« PreviousContinue »
the labours of a Papias or a Justin Martyr, a Jerom or an Austin. We see, it is very true, under different names, something very like a revival of the old controversy between the Chiliasts and the Antichiliasts, the Millenaries and the Allegorists; only there is this great difference and great improvement. The advocates for a literal Millennium have brought themselves to speak in a much more guarded and modest manner of that mysterious period, and to affix more spirituality to its sensible imagery. Their opponents, on the contrary, the spiritualisers, have learned to affix a definite period to their Millennium; to make it absolutely coincident with the millenarian scheme, in point of time and many of its circumstances; and only to demur on one or two points, very material, it must be owned, but we trust in a kindred spirit of forbearance and humility. And must not, indeed, each party, after their full measure of experience from all that is past, say, from the depth of their soul, in the solemn view of an undefined futurity, "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God?"
Here then, finding ourselves at present shut out by our limits from a further prosecution of the subject in the present Number, we should very contentedly leave it altogether, did our duty to our readers excuse us from a resumption of it, at a point where we must be more immediately drawn ourselves into the controversy. In the mean time, however, we shall satisfy ourselves with tak ing our leave, under cover of Mr. Stewart's Practical View, who avails himself of his privilege in leaving the grand question wholly undecided. His little preface, on the subject of the second coming of the Redeemer, contains what we believe all parties will now subscribe, as it must be admitted to be much in confirmation of our own historical sketch above.
"There appears to be a studied obscurity in the sacred writers in their man
ner of speaking of his advent, as the attentive reader will perceive: so that in some passages it is difficult to ascertain whether we are to understand his coming to be by his Spirit, by his providence, or by his personal appearance. This obscurity seems to have been designed, that his church might ever be allowed to exercise the hope of his glorious manifestation; not knowing the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.'
"This hope was the animating principle of the first Christians. They are represented as waiting for his Son from heaven;' as looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:' and them by this character, that they loved were distinguished from the world around his appearing.'
"As the love of the church waxed cold, this hope very much declined. Individual believers, doubtless, were still using the prayer of the Apostle, Come quickly: even so, come, Lord Jesus;' but the great apostacy almost entirely obliterated the expectation of a coming Saviour. A purgatory after death, which might allow a longer period to cleanse the souls of the wicked, was far more agreeable to such a system, than the near approach of an Almighty King, who was coming to take and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord vengeance on them that know not God, Jesus Christ.'
"At the era of the Reformation, however, this hope, which had been so long buried in oblivion, was again revived. Our Reformers commenced their ecclesiastical year by a reference to the coming of our Lord; framing the collects of our church, and selecting the portions of Scripture to be read for her occasional services, in reference to this event; and this, not for one Sabbath only, but for four successive weeks: as if they wished at the outset of the year to restore her worshippers to the position of the first church.
Notwithstanding this return of our Reformers to the principles of the early Christians, the second advent of our Lord, as a practical, operative principle, is in the present day almost entirely lost to the church of Christ: so much so, that if
Christians in general be asked, Are you waiting, or do you hope, for the coming of the Lord? their answer is, I expect to go to him; but I have no expectation that he will come to me." They have ceased to look for his appearing.
"It is evident there must be some error in this: for if any truth should become more influential by the lapse of time, the near approach of the Saviour is that truth. If the early Christians, nearly eighteen hundred years since, were waiting for him, surely we, who live in the latter days, should be earnestly expecting him.
"It is easy, however, to account for the
progress of this error. Soon after the revival of this animating doctrine by the Reformers, it was abused, by various crude and fanciful, and indeed carnal and wicked, opinions upon the Millenniuma subject quite distinct from the advent; -opinions that tended to overturn civil government, and to introduce worse than heathen licentiousness. This discouraged many from referring much to this subject. The day of death has been practically considered as the period of the believer's felicity, rather than that great day when the trumpet shall sound, and death shall be swallowed up in victory.'' Preface, pp. ix-xi.
The laudable attempt of Mr. Stewart, in the subsequent pages, is, "entirely distinct from all sentiments respecting the Millennium, upon which he offers no opinion, 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 theory, or fanciful opinion, but with a view to Christian edificasion in these remarkable days."
The general plan of the work is a division into four parts; the first containing four discourses, on The Redeemer's Advent desirable to his Friends: the second containing two discourses, on The Redeemer's Advent terrible to his Enemies: the third, containing two discourses, on Reasons for expecting the Redeemer's Advent: the fourth, containing ten discourses, on The Course and Conduct becoming an Expectation of the Redeemer's Advent. The whole is written in Mr. Stewart's well-known style of deep piety and affectionate tenderness; with some felicity of illustration, much fulness of matter and clearness of arrangement; and is altogether creditable, as a work composed and delivered, as it appears, during a single season, for the benefit of the congregation of Percy Chapel. We shall give a few extracts somewhat bearing upon our present subject. The first, descriptive of that glorious appearing of Christ, so desirable to his faithful followers, betrays the impossibility of confining our more general and congregational descriptions of
that event, to the measured glories of a mere millennial state.
