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"come let us devise devices against Jeremiah,” what did that prophet return for answer? "Give heed to me, Oh Lord, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. Deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword, and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death. . . . Forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee." But that Prophet was a Jew; let us now hear how a Christian minister, an "inspired" man, the very chiefest apostle, speaks in the New Testament. The magistrate commands the bystanders to smite Paul on the mouth. What says the Apostle? "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall," &c. That was the way flesh and blood treated its opponents in the days of the Bible.
To take another case. There were peculiar circumstances in the early days of the Christian church, and "a liberal measure" of divine wisdom was needed; but what says
"a servant of God and the Lord Jesus" to men that committed a sin? "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days! Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of those which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in the day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just, and he doth not resist you." Let the "Pastor of Hollis street Church" be condemned, if need is, for foulness of speech, but let it be remembered, how far the charge goes, and on what other names it shall rest. We would not excuse him, because Jewish and Christian Reformers sinned with their lips in the same way. Let the camp of Reformers be pure as the holy of holies; let no selfishness, nor violence, nor vengeance be found in it, " to make the camp of Israel a curse." Are Reformers warring on sin? Then let their hands be clean; let there be none of the "accurs
* Jeremiah xviii. 17, sqq. + Acts xxiii. 3.
James v. 1, sqq.
ed thing" found in their tents. Is their cause glorious? Then the purer should be their hearts, and the holier their weapons. In the pirates' battle for gold we look for false weapons and foul play; not in the saints' battle for the souls of mankind. We expect dirt on a butcher's frock; not on the wing of the Angel, who comes down to trouble the pool of Bethesda, and make its waters healing to the impotent folk that lie in its gates.
But to speak humanly, there is no little palliation for the Pastor. Let him be weighed in an even balance; his heroic virtues be matched with his faults. He has then nothing to fear. Honor to that man, who in an age of selfishness and sin lifts up a manly voice, and cries out against the actual crimes and oppressions of his own time, his own neighborhood, till the ears of sin tingle. There is a time when few lift up the hand against vice, because sin is popular. How warily some "Temperance men came up to beat the bush, years ago; how fearful were they of hurting the feelings of men that drank Rum, sold Rum, made Rum! They were prudent men, and it was then doubtful how the issue would terminate! Now, when the victory is won, these men do the chief part of the shouting, and almost the whole of the denunciation, and, as we believe, are driving the temperance party to madness and ruin. Wine is the only Devil, and wine-drinkers the only demoniacs with them! Oh the shortness of human memories! The coward forgets where he was when blows were to be got.
Mr. Pierpont came forward as a Reformer, a rare character in the Pulpit, at a time when there were no honors to be won, no victory to be rejoiced in. The "peculiar circumstances" of his parish were Rum-selling, Rum-making, Rum-drinking. The head and front of his offending, we honestly believe, is this, the crime of preaching against the actual sins of his own parish. An exciting topic, no doubt; it requires much of " the wisdom that cometh from above" to do the work well. He preached, as Paul at Ephesus, against the Idolatry of the place he was in; and with a similar result. "Moreover ye see and hear," said the opponents of the Apostle, " that this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no Gods which are made with hands, so that not only this our craft
is in danger to be set at nought, but also that the temple of the great goddess. . . . be despised." We do not place the opponents of Mr. Pierpont among idolaters. Some of them are men whose personal character is noble, beautiful, Christian; can we say more? We would go far to honor such men, and would repel any assault upon the general righteousness of their motives. But good men are sometimes deceived, wise men see not all things, it is difficult for most men to see anything wrong, in a calling which is sanctioned by the laws of the land, and which, more than all, brings money to their pocket. Certainly, a reasonable allow
ance is to be made in such instances.
Let the case of the Pastor be examined ever so minutely, by eyes howsoever partial, and it is only a few details that can be censured; the main parts of his course, when tried by the standard of Christianity, must be commended. The World and the Church have prowled about his parish; have hunted with hungry maw, through and through a ministry of twenty years' continuance; nothing was too little to escape their scrutiny; nothing too great for their assault; nothing too private for their examination. Yet after all, what have they started and run down? There has been a great beating of the bush; baying and shouting enough, for a Persian hunting in the days of Cyrus; but they who have made this cry and ado find but little game at the last. After all the "investigation," notwithstanding the Pastor was in fact tried for offences committed after the indictment was made out and presented; spite of the diligence displayed in searching for sins of omission and commission, the World and the Church have scraped together but a small amount of filth; enough to soil their own hands, not to bespatter the reputation of him at whom it has been thrown. Well says an ancient, "Gold shall be tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of adversity!" Both come out of the trial purer than before.
