Immagini della pagina

first Epistle to Timothy, 2d chap. and. Ist verse, exhorts that “ first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in authority, -that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." And how, we would ask, can the man use such a prayer, who, far from endeavouring to fix and establish religion in a State, denounces such an attempt as sacrilegious and antichristian? He surely cannot pray" for kings and all that are in authority, that he may live under. them, 'evtoy 'suosgesa xas oeuvotYri, in all manner of godliness and honesty;" when, although the people may pro. fess religion as individuals, they make no acknowledgment of it as a nation,--when, although they may hold the truth in their breasts and in their families, they make no manifest demonstration of its principles in the legalised institutions, and on the public altar of their country ? Or, will the objector say, that he will live under the king, as a private person ;tben if he acts consistently, he shall forthwith proceed to demolish the monarchy itself.

The Apostle Peter expresses himself the same effect, at the 13th verse of the 2d chaper of his first general Epistle : “ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, &c.; as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Now, how is it possible, we would ask, that Christians who have the power to establish their religion, and will not, can live, as the servants of God, under an irreligious, or it may be an Atheistic Gov. ernment; unlike the believers of old, Daniel, and Ezra, and Nehemiah, and Esther, and Mordecai, who seized every opportunity which they possessed for the establishment of the true religion & For a servant of God to live wittingly and will. ingly under such a system, whilst he could set up the truth, is a self-contradiction. It has been reserved for the ingenuity of modern days to devise a new Utopia, in which men shall be religious as persons, and without religiou as a govern. ment-Christians as individuals, and Atheists as a nation. But, let us hear, in conclusion, the voice of propbecy, as it is recorded at the 15th vsrse of the 11th chapter of the Book of Revelation: “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of bis Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” This is the utterance of the great voices. that were heard in heaven, on the sounding of the trumpet by the seventh angel ; and may be regarded as a magnificent burst of preparation for the coming glory and full plenitude of the spiritualities of the Messiah's reign. The struggles and victory of the true Church over the domination of the antichristian powers are afterwards described; but this general annunciation may be considered as reaching down to the end of the

mortal toil and conflict of the Church militant. It is the title. page of the Church's victories. What, then, are we to expect in Those days of predicted glory? That the kingdoms of this world shall be our Lord's and his Christ's. The supplement of the word kingdoms, as in our English Bibles, is of little or no consequence to our argument. In either way, the 'meaning is the same. The kingdoms become the Lord's. How? By a number, a majority, or even a whole of individual professing Christians ? No: but, as kingdoms--as, kingdoms within the souls of men merely? No. Still more; as the kingdoms of this world. The kingdom of God, which is in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,-is primarily and chiefly within; but, in so far as it consists in

righteousness," which has the society of human beings for its objects, it extends also to that which is without. And here, as realms professing, supporting, and perpetuating the true religion, “the kingdoms of this world" are declared to be “the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”



I CAME to Carthage, surrounded with flagitious lusts. After thee, () my God, the true bread of life, I hungered not; and though famished with real indigence, and longing after that which satisfieth not, I had no desire for incorruptible aliment, not because I was full of it; for the more empty I was, the more fastidious I grew. My mind was sickly: having no resourses within, she threw herself out of herself, to be car. ried away by intemperate appetite. My sordid passions, however, were gilded over with the decent and plausible appearances of love and friendship. Foul and base as I was, I affected the reputation of liberal and polite humanity. I rushed into the lusts with which I desired to be captivated. My God, my mercy, with how great bitterness, and yet how kindly, didst thou mix that sweetness, by which I was miser. ably enslaved, and beaten with all the iron rods of envy, suspicion, fear, indignation, and quarrelling. The spectacles of the theatre now hurried me away, full of the images of my miseries, and fomentations of my fire.

The arts of the Forum ncw engaged my ambition ;-the more fraudulent, the more 'laudable. Pride and arrogance now elated my soul, though I was far from approving the

frantic proceedings of the men called Eversores, who made a practice of disturbing modest pleaders, and confounding their minds by riots. Amidst these things, in that imbecility of judgment which attends youth, I studied the books of eloquence with the most ardent desire of vain glory, and, in the course of my reading, dipped into the Hortensius of Cicero, wbich contains an exhortation to the study of philosophy. This book was the instrument of effecting a remarkable change in my views. I suddenly gave up the fantastic hope of repu• tation by eloquence, and felt a most ardent thirst after wisdom. In the mean time, I was maintained at Carthage, at my mo. ther's expense, being in the nineteenth year of my age, my father being dead two years before. How did I long, my God, to fly from earthly things to thee, and I knew not what thou wert doing with me. And at that time, O light of my heart, thou knowest, though I was unacquainted with the apostolical admouition, Take heed, lest any man spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit,* that this was the sole object of my delight in the Ciceronian volume, that I was vehemently excited by it to seek for wisdom, not in this or that sect, but wherever it was to be found. And the only thing which damped my zeal was, that the name of Christ was not there,—that precious name, which, from my

mother's milk, I had learned to reverence. And whatever was without this name, however just, and learned, and polite, could not wholly carry away my heart. I determined, therefore, to apply my mind to the Holy Scriptures, to see what they were; and I now see the whole subject was impenetrable to the proud, low in appearance, sublime in substance, and veiled with mysteries ; and my frame of heart was such as to exclude me from it; nor could I stoop to take its yoke upon me. I had not these sensations when I attended to the Scriptures; but they appeared to me unworthy to be compared with the dig. nity of Cicero. Mly pride was disgusted with their manner; and my penetration could not enter into their meaning. t It is true, those who are content to be little children, find, by degrees, an illumination of their souls; but I disdained to be a child, and, elated with pride, imagined myself to be posşessed of manly wisdom.

