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Thus much may be addressed to those who, out of custom, or a desire to be seen of men, frequent the places of public worship, but are not seriously concerned for the welfare of their souls. Those who make it their chief business to obtain the favour of God, and secure their own endless felicity, will not need much persuasion to a suitable and becoming behaviour, when they meet to pay
thetr homage, and bow before the footstool of their Maker, their Observer, and their Judge. Yet something may fitly be said, to show the reasonableness of an outward deportment adapted to the solemnity of the occasionthe majesty of Him, who is the object of worship-and the inward'humility and devotion with which those who would worship him in an acceptable manner, must necessarily be endued.
Towards our superiors upon earth, custom has made it necessary to carry ourselves with respect; and can it be less necessary towards Him before whom they, as well as we, are as vanity and nothing? Would we be thought to have less reverence for the Deity, than for men like ourselves? Let us not, then, appear as if we had, by honouring them as custom requires, and by a careless, irreverent behaviour, when we assemble together to render unto Him the honour due unto his name.
It is indeed true, that the secrets of our hearts are intimately known unto God, and that he needs no outward testimonies to make him acquainted with inward sincerity; but it is true, likewise, that when the heart is sincere, it will appear in the outward actions and conduct of life. Our Saviour bas told us, that the tree may be known by its fruits; therefore, I think we may safely pronounce, that where there is so much outward levity in public divine service, there can be little inward and sincere religion.
I do not intend to plead for any particular posture of body, as preferable to another, in the exercise of religious duties, either in public or private; though I think that most becoming, which is most expressive of inward reverence and humility. My design is, to persuade those who attend public worship, to let their demeanour on such occasions, be agreeable to the professed design of their coming there; and to avoid whatever may give offence or bad example to others, or cause a suspicion of their own sincerity.
It cannot but give offence to sincere and pious Christians, to observe some who attend their public assemblies, appear as unconcerned as if they had no idea of the important business of providing for eternity; nor can it be expected but that many of the young and ignorant will be encouraged to follow such pernicious examples. It is therefore of much greater consequence than is generally imagined, that every one who attends the public service of God, should manifest, by his outward deportment, a sincere attention and regard to the end and design of the institution. It should be remembered, at such times, that our business is only with God; to offer up our prayers and praises to him, and to hear his holy word read and preached. Discoursing with one another, must then be highly improper; it must take off our attention from what ought to engage it, and is a hindrance to others as well as ourselves. There are certainly other times and places for conversation with our neighbours, without intruding upon such as ought to be wholly appropriated to the service of God.
Some make a practice of sitting down, whilst addresses are offering to the throne of grace. But surely such people cannot consider what they are about; is sitting down, at all expressive of reverence to God, humility in ourselves, and a sense of our unworthiness and manifold offences? Would we sit down if we were to approach an earthly prince to present a petition, or to make acknowledgments for favours received ?-why, then, before the most high God? We read of our Saviour, and holy men both in the Old and New Testament, kneeling upon their knees, and sometimes standing; and the Psalmist exhorts us to bow down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker. Indeed, if by reason of any infirmity, persons are under a necessity of sitting, the case is widely different; but when this is not the case, what can be thought of those who are frequently, if not generally, seen to sit during the whole time divine service is performing?
God grant, that true and genuine religion may prevail more universally in the hearts of mankind. Then such irregularities as these will proportionably diminish. Then peace and harmony will flourish, where now are discord and confusion; and this world will bear some degree of resemblance to that above.
THE CHARACTER OF CALVIN: A DISCOURSE.
