« VorigeDoorgaan »
evoking from the canvass forms of beauty that seemed glad to come. It was poetic fervour which sustained Dryden in a fortnight's frenzy, when composing his Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, heedless of privations which he did not so much as perceive. And it was scientific fervour which dragged the lazy but eloquent French naturalist, Buffon, from beloved slumbers to his still more beloved studies, for many years together. There is no department of human distinction which cannot record its feats of fervour. But shall science, with its corruptible crowns, and the world, with its vanities, monopolize this enthusiasm ? If not, let each one consider, What is the greatest self-denial to which a godly zeal has prompted me? Which is the largest or the greatest work through which a holy fervour has ever carried me?—Hamilton's Life in Earnest.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION.
It is most unfortunate that science and religion should ever have been made to assume a hostile front. This has been productive of incalculable mischief, which has operated in two different directions. In the first place, it has too frequently led the friends and advocates of religion to display an unwarrantable jealousy of the progress of science, and to frown upon those who were engaged in the ardent prosecution of it. It would appear as if the imagination had been indulged, that every new conquest achieved by science, involved the loss of a domain to religion ; that every new pillar erected in the temple of science had been stolen from the temple of religion. This sort of groundless alarm might have suited the time when ignorance was esteemed the mother of devotion; and when, undoubtedly, it was the interest of the priesthood of a corrupt superstition that men should know as little and think as little as possible. But surely all such jealousy is unworthy of those who have an equally well-grounded conviction, that the works of nature and the volume of revelation proceeded from the same source. If this be the case, then, while science and religion may each have their appropriate domain within which their dicta are absolute, it can never happen that these will be contradictory. God has not written one language in the Bible, and a contradictory language on the face of creation. Revelation and science may not always speak the same truths, but they will never speak opposite truths. The danger lies in a kind of twilight understanding of either. It is not only possible, but likely, that an imperfect knowledge of the Scriptures, on the one hand, and an imperfect knowledge of science, on the other, may land us in irreconcilable difficulties, which can only be cleared away by a more complete understanding of both. But this, so far from leading us to be jealous of the advances of science, should lead us rather to encourage and stimulate them to the utmost. While it is not only justifiable, but right, that we should regard with suspicion any conclusion of science which seems subversive of the truths of the Bible, it would be at once irrational and sinful to attempt to stop its progress. Perhaps the conclusion may be a wrong one, deduced from a superficial acquaintance with science, which, if farther prosecuted, would lead to its abandonment. Perhaps the contrariety between science and revelation is only apparent, and results from our hasty and erroneous interpretation of the Bible. Take, for example, the well-known case of Galileo. He became convinced, as he prosecuted the study of astronomy, that it was not the sun which revolved round the earth, as was universally believed at that time, but that the earth revolved round the sun. Alarm was taken at
this conclusion, as if it expressly contradicted the language of the Bible, which speaks of the sun as rising and going down, and Galileo was subjected to persecution as an infidel. What, then, was the result ? The science of Galileo has been established beyond the power of contradiction; but the Bible has not therefore been found to speak the language of falsehood. His discovery has only led to a sounder interpretation of those texts which the science of astronomy was thought to contradict. And this must be the issue of all seeming contradictions between revelation and science. It may happen that science now, as in the days of Galileo, may subvert some of our views of Scripture language ; but, if so, we ought rather to rejoice that science has aided us to a sounder and more correct interpretation of the Bible than we had hitherto attained. Here, then, are two errors to be guarded against, which we shall take time merely to notice. The first is the tendency to bend the facts of science to meet our views of revelation. No attempt could be more mischievous than this. When we are engaged in examining the properties and relations of matter, let us receive the facts it gives us without equivocation and without reserve ; let us listen to the voice we evoke, as if there was not another in the universe. Whe we set ourselves to study nature, let us become the faithful and humble interpreters of nature. The second error is, the tendency hastily to adapt the language of Scripture to the inferences of science, This tendency is no less mischievous than the other, and has led in some instances to an utter subversion of all religious truth. When we are engaged in the study of the Bible, let us deal by it as we would by science itself. Let us hear what it says without reserve, and listen to its voice as the voice of God. Our part is to act as its faithful and humble interpreters, and to subject it only to such questionary processes as we would adopt with any other record, the real meaning of which we were anxious to ascertain. By acting thus honestly both with science and with religion, it will be found that they speak a language always harmonious, because always true.—From Lecture on the Claims of Science on Young Men, by Rev. William Wilson, Carmylie.
(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) The Voix Nouvelle of Paris gives, under the above title, the interesting and instructing recital of which the following is a translation :
If ever you visit Normandy, choose the month of June, and devote the third of a day to Biville, a little village on the high-road from Rouen to Dieppe. It has little to interest the tourist; but is, nevertheless, on the 19th of June, the most curious place in the ancient country of Rollo. On the eve of that date I did not know this, owing to my being a Huguenot ; but without further introduction I will tell you what I saw and heard.
