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London Secular Open-Air Mission also has a series of nearly a score, mostly single pages, which have been circulated largely. Of the character of these tracts I will only say that they are contemptible from all points of view, but yet calculated to do mischief among the ignorant, unwary, and profane.
As with these tracts, so with their other publications : I have not met with one which reveals either literary or intellectual competency. Nor can it
possibly be otherwise, for the men who are the chief advocates of unbelief among the masses of the metropolis are not well educated ; two or three of their greater lights profess a certain amount of learning, but it is superficial and second-hand. Their arguments have been refuted a thousand times, and their appeals to authorities have been over and over again shown to be
Yet, for all this, they go on repeating their assertions as if they were infallibly correct; and they can do this with impunity, because of the ignorance of their hearers and readers. It must not be supposed for a moment that infidel advocates keep up with the knowledge of the age, for this they do not. Their obstinate refusal to be set right, and to refrain from saying again what has been proved untrue, is one of the greatest difficulties we have to encounter. Such men may and do boast of their candour, love of truth, and high moral principle, but we, who are in weekly contact with them, know that it is boasting alone.
Let us take an illustration or two. One of the favourite points of the Secularists is, that the name and history of Krishna, the Hindoo god, is the original from which our Christ and the Gospels are derived. To support their assertions, they print the name Krishna as if it were Chrishna, or even Christna, although no scholar would do so. In the next place, they say Sir William Jones~Mr. Bradlaugh has said Sir William Hamilton—" tells us that the whole story of Krishna was extant many hundred years before the Christian era.” The truth is that Sir W. Jones believed the outlines of the story existed before our era, but that the most remarkable resemblances between it and Christian traditions were derived from the Apocryphal Gospels. Now, as the false Gospels were not written till some centuries after Christ, it is easy to see how untrue is the statement made by the infidels. I further note that several great Sanscrit scholars, including H. H. Wilson, believe the Krishna fable was not written as we have it till the twelfth century after Christ.
The opponents of the Gospel love to go to the remotest regions for their Weapons against it, as the preceding fact shows, and the next further proves. They declare that all the principal features of the Gospel were known to the Phoenicians, perhaps, a thousand years before Christ. In support of this assertion they quote what they call a passage from Sanchoniathon, a very ancient Phænician writer. On looking at the original of their quotation it proves not to be an extract at all, but a gross misrepresentation. The true version simply tells a story of something that once took place, while the false version makes it tell of something to come. To make their case still worse, it is held by the best modern authorities, that Sanchoniathon never wrote the book ascribed to him, and that he himself never existed. The infidel advocate will hear all this, and even admit its accuracy; yet the very next time he speaks he will repeat his former statements.
Even when they stay nearer home they will make the most grievous misstatements of the contents and declarations of the Scriptures. I will illustrate this also from Mr. Bradlaugh, the chief of the party, and president of “The National Secular Society,” editor of "The National Reformer," etc. Speaking of the Bible, he says: “ This book sanctions the sale by a father of his daughter for the basest purposes." He repeats the same thing over and over again, quoting Exodus xxi. as his authority. But no such thing is in the chapter. We read there of a father parting with his daughter, as Orientals do to this day, for a money consideration, not that she may lead a vicious life, but to be betrothed either to her master or to his son (Exod. xxi. 7–11). Where polygamy was allowed, this would be perfectly intelligible. Another of the same person's statements is, that “in the Gospel of John you are told that Jesus himself declared there had been no betrayal with a kiss." The truth is, that in St. John's Gospel there is no declaration of the kind. Another of his assertions is, that Christ was “out of the grave before Saturday was over.” But this also is untrue. Another of his declarations is, that the Bible “ does not teach high morality,” and “ does not teach great truths,” which all readers of the Book know to be false. I could fill pages with illustrations of a similar description, but for the present refrain, because I do not wish to shock the reader unnecessarily.
