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ing, as he says, the gospel of good will among men; and hear him exhort his generals and his Christian warriors to go forth with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other, to fight the battles of God and their country; praying that the Lord would cause them to fight valiantly, and render their efforts successful in making as many widows and orphans as will afford sufficient opportunity for others to manifest the purity of their religion by taking care of them! If any thing is wanting to finish a picture of the most glaring inconsistencies, add to this those Christians who are daily extolling the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and at the same time, by a system of the most cruel oppression, separating the wife from the embraces of her husband, and the mother from her tender offspring ; violating every principle, and rending every tie that endears life and reconciles man to his lot; and that, forsooth, be
might gives right,” and a man is held guilty because his skin is a shade darker than the standard colour of the times. Adverting to these signs of the times, and many others to which these reflections necessarily lead, will you not say that this prophecy is now fulfilled ?--2 Tim. iv. 3, 4, “ There will be a time when they will not endure wholesome teaching; but having itching ears, they will, according to their own lusts, heap up to themselves teachers. And from the truth, indeed, they will turn away their ears and be turned aside to fables.” Chap. iii. 1-5, “ This also know, that in latter days perilous times will come.
For men will be self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without natural affection, covenant-breakers, slanderers-having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it. Now FROM THESE TURN AWAY.” Christian reader, remember this command —and from such turn away."
THE CONVERSION OF THE WORLD.
[By A. Campbell.] Man has been often considered as a creature of circumstances. Diversitied by climate, by language, by religion, by morals, by habit, he presents a most varied aspect to the contemplative mind. Betwixt “the frozen Icelander and the sun-burn'd Moor," the wandering Indian and the polished cit, the untutored savage and the sage philosopher, the superstitious Pagan and the intelligent Christian, what a difference! To the sceptic reasoner, the human race presents an insoluble enigma. The questions, What am I? Whence came I? and Whither do I go ? are questions which philosophy in its boasted powers, deism in its bold excursions, infidelity in its daring enterprises, attempts in vain. The Bible alone answers them with satisfaction and certainty.. To the disbeliever of it, the world has neither beginning, middle, nor end. The sceptic feels himself a speck of matter, floating down the stream of time into a region of impenetrable darkness, alike ignorant of his origin and his destiny. Whether there is in him a spark of immortality, or whether he is all annihilated in the grave, are, to him, things unknown and unknowable. The reptile, encased in its kindred shell, the oyster clinging to its native rock, could as easily calculate the rapidity of the particles of light or measure, by its powers, the orbit of a comet, as the most gigantic genius, by its own vigour, unaided by the Bible, could prove that there is a God, that there was a creation, that there is an immortal spirit in man, or that there will be an end of this mundane state of things. We know what deism, philosophy, and natural religion arrogate to themselves ; but their pretensions are as vain as their efforts to give assured hope are impotent and unavailing. Deism steals from the Bible the being of a God, the immortality of the soul, the future state of rewards, and shutting the volume of light, impudently arrogates to itself that it has originated those ideas from its own ingenerate sagacity. But we are insensibly falling into a disquisition foreign to our present purpose.
The world, as respects religion, is divided into four grand divisions—the Pagan, the Mahometan, the Jewish, and the
Christian. In the first of these there are some fragments of divine revelation mutilated and corrupted. The knowledge of God once communicated to Noah was transmitted to his descendants ; and although many of them were never favoured with any other revelation than that committed to him; and although that revelation was vitiated and corrupted with thousands of the wildest fancies and most absurd notions, yet it never has been completely lost. Hence the most ignorant savages have some idea of a God, and offer him some kind of worship. They endeavour to propitiate him by sacrifice, and consider themselves under some kind of moral obligation to one another. They view certain actions as pleasing, and others as displeasing to him.
The Jewish religion, though once enjoined by divine authority, as exhibited in the Old Testament, has, by the same authority, been set aside as having answered its design. In the est form in which it could now appear on earth, it would be as dry and useless as a shell when the kernel is extracted. The good things once in it are no longer to be found; and, as corrupted by the modern Jews, it is quite another religion than that instituted by Moses. There is no salvation in it.
The Mahometan religion recognises three hundred and thirteen Apostles, of whom six brought in new dispensations, viz., Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet. The last vacated or rendered obsolete all the preceding. It consequently contains many items of divine revelation ; but these
are, like the fragments of revelation found in the Pagan establishments, so perverted as to be darkness instead of light. The Mahometans have, like the modern Christians, their different sects, their orthodox and heterodox teachers and opinions.
The “ Christian nations” have the Bible, but many of them have, like the Jews, rendered it of little or no effect by their traditions. Dividing the whole family of man into thirty parts, five parts are professed Christians; six parts are Mahometans and Jews; and nineteen parts Pagans. This is the mournful state of the world according to the most correct statements. Add the Mahometans, Jews, and Pagans together, and they amount to twenty-five thirtieths of the whole human race. So that but one-sixth of Adam's offspring possess, and but few of these enjoy, the revelation of God.
To what is this doleful state of the world attributable is a question that deserves the attention of every Christian. If there were no hereafter, the temporal wretchedness of ignorance and superstition presents an object that must awaken the sympathies of every benevolent mind. And if there be a hereafter, and if future happiness were attainable to those immersed in Pagan and Mahometan gloom, wretchedness and crime, still the amelioration of their earthly condition, the ra.. tional and Christian enjoyment of this present life are objects of such vast importance as to excite all that is within us to consider whether those possessing the light of heaven are, in any sense, chargeable with the crimes and miseries of the heathen world.
If, as some affirm, every man is accountable not only for what he has done, but for what he might have done, the question would not be of difficult determination. But as we would wish to see this point established on more solid and convincing ground than abstruse speculations, we shall appeal to the New Testament. The Saviour of the world charged the Scribes and Pharisees of that age with having “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men,” with having “neither gone in themselves, nor suffered those that were entering to go in." He charged the lawyers or doctors of divinity with having taken away the key of knowledge from the people.
The apostle Paul taught the Christians that it was possible for them so to walk as to give occasion to the adversaries of their cause to speak reproachfully of it and them; that they might so walk as that the name of God, of Jesus, and his doctrine might be blasphemed. And Peter declared, that, in consequence
of false teachers and disciples, “ the way of truth should be evil spoken of.” He also teaches that Christians may so conduct themselves as that those who behold their conduct may be allured to the belief of the Gospel. [See Matt. xxiii. 13. Luke xi. 52. Ist Tim. v. 14. and vi. 1. 1st Pet. iii. 1. 2d Pet. ii. 1, 2.] Those records show that professed disciples may, both by omitting to do their duty, and by committing faults prevent and greatly retard the spread of the gospel, the enlargement of Messiah's kingdom. We are convinced that the character of the “Christian communities” is the greatest offence or stumbling block in the way of the conversion of the world. And that, therefore, the only hopeful course to convert the world is to reform the professors of Christianity.
But what kind of a reformation is requisite to this end ? It is not the erection of a new sect, the invention of new shibboleths, or the setting up of a new creed, nor the adopting of any in existence save the New Testaments in the form in which it pleased the Spirit of God to give it. It is to receive it as it stands, and to make it its own interpreter, according to the ordinary rules of interpreting all books. It is not to go back to primitive Calvinism, or primitive Methodism, or primitive Lutheranism, but to primitive Christianity. The history of the Church for many centuries has proved, the history of every sect convinces us, that it is as impossible for any one sect to gain such an ascendance as to embrace as converts the others, and thus unite in one grand phalanx, the Christians against the allied powers of darkness, as it is to create a world. Every sect, with a human creed, carries in it, as the human body, the seeds of its own mortality. Every sect has its infancy, its childhood, its manhood, and its dotage. Some die as soon as they are born, and others live to a good old age, but their old
age is full of grief and trouble. And die they must. As it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after that the judgment, so it is ordained of God that all secis must die, and that because their bond of union is under the curse. Where are the hundreds of sects that have already existed ? They only live in history as beacons to posterity.
It need not be objected that some sects have already taken the New Testament and run into the wildest extremes ; for either they interpreted it according to the reveries of Swedenburg, the fanaticism of Shakerism, or the enthusiasm of New Lightism, or they apostatised from a good profession. Recollect, we say, that the Scriptures are to be their own interpreter, according to the common rules of interpreting other writings.
Christians, as you honour the Saviour, and the Father that sent him ; as you love the peace and prosperity of the kingdom of the Holy One; as you love the souls of your children, your relatives, your fellow-citizens; as you deeply