrumentalities by the class of men of whom we now speak. That reformers are destined to exert a continued and increasing influence cannot be rationally doubted. Indeed they seem to be just bringing their machinery into good working order. It is therefore of momentous importance that they should be themselves fully and habitually under the influence of light and love. While their position demands this, it at the same time exposes them to powerful temptations to exclude love from their hearts. No set of men are placed in circumstances of greater provocation. Their calling keeps them ever in contact with odious forms of vice, they are assailed on the one hand by the violence or haughty disdain of the wrong-doer, on the other by the sighs of the wronged and suffering; they are cursed, maligned, threatened, persecuted; pulpits are denied them, school-house doors are slammed in their faces, and even the street, the last resort of unpopular lecturers, is begrudged them by the mob. Meanwhile the truth is as fire shut up in their bones, and they must speak. Under such circumstances what a baptism of love should not the reformer seek. It was in view of similar trials that Christ felt the necessity of cautioning his apostles against provocation, saying “'in your patience possess ye your souls."
It is certainly most unfortunate that the idea should have obtained that the reformer has a right to “ try what virtue there is in stones.” That he must be strongly tempted to return abuse for abuse, we readily see and freely admit. But that he ought to resist that temptation and be a pattern of meekness and love we most earnestly contend, for here alone lies the secret of his benign influence! That the opposer of licentiousness may sometimes, in the prosecution of his great work, be exposed to serious trials of his purity is very supposable; but shall he in consideration of his temptations have a prescriptive right to be licentious? God forbid! Of all men he must be
and if he cannot resist the force of the circumstances, that is “proof strong as holy writ” that he is not the man for that business. The same is true of all reformers. Without great love, love ruling in the heart, controlling the spirit, and commanding the sensibility, no talents, nor zeal, no light, no abhorrence of vice can qualify one to be a reformer. The man in whose bosom the abounding corruptions of the world excite impatience, bitterness, or any emotion incompatible with the spirit of love and the prayer of forgiveness, the man who finds it not in his heart to bless them that curse him,
and to suffer long with those who evilly entreat their fellowcreatures that man we aver is not fit to be a reformer. Let him by all means seal his lips, and lock himself up in his closet till he have sought and obtained from God - the wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.”
We repeat it, it is most lamentable that reformers should have been tacitly exempted by general consent from the law of love. There is an utterly false theory at the foundation of this which holds that the weapons of love would be inadequate to the harsh conflicts and unadapted to the kind of battles which the reformer has to wage; that his armor “should be made of sterner stuff;" that to require him to roll back the tide of corruption by the sweet breath of love, would be like compelling Hercules to cleanse the Augean stable with a chamber-maid's broom and dust cloth. All this is carnal. The sacred scriptures speak quite another story. They pointedly condemn this policy, they expressly forbid the use of carnal weapons, because they are weak, and declare that it is the spiritual weapons which are mighty to the pulling down of strong holds. They tell us that it is the gospel which is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation, and what is the gospel but a stupendous exhibition of constellated dight and love?
We have now done with the qualifications of moral leaders. Religious and reformatory movements as they have been conducted come next under review.
The religious history of our age has been marred with an almost uninterrupted series of commotions. Controversy has been rife, sects have been multiplied, these sects have subdivided into schools, and these schools in turn have broken their parent sects into two or more fragments, each claiming to be the true body, and excommunicating the others.
This work of strife has gone steadily onward till now division and schism have become the order of the day, in ecclesiastical bodies, in local churches, in families even, and the Head of the church only knows where it will stop. There is almost nothing which is not turned into a bone of contention. The churches
quarrel about doctrines, about rites, about forms, about apostolic succession, about measures, about missions, about revivals, about union, about government, about reforms, about human rights; and what is there that they do not quarrel about? Is it not mournfully evident that we have in our day a religion of far less love than light? Not that there is
too much light, but too little love! What is half so much called for at the present moment as a glorious baptism of love? We solemnly believe that the religious interest in our country has reached a crisis where nothing short of a mighty revival of love will save it from utter ruin. We invoke ministers of the gospel, we invoke religious editors, we invoke the churches of every name to lay down the weapons of mutual strife, and to seek once more the effusions of the spirit of love! The church in the world! What should it be? The refuge, the home, pay the sanctuary of light and love. From it should go forth their blended emanations to diffuse far and wide over a benighted and beligerent race the benefactions of a better world.
