« السابقةمتابعة »
IT IS GOOD TO BE HERE.
METHINKS it is good to be here,
Nor Elias, nor Moses appear,
But the shadows of eve that encompass the gloom,
Shall we build to Ambition? Ah! no;
For see! they would pin him below
To a small narrow cave, and begirt with cold clay,
To Beauty? Ah! no; she forgets
Nor knows the foul worm that he frets
And here's neither dress nor adornment allowed,
Who hid in their turns have been hid;
The treasures are squander'd again;
Ah! here is a plentiful board,
But the guests are all mute as their pitiful cheer,
Shall we build to Affection and Love?
Or fled with the spirit above,
Friends, brothers, and sisters, are laid side by side,
Unto Sorrow? The dead cannot grieve;
Which compassion itself could relieve;
Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love, or fear,
Unto Death, to whom monarchs must bow?
And here there are trophies enow;
The first tabernacle to Hope we will build,
The second to Faith, which ensures it fulfill'd; And the third to the Lamb of the great sacrifice, Who bequeath'd us them both when He rose to the skies. KNOWLES.
The Reluctant Confession of an Infidel. It is stated, in the "Life of Dr Beattie," by Sir W. Forbes, that Mr Hume was one day boasting to Dr Gregory, that, among his disciples in Edinburgh, he had the honour to reckon many of the fair sex. "Now tell me," said the doctor," whether, if you had a wife or daughter, you would wish them to be your disciples? Think well before you answer me; for I assure you, that whatever your answer is, I will not conceal it." Mr Hume, with a smile, and some hesitation, made this reply:"No; I believe scepticism may be too sturdy a virtue for a woman."
Who hath Believed our Report?-In a sermon to young men, delivered at the request of the Philadelphia Institute, Dr Bedell said, "I have now been nearly twenty years in the ministry of the Gospel, and I here publicly state to you, that I do not believe I could enumerate three persons, over fifty years of age, whom I have ever heard ask the solemn and eternally momen tous question, "What shall I do to be saved?"
A South Sea Islander.-Mr Nott, a missionary in the South Sea Islands, having read on one occasion the third chapter of the Gospel by John to a number of the natives, some of them appeared deeply impressed. When he had finished the 16th verse, one of them, much affected, interrupted him, asking, "What words were those you read? what sounds were those I heard? Let me hear those words again." Mr Nott again read the verse, "God so loved," &c., when the poor pagan rose from his seat and said, "Is that true? can that be true? God love the world, when the world not love him! God so loved the world, as to give his Son to die! that man might not die! can that be true?" Mr Nott read the verse again, told him it was true, and that it was the message God had sent to them, and that whosoever believeth in him, would not perish, but be happy after death. The overwhelming feelings of the wondering pagan were too powerful for expression or for restraint. At length he burst into tears; and as these rolled down his dark visage, he withdrew, to meditate in private on the amazing love of God, which had that day touched his soul; and there was every reason to believe, that he was afterwards raised to share the joys of divine peace, the fruit of the love of God shed abroad in his heart.
A Rabbi.-When the late Rev. Claudius Buchanan was travelling in India, he obtained from the Jews in the interior of that country a very singular copy of the translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, made in the sixteenth century. The translator was a learned Rabbi, and the translation is, in general, faithful. The design of the translator was to make an accurate version of the New Testament, for the express purpose of confuting it, and of repelling the arguments of his neighbours, the Syrian, or St. Thomé, Christians. But be hold the providence of God! the translator became himself a convert to Christianity: his own work subdued his unbelief; and he lived and died in the faith of Christ. This manuscript is now in the public library at Cambridge.
Princess Anne.-When the Princess Anne, daughter of Charles the First, who died the 8th of December, 16-10, lay upon her death-bed, and nature was almost spent, she was requested by one of her attendants to pray: she said that she was not able to say her long prayer, meaning the Lord's Prayer, but she would say her short one, Lighten mine eyes, O Lord, that I sleep not the sleep of death." The little creature had no sooner pronounced these words, than she expired: she was not quite four years of age.
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SCOTTISH CHRISTIAN HERALD,
CONDUCTED UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF MINISTERS AND MEMBERS OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
"THE FEAR OF the lord, THAT IS WISDOM."
VOL. I. No. 16.
SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 1836.
ON THE ADVANTAGES TO BE DERIVED BY THE CHRISTIAN FROM THE STUDY OF NATURAL SCIENCE.
BY THE REV. JAMES BRODIE,
Minister of Monimail.
