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The descriptions of the "anxious meetings," very much correspond to some public prayer-meetings among the Wesleyan Methodists, which I recollect attending a few years ago; when a similar work to that in America was going on in that denomination. "In the anxious meetings, the leader or leaders, tread softly about as they proceed, whispering to each individual some question or questions; such as, do you love God?'-' do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?' have you made your peace with God?' or some other question of this nature, with now and then an interrogation; don't you think this a solemn place?' don't you think God is here?—' don't you feel awful?' In some of these meetings, a lad was interrogated; but being intimidated, and fearing he should not answer properly, or to satisfaction, was silent. He was forthwith named, and the saints were called upon to pray for Joseph Pride, and prayers were offered for Joseph Pride, that he might be delivered of a dumb devil!” (To be Continued. )
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer.
REGARDING the Christian Pioneer as a work destined to promote that manly freedom and energy of thought on all religious and moral subjects, on which the best interests of our race, both in this and the future stages of their existence most essentially depends, I am induced to offer the following remarks, the more deserving of attention, as proceeding from the pen of an "Orthodox" Missionary, for insertion in its pages. They are interesting, on account both of the liberality and the great importance of the sentiments, and as affording a just, though melancholy, description of the state to which the religious principle is degraded, under the ruthless sway of eastern despotism.
"The principal religious characteristic of Syria and the Holy Land, common to all professions and sects, at once the child and the parent of unvarying ignorance, is that
SYSTEM OF DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRIESTHOOD AND
LAITY, felt even where not avowed; according to which, it seems to be the interest of a few professed teachers to hold the rest of their fellow creatures in darkness.
"Knowledge, in reference to many subjects, is inevitably the property of a few, in comparison with the bulk of mankind; but religious knowledge is the common property of all; and the very scope of the appointment of teachers in the Christian religion, is, that all may alike become well learned in the oracles of truth-thoroughly furnished unto all good works-truly wise unto salvation. From this equitable line, how widely have men of every clime and every creed deviated, till priestcraft has become a term of popular reproach, from which even the purest, the most disinterested, and enlightened persons of the sacred order, cannot always find, in the public opinion, candour sufficient to acquit them!
"But see with what an oppressive influence this distinction operates in Syria! How far is the interval by which the professors of each set of dogmas distance the illiterate! Hence, the high-minded Pharisee, the Hebrew of the Hebrews, closing the door of knowledge to the "accursed people.' Hence, the Akals, and the Djahelin initiated, and uninitiated, among the Druses. Hence, the Ulernas, with the Koran in their hand, giving them civil as well as religious prerogative over the Fellah that trembles at their nod. Hence, the Confessor, with a power little short of inquisitorial although dependent on popular opinion, a sentiment, however, so inwrought into the habits and feelings of professing Christians in these countries, that the crouching penitent no more dares to canvas this authority of a fellow man, which besets him so closely, so visibly, so tangibly, so oppressively, than he would dare to question the existence or the government of God himself. When it is considered, that, even in the most enlightened society, few rise into action higher than the ordinary level of custom; few, very few, in reality, practically deciding for themselves; that is, freely and wisely; it must be painfully evident, that in a country like Palestine, where the means of knowledge are so scanty, and the encouragements to improvement less than nothing, he must be indeed an extraordinary character, who should exert, on rational principles, his liberty to choose in religion for himself. He must have emancipated bis mind from inveterate habits; he must have cast hereditary notions into the grave of his ancestors; he will be doing a kind of sacred violence to the public feeling; and he may reckon upon the certain indignation and opposition of a small but
energetic aristocracy, with whom alone has rested, hitherto, the prerogative of thinking both for themselves and others.
"It might be supposed that the existence of the sacred books among the different bodies, would furnish facilities for exploring where lie the errors of the various religious systems, and that appeal to such books, consequently, would lead, in some measure, to the discovery of truth. There is, no doubt, some weight in this consideration. An authorised book is at all times a standard for investigation. Most of the people of Palestine have such books, by them accounted sacred: such are the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Scriptures, the whole of the Old and New Testaments, the Koran, and the supposed books of the Druses. But in Syria, what is the amount of this remark, that 'truth lies in books? How many are the copies of these books, and in whose possession do they rest? Where either copies of these books are scarce, or the art of reading not general, or the reading of these books prohibited, what can it avail to the benefit of the population at large, to be persuaded, 'that truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where?' Of books it may truly be said, that, to an uneducated country, they are, in all respects, the converse of that which they are in an enlightened nation. Where all can read, and all are free to read, books seem almost to form an integral part of the community: they affect the public mind: they supply materials of friendly conversation: they challenge trial at the bar of general opinion: they live and act, and are not forgotten, if their services have stood the test of experience, and proved beneficial to society: they travel to far-distant countries: they multiply their own species, and become an immense and influential family; as it were a world of separate, but not absent spirits; fit associates for the intellectual men who entertain and cherish their company. All this and more, might be affirmed of the wondrous art of communicating and perpetuating our ideas, by means of writing and printing. But, in an ignorant land, all this is not. The copious materials of historical fact, of logical argument, of moral or religious sentiment, which have been, from time to time, committed to paper, are negligently kept, and often consigned to oblivion! Study, in such a land as Turkey, seems like an unprofitable idleness; a library, waste of money, or a dangerous indication of superfluous wealth. On religious subjects, especially, the sacred books are
claimed as the exclusive property of the sacred order; their possession of these documents, while it diminishes the mental power of their spiritual subjects, adds a mysterious eminence to their own dignity. Well aware of that popular frailty which leads men gratuitously to admire and magnify every object that lies beyond the reach of general examination, it becomes their interest to keep fairly out of sight, the standard records of their religion: while the mass of the community, in religious matters, ever more credulous than inquiring, more prone to believe the veriest trifle, than to examine the grounds of faith, hear with complacency, that their religion is written in venerable and ancient records, known to a few. Thus it is, that almost every man in Syria has his passions, in reality, still more firmly fixed to his respective religious system, by the persuasion, that it has been settled and drawn up in a dogmatical form, ready to convince him, if sceptical, or to overwhelm him, if schismatically disposed. He, therefore, neither doubts, nor differs, nor even inquires. If he cannot quote the contents of the sacred volume, he remains attached to the abstract idea of its existence; bowing to his religious superior, as the legitimate master of his mind and conscience."-Jowet's Christian Researches in Syria and the Holy Land.-p, 323-327.
I STOOD Upon the mossy side
As cypress gemm'd with glittering dew,—
But onward far the river strayed
To a boundless ocean;
Whose countless waves, 'neath bright skies played,
Methought o'er the troubled river,
And ever and for ever-cries
Of the pierced and groaning, From the black waters seemed to rise, In an endless moaning.
But from the bright and sunny sea,
From a gem-studded throne,
Thus spoke in silver tone:
"Son of mortality! give ear
While heaven unfolds thy dream,-
"The Omniscient God, whose piercing eye
"But yonder sea, from which arise
Is the bright world beyond the skies-
"There freed from vice and fierce desires,
H. M. B.
The Inspiration of the Scriptures. To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer.
IN the course of my life, I have, at different times, read and thought much on the Inspiration of the Scriptures. I was accustomed to commit to writing the conclusions to which I came, omitting the details of argument, and neglecting to quote authorities. Some papers which I have lately read, in different periodical publications, have induced me to collect my scattered notes, and