Page images

on a level, in point of importance, with the study of writings on the prophecies. But Anastasius goes beyond this; and if we understand him aright, he considers preaching the Gospel as less important and necessary at the present crisis, than preaching the prophecies. What else can be made of the following language ?

For every delusion which Satan introduces into the world, there is a specific antidote in some particular portion of Divine Truth. After the whole Roman Empire had become nominally Christian, the world was overrun with the superstition, idolatry, and self-righteousness which had been set up by various Bishops of Rome. The especial truth for the overthrow of that delusion, was the doctrine of justification by faith alone. To preach this doctrine, the reformers were raised up : upon this point the whole difference between the Christian and all other religions, essentially turns : and therefore this point is justly termed, Articulus stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiæ : upon this foundation, the whole body of Protestant churches was founded and stands. But superstition and self-righteousness constitute no longer the elements of the prevailing delusion of these days, with which Satan draws men's souls to perdition : scepticism, infidelity, the deification of the intellect of man, reasoning pride, disbelief in the word of God, this is the grand sin of these days. To meet this error, it is obviously useless to preach any particular mode of salvation, be. cause men doubt the efficacy of all. In the former case, they were at least alive to the danger of offending God, and anxious in their endeavours to pacify him, and only mistook the mode by which this was to be accomplished; whereas now, they doubt the fact of his anger, and consequently the necessity of any mode of reconciliation. The grand truth, therefore, to bring forward, is the standing miracle of the past and present condition of the Jews; prophecies fulilled already, and those which are to be fulfilled hereafter; thereby shewing, from the analogy of judgements which, having been predicted, did afterwards come to pass, the certainty and awfulness of those which are yet to come; that many may be roused from their lethargic security, and awake, not to the tremendous realities of a despised indignation, but to the expected glories of an eternal blessedness." pp. 5, 6.

It can hardly be necessary to point out the pernicious absurdity of these positions. The monstrous assertion, that selfrighteousness is not now a prevailing delusion, is worthy of the abominable conclusion, that therefore it is not now necessary to give prominence to the cardinal doctrine which distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. But the new panacea for unbelief, which these seers propose to substitute for the Gospel, is indeed a most extraordinary one. Seeing that men disbelieve the word of God, we are to preach to them about the prophecies which they openly despise, and

therefore, the of combating analogy

to point them to a standing miracle which they refuse to acknowledge. And as they resist the evidence of the Gospels, we must argue with them out of the Apocalypse! The preaching of the Cross is foolishness, as it ever has been, to the * reasoning pride' of man; therefore, these new prophets would have us refrain from so useless a mode of combating unbelief, and try something else,—the doctrine of prophetic analogy, and, for the doctrines of salvation, substitute the awful message of damnation-infidelity foredoomed of God! To such a mode of exorcism, the spirit which works in the sons of infidelity, might well retort, • Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?'

That Prophecy and Miracles are irrefragable proofs of the truth of Christianity, which leave the infidel without excuse, we cannot be supposed to deny ; and the present condition of the Jewish nation is, indeed, a standing monument of the truth of both Scripture history and Scripture prophecy. But we were not aware that these grand branches of argument had been so much neglected, as to furnish occasion for the Refore mers of the Nineteenth Century to seize upon them as their appropriate and peculiar business. Nor do we think that, in their hands, they would be found of any extraordinary efficiency. We altogether deny, moreover, that the present times are distinguished by the prevalence of infidelity. Such a representation can originate only in ignorance of the past history of this country and of the Church at large. Any person competently acquainted with the state of religion in Great Britain in the time of Queen Anne and the first monarch of the reigning family, would never have so mistaken the character of the present times; nor is it from such uninformed persons that we can receive with confidence calculations as to the future. In the state and destiny of the Jews, although we cannot agree with those who consider Mr. Wolf as one of the two Witnesses of the Apocalypse,-we have always taken a very lively interest; and we transcribe with pleasure from the eloquent pages of Mr. Douglas, the enlightened view which he has taken of this subject.

• There is one good omen for the future success of Christianity and its universal diffusion, in the present existence of the Jews throughout every climate under Heaven. When the whole world, with the exception of Judea, had lost the worship of the One Only God, there seemed little prospect, in human probability, of that pure worship being restored in all the countries of the Earth, and less, that it would be restored by Jews, whose very dispensation was confined to the Land of Judea. But so it is, the Unity of the Deity has become,

in one sense, universally recognised by the Jews being universally dispersed ; and in countries, in which Christianity has failed to establish itself, the Jews remain perpetual witnesses of the Unity of the Godhead.

