Page images

sand years.

wit shall die, human wisdom shall vanish away, and all the pomp and pageantry of courts and kingdoms be soon forgotten; but knowledge, and virtue, and piety, which he labors to promote, shall still remain, unchanged and unchangeable, as the fountain whence they emanate, and the soul where they reside!

Come forward, then, my youthful fellow Christians! We appeal to you, “ because ye are strong.” Here is an important battle for you to fight; come and set up your banner in the name of the Lord. We have a mighty moral engine, playing upon the hoary ramparts of error, and the castellated walls of vice; and it devolves on you, and you possess peculiar facilities to keep that engine in motion. Come forward in the strength of Jehovah. “ The weapons of your warfare are not carnal, but mighty.” The sword which you wield is “the sword of the Spirit;" and the Spirit that made it, and gave it its polish and its point, shall crown every stroke with victory. It is in your power to dislodge the enemy from his strongest hold. It is in your power to demolish the proudest Babel of this world's idolatry. It is in your power to bind the great dragon in the bottomless pit a thou

“Go up, for the Lord hath delivered him into your hand !"

Finally : parents and guardians! who should feel more interested in the cause of sabbath schools than you ? Your offspring are in an evil world, ready to receive any bias that carnal inclinations, Satanic in. 'fluence, or wicked example may give them. The choice they now make, and the habits they now form, will be likely to affect unalter. ably their character and their doom.' Childhood is emphatically the seed time of life ; few are converted in manhood who have not received an early religious education, and if you suffer your sons to grow up in profligacy, and your daughters in ignorance, there is a fearful pro. bability that they will die in their sins. You are to train them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” You are to teach them to distinguish truth from error, and good from evil. You are to com. municate to them the gospel of their salvation. You are to show them the path of life. It is a divine command-a duty imperative and absolute; and terrible will be the retribution visited upon the guilty neglecter !

O ye Christian parents! “Our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged." I scarcely know what argument to employ-what in. ducement to offer. They are so numerous, that my limited time will not allow me to urge them all; and each is so weighty that I am embarrassed in my selection. Would you make your children rich ? Give them lofty religious principles, and you give them more than thrones ; imbue their hearts with holy affections, and you enrich them more than by laying worlds at their feet! Would you see them at once good and great, amiable and honorable ? Give them the know. ledge of God and his salvation; give them that learning which will effectually qualify them for every good work; give them

Philosophy baptized In the pure fountain of eternal love !" Your efforts may seem unavailing ; but be ye not disheartened; " in due time ye shail reap, if ye faint not.” What though the winter be

dreary and long? It shall not last for ever; and under the genial in. fluence of vernal sun and vernal shower, the quickened and expanding germ shall spring up into a precious harvest. You may not witness the result while you remain in the flesh; but He who loves the little children shall treasure up the memory of your deeds; and when you shall have gone to your graves, the seed you sowed in tears shall yield abundantly the fruits of righteousness. “God is not unrighteous to forget your labor of love," and "ye shall not lose your reward." The struggle may be hard, but the triumph is certain. However unequal the contest, Jehovah “shall bring forth judgment unto victory."

Yours is the duty-the event is God's.Suppose that, through your efforts, only one child should be converted, would not that a thousand times repay you for years of anxiety and exertion ? But that child may become a minister of the gospel, and lead hundreds to the foot of the cross; and long after the place of your repose in the dust shall have been forgotten, and your very name shall have passed from the memory of the living, your happy spirit, bending from the battlements of the everlasting city, may witness the fruits of your zeal in the salvation of thousands now unborn. “Go ye, there. fore, into the vincyard ;"« work while it is day," and let the hope of gathering animate you to the toils of tillage !

