« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
and its presentation to the heart. The exclusive sphere of the Will is perpetual action in harmony with truth known, and the continued employment of the intelligence in the discovery of the unknown; while the equally exclusive sphere of the Sensibility is to delight in the former, and through the influence of desire to impel the Will in directing the Intellect in search of the latter. The true idea of education is mental developement in fixed correlation to this great end. That individual alone, whose powers are developed in correlation to this end, is, in the highest and most appropriate sense, an educated man or woman.
7. We are now prepared for a distinct apprehension of the great mistake of the Church in the education of her sons and daughters. Of all places in the universe the Church should be the school in which education should know no other form than that above presented. A Grecian mother said to her són, as he was about to go forth to the field of death“ return with your shield
it.” A far nobler sentiment should the Church impress upon all her sons, and daughters too, to wit, "Buy the truth and sell it not.”. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Let truth be the everlasting dwelling place of your souls. Ever walk about among "its cloudcapt towers, its gorgeous palaces, and solemn temples,” and there receive its divine forms into your hearts. When the Church has educated such a son, she can say with truth, “ I have gotten a MAN from the Lord.”
“An honest man's the noblest work of God." But how different and opposite is “ the pattern” after which the Church does in fact educate the sons and daughters God has given her. Every sect called Christian has “its frame work of faith thrown around the Bible," a frame work within which all truth must be found, and without, and especially in opposition to which, it is high treason to find a single truth, even in the word of God itself. Every “thus saith the Lord," every declaration even of the “ law and testimony,” must be understood to mean nothing more nor less than what the creed previously put into the hands of the pupil says they do mean. The aim of the sects is, not to render their pupils independent thinkers, honest hearted lovers of truth for its own sake, but to secure an assent to a particular creed. The result is what might be expected. Mere assent to prescribed formulas is esteemed, far more highly than universal honest-heartedness-honest-heartedness evinced in traversing the universe in an untrammeled research for truth. No man of the required intellectual attainments, and who avows adherence to the prescribed creed, is denied a place in the ministry for want of spirituality; while men universally known and acknowledged as the most deeply read in all that pertains to Christian experience, men whose honest hearted love of truth none pretend to surpass, are deposed from the sacred office, for simple dissent from some admitted non-essential article of the “ Confession of Faith.” The Church, instead of valuing above all price free independent thought, an impartial and universal love of truth, instead of demanding it as an indispensable prerequisite of admission to 6 holy orders,” dreads the prevalence of this spirit as she does the desolating pestilence. Hence upon fow subjects dare even her leaders think for themselves and speak just what they think. Manly independence of thought, speech and action is a jewel almost as rare as consistency itself. No other result could arise from the system of education adopted by the Church. The child, for example, as soon as he can repeat words at all, must commit to memory a system of catechetical instruction of the real import of which he is as blankly ignorant as he is of Greek or Hebrew. The young convert, at his admission to the Church, is made to avow his belief in a system of doctrines which he really understands about as well as the child does his catechism. The candidate for the ministry passes through his entire course of College and Theological education with the conviction pressing upon his mind, that if, as the result of his investigations, he does not find a certain prescribed system of doctrine true, all access to the sacred office is barred against him, and his hopes for life are completely blasted. He assumes the duties of his high vocation with a public oath to be sure, to 6 hear the word at the mouth of God, and to warn the people from him," but with the full assurance at the same time, that if, at any future period of his life, he should fail to be able to pronounce fully the shibboleth of his sect, he is to be crushed under the weight of ecclesiastical rebuke and deposition. Where is the place for independent thought and action under such a system? We might ask with solemn emphasis, where is the place for the formation of a character truly Christian? We would earnestly commend to all candidates for the ministry, the following noble sentiment of the immortal Dante." In the course of this my pilgrimage, I have heard things, which, if I tell again, may bitterly disrelish with many. Yet, on the other hand, if I prove but a
timid friend to truth, I fear I shall not survive with the generations, by whom the present times will be called times of old.” To us, a vision into the future still more distant opens, disclosing to us scenes of far deeper and more solemn interest. For ourselves, we would much rather have the artillery of the entire universe directed against us, than to have this thought light upon our souls at that time, that we had failed to maintain the most sacred aim to know the whole truth just as God had revealed it, irrespective of all other considerations, and to give to the world an undisguised report of what God had taught us.
