图书图片
PDF
ePub

are described as sitting at supper with the Lamb; and can we not discern those who, by turning away from the tidings with an evil heart of unbelief, are coming under that awful sentence, “They shall not taste of my supper ?” Surely the fear of being called uncharitable should not prevent any one, under such considerations, from lifting up a warning voice to those who would excuse themselves from attending to the cry which is now abroad, arousing the church from its lethargy. If they say there is neither charity nor love in thus excluding them from the marriage supper; I say, they exclude themselves; and that there is much charity in telling them of the consequences of not attending to the summons; and that the love of God's word, and the love of our brethren's souls, operates above the love of man's opinion, inducing us to point them to the truth, the grave and important truth, contained in the parable we have been considering; in the hope that God may lead them to the reception of the right doctrine concerning those things therein distinctly pourtrayed. For it is not sufficient to say, ' I cannot believe your report; but, if it happen according to your word, I trust the Lord will bring me in also.' How can they possess that which they treat with indifference? how can they justly hope to obtain that respecting which they have no faith? Is it so small a thing to slight the tidings, make excuse, and spitefully entreat the messengers, that they still can expect a place at the “ great supper?”. But it is said, This is all fancy! To me it appears a plain truth; and as it stands upon the word of God, it cannot be shaken by the doubting breath of unbelief. There is a marriage supper : there is a call to be made at supper-time to them who were bidden: there are those who deliver the message, “ Come, for all things are now ready:” and there are those who, being bidden, deem themselves privileged members of society; and yet, from neglecting the last summons, when all things are ready for the Lord to sit down with his guests, they do not taste of the supper.

“ These are the true sayings of God :” “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Having thus, with God's permission, opened out the parable, which is found to be immediately applicable to the present times, both by its own chronological evidence and by its various features being now exhibited in the corresponding state of the church; may the Lord make it useful, and enable many, ere it be too late, to know “the things which must shortly come to pass ;” that they may be found amongst the believing ones, the marriage supper of the Lamb! “ For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry;” and his angels “ shall gather together his elect from the four winds,” and the wedding shall be furnished with guests ; and the decree shall go forth against those who would not attend to the summons: and what will it avail them to say, in that day,“ Lord, Lord, have

at

we not prophesied in thy name?Nay, it shall be unto them according to their faith. Oh! may they, who think they are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing ; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ;” may they receive his counsel, and buy of Him “gold tried in the fire,” “and white raiment,” and anoint their eyes with eye-salve, that they may see !For even now he crieth,“ Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” “ He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. ii. 17-22.)

In the foregoing, the general application of the parable has been pointed out, without any attempt to examine its various details; but doubtless these might be readily illustrated, by any who are willing to study the subject for that purpose: and I think I see, amongst those who were bidden, some who deem they shall buy the whole earth (which is Christ's), and they are waiting to see it, being occupied with a portion they have already purchased ; and I see others wholly taken up with proving that various working power, which they deem shall turn this wilderness as the garden of the Lord : and I see a further portion engrossed with the strange unions, which they deem shall be productive of nought but blessedness; and they all cannot come. But “ the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind,” shall be brought in-even the despised ones from “ the highways and hedges,"—that the house may be filled; but “none of those that were bidden (and excused themselves at supper-time) shall taste of my supper,” saith the Lord.

P. L.

THE PARABLE OF THE VIRGINS. We are requested, by the writer of the article on the Parable of the Virgins (MORNING Watch, No. VI.), to add the following note to p. 366 :

Although I think the expression “true church' may be objectionable, still I know not any other which would express my meaning fully and forcibly. In the visible church, at the coming of Christ, there will exist four classes : first, those looking for his advent, who open to him immediately (Luke xii. 35, 44); secondly, those who, having heard of his advent, reject the message, expecting a reign of the Gospel, a millennium without Christ's personal presence (ver. 47); thirdly, those who are humble believers in Christ as the only Saviour, but, not having heard of his personal advent, are not so expecting him, yet who, having the Bible, ought to have known it (ver. 48); fourthly, mere professors, trusting to their own merits, and not to Christ alone, for salvation (vers. 45, 46)."

S.

881

REVIEWS AND MISCELLANIES.

ON THE RELIGIOUS AND PROPHETIC ASPECT OF THE

FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1830.

We

The history of Israel, as given in the Book of Judges, shews the judgments of God upon national irreligion descending more immediately after the provocation, than any other part of the Divine record (See Judges iii. 1, 8, 15; iv. 1, 2; vi. 1, 2; xiii. l). The fate of the nations mentioned in the Bible will not be denied, by any believer in God's word, to have been dependent upon their treatment of his church; nor will the destruction of Jerusalem be thought other than a parallel example. In subsequent times, the ablest servants of God have employed themselves in vindicating His ways to man. “The learned work, concerning the city of God,says Gibbon, “was professedly composed by St. Augustine to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the Roman greatness. know from Isocrates, in Orat. de Pace, that it was the opinion of even the ancient Heathen that states suffer for crimes, as well as individuals. Not to multiply examples needlessly, we confine ourselves to writers of our own country, and only refer to the times of Mary, Cromwell, James II., and the French Revolution. Despising, therefore, the scoffs of modern small wits, who deride all who will proceed “ with the Apocalypse in one hand and a newspaper in the other” to interpret God's dealings with the nations in the times in which we live, we shall examine how far the fates and fortunes of the church of Christ are concerned in the events which are now agitating the whole of the civilized world.

