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press, the principle of writing is divine; and it must be left free as the winds. Yes! whether it breathes in the zephyr of love, or thunders in the hurricane of wrath-whether it wafts the salubrity of truth, or bears the pestilence of error-still, free as the winds it must be.
What, then, is our duty as Christians in relation to literature? We reply in one sentence-To raise Christianity to a predominant influence ; to make it the presiding genius in all books. We do not say, to get all books filled with its characteristic subjects—this is not required, nor would it be expedient—but to get all books filled and ruled by its spirit. To get its divine animus in all the products of the pen, as the sun is in every blade and flower and tree in the landscape, giving a tinge of loveliness and a glow of life to all. This is confessedly a great work, and may require ages for its accomplishment; but at nothing less than this dare we aim. Though we cannot reach the mark, we can step towards it; and this we are bound to do. How and why are we to aim at it? are questions naturally suggested, and which must occupy the remainder of our space.
How are we to aim at the Christianization of literature? There are three things which can be done. First, patronize only the literature which Christianity sanctions. This implies, of course, that there is a possibility of ascertaining the literature that Christianity would sanction. How is this to be done? Is it by the material of books? We have volumes on all subjects-history, science, language, philosophy, and poetry; books to enlighten, to discipline, and to amuse. Is the congruity or non-congruity of a book with Christianity to be decided by the subject of which it treats ? No; truth is one, whether it comes down from the starry dome, up from the stratified earth, back from the revolutions of the past, or out from the abysses of the soul. All truth speaks in one voice, and, though in different tones, for one end; that voice is the voice of God -that end is the weal of man. Is it the mental characteristics of their authors? We have books written by every variety of mind. There is the metaphysical, first in order, penetrating into unseen regions, and heaving from depths into which no vulture's eye had pierced the golden elements of truth. There is, next, the logical, combining these elements according to their rational relations, and bearing them by argument to the judgments of men. There is, next, the poetic, moulding all into new forms, and breathing into all new life. Dressing truth in Orient beauty-dipping it in the splendours of the rainbow, and making it speak in the language of flowers, and shine in the brightness of stars. All these characteristics of mind we find existing in authors, existing separately in every degree, and conjointly in every proportion. He who combines them all to the greatest extent is the true genius. Our Shakspere and Milton had them all ; and they sit enthroned as the literary monarchs of the world.
; Now are we required by Christianity to adopt books written by any particular talent to the exclusion of others No, it requires every mind to stir up the gift that is in it, and to work in its own way. If you cannot do one thing in rearing the temple of truth, do another : jf
you cannot bring the parts into a symmetrical adjustment, provide the gold, polish the pillars, ornament the ceiling, fit up with divine furniture the holy of holies; do something else—be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Still more, is it to be ascertained by the form in which the book is written-prose or poetry, fact or fiction? No; has not Christianity adopted all these ? If, then, we cannot discover the point, either by its subjects, the mental characteristics of its authors, or its forms; how are we to find it out? We answer, emphatically, by its SPIRIT. There is a spirit in every book which even a child can easily detect. The face of man does not so clearly express the general disposition of the heart, as does the first page of a book develop the spirit of the writer. There is a moral odour emitted from every leaf which the inner sense, unless sadly perverted, soon discovers. Here, then, is the Christian's test of good literature. The book tható hath not the spirit of Christ is none of his.' What volumes are we called upon by this test to reprobate and lay aside! All the trifling books must go. Occasional flashes of native wit and humour are admissible. They frequently light up the argument, and give a charm to the page and a zest to the reader.