"The glorious appearing! And, if you examine the particulars, you will find it well merits this title. For he comes, himself the incarnate God; his seat great white throne;' a throne so filled with majesty that at its appearance 'the heavens and the earth flee away, and their place is no more seen.'-He comes attended by myriads of angels. As kings, in visiting their subjects, have a numerous train with them; when the King of kings' appears, ten thousand times ten thousand of angels form his train. All the host of heaven
accompany him. The mighty angels, which excel in strength; the seraphim. which surround the throne; the archangels-none will be wanting all these happy spirits with joy attend their King. -The voice' which will proclaim his advent will heighten the solemnity. On great occasions, heralds are sent before to proclaim the coming of a judge or the near approach of a king: in that day, when the Judge of all the earth draws nigh, of God will sound, and that with so loud archangels will be the heralds. The trump a voice, that the whole creation will return the echo: For all that are in their graves will come forth the sea will give up its dead; and death and hell will give up the dead that are in it.'
"Such, in a few words, will be the glory of his advent.
"Here, bearing in mind, my Christian friends, what was mentioned in the first discourse, that, ere the terror of this scene commences, you will have an assured proof of his favour by your bodies having been caught up to be with the Lord, let me request you to pause for a moment. and behold his glorious epiphany. Will you not, when you see him thus exalted, break forth in some such strain as this? whom man despised, and whom the na'Is this he 'who was a worm, and no man?' tions abhorred ? Is this he who agonized in Gethsamene, and whose blood was shed on the mount of Calvary? Yes! mine eyes see it is the same Jesus: the marks oh how gloriously transfigured! That of his love are still fresh upon him: but, head, which was swoln by thorns, is now arrayed with many crowns; that countenance, which sorrow had marred more than any man's, now shines like the sun in his strength; that face, which was defiled with shame and spitting, is now the seat of loveliness and consummate beauty.
Is this he,' again you will say, who was deserted by all his disciples? who, in that trying hour, had no friend or acquaintance; lover and friend put far from him? Yes! it is he: but now how numerously attended! Thousands of angels are ministhousand are standing around him.-Is tering to him, and ten thousand times ten this he who appeared to be left of his
Their bodies his glory display: A day without night they feast in his sight;
And eternity seems as a day.", p. 68. "They shall reign for ever and ever." It is not for a limited time that the happy occupants of this city are to enjoy their privileges. It is for eternity; an eternity so absolute, that when the myriads of stars which deck the heavens shall all have been counted, when the sands that lie so thickly on the shores of every ocean and of every sea shall have been slowly reckoned one by one; when language shall have lost expression, and the powers of numbers ceased, this eternity shall still appear in all its youthful vigour; shall commence its course anew, till other stars and other sands shall have again and again been told; and still this unbounded eternity remain. This shall be the duration of their blessedness. They shall reign for ever and
"They go out no more.'-Not like our first parents-who for a short season enjoyed their paradise, but were then driven by sin into the region of thorns and briars for ever they abide, enjoying FOR EVER the happy reign of their Lord and King. I mention this the more particularly, as it puts an end to the question which has been raised, whether these chapters describe the millennial state, or the final state of bliss in heaven. For what further can be desired, than to dwell where whatever occasions distress or misery shall be absent; where God and the Lamb shall dwell; where his servants shall serve him, and see his face, and reign with him, for ever and ever?" pp. 73, 74.
The terribleness of Christ's com
ing to his enemies, is dismissed by our affectionate preacher in two discourses; one on the temporal
precursors of vengeance; the other, on that vengeance itself; which equally leave undecided the period respectively of each, and gather strength in our judgment from that very indecision.
From the two discourses which follow, on " Reasons for expecting the Redeemer's Advent," we think VII. contains an original and inthe following extract from Discourse that our Lord's object evidently apAfter shewing teresting remark. peared to be always that of keeping up expectancy on the part of his church, he continues :
"I would notice another forcible argument to prove this important doctrine. It is this: The manner in which the Apostles comforted believers under their trials. This can only be accounted for from the authorized expectation of the advent of the Lord Jesus.
"Our great consolation to distressed Christians is, the comfort that death will relieve them from all their sorrows, and bring their happy spirits to the presence of the Lord. This is our constant course of alleviation. If some sudden reverse in his pecuniary circumstances happens to a sincere Christian, what is our language? 'Mourn not, my dear friend, the loss of your property: death will soon put you in possession of far greater treasures.' If we visit a Christian suffering under acute disease, how do we address him? Be patient, my afflicted brother: death will soon come, as a welcome visitor, and release you from all your pain.' So, if we are called to sympathize with the widow, or the orphan, we say, Dry your tears: in a little moment you will follow him for whom you mourn: pursue but his steps, and death will come and take you to the land whither your friend is gone." This is the mode in which we-I mean, Christians in modern times-console our afflicted brethren. But this was not the Apostolic mode. We may not, perhaps, have noticed this; but such is the fact, that death is very rarely introduced by the Apostles in the way of consolation: their comfort was, the coming of the Lord. St. Paul, when addressing the Christians at Rome, says, If so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' Not, that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the felicity we shall enjoy at death, in us,' or, that shall be made manifest at but, with the glory that shall be revealed
the fulfilment of that blessed promise, When Christ, who is our life, shall ap
pear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. So, when he writes to the Hebrews, who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that in heaven they had a better and an enduring substance,' he does not refer to their death, as the short interval only for which they were to wait: he says,For, yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.' I have also already shewn that it was in this manner he consoled those who mourned over the death of their Christian friends: Them which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him: 'therefore comfort one another with these words' -with the hope of the coming Saviour." pp. 134-136.
