« PreviousContinue »
dence permits it to occur. If, for instance, a bank fails, the calamity affects many an honest man, and the failure consequent, is a thing which he had neither wisdom to foresee, nor ability to prevent. Such cases call for sympathy, and not for censure. Still, the little stream of trouble may have flown from a very corrupt fountain ; and the original failure may have been any thing but a direct providential act. The causes in variety of cases are to be attributed not to the providence of God, but to the misguided judgment, or the sinful inclinations of man.
How many fail from embarking in speculations. Instead of learning the Scriptural lesson, “Let every one abide in his proper calling;" the man steps out of his line ; and some tempting share, in a mine, a canal, a joint-stock company, a railroad, induces him to try the little gain he has made in his own business, in another way, till, at last, he not only loses that, but fails in his business, and injures his creditors. Many fail, not for want of business, but from making haste to be rich. The man who uses his one talent well, generally finds, by the blessing of God, that it gains one other talent ; but the man that will be rich, falls into a snare.
Some fail in business, to use a quaint phrase, by "beginning where they should leave off.” Many open a shop, under the idea, that they must keep pace with the times ; and the middle-class tradesman, who was doing well, embarks in a larger way. He takes a new house ; puts in a new shop-window; fits it out with plate-glass ; fills it with splendid articles ; gets, at last, a large dead stock. His movement has given the hint of prosperity; another hears of it, opens another shop ; bis trade becomes divided ; his returns are not greater than before ; his heavy stock must be paid for ; and now comes the issuethis misguided judgment brings him, at last, to a compounding with the creditors. If the man had learned, in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content, he might have saved his property, been free from trouble, and have paid his debts honourably.
In some cases, failures occur through the ill-management of domestic affairs. The extravagance of living; the costliness of the table; the splendour of the apparel ; the keeping of the house “a little way out of the city,” all produce the evil. The men who died rich, about forty or fifty years ago, never kept two houses till they had been many years in business. They, and their wives, and their children, lived in the “ house of business,” and were quite as healthy as their suburban posterity. But may
of these things be attributed to the want of personal piety? If there be any religion, is it not lamentably deficient? These persons are not backward in helping religious societies ; but if you
look for their attendance at Divine worship in the week; if you look for the orderly piety, which marks a well-regulated religious family; if you search for experimental religion, such as bespeaks
its existence, in tones and feelings, corresponding with "Cardiphonia ;" you will fail in finding it: and may not this be a cause why men fail in business? The world is their idol. Their unconscious worship is to Mammon; and, like the children of Israel, “ they fear God, and serve Baal.” This state of things is so dishonouring to God, that it is painful to advert to the fact. But we must see the evil to remedy it.
All these causes produce failure in business; and it behoves a good, holy man of God, to be thoughtful of his position, that if the calamity befall him, it may appear to be providential, and not sinful.
A Christian man of business should - look well to the state of his flocks and his herds.” He should consider the evil which a failure inflicts upon himself, the world, and the church ; he should reflect on the consequences which such things produce in ungodly minds. If a professing Christian fails, that man may confirm some in infidelity; excite the scorn of others, against evangelical religion ; and strengthen the honest, upright man, in his deep-rooted self-righteousness; besides which, it may have such an effect on the minds of the creditors, that if any one happens to be a Christian, he may be unsettled in his communion with any church to which the debtor belongs ; and if he be a worldly man, he may resolve never to attempt a profession of religion, rather than use it as a mantle to cover the great inconsistency, if not the real dishonesty of the conduct. Let Christian tradesmen look well to their affairs ; keep their hearts with all diligence; and cultivate whatsoever things are honest in the sight of all men; and instead of the bitterness expressed against religious men, the light would shine, and God be glorified.
IS ODD FELLOWSHIP COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.
SIR.-It is a fact universally known, and therefore familiar to your readers, that a society of men exists at Manchester, under the title of "Odd Fellows," and that very extensively throughout England, there are branches or lodges established, somewhat on the principle of benefit societies. It is not my intention to expatiate on the objects of the society, nor the rules by which it is governed, but only to state a few facts as to the practice of the fraternity, in order to solicit an answer to the question at the head of this letter.
But, first, I may state, that the “ Manchester Unity" boasts of having initiated into its order thousands of gentlemen, magistrates, members of parliament, noblemen, peers, clergymen, and Christians. It is not my province to inquire how consistently the first five personages may bear the name, wear the badge, and glory in the brotherhood of “Odd Fellows;" and with respect to clergymen, meaning exclusively those of the church established by law, (for I have never heard of a dissenting clergyman becoming one of the body,) I do not consider your Magazine to be the suited medium for such discussion. I have, therefore, only to do with the last class, viz., Christians, and more especially with those who are members of Congregational and Wesleyan churches. That there are such persons, who are not only members, but villagepreachers, class-leaders, and Sabbath-school teachers, who are to be found in this Odd Fraternity may be doubted by some, but the writer knows this to be fact not only cognizant to, but mourned over by some of his fellow-Christians.