Few men are or can be more pretentious, but few use lightness" to the same extent; and where levity and buffoonery begin, reason and real earnestness end. Most have heard of that monstrous fable, in which God is likened to a great monkey. This came out in the “National Reformer," in 1867, and was written by J. P. Adams, an old friend of Mr. Bradlaugh's, and a resident in Stepney.* Also in 1867, the “National Reformer” admitted an article by William Maccall, a man of native talent but utterly fallen, calling heaven a "celestial piggery,” and carrying out the simile at length. Such things bring deserved and enduring dishonour
* I allow the foregoing to stand, although since I wrote my article for the printer a curious circumstance has occurred. On the 14th of December last, Mr. Bradlaugh, the editor of the “National Reformer," was plaintiff in a libel case, and took the customary oath without objection. In the course of his examination, the "Times" reports that he said of an extract from the monkey fable, “It was part of the translation of a German fable." Supposing he has now been correctly informed, what must we think of the literary honesty of the man that sent it to the “National Reformer," with the following title, and an extract from a poem by Cowper at its head!—"The Fanatical Monkeys. A Fable for the Wise. Originally written by Charles Southwell; and now reproduced from memory, with additions, by J. P. A.”—("National Reformer,” February 17th, 1868.) The reader will not wonder that I am an inveterate sceptic myself among such unbelievers.
upon the heads of their patrons and authors. But low ribaldry is congenial to the party, and the torrents of ridicule to which we are exposed, are at once the greatest trials of our temper, and the least trials of our faith. Nobody is convinced by a blasphemous or a foul jest ; and perhaps the very jest often does as much to undermine its author's credit, as any argument which can be used against him.
I will not now go further into the subject, but in what has preceded, I have endeavoured to indicate a few of the features of a life which is next to unknown by ordinary Christians. They “hear with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save their souls,” and we are outside fighting at that same moment with the agents of evil. They are enjoying their precious privileges, and we are contending, in the most literal sense, for “ the faith once delivered to the saints." Truly “one-half the world does not know how the other half lives."
B. H. COWPER,
TRAVERS MADGE: UNITARIANISM FOUND WANTING.
SELDOM have we read a story more affecting or instructive than that of Travers Madge. The son of a Unitarian minister (born at Thorpe, near Norwich, in 1823), he was brought up among the more devout and earnest class of the body to which his father belonged, and in youth he gave himself to spiritual labours for the good of others with intense devotion and an unconmon self-denial. But with all the advantages of his training, and of an impulsive and almost instinctive piety, he came to feel that the Unitarian creed, in the best form of it, was not a sufficient explanation of the Gospel, and did not provide for the greatest needs of the human soul. The letter, written in 1850, in which he informed a friend of the change which had taken place in his views, is introduced by his Unitarian biographer in the following words :
“ It would be difficult to define the exact change in his religious opinions, as doctrinal questions, such e.g. as the Trinity, had never much interest for him. On such subjects he always shrank from any expressions beyond the simple language of Scripture, but the words "God was in Christ' came to have a meaning to him different from the highest thought held by Unitarians of the indwelling spirit of God in Christ. And so, too, a sense of some mysterious and wonderful work of grace wrought by the sacrifice of Christ : a sense of Christ's death having in some way procured him a peace, and pardon, and restoration to holiness, that otherwise could never have been held out to him, took strong possession of his heart. This, as a friend who shared his views writes to me, one who knew him far better than I did–This was the rock he stood on, and amidst all the storms of life he never lost his hold on it.'"
