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The Bible our rule of faith !-The right of private judgment our privilege.'
DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.
During the last month, several days passed by, which were eminently calculated, to fill the mind, with mingled reflections, of pain and pleasure. We allude to Good-Friday, and Easter; days, which in the Lutheran Church, and in several sister churches, are set aparty as Festival or Holy days. It is not our design, to enter into arguments, to prove the propriety and salutary effects, of the usage in our Church, requiring its members, to set apart for religious exercises, certain days, in remembrance of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, to aid our beloved brethren, in deriving eternal advantages from a contemplation of those momentous events.
We are aware of the fact, that many well disposed persons, and possessors of religion, do not look through the same glass, that we of the Lutheran Church do, but, as we believe “the right of private judgment, an unalienable right,” we will not pass judgment upon them, nor suffer ourselves to be influenced by any human creed. The time will, we think, soon approach, when all Protestants shall deem it expedient, to celebrate the anniversaries of Christ's birth, death, resurrection and ascension. If however any one considers himself attached to the Lutheran Church, he should conform to our usage, or join those, whose regulations and forms, suit his mind bet
On Good-Friday, the deat: of Jesus Christ, must naturally have been, the theme of your Pastor's discourse, and the leading subject of your reflections. And why did he die ? Alas, man sinned-transgressed the law--forfeited his life, and consequently became the subject of eternal death. A mere man, could not effect a change, for “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” No created being had power, to enable the children of men, to live before God. What pain, and shame must therefore be experienced by the poor sinner, when the enormity of sin is felt. O the despair and agony, that must rush into the mind, when the heinousness of sin, and its dire effects, are revived, and felt, as they should be. But, “God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
He came, and shed his blood, which was the means of reconciling man with God; for, he spent his time in the form of man, and closed his life upon the accursed tree, to deliver our lives, from eternal destruction. “He gave up a life of infinite value, to save our lives from an infinite punishment, due to us through sin, which is infinite both as it cannot end of itself, and as it is committed against infinite holiness.”
Hark how he groans! while nature shakes
my soul!” he cries :
He bows his head and dies! Sinner! remember this! It was a good day nevertheless, for a sinful world, when Christ expired upon the cross, for then was offended justice satisfied and an atonement made, for our guilt.
But, death could not retain its prisoner. On the third day, Jesus Christ, by his own almighty power, resumed his life, in defiance of the guard, the stone and the seal. By this act, he proved incontes-tably, that he cancelled all the debt and fully satisfied eternal justice.
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal !
Where thy victory, 0 grave? The anniversary of Christ's resurrection, should therefore fill us with joy. They who are in Christ Jesus, have no condemnation to
fear. Their spirits must indeed separate for a while from the clay, but “if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.
If any of our people, permitted the Holy days, aluded to, to pass by, without suitable impressions, let them repept of their indifference upon the events, to which their attention was called, and, seek pardon through him, that died that we might live.-Editor.
SABBATH SCHOOL SYSTEM.
Although much has been written, and, well written, to prove the fact, that Sabbath Schools exert a happy influence upon a nation Although experience has proved, that children who attended them, grew up, if not actually pious, yet very susceptible of religious impressions, nevertheless, the discourse lately delivered by Professor Schmucker, connects with the subject of Sabbath Schools, such important facts and considerations, that Protestants who have at heart the cause of Christ, will peruse it, with profit to themselves. We would especially recommend, that it be read to the children of every family, as they are at the present day, particularly, exposed to error, and no means should be left untried to shield them against it. We have omitted several paragraphs, of the discourse, as we wish to insert in this number, several other important articles.-Editor. Prov. xiv. 34. “Righteousness exalteth a nation."
When we cast our eyes over the history of the church, and contemplate her rise, progress and various fuctuations, we find, that, though there never was a time, in which the gates of hell prevailed against her, yet had she her seasons of adversity as well as of prosperity. At one time, we see the sword of persecution suspended over her by the hand of Pagan emperors, and the sacramental host of martyrs slaughtered by hundreds and thousands amidst circumstances of the most repulsive cruelty, or, chained to the stake, mingle their expiring breath with the devouring flame. At another, we see her reclining in the arms of imperial favour, and secularized by unhallowed union with civil power, and degenerating from century to century into a mere political engine: her simple doctrines being transformed into scholastic jargon, her holy precepts relaxed into a filthy system of mercenary righteousness, until ali her glories are shrouded in Egyptian night. But He who commanded light to shine out of darkness, bade one constellation after another, arise amid the gloom that brooded over her ; until, at length, be blessed the world with the mid-day splendour of the glorious Reformation. Thus, if weeping was the portion of his church for the night, it was succeeded by the joy of the morning.
