« EdellinenJatka »
spiritual economy; they are indications of the Lord's approaching manifestations, and are the proper notices of His coming. *
During the last two centuries, from the age of Lord Herbert, a series of trembling emotions of the earth, by which spiritually is signified the Church, have given notice of the Lord's approach to the world. The seeds of infidelity have been widely scattered; they have taken deep root, and brought forth fruit in abundance, not only in England, but on the continent of Europe, and particularly in Germany. In Germany the most startling changes have been effected since the time of the Reformation. These changes are discoverable in their literature and theology, Deism and rationalism have been ploughing up the ground of the Christian Church, and opening new channels for the insemination of new seed, or the principles of a more correct and well-defined theology. In the working of these changes there has been much to alarm and agitate devout and Christian minds,-much to terrify the simple spectator, by the shaking up of the very foundations upon which the Christian Church has been erected, “ the shaking not only of the earth, but of the very heavens also; even the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” From the loose ideas entertained, and the want of any fixed views of divine inspiration, all the settled foundations of the Christian Church were uprooted, and the whole became a chaos-an heterogeneous mass-a lifeless lump-of warring elements, jumbled together in the same heap.
During the last fifty years, the ultimate or terminus of these results has been completed. From the time of Semler, to Dr. Strauss in 1838, the ploughshare of theological revolution has been rapidly employed, and a new school of critical and learned writers has appeared to inundate and desolate the professing Church, so that wire-drawn systems of theology have been skilfully prepared and wrought out of their own brains, by the aids of their self-derived intelligence, with as much dexterity as spiders weave threads to catch flies. Some of our countrymen who were carefully initiated into this school of Neology returned home with new schemes of reformation, to remodel the Church of England upon a primitive basis. In this manner heresies abound; they multiply and increase, until the sacred temple of truth disappears, and not one stone is left upon a stone which shall not be dissolved.*
*“ Signs and Visitations preceding the Last Judgment.-These changes of their state were accompanied by various concussions of their dwellings and lands, which were followed by earthquakes, mighty according to their perversities. Here and there, too, gaps were made towards the hells which were under them, and a communication was thus opened with these hells: there were then seen exhalations ascending, as of smoke mingled with sparks of fire. There also were signs which preceded, and they are understood by the Lord's words on the consummation of the age, and afterwards on the last judgment, in the Evangelists, · Nation shall be stirred up against nation ; then shall be great earthquakes in divers places ; signs also from heaven, terrible and great. And there shall be distress of nations, the sea and salt water roaring.'”-Continuation of the Last Judgment, 25.
Puseyism and Irvingism,t the active and very zealous efforts of the Plymouth brethren, with numerous branches of minor sects, have since started into existence, as the broken fragments of former divisions, which are but the different offshoots of these opposite and motive powers. In their outward aspect and form they may vary, yet they originate in like states of ecclesiastical and morbid spirituality. There has been an uplifting and shaking of the earth's surface, as if seized by a series of trembling emotions. The shocks proceeding from the continent of Europe have also reached America, and in that country we behold some new deposits and singular formations, $ moving in harmony
“ By a stone of the temple not being left upon a stone which should not be dissolved, is signified the destruction and total vastation of the Church; a stone also signifies the truth of the Church."—Apoc. Exp. 220. See also, Clissold on the End of the Church, passim.
t. It is very difficult to attain any correct views of the present state of those Societies of which the late Mr. Irving was the originator. The changes that have occurred since his departure are very singular and remarkable, and yet they cannot easily be traced, as they have no tracts or periodical by which they can be discovered. Like the esoteric and exoteric instructions of Pythagoras and the magical sects of former ages, they are becoming very secret in their operations; the knowledge is chiefly confined to the adepts, and the initiated are only gradually introduced. The mesmeritic phenomena of which they are the subjects, renders it very difficult for them to attempt to explain their peculiar sentiments, probably they cannot arrive at any fixed conclusion which will admit of any exposition; and there can be no doubt that Mr. Irving became a martyr to the mysterious influences and disorders of his disciples, of which they were alike incapable of arriving at any rational solution. There are some affinities between Puseyism and Irvingism, which in their causes are similar, and have been attended in their ultimates by the like effects.
* See a pamphlet entitled, “ An examination of the opinions and practices of the New Sect usually denominated the Plymouth Brethren,” by Cyprian Thomas Kust: 1844.
