« AnteriorContinuar »
“Thou art my portion, O Lord.” You world, oh, then,with what comfort, with lay upon yourself the responsibility to what holy calm, with what intelligent be all that we have described a Chris deliberation, with what well-founded tian to be ; and as far as you differ from affection, we come to this emblematic it, and come short of this standard,
demonstration of our confidence; and you incur the guilt of inconsistency; while we partake of those typical eleguilt only to be washed out by the ments which shew forth the atoning blood of that Redeemer whom you death in which we trust; we declare slight. And if you come in careless- before men, before the Church, before ness and unbelief to that sacred feast, angels, before devils, before the Eterin which you pledge yourself in the nal God and His Christ, that God is most solemn manner of all, that the our portion. May we be enabled to Lord is your refuge and your portion, go forward in faith, with sincere and you do enhance that guilt most griev- unreserved devotion; and as we stand ously. But if, on the other hand, you upon the confines of this world, and have been led by a practical expe- look forward through all the unknown rience of self and of the world, and of contingencies which shall press us the vanity and the evil of both, and onward; and at length when we.enby a believing view of the infinite ex ter another; may we be able solemnly. cellency and glory of a covenant and and affectionately to avow that God manifested God in Christ the Saviour, is the strength of our heart and our to make your choice between sin and portion for ever. holiness, between religion and the
Φωνη τεθνηκοτος. .
THE BOND OF UNION IN OUR CHURCH CONGREGATIONS. SUGGESTIVE REMARKS.
-held together by no other tie than
personal regard and liking to a parWe often see christian congregations, ticular minister ?_estranged from one which have apparently been flourish- another, and utterly negligent of the ing, suddenly dispersed, on occasion of cultivation of those feelings of brothe removal of a beloved and valued mi- therly affection and sympathy, by nister. Sometimes, in addition to such which the members of any christian removal, there has been the appoint- Church should be bound together, ment of another of a totally different so as to exemplify, in the little sphere character,—one who preaches of the Church local, something of that other Gospel, which is not another.” unity and mutual love by which the Hereupon we lament,—and there is whole Church on earth,—the mystical cause for lamentation ; we blame body of Christ, — should feel itself those with whom, directly or influ- bound together in one, as by a sevenentially, the appointment seemed to fold bond, according to Eph.iv. 4–6? rest: and there is cause for blame. If there was nothing of this union But should we not look deeper? in the congregation, can we wonder should we not enquire, What was re at the dispersion? It may be mourned ally the state of this fair-seeming over as a sad event; but may it not congregation ? Was there anything also be regarded as a righteous judgthat called for chastisement ?- that ment inflicted by the Great Head provoked the rod ?
over all things to His Church, upon a Was there ever any real congrega state of things which is in itself utterly tional union among them? Or were wrong, and highly displeasing in His they, at the best, only a rope of sand, sight? We must say, in reference to
this, as in reference to every other and we feel that with the solemn call visitation of affliction,-personal, so to prayer for the blessing, there is also cial, ecclesiastical, or national, a solemn call to consideration and en“Shall not the Judge of all the earth quiry, as to how far the blessing for do right?” Farbe from us the which we have so long been praying, thought, that He should visit without has been really vouchsafed in answer righteous cause.