* Colos. ii.

+ An excellent description of the usual effect of a little scriptural study on a proud mind, which by tbe just judgment of Gud, is given up to judicial infatuation and specious delusiou, in some way or other.

In this situation I fell in with the Manichees, men, who had in their mouths the mere sound of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and were always talking of THE TRUTH, THE TRUTH, and yet formed the most absurd opinions of the works of nature, on which subjects the heathen philosophers far excelled them. O truth, how eagerly did I pant after thee, which they repeated continually with their mouths, and in many huge volumes ! but they taught me to look for my God in the sun and

moon, and also in a number of splendid phantasms of their own creation.*

I endeavoured to feed on these vanities, but they being not my God, though I supposed so, I was not nourished but exhausted. How far did I wander then from thee, excluded even from the husks which the swine did eat. For the fables of the poets, which I did not believe, though I was entertained with them, were preferable to the absur. dities of these lovers of truth. Alas! alas ! by what steps was I led to the depths of Hell! Panting after truth, I sought thee, my God, not in intellectual, but in carnal speculation ; for I confess to thee, who didst compasionate my misery, even while I was hardened against thee. The Manichees sedu. duced me, partly with their subtle and captious questions concerning the origin of evil, partly with their blasphemies against the Old Testament Saints.t I did not then understand that though the divine rule of right and wrong be immutable in the abstract, and the love of God and our neighbour be ever indispensably necess

essary, yet that there were peculiar acts of duty adapted to the times, and seasons, and circumstances,

* The Manichees, so called from Manes their founder, had existed about an hundred years. It would not be worth while to notice them at all, were it not for their connection with the life of Augustine, Like most of the ancient heretics, they abound in senseless whims not worthy of any solicitous explanation. This they had in common with the Pagan philosophers, that they supposed the Supreme Being to be material, and to penetrate all nature. Their grand peculiarity was to admit of two independent principles, a good and an evil one, in order to solve the arduous question concerning the origin of evil. Like all heretics, they made a great parade of seeking truth with liberal impartiality, and were thus qualified to deceive upwary spirits, who suspe ng their own imbeci. lity of judgment, the last thing in the world, and regardless of the word of God and hearty prayer, have no idea of attaining religious knowledge by any other method than by natural reason.

+ The Manichees objected to the characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, &c., on account of various actions' allowed under the dispensation of their times, but forbidden under the New Testament, and thence formed an argument against the divinity of the Old Testament.

in which they were placed, which, abstracted from such considerations, would be unlawful. In much ignorance, I at that time derided thy holy servants, and was justly exposed to believe most ridiculous absurdities. : And thou sentest thy band from above, and freedst me from this depth of evil, while my mother prayed for me, more solicitous on accouát of the death of my soul, than other parents for the death of the body. She was favoured with a dream, by which thou comfortedst her soul with hope of my recovery. She saw herself standing on a WOODEN RULE, and a person coming to her, who asked her the cause of her affliction, and on being auswered, that it was on my account, he charged her to be confident, that where she was, there also I should be. On which she beheld me standing by her on the same wooden rule. Whence was this but from thee, gracious Omnipotent! who takest care of each and all of us, as of single persons ? When she related this to me, I endeavoured to evade the force of it, by observing, that it might mean to exhort her to be what I was : without hesitation she replied, it was not said, where he is, there thou shalt be, but where thou art, there he shall be. Her prompt answer made a stronger impression on my mind than the dream itself. For nine years, while I was rolling in the slime of sin, often attempting to rise, and still sinking deeper, did she in vigorous hope persist in incessant prayer. I remember, also, that she intreated a certain bishop to undertake to reason me out of my errors. He was a person not backward to attempt this, where he found a docile subject. “ But your son," says he, “is too much elated at present, and carried away by the pleasing novelty of his error, to regard any arguments, as appears by the pleasure he takes in puzzling many ignorant persons with his captious questions. Let him alone; only continue praying to the Lord for him,-he will, in the course of his study, discover his error: I myself, perverted by my mother, was once a Manichee, and read almost all their books, and yet, at length, was convinced of my error, without the help of any disputant." All this satisfied not my anxious parent; with floods of tears she persisted in her request, when at last he, a little out of temper on account of her importunity, said, “Begone, good woman; it is not possible that a child of such tears should perish. She has often told me since, that this answer impressed her mind like a voice from heaven.

[ocr errors]


7 791

« IndietroContinua »