« ZurückWeiter »
in opposition to all power and precaution, as if to teach man the unwelcome knowledge of his ignorance and his weakness. England has been invaded by this resistless, this invisible foe; yet England has not repented. A notice of motion for a day of public humiliation emptied the Com. mons' House of Parliament, so that the question could not be discussed for want of the legal quorum : so little inte. rest take British statesmen in matters relating to God. Yet there is not a job of personal interest, however mean, there is not a question of party politics, however worthless, that would not have excited a deep and decided interest, and commanded a full attendance. Are we to be surprized if God should remember us in anger, and visit in judgment such a nation as this !
Ireland has as yet (9th January) been unvisited by this scourge of the body, which may heaven in its mercy, continue to avert; but she seems fated to suffer from the more grievous plague of the soul. Rome has bound her hand and foot, and our professedly Protestant Government is aiding to rivet the chains. Every thing Protestant seems threatened with proscription or extirpation, and nothing seems safe, or in favour with the world, but hypocrisy, liberalism, and Popery.
Under such circumstances of affairs, what is the duty of Protestant people? The first duty is, to direct our eyes to him whose countenance we have so much disregarded. Christ addresses the Protestant churches as he did Israel by the prophets of old: “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and besides me there is none else.” The second duty is, repentance towards the God whom we have offended by our sins, and whose displea. sure will be poured out in judgment, unless we speedily turn from the evil of our ways. The third duty is, decision, in our profession of the truth, and witness against error. Liberalism and expediency are the very gods of this world. They seem to have usurped the throne of Satan, or to be commissioned as his viceroys; and multitudes run wondering after them. They alone will escape from the slavery, who, with an honest heart and open, bold profession of the truth, stand firm “upon the Lord's side,” or take up the cross to follow the Saviour. The last duty we would recommend to the Protestant people is, that of forgiveness of injuries past and present, and the exercise of good will towords all denominations of men, Our sal. vation is bound up in the same bundle of life with forgiveness of injuries. “ Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” is the prayer of faith, which alone can find access to the ears of the God of Sabaoth. Mercy and love are essential lineaments in the countenance of a child of God. Without them we can never be acknow. ledged as members of the family of heaven. It is possible you will be cursed-repay it with a blessing. It is possible you will be reviled_revile not again. It is possible you will be despitefully used-do good in return. It is certain men will say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for Christ's name's sake-rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.--Matt. v.
The events which distinguish a year in the eye of a Chris. tian are often of so little importance in the eye of the world, that they pass without any note. We select, as an example, the case of the British and Foreign Bible So. ciety. A division has taken place amongst its supporters, which, in the calculation of the Christian, forms an im. portant epoch in its history; but to the eye of the world it will appear as a grain of dust in the balance of events. To us it appears one of the most important occurrences of the year. The British and Foreign Bible Society seemed the noblest institution of the universe. Assembling the dissevered churches upon the neutral ground of peace, combining them in a common bond, employing them in a common cause, and animating them by a common spirit. It seemed blessed of God to renew, as it were, the gift of tongues among the nations; and to “speak in every man's own language the wonderful things of God.” But the spirit of a worldly liberalism stole into its councils, and it began to depart from simplicity, and to court the affections of Popery, by circulating the Apocrypha. Men of God discovered the sin, and remonstrated in the spirit of meek. ness and entreaty. Years passed by, and they continued to entreat; yet still the work of corruption went on. Si. lence ceased to be a virtue, and accusation became a duty., The voice of the Christian public prevailed, and correction was promised for the evil. How far the promise made to the ear was kept to the performance, we inquire not. It is more important to trace the evil to that discordant com. mixture of neologists with the friends of the truth, which bad unhappily been introduced into the membership and committees of the Society, at home and pn the continent
To purify the Society of Arianism and Socinianism, which, mixed with more or less of infidelity, are commonly called “neology,” became now a primary object with the ser. vants of Christ. At the annual meeting of the Society, in May, 1831, an effort was made for this purpose, and was met by argument, by satire, and uproar, and final and determined rejection. The friends of a pure Bible, and a pure constituency, afterwards applied for a special meeting, to consider the question, which humble request the committee rejected. There was therefore no alternative but separation. Accordingly a public meeting in London established another Society, consisting of members professing the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity, and hence denominated, “The British and Foreign Trinitarian Bible Society.” This separation has been effected in the spirit of humility, and prayer, and love; is daily gaining converts amongst the auxiliaries, and will, we trust, in the end, refine the Parent Society, until it shall stand a witness, not only for the Bible, but for the God of the Bible, revealed to the churches as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever event calls forth a public testimony to this fundamental truth, has a value in time which can be calculated only in eternity. We bless the God of heaven who has overruled the errors of his creatures to the farther witness and confirmation of his word. For the Parent Society we pray-purification and a blessing: for the new Societyperseverance and a blessing. And the good Lord hasten the time when they may again unite their divided hands, and with one heart join in the work of their one Lord !
