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ters, oeconomists, and calculators.” It is too high a cause for them to appreciate, and can only be conducted by the generous views and emotions which they do not understand. The study of the Greek and Latin writings has been severely condemned as irreligious. They are most certainly the productions of Pagan writers, and their allusions of a sacred character are formed upon the mythology which they professed. The objection must equally lie against the study of their statuary and architecture. We must cast down all those prodigies of the antique,—those breathing marbles before which we can hardly breathe,—those friezes, those entablatures, those capitals, those colonnades, those arches, which seem to form themselves afresh before our eyes, and to build up anew their original structures. Of the chief classic writings it may be affirmed that they are imbued with a sincere piety. Reverent is the mention of their gods. They impute disaster of every kind to the neglect of the temples. They accept of rule and power as divine gifts on the humble subordination of a people to supernal rule and power. “Hinc omne principium, huc refer exitum.”* Why is Mezentius held up to our horror? “Contemptor Divum.”f Why are we made to shrink from his prowess and defiance “Dextra mihi Deus.” Why does the death of the tyrant, though the slaughter of his son might have constrained our pity, fail to draw a tear? “Nee Divium parcimus ulli.” Homer is very chastity in his household descriptions, and he is a devout worshipper of those divinities whom his machines so often require and reveal. Pindar, with all his f, ghts and fervours is without a stain. Think of the historians, Herodotus, and Thucydides, and Livy,–the orators, Isocrates, Demosthenes, Cicero,—and where is the fear of harm ? In a few places of the epic, and a few more of the lyric, poets, there is polluting * Hor: Carm ; lib. iii. 6. + Vir: AEneid: lib. x.
image and diction. In some of the moralists there is profaneness. But there is room enough for selection. Suppose that Catullus, Ovid, and Lucretius, were never brought into our schools. It would be loss; but a good acquaintance with Latin, and better Latin, might be formed without them. I have lately most reluctantly come to the conclusion, that Plato is a very tainted writer: but the Middle Attic may be studied without his use, and he is not often set before our youth. The Greek tragedians are singularly pure. We would hide and exculpate nothing wrong: our wonder, however, is, that in heathen works these vices should be so rare. To say that they are idolaters is certainly gratuitous: but was boy ever proselytised to their superstition ? Might not the preceptor direct the pupil to the manner of homage and faith which they bear to their fabled deities, and teach him hence the constant acknowledgment which he ought to render to the Holy One and True? To say that the ancient classics are fraught with recitals of battles, is but slightly to condemn them : was boy ever turned into soldier by the blood of mortals and the ichor of immortals, mingled together on the Trojan plain ' If battles did occur, it cannot be strange that annalists recorded, or that bards sung, them: the struggles of Thermopylae, Marathon, and Salamis, surely may be told and read : and should any fear that the youth thus taught should fly to arms, it can only be just to remember, that far more probably would strifes of a later and patriotic interest fire his fancy, and native heroes of the past and present hour arouse his emulation. Give these renowned models of writing their own principles of a deplorably false religion, and I fearlessly say, that they present nothing more extraordinary than their devout spirit and their blameless delicacy. He must possess a strange sense of virtue who takes refuge from them in our Gibbon, Dryden, and Pope. There would be as little happiness of escape from Aristophanes and Terence into our native comedy: even Shakspeare's tragic bust is not so unblurred and unsoiled as are the heads which the Grecian Melpomene has so long since crowned. The higher state of education among us has been very salutary as to our profession of Christianity. When learning was sinking low, an unhealthy feebleness came over all beside. Enquiry was arrested, and thought was proscribed. Our religious belief began to dote. A poverty of conception, an effeminacy of language, presented all sacred principles most disadvantageously. A poltroon fear contracted and shrivelled up the soul. Rescensus of the inspired text was deprecated as an encouragement of scepticism, if not a rapine upon it by scepticism itself. Canons of criticism were condemned. The possible conclusions of science were beheld afar with an utter dismay. Men spoke of the laws of evidence and of interpretation, in a