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To him who toils at summer's thirsty noon;
At twilight hour, upon the calm, bright deep;
SWEET are the tints, which oft at sunset hour
Fit parting homage to the lord of day;
Sweet are deep draughts, from the cool fountain's brim,
V. THE LAMENT OF DAVID OVER SAUL AND JONATHAN.
2 Samuel i. 19-27.
How are the mighty fallen! thy boast,
These lines were written on reading the version of the same passage in the Christian Examiner of September, 1844. In one respect, I have departed both from the original and from the former version. There are so many ludicrous associations connected with the word "Jonathan," and still more with "Brother Jonathan,” that I have not ventured to introduce them into serious poetry. In the venerable simplicity of our Common Version, with which we are familiar from infancy, they strike us less unfavorably; but even there they are not unfelt. "Saul" is obnoxious to no such associations; and the parts of the lament which apply to his son may be made sufficiently obvious, without the use of the name.
Tell not in Gath our grief, our shame
O! ne'er, Gilboa ! on thy field
May dews descend, nor shower again Thy fruits revive; since there his shield
Th' anointed lost, the brave was slain.
Their bow of strength, their sword of might
That sword, that bow, was gorged with gore.
More swift than eagles swept they by,
Stronger than lions in their pride: Their lives were lovely, and they lie
In death united, side by side.
Daughters of Israel! weep for Saul,
For Saul who made your pride his care, With purple clothed, and scarlet pall,
And wreathed with gems and gold your hair.
Oh! pleasant hast thou been to me,
My friend my brother! fallen in vain, Untimely fallen; this breast for thee
Bleeds now, as thine in battle slain.
Gentle as brave, to me thy heart
Was soft as woman's: woman ne'er Showed love like thine, devoid of art, From envy free, from doubt, from fear.
How fallen the mighty! sire and son
ART. V. THE AMERICAN CHURCH AND CLERGY.*
WE have no design or wish to present to our readers a sketch of the pamphlet named below. We place its title here, only to indicate the style of attack and abuse, to which the Church and Clergy are subjected by many prominent agents in the great moral Reforms of the day. Our present purpose is to give as fair and full an exposition as we can, within the limits of a single article, of the general character of the American Church and its ministry, and of their position with regard to philanthropic associations and enterprises.
What is the Church, that is, the external, visible Church? Under this name is included the whole body of avowed and organized Christian believers, of those who profess themselves the disciples of Christ, and connect with that profession the regular observance of whatever rites they deem to be of his institution. The observance of the Lord's Supper may be regarded as the index of professed discipleship, except among the Quakers; but they are by no means to be excluded from the pale of the visible Church, because they deny the perpetuity of this ordinance; for they have their own ecclesiastical organization, and their own peculiar Christian ritual, which they found and observe on the alleged authority of Christ. The two things, then, that characterize the Church, are the formal profession of Christianity and the regular observance of Christian ordinances. Now the earnest and vehement denunciation of the Church as a preeminently wicked body by (so called) reformers, may authorize our raising and discussing a question, which until very recently has never been mooted within Christian precincts, namely, whether the profession and the ordinances of Christianity are in themselves likely to create or to indicate a higher or a lower standard of moral goodness, than that of the world at large.
How is it, in the first place, with a Christian profession? We must admit, at the outset, the liability of the Church to
*The Brotherhood of Thieves; or A True Picture of the American Church and Clergy: A Letter to Nathaniel Barney, of Nantucket. By STEPHEN S. FOSTER. Boston Anti-Slavery Office. : 1844. 12mo. PP. 72.
be imposed upon by false professors. But it is a liability essentially self-limited within very narrow bounds, and one, too, which of itself bears testimony to the genuineness of the profession in the vast majority of instances. A counterfeit implies the substantial credit and trustworthiness of the thing counterfeited; and so soon as the counterfeits of any article bear a large proportion to the genuine specimens, the article itself loses credit to such a degree as to be no longer worth counterfeiting. No one counterfeits a dishonored currency, or the bills of a broken bank. Were not a Christian profession in nine cases out of ten connected with so much sincerity and practical goodness as to give credit and do honor to the profession, no one would consider a false profession as worth making. A very brief and partial prevalence of hypocrisy would necessarily give place to open, undisguised infidelity. Hypocritical professors of Christianity must then, from the very nature of the case, be comparatively few; so that the true question is as to the effect, upon the character, of a sincere religious profession.
Now the open, manly profession of what one is, or means to be, seems an essential part of frankness and honesty. It is the law of all honorable men, in every department of common life. He, who in business, or in politics, practises concealment or subterfuge, he who carefully hides, or stealthily acts out his convictions, plans and purposes, — is deemed utterly mean and unworthy. Nicodemus, coming to Jesus by night, represents a style of character, which, when exhibited with regard to worldly matters, calls out unqualified distrust and contempt. If a man is, or means to be a Christian, he is bound by every maxim of fairness. and consistency to make open profession of that fact or purpose, and thus to be a member of the Church of Christ. Surely, if to be a Christian does one no harm, to profess himself a Christian cannot make him a worse man.
Again; open, honest profession greatly aids a man in the attainment of the object of his profession. It pledges him to strenuous and constant effort in the pursuit of that object. It identifies him more entirely with it. It surrounds him with the sympathy and aid of those who are pursuing the same object. It multiplies inducements to perseverance, drawn from the just self-respect which one
can feel only by being true to his profession, and the shame which inevitably ensues on his falling short of it. Nor is there anything to prevent all this from being the case with a professor of Christianity.
Church membership also implies regular attendance upon Christian ordinances. On this point we need not enlarge. There can be no need of proof or illustration for the statement, that the sole design of Christian ordinances is to bring and keep the great Master near the minds and hearts of his followers. We go to the sanctuary, to learn of him. We break the consecrated bread in memory of him. We drink the cup that he blessed, that it may renew us in his spirit. We are so constituted, that the outward continually acts upon the inward. Forms and tokens of every kind work upon the affections. Christian forms and tokens draw the heart to Christ. And it is reasonable to suppose that the regular use of all the forms and tokens, with which the Master's image is thought to be associated, would draw the heart nearer to him, and make him the subject of stronger faith and more fervent love, than the infrequent use of but a part of those forms and tokens.
We thus see that all which constitutes Church membership, in its very nature tends to make and keep a man a Christian. If then there is any reasonable basis for the charges so often brought against the Church, it must be Christianity itself, and not the Christian profession or ordinances. When therefore we hear the Church denounced as a "brotherhood of thieves," and when people are bidden, as in the pamphlet before us, to "quit this unfortunate and inglorious connection, come out from among them, and touch not the unclean thing, and henceforth enter not into their counsels," the ultimate question is; - Is a man likely to be injured in his character, to be made less conscientious, less benevolent, less philanthropic, by being a Christian? To be a Christian implies some good degree of acquaintance with the character of Jesus, who was, in the apprehension of not a few, the only spotless exemplar of virtue and piety that the world has ever seen, who was all faithfulness, tenderness and love, who forgave his murderers, and blessed those whose fiendish curses rang around his cross, who combined in his own person godlike energy and meek submission, a charity embracing