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CHURCH ESTABLISHMENTS. What has a priesthood ever been! What, under any circumstances recorded in the world's history? As far back as we can go, wherever we can find any trace of a class of men thus separated from and factitiously raised above their fellow-creatures, with what are we presented but with scenes of equivocation, fraud, hypocrisy, imposition, and persecution ?
The priestcraft of antiquity ever aided oppression, often becoming itself the great oppressor; its frauds and exactions knew no bounds, and it fooled the credulity of the people to its topmost bent; while, by its corrupt and corrupting rites which were consecrated as worship, the work of demoralization was carried on, till civilized society seemed to be in danger of losing its distinctive superiority, and of becoming one great mass of worse than savage foulness and pollution.
But it may be said that this was in the days of heathenism, and that a priesthood becomes a purer institution now, for we are under the Christian dispensation.
We are under the Christian dispensation ; but when I look at that dispensation, when I regard its origin, when I refer to its founders and primeval annals, I do not find the establishment of a priesthood there. I see the Jewish and the heathen priesthood superseded by the Gospel; but Christ was not a priest; his apostles were not priests; they did not make priests; they were men, in simplicity and fervency, in the power of truth and in the wisdom of love, going forth to benefit their fellow men, and teaching them to unite together in voluntary associations to carry on the blessed work. But investiture with spiritual authority, the creation of authorized interpreters to stand between God's word and men's consciences—these are not in the New Testament; and he, who represents the priesthood as purified and amended by Christianity, has to learn, from the records of Christianity, that it might abolish, but that it never consecrated or established a priesthood.
But then the advocate for a priesthood may say, it might have been so in the first promulgation of Christianity, but that does not apply to the different circumstances in which it was placed when it had made its way in the world; then it was found that a priesthood was necessary, and that it must arise in the church. Very true, and it did arise in the church; and what fantastic tricks did it not play in the world, in the sight of heaven, and to the degradation of earth!' How rapid was its progress by means of false miracles, and other aids not less nefarious! How rapid was its progress to supremacy, over political power, over mental action, over moral feeling, over the social state of mankind, and over the hopes and apprehensions which are cherished in relation to futurity, until the head of that priesthood seemed to move as a god on earth, and with powers which the gods of antiquity had scarcely possessed in the imagination of the poets by whom they were described; a priesthood that trod on the necks of kings, that disposed of thrones, that for an offensive word would lay a parish, a province, a nation under interdict, would abolish all sacred rites, would put the whole population in a state of gross and grovelling humiliation, of deep and dark despair, until it bowed them into unconditional submission to its own tyrannical and unrelenting will.
But the advocate for a priesthood will say, this was corrected at the Reformation. And how corrected at the Reformation in this country? Why that, instead of a pontiff at the head of the church, there was a king at the head of the church; while the mighty chain that bound men's properties and souls was wrenched' from the papal footstool in order to fasten it to the throne of a licentious tyrant; and there was it firmly bound; and to the throne of his successors, from one to another, has the church remained bound; obliged at all times to recognize in whoever might be the sovereign of the country, one qualified to represent Christ on earth, to create ministers of religion, to vest with an authority which is pretended' in the title of those who hold that authority to be derived from God's grace, or, if the mitred man be an arelibishop, from Divine Providence; regality being the “grace" and the "parna vidence" by which these spiritual dignities are created and the functions connected with them exercised upon society.
The apologist for a priesthood may say again, that this is corrected by the freedom of our constitution and the institutions under which we live. And how is it corrected by them? That constitution, and those institutions, while they curbed regal authority, did so for a long period of time, only by setting up oligarchical authority, and bringing into play the power of aristocratical party ; binding men together in different factions, who regarded all the offices in the state, and the right of taxing the state, as the prize for which they were to struggle, in conflicts which often resembled rather the friendly sport of a village May-game than serious warfare, especially when only principle and public peace and freedom were at stake. And in these proceedings the church was ever entangled, itself transformed into a faction also-having its own separate party spirit and aims, and too often leaguing with other parties to sustain their corruptions by a mutual and base barter; both acting in opposition to the general rights of the great mass of the people which was altogether unremembered and unregarded in these political arrangements.