• In their case, the laws that modify the character of men and nations, seem to be suspended. They preserve their own original character in every climate and in every nation, among the ferocious Moors, and the staid and mechanical Chinese; the same under the Inquisition in Spain, as under the exterminating wars of the Roman Emperors; and though, by a strange inconsistency, they who, when they were under an immediate Divine Government, and witnessing the many miraculous interpositions in their behalf, were ever for. saking their King and their God, now that they are without a King, and appear forsaken by God, still adhere obstinately to that law which it is no longer possible for them to observe. There is thus something so much beyond the ordinary course of nature with regard to them, that they disappoint and baffle all calculations founded upon usual probabilities, and remain to this day “ a peculiar people" which cannot be numbered among the nations, stricken with a judicial blindness, religiously preserving those books which contain their own condemnation. They have every where, according to the prophetical denunciations, become a proverb and a by-word in all countries; and, being despised and reproached, their character has sunk almost to deserve these reproaches; and in morals, and in understanding, they are, generally speaking, as low as they stand in the general opinion. The Christians have fallen into two opposite errors respecting them-either a culpable indifference, and a want of that gratitude which was due to them for their Fathers' sake, “ of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came !" or, if any earnestness was felt about their state, it was accompanied with a total hopelessness of the efficacy of human means, since they seemed reserved in a miraculous manner till some great moral revolution, beyond the reach of man to accelerate, should occur. But, while some have thought the conversion of the Jews the only work to be neglected in the con. version of the world, others, in return, have thought it the only work to be attended to; and mistaking time and occasion for casualty, have misinterpreted the words of Paul, as if they asserted that the Jews were to be the instruments of converting the world. If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead ?” The Jews who rejected Christianity, were certainly neither the causes nor the instruments of the Gentiles receiving Christianity; but the time of the Jews rejecting Christ, was the time of the Gentiles being received into the Church ; and God took occasion from their obstinacy, to show mercy to the Gentiles. If, then, that season, when judgement was mingled with mercy, was yet a season of such abounding grace, as that the Gentiles should be received, what shall the time be, when judgement is remitted with regard to the Jews, but a time of unbounded mercy, in which the uttermost parts of the earth shall be saved, and the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in This seems

the only passage which refers to the unconverted Jews; for the other passages, which are frequently applied to them, refer to the converted Jews, upon whose stock the Christians were grafted in, and whó thus became one people, the true descendants of Abraham, and he was no longer a Jew, who was one outwardly, but those were regarded as the children of Abraham, who were possessed of the like faith. In all ages, the words of the prophet have come to pass : “ But yet, in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten as a teil-tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves ; so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” The stem of the Jewish nation has been again and again cut down, and revived anew, and existed solely in its stock. In all the judgements that have been inflicted upon them, a remnant has been saved, and a rempant only. Of the ten tribes, and the two tribes, that were alike carried away captives, the latter, and the smaller division of the Jewish nation, only returned ; and of them, only a portion. In the same way, the remnant who believed in Christianity, amidst the multitude of those who rejected it, and who were rejected of God in consequence, became the stock of the truc Church, on which the Gentiles were engrafted. Their history thenceforward is the history of the Church, and in them, the prophecies are fulfilled. It is upon this stock, that both the unbelieving Jews and the unbelieving Gentiles must be together inserted, when the fulness of the time is come, and the kingdoms of the earth shall become the king, doms of the Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. To speculate concerning the manner in which the Jews shall be converted, and to be minutely particular as to every circumstance which will accompany their return, is unwarranted alike by reason and by revelation, and tends to throw discredit on the Scrip. tures, by mixing such sick man's dreams with the oracles of truth. But every active exertion in favour of either the temporal or spiritual condition of the Jews, is truly Christian, and is according to the mind of that Apostle who, for the sake of his brethren, like Moses, almost wished himself cut off from Christ, and blotted from the book of life.'* pp. 275–9.

We owe an apology to the estimable Author of this volume, and still more to our readers, for having so long neglected (owing to accidental circumstances) to give it that distinct notice and warm commendation which its interesting nature demands. We have taken the present opportunity to bring its title before our readers, because we consider such a work as perhaps the best antidote that could be prescribed to the false and contracted views, the harsh and fanatical spirit of prophetic dreainers and alarmists. It is, indeed, a most de

* We must remark, in passing, that there is at least no necessity to understand 2 Cor. ix. 3. in this harsh sense, and we cannot admit it as the meaning of the Apostle.

lightful work. The enthusiasm which lightens up its pages with all the beauty of poetry, is of the best kind, that which is reflected upon the intellect by the glory of its object. It is at the same time a truly philosophical view of things, embracing in its wide and commanding range, the whole extent, but not passing the flaming bounds of time and space. It is a bird's eye view of the world we inhabit, under the shift. ing aspects of the past, the present, and the future. And it is something even better than this ; for the Writer seems to transport us to the height of Pisgah, and to shew us, in the light of inspired prediction, the promised kingdom of Messiah. As the volume is now out of print, we shall not, at the present time, advert more particularly to its contents. We have another reason, too, for deferring any further remarks on Mr. Douglas's work. It is, in one material respect, defective, or rather, confessedly incomplete. Of the three-fold influence and agency by which Christianity is destined to become universal, the third has been altogether omitted, and reserved • for separate consideration. For this portion of the work, we wait with some impatience; and we hope that a new edition will not appear without this promised appendix. We may also suggest, that, satisfied as we are of the general accuracy of Mr. Douglas's historical and multifarious information, his volume would be much increased in value by occasional references to authorities. Sometimes his positions are the result of an extensive induction, the whole process of which it might be difficult and tedious to particularize : and Mr. Douglas ought, perhaps, to be considered as not requiring his readers to take his word or his opinions for truth, so much as giving them credit for the same measure of general information which he himself possesses, and on which his representations rest. We fear that he has over-rated, in this respect, the current stock of knowledge. But, indeed, while we concur in his general views, and have been unable to detect any material error in his details, there are a few minor statements which we are not prepared fully to adopt, till we have obtained the means of verifying them.

Mr. Stewart's volume is altogether of a practical kind; and its design, spirit, and tendency are entitled to our strongest approval. We cordially recommend it to our readers.

· Entirely distinct from all sentiments respecting the Millennium upon which he desires to give no opinion-the object of the following Discourses is, to place before the Christian Church the substance of that which is revealed in the Scriptures upon the Second Advent of our Lord. It is done with no design of establishing a mere the

« PreviousContinue »