to our prayers. And, if this has been We cannot do more at present than less manifest, and in less measure, than propose this subject for serious con we had fondly hoped and expected, sideration and searching inquiry. The there should also be much self-examimain point to be kept in view, we nation, and much searching enquiry conceive, is this, to which we have
upon every side, in order to discover, already referred: that every christian Why it is that the blessing is withcongregation ought to be so ordered held? as to be, in miniature, a fair repre We are thankful for the call to pray sentation of the Universal Church of for the outpouring of the Holy Ghosť: Christ. Surely, A Church should be, on we respond to that call; we do pray a small scale, what The Church is on for this great and inestimable blessing. a great and magnificent scale; why Are we prepared to receive the else is the name of Church applied to blessing, and to welcome it, in whatsoboth? What propriety could there ever manner it may be bestowed ?-if it be in this, if the one were not a like. should come like a rushing mighty ness and representation of the other? wind, stirring up some to burning zeal
A diligent study of 1 Cor. xii. would for truth, and uncompromising faithsuggest to us many things, in con fulness in exposing and rebuking ernexion with this leading idea. There ror? as well as if it should come in are many members in one body; each the soft and gentle breezes of tenderhas, or should have, its place and ness, and peace, and love? office in subservience to the welfare Or are we, on the other hand, doing of the whole; and there should be anything to resist, and grieve, and union and sympathy among all the quench the Holy Spirit? Are there various members, such as would make any sins and evils, -allowed, connived it possible for each one to occupy his at, cherished, and fostered, among the place and station, and to improve his professors of evangelical religion, particular gift, with reference to the which provoke the Lord to withhold welfare and growth of the whole. the blessing, for which we are called
Is there any attempt in our several upon so often and so earnestly to congregations to realize this? If not, pray? can we wonder that, again and again, Would it not be well, that this queswe have instances in which those tion should be seriously and prayerwhich have seemed most fair and fully discussed in every Clerical Meetflourishing are, as in a moment, by ing, --in every company of Evangelical some sudden event, scattered to the Clergymen and Christians throughout winds ?
the length and breadth of our land?
At such a time as this, would not
such enquiry; such searching of our Our beloved and honoured brother, own consciences; such searching into the Rev. J. Haidane Stewart, has re
the real state of our churches, and of cently sent forth his fifteenth annual the Evangelical Body at large; be peinvitation to united prayer for the out- culiarly suitable? Is it not a matter pouring of the Holy Spirit. We are of unspeakable importance, in order thankful that this eminent servant of that we should pray aright for a blessChrist is so long spared to us, to call ing, on which the well-being and inus again and again to this important creasing prosperity of the Church so duty, and this precious privilege. We peculiarly depends ?-without which feel that we need continual and the Church cannot prosper, or really a wakening calls to remind us of it; be in health.
" THE SIXTH SEAL,”
As many of our readers may not have access to Mr. Elliott's HORA APOCALYPTICÆ, they may be gratified by the following gleaning from this highly interesting work. His observations upon “the sixth seal” throw a strong light upon the metaphorical language of the Revelation of St. John ; and as they are in accordance with the opinions of many learned commentators, they may tend to fix the meaning of this passage of Scripture, and to make other parts more intelligible. " And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earth
quake; and the sun became black as sackloth of hair, and the moon became as blood ; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is
come; and who shall be able to stand ?" Rev. vi. 12-17. From the earliest times, the symbols should come against it, with His of the sun, moon, and stars, as we see wrath and fierce anger; and the stars in Joseph's dream, were used to re of heaven and the constellations present rulers.