It is generally allowed in the present day, that the advancement of education is the best means of promoting the happiness of man. The public attention is turned to the erection of schools and other seminaries of learning; the labours of the ingenious are employed in facilitating the acquisition of knowledge, and the resources of wealth and influence are engaged in promoting the instruction of the young and of the labouring classes of society. And the mind must be dark, that does not approve of the object proposed; and the heart must be hard, that does not wish it success.
While, however, all unite with Solomon in saying "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom;" very different opinions are entertained with respect to the kind of knowledge that should be disseminated. Some earnestly urge the establishment of schools in which the various branches of human learning may be taught, while religious education is excluded from their scheme. Others are zealous for the diffusion of Gospel truth, who look with suspicion on human learning, and regard the study, more especially, of natural science with distrust.
There is an error in either extreme, and a few observations on the advantages severally resulting from these pursuits, may tend by the blessing of God to reconcile the parties, and lead them to see, that "these they ought to have done, and not leave the other undone."
The study of science, that is, the examination of the works of nature, is one of the most delightful employments that can engage our attention. There are in it subjects suited to every peculiarity of intellect; facts, for the observer to discover, and general laws, for the philosopher to elucidate. It lifts the soul above the grovelling pleasures of sense, by giving a taste for higher enjoyments. It expands, refines, and elevates the mind.
It is true, that when improperly engaged in, the pursuit will not prove beneficial. If knowledge puff up instead of edifying, then the study of
science will be injurious, and the study of Scripture may prove a curse. If we examine the wonders of the material universe while we continue unmindful of Him who made them, our reasonings may lead to infidelity or deism; but if we are careful to trace the hand of God in all his works, we will rise from the examination of the creature, filled with admiration of the great Creator. When we look up unto the heavens, and consider the moon and the stars, which God hath ordained, we will, like David, exclaim, "How excellent is thy name in all the earth!" and, "What is man that thou art mindful of him!" When, in conformity to our Saviour's counsel, we "behold the lilies of the field, how they grow," and "consider the fowls of the air, how they are fed," by them we will be taught the workings of providence, and learn to trust in our heavenly Father's care.
But while the acquisition of useful knowledge is thus beneficial, an acquaintance with the Bible is better far. In it we have subjects more varied, more delightful, more exalted; subjects suited to the weakest powers, yet more than sufficient to exercise the mightiest mind. A knowledge of Gospel truth raises the heart from earth to heaven, and extends the view from time to eternity. The Scriptures alone, point out the path of duty and the way to peace. They only exhibit Jehovah as he is. The character of God is but dimly shewn in the works of nature, while all the brightness of the divine perfections is manifest in the work of Christ. "By the Church is made known" even "to principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God." He who reads the Word of the Lord in humble dependance on the blessing of the Spirit, is thus enabled to know Him,-is necessarily led to love and adore Him, and is prepared for seeing Him face to face, and for being made like Him in the world to come. The time will arrive when human learning shall prove utterly vain, when science shall vanish, and the very elements about which it is conversant shall melt in the flame; but, amid the wreck of worlds, the Word of God shall remain unchanged, and its fol
If the advantages resulting from the study of science be contrasted with those that are derived from a knowledge of the Bible, we cannot, for a
If science be employed as a handmaid to Religion, there is nothing that can afford a more suitable preparation for exploring the mysteries of redemption. By the acquisition of languages, and by an acquaintance with general literature, the memory and reflective faculties are improved, the taste is refined, and a relish is given for the sublime and beautiful, so abundantly found in the Word of God. By a knowledge of history and of human character, we are enabled to value aright the morality of the Gospel, and to appreciate its beneficial effects upon society. But the study of science prepares us for taking a wider view. By teaching us how❘ to estimate the beauty of harmonious contrivance, it shews the grandeur of the Gospel scheme, considered as a whole; and by making us acquainted with the workmanship of the great Framer of the universe, it carries home the conviction that creation and redemption have one common source, and that He alone who contrived the one should have devised the other.
The mere man of taste may be satisfied with the embellishments of pagan mythology, or popish fable; but he who has studied the works of nature scorns their incongruous fancyings. Accustomed to the exercise of that faculty, by which we estimate the adaptation of means to an end, when he contemplates the work of Redemption, he sees in the fitting together of the various parts, the manifold wisdom of Him who is wise in counsel. When he traces the developement of the glorious scheme, from its origin, in the purpose of eternity, to its final consummation, he discovers new beanties as the various dispensations gradually unfold, he finds each part full of wisdom and full of love, every portion deserving gratitude and praise, while the grandeur of the harmonious whole, and the extent of God's redeeming grace, as thereby manifested, are seen in that transcendant splendour which passeth all understanding.