$ “CHRISTIAN CONNEXION — A religious denomination of recent origin in the United States of America and among the last that has arisen, which from its numbers and character has attained much consideration and influence. Its beginning may be stated about the year 1800, and the circumstances attending its rise and progress are somewhat peculiar. This sect recognises no individual as its leader or founder. They have no Calvin, or Luther, or Wesley to whom they refer as an
with the majestic streams of those mighty rivers by which that continent is divided. Some of these changes are known only to a few persons in this country, yet they deserve notice, because they contribute to prove authority for articles of faith and rules of practice. The denomination seems to have sprung up almost simultaneously in different and remote parts of the country, without any preliminary interchange of sentiments or concerted plan of action. Their leading purposes, at first appear to have been, not so much to establish any peculiar and distinctive doctrines, as to assert, for individuals and churches, more liberty and independence in relation to matters of faith and practice, to shake off the authority of human creeds and the shackles of prescribed modes and forms, to make the Bible their only guide, claiming for every man the right to be his own expositor of it, to judge for himself, what are its doctrines and requirements, and in practice to follow more strictly the simplicity of the Apostles and primitive Christians."
“ In New England, where the Christian denomination seems first to have attracted attention by any public demonstration or organization as a distinct sect, it was composed, principally, of individuals, who separated from the Calvinistic Baptists. Soon after the formation of their first churches, several large churches of the Calvinistic Baptists declared themselves independent of the Baptist Association and united with them. The Free-will and Six-principle Baptists opened their doors to their ministers, and it was expected that they would ultimately amalgamate; they however still (1833) continue distinct sects with very amicable relations between them. In the southern states, the first associations of this sect, consisted mostly of seceders from the Methodists, and in the western states, from the Presbyterians. Prompted by the leading motives, which have been stated, to the formation of an independent organization or sect, the individuals who composed it still held many of the doctrines and cherished a prejudice in favor of some of the usages and practices of the sects from which they had respectively withdrawn. Hence we can scarcely affirm, with justice, that any doctrine, was, at first, held by them in common, or as a body; their distinguishing characteristic being universal toleration. At first they were generally Trinitarians, subsequently they have almost unanimously rejected the Trinitarian doctrine as unscriptural.”
“ The principles upon which their churches were at first constructed, and upon which they still stand, are the following: The Scriptures are taken to be the only rule of faith and practice, each individual being at liberty to determine for himself, in relation to these matters, what they enjoin: No member is subject to the loss of church fellowship on account of his sincere and conscientious belief, so long as he manifestly lives a pious and devout life: No member is subject to discipline and church censure but for disorderly and immoral conduct: The name Christian to be adopted, to the exclusion of all sectarian names, as the most appropriate designation of the body and its members: The only condition or test of admission as a member of a church is a personal profession of the Christian religion, accompanied with satisfactory evidence of sincerity and piety, and a determination to live according to the divine will or gospel of Christ. Each church is considered an independent body, possessing exclusive authority to regulate and govern its own affairs.”
“ For the purpose of promoting the general interest and prosperity of the connexion by mutual efforts and joint counsels, associations were formed denominated conferences. Ministers and churches, represented by delegates, formed themselves the simultaneous operations of this movement in all parts of the Christian world; and to shew that the end of the Christian dispensation has arrived; they are also confirmatory notices of what may be yet anticipated by those who are fully convinced that the Lord's second coming in the manifestation and power of His Word is now to be accomplished.* in each state, into one or more conferences called States Conferences, and delegates from these conferences formed the United States General Conference. This General Conference has been given up. The local or state conferences are still continued, possessing, however, no authority or control over the independence of the churches. In twenty of the United States, there are now (1833) thirty-two conferences, one in Upper Canada, and one in the province of New Brunswick. The number of their ministers is estimated at about 700; of the churches, 1000; of communicants, from 75,000 to 100,000, and from 250 to 300,000 who etertain their views and attend upon their ministry.”
“ Several periodicals have been published under the patronage of this connexion. A convention of ministers and private brethren, from various parts of the country, was holden at Milan, Dutchess county, New York, in October 1838, by which it was proposed to the connexion to form an association to be called 'the Christian Union Book Association,' to be composed of one delegate from each conference in the connexion. The object of this association is the general supervision, charge, and direction of such matters as concern the connexion at large-such as the publication of books, periodicals, &c., and the disposition of such surplus funds as may accrue from the publication and sale of books, or otherwise, as they may think most conducive to the common interest and prosperity of the connexion."
