Page images
PDF
EPUB

Amongst these tuneful sounds may be mentioned, also, the sweet tinkling of sheep-bells from the lofty mountains or the deep-sunk glens, and the melody of those of the village church, which Cowper has celebrated in harmonious verse :

• How soft the inusic of those village bells,
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet, now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again, and louder still,
Clear and sonorous as the gale comes on!

The Task, bk. vi. 1.6-10. I shall close this short and imperfect paper with another extract from this last delightful poet-who may, more than all others, except Thomson, be justly called the poet of naturedescriptive of the various sounds heard in the country, and the pleasing effect of them upon the mind. Hoping that this brief account of the every-day music,' which breathes in the winds, murmurs in the waters, and warbles in the groves, will be regarded by others, as it is by the writer, a striking proof of the benevolence of the Deity, who has not only adapted every element to our wants, but also made it minister to our enjoyment.

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds,
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of Ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-finger'd Art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds in harmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.
The Task, bk, i. p. 8-9.

S.

ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT.

Before salvation is offered to a world, there must be some cause or precedent necessity for its being offered at all. I acknowledge that cause to be that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God'—that all, like sheep, have gone astray'—that there is none righteous, no, not one.' This truth needs no scriptural or logical proof. It is a fact that has been admitted and deplored in all ages and by all nations. The testimony of God and the conscience of man alike own and proclaim it.' Who has no faults to deplore, and no thoughts to conceal? Man being thus constituted, weak, and liable to err, and represented in Scripture as in a lost and fallen state, a revelation from God contains terms of reconciliation-repentance, faith, and good works. It shows to us a mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.' How this mediation is effected is mysterious! How the death of Christ is a propitiation for sin,' is mysterious! But the fact is declared frequently and emphatically. With the method of the fact we have nothing to do. It is unrevealed, and above our comprehension. We believe in a God, but who can explain to us his nature or the mode of his existence? Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?' If the death of Christ be not, in some way or other, an atonement for sin, what is the meaning of hundreds of passages in the Old and New Testament, which speak of that event as ' a sin-offering' and a sacrifice? Why is the term · Lamb' ascribed to him, but to show more clearly his relation to mankind as their • Saviour,' and as · bearing their sins in his own body on the tree?' Above all, what grand purpose did that death accomplish ? and why is it spoken of in such language as the above ? for the existence of a future state was the hope of most and the confident faith of many, however imperfect the ideas they entertained of it, long before Christ appeared on earth. There is an evident connexion between the sacrifices under the Mosaic dispensation and the death of Christ, both operating as an atonement for sin ; and his death being frequntly alluded to as that of a lamb,' and Christians being said to be redeemed with the precious blood of Christ Jesus, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,' marks the connexion between Judaism and Christianity more strongly, and shows clearly that the former was but a type and shadow of things to come.'

It is a frequent and gross mistake with many pious people to represent the death of Christ as in itself, and without reference to the repentance of the sinner, blotting out all his iniquities.'

But the Scriptures hold a different doctrine, and declare that • without holiness no man can see the Lord.' That the sacrifices mentioned in the Old Testament were unavailing, unless accompanied with purity of heart and life, is abundantly evident. In the very first act of sacrificial homage therein noticed, the reason assigned for the rejection of Cain's offering establishes my position :- And Jehovah said unto Cain, If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted ?' And when Judaism had degenerated into a merely formal and ceremonial worship, relying on the efficacy of sacrifice alone to obtain a remission of sin, how frequently and emphatically are the Jews warned of their danger by the voice of the prophets, particularly Isaiah and Micah.

By others, repentance alone is maintained to be the ground of pardon and acceptance. But we see daily that repentance cannot of itself, even in this world, free us from the consequences of moral guilt. It cannot heal the frame that is diseased by indulgence in sensual pleasures, nor restore the fortune that has been squandered in dissipation and extravagance. And, as to spiritual maladies, St. Paul expressly declares, that without shedding of blood there is no remission.'

Thus, it appears, that by a mysterious union, sacrifice and repentance conjoined are mainly instrumental in the great work of our salvation. Thus (to quote from Butler's immortal Analogy) the doctrine of the Gospel appears to be not only that Christ taught the efficacy of repentance, but rendered it of the efficacy which it is by what he did and suffered for us; that he obtained for us the benefit of having our repentance accepted to eternal life. How, and in what particular way, it had this effieacy, there are not wanting persons who have endeavoured to explain ; but I do not find that the Scriptures have explained it. It is our wisdom thankfully to accept the benefit, without disputing how it was procured.'

A LAYMAN.

THE MORALITY OF THE HORSE GUARDS. My readers require not to be informed that several persons have lost their lives by soldiers wearing their side-arms. The matter has been discussed in the House of Commons, and as a consequence there has come a · General Order' from the Commander-in-Chief, on which I shall offer a few remarks, as it contains matter for the illustration of the morality of army discipline.

