« AnteriorContinuar »
Errata.- In the article on the" Influence of Morals," two errors have been discovered since the sheet was printed. On page 274, 29th line from the top of 1st column, the s should have been omitted in “human intelligences.” “Sea of Glass,” 20th line from foot of 2d column, page 276, should be Mer de Glace anglicé, the Frozen Lake, or, literally, Sea of Ice.
RICHMOND, MAY, 1838.
T. W. WHITE, Editor and Proprietor.
FIVE DOLLARS PER ANNUM.
OF EVERY CHRISTIAN AND OF EVERY PATRIOT TO OP
the rapidity with which revolutions have been effected. INFLUENCE OF MORALS.
While the press exercises its tremendous agency for
weal or woe, the social and political fabric can only be CONTINUED.
sustained when it reposes upon the broad basis of moBy a native (but not now a resident) of Petersburg, Va. rality. Experience, with her ever burning lamp, shows
us, that the paths of licentiousness lead to the grave "It is a little singular,” says Chancellor Kent, that of social and political establishments. And wherefore distinguished jurist, whose whole life and writings, like should we not, like the Ismenian priests of old, who those of the Roman philosopher, are replete with intel- sought for prophecies in the ashes of the altar they had lectual and moral excellence, “it is a little singular, that raised to their divinity, seek amid the ruins of the past some of the best ethical writers under the christian for light to guide us through the darkness of the future ? dispensation should complain of the moral lessons of We adhere to the stern rule, that it IS THE FIRST DUTY Cicero, as being 100 austere in their texture, and too sublime in speculation for actual use. There is not, POSE EVERYTHING, WHICH TENDS TO CORRUPT PUBLIC indeed, a passage in all Greek and Roman antiquity MORALS OR TO PROMOTE LICENTIOUsness OF OPINION. equal in moral dignity and grandeur to that in which The great and fatal error of the present generation Cicero lays it down as a fixed principle, that we ought springs from the promptings of a presumptuous underto do nothing that is avaricious, nothing that is dishon- standing; and we are prone to persuade ourselves that est, nothing that is lascivious, even though we could we live in a boasted age of reason. The invention of escape the observation of gods and men.” And in poets has been exhausted in describing the sufferings of some other portion of the works of that sublime moral. the human family in the ages of brass and iron : but it ist, he lifts up his voice from amid the dusky twilight of was reserved for history to write in the tears of nations paganism, and exclaims in a tone not unworthy of in- the instructive and appalling drama of the age of reaspiration : "The soul, during her confinement in the son. Before the mind of man was darkened by his deprison of the body, is doomed to undergo a severe pravity, before he tasted of the “forbidden tree, whose penance: for, her native seat is in heaven, and it is mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our with reluctance that she is forced down from those woe,”—all his mental faculties, the will and the undercelestial mansions into these lower regions, where all is standing, the reason and the imagination, were harmoni. foreign and repugnant to her divine nature. But the ously blended and united: but since his fall, a dark spigods, I am persuaded, have thus widely disseminated rit has interposed its shadow between him and the sun immortal spirits
, and clothed them with human bodies, of righteousness, and disorder and confusion have enthat there might be a race of intelligent creatures, not tered into his mind and soul, and troubled their several only to have dominion over this our earth, but to contem- faculties. Thus, the light of the understanding not unplate the host of heaven, and imitate in their moral con- frequently illumes the path of duty, but the obstinate duct the same beautiful order and uniformity, so con. will refuses to pursue it; and the eager and chastened spicuous in those splendid orbs.” It is upon precepts will sometimes eagerly gropes its way where the dark. like this that man should frame his rule of action ; it is ened understanding is unable to direct it. In their hostifrom the sacred fountain of pure philosophy, that he lity to the social, political, and religious institutions of should derive that sense of the dignity of his nature the human family, the French philosophists propagated and of his sublime destiny, which will enable him to a senseless theory of the progressive improvement of correspond with the end of his creation.