I arrived at Biville with a friend at half-past two in the afternoon: the road swarmed with people in Sunday trim, with goers and comers, on foot, horse, and vehicle : tents were spread before the church, and in an adjacent field ; the public-houses were choked with customers. I asked a boy what caused the unaccustomed activity in a place usually so dull. They are going,” he replied, “to light the fire of St. Onuphre.” “The fire of St. Onuphre!” I said, with surprise ; " and what is the fire of St. Onuphre ?” “O Sir, it is a fine thing, that brings plenty of people to Biville on the 19th
VOL. III.FOURTH SERIES.
of June.” “But what is it?” “0, a very fine thing. But go yonder, and you will see.”
He pointed to a group, which we approached, having first learned that the village was celebrating the fête of its patron, called Onuphre, and renowned for thirty miles round as mighty in working cures. We found fifteen hundred or two thousand sticks united in the form of a sheaf, around which the suffering were uttering mournful words, women counting their beads, some kissing the ground, some kissing the sticks; these muttering prayers, those making the sign of the cross. We learried that these sticks had been brought by the pilgrim-believers in St. Onuphre ; that, at five o'clock, twelve Priests would come to light the fire ; and that the saint would perform, as usual, some miracles. We asked what was the special virtue of the patron of Biville, and learned that he protected from thunder, and attended to cold humours, sharp pains, and paralysis. They told us of a person who had come with crutches, and left them in the fire. They were inexhaustible in praise of St. Onuphre, especially two female devotees, whom that saint ought to have sent to his neighbour, St. Acaire, who is the patron of the peevish. “I do not know who is St. Onuphre,” said I, raising my voice ; “but I have a saint to whom I devote myself, and before whom yours is less than nothing." Every look was fastened on me. “My saint,” I continued, “has eyes that see, while yours has not, any more than the sticks you dedicate to him : mine makes me believing, yours makes you superstitious.” At these words the attention redoubled, and my two devotees looked at me angrily," It's plain you don't love St. Onuphre.” “You are right; and I deplore that you abandon the true saint, called Jesus Christ, to trust in a sinful creature.” Had we been in England, it was just the time to preach in the open air. What an audience! Perhaps six thousand persons; and what hearers ! The thought occurred to us :—but we were in France, the land of liberty, as every one knows, and especially for Protestant Evangelists ! as prove all the prosecutions concerning which the great political press maintains an indifference altogether infidel. I greatly longed to make a pulpit of a heap of stones ; but with a prudence for which many Protestants will be indebted to me, I did nothing.
We visited the church, decked out as in its most noted days of solemnity. A Priest of Cybele would have thought himself at home; but I will spare you the description, in order to speak only of the hero of the day, St. Onuphre. He was in a niche, round which were little tapers burning, and a few persons praying devoutly, and kissing him with extraordinary ardour. St. Onuphre is eight inches high; he is of wood or of stone, I am not sure which, for hair and a beard as black as ink cover his figure to the mid-leg ; a sword as long as himself is all his arms; his face, about the size of an egg, consists almost entirely in a nose highly pointed, like an acacia-thorn. As to his original physiognomy, he has lost it under the dissolving action of Norman kisses.
We looked on that sad scene, thinking of the terrible account which the Priests would have to render of the generations they were leading to the abyss, by closing against them the Scriptures. At the same time we blessed God for having, by his glorious Gospel, delivered ourselves from that humiliating yoke.
At five o'clock the bells began to ring : thousands of spectators were ranged on the two sides of the road ; all the invalids for ten leagues round formed the head of the procession which issued from the church ; it was a hideous sight,--the club-footed, the maimed, the paralytic, the blind, the disfigured, all going to see lighted the fire of St. Onuphre, slowly marching, and singing ditties. I went backwards and forwards to hear everything. I watched every countenance. I studied Popery in its clearest expression : I wished to see with my own eyes the working of a system which I regard as the most dangerous enemy which the religion of the Son of Mary ever had. Everything in the crowd was characteristic. France had that day in that village retrograded six centuries.
Under a canopy surrounded with banners, preceded and followed by a gendarme in full dress, a Priest (doubtless the Cure of the place) carried devoutly on his cap St. Onuphre, on whom was fixed every eye; for he it was who was about to work the miracles. Right and left of the canopy were four Priests and seven penitents in white, singing at the top of their voice, like the Priests of Baal in the days of Elijah. A huge serpent accompanied them with its hoarse tones ; and all this was done with an air of good faith, which astonished me more than the thing itself.