Is it said by the apologist that this evil is mitigated by the toleration of dissent and by the holy emulation thus produced ? I allow there has been some correction here; but to how small an extent, and by what means? What has been the result? Has it made the clerical profession the simple heartfelt originators of schemes of benevolence, or led them to aid those schemes till they were driven to the adoption of their semblance by the very spirit of opposition, or competition? Has it ever made them as zealous, as devout, as unceasing in their attentions to the poor, to the poorest and the lowest classes, as the methodist preachers of England, and the catholic priests of Ireland ? Has it ever identified them with the feelings, religious and political, of the middle classes, as the dissenting minister is identified ? Has it ever inspired them to act efficiently upon those higher classes which are represented as the exclusive province of their usefulness, and enabled them to point, as their work, to a pure and patriotic, a virtuous and devout aristocracy? Nothing of all this; it has only put them in an adverse position to what appeared the growing good of other classes, and led them to wage a sectarian warfare, keeping up animosities that ought to have been buried in eternal oblivion.
Is it said these evils will be corrected by the recent reforms in the institutions of the country, and by the results which necessarily follow from that reformation? Ay, to be sure they will be, when the clerical profession can no longer put a stop to such corrections; they will be when the corrupt parties and factions with which the clerical profession is too often in alliance shall be also unable to resist the flowing tide of public opinion, demanding that what exists by the people shall exist for the people also; and that there shall be, not a nominal, but a real and efficient church reform, that shall reduce pay to the appropriate wages of meritorious service; a church reform that shall destroy all distinctions and influences that are incompatible with the public good; a church reform that shall demand service that will benefit men's minds, that will advance their useful knowledge in this life, and their rational anticipation of another-solid food, instead of the empty babbling of dogma and controversy ; a church reform that shall realise national education, adult instruction, and whatever of spiritual culture the country can have provided for it out of the ample and glorious funds which exist as a national provision for that purpose.
Most deeply to be lamented is it, that in this, or in any other case whatever, religion should have been degraded into a trade. Here is the essence of the evil; here is the fruitful source of all the various species of immorality, the temptations to which I have been endeavouring thus briefly and rapidly to sketch. Never should any man-I will not say who values religion himself, but any man who values the well-being of society, consent to arrangements which degrade into a trade that religion which is in itself most pure, spiritual, and ethereal; which is too fine in its essence, too elevated in its attributes, and in its influence on the mind and the heart, thus to be entangled in the grossest and most corrupting of human concerns; that religion which owes its power to its being so properly an individual concern; entering into man's mind as a principle from heaven, with authority to command all movements of the intellect, all feelings of the heart, and all actions of life; regulating in solitude and in society that which he is to be and to do, and forming in him the moral image of his Maker; religion which is at once most worldly and most unworldly; most worldly, because there is not a concern of human interest, not an action of human energy, not a relation of human being, however trifling and temporary, to which its power does not extend, and in which it should not render man better in himself and the source of more abundant blessing to others; and most unworldly, because, while thus conversant with all the things of earth and of time, it breathes the spirit of immortality, points upwards to Heaven and God, and bids man look forward to eternity.
W. J. Fox,
THE ART OF WAR. I GAVE him a description of cannons, culverins, musquets, carabines, pistols, bullets, powder, swords, bayonets, sieges, retreats, attacks, undermines, countermines, bombardments, sea-fights: ships sunk with a thousand men, twenty thousand killed on each side; dying groans, limbs flying in the air
, smokė, noise, confusion, trampling to death under horses' feet; flight, pursuit, victory fields strewed with carcases left for food to dogs, and wolves, and birds of prey; plundering, stripping, ravishing, burning, and destroying. And to set forth the valour of my own dear countrymen, I assured him, that I had seen them blow up a hundred enemies at once in a siege, and as many in a ship, and beheld the dead bodies come down in pieces from the clouds, to the great diversion of the spectators. I was going on to more particulars, when my master commanded me silence. He said, whoever understood the nature of Yahoos,* might easily believe it possible for so vile an animal to be capable of every action I had named, if their strength and cunning equalled their malice. But as my discourse had increased his abhorrence of the whole species, so I found it gave him a disturbance in his mind, to which he was wholly'a stranger before. He thought his ears, being used to such abominable words, might by degrees admit them with less detestation. That, although he hated the Yahoos of his country, yet he no more blamed them for their odious qualities, than he did a Gnnayh (a bird of prey) for its cruelty, or a sharp stone for cutting his hoof. But when a creature, pretending to reason, could be capable of such enormities, he dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be worse than brutality itself. He seemed therefore confident, that instead of reason, we were only possessed of some faculty fitted to increase our natural vices; as the reflection from a troubled stream returns the image of an ill-shapen body, not only larger, but more distorted.-Swift.