I premise that I am an enemy to war, and consequently to the warlike spirit. War is the greatest practical blunder that But we

are not on

common

man ever committed, and, but for kingcraft and priesteraft, it would not have required thousands of years to give the race a glimpse—for, as yet, they have nothing more-of the universality of its evil. Nor would a respondent find great favour in my eyes by pleading on behalf of defensive war. I should like to have the war pointed out to me that was not in some sense represented, if not regarded, as defensive, by those who undertook it. I will not allow a general exception to my hostility to war. I do not say that defence is wrong; but I will have each case judged on its own merits.

Reader, you think this is extravagant. Well, then, throw aside the book. I have given you fair notice. I would not cheat a mind even into the possession of truth. If you deny my premises, my conclusions cannot be acceptable to you. But if you have half an idea that I may not be altogether wrong, let us keep company a little while longer.

Well—the readiest way, common sense would say, to remedy an evil is to remove the cause. Soldiers use their bayonets in broils—take their bayonets away. No; this may be good, but it is not orthodox sense. Do I deny that Lord Hill can reason accurately ? Certainly not. ground—therefore our conclusions differ. He has reasons I do not recognize. He would maintain the military spirit which I abominate, and because of his attachment to the military spirit he will not go to the root of the evil. Continue'-he, in effect, says to wear your arms; for if you ever part with them, you run a risk of sinking the soldier in the citizen; you will forget your trade; you may even, when “ lawfully called out,” be destitute, by chance, of the means of enforcing tithe at the bayonet's point; at all events, you would cease to inspire fear in old and young, were you divested of your instruments of blood. Wear them, therefore, lest “ un-English” fashions should get afloat, and the arguments of reason gradually prevail over the appeals of force.

Something like these are the reasons that have prevented the Commander-in-Chief from deferring to the strongly-expressed wish of many of the representatives of the people. 'He does in reality assign a reason— they wear their side-arms as an honourable distinction of the profession to which they belong.' What a confusion of ideas have we here. War a profession ! Every one knows medicine is a profession—divinity is a profession. So also, affirms the authority, is war. Therefore, says the popular conclusion, divinity and war are kindred pursuits. And thus are mankind practised on by those whose interests and prejudices, deluding themselves, prompt to the perhaps unconscious delusion of others. What a power is that of language, when only by one word it can go far to identify in the popular

feeling, the art of killing, the art of healing, and the science of sciences, whose business it is to save the soul alive!

But more; these side-arms are an honourable distinction.' Infamy should attach to that word honour,' so baneful has it been to man. Good it may have occasionally wrought-but, as ordinarily understood, especially in this profession' of war, it has been the source of myriads of woes—woes alike to the physical and moral nature.

Side-arms are not only honourable—they are a distinction. A distinction ! I thank his Lordship for that word. The bayonet is the soldier's distinction! This throws his 6

profession' into broad relief. Look at the bayonet, my fellowcountrymen--for what is it made ? A glance will tell you the work it has done, and the work it is designed to do. See it piercing the body of a fellow-being. Notice the tortures he suffers: perhaps his widowed wife is running up with shrieks, as she sees her husband fall. Turn to the orphaned children. Follow, in imagination, the soul of the butchered one into the presence of his Maker; his guilt unrepented—his passions boiling with rage. Then advert to the slaughterer-to his face, grinning with a brutal joy-converted, a moment after, into alarm, as he sees another enemy bearing down upon him, secure of victory over an exhausted foe. This one case is the case of thousands. • A distinction !' Yes, of horror; • an ho nourable distinction.' Then, if this be so, the philosopher and the philanthropist must hide their diminished heads; for the love and service of man cannot be the same with the

profession' of slaughter.

The bayonet, however, is not to be laid aside ; but its use is to be restrained to lawful occasions. Any restriction is good. How is the abuse to be stopped ? Every man reported to have drawn, or attempted to draw, his bayonet, for the purpose of using in any case of dispute, affray, or interference, is to be brought to a summary trial, and if convicted, may, in addition to the punishment awarded by the court-martial, be degraded on the public parade, by being there stript of his bayonet and bayonet-belt, which, in order to enhance his degradation, he is not to be allowed to wear, except upon duty, for one year, and his name is to be posted up in some conspicuous place in the barrack-room of the company to which he belongs, on the barrack-gate, and on the doors of the guard-room and canteen.

Degradation, indeed! What destruction of character is here implied. The man may be bad, before, but what more efficient process to divest him of all sense of shame? None but the lowest motives appealed to! Suppose these motives prove powerless; then the offender is as wanton as before in the use of his distinction. Grant that they take effect; the man is

« PreviousContinue »