But there are other arguments. (O that I could speak with a power that should thrill, and a pathos that should melt you !) Have you hitherto regarded the years of youth as a train of fleeting, perishing moments, involving no importance in relation to your children-no responsibility in reference to yourselves ? Look into the oracles of God-look into the world of spirits; and you will see the passing hour of infancy assuming the dignity of a commencing eternity. That little boy has begun an endless being; that little girl is setting out on an interminable voyage: father, mother, have you no solicitude about them-no anxiety to give a proper direction to the incipient windings of a stream that is to bear them on for ever? O, hard must be the heart of that parent who does not feel for his immortal offspring!

behold your child borne along by the current of a great river to the chasm of the thundering cataract, and not shriek for its deliverance? But this does not amount to even a faint shadow of the danger which threatens these embryos of immortality. You shudder at the guilt of that inhuman wretch, (I will not call him a father,) who, in a fit of intoxication, fires his dwelling, and leaves his infants to perish in the flame; but his crime sinks into insignificance-nay, it whitens into innocence-in comparison of his, who, by neglecting the spiritual interests of his offspring, virtually inflicts upon them death eternal.

What more can I say? (Divine Spepherd, help me to plead for thy perishing lambs!) Behold your little ones on the verge of the fiery lake! Think of that day when Jehovah shall make requisition for blood! Their danger-your responsibility—are increasing, every moment. Have you the nerve which shall not tremble, and ihe soul which shall not quail, when at your hand Justice shall demand the murdered spirit-the spirit of your offspring damned by your delin quency? O, as you love their souls; as you dread the thought of

Could you

withering beneath their execration in hell; as you hope to spend an endless life in their society before the throne of God; haste to their rescue, pluck them as brands from the burning, and send them, blessing your name, to the skies. There may parents and children ineet and mingle! There may teachers and scholars unite in the blissful employments of an eternal sabbath! There may your un. worthy speaker and his beloved audience sing away the memory

of “ and he that soweth and he that reapeth rejoice together!”

their sorrows,

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.





(Continued from Vol. X., page 383.]

The argument already advanced respecting the literal gathering of the Jews, from an examination of the prophetic writings, though suffi. ciently cogent of itself, receives, nevertheless, confirmation and addi. tional force from a consideration of the Christian view of the subject. Indeed, it is in this light that the subject ought to be viewed, in order properly to understand it.

We have more than once intimated that the future literal return of the Jews to their own land is not consonant with the genius of the Christian dispensation. It is to this point that we would now more particularly direct attention. In so doing we shall be bound to refer to the Old Testament as well as the New, for it is not in the New Testament alone that we discover the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.” This course is pursued by the writers of the New Testament. They frequently illustrate their doctrine by a reference to the ancient writings of the Jews. Our Saviour himself justified his claims, and proved his positions by a reference to " Moses and the prophets." Then, again, if we would understand and explain the Old Testament we must investigate the New, for “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." When this is done in sincerity and meekness, every apparent disagreement or discrepancy will be removed. The entire Scriptures will present a system of doctrine and duty, in which there is the most perfect unity of design. The gospel is indeed the climax of the argument presented to us in revelation, but every preceding dispensation is essential to its completion, and the climax can only be reached, and the consummation explained by fol. lowing the gradations as they severally appear, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Revelation has its phases: the light that shines through each dispensation differs only in degree; it is the same in kind, derived from the same source, and directed to the same end. Through. out the whole, that which remaineth is more glorious than that which is done away, 2 Cor. iii, 9-11. There might, therefore, be a pro priety in saying that the Jewish dispensation was defective; but it was only like the defect of a miniature portrait, which consists in its dimensions, not in its resemblance. The lineaments are correct, they only need extending to be absolutely perfect. That perfection of "the law and the prophets” we have in the gospel of the Son of God. Christ is the end of the law, and to him give all the prophets witness. Even * Abraham saw his day and was glad.” This view of the subject is beautifully set forth by the author of “ The Great Teacher," whose Christian philosophy is worthy of all admiration.

“Comparative anatomy informs us, not only that animated nature forms an ascending series of beings, beginning with few organs, and increasing in number, complexity, and finish, up to man; but that in some of the earliest and simplest links of the living chain there is traceable a promise, a mute prophecy of all the rest, a rough outline of all that is to follow; that many processes are sketched in the lower animals, the completion of which is reserved for the composition of man. In like manner the entire system of Judaism was one compacted prophe of the gospel, a presentiment of Christianity; in which the great doctrines and virtues, which it is the province of the new dispensation to develop and mature, may be found in the embryos and elements.”

The great principle of life and action which we find in man may be discovered in the smallest animalculæ. In man it is perfect, and in him the increasing instinct of the various grades of animals is matured into reason by the God of creation. Thus it is in nature, forming an analogy to revelation; as in one case, so in the other, what was first defective in degree, is afterward, or in another instance, carried out and perfected. What the law could not do,” by its ritual observances, God hath done by the perfect atonement of his Son.

The peculiar character of the Christian dispensation then, it may be observed, consists in its being divested of the harshness and secularity of Judaism. It retains all that was spiritual, in the Levitical economy and code, or that was calculated to promote individual holi. ness and true morality, while at the same time it rejects all that was merely secular, national, and exclusive. This is the least that can be said of the gospel as a starting point; much more will appear on far. ther investigation. But it behooves us while we exalt the gospel not unduly to depreciate the law. This we shall do if too much importance be attached to the external and secular portion of the Mosaic economy. This was all along the error of the Jews; by its influence they rejected the Messiah, and continue in spiritual blindness. Now every attentive observer of the Levitical dispensation will have observed that its chief object was the inculcation of holiness in heart and life. The hypothesis of Maimonides respecting the reasons of the laws of Moses is only partially correct. They were, indeed, intended to preserve the knowledge of God, and prevent the practice of idolatry, but this was not all. The language of Ezekiel, as descriptive of the purpose of God in instituting the ordinances and laws of ihe temple, which he saw in vision, may with propriety be applied here : “Show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep

the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house ; upon the top of the mountain, the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house," Ezek. xliii, 10-12.

Now, if the attention be directed to the splendor of the architecture instead of the law of the house," the purpose of God will be frustrated. There was undoubtedly a clear reason in the divine Mind for connect ing so much of external ceremony and secular appearance with the enforcement of spirituality. Many of these reasons are more obvious to us in the latter days, who have the light of history and experience wherewith to direct our investigations, than they were to those to whom “the law was given by Moses." Nevertheless, the purpose of spiritual edification, and the moral advancement of mankind, were always sufficiently distinct to enable the candid and sincere inquirer to perceive that the paraphernalia of religion were not the substance thereof, and that the essence of the ritual was not that exclusive thing at appeared to be.

It would not be consistent with our design to dwell particularly upon the nuinerous moral precepts of the Jewish economy. Reference to a fów only will suffice for our purpose, and the unity of the scheme of revelation in maintaining holiness of heart, and universal benevolence in practice, will from thence be sufficiently apparent. “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy,” Lev. xix, 2 ; 1 Pet. i, 10. * Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord,” ver. 19; Rom. xii, 9. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” Deut. vi, 5; xxx, 6; Matt. xxii, 37 ; Josh. xxii, 5; Mark xii, 30–33. “The Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye, therefore, the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt,” Deut. x, 17-19; Matt. v, 43, 44; Exod. xxii, 21; Heb. xiii, 2. These divine precepts harınonize with the character of God, and with each other, and it is not too much to say, that they constitute the spirit of Judaism, as well as the essence of Christianity,

The election of the seed of Abraham as the peculiar people of God's favor, and the consecration of Canaan, as the land of promise, were secondary considerations, and a nullity except as they tended to the conservation of the doctrines of revelation-especially the divine unity, the worship due to God, and the expiatory sacrifice, together with the practical obligations to God and man, evidently founded upon them. The secularity of Judaism was essential to the infantile state of the church and the state of the world at that period.

But it will not, therefore, be maintained that that secularity was so interwoven with the system of morals and worship as to render its continuance, or if discontinued, its revival necessary in order to carry on the gracious purposes of God in the salvation of the world. The harshness and apparent selfishness of the system were an addenda, which could be removed with safety when the germ of vitality had arrived at a cer. tain degree of maturity. The law was added because of transgresVOL. XI.--April, 1840.


« PreviousContinue »