Now, very briefly, for the practice above referred to.
One evening every week the Odd Fellows spend together, usually at a public house, ostensibly to transact the business of the lodge; but it is also to speak-to compliment-to drink-to give the toast and song. These meetings, or lodges, may open with utmost regularity, with business-like order and precision, with gentlemanly courtesy and respect ; but how do they close ? Let the wife, the mother, the sister, testify of the reception of the drunken husband, or the excited son or brother, at the midnight hour ; let the policeman bear his testimony to the advice, caution, and aid, he has afforded the brethren in their return home from a meeting composed (a few hours before) of gentlemen, magistrates, clergymen, and Christians. That the rules do not encourage riot, intoxication, or midnight revelry, I readily grant; but that the practices of the members too frequently accords with these statements, I can as easily prove. Of course, I do not charge the members of Christian churches, who are Odd Fellows, with these immoralities, but their giving their sanction to, and being present at, meetings where these things originate, and thus mingling with worldly men, not incidentally in business, but professedly as “ brethren, ” appears unbecoming their character as followers of Christ.
The festivals held annually, or more frequently, with processions of the brethren, with all their paraphenalia, are equally exceptionable, as leading more publicly to dissipation and vanity. How can the Sabbathschool teacher caution his charge against attending the wakes or feasts of Easter or Whitsuntide, so common in rural districts, while he himself has formed part of a puppet-show parading the town, with his sash, apron, and other ornaments constituting the “regalia of the order!" How can the class-leader or village-preacher urge on others the duty of nonconformity to this present evil world, and of having “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them," while they are openly joined to a worldly community, and hesitate not to designate their “ Fellows,” irrespective of character, “beloved brethren !” My reply is-Consistently they cannot ! and my conviction is strengthened by reference to such passages of Divine truth as the following: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the
world.”—“What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness ?”' &c.—“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”—“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.”—“ Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this,—to keep himself unspotted from the world.”- Know ye not, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God!"- “ For if after ye have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, ye are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with you than the beginning.”
I have, Sir, been solicited to become an Odd Fellow by those of the world, and those of the church, who are united together in this fellowship; but such considerations as the above, have hitherto prevented my joining their ranks. For my own guidance, therefore, and that of many others, who are, I doubt not, in similar circumstances, I earnestly beg your opinion on the question which stands at the commencement of this letter.
I am, Sir, most respectfully yours,
RUTH AND NAOMI.
Alas! he has left us, mother,
That thou biddest me smile on another?
My heart has grown,
Which makes us lone.
* The Editor has no acquaintance with the association to which his correspondent refers ; but its very title might startle a thoughtful man. Fellowship” implies equality, and the word “ Odd," as llorne Tooke has observed, relates to pairing: we say, an odd man, or an odd notion : and we mean, without a fellow, unmatched, not such another. So that “ Odd Fellows" is a contradiction in terms. Then if fellow. ship supposes an equality, surely it does not become Christians, who are styled “ the sons of God," " the fellow-citizens of saints,"_"a peculiar people,”- a royal priesthood,” &c.,—to stoop to voluntary associations with worldly-minded men. Such associations must be formed by reason of a similarity of opinions, tastes, and habits, or, on account of some worldly advantage supposed to accrue therefrom: if the first,does it not indicate a very low state of religion? if the latter, is it not turning aside to “ crooked ways,” on which the blessing of God cannot be expected to rest? The apostle Paul, 1 Cor. v. 9—11, wisely intimates, that while we cannot avoid intercourse with irreligious men in the world, yet that it is our duty to avoid all unnecessary and voluntary association with them. And the texts quoted by “A Constant Reader," seem to the Editor conclusive against it.
I could not leave a widowed bird
To languish in the dreary wood,
Would rudely mock her solitude ;
Whose infant leaves cold winds had slain,
Then cease thy prayer—'tis cold—'tis vain,
So hard with pain.
All that once had
Because 'tis sad,
With sorrow like to mine:
The cloud that darkly lies,
Of light forlorn ;
Dim in the morn;
Are always born.
And love I these, and can I leave thee?
Ah, no! there is a harmony,-
That blends our souls in one fond grief,
And whisper, where I can, relief.
Our Moab hills are dear to me,
My home is dear,
Or dry that tear.
And where thou diest I will die,
On me shall lie.
Can comfort when the heart is sore,
R. A. V.