Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

- one uniform scene to his supernatural vision. This may be illus

trated by the prospect of an extended landscape, From the spot on which we stand, over the wide and ascending landscape to the distant mountain that bounds our vision, we have but one picture that strikes the eye. Hill rises above hill, woodland beyond woodland, mountain above mountain, but the eye of the distant spectator cannot measure the space which intervenes between these objects. Those hills are separated by ravines—those mountains by sweeping vallies, but to the distant eye they present one uniform prospect. They seem to be in contact with each other. Time in the prophetic vision, may be compared to space intervening between the different points of such a landscape. The prophet's eye glanced from one event to another as they rose on his extatic vision, till it rested on the distant mountain-tops of futurity, while he was as unable as we to measure the exact time which should elapse between each event. The order of succession might be apparent, but nothing more.

We hope we have not wearied our readers by detaining them for a moment, upon what they perhaps may be inclined to regard as mere speculation. To us however it seems of the highest importance,

that the public mind should be rightly directed on this subject. • To feel the proper influence of scriptural prophecy in its best ten- dency, it is not necessary that we be able to compute the exact

number of years which must elapse before the millennium will dawn

upon us. It is enough for us to know that such a time is yet to come, i and that it is to be introduced by human agency combining with

the divine. There is an end to be gained as glorious as heaven: how is it to be attained ? by a process of well arranged and efficient

means? or is it to rise upon the world, like a sun, without a dawn? . There is an object to be accomplished-by men? or by angels ?

Such are the inquiries which spontaneously suggest themselves to the the mind of one who comprehends the real nature and object of the book of prophecy. Ask such a man, when will the long predicted period of future glory arrive, his prompt and natural reply is, just when christians shall do their duty. He feels that those splendid predictions increase, not annihilate human responsibility, that they are designed to promote a healthier action, and afford encourage

ment and hope to the diligent, rather than to foster indolence and ; gratify a useless curiosity. What has such a man to do with times

and seasons ? Willingly he allows such questions to repose in the bosom of God, while ibat solemn adjunct to the voice of prophecy "behold I come quickly,vibrates in his ear as the warning voice of preparation, while with a warm heart and a ready hand, he proceeds on his course of active duty, as though the whole milTennium depended on his individual exertions. No shadowy an

ticipations cheer his soul : no doubts of success dishearten him amid the iron labor. The “sure word of prophecy” is as an anchor to his soul. Amid the dark, conflicting and agitated elements of human society, he believes that the Spirit of God is again moving upon the face of the waters, and out of these chaot c materials, is forming a new creation of light, and peace and righteonsness. Wbat has such a man to fear from the inveteracy of error, from the appalling power of ignorance-from the opposition of satan? He knows, while the page of prophecy is open before him,—and he acts upon the conviction,--that error will be done away, ignarance will be enlightened, and all enemies will be put under the feet of Him whose right it is to reign, and who will hold dominion from sea to sea. What though he bear of wars and rumors of wars, and all the elements of human society seem in mighly agitation, his heart is not disquieted within him, for all this is but a sure presage of that period, when the king of nations shall “ overturn and overturn," and thus prepare the way for the rider extension and final triumphs of the kingdom of peace.- What though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, his steadfast soul is not afraid ; possessed of an unshaken persuasion of the promises of God, respecting the triumph and enlargement of his kingdom, he is strong in faith. In the eloquent language of Robert Hall, “ he feels it to be impossible that the mind should be too much impressed with the beauty, glory and grandeur of the kingdom of Christ, as it is unfolded in the oracles of the Old and New Testaments; nor with the certainty of the final accomplishment of those oracles, founded on the faithfulness and omnipotence of their author. To these parts of scripture his altention is ever drawn, in which the Holy Ghost employs the full force and splendor of inspiration, in depicting the future reign of the Messiah, together with that astonishing spectacle of dignity, purity and peace which bis church will exbibit, when having the glory of God, ber bounds shall be commensurate with those of the habitable globe; when every object on which the eye shall rest, will remind the spectator of the commencement of a new age, in which the tabernacle of God is with men, and he dwells among them. His spirit becomes imbued with that sweet and tender awe wbich such anticipations infallibly produce, whence will spring a generous contempt of the world, and an ardor bordering on impatience, to be employed, though in the bumblest sphere, as the instrument of accelerating such a period. For compared to this destiny in reserve for the children of men, compared to this glory, invisible at present, and hid behind the clouds which envelope this dark and troubled scene, the bright

est day that has hitherto shone upon the world is midnight, and the highest splendors that have invested it, the shadow of death.”

Such is the proper influence of scriptural prophecies. An influence how different from the narrow prejudices, and limited views of the man who has perverted them from their true purpose ! There is no necessity that we should know the times and the seasons; there is no part of prophecy which may not be made highly profitable, and more so, while the time of its fulfillment is uncerlain. For instance, take the last chapter of the Apocalypse. You find in the introduction of it a description of that place, where the just shall reign forever, which is adorned by all that grace has gathered and beautified from the ruins of the world. While your heart throbs in anticipation of coming glory, and seems careless for the trifles of this passing world, and rises, as on the wings of eagles, in adoration of that Being whose face you are to see, and in whose presence you are to dwell, we need not recall your heavenly thoughts, and check your rising joys, and withhold your strains of adoration to determine where that abode shall be. As we, and you read that the time is at hand, that He comes quickly, who is to bring a reward for every man according to his deeds, while the awed spirit returns upon itself, to ask if it is ready, we need not stay to inquire when, at what exact period that coming shall be. He that testifieth of these things saith, “ surely I come quickly-and if our hearts breathe the prompt Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus, they will be too full of these desires, and the gladness of these tidings, to enter into any controversy as to the times and seasons.

