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dred years since, a few did nearly all the labor. We have now even a History of England, written by a dozen different hands; while Libraries innumerable, the result of joint labors, flow from the press.
The second class of Societies consists of those who gather numbers, in order, by numbers, to affect the minds of men, as well to act more efficiently for some one object. Such are the Temperance, Abolition, and various Educational Societies.
The third class consists of those which aim to unite men by acquaintance, common interests, and brotherly sympathy; not for any one especial object, but for the wide purpose of banding together in the cause of learning and religion those throughout the whole country, whose minds and hearts are free to take an interest in such things.
Religious faith is the basis of all social and all individual good. But religious faith will no more rest on authority in this land. Think of it what we may, individual opinion, and not the decision of a Church, must give us our religion. There is something in this application of individualism to Religion, which is startling and terrible; and no wonder that many are looking to Rome again, as to the single beacon-fire, which still stands above this heaving sea of opinion, doubt, and denial: the Eddystone of the ocean of religious controversy. To us it appears they look in vain; that beacon-fire, to which the world once owed its escape from shipwreck, is doomed, as we think, to extinction, though the very storm which will overwhelm it at last, may for the time make it burn the brighter. To us it seems that the whole course of things is toward the overthrow of authority, and the fullest reception of the doctrine of the Reformation. Where, then, is our safety? Upon what can our religious faith rest in this land? It must be upon the extension of intelligence and virtue, and upon the influence of true and good men over the ignorant and low.
Through schools, through lectures, through the Press, by professional labors, intelligence, reverence for what is venerable, respect for what is good, love for what is beautiful, must be spread abroad. And who can do it? The educated men; and they only by concert and union. The writers of our country must feel themselves called on to work for their country and mankind. Literature must cease to be an amusement, a mere pass-time, an ornamental thing, a luxury; it must lose its lightness, and become serious, for by it are to be worked out serious results. Books have become our pulpits, and news. papers our shrines for daily resort; if at those shrines we wor
ship Mammon or Lucifer, and not the true God, woe, woe to us and to our country.
I cannot think it a dream, then, that in our land Religion must depend upon the diffusion of Truth and Goodness, mainly through the medium of associated action.
Man, weak and sinful as he is, cannot possess even Truth without making poison from it, as he makes whiskey from corn: the water of death from the staff of life. In his hands freedom is distilled over into libertinism, and unshackled thought ferments, and becomes scepticism and atheism. Can this be prevented? Will external authority, political and ecclesiastical, prevent it? We think History proves it will not: we believe it, at any rate, hopeless to control by authority, in our time and in the United States. We see no course open for escape, except un wearied toil on the part of those who see our dangers,
to spread, first, Christian faith, and second, thorough learning
To aid in spreading these, we believe God has given birth to the associated efforts of the day: we look upon them as vital forms of organization, destined, in connection with the scattered fragments of the Church, and the labors of individual men, to supply for a season the place of that united, and truly Catholic Church which, in God's own good time, may bring into one fold again the scattered sheep of our Savior.
J. H, P.
Some blessed spirit from the world of love,
Dwells with the purely beautiful of earth,
And giving holiest aspirations birth.
My heart as in a chain of heavenly gold,
Nought that is borrowed of terrestrial mould?
Far from love's sacred fountains issuing deep;
That float, immortal, through an angel's sleep;
Thoughts, far above the earth, like mountain snow Long seen at night, and faintly touched by day's expiring
glow. APRIL 14, 1829.
MULTIPLICATION OF SECTS IN RELIGION.
Among the great features of the present day, the multiplication of sects is one of the most remarkable. We will not undertake to say how far the Roman Catholic Church remains entire. It has the reputation of great unity, and it is upon this fact that its advocates base their strongest popular argument, viz., that discord and diversity of opinion dweil with error, but union and constancy with truth; and that, say they, is to be found no where but in their church. We shall sift this argument hereafter. We admit now, that the national churches of England and Scotland have been crumbling for the last half century. The tower that Protestantism reared has been beaten by the waters of the sea. Mass after mass has fallen, and these masses have formed other terra firma, which time has covered with verdure, and again the waters have divided them—the ever restless waters!
The Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Baptist, the Methodist Churches, have each, as time rolled on, suffered the fate of the Roman Catholic, and have been invaded, within their lesser supremacies, by lesser reformations. Even the kindly Quakers have not been able to preserve their peaceful walls from angry discussion, and their holy tabernacle has been rent, not without bitter feelings, into two opposing masses.