—All the prostrating literature must go. The tendency of much of the popular writings of the day is to make the soul passive rather than active-act upon humanity rather than to rouse humanity to act upon it. One of the greatest objections to what is called fictitious literature is not its fictitious style, for much of the Bible comes to us in that garb; but its deteriorating influence upon the mind. It is alcohol, stirring the mind to action in dreamy elysiums, but stealing from it all the necessary energies for the duties of life; rendering it intensely alive to ideal sorrow and heroism, but dead to the sorrows and heroism of the real world. It is reported of a popular novelist, that after he had put forth a portion of his work, and was proceeding with the remainder of the tale, that he received numerous letters entreating him to bring his heroine to a happy end, stating that the happiness of the writers depended upon the issue. Is it not an ineffable disgrace to allow our natures to be thus acted upon ? We trust the day is dawning when both man and woman shall feel themselves insulted by any writer or speaker attempting to act thus on their sensibilities, rather than to rouse their reason and enthrone their conscience. Such literature grows phantom-corn, not veritable fruit; food for sylphs, not for men. These emasculating, gassy books must be renounced; for the spirit of Christianity is that of power and truth. Its aim is not to nourish sickly sentiment, but to awaken healthy thought; not to make men whine and laugh amidst flitting visions, but to worship and labour amidst immutable realities.-All anti-religious literature must go. All books which aim to crush the religious element in man, quench the sense of moral obligation, rupture the tie which attaches him to the Everlasting—whatever form they assume—whether they come in the philosophy of Hume, the wit of Voltaire, the scurrility of Paine, or the eloquence of Gibbon—we must repudiate, for the spirit of Christianity is that of reverential loyalty to the Eternal.--All sensual literature must go. The writings which appeal more to the passions
than to the reason, excite more animal feeling than spiritual thought; kindle in the inner temple more carnal fire than mental light, whatever garb they assume, narrative or novel, poetry or prose-penned by Fielding, Moore, Byron, or even geniuses superior to either-are condemned by the spirit of that system which demands the mortifying of the flesh.—All temporizing literature must go. Books that lower the standard of moral obligation—that advocate expediency rather than right as the rule of life—that enforce what is best now rather than what is right for ever-that view man rather as the citizen of time than the offspring of the Infinite and the heir of eternity-must be put away from us. They are hostile to the spirit of that religion which requires us to do all to the glory of God. Judging books, then, by the simple and practical test propounded, how much of the literature of the world is antagonistic to the spirit of Christianity!
Now if we would elevate our religion-raise her to the throne in the kingdom of letters—give her the sceptre and the crown-her indisputable right, we must encourage by purchase, perusal, and influence, not the literature which its SPIRIT condemns, but the books that breathe her heavenly genius, though they enunciate not her dogmas. If it be the duty of Christ's disciples to separate themselves from the personal friendships of men of corrupt minds, can it be right for them to admit their pestiferous thoughts into their own bosoms by the perusal of their works? or to promote their circulation in the world by encouraging the sale of their productions ? Separation from the literature of such authors happily involves no great intellectual denial. For although books written in the true religious spirit are as nothing in quantity to the great bulk of the world's literature, they comprehend every branch of knowledge, and occupy every department of letters; and will be found, moreover, in relation to loftiness of genius, breadth of philosophy, and profundity of erudition, equal to any of which the world can boast.
Secondly. Another thing which we must do, in order to make Christianity the presiding element in literature, is to promote its influence in the world—to imbue society with its regenerative principles. Such was the effect of Paul's ministry at Ephesus, that many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them all before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.' Infuse Christianity into the public mind, and you will kindle a moral fire that shall burn up all corrupt literature. This is the book-burning we desiderate. This fire burns not the paper, but the spirit. The Catholics burnt the paper of Luther's tracts ; but, phænix-like, the spirit rose from the flames to print the doctrines of Luther in volumes that shook Europe to its inner heart. Popular intelligence is every day outgrowing books that were the lights of other times. Thousands of volumes, on philosophy, science, history, and criticism, we have left behind to moulder in the past. Every day the modern world says adieu to books that were the great oracles of generations that are gone.
Now as intellectually we part company with books on the ground of their contents the moment we transcend their intelligence, so morally we separate from books on the ground of their spirit the moment we feel ourselves the subjects of a superior disposition. Let the popular spirit, therefore, be improved by the influence of Christianity; and writings of a corrupt animus, however brilliant in genius, or profound in thought, will be forth with abandoned. No talent will keep a corrupt book alive in a pure age. The Byrons will not be tolerated a day in the millennium of holiness.