THE EARLY DAYS OF MARTIN LUTHER. THE life of Luther is so intimately connected with the important events of the period in which he lived, that it is difficult to view the man apart from the Reformer. In the following sketch, however, we are desirous as much as possible, to limit ourselves to the personal history and experience of this distinguished individual previously to that period when he became conspicuous in the world as an opponent of the corruptions of the Romish Church.
Martin Luther was born at Eisleben, a small town in Saxony, on the 10th of November 1483. His parents, who appear to have been noted for their industry and integrity, and unostentatious piety, paid peculiar attention, not merely to his education at school, but to his religious training at home; and, accordingly, we find, that through life, Luther retained an affectionate remembrance of the home of his early days. The
vigorous energy of Luther's mind was soon apparent. At the age of twenty, having finished his literary Master of Arts; and, more in accordance with the studies with marked success, he obtained the degree of wishes of his parents than his own inclination, he began to prosecute the study of Law. A remarkable providential occurrence, however, at length determined him to change his profession. The sudden death, whether by violence or accident is disputed, of an intimate friend and seems to have thrown him for a time into a state of and companion, made a deep impression upon his mind, melancholy. One day while labouring under this depression of spirits, he happened, during a walk in the fields, to be overtaken by a violent storm of thunder and lightning, which so alarmed him, that on the spot he formed the resolution to withdraw from the world and retire into a monastery for life. To this proposal his father, who was a man of strong practical good sense, was much opposed. Take care, said he to the rash determined youth, "that you are not ensnared by a delusion of the devil." All remonstrances, however, were ineffectual; without delay Martin entered a monastery at Erfurt.
In vain did Luther attempt to fly from himself, and to dissipate amid the endless formalities of the Romish ritual, that feeling of restless inquiry which seems to have taken possession of his mind. Under the influence of those serious impressions which he had imbibed under his father's roof, he dwelt much in his seclusion on the truths of religion. As yet his views were vague and indistinct; but still, he felt that there was something which was absolutely necessary to be obtained before he could expect deliverance from the gloomy fears and forebodings with which he was beset. A work of grace, in fact, appears to have begun in his soul. He was labouring under a deep-rooted conviction of his sin, and although he struggled to quiet his troubled conscience by the constant observance of the manded, all was unavailing; his sadness and almost numerous ceremonies which the Church of Rome dedesponding melancholy continued to increase rather than diminish. At length, to seek relief in the sympathy, if not the advice of another, he resolved to unbosom his griefs to Staupitz, the vicar-general of that order of Monks to which he himself belonged. Staupitz, besides being a man of considerable sagacity, had himself been subject to feelings similar to those which oppressed the mind of Luther. His reply, accordingly, is somewhat remarkable: "You do not know," said he, "how useful and necessary this trial may be to you; God does not thus exercise you for nothing: you will one day see, that he will employ you as his servant for great
At this time Luther was ignorant of the Scriptures; but the early instructions of pious parents, aided by a natural tenderness of conscience, and strong reflective powers, led him to entertain more vivid impressions of divine things than the extent of his knowledge would seem to warrant. He knew enough to lead him to thirst after still further acquaintance with the truth. And at length, in the wise providence of God, his wishes, in this respect, were most unexpectedly gratified. In the course of the second year after his admission into the monastery at Erfurt, he met with a Latin Bible in the library. This was to him like the opening of the eyes to the blind. He perused the Word of God for himself, and while poring, with earnest assiduity, over the sacred page, ever and anon did he lift up his soul in prayer to the Father of light, that he might be enabled to understand the Scriptures. Nor was his prayer unanswered. The light of divine truth shone into his soul with a brightness such as he had never before beheld. His study of the Bible was incessant, and under the influence of its refreshing statements, his gloom gave place to a steady cheerfulness,
founded on the possession of that "peace which the world cannot give, and which it cannot take away."
In the year 1507, he was ordained, and so highly was his learning, both secular and theological, appreciated, that in the following year he was invited by the vicargeneral to the Professorship of Philosophy at Wittemberg. Here he became distinguished, both as a teacher of philosophy, and a popular preacher. His fame spread far and wide. While resident in the monastery, he had learned from an old monk the doctrine of justification by free grace, and this vital, this fundamental truth, he proclaimed with a boldness which attracted peculiar attention. "This monk," exclaimed Martin Policbius, a doctor of law and medicine, "will confound all the doctors, will exhibit new doctrines, and reform the whole Roman Church; for he is intent on reading the writings of the prophets and apostles, and he depends on the Word of Jesus Christ; this, neither the philosophers nor the sophists can subvert." Such a declaration, more especially from the mouth of a man who was himself accounted a wonder of his age, clearly shewed that Luther had made an open profession of his views in regard to the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, and more especially in regard to that vitally important doctrine, which he himself afterwards termed the article of a standing or a falling church-Justification by free grace, through faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer.