It is of the utmost importance to remark here, that these controversies have not been between those who cared for religion on the one hand and those who did not care for it on the other. If these churches had thus, as it were, decayed to pieces, it would be a sad omen indeed for Christianity. They have rather been protestantized into parts; and Protestantism is a vital principle. The disputes are between those who have thought and felt deeply upon the doctrines they severally advocate, and who contend for truths honestly believed by them to be important to the cause of faith and goodness.
Keeping this remark in view, we enter more cheerfully upon the question, what means all this discord and diversity of opinion? Whence is it, and whither tends it?
The infidel triumphantly answers that it disposes at once of the truth of Christianity. The Roman Catholic as triumphantly answers that it shews the fatal error of separating from the faith and discipline of Rome, where all is unity and constancy.
The new churchman, on the other hand, hails this breaking up of the boasted creeds of powerful sects, as a signal that the
Old Church is dead, and that the New Jerusalem is descending upon earth as predicted in the Apocalypse.
Thus, each party interprets this great fact as the harbinger of triumph to the cause he advocates. Nay, each so announces it to the other, and that with the most perfect seriousness. But with what eyes would a Christian, who is not a partizan, regard it? We think, as the evidence of three things, first, that as the world grows better informed in externals, it begins to inquire more into the spiritual; second, that the power of one man or body of men to oblige another man or body of men to interpret the meaning of Scripture as they choose to dictate, is unquestionably diminished; third, that their disposition to do this is unfortunately not diminishing in the same ratio. All agree that the Bible, rightly understood, is the true rule of life and faith. The only question among Christians is, who shall interpret that Bible! We say, let each man interpret it for himself, aided therein, but not compelled thereto, by his neighbor. Not so say the creedists and influential churchmen-or rather, not so act they, by which we conclude, not so feel they. And here lies the reason why a great sect divides with so much ill feeling and moral mischief. When the Roman Church was thus divided, at the war (we might almost call it) of the Reformation, was it not because Rome asserted that monstrous claim, the right of her priesthood to interpret the Bible for all men forever? And is she not still asserting that claim? When the Presbyterian Church was thus divided into two hostile portions, was it not because she (though Protestant) asserted the same right? And is it not so with the Episcopalian, the Baptist, and the Methodist Churches? Here then lies the cause of the dissentions attending upon diversity of opinion. We do not wish men to be indifferent to each other's opinions. That were far worse. But we say they should not be angry with each other. They would each and all deny this fact, we know; but the fact is one of daily and hourly occurrence, and the denial only proves that it is felt to be disparaging to reason, dignity, conscience and Christianity. But it lies too deep in the self-love of the poor human heart to be easily given up. What a weapon it places in the hands of the scoffer at Christianity! It accounts also for a phenomenon which otherwise might astonish us all—the continued popularity of the Roman Catholic Church. As long as the rest of Christendom continues vexed by the dissensions of anger for opinion's sake, so long will Řome hold her own; because the honest Papist prefers remaining in the bosom of one Pope, who seems to have some claim upon him, to rushing into the arms of five hundred self-constituted dictators. We are all Popes: at least, too many of us have that very spirit which we profess to protest against in Rome, viz., the spirit of excommunication; and we defend it by precisely the same arguments. We refuse to partake of the Lord's supper with those who refuse to permit us to interpret the Bible for them: nay, though we know them to be men of truth, professing to believe in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth and the life,"—though we know of no stain upon their characters, but see them daily worshipping God, and doing good, and nothing but good, to their neighbor; -monstrous as this inconsistency seems, it is still more monstrous to charge upon them a sin, in not permitting us, who are as weak and fallible as they, to interpret the Bible for them; and what is most monstrous of all, we do this in anger!
This accounts for the dissensions among sects; but as a cause, it has of course nothing to do with creating difference of opinion. That may exist without dissention, and ought to. The spirit of truth may be equally sincere in two minds, yet they may come to very opposite opinions. But the spirit of love, which is equally important, may nevertheless unite them as brothers, at the table of the Lord. Indeed, indeed it should be so; and we wish, in this publication, to bring men's minds to this point Faith, Hope, Charity; but the greatest of these is charity.”
THE TWO COMMANDMENTS.
"Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Lore!
The grand morality is love of Thee!" It has been said that the Unitarians, as a body, exalt the human intellect,lay great stress on good works and on a purely moral and innocent life. They have been called a "second commandment people,” hoping to win their way to Heaven by doing their duty to their neighbour. The Religion that sinks in the dust and ashes and rises to set its affections on things above-the religion of a broken heart and self-humiliationthe religion that is daily sustained by prayer and meditation, is little preached, it is said, and less understood among them. If these positions be true, which we are not prepared to admit, how egregiously do they err, what strange inconsistency in supposing the heart can go out of itself, so that its chief