man emerging gradually from the savage state, which In a former number we have erected a standard of they styled a state of nature, and improving imper. morals, which many will censure for its loftiness; and ceptibly in his language and polity. For the direct and we have, in a spirit of bold inquiry, questioned the consistent revelation of the Deity, they substituted their utility, in their immediate results and prospective ten- wild and incoherent speculations. But a wiser philosodency, of the two great revolutions in the religion and phy, lighting her torch at the consecrated flame of government of mankind in the sixteenth and eighteenth revealed truth, has dissipated these shadowy theories, centuries.
and taught us, that the savage state is a state of social From the former of these great movements, sprang at degradation, and that what these dreamers have called once into the full vigor of life universal freedom of opi- the germs or roots of tongues are, in fact, the ruins of nion; and for all the horrors of the latter we are indebt- once perfect languages. But we will reserve the dised to the deadly legacy of anti-christian doctrines and cussion of this interesting question for a future number. anti-social principles, which the last age has bequeathed In the primitive revelation the first man received to the present. We have heretofore observed, that the highest degree of intellectual illumination, which, since the establishment of universal freedom of opinion, although obscured by his fall, still shone with a suband the discovery of the art of printing, men have been dued splendor throughout the ages of the primeval astounded at the facility with which public morals have world. By a just retribution, as man abused his great been corrupted, and, as a necessary consequence, ac intellectual powers, he was gradually deprived of those
high gifts with which he had been originally endowed, guished torch in an unwholesome atmosphere, has and as his will, that moral faculty of the mind, became already suffered in his generations for his deviation perverse, this bright illumination was obscured, be from the path of rectitude, and for the abuses of his cause in his corrupt state it would have been hurtful moral faculty; and untaught by experience, who sells rather than beneficial. It was this superior degree of her lessons at the price of tears, the enlightened nations intelligence which gave to the antediluvian races such of the present age, in their frightful abuse of the pow. vast superiority over the succeeding generations of ers entrusted to them for high and holy purposes, seem, mankind; and it was the same cause that led to that in the perversity of a corrupt will, and in the excesses gigantic moral and intellectual corruption, which we of a presumptuous understanding, rapidly to approach can only comprehend in its consequence—the destruc. the verge of that sheer precipice, around and beneath tion of all flesh upon earth. The will being the moral which, in the decrees of a superintending Providence, power in man, it follows from what we have said, that all is darkness and degradation. If the will or moral if the will be perverse and licentious, the crimes of faculty were properly chastened, to enlighten the unmen are measured in their enormity by the extent of derstanding would be to improve the heart; but when their understanding. Thus we trace the cause of all man, surrendering himself up to the desires of a rebelthe horrors of the revolutions of the last century, urged lious will, "sins against the canon laws of his foundaon by enlightened minds, regardless of the salutary res- tion,” and is at war with his nature, to expand his traint of morals and religion. At the time of the revi- intellect is to heap the measure of his enormities. val of letters in Europe, and the discovery of printing, It will be objected that an enlightened understanding this key of knowledge, which had been mercifully taken may compel the will. Alas! such is not the history of from the corrupt generations, who had so grossly abused man. Throw around him a blaze of light, and closing its treasures, seemed about to be restored to man, reno- his eyes to the celestial radiance, how often do we find vated as his soul and intellect had been by a long chris. him descending the paths which lead to the dark and tian education. And after the intelligence of man had unfathomable abysses of crime? He drinks abundantbeen extended by the revival of letters, and before the ly of all the wells and springs of knowledge, but, like purple carnage and material philosophism which quick- the fabled waters of the Golden Fountain, they convert ly followed the reformation, it seemed reserved for these him into stone. If virtue be not founded in the moral latter ages to witness the full meridian splendor of instead of the intellectual faculty, how shall we account human intelligences. It appeared that the great scheme for the transcendent virtues of the son of Jesse, the unof creation was about to be fulfilled, and that the in- tutored peasant king, whose pastoral staff was displatellectual light which played around the cradle, would ced for the royal sceptre ; whose harp, in the language brighten the last age of humanity. Men, catching the of a beautiful writer, whose harp was full-stringed, and glowing spirit of Milton, had persuaded themselves every angel of joy and of sorrow swept over the chords that they beheld puissant nations, rousing themselves as he passed, but the melody always breathed of heaven; like a strong man after sleep, shaking his invincible who hath dressed out religion in such a rich and beautilocks; that they saw them as an eagle muing her mighty ful garment of divine poesy as beseemeth her majesty, youth, and kindling her undazzled eye at the full mid- in which being arrayed, she can stand up before the day beam, purging and unscaling her long abused sight eyes even of her enemies in more royal stale than any at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance: but the personification of love, or glory, or pleasure, to which calm impartial voice of history will declare the unset- highly gifted mortals have devoted their genius. Let tled condition of the human family, and already dis- us confess the amiable truth : his will was chastened and cerns the malignant typhon of revolution gathering obedient, the moral faculty was upright, and the divine strength amid the increasing licentiousness of the age, flame of intellect in this pure atmosphere burned with a collecting his scattered members, recruiting his ex- brilliant and holy lustre. And if the enlightened underhausted energies, and preparing anew to assault, to standing can compel the reluctant will, how was is, oppress, and to desolate the world!