manner which made them quite different things in religious, and in common, applications. Whatever had been held by certain authorities and symbols, was proclaimed as coordinate with Revelation itself. But what have the true hermeneutics achieved ? Distrust of inspiration ? I profess myself a believer in the Divine suggestion of every word of true Scripture, jot and tittle. But the book of God, given in its present conditions, must be authenticated as any other book. Its text must be collated and confirmed as any other text. Its language is to be interpreted as any other language. We think it responsible only for itself. We are often plied with sentences as extracts from it which it never contained. There are those who oracularly assure us of its purport and scope, which we may think it never did intend. Now we can open the Bible, and with open face can read it. Not my Bible, not yours; not what I have taken to be the sense of it, not what you; but only that which can prove itself to be the uncorrupted Bible—but only that which can be proved to be its unperverted meaning. Now, is this strong, earnest, impartial, spirit the characteristic of our times It is the fruit of liberal learning. But while we honour the instrument, we still more glory in the result. We believe it is the spirit of truth. Revelation seeks not the blind, the unreasoning, homage of our mind. It loves, it commands, investigation. “Search the Scriptures.” By your full conviction of their veracity, by your entire reliance on their information, by your cordial devotion to their excellence, alone do you allow their claim or magnify their origin. Philosophy is no longer scanned with a jealous eye. Time was, at least, when its name was in little favour among our many. The discoveries of science were supposed to lour with an ominous aspect upon Christianity. But this is now better understood. There has been no compromise nor concession. All that is proper Christianity, the religion of salvation, has long been given to us in the inspired page. We ask no new lights as to its substance; though new and still more beautiful illustrations may constantly be thrown around it. In itself it is complete : it is a dogmatic discovery. We should as soon think of addition to the physics of the universe, or to the principles of mathematics, as to the compass of the Gospel. But now let just and comprehensive philosophy commence any of its studies in reference to it. We hail its approach and subserviency. If moral, having worked out its theory of obligation, it will find in Christianity its best sanction and true approval. If inductive, Christianity anticipates it,—“Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” If the philosophy of history, Christianity furnishes its only scheme and key. If the philosophy of mind, it is forestalled by the scriptural analysis of the inner man. Kindle these illuminations to all their strength: our religion looks but
the more intensely glorious beneath them : Or let science lay open her experiments: we still are fearless. Scan the chronology of the firmament | Read history in the stratification of the rocks! Discovery and deduction are on our side. Let the great laboratory be entered,—let forge and crucible be plied. Let silicon, the matrix of modern miracles, be put to all its torture ! These elements are at an eternal distance from life and self-action. Archaeology may lift its torch upon the “dark backward and abysm of time.” Not a date, nor a scene, nor an event, of our religion does it disturb. In all this are seen the might and the divinity and the victory of our faith ! Liberty has obtained strength in this enlargement of the popular mind. The servile and the abject are abhorrent to religion, and to its selectest influences. It awakens a conscious dignity. It enables each bond-man to burst his chains. Oppression has often stung to resentment, but more often has it bowed to abasement. Persecution, if it did not frighten our spirit, had sat heavy upon it. It had silenced our ministers, and suppressed our schools. Deliverance seemed hopeless. So long as the night of ignorance deepened around us, our love of freedom languished. We were satisfied to be oppressed. We sought toleration. We loved the hateful word. We asked no more of a revolution which we had conducted to triumph, and of a dynasty which we had raised to the throne. But as learning once more dawned, we felt the brand of toleration. We had sworn by liberty in the rescue of our country: we for ourselves now invoked its aid ' And as we sprung from our dust, rivet after rivet started from our chains, and link of those chains fell after link. It is our fault, and just will be the retribution, if any man bring us again into bondage. The intellect of our community being enlightened, its peculiar principles are now more manfully maintained." We apo