8. We should do injustice to our feelings, did we fail to notice what we regard as a great mistake of the ministry generally, in the system of policy commonly adopted in respect to the so called advocates of error, of whom the present era abounds. It is one of the necessary characters istics of dissent, that it assails one or more articles of the common faith. Truth has its foundation in reason and fact. The grand characteristic that distinguishes it from error in all its forms, is that the former alone will stand the test of rigid investigation. Truth seeks the light. Error shuns it , always aiming to approach no nearer than into the twilight, where objects are not what their seeming shows." Hence, while the friends of truth should in no case allow themselves in bitter altercations, they should never fear or shun the collision of truth with error. They should every where court with the public an open and fundamental investigation of the foundation of every article of their faith, together with a most rigid scrutiny of its validity, as contrasted with that of the opposite sentiments. The moment they betray fear or hesitation, in respect to meeting such a crisis, they give to their opinions the appearance of error, and to the opposite dogmas that of truth. No greater advantage can be given to the advocates of error, or to dissent in all its forms, than is furnished by a refusal on the part of the advocates of the common faith, to meet the subject on the ground of free and open discussion.
Here lies, as we suppose, the grand mistake of the ministry generally. Dissenters from received dogmas are commonly treated alike. Instead of being met on the arena of open and free discusssion, they are generally treated, whatever their character, with silent contempt. A hearing, as far as possible, is denied them, and a stern refusal is maintained to meet and answer their arguments; while contempt and
scorn is heaped upon all who are disposed to hear them, and ecclesiastical rebuke and excommunication denounced against those who would embrace their opinions. Appeals to prejudice and party spirit, together with mis-representation, instead of reason and sound argument, are the weapons commonly employed to hold the Church in the embrace of old opinions, and to prevent the reception on her part of new ones whether true or false. In a diligent and prayerful study of the scriptures, for example, an individual finds himself in the presence of an aspect of truth to which he had not before attained. The new view presents itself to him as “worthy of all acceptation.” He lays open his heart to his brethren with the assurance, that, as friends of truth, they will at least give him a candid hearing. Instead of this he is every where met with a cold repellency. In all directions around him he finds it whispered abroad that he is a Pelagian, a Perfectionist, a heretic, a dark and wild fanatic. The pulpit is closed to him, and all are warned against giving him a hearing. This is no fancy picture, but a matter of every day experience and observation. What is the inevitable result of such a procedure?
A strong and almost irresistable temptation, in the first place, is thrown in the way of the dissenter to become vexed in spirit, and finally a declared foe of all existing organizations. We here affirm the solemn conviction that the Church alone, and the ministry primarily are responsible for the desolating evils of Come-outism, and all the other forms of wild fanaticism with which the present age is cursed. The influence
those who remain in the embrace of old opinions is no less deleterious. Dissent, whether it pertains to truth or error, is rejected and contemned, and these without any intelligent reason for doing either, that is, in a state of similar ignorance of the nature of both. An unintelligent act, where a deliberate one is demanded, which is the case in all instances such as we are now considering, is always sinful, whether in the direction of truth or error. A fearful curse is denounced in the scriptures against the individual who speaks evil of that which he understands not." We subject ourselves to this denunciation when we reject either truth or error in a state of ignorance of its nature. This is one of the fearful evils which the ministry is, to an alarming extent, entailing upon the Church.
The same course also induces an equally unintelligent and consequently criminal assent to received formulas, whether
in themselves true or false. When we subscribe to an instrument we are required both by reason and scripture, to “know whereof we affirm.” Blind, unintelligent assent is criminal, whatever its direction may be. The common course pursued by the ministry, in the circumstances we are considering, tends to secure no other form of assent to the opinions they themselves hold than this. It necessitates the Church to resist the influences to which she is subject, or to sin against God.
The ministry also, in the course they pursue, let slip the best possible opportunity to impress deeply their own opinions, if they are true, upon the public mind. Whenever any particular doctrine is assailed, the public of course become, in a corresponding degree, interested in it. If the ministry would, at such a crisis, step forth and explain and vindicate the truth against the objections with which it is assailed, it would ever after be far better understood, and consequently have a stronger hold upon the public mind, and especially upon the heart of the Church, than it had before. No scribe “WELL INSTRUCTED” will let slip such golden opportunities. If, on the other hand, these objections remain unanswered, they will have their effect even upon those minds which are not fully carried over by them. They will ultimately induce a kind of general scepticism in respect to all truth. Error will appear at least to be as well supported as the truth, and both alike will cease to have a strong influence upon the general conscience. We are now, if we have rightly read the signs of the times, witnessing precisely these results in the universally powerless influence of the truth preached upon the public mind. The course generally pursued by the ministry tends to no other result.
We may refer, in illustration of the above remarks, to the course pursued in respect to the late Second Advent delusion, which from the first none more promptly opposed than ourselves. When the doctrines of Mr. Miller were being proclaimed in the length and breadth of the land, one important result was produced. A universal interest was excited in the Prophecies. To understand aright this department of the sacred volume became a great wantof the entire Church. Had the ministry at that crisis set themselves to a more profound study of the subject, and had they come out and exposed the grounds of the existing delusion on the one hand, and set forth the truth on the other, one desirable result would have been secured. The subject itself would be far better understood