that the son of David, he, to whom God bad given “ a Considering man then as the work of the great Crea- wise and an understanding heart, so that before him lor, upon whom in his munificence he had impressed there was none that was like unto him, neither after his sacred image and bestowed the divine emanation of him was there any to arise like unto him,"-abandonintellect ; looking upon this most wonderful of the ing himself to the appetites of a depraved will, and works of the Supreme Architect, as endowed with free forgetful of his covenant with Jehovah, “turned away will, and subjected to restraints admirably adapted to from the commandments and the statutes, which the his condition and essential to his happiness; we can Lord had set before him, and served other gods and only account for his obscured understanding and unpa- worshipped them ?” And if to enlighten the underralleled debasement, by the abuse of the favors heaped standing be to improve the heart, how shall we account upon him. For, the whole history of the human race for the corruption of all flesh in the races of the antedi. teaches us, that the mental and social degradation of luvian world, which so far surpassed the generations of man, in all ages, has invariably followed the corrupt our age in knowledge and understanding? Whence the and licentious will, which has led him to abuse his tran- necessity of that divine prayer taught us by the meek scendent privileges. God is justice, and governs the and merciful Redeemer, "deliver us from temptation ?» world by fixed laws, and the genius of punishment or of that other humiliating confession in the ritual,"we presides over their fulfilment, and invariably chastises have done the things we ought not to have done, and every prevarication or departure. The barbarian, de- we have left undone those things we should have done ?” based beneath the primitive condition of manhood, in Alas! it is too often the case, the waters of virtue, whom the light of reason glimmers like a half extin. I like the sacred fountain of Dodona, cease to filow in the
noontide blaze of intellect, but gush forth in sparkling (ests of religion than the persecution and intolerance of and plenteous effusion in the stillness of the benighted one established institution; whether it would not have mind.
been better to have purified and remodelled the ancient It was ordained of old, even from the creation, that temple, venerable for its age and coeval with christianbeneath the branches of the tree of knowledge should ity, than to have erected a thousand different altars; lurk the enemy of man. Not all the vigilance of the whether universal freedom of opinion and its dark celestial wardens of the gates of Paradise could repel satellite infidelity, the leading consequence and necesthe great corrupter of the will. But since "no falsehood sary result of this reformation ; whether all these have can endure touch of celestial temper, but returns of not rather retarded than promoted the social and moral force to its own likeness,” armed with the spear of truth, improvement of man,-is a fair field for the exercise of let us endeavor to disrobe vice of her seemliness, philosophical inquiry. and compel her to indue her pristine and repulsive The first great reformation, or divine fulfilment of deformity.