BY WILLIAM MACCALL. “A man subject to like passions as we are."-JAMES v. 17. The name of Calvin is not one of those names toward which the reverential heart spontaneously turns. It has served as the watchword to too many atrocious ebullitions of fanaticism, to be as much loved among the beatitudes as it is prominent among the celebrities of the world. It brings before us, not Calvin, but his system; not the character of the man, but the results of his teachings; not the incidents of his life, or his modes of action, but the repulsive associations of his appalling theology. The countries that that theology has kept fettered with the worst forms of priesteraft for centuries; the minds that it has misled and maddened, and the hearts that it has tortured and broken; the falsehoods in morality, religion, and philosophy that it has assisted to perpetuate; the obstacles that it has raised up to social, literary, and educational developement, these are some of the impressions which the name of the Genevan Reformer produces. Every mother that has wept over the grave of her babe, and agonizingly dreamed of that babe's eternal exclusion from heaven; every sad and timid soul that has pined in solitary wretchedness, under the dread of the Divine wrath; every bigot that has launched the merciless damnations of a fantastic hell at heretics and heresies; every human capability that has been made miserable or mischievous by a mistaken estimate of the attributes of Deity; such, for three hundred years, have been the monuments of predestinarian error,—monuments that we cannot help transforming into disgusts at the arch-predestinarian himself. Unjust this may be; but it is instinctive in every bosom that cherishes a sympathy for the good and the beautiful, and a dislike for the distortions and absurdities of superstition. We cannot, by any process of mental abstraction, separate Calvin from Calvinism. They stand inextricably linked, and by closer bonds than any that
have ever connected an individual with his influence. The influence of Luther has been, and will be, far more extensive; but it is not nearly in the same degree so interwoven with the whole texture of his bistory and existence. Indeed, it requires but small discernment to show that the more the mind and the utterances of a man are sectarian, the more will the consequences of his mission have a personal aspect. The influence of Christ is illimitably diffused and diffusive; and for that very reason, we never attempt to clothe any portion of it with an embodiment of personality. If Calvin, then, suffers from the direct, intimate, obvious relations between him and his influence, we may regret the injustice, but we cannot exclude the fact. In spite of our utmost endeavours to be calm, honest, impartial in our appreciation of his qualities, the hideous anomalies that have emanated from his doctrines will rush upon our thoughts and bias our judgments. I therefore ask you to throw the veil of your charity round whatever my criticism seems too unsparingly to attack.
Calvin was a Frenchman, and he had all the peculiarities of his countrymen, excepting their social virtues. The French are deficient in some of the nobler characteristics of our nature; but they have an extraordinary combination of its commonplace features. Wittier than all other nations, they have less of genius than all other nations. With tact and talent in abundance, they want that higher and more original energy of which tact and talent are only the subordinate instruments. They are constitutionally and babitually Epicurean and materialist; and if they occasionally unfold the glimpses of something better, it is not from the uncontrollable fulness and earnestness of their sentiments, but from that facility of transition and imitation which is not one of the least striking of their notabilities. They have not the spiritual elements that constitute poetry and religion; none of that introspective brooding of the soul on itself, which may often degenerate into mysticism, but without which the soul cannot rise to the knowledge and adoration of the Divinity; none of that soaring imagination which is often frittered into unsubstantial dreaminess, but without which there is no conception of sublime and transcendental truths. They invent, but only in the region of the physical; they progress, but only by means of analysis. The ceaseless aim of their intellectual endeavours, is to measure the infinite by a mathematical standard, and to map out the invisible with logical precision They have no more approved criterion of moral value, than that which is found in some appeal to sense. They are always amiable, affable, and amusing; but brave and generous, only when their vanity or ambition invites. Of the grandest accomplishments of morality, they are rendered incapable, by the same circumstance that renders them incapable of the grandest accomplishments of intelligence—their scepticism on all matters that lie beyond the realms of the tangible. It is from a belief in the unseen, that genius derives all its inspiration; and it is from the same source, that the martyr derives his heroic spirit of sacrifice. But this belief is to the French a stumbling-block and a foolishness. They may deem it fit to be exploded by their epigrams, but not entitled to their grave and solemn consideration. And yet, with all these defects, the French are the most agreeable people in Europe. Their intercourse has an unspeakable charm from its gaiety, ease, brilliancy, and frankness. By their contempt for the venerable also, they serve admirably as the pioneers of political change; as they have little reverence for things worthy to be revered, they are not likely to be withheld, by a feeling of reverence, from laying a hand of destruction on feudalisms and falsehoods that are honoured without being honourable. They are thus inevitably destined to be the prime movers in all subsequent revolutions. Then, again, if their literary productions which belong to the domain of fancy are distinguished by nothing but their formalism, frigidity, and barrenness,—their prose works, which contain the statements of principles, are remarkable for a clearness, a method, and a precision, to which the elucidators of the arts and sciences in other countries have never been able to attain. They are consequently fitted for their mission of propagandism, as much by the lucidity of their style and the skilful arrangement of their matter, as by their equalising tendencies. The profound spiritual culture of Europe must come from England, and especially from