We subjoin a specimen of the resolutions by which the work of separation is being carried on.
“1. That this Meeting feel it their duty, in decided and unequivocal terms, to protest against the Resolution carried by a majority at the Anniversary General Meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society, held on the 4th May last; as virtually declaring that Institution not to be a religious Society; as avowing Socinians to be a denomination of Chris. tians; as recording solemn prayer to God in behalf of its operations to be unadvisable and inexpedient; and quotations and arguments drawn from the Holy Scriptures to be an infringement of its regulations.
“2. That this Meeting do maintain, that neither of the foregoing positions can be supported by sound scriptural argument: and that the two former in particular, are decidedly at variance with the spirit of the origi. nal constitution of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
“3. That in denying the British and Foreign Bible Society to be a religious Society, the late Anniversary Meeting appears to have dissolved the union by which an immense majority of their friends and supporters
were held together; and unless that decision be revoked by a subsequent General Meeting of the Society, this Meeting consider that the contributions of all classes, and especially those of a penny a week from the poor, have been obtained upon grounds which cannot be justified: and that the most solemn appeal from the pulpit and from platforms, as well as from house to house, have been urged upon the public upon motives of Christian charity and religious duty, under an awful misapprehension of the character and proceedings of the Society.
“4. That it is the opinion of this Meeting, that the rights of membership, and consequently of management, in a Bible Society, should be restricted to persons acknowledging the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and contributing to the support of the Institution : but that the privilege of purchasing Bibles and 'Testaments should be extended to all persons without distinction.
“5. That this Meeting regards, with gratitude to Almighty God, the formation of an Institution for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, founded and conducted on scriptural principles, and in accordance with those sentiments wbich they conscientiously entertain, and desire to uphold. This Meeting do, therefore, declare their cordial approbation of the objects, principles, and constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society."
But from viewing the things that lie at a distance, let us come home to our families and our hearts. Some of us, during the past year, the Lord has blessed with joy; let us be humble and thankful; and “is any merry, let him sing psalms." Some of us he has visited with sorrow; let us kiss the rod, and bless the hand that giveth, and the hand that taketh away. We have closed the eyes upon which we shall never look again, until they open upon us in their loveliness, on the morning of the resurrection. We have pressed the cold cheek of the dead, and have longed to lie down with them in the bed of the grave. We have wept over what our hearts loved best, and “refused to be comforted because they were not.” Even so, God has been pleased to try the children of men. And why? To show what is want. ing in us, and to improve what is already implanted. To show us our want of faith, of love, of resignation, of patience, of hope. To purge away the dross of earth, and refine the gold of the sanctuary. To lead us to see, exå. mine, and repent of sin. To bring us to deeper acquaint. ance with grace, and a closer walk with God. To teach us to resign the shadows of time, that we may lay hold upon the realities of life eternal.
Some of us he has tried with perplexities, disappoint. ments, and losses. Our day is overcast with clouds, and “wearisome nights" are our portion. How hard to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” To flesh and blood it is impossible, to faith and love most easy. Job
felt it when reduced to beggary, wben bereared of all his lovely family, when deprived of health, when robbed of honour-still his heart felt, and his lips repeated the glo. rious sentiment, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Some of us he has blessed with success and abundance; “ we have more than heart can wish.” Say not with the fool, “Soul, thou hast much goods; take thy rest." Rather go search out the hungry, and the sick, and the naked. They are God's chartered commissioners for the trial of our principles. They are bis chosen representatives to the congresses of the rich and powerful; they are the ap. pointed recorders of his sentence upon the day of final judgment; for in as much as ye did good to one of the least of these his brethren, ye do it unto himself.- Matt. xxv.
All of us he has blessed with Bibles-God's record of the past—his will for the present-his revelation of the future. He has blessed us with light, let us therefore walk in the light; and work the will of God while it is called to-day, for the night cometh, in which no man can work.
The characteristic feature of the Scriptures is the discovery which they make of God. Their revelation of his character is the prominent topic which naturally arrests our attention when we enter on a general view of their in. structions. It is he “in whom we live, and move, and have our being;” it is from him the Scriptures, with all their wonderful revelations, have come; he will be our final judge: and hence we are prompted in the very first instance, to inquire, what do the Scriptures teach respecting him. This we shall endeavour, in the present article, to explain.-1. Showing the importance of just views of God.-2. Setting forth the revelation of the divine character made to us in the Scriptures; and 3. Showing the practical influence of this revelation of God, when properly understood, in forming the religious and moral character of his people.