There is one aspect however, in which we should be acquainted with the times of recorded prophecy. We should study the great plan of divine operations in the unfolding events of providence. It is the glory of christian faith to outstrip the providence of God : let it not be said to our shame, that we lag behind it. We live in a day, when signs of promise are breaking out on the right hand and on the left. Though a mighty result is yet to be produced, under which we might well despair and laint, were it not for the page of the prophet's vision, yet the cause of God is even now prevailing, and will speedily triumph.. Those who wish may draw back,--but they draw back to perdition. The enemies and timorous friends of the church, will ere long be left in a fearful minority. The day-star has already risen. The light and the truth are breaking out above, beneath, and around ; angels rejoice in heaven over repepting sibners : a multitude which no man can number are already seen nying through heaven like clouds, and as doves to their windows. vod is working a work which men will not believe for wonder,

53

wand onder which the propwill spedraw.ba

and on the 16 promise are lag behind it.

VOL. IV.

though it be told them. Though friends may falter and draw back,—though foes may rally in their last mighty opposition, though the waves of error may roll and dash against the church, like an angry flood—yet Jehovah-Jesus is in the midst of bis peoplehe hath come into bis temple with a visible manifestation of his glory, and all the people shall say with shoutings and thanksgiving—“Lo! this is our God, we have waited for him, we will rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

The fiery wheels of God's providence neither stay nor roll backward, but are hastening on the accomplishment of His owo purposes of mercy. The surface of human society, as if ex. pectant of its last brightest change is heaving like ihe bosom of the deep—the desert is beginning to blossom and the darkness to disperse, and the time is at hand when the whole earth shall bare become the kingdom of the Redeemer. Though heaven and earth pass away, not one jot of God's word shall fail. Why then stand lingering which to choose, the cause of God, which will prevail, or that cause which will as surely be covered with merited and everlasting disgrace? Let us glory in the privilege of making the cause of God our own. Let us thank God for the privilege ol being co-workers for him in the renovation of the world.

Art. IV.-NATURAL HISTORY OF ENTHUSIASM AND SATURDAY

EVENING.

Natural History of Enthusiasm. Boston : published by Crocker & Brewster.

1830. Saturday Erening. By the author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm. From

the London edition. Published by Crocker and Brewster: Boston. 1832.

The deep impression produced both in England and in this country by these two works, particularly by the former, is undoubtedly known to most of our readers. The latter indeed is quite recently from the press; yet it has already attracted much notice on both sides of the water. The powersul hold, which the Natural History of Enthusiasm obtained on the feelings of the religious public, was favorable of course to the immediate and eager reception of the recent work; which, though it may not be equal to its predecessor in every respect, is yet worthy of the writer, and of the reputation which he has acquired. It is not indeed too much to say, that few books of the kind have of late years appeared, which have been so interesting to serious, thinking readers in general, as the books in question and the same may be said of one or two other productions by the same hand. Of such an effect every one who looks into the volumes, will be able at ce to understand the cause. Without enlarging bere upon the Cew criticisms which we intend to offer in ile present article, - He would say that they are the works of a man of genius—of proound and original thinking, on subjects most deserving of thought

that the representations which they contain appear to come from the heart, while they certainly speak to the heart, and in a hasterly manner develope its secret workings.

The appearance of these volumes has suggested the thought to fur miods, that two or three eras in religious writing may be fraced, within the period of our own recollection. The first was about thirty-five years since, when Mr. Wilberforce published his Fell-timed and eloquent Practical View of Christianity, in which be attempted to awaken the attention of the christian world to its deficiencies and its duties, and to a more accurate discrimination of the real nature of religion. The power of this work was felt Wherever the English language was known. Some years after,

Mr. John Foster, and a little subsequent to him, Dr. Chalmers, - both of them by the striking peculiarity and influence of their re

spective writings, furnish another starting point. The former in his celebrated Essays, striking out in some sense, a new and unexplored course of religious thought, and developing certain re

lations of the gospel but imperfectly considered before, added not - a little to the moral and intellectual treasures of the world. The latter, particularly in his Astronomical and his Commercial Discourses, though displaying a more professional cast, gave an increased impulse to the investigation of what may be called the economy of social, religious life. Contemporaneously with these writers, Fuller, Scott, Hall, Mrs. H. More, and the contributors to the Christian Observer, and the Eclectic Review, with a diversity of style and variety of power, though without such peculiarities of manner and circumstance as to claim for the productions of any of them a distinct epoch, contributed to the mass of religious reading and impression. Among these, Hall, by the grandeur of his intellect, and the classic beauty of his style, stood conspicuous, and will descend to posterity as one of the noblest specimens of our race. We would not however, omit to mention the distinguished religious writers of this country, such as Mason, Dwight, and Evarts, who, mostly within the period embraced in our remarks, exerted by their pens, a wide and salutary influence. In connection with these distinguished men, there has arisen a class of writers who, acquainting themselves with the rules of scriptural interpretation, beyond the degree attained by their predecessors, and ascending to original sources of theological knowledge, have added a most useful and instructive portion lo lhe reading and studies of the religious public, and are destined

« EdellinenJatka »