Effects of the unequal Distribution of Property.Sometimes in Ireland whole districts have been reduced to the very lowest state of existence; and while they have been on the brink of starvation, while they have even been glad to stop the craving of their stomachs with sea-weed, or with any unnutritious diet that may have been thrown in their way—even at this moment ships have been loading with wheat to be exported to other countries, and cattle have been driven through ranks, through staring and starving ranks of peasantry, in order to be sold and sent to other lands. All this may be unavoidable in certain conjunctures, as things are at present ordered, but it exhibits a condition of humanity fruitful in moral mischief of the worst description. Such a state of misery at once indicates a cause, and furnishes a palliation that must reach every heart, for whatever species of vice those subjected to it may unhappily plunge into.-W.J. Fox.
• A monster possessing the form of man.
A FEW WORDS ON A TRACT EXTENSIVELY CIRCULATED BY THE WES
LEYAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY, ENTITLED—"HINTS TO THOSE WHO ASK, WHY SHOULD I CONTRIBUTE TO SUPPORT MISSIONS TO THE HEATHEN?" “What are the objects of such Missions ? To banish Pagan ignorance, Pagan vices, and Pagan cruelties, from the earth.-Have not such objects been already accomplished, to a certain extent, in various parts of the Heathen World? This is indisputable. Many no longer worship idols; no longer destroy each other, &c. &c.” Let us reply to these lying supporters of Missions, supported by Missions too. It is indisputable that if such objects have been accomplished, they are not within the reach of public observation. Throughout Christendom men worship idols-wealth and power, intolerance and selfishness; and, through their idolatries, continually destroy each other. Can we believe those who support these vices and cruelties at home, when they tell us that the same false teaching produces such opposite effects elsewhere? Why should we go to far lands to test their statements? Listen again to the Missionary !
“ Are you a man?-Do you not then shudder at all the miseries, and oppressions, and murders, which heathenism is daily practising, and thich christianity brings to an end wherever it prevails ? " On the principle of common HUMANITY and SYMPATHY, you will then surely feel an interest in Missions, nor suffer the cry of slaughtered widows and children, and the voice of distress pouring out its wailings from all lands, to reach your ears in vain.”—Has no cry reached our ears from Canada ? Yet Canada was a Christian country; and, they, who made Canada a slaughter-house, who burned Canadian villages, were supporters of Missions. Does Christianity. put an end to miseries and oppressions, and murders? even in the home of Missionaries? O ye heart-broken, ye people of famine, ye naked slaves of incessant misery, whom well-fed and well-clad Committees of Missions to the Heathen leave to perish in inclement wretchedness, though they would rob you of your last mite-ye English labourers, to whom WESLEY (honour to his great name!) preached the Gospel of Redemption--answer, if the Christianity of your task-masters has brought your miseries to an end! Ask these hypocrites, who talk of converting the heathen, what they have done to prevent the trampling of unchristian power and of unchristian wealth over your worn hearts? Bid them convert the throned idolaters at home!
“ Are you a Briton? Shall we enjoy the advantages of that extensive commerce which so vast an empire gives to us; shall we revel in the luxuries of the West and of the East; shall we turn every colony to gain? and shall we neglect the souls of our fellow subjects? As a Briton you are bound to support Missions, and BY THEM to fill the whole empire with the blessings of that Christianity we enjoy at hmne.”—Let the oppressed Hindoo, let the abused West-Indian Slave, answer !-- No, ye whited sepulchres! No, ye hypocritical carers for men's souls! ye shall not enjoy the advantages of which ye have infamously defrauded us; ye shall not revel in luxuries which have grown out of our miseries—the luxuries of the West and of the East; ye shall not make a money-gain of any colony! As Christians, ye are bound to follow the commands of Christ, " or you offer vain service, and mock God.” “GIVE UNTO THE POOR-FREELY GIVE!" Mock us not with promises of heaven, while ye make a hell of earth! Give us bread-not stones; present happiness--not valueless words; justice--rather than " the blessings of that Christianity” which is “enjoyed”in your island home; that “ Christianity" which permitted British adventurers to become slave-holders and pirates, murderers and thieves, which sent you to convert “idolaters” more honest and less vitensive than yourselves !
“ Are you à Christian Child? But for the blessed Gospel, you had scurcely known your parents' tender love. You would have been a worshipper of the ugly, gloomy gods of Paganism. You might have been cast into a river, or turned out to perish in a wood ; or, if not, you would have grown up in ignorance, vice, and misery. You would have had no education;" &c. &c.-Pagan Mother! Pagan Lawgiver! tell these slanderers, that it was in a Christian land that the Book of Murder was written, that the New Poor-Law is inforced; that, in the land whence Missionaries depart to seek sinners whom they may convert from the error of their ways, it was seriously recommended to murder the children of the poor, it was determined by the legislature that the poor had no right to existence; that there mothers are forced, by the tyranny of the law and of society, even with their own hands to murder their offspring; that there whole families are “educated” for prostitution; that there generation after generation grow up in ignorance, vice, and misery :-“O favoured Christian families ! Families whom Jesus loves's --and whom Missionaries neglect! “BUT MISSIONS ARE CREATING MANY SUCH FAMILIES !" Back! ye zealous Missionaries ! back to the “Sea-Sodom” whose sons ye are! seek ye there, even among the fools who support you, for righteousness and for religion! When ye have found one upright Christian, one Christlike man, who neither lieth nor over-reacheth, who designedly wrongeth not his neighbour-one who is not priest, or trader, or wealthidolater: when ye have found but one such man, leave him to convert his brother Christians; and go ye then, if ye must, among the heathen. Your lukewarmness may then be spared here. O ye converters of idolaters! tell them in far lands of the blessings of your Christian home-Wars, extravagant taxation, all the chicanery and immorality of trade, poor-laws, prisons, childmurder, prostitution, tithes, church-rates, game-laws, corn-laws, legal and illegal robberies, hereditary paid worthlessness, and hereditary poverty and suffering, selfishness, strife, hatred, and insecurity---tell the heathen of these things; and bid them leave their “ gloomy gods, their idolatry, and all its polluting and degrading superstitions,” to follow the innocent, the beautiful, the delightful practices of earnest Christians, the consciencious supporters of Missions.
It is easy to convy a lie in the words of truth.-- Franklin.
The two Principles.—There are two principles in continual operation in the human being, the selfish and the sympathetic. The selfish is productive of pleasure of a certain kind. The sympathetic is productive of pleasure of another kind. The selfish is primary and essential; the sympathetic, arising out of the selfish, is superadded to it. The sympathetic principle is nobler than the selfish, whence the selfish is subservient to the sympathetic; but there is not only no opposition, hostility, or antagonism between them, but the strictest possible connection, dependence and subservience; and whatever is conducive to the true end of the selfish, is equally conducive to the true end of the sympathetic principle. Any attempt to extend the selfish principle beyond what is compatible with the perfection of the sympathetic, or the sympathetic beyond what is compatible with the perfection of the selfish, instead of accomplishing the end in view, only produces mental disease. Opposing and jarring action, antagonizing and mutually destructive powers, are combined in no other work of nature; and it would be wonderful, indeed, were the only instance of it found in man, the noblest of her works, and in the mind of man, the noblest part of her noblest work.
No one supposes that there is any such inharmonious combination in the organization of his physical frame, and the notion that it exists in his mental constitution, as it is founded in the grossest ignorance, so it is productive of incalculable mischief.--Dr. Southwood Smith's Philosophy of Health.