Page images

purposes of his Heavenly Father; and he knew that they must be accomplished. And what has been the result? What baffles human wisdom, and yet cheers and animates the heart of Christian love.—Human wisdom, when it aims to penetrate the future, is often but folly : human strength, when it is exerted for purposes which, however good, anticipate the order of Divine Providence, is always weakness. Human wisdom would have anticipated that that which is so great a blessing would be communicated to all men, at once; and, like the light of the sun, would in quick succession visit every region of the globe to refine, to elevate, and to lead to holiness and to blessedness: and human strength would have put forth unballowed weapons to force the reception of the seed where the ground was not prepared. He who said, “ Let there be light, and there was light,” could, indeed, at once have given light to the soul, where the deepest shades of ignorance involve in gloom and wretchedness; but, in bis infinite wisdom, He had appointed that the progress of spiritual light should be gradual, not only to the individual, but to mankind at large : He has made that progress depend on human exertion and benevolence : and in carrying on the great work to its termination, He has seen fit to make the exercise of faith and hope the mainspring of benevolent exertion. It is not alone those who are to be blessed, but those also who bless, that are to be disciplined. The seed of love is to be sown by the hand of faith. We are to watch and wait for opportunities; and even then we can merely sow the seed; we cannot command the weather or the soil : sometimes, even with the best directions of sound understanding and experience, it will prove to have been sown in vain. But where we have done our best, (not with the presumption of pride, but with simple desires to serve our generation according to the will of God, and to fulfil, in our sphere of exertion, the noblest prayer that the human heart can utter,“Thy will be done,”) we may rest satisfied in the results, be they what they may; and where, notwithstanding the disappointments which benevolence must often experience, and without which it would be narrowed and debased, we go on with “ the patience of hope and the labour of love,” our labour shall not be in vain. We may see no results: for a time there may be none apparent: but the momentous interests of truth and righteousness are silently but effectually advancing. It was the noble maxim of a noble mind, “ No effort is lost;" and certainly no effort can be lost, in which good intention is guided by discretion, and supported by the higher motives of love and duty. The good intended may not be accomplished. Some unexpected evil may follow, even where the understanding has been enlightened and disciplined by religion. In the moral world, causes which at the time we do not comprehend continually operate in ways which we know not, and cannot with the utmost sagacity fully discern. But such efforts are like the prayer of the faithful, which, if not answered in the way desired, returns to his own bosom. Disappointment leads to self-discipline and selfcorrection. It leads to mutual forbearance and mutual aid. It “ worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.”

In some directions, hope will not be ashamed. The time must come when “ the knowledge of Jehovah shall cover the earth as the waters do the channels of the deep.” The lines of providence and of prophecy all converge towards this glorious period; and whatever contributes to it, is deserving of our desires for its success, and of our exertions according to our abilities. Blessed, we may say is he, who, by his labours, his privations, his instructions, or (if this be all he can give,) what is the most essential of all, his

example, contributes to lead others to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; and, in the practical possession of this faith, to walk in the ways of holiness here, towards eternal life hereafter. It may not be ours to witness personally the majestic streams which are swelling the ocean of divine knowledge; it may not be ours to direct even the smaller rivers in their course, to discern their moral grandeur, and behold the way in which they contribute, on the great scale, to the promotion of human worth and happiness ; but there are few, indeed, who may not guide the fertilizing rivulet from that fountain which never faileth, from which all may derive the means of blessedness to themselves and others, whose waters are healing to the soul.

It is one of the bright features of the present day, which throw gleams on the distant prospect, that the power of individuals is incalculably increased by the resources for mutual co-operation, themselves so wonderfully augmented by the various means of mutual communication. Leaving out of view the external aid afforded by such co-operation, who has not felt the inAuence of its encouragement? The sympathy of those whose views have the same direction, often affords a cheering support to the heart; it is animating even where it is not needed to give steadfast perseverance. When the aged ambassador of Christ was approaching the great capital of the world, which he was about to enter in chains to be “ brought before Cæsar,” he was met at some distance by brethren from Rome; and the sacred historian, with the beautiful simplicity which so constantly adorns his writings, records, that when Paul saw them, “ he thanked God and took courage." I appeal to the heart of every one who has been engaged in labours of love, whether this is not accordant with the truth of nature. Who is there among us, who labouring to promote the welfare of others, either in a wider or a narrower sphere, has not felt encouragement and strengthening comfort, when he found that in his work he was not alone; that others thought it good as well as himself; that he might expect their aid and cooperation in it; and at any rate be free from those chilling obstacles which sometimes sink the energies of the soul, and check those efforts which might otherwise turn to a full account?

Many services in the cause of truth and righteousness depend on the individual labourer almost alone : and there he must learn to go on perseveringly and faithfully, doing his best, and resting in no way on human motives, but seeking his encouragements in those views and prospects which Christian faith so richly presents ; aiming to employ his means of usefulness with discretion as well as earnestness, but not sinking under occasional disappointments of his best efforts, cr the occasional perception of error in his previous plans; taking care to correct, to limit, or to extend, as circumstances direct ; but always going on, with simple aims and chastened de sires ; receiving with gratitude every indication of success, but satisfied even when hope is deferred; and trusting the Lord of the harvest, when sometimes it appears that the seeds of truth and love are dying in the earth.

But in a variety of instances, the great purposes of human improvement, both temporal and spiritual, cannot go on without the encouragement and Co-operation of others. Every public object must have some individuals who shall make it their peculiar care, and watch over and direct it, and keep up its usefulness, and see to its interests; but even this, though essential, is not enough; there must be aid (pecuniary or otherwise as the case requires) from others who, perhaps, may not take the same degree of interest in it, or see its importance in the same strong light, or (if they did) have other

objects more peculiarly claiming their attention and exertion. Human life is short, and the human mind is limited. It is necessary that we should act with others, in order to enable them to do that which, even if it could be accomplished by the labours of an individual during a long life, can be better done at once by joint exertion. In order to do with our might that which our band findeih to do, before the night of death closes our service—and to enable others to do the same—there must often be mutual acquiescence in the convictions of those who have entered into the subject, and perceive the whole bearings of it, and are prepared to give their efforts to carry the purposes of benevolence into execution. And then, by the arms of others, we may reach to do good where our own cannot. Through them, our little pecuniary sacrifices will tell to the best account ; with their activity and intelligence, we may surmount obstacles which have based us; and we may possess and may communicate the consolation, (when it seems to the wearied head or the depressed heart as though we could do nothing,) that the work will go on, however humble and limited our own share in it, so as to promote its great purposes. And, in like manner, where our co-operation is cheerfully given to others, we may expect, or if we do not expect, we shall find co-operation from others. In this present state of existence, there is vastly more of retribution than can be discerned by the inexperienced,

In order to do as much good as we can, we must place confidence in others; and, where their motives are obviously right, and their judgment on the whole has proved to be sound, when they have plans of usefulness which, if successful, must be beneficial, and which cannot be successful without aid from others, we should not be too nice in scanning all the difficulties, presenting all the obstacles, and reckoning up all the failures; but venture a little. Our means are limited, and our ventures, therefore, should be well directed ; but if we are too fastidious, or too fearful of success, we shall create difficulties and prevent it.

(To be continued.)


I saw an Eagle diem
A little star-fash trembled in his eye,
And, as if some mysterious hidden power
Had held it open to that mournful hour,
And then had dropped the slowly-closing curtain,
It fell—and darkness wrapped it instantiy:
His giant claws were streich'd as if in sleep
And crampish agony-intense--uncertain-
And then-as still as any frozen heap :
The wings which often on the mountain summit
Flapped-battling with the clouds and winds of heaven,
Had fallen to earth, as falls the senseless plummet ;
And the proud plumage which with storms had striven
Lay in vile clay polluted-ruffled-rifled.
One gasp-another-and another ? No!
'Tis over-

-death and senselessness have stifled
All sound-all sense--all motion--and the king
Of all aerial creatures is a thing
For worms to revel in.



No. II.

“ Watchmau, what of the night ? Watchman, what of the night? The Watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the vight.” Isaiah xxi. 11, 12.

SOME half dozen years since, a gentleman, not very distantly related to the writer of the Watchman, being then a student for the ministry, was on a visit in Devonshire to an uncle. At the request of his relative, who was a liberal Calvinist, he agreed to preach in a village near the town where his uncle resided. The use of the pulpit was readily granted to the nephew of Mr. A., and the day being arrived, the young minister proceeded to fulfil the wishes of his relative. He left early in the day, and his uncle was to meet him at the chapel. Arrived in the village, he was treated with the greatest kindness and hospitality. At last, seated at the tea-table, his host, a respectable farmer, with somewhat of the Puritan in his

appearance and manner, thus addressed him, of a sudden interrupting the conversation that was going on: Well, preaching time is near; but you have not told us what you are ; but suppose it is all right, as your uncle sent you. Are


of the Church ? Minister. No. Host. All the better ; then ye’re a Dissenter : M. Yes. H. Well; are ye a dipper : M. No. II. Are ye a free-willer ? M. No. H. Are ye a Calvin ? M. No. H. Well, what then Why,” suddenly bethinking himself, "ye ar'n't a Socinian, are