But we must bring our desultory remarks to a close, though we have still much to say. What judgment will an impartial man pronounce on the "Result in Council;" what on the conduct of the clerical portion of that Council, who, we are told, with but a few honorable exceptions, decline extending ministerial fellowship to the Pastor, as formerly? The thing speaks for itself, and needs no declamation of
ours. But there was a time when ecclesiastical councils ruled public opinion. When giants made the law and applied it, few dared complain, and they got their bones broken for their pains. Now the case is different. Public opinion, though often an unclean beast, is mightier than the breath of an ecclesiastical council. Had the state of things been different, had public opinion lifted up its seven heads and ten horns against the Pastor, and not in his favor, we should have expected a very different "Result in Council." We cannot but fancy the latent venom of that most extraordinary paper would have been obvious and not to be mistaken. As a piece of diplomacy, designed to serve many ends, it strikes us as worthy of a college of Jesuits. Higher praise in the diplomatic line it were dif ficult to win. The whole thing reminds us powerfully of an old story, which we are sorry to be the first to record. But the story tells, that it came to pass in the latter days, when Kilsol was High Priest, and the candlestick of the Lord flourished in its place, that the sons of the chosen people waxed valiant, and the children of Levi (to his name be praise) began to prevail in the land of Bagdat, where the seed of the dispersion were gathered together. But iniquity did abound through the pride of heart that was in the sons of Belial, not fearing the Lord. The Priests were busy with the sacrifice; the Scribes with the law; the Pharisees were enlarging the borders of their garments. These had no time to take heed to the sins of the people. Then arose Zadok and began to prophecy. The spirit of the Lord came upon him. He opened his mouth and rebuked the men of Belial, who eat the wages of iniquity. He lifted the veil from the Scribes and Pharisees. He spared not the sellers of purple and fine linen, those that sold and bought in the temple. Yea, he smote them hip and thigh. The people said, "This is Elias come back from the sky; the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof; blessed be Zadok, a prophet in the latter days; the God of Abram shall fight for him," for the people heard him gladly.
Then gathered together the council, even the great Sanhedrim, to consider what must be done. There were assembled the Rabbis from the east and the west, from the isles of the south and the tents of Gog el Rush.
They sat in the hall of council which is in the ward of the Weavers. They brought diverse charges against Zadok. They said, "He hath a devil, and is mad; he hath spoken lies against such as buy and sell; he hath stirred up the elders on the Sabbath days, and exhorted the young men in the time of the new moons; he hath been wroth in holy places, and we cannot bear him." The Scribes swore by their beard that they would cut him off. But the witnesses, who witnessed against him, agreed not in their speech, but were confounded. Then the elders were troubled, and said, "God do so and more unto us, if we do not overturn him; for if he be suffered to live we be all dead men." Four days they sat in silence, with their beards divided. At last the daugther of the voice came upon Rabbi Kozeb the Beth Din, and he spake with his mouth, " Alas, woe hath come upon the seed of Abraham because of this Zadok. If we condemn him not, -and God forbid that we let him escape, - then the people will condemn us, because we prophecy not as Zadok, but say, 'Peace, when there is no peace,' and we shall be undone. If we condemn him without witnesses against him, we fear the people, for they count him a prophet, and son of God, albeit they repent of his violence. Go to now, let us speak him fairly with our tongues, but with our actions let us cut him to the soul. Let us insinuate evil in good words; thus shall we overthrow him, and get favor with the people, and become men of renown.' Some said, "Nay, for then innocent blood shall be upon our hands." But the saying of Rabbi Kozeb pleased the council, and they said, "It is the voice of a God, not of a man. Let him live forever, and let his posterity be like. the sons and nephews of Abdon, the son of Hillel." And they followed his saying until this day.