The white and red roses, as badges of political parties, were discontinued as soon as the causes which had given rise to them ceased to exist. The more unmeaning designations of Whig and Tory have survived the feuds out of which they sprung; express nothing accurately; and the origin as well as meaning of the terms are alike unknown and uninteresting to all but the antiquarian. At one period, however, they denoted with tolerable clearness two factions; the one of which maintained that the power of kings was derived from God; the other, that it was derived from the people. Amongst the former were to be found all who follow courts as sycophants, from vanity or from hope of profit : amongst the latter were to be found all who hate power and controul of any kind, and who are ever ready to disturb the public peace, from the hope of gaining some better VOL. II.-NO. IV.

6 x

subsistence in a general confusion of property. Thus each faction contained within itself a good and a bad subdivision, while it charged upon its antagonist nothing but the bad.

Renewed animation was infused into the names, as well as into the principles, of these parties, by the events which produced and accompanied the French Revolution. The long succession of tyranny and oppression over the people, of vice and profligacy in their private lives, and of contempt of Christ's religion, practised by the king, nobles, and clergy of France, produced no expression of censure from the Tories of England; while the pillage of the church establishment, the overthrow of the monarchy, and open dissemination of atheism, were rebuked by none, and justified by many, of their opponents, the Whigs. The former were wholly absorbed by the one idea of the importance of social order; and the latter by an admiration of liberty more visionary than real: while the truth lay between them, equally unheeded by both.

The same want of discrimination pervaded our statesmen through every succesive portion of the struggle. The church, which ought to have better instructed politicians, and to have taught them to view those portentous events with reference to God, and to His principles of justice and holiness, could boast of no better theology than the flimsy system which it had imbibed from Wesley and Whitfield; and which has subsequently ripened into the Evangelicalism of these days;-a system decried by a secularized hierarchy, and thereby rendered hateful to the people; and of too cobweb a fabric to grapple with the mighty spirits which were then called into action. To be a Christian, was to whine and sigh in a conventicle; while to justify God's dealings with nations, to direct the councils of rulers and senators, and to defend the land to which they owed their birth, was in their opinion to be secular, carnally minded, and unspiritualizing. It is not to be wondered at, that the few members of the legislature who made any profession of being the peculiar servants of God should make so poor a stand for His truth, since they came to the field so ill furnished with armour for the conflict. Their religion, though sincere, was profitless to all except themselves : it may have produced some fruits of benevolence; but of sterling, unbending principle, by which the vessel of the state could be steered, it produced none.

When the revolutionary mania broke out in France, the subjects of its influence avowed the determination of overthrowing every throne and every altar in Europe. The newly established republics of America had produced many admirers, who desired similar forms of government to be set up in the old world. Very able atheistical writers exercised a powerful influence

through the press ; societies were formed throughout Great Britain for the avowed purpose of corresponding with the revolutionists in France, in order to effect similar changes in the government at home. The problem for British statesmen to solve was, first, how to repel such a storm as that which had overwhelmed France from gathering and bursting here; and, secondly, how to dissipate the noxious elements in such a manner as to prevent their again growing quickly to a head. The king of England, his ministers, and the majority of the people, decided upon repelling it by open force; and entered on a war accordingly. The destinies of this country were at that time swayed by a man of an extraordinary character, and whom God had peculiarly fitted for the part which he had to perform. Men's minds were too much excited to listen to arguments : they wanted nothing but direction. Mr. Pitt was the most powerful declaimer of modern times. Any one who heard him, whether friend or foe, bore testimony to his unrivalled eloquence; whilst they who have to form their opinion of his talents merely by his published speeches are unable to discover a basis adequate to support so exalted a reputation. To this great statesman may be well applied the description which Thucydides gives of Pericles : ogov TE γαρ χρονον πρεση της πολεως εν τη ειρηνη, μετριως εξηγειτο, και ασφαλως διεφυλαξεν αυτην, και εγενετο επ' εκεινε μεγισης επειδη τε ο πολεμος κατεση, ο δε φαινεται και εν τατω προγνος την δυναμιν. Και επειδη απεθανεν, επι πλεον ετι εγνωσθη η προνοια αυτο η ες τον πολεμον. His measures were opposed by the faction which wished to supplant him, in order that they themselves might use the power he enjoyed ; and likewise by all the republicans, revolutionists, and infidels, who felt that a war was the most effectual obstacle to the furtherance of their schemes.

Amongst the supporters of Mr. Pitt, too, were found all who had been guilty of public peculation and malversation in office, and who apprehended a day of retribution from a spoiled and offended people ; all the parasites of a court, for what that court can bestow ; all the ecclesiastical dignitaries who followed religion as a trade, and feared for the existence of sinecures to which no corresponding duty was attached. The war, from its commencement, and still more towards its close, was conducted upon a very extravagant scale. Many persons became interested in it, from the lucrative contracts which they entered into with the government for supplies of various kinds. The taxes and other burdens upon the people became severe. The clamour of those opposed to the war was loud. The minister purchased the silence of many, by places, pensions, titles, and distinctions of all kinds. The addition of a multitude of commissions in the army and navy increased the means of bribery; and no one seemed to suppose that a country could be impoverished, or in

« 上一页继续 »