The sun and the thereof should not give their light, moon, the chief heads; the stars, the and the sun should be darkened in inferior heads. An earthquake shak- his going forth, and the moon should ing the firmamental heavens, and not cause her light to shine. their luminaries, was used as the sym In these passages, besides the bol of a political revolution in a State changes in the heavenly luminaries, it or kingdom; of the subversion of its will be well to observe what is also institutions, and fall of its governing said of the presence of the Lord, as powers. So in Jeremiah's vision manifested, though acting by human (iv. 23) of the destruction and deso- agency; and of the day of the Lord, lation of the Jewish kingdom by the and his fierce anger, being shewn in Babylonians: “I beheld the earth, the subversion of the former political and, lo, it was without form and void; government, and dethronement and and the heavens, and they had no destruction of its political governors, light. I beheld the mountains, and in cases where, after the first shock of lo, they trembled, and all the hills the catastrophe, it does not appear moved lightly. ... I beheld, and all that the conquered were treated with the cities thereof were broken down any particular oppression, or the yoke at the presence of the Lord, and by made very grievous. Finally, to illusHis fierce anger.” So in Ezekiel, trate what is said of hiding themselves (xxxii. 7, 8, 11,) of the overthrow of in the dens and rocks of the mountains, Pharaoh and his kingdom by the and saying to the mountains and the King of Babylon: “When I shall put rocks, Fall on us, we may refer to Hothee out, I will cover the heaven, and sea's prediction (x. 8) of the Israelites make the stars thereof dark; I will thus calling on the mountains to cocover the sun with a cloud, and the ver them, and the hills to fall on them, moon shall not give her light. All under the terror and calamities of the bright lights of heaven will I Shalmanezer's invasion. To which make dark over thee, and set dark we may add what is told us, historiness upon thy land, saith the Lord.” cally, of the Israelites hiding in such And in Isaiah, (xiii. 9, 10, 17,) of the rocky caverns, whensoever, as in the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes, times of Saul or of the Maccabees, it is said that the day of the Lord (1 Sam. xiii. 6, 1 Mac. ii. 28–36,) the
enemy might have gained possession tantius and Eusebius, he adopted the of the country. All which being put Cross as his distinctive military entogether, there will not remain a sin- sign. From that time to this, it has gle symbolic phrase in this prophecy been borne upon the banner of every of the sixth seal unillustrated, or with christian nation; and, whilst we avoid the interpretation referring it to a po every superstitious use of it, let us litical revolution, unconfirmed, by ever glory in our standard, and resimilar figures in other prophecies, to member that under this banner we which the scriptural context has itself are pledged to "fight manfully’ already furnished a similar interpre- against our great spiritual enemies, tation.
the world, the flesh, and the devil. We infer, therefore, that the vision Shall the Mahomedan glory in the of the sixth seal betokened some sud- crescent, and shall the Christian forden and extraordinary revolution in get the cross ? No! Let us unfurl the Roman empire, which would follow our banner, and look up to Him whose chronologically on the era of martyr- emblem it is, and fight manfully doms of the seal preceding; a revolu- against every thing that would imtion arising from the triumph of the pede the coming of His kingdom. christian cause over its enemies, and The cross, that object of abomination in degree complete and universal. to the heathen Romans, was seen in Nothing less would answer to the the time of Constantine, " glittering strength of the symbolic phraseology, in the helmets, engraved on the than a destruction of Paganism itself shields, and interwoven with the banthroughout the empire, before the ners of his soldiers.” More especially progress and power of Christianity; in his principal banner, the labarum, or, at least, a sweeping from their as described by Eusebius, V., c. i. 31, high places in it, of pagan powers and which fifty men were especially apauthorities: and this not through the pointed to guard, he displayed at its gentle progress of opinion, but with summit the same once accursed emcircumstances of force accompanying, blem, with a crown of gold beside it, such as to strike the anti-christian and the monogram of the name of opposers with consternation and dis
Him, who, after bearing the one, now may:
wore the other. When God is about to act, the fit We may be sure the question was test instruments appear ever ready for in every mouth, Why so strange an His service. Behold, as in the olden ensign? And let it not be forgotten, times, He raised up Cyrus, in order to that besides other reasons to impress be the restorer of His captives from him, as to the excellence of the docBabylon, agreeably with foregoing trine, the virtues of the professors, prophecies, so now, from the far west, and other internal and external evi. and for the deliverance of His Church, dence of the truth of Christianity, as here promised, from their persecu- there might have been mention made tors in the Roman empire, he raised of a mysterious vision of a cross of up Constantine. Already he was known flame just before seen in the sky, in as the favourer of the Christians, ere the night watches, by the western emhe bore down from the Alps against peror; and how he had been warned Maxentius, the son and successor of in the vision, by a voice from heaven, the persecuting Emperor Maximian. to adopt that ensign of the cross, and Then, in a manner most extraordi- with the promise added, that through nary, and most illustrative of the pro- it he should conquer. Scepticism, as phecy under consideration, he avowed we know, has been frequent in exhis espousal of the christian cause, pressing its disbelief of this asserted and of that of Him whom the Chris- fact. For my own part, I am unable tians worshipped, the crucified One to resist the force of Constantine's soof Nazareth, the Lamb of God. From lemn declaration to Eusebius of its as early a date as that of the great truth. The time, as well as solemnity battle with Maxentius, according to of his statement,-a time when nothe decisive testimony of both Lec- thing was to be gained by the fiction,
for it was made when life was draw- rangue before the soldiers, ridiculed ing to a close,--and, moreover, the the cross, and staked the falsehood of whole character of Constantine,-so Christianity on his success. little prone either to credulity or to Thus, in all these cases, the terrors deception, :-seem to me alike to for- of defeat must have been aggravated bid its rejection. If true, it satisfac- by a sense of their gods failing them, torily explains to us the fact of his and of the power of heaven being with adoption of the cross as his ensign; Christ against them. It was observed, otherwise all but inexplicable. And that wherever the labarum, the banas to its miraculousness, surely the ner of the cross, was raised, there viccase,
ever, was one that from its tory attended. “ In the war against importance might seem to call for the Constantine,” says Gibbon, “ Licinius, supernatural intervention of the Deity. after his apostacy, felt and dreaded Thus Constantine was the first crusa the power of the consecrated banner; der; and, with better reason than the the sight of which in the distress of princes of the eleventh century at battle, animated the soldiers of ConClermont, might feel as he prosecuted stantine with invincible enthusiasm, the war, that it was " the will of and scattered terror and dismay God."
through the ranks of the adverse le"By this ensign thou shalt con- gions. quer.” Such was the tenor of the All this must needs have added to promise. And well, we know, was the the impression. Besides which, there promise fulfilled to Constantine. Army are to be remembered the recorded after army, emperor after emperor, dying terrors of one and another of (for since Diocletian's division, there the persecuting emperors. Already were, according to the prophetic inti- Galerius had, from his suffering deathmation, several cotemporary emperors, bed, evinced his remorse and terror of or “ kings of the earth,") were routed, conscience, by entreating the Chrisand fled, and perished before the tians, in a public proclamation, to cross and its warriors,- Maxentius, pray to their God (i.e. to Christ) for Maximin, and, after his apostacy to
him. And Maximin soon after, in the pagan cause, Licinius. A bas- similar anguish of mind and body, relief, still remaining, on Constantine's confessed his guilt, and called on triumphal arch at Rome, vividly repre- Christ to compassionate his misery. sents to us the terror of the former Thus did a sense of the wrath of the and of his army, in their flight across crucified One, the Lamb of God, whom the Tiber, after defeat in the battle of they now knew to be seated on the the Milvian bridge. A similar conster- throne of power, lie heavy, intolerably nation attended the others, also. And heavy, upon them. this was chiefly remarkable,-that it And when we combine these terrors was not the terror of their earthly victor of the death-bed with those of the lost only that oppressed them. There was a battle-field,-in which latter terrors consciousness of the powers of heaven the officers and soldiers, each active acting against them; above all, Christ, partizan in the persecution and the the Christian's God. For the war, in war, including all, in short, that are each case, was felt to be a religious particularized in the sacred vision, —
low as well as high, the slaves as well as When Maxentius went forth to bat the free men,-must needs have partitle, he went fortified by heathen ora- cipated; when, I say, we consider the cles, and relying on the heathen gods, terrors of these antichristian kings of --the champion of Heathenism against the Roman earth, thus routed with the champion of Christianity. When their partizans before the christian Maximin was about to engage with host, and miserably flying and perishLicinius, he made his vow to Jupiter, ing, there was surely that in the event that, if successful, he would extirpate which, according to the usual conChristianity. When Licinius, again, struction of such scripture figures, was marching against Constantine might well be deemed to answer to and his crusaders, he, in public ha- the symbols of the prefigurative vision