the designs of Providence in the religious government Inaccessible to the prejudices of the age in which of man, was introduced in a time of profound peace, at we live, we have boldly canvassed the utility of the a period when the shadow of the Roman eagles had religious reformation of the sixteenth century in its been thrown upon the uttermost boundaries of the ultimate consequences. Originating with man, it could known world, and when the language of Greece, with not claim a celestial origin, and participated in the all its graceful purity, had attained its highest excelfallibility and trailty of his nature. If we could trace lence. Its spirit was peace and good will towards man, the divine impress in its character, introduction, or con- and its corner stone was unbounded brotherly love. sequences, we are not so unmindful of the fate of the It was heralded in by a man of many sorrows, but Israelite who stretched forth his arm to uphold the whose life was a faithful exhibit of the sublime docark of the covenant, as to attempt an exposition of trines he taught. Clothed with the power of the its effects upon the destinies of the children of men. Father, he was meek and humble of heart, and he There is but one reformation of the religious institu- never suspended the laws of nature, obedient to his tions of the human family, which bears the broad seal will, but to bless and to sanctify those whom he ranof the Deity, and that seems to have been pre-ordained somed from perdition. Did the dead arise from a bed from the beginning for the redemption of a lost world. of corruption, and cast off his tabid cerements,—the From the fall of man, every system of polity, every soul too was purified, and it was only the promise of a type and figure of religious observances among the more glorious resurrection ! Did the leper cast his chosen people, shadowed forth this mighty revolution. scales, and was made whole in the flesh,—the spirit too The christian era constitutes a fixed central point in the was chastened, and he was clad in the raiment of innohistory of man, and while preceding generations, filled cence! Did the blind see,-the hand that restored his with hope, looked forward to the coming of the Sun vision cast a divine ray into his soul, and he was of Righteousness to resuscitate a perishing world, sub- blessed forevermore! Did the good man seek for virsequent ages have looked back to the advent of the tue or the wise man for the lessons of wisdom?—the Redeemer as the sacred fountain, from which all the Sermon on the Mount contained every lesson of mosprings of life were to flow forevermore. The wise rality, all the fruits of wisdom. But the reformation men, who came forth from towards the rising of the of the sixteenth century originated in angry and exasun, were not the only watchers for the star that stood cerbated feeling, and one of its first consequences was a over the stable of Bethlehem, while the shepherds multiplication of conflicting and hostile sects, which adored the infant Saviour. The rising of that star had during a space of thirty years deluged in blood the long been foretold in those sublime passages of prophe-fairest provinces of christendom. In England, Scotland, tic inspiration, which were consecrated to the Israelite; France, Germany, and Ireland, the red car of reform and the Gentiles had learned that it was to be to them rolled in the blood of slaughtered recusants. Each sect too a light of salvation, and a gathering together of the boasted its martyrs, but humanity and religion shudnations of the earth into one fold under one divine pastor. dered at the multitude of deluded victims. The primiWhen the veil of the temple was rent asunder and the live purity of the established current of religion, as it mysteries of the sanctuary were revealed ; when the had lowed from the fountain of truth, may have been oracles of paganism were struck dumb on their altars; troubled by the admixture of licentious indulgences when the types and figures of the old religion were and lax morality, yet it would have been no difficult overshadowed by the presence of the Deity; the only task to trace it in the midst of its slime and pollution, religious reformation, which has been promised to man, to its pure and sacred source. When the proud city of or which is consistent with the divine scheme of re- Babylon was beleagured by the forces of combined demption, was consummated. Hence all subsequent nations, the turbid waters of the great river were changes in the religious polity of nations, are the work diverted into new channels, and though Babylon the of human hands, and like any other result of merely great fell, the numerous currents deflected from the human agency, are legitimate subjects of investigation. ancient bed, instead of uniting and rolling on in one Whether mankind has gained anything permanently pure stream, stagnated into a pestilential marsh, until beneficial, by the reformation of the sixteenth century, nothing but the booming of the bittern and the howling which at far less cost to humanity and religion must of the hyena marked the spot where once stood in not necessarily have followed the revival of letters purple pride the city of the plain! Reformations thereand consequent intellectual development; whether the fore in the religious observances of a people, the work of substitution of the revilings and mutual massacres perishable mortals, and divested of supernatural agenof rival sects was less prejudicial to the true inter-1 cy, whether they originate in Arabia or Gerniany, in