We walked slowly, sometimes stopping on account of the excessive crowd : at length we reached the pile. I had the advantage of a heap of stones, from the top of which I could see all that passed. It was the solemn moment: the infirm formed a circle round the mysterious sticks : among them was a little boy eight years of age, carrying crutches, with a rosary round his neck ; his mother placed him as near the pile as possible. A gendarme made the circle he formed as large as possible ; and the Priests and penitents, entering it, began to sing bare-headed Kyrie eleëson and Exaudi
Then came a moment of silence, during which the Priests carried St. Onuphre, placed him on the sticks, muttered some prayers, lighted the fire, and retired singing and bearing St. Onuphre. Scarcely had he turned his back, when the people threw themselves on their knees and worshipped the sticks ; for there was nothing else to worship.
It was pitiable to see ; and I said to myself, “O, if Jesus Christ were here, He would certainly take those sticks, the object of superstition, and break them on the backs of the Priests, as formerly he laid stripes of the whip on the changers and dealers in the temple.” Alas! the temples of the present time are no better. On the 19th of June at Biville, the fair was in the temple ; it was there in the sight and knowledge (au vu et au su) of every one. For several hours the Priests reaped pieces of money in return for kisses given to St. Onuphre! A porter gravely held the image in his two hands, and presented it to the kisses of the people, who put the coin into a box. Close by was one Priest who muttered prayers, and another who, for a consideration of two sous, placed the end of his stole on the heads of those who paid to have a gospel read to them.
While this impious scene was passing in the church, the assembly was immense. A fortune-teller had a circle round her ; singers were chanting their ditties; mountebanks were beating the drum ; and a great bear appeared and displayed his prettiest tricks to attract a company.
I returned to the fire, and saw that the sticks were going as they had come : each person took one, that it might bring him good fortune; for the flame only blackened them. I took one also, and, as my whip was broken, used it to beat
horse. I hand over this detail, which I certify to be exact, to the Editors of the Gazette and the Univers.
DECORUM IN THE HOUSE OF WORSHIP. ATTENDING a place of devotion a few evenings since, I could not but notice the concluding manner of their exercises, which appeared to me peculiarly appropriate, and I wish it might be adopted in all our places of religious worship. After the Preacher had pronounced the benediction, there was perfect stillness for a few moments, as though the audience were silently sending up their petition that the blessing which had been invoked might descend and rest upon them. The pew-doors were then opened, and the assembly quietly retired. What a contrast between this mode, and that which has been seen in some of our churches! The apparent haste which is sometimes exhibited by adjusting the apparel, putting on gloves, overcoats, and opening the pew-doors before and while the benediction is pronounced, indicates thoughts at variance with that solemnity of feeling which we have a right to expect should be cherished and evinced in the house of God. I would have the charity to believe that this conduct rather proceeds from thoughtlessness on the subject; and hope that the suggestion of its impropriety will influence those who are not aware of it, to pursue a course more consistent with reverential feeling.--C. G.
THE ECONOMY OF GRACE, AND THE SPIRITUAL
PRIVILEGES OF BELIEVERS. (To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) Every one who is conversant with the writings of St. Paul, must have observed how he loves to dwell on the spiritual blessings imparted to believers in Christ, and on the glorious prospects which open to their view. In adverting to these themes, he puts forth all the vigour of his great and comprehensive mind, and he manifests the deepest emotions of gratitude and admiring awe. His conceptions, inspired as they were by the Holy Spirit, appear sometimes to have risen to a sublimity, which even to him was almost overpowering ; and in giving utterance to them, he seems to labour for expressions sufficiently emphatic and powerful to set forth the grandeur of the divine arrangements, or the condescending love of God to man, as shown in the scheme of our redemption.
In referring to the privileges of believers, St. Paul repeatedly gives prominence to the consideration, that they are bestowed according to a plan, formed in the divine mind, and cherished through all the ages of this world's history, but the full development of which was reserved to this last dispensation of his truth and grace. This plan comprehends the gift of the Son, as the great sacrifice for sin,—the exaltation of the Redeemer as the head of his church, and the universal Sovereign and Lord,—the attracting of mankind to him as their common centre, and the union in him of all believers,—and the communication, to all who penitently trust in his atonement, of inward peace and purity, forming the earnest of eternal life. The Apostle shows us, that it is the purpose of God to pardon, sanctify, and bless mankind in Christ, and through the exercise, on their part, of an active faith in him. This, he reminds us, is emphatically “ the counsel of the divine will;" and he leads us to contemplate it, as involving the greatest depths of wisdom, and as affording to the heavenly hosts the most instructive and affecting views of the character and government of God, while it is preparing those who actually come to Christ, and are constituted his saints, for an eternal union with allthe pure and good.