This cardinal tenet seems, at an early period of his Scripture studies, to have assumed the pre-eminence in his mind, which justly belongs to it as the fundamental | truth of Revelation. And the more strongly he himself felt its importance, so much the more zealously did he labour to make it known to others. Such was the fervour, in fact, and holy eloquence, which characterized the preaching of Luther, that he was regarded as one of the first orators of his time. The theme which chiefly occupied his attention at this period, both in his private meditations, and in his pulpit labours, may be learned from the following extract of a letter which he wrote to a friend :-" I desire to know what your soul is doing; whether wearied at length of its own righteousness, it learns to refresh itself, and to rest in the righteousness of Christ. The temptation of presumption in our age is strong in many, and specially in those who labour to be just and good with all their might, and, at the same time, are ignorant of the righteousness of God, which, in Christ, is conferred upon us, with a rich exuberance of gratuitous liberality. They seek in themselves to work that which is good, in order that they may have a confidence of standing before God, adorned with virtues and merits, which is an impossible attempt. You, my friend, used to be of this opinion, or rather this mistake; so was I; but now I am fighting against the error, but have not yet prevailed.”
Four years before writing this letter, Luther had been appointed Professor of Divinity at Wittemberg, an office which, of course, led him to a still more diligent perusal of the Sacred Volume. At first, he had access only to the Vulgate, or Latin version of the Bible, but, anxious to draw his knowledge of divine truth from the originals, he directed his attention, with the utmost perseverance and success, to the study of the Greek and Hebrew languages. This enabled him to understand still more clearly the precious Word of Inspiration, that Word which, as he advanced in the knowledge of it, proved spirit and life to his soul. His views became clearer and more deeply impressive. He had not yet attacked the errors of the Romish Church, but his knowledge of the fundamental doctrines of religious truth was such, as to lead many to regard him as a heretic. There is an interesting incident which is recorded of Luther, and which places in a strong light the undeviating fidelity with which he preached the Gospel in the face of all opposition. Having been requested
to preach before the Duke of Saxony, he dwelt at great length upon the freeness of the Gospel offer even to the chief of sinners. An honourable matron who had heard the sermon, was asked by the Duke, at dinner, how she liked the discourse. "I should die in peace," she said, "if I could hear such another sermon.' Enraged at this reply, the Duke exclaimed, "I would give a large sum of money that a sermon of this sort, which encourages men in a licentious course of life, had never been preached." Within a month after this conversation, the lady was confined to bed with sickness, and died rejoicing in the belief of the glorious truths which Luther had preached.
The time had now arrived when, though reluctantly, Luther felt himself necessitated to enter the field against the gross errors of that Church to which he belonged. In the course of his residence at Rome, on a mission which he had undertaken in connection with the affairs of the Augustinian Monks, he had been shocked at the unbecoming and even immoral conduct of the clergy. But still his attachment to the Romish Church was great, and while he himself stood aloof from those of his clerical brethren who disgraced their office, he made no attempt to expose them to the world. And it was not until he was forced to assume the decided position of a Reformer, that he took steps to vindicate himself from the charge of heresy which was not unfrequently brought against him in private.
At length a circumstance occurred, which roused the indignation of Luther. One John Tetzel, a Dominican Friar, had been employed to sell indulgences, with the view of recruiting the exhausted treasuries of Pope Leo X. This profligate friar, whose presumption and effrontery knew no bounds, gave absolution, not only for past, but also for future sins, and scattered his indulgences with a profusion which shocked even those who were disposed to pay respect to the demands of the Papal See. Luther was enraged at the conduct of Tetzel, and made no secret of his disapprobation. He wrote to the Archbishop of Mentz, calling upon him to put a stop to such shameless excesses. His remonstrances, however, were unheeded. Thus frustrated in his endeavours to interest his ecclesiastical superiors, he published to the world his opinions in regard to the whole subject, including indulgences, purgatory, and other kindred topics; at the same time inviting any one publicly to dispute with him. Tetzel, alarmed at the appearance of Luther's exposure, promptly replied, attempting to refute the arguments which had been urged against the doctrines of the Church of Rome. The Church was roused upon the subject; and it is said, that at the first public disputation, no fewer than three hundred monks were present. Fair argument, however, was not sufficient for the ghostly Dominican. He ventured even to wreak his vengeance upon the Augustinian heretic, as he termed the Reformer, by causing his publication to be burned,—an act of pitiful spite, which was speedily retaliated upon the work of Tetzel by the disciples of Luther at Wittemberg. The Reformer himself was far from sanctioning this rash act on the part of his followers; but, on the contrary, alluding to the report which was industriously circulated by his enemies, that he had been the instigator of the deed, he thus expresses himself: "I wonder you could believe that I was the author of the deed. Think you that I am so destitute of common sense, as to stigmatize, in such a manner, a person in so high an office? I know better the rules of ecclesiastical subordination, and have some regard to my own character, both as a monk and a theologian, than to act so.'
