图书图片
PDF
ePub

pro

Deity, respecting the future events which are to happen on this globe to men, so prevalent as in the present. This disbelief is not confined to the philosophers, who, like similar characters of old (Socrates, for example), simply deride the superstitions of the vulgar, while they are the unconscious prey of other delulusions as erroneous, but pervades every class of the community. The Christian church-confining that term to the thousand sects of Protestantism-as much disbelieves in the power of man to foresee the destinies of Turkey, France, and England in the Bible, as it does the supernatural penetration of fortune-telling Gypsies. The evangelical author of " The Natural History of Enthusiasm,” and the unevangelical Edinburgh Review of “ Foster's Mohammedanism unveiled,” are of one mind upon this point. The force, and above all the reiteration, with which phetical questions have been literally crammed down the throats of the unwilling and resisting religious world, within the last five years, have at length compelled some magazines and journals to affect a qualified assent to that which their language proves them to be utterly ignorant of, and to hate. Take as a sample the following observation of the editor of the Record, only last September :

• Our readers will find in another column an interesting letter signed 0,' on the subject of prophecy. Let the subject be treated with competent scriptural knowledge, with Christian courtesy, and genuine humility of mind, and it is one which, we are persuaded, may be prosecuted with the happiest effects. We again beseech our readers not to be driven from giving it that measure of attention which it is their duty and privilege to bestow upon it, by the inconsistencies or extravagancies of some of those who have most publicly devoted themselves to the study. All things may be abused, and sometimes the most valuable things are the most easily abused. Their actual value, however, remains undiminished and unchanged by the peculiarities of those who may misconceive them.”

The writer neither knows what is competent scriptural knowledge, nor where the inconsistencies and extravagancies, of which he affects the acquaintance, exist. His courtesy and humility have been ever evinced in personal abuse of the greatest interpreter of our day, without the capacity to gainsay one single sentence he has written. The truest abuse of a valuable thing, is so to dilute it as to make it of no value at all, and it is thus that his maudlin praise of prophecy, like that of the Sermons of the Dissenters reviewed' in former numbers of this Journal, do more effectually vitiate the subject than the most resolute and manly opposition.

If we were to select any one as the pre-eminent absurdity amongst all that are broached upon the subject of prophecy in

religious journals, we would fix upon this,-namely, that it is considered by them as an insulated question, concerning certain facts which do not immediately concern us, and which may or may not be true with equal indifference. Both sides of the argument, indeed, are stated with equal turgidness and pomposity in “ the Natural History of Enthusiasm ;" -a work which contains some good ideas buried beneath a mass of bombastic expression, and which has equally bewildered and delighted the Dissenting reviews. The following passage is selected, because it contains the substance of the error more shortly stated than in any other publication that happens to be at hand. “ Not, indeed, as if any fundamental principle of religion remained to be discovered; for the spiritual church has, in every age, possessed the substance of truth, under the promised teaching of the Spirit of truth. But, obviously, there are many subjects, more or less clearly revealed in the Scriptures, upon which egregious errors may be entertained, consistently with genuine, and even exalted, piety :-they do, indeed, belong to the entire faith of a Christian ; but they form no part of its basis: they may

be detached or disfigured without great peril to the stability of the structure. Almost all opinions relating to the unseen world, and to the future providence of God on earth, are of this extrinsic or subordinate character: and, as a matter of fact, pious and cautious men have on subjects of this kind held notions so incompatibly dissimilar, that the one or other must have been utterly erroneous.” (p. 121.) The last clause of this sentence we take leave, in the absence of all proof, to doubt: and whoever thinks that the end and purport of all God's dealings is a part of his dealings which may be detached from them without detriment, or is of a subordinate character, is in perfect ignorance of the matter on which he professes to treat. It was well said, that respice finem is reckoned a sound maxim with respect to every purpose of man, while neglige finem is that which is supposed to be most proper with respect to the purposes of God.

The final triumph,” says the Edinburgh Review, C. 344, “ of the Muscovite over the capital of Constantinople has yet to come. It would not be respited a day later, were any form of Christian worship, Greek or Roman, to displace the Imaum from before the altar of St. Sophia.” This is dogmatical enough; but we nevertheless refuse our assent to this dictum; and believe that if a form of true Christian worship were to be the outward exponent, that if true Christianity, not the Greek or Roman apostasies, were the religion of the inhabitants of Turkey, Constantinople would not be conquered at all. Such dogmatism, however, meets with no censure from the lynx-eyed sensitiveness which complains of the alleged dogmatism of Mr. Irving or of the Morning Watch. But, to proceed : “ Poland and Warsaw

were not Mohammedan.

Consequently, whenever the Russian Cross shall enter through the breach made by Mohammed the Second nearly five hundred years ago, we suspect that the ancient prophecy of Taurus will be more closely connected with the real cause of this great historical revolution, than modern prophecies, steaming from the vaticinatory tripod of Dr. Miller, Mr. Forster, or a yet wilder school.” To speak of the modern prophecies of Dr. Miller, Mr. Forster, and the yet wilder school, is a direct attempt at imposition upon the ignorance of the reader. Neither one nor the other has done more than venture to give an explanation of the prophecies which are contained in the Bible. These prophecies the Reviewers despise, and attempt to account for the fate of the Ottomans by

a geographical probability.” They confound the books of Isaiah and of St. John with a mass of idle traditions, in order to pour contempt upon the whole. Turn where we may, there is not a quarter of our literature which does not teem with unbelief in the efficacy of the Bible to give us the remotest insight into the political events of the times in which we live.

The children of Issachar were men that had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. xii. 32). The PROPHets of Jehovah were generally raised up at times when the church was in a state of vain-glorious boasting; when the priests were incapable of giving sound advice to the kings; and when they were entirely void of understanding respecting God's purposes as a whole. The prophetic denunciations relate more to great principles than details : not, however, without some indications that those who uttered them knew how to carry into effect the nieasures of which they recommended the adoption. They advised when to march an army, and when to abstain from war; they pronounced anathemas against idolatry, superstition, and tyranny; and they incurred the odium of the clergy who applauded the toleration and liberality of their age. Jehovah has not been less merciful to mankind in these latter days. He has raised up PROPHETS, who have declared that He began to pour out the last vials of His wrath in the French Revolution. Men for a while trembled at the shock of that moral earthquake; but at length, like the inhabitants of the villages at the foot of Vesuvius destroyed by every successive irruption, who commence the rebuilding of their devoted houses ere the lava that overwhelmed them has completely cooled--the politicians and philosophers looked to secondary causes, in order to account for the phenomena that had ceased to scare them. The PROPHETS, again, warned the world that the test of their being correct would be found in the wasting away of the resources of the Turkish empire, as soon as the war occasioned by the French Revolution had

5 Q

VOL. II.-NO, IV.

ceased. This event came to pass.- In the mean time the head of the Protestant states, urged on by the Evangelical party, prepared to withdraw its national protest against the Papal abominations, and to declare the members of Antichrist equally worthy of sharing her power with the members of Christ. Again the PROPHETS, from one end of the empire to the other, warned the king, and both houses of the legislature, that nothing but her Protestant standing had been the cause why God had raised England to the pre-eminence among nations which she had so long enjoyed; and that if she lost that palladium she would share the fate of the other states of Europe. Moreover, they declared, that no sooner should the judgment on Mohammedanism have taken place than civil commotions should break out, in which the whole of what was once the Roman empire should be involved. The philosophers smiled, and pointed in derision to the march of mind, and the progress of liberty. The Evangelical clergy sneered at judgments, and referred with self-gratulation to the spread of Bibles, tracts, and preachers.—Once more THE PROPHETS cry, and warn men io turn from these lying vanities. “ The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and wisdom shall see thy name : hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” THE PROPHETS argue; they implore; they write; they speak; they preach. If with earnestness, they are said to dogmatize; if with coolness, to abandon their opinions. They are accused of forgetting the elements of Divine truth, and of substituting a carnal Millennium for a life of holiness of spirit. Still they persevere : “ being defamed, they entreat: they are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." Still they persevere; and ever, while breath is within them, will they cry, THE LORD IS AT HAND. Yet they only fulfilled the lower office of interpreters, or vrotpoontai. Jehovah has raised up another body of persons, in whom He has exhibited by supernatural signs that He is in them of a truth ; and these have again proclaimed that the LORD IS AT HAND. The Holy Spirit in person bears witness to our spirits, and joins in the same testimony: yet men will not hear. “ And it came to pass....that this word came....from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee....against all the nations.... It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.... It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way: FOR GREAT IS THE ANGER AND THE FURY THAT THE LORD HATH PRONOUNCED AGAINST THE PEOPLE.”

[ocr errors]

843

ON THE REALITY OF BEARING THE CROSS OF CHRIST. To be saved, is to be made like unto the Saviour, body and spirit. The beginning of salvation, is to be willing to be like the Saviour. Every man is willing to escape painful punishment; and every man who has heard and understood any thing about hell, is willing to escape the damnation of hell : but this willingness, by itself, is no part of salvation: it is the mere instinct of terrified nature, increased sometimes to despairing agony, on a sinner's death-bed, while his heart all the while is in a state of undiminished enmity against God. A willingness to be saved is quite a different thing : it includes a desire not only to escape punishment, but also to please God; not only to avoid the pains of hell, but also to acquire a relish for the enjoyments of heaven; not only to be shielded from the wrath of God, but also to be conformed to the holiness of God.

That learned and zealous Jew, Saul of Tarsus, in his rage and fury against the infant church of Christ, not content with the evil which he had done in Jerusalem, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues, that he might continue in that city also his murderous persecution of the disciples of the Lord Jesus. The enmity of Saul, as of the other Jews, was roused against the disciples because they testified that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the anointed One of God; the Messiah, of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did speak. The proof of this rested mainly on the fact of his resurrection from the dead : for no one doubted his death : that was as notorious a fact as any public execution, attended by peculiar circumstances, could be.' This was the reason why the resurrection of Christ formed so prominent a theme in the preaching of the Apostles; as it is written, “ And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts iv. 33). Against this, therefore, the persecution of the unbeliever, including Saul, was specially directed. To embrace and boldly to avow this doctrine, claiming for it a supremacy of importance, and ascribing to it a supremacy of influence, was to take up the

It was to array against a man the enmity and persecution of the world and the devil. It was the proof that he who so acted loved the Lord Jesus better than father or mother, better than sister or brother, better than wife or children, better than houses or lands; and therein it became the true test of discipleship of the Lord Jesus. Saul denied it; and, persecuting those who held it," he drew nigh unto Damascus. And suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,

cross.

« 上一页继续 »