Of the numerous reformatory enterprises of the age-facts will warrant the declaration that not one of them was to the full extent started upon right principles. They were all modeled and conducted upon the principle, assumed as a moral axiom, that the outrageous wrongs and corruptions of which they were designed to reform society, demanded severe measures, necessitated and sanctioned a departure from the spirit of love. The reformers, like Jonah, felt that they did well to be angry. Bitter denunciation was baptized by the name of holy indignation. All-sweeping invective and undiscriminating abuse were really mistaken for faithful rebuke and moral courage. To hearken to caution was declared incipient apostacy. To interpose any prudential considerations, or intimations that the spirit savored of bitterness, was to expose the lackless wight to a shower of oral hailor newspaper brimstone, one of the lightest vollies of which stripped him at once of all part or lot in the spirit of reform.
It is an interesting inquiry, one fruitful in reflection to the christian mind, and which must engage the pen of the true historian who shall record the events of the first half of the nineteeth century-what have been the hidden sources of that bitterness and fanaticism which have wound their way into the bosom of the grandest movements of benevolence which have blessed the world since the Christian Era. Into this inquiry we shall not enter; but in passing we must advert to the sad reflection that the early adoption of the fatal maxim above mentioned, and the practical carrying it out in word and deed, scattered in the infant organizations the seeds of dissolution, whose fruits even thus early are beginning to ripen. Where we ask are the great National, Temperance, Anti-Slavery and Moral Reform Societies? But a few years since their mighty
hearts sent the pulsations of life from New York to the extremities of the country, but there was infused into that circulation an element which in the morn of their vigor has smitten them with decay. They are dismembered and redismembered, and what little of strength remains is expended in mutual hostilities. While we mourn over these unhappy divisions among
the friends of reform, and would be among the last to give them needless notoriety, yet we feel inclined to turn them to some good account by pointing them out as the fatal consequences of founding a reformatory movement upon light dissociated from love.
It may be here asked-how can light and love united be brought to bear upon a question of reform? We answer,
1. They are to operate upon the reformer himself. He must be a man of love as well as of light.
2. He must seek to produce love as well as to diffuse light.
3. In contemplating the evils to be reformed, he must view them through eyes of love as well as through a medium of light.
4. He must habitually inquire of love as well as of light, what end is to be aimed at, what measures are to be used, what spirit is to be exercised, what language employed.
5. In reference to his treatment of those who are guilty of the sin which he is opposing, he is to be governed by the joint counsels of light and love. Light alone is rash, irritable impatient, "puffed up” in itself and quite ready to deal insufferable blows” upon obstinate sinners. Least of all can light bear to repeat her lessons of duty to those who turn a deaf ear.
It is a word and a blow with light. This manifestly is not the way to deal with hardened men. Love must be added to light-love which suffereth long and is kind, love which giveth line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, love which in meekness instructeth them that oppose themselves.” Add love to light, and the reformer can handle any savage of a man just as faithfully as the truth requires. Nothing like the majesty of love to subdue, to awe, to melt a violent or an obstinate man. Clothe a reformer with light and love and he may go into the lions' den, and the monsters will crouch at his feet,
[It was the intention of the writer to devote considerable space to the discussion of a recently originated system of reform-popularly known by the name Come-out-ism—which with a specious logic and a zealous eloquence sets forth cers
tain doctrines wearing an air of high uncompromising principle, but subversive, as we think, of fundamental morality, and at war with both light and love. The limits of the present article forbids the completion of this design. The proposed discussion must therefore be deferred for the next Quarterly.]