In such a day of joy in Zion, has our happy lot been cast. Forty years ago, the enemies of Christianity believed they had almost entirely swept our holy religion from the earth. They boastingly predicted, in half a century, not a bible would be found, save here and there a neglected copy, covered with dust, as a memorial of the superstition of former ages. But ah! could the wretched Voltaire, and Paine, now look out from their dark den of perdition—how changed is the scene! The beastly debauchery and coldblooded murder, with which their principles deluged Europe, struck a panic into the public mind, produced a general reaction, and convinced both rulers and people, that, be Christianity true or false, the nation, which tramples under foot its sacred precepts, is accursed. The church has awaked from her dream of infidelity, and has, in many places, shaken herself from the corruptions of former ages. The chosen few, who, through the struggle never bowed the knee to Baal, aided by others since entered on the stage,•have tasked their powers to the utmost, and spread the book of God, and the religion of heaven, over a large portion of our earth. Christians in general, beginning to feel, that upon them too devolves the duty of sending the gospel to every creature, have formed themselves into various voluntary associations, to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. And, if there are any features in the religious character of the present age, on which the angels of heaven, and the God of heaven, look down with peculiar delight; the present unprecedented effort to diffuse intelligence and religious principles over the whole rising gener-, ation, the gigantic, noble enterprize of sabbath-school instruction is certainly one.
Whilst the effect of sabbath-schools unavoidably must be, to diffuse general intelligence among the future citizens of our youthful republic, the most important and principal object aimed at confessedly is, to instruct them on the momentous subject of their everlasting interest, to instil into their minds the principles of the religion of Jesus, and thus lead them to that righteousness or godliness, which is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. That righteousness does exalt a nation, we take for granted upon the authority of the inspired writer. Hence, if sabbath-schools tend to promote righteousness, they must tend to exalt the nation. Both propositions stand more in need of illustration than formal proof. In discussing them, we shall call your attention to the following inquiries:
WHAT IS HERE MEANT BY RIGHTEOUSNESS?
HOW DO SUNDAY-SCHOOLS TEND TO EXALT A NATION ? Passing over the interpretation of those, who render the original “almsgiving exalteth a nation,” we remark, that by righteousness in reference to man, is, in Scripture, generally meant, virtaous conduct proceeding from proper motives. As different degrees of light were enjoyed by men, under the different economies of the covenant of grace, it follows, that although righteousness is substantially the same in all men, whether living under the Adamic, the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, or the Christian dispensation; yet must its standard be gradually elevated, as new accessions of light are given. Accordingly righteousness under the gospel dispensation, signifies sincere obe nience to the law of God, in all its spirituality, as developed in the books of the New Covenant, or as we now term it, true piety. Nor is sincerity its only attribute; it must he universal, the effort of obedience must extend to all the requisitions of the entire law, whether they relate to public or private life, whether they define our duties to our God, or to our fellowmen. In proportion, then, as civil rulers are righteous, they will conform to the inspired command: "Judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgement is God's.” The law, which they enact, will be just and impartial in their provisions, and be executed without respect to persons. A righteous ruler will neither favour the rich, nor grind the faces of the poor. A righteous administration will suppress vice, as the grand source of national evil, and promote integrity and virtue, as the basis of civil liberty and prosperity.
The motives to this obedience are embodied in the sacred volume. They are not to be sought in those subjective diversities of sectarian opinion, to which human nature has ever been prone to attach too much importance. These exert no perceptible influence on the life and practice of men. Who, at the present day, would assert, that persons of equally distinguished piety and zeal, may not be found in either of the orthodox denominations, or that our being distinctively a nation of Lutherans, or Presbyterians, or Congregationalists, or Episcopalians, will exalt us in the eyes of our heavenly Father? But the grand fountain of motive, whence true righteousness flows, must be sought in those truths, which constitue the prominent features of the moral government of God; such as the nature and character of the lawgiver; the extent, spirituality and obligations of his law; the rewards and punishments, annexed to it; the character of the subject and his inability to fulfil its requisitions ; and especially the gracious aid that is offered him, by the glorious scheme of redemption through the divine Redeemer Jesus Christ. These are the prominent doctrines, which, from the very structure of our intellectual and moral nature, are best calculated to fill us with humble devotion, and prompt us to holy activity. It is the love of these truths, which is teaching the different denominations of Christians in our land, to regard each other as brethren, which is filling our nation with the most formidable host of voluntary associations, which Satan has ever beheld arrayed against his kingdom. If any man deny these fundamental aspects of divine truth, he saps the foundations of all righteousness. The maxim of the celebrated Christian Father, Augustine, that “no man can lead a pious life, whose faith is erroneous,” is correct when confined to the prominent