The controversy, however, was not limited to Luther and Tetzel; it called forth the strenuous exertions of others also, and among the rest, of Henry Duke of Brunswick, who afterwards distinguished himself in the cause of the Reformation. Luther continued for several
"bulls and menaces;
years to propagate his tenets, by publishing theses, not
It is interesting to observe how clear, even at this early period of his history, Luther's views of divine truth were. The Bible had been for years his constant study; prayer had been his unceasing exercise, and in the habitual use of these two means of grace, his knowledge of the Gospel had become at once extensive and accurate. In the doctrines of free grace, more particularly, Luther gloried. "A Christian," to use his own words, "may glory that in Christ he has all things; that all the righteousness and merits of Christ are his own, by virtue of that spiritual union with him which he has by faith: and, on the other hand, that all his sins are no longer his, but Christ, through the same union, bears the burden of them. And this is the confidence of Christians, this is the refreshment of their consciences, that by faith our sins cease to be ours judicially, because they are laid on him, the Lamb of God that taketh away the Sin of the world."" The righteousness of Christ, the Reformer viewed as the sole foundation of the sinner's hope, and he accordingly urged it, with the utmost earnestness, upon all who came within the sphere
of his influence.
Thus pure were the religious sentiments of Luther, at the outset of his career as a Reformer, and before his doctrines had assumed such a prominence, as to attract the attention and call down upon him the wrath of the Papal See. The Almighty had been gradually training
him for the important duties which were yet to devolve upon him, and which could only be discharged by one who was specially enlightened by the Spirit of God. His work was arduous, and therefore he was endowed with peculiar qualifications, both of an intellectual and moral kind. But to what extent, and by what means, he succeeded, under God, in carrying forward the glorious cause of the Reformation, will probably engage our attention in a future number.
THE VASTNESS OF THE UNIVERSE.
IN the admirable Bridgewater Treatise of Professor Whewell, the following interesting and impressive observations occur.
"The aspect of the world, even without any of the peculiar lights which science throws upon it, is fitted to give us an idea of the greatness of the power by which it is directed and governed, far exceeding any notions of power and greatness which are suggested by any other contemplation. The number of human beings who surround us the various conditions requisite for their life, nutrition, well-being, all fulfilled; the way in which these conditions are modified, as we pass in thought to other countries, by climate, temperament, habit;-the vast amount of the human population of the globe thus made up; yet man himself but one among almost endless tribes of animals; the forest, the field, the desert, the air, the ocean, all teeming with creatures whose bodily wants are as carefully provided for as his ;-the sun, the clouds, the winds, all attending, as it were, on these organzied beings;—a host of beneficient energies, unwearied by time and succession, pervading every corner of the earth; this spectacle cannot but give the contemplator a lofty and magnificent conception of the Author of so vast a work, of the Ruler of so wide and rich an empire, of the Provider for so many and varied wants, the Director and Adjuster of such complex and jarring interests.
"But when we take a more exact view of this spectacle, and aid our vision by the discoveries which have been made of the structure and extent of the universe, the impression is incalculably increased.
"The number and variety of animals, the exquisite skill displayed in their structure, the comprehensive and profound relations by which they are connected, far exceed any thing which we could have beforehand imagined. But the view of the universe expands also on another side. The earth, the globular body thus covered with life, is not the only globe in the universe. There are, circling about our own sun, six others, so far as we can judge, perfectly analogous in their nature: besides our moon and other bodies analogous to it. No one can resist the temptation to conjecture, that these globes, some of them much larger than our own, are not dead and barren; that they are, like ours, occupied with organization, life, intelligence. To conjecture is all that we can do, yet even by the perception of such a possibility, our view of the domain of nature is enlarged and elevated. The outermost of the planetary globes of which we have spoken is so far from the sun, that the central luminary must appear to the inhabitants of that planet, if any there are, no larger than Venus does to us; and the length of their year will be 82 of ours.
"But astronomy carries us still onwards. It teaches