: ye?” M. “I am a Unitarian.” “A Socinian !” exclaimed his daughter, a fine stout country girl that sat in a distant part of the room, listening to the dialogue with deep attention—“ A Socinian! How can ye preach, then, and ye deny Christ ? O I'll go and tell them there'll be no preaching to night.” And away went the alarmist to frighten the poor villagers with the idea of this Socinian preacher. Such a thing had never been seen in the village before. In a quarter of an hour all was in a bustle. The host had enough to do to keep people out of the house. At length the minister of the chapel arrived. When he saw him, the


minister felt his spirits rise, for his appearance of body and countenance indicated that no superabundance of sectarianism disturbed the easy tenor of his days. glad to see his young friend; he had no doubt his young friend could preach without giving offence. He had a great respect for his uncle ; his orthodoxy was unquestionable, and he would not have requested the use of the pulpit except he had known that all would be right.” While the minister thus spoke, in came the daughter. “ He cannot preach, he's a Socinian. He cannot preach, every body says so,” she exclaimed. The minister retired with mine host into a private room. Meanwhile, the milk of human kindness which had an hour before abounded in all hearts, was curdled and soured, When the minister and his friend returned, they said, “ It was a pity the people had been alarmed, but as it was so, it would be better to have a prayer-meeting. In that the young gentleman could join or not as he chose.” This was determined on; though the daughter intimated by her looks that she doubted if a Socinian could pray, as she knew he could not preach. As they went to the meeting-house, crowds came to gaze, looking with curiosity what this Socinian could be like; but few were present at the service, fearing, perhaps, too near an approach to so frightful a heretic. Of all persons interested, the uncle was most disappointed, who had meant to give these ignorant rustics a practical lesson on the virtue of charity, intend


66 He was


the one

ing to inform them after the sermon, which he had reason to believe would be such as they would approve, that the preacher was a Unitarian. This narrative relates facts which might be enacted in hundreds of villages in this kingdom. The public mind is poisoned ; and the uninformed look upon Socinians and Catholics as two species of monsters. Why or wherefore they are bad, is not well known. The dislike of them is a matter of feeling rather than of judgment. Two things, it is true, they do iterate ;

“ denies Christ," the other would “ burn you ;” or, to use the words of a Cheshire Squire, recently used at a county meeting, " would make beef-steaks of you.” But beside these facts, their feelings are those of indistinct and undefinable aversion, much like the raw-head and bloodybone sort of feeling with which we remember, in our youth, to have thought of ghosts and of a churchyard. And now that hobgoblins are getting out of fashion, being afraid of being caught by the schoolmaster, we should not be surprised to hear of honest matrons charming their infants to sleep by telling them, not “ the old gentleman is coming,” but “ the Socinians will have you.” A moral may be extracted from mirth, and the moral of our story is, that Unitarians must labour to enlighten the minds of the ignorant, and to check the misrepresentations of the interested. The latter is the chief point; for while the pulpit and the press are replete with injurious statements, Unitarians cannot secure the attention, much less the favourable regards, of the people. The functions of “the Watchman" are, therefore, most imperatively called for, and we invite the support and assistance of our friends.

It is highly gratifying to a mind that is wishful for the advancement of knowledge, liberty, and religion, the three great blessings of humanity, to hear of the progress which our American brethren are making. With them religious as well as civil liberty prevails, and occasions abundant happiness and prosperity. In the Constitution it is provided that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The illustrious statesman, Jefferson, with a full consciousness of the blessings he liad conferred upon his fellow-citizens, ordered to be inscribed upon his tomb, “ The Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Statutes of Virginia for Religious Freedom.” In America, accordingly, in no shape or form are they pressed down and crushed by the incubus of an Established Church. Two or three States, it is true, ublige every individual to contribute to the support of the ministers of religion, but leave it optional with him to select any church within the parish or district to which the tax shall be applied. For this exception we are sorry. We regret it because it is an infringenent on liberty. Of the continuance of religion we have no fear in America, nor in any other country when left to itself. Its springs are too deeply seated in the heart to admit its being long neglected. Men marry without compulsion, and men will worship God without legislative interference; for they are no less religious than they are social beings. We regret the exception, because we have seen and felt the evils of Establishments, and because experience proves that in whatever form they have existed, they tend to evil, and eventually prove the greatest obstructions to religion and liberty. The state of religion in America proves beyond a question that full and unrestricted liberty is the element in which religion best flourishes. No people are more attentive to religious observances than the Americans; and so rigid are they in abstaining from all occupation and amusements on the Sundays, and in frequenting places of public worship, that travellers, while passing through some parts of America, have conceived

« PreviousContinue »