Thirdly. We may yet mention another method of raising Christianity to supreme influence in literature, namely, by contributions of commanding interest and Christian feeling. We say commanding interest, for it is worse than worthless to send books into the world which have no power for this. Thousands of such volumes fall from the press every year, either still-born, or with constitutions too feeble to live many days. They are the modified echoes of other books which the world has read outmold hoary thoughts passing through modern channels and diluted into water. There is nothing in them to attract the attention of men. They start no thought, solve no problem, kindle no inspiration. Books to command an interest must be fresh, vigorous, and earnest. They must be the native expression of the individual thinker ; seeds falling from a plant full of life, passing on to another spring. They must be congruous with the reason and heart of the world; fitted for the mental habits and experiences of this, the nineteenth century of our Lord. Why should not the Church produce authors that would speak to humanity, and become princes in the realms of literature? Will it never produce any more such men as Bunyan, Defoe, and Milton? Has it less native genius, or is it less in contact with the fountain of truth than the world? Why should this age be under the literary dominion of men whose aim seems to be nothing higher than to provoke the world to laughter or to drive it into scepticism? My Christian reader, if thou hast literary talents, cultivate and employ them ; mould the imperishable elements of truth into new forms of beauty; paint them with thine own genius; construct them for the world; inspire them with the life of religion; commit them to the press, and a great work will be done. The triumph of the conqueror, the crown of the monarch, the highest fame of the poet's dream, will not equal the honour that awaits thee.
Why are we to aim at the Christianization of literature ? This is the other general question which demands our attention ; space requires that we should condense to the utmost our remarks. Without, therefore, dwelling upon the great reason-namely, that our allegiance to God, our obligation to Christianity, and our relation to man, render it imperative-we shall proceed briefly to notice the following reasons :
The first we draw from the stupendous influence of literature. There are two aspects in which we must look at the press, if we would form an adequate idea of its power upon the character and destiny of mankind. It is the conductor of the past. It links the present to all preceding times. It brings on this age the influence of all preceding
A book is a kind of ark, which bears down over the flood of centuries the seeds of the old world in which its author lived. On the streams of literature we see mirrored the institutions, philosophies, and habits of the men who have been carrying on the affairs of time from the beginning. Judea, Greece, and Rome, are brought down to us in books, and made to live their life, and play their part again. Their virtues and their sins are reproduced. But not only is the press the conductor of the past, it is also the mightiest social engine of the present. Modern society has no organ of influence comparable to it. It gives a kind of ubiquity to individual minds. Through it the solitary thinker speaks to distant nations, at the same time, makes his lonely voice vibrate through all lands, and resound through all times. As the breath of heaven bears the seeds of autumn to spots where they shall germinate and grow, the press scatters the thoughts of men over the broad field of humanity, where they find a genial soil, and will yield a plenteous harvest in years to come.
It is the great leveller. It knows no man after the flesh. Rich and poor, bond and free, male and female—all are one in the great empire of thought. Tyrants have ever dreaded its power. Napoleon, once the terror of all Europe, laughed in the fiercest hurricane of war, but cowed in awe before the might of the pen. Its power, too, is ever on the increase. Already it forms and guides public opinion, influences the debates of senates, and changes the politics of nations. What can we do towards the moral civilization and salvation of the world, so long as this tremendous agent is not on our side?
The second reason we draw from the anti-Christian character of modern literature. All modern authors may be divided into three classes, in relation to Christianity. First, those who have never introduced it into their works. These form a very large class—the largest. It is to us a wonderful mental phenomenon that men born here in England, educated in what are called Christian colleges and universities, should be able to write large volumes, and never make allusion to that religion which has confessedly made their country what she is. The literature of Greece and Rome is full of religion. The divinities appear and speak through all. The songs of poets, the narrations of annalists, the speeches of orators and the philosophies of sages, are full of gods. This is natural. The chief thing in the mind being the religious, and the chief thing out of it, the god, it is only natural to expect that the chief feature in its productions should be religion. The second class of authors are those who introduce Christianity into their writings for a wrong purpose. Some to undermine its authority, strip it of its supernaturalness, and explain away its divinity. Others to aggrandize themselves—to adorn their tales, embellish their productions, and sell their books. The other class are those who introduce Christianity for a good purpose, but in a bad way, Some in the way of whining sentimentality, others in the way of bitter polemics; and others in the way of cut-and-dried orthodoxy. Some of the most anti-Christian books are those written in the name of Christianity. Their narrow spirit, their vapid conceptions, their childish reasonings,