The letter shows how profoundly his mind was exercised on the questions
that are involved in the differences which separate the Evangelical faith from the Unitarian. The following are the principal portions of it:
“I referred in one of my former letters to conversations I had with Mr. Lalor. One of the subjects on which we conversed was the government of God, and the objects and character of His punishments. I had always entertained the notion that the punishments of God were a corrective discipline through which we should have to pass in order that our souls might be purified, and rendered fit for heaven. Such a view as this I have always felt too weak, though I have earnestly maintained it. felt it—and I do even now feel it—a temptation to look lightly upon sin. The sins of others and myself, I have regarded more with pity than with hatred. Seeing others, I could have wished myself the vilest of the vile ; for as I have long since told you, sympathy and pity are a passion with
And feeling my own temptations, I have yielded to them with a sort of
vague notion that they were too strong to be resisted, or that at any rate, I might defer the struggle till God should begin to cure me by such discipline or treatment as He might think best. I think some such view of punishment as I have mentioned, is generally entertained amongst Unitarians; and that they are somewhat apt to regard sin as the worst of diseases, and the saddest of misfortunes, but nothing more. The extreme to which I have described myself as going, I do not, however, charge upon these doctrines, but on the use that may be made of them when under the influence of temptation. They are not strong enough to help one against temptation. The fact is, that sin is something essentially different from disease or calamity. For these we should feel sorrow and pity, for that nothing but unmitigated loathing and hatred. So, God may chasten those whom He loveth, even as a father chasteneth his children. This is the mild language used in reference to the afflictions of Christians, and for such chastenings, whether here or hereafter, we must be thankful. But those who are hard and impenitent in their hearts, treasure up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath,' 'indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. The whole language of Scripture against sin, and those who wilfully abide in sin, is fearfully strong and unyielding. The sinner who continues in his sin, can hear nothing in the Gospel, but that the curse of God rests upon him to the uttermost, that he will be for ever banished from the presence of God, that he will be cut up root and branch, and utterly destroyed; there is not a ray of hope held out for the sinner who remains to the last hardened and impenitent. If sin met only with the sorrow or pity of God, and with such corrective discipline as He might see fit to inflict in order to bring us round, I could not pray to be forgiven. I have known those who have come to this conclusion, and it seems to me a fair inference from such a view. If I pray to be forgiven, I must have some thought of the wrath of God, and of His punishment as retributive. Of course, I mean nothing revengeful or passionate by "wrath,' but something much more fearful than the common Unitarian displeasure. Moreover, is it not great presumption on our part to say that we shall all become holy and good in the course of time? Who can reconcile this with human freedom-shall,' must' be good ? This cannot be declared of
free agent. I do not wish to lose myself in metaphysics; but I do say that those who plunge into the future and prophesy universal restoration, are speaking of things of which they know nothing, and that human reason is as much against them as for them. The result of all to my mind is as follows:
" That God visits sin, and the hardened and impenitent sinner, with indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.
“ That there is a certain fearful looking forward to judgment and fiery indignation. That God is so good and has such love to all that He spares nothing, not even His own Son, to save us from our sins.
“That whilst in many things the future is uncertain, we must trust in this same goodness and love of God as remaining firm and unchangeable
"I think the views generally held amongst Unitarians, and the certainty with which they look forward to a happy end for all, have had a tendency to check their zeal in the salvation of souls. They see how beautiful a thing the soul of man may be, and they try to train and perfect it, perhaps more than others; but when lost they seldom try to save or rescue it. Hence education rather than conversion has been their work. Hence, too, a want of sympathy with those who are groaning and despairing under a sense of their sins.
It is often said that the very fact of sin being evil in itself, and contrary to God's will, ought to be sufficient to make us do all we can to blot it out. But I cannot conceal from you that the thought of the future, perhaps eternal consequences of it, -pictured forth in Scripture by language short of truth, yet the most fearful that human heart can conceive,-has made a deep impression on my mind, and increased tenfold any zeal or interest I might have felt before in the work of conversion.
“It is some weeks since I wrote the above. They have been partly weeks of darkness and despair, such as I dare not dwell upon in my own thoughts, or speak of to others. It is, indeed, only through the mercy of God that I am spared to write these words. Thanks to Him, and to Him alone, the fearful struggle is past; and I have a feeling of peace beyond anything I ever experienced before. And yet I am almost afraid to speak
" At last, in the deepest shame and uttermost despair, I was led to look to Jesus. When I thought I could hardly come to God on account of my sins, it was told me that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. When I felt that I did not love God as I ought, I was told not to think of my own feelings; that the more I tried to love Him, the