“ A Charter was obtained in 1832, from the legislation of Indiana, for å Christian college, to be located in New Albany."
“The education of many of the ministers of the connexion, who universally preach extempore, is defective. Their maxim has been, 'Let him who understands the gospel teach it.' They have considered the preparation of the heart more important than the embellishment of the mind. They have, notwithstanding, many preachers, who appear as scribes well-instructed, who have acquitted themselves with credit as writers ; and the sentiment is fast gaining ground among them, that literature and science are very useful auxiliaries in the illustration and enforcement of divine truth."- Brown's Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 363 : 1839.
It is worthy of notice, that among the preachers of this denomination, the views of Swedenborg have been partially adopted, and especially upon the doctrine of the sole divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only God of heaven and earth. -See the notice of this Sect in Encyclopedia Americana.
** DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, otherwise named CAMPBELLITES or REFORMERS — took their rise at the commencement of the present century. They profess to receive the Bible alone, without any human addition in the form of creeds or confessions of faith, as taught and preached by many distinguished ministers of different denominations both in Europe and America. Under this impression, in the year 1823, a restoration of the original gospel began to be taught in a periodical by Alexander Campbell, of Bettany, Virginia. Within the last seven years (1833) this denomination has increased, with unprecedented rapidity, and during the past year, not much less than 10,000 have joined the standard of Reformation. They regard all the sects and parties of the Christian world, as having, in greater or less We may
thus see, as in a mirror, the signs of an approaching crisis in the Church, if viewed in connexion with recent events which have devastated the Protestant Churches in Europe, and from this quarter progressing onwards to the remotest corners of the world. We have ample illustration, therefore, that the first Christian Church has arrived at the period of its vastation and consummation.*
These views of the end of the Christian Church, in many particulars, are confirmed by the signs of the times and the state of the periodical press in relation to the science of Theology. The conviction forces itself upon the minds of those who are seriously called to investigate the subject, and, while they ingenuously make the confession, seem not aware of the tendency of their conclusions, and that they are only giving evidence of facts which indicate a consummation which is pre
degree, departed from the simplicity of faith and manners of the first Christians, and as forming what the Apostle Paul calls the Apostacy. This defection they attribute to the great varieties of speculation and metaphysical dogmatism of the countless creeds, formularies, liturgies, and books of discipline adopted and in. culcated as bonds of union, and platforms of communion in all the parties which have sprung from the Lutheran reformation. The effects of these synodical covenants, conventional articles of belief, and rules of ecclesiastical polity have been the introduction of a new nomenclature, a human vocabulary of religious words, phrases, and technicalities, which has displaced the style of the living oracles, and affixed to the sacred diction, ideas wholly unknown to the apostles of Christ. To remedy and obriate these aberrations, they propose to ascertain from the Holy Scriptures, according to the commonly received and well-established rules of interpretation, the ideas attached to the leading terms and sentences found in the Holy Scriptures, and then to use the words of the Holy Spirit in the apostolic acceptation of them. By thus expressing the ideas communicated by the Holy Spirit in the terms and phrases learned from the apostles, and by avoiding the artificial and technical language of scholastic theology, they propose to restore a pure speech to the household of faith, and by accustoming the family of God, to use the language and dialect of the heavenly Father, they expect to promote the sanctification of one another through the truth, and to terminate those discords and debates, which have always originated from words which man's wisdom teaches, and from a reverential regard and esteem for the style of the great masters of polemic divinity, believing that speaking the same things in the same style, is the only certain way to thinking the same things. They consider the Holy Scriptures as containing revelations from God,-as necessary to make the man of God perfect and accomplished for every good word or work,—and the Apocalypse as a figurative and prospective view of all the fortunes of Christianity from its date to the return of the Saviour. Like many of the modern sects which have sprung up of late years, they are the advocates of a Millenium.”—See Brown's Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 463.
* Vastation takes place while man views the holy things of the Church from falses and falsified truths; but consummation, or the end, takes place when he lives in evils, or in adulterated goods.-Coronis, 57.
NS. NO. 58.-VOL. V.