Mr. Stewart's prophetic interpretations, in regard to the present outpouring of the sixth vial on the nations, as warranting an expectation of the near approach of our Saviour's advent, will be found in Discourse VIII. pp. 159 et seq. We do not ourselves pretend to form any decisive opinion on such questions, and therefore pretermit them. Subjoined are the following encouraging details of the missionary progress as indicative of the present times.
"We live in so extraordinary an age, that marvellous events make but little impression upon us, or otherwise we should be deeply affected with the facts of the day. It is not that one particular body of Christians has formed a plan for preaching the Gospel; the whole church of Christ is at this time in motion. Thirty years since, missionary exertions were confined principally to our two venerable institutions, the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel; to the Moravians; and to some other small societies. During the whole of the last century, though that which the Lord effected by their instrumentality is a cause of great thankfulness, the visible results of their labours were comparatively small. This is attested by the reports of the patient endurance of the United Brethren on the coast of Labrador, and by the accounts of the missions in India of our venerable Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. But mark the change. There are at present no less than forty-one public societries, formed for the single purpose of spreading the kingdom of our Saviour. An annual revenue of above four hundred thousand pounds is collected for this purpose; and daily additions are making to these revenues. An institution connected with the cause of Christ is planned, and funds and agents are almost immedi
ties in our own and other Protestant coun
ately raised to commence and carry for ward its object; and this without injuring other institutions, but, on the contrary, benefiting them. There are now either ministers of the Gospel, or the holy Scriptures translated, into one hundred and forty-four languages; or Scriptural tracts, as silent preachers, going into all parts of the world. Africa, Asia, North and South America, the isles afar off, some of them not even known to our ancestors, have all their preachers. And such has been the success which, by the Divine blessing, has attended these exertions, that whole islands have renounced idolatry. Untutored Africans also, who a few years since were in the lowest state of
barbarism, literally worshipping devils,'
have been converted, and are now maniexemplary discharge of the duties of civifesting the power of Christianity by the lized life.
"Some idea of the rapidity of these movements may be formed from the folChurch Missionary Society. During the lowing short sketch of the progress of the first ten years that society had but one mission: it has now nine missions. The clergy who were supporters of its objects were, during the first year, 50; at the end of the first ten years, 260: they are now about 1500. The whole income for the first ten years was 15,000l.: for the last year alone it was above 40,000l. There were none or few converts who were communicants at the end of the first ten years: there are now above 1000. There were then few hearers: there are now several thousands. Then it had but four schools and two hundred scholars; now it has two hundred and thirty-one schools, and 13,200 scholars.
"Is there not upon this point a great similarity between the prophetic marks and the actual occurrences before us? Must we not be almost compelled to say, It does indeed appear very like the Lord sending out his angels, with the great sound of a trumpet, to gather in his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other ?" pp. 171-174.
We should have pleasure in continuing our extracts through the remaining series of ten discourses, on the Conduct becoming the Redeemer's Advent, but our limits forbid: and we shall take our leave for the present of our readers, and finally of our excellent instructor Mr. Stewart, by giving the summary of the last discourses, from which our readers may themselves conjecture the instruction they would derive from their perusal..
"Ten Discourses :-Readiness for his Coming; The Necessity of Inward Meet
ness; Assurance of Readiness; Holding Fast our Profession; Earnest Prayer for Divine Aid; Active Zeal in Spreading the Gospel; Vigilance against Satan; Watchfulness against the Dangers of the Present Times; Dwelling in Love; Patient Waiting for Christ." p. 184. (To be continued.)
Narrative of the Loss of the Kent East Indiaman, by Fire in the Bay of Biscay, on the 1st of March 1825; in a Letter to a Friend. By a Passenger. Edinburgh. 2s. 6d.
THE leading circumstances connected with this painfully interesting narrative were detailed in the public journals at the time; but the appropriately serious and religious tone which pervades the little publication before us, and the information, not, however, alluded to in the work, that it is published for the charitable purpose of assisting the widows and destitute children of the sufferers, induce us to notice it; and indeed it is well worthy of the attention of our readers both for the sake of its remarkable narrative, and for those moral and Christian reflections which arise out of it. Our notice will necessarily consist chiefly of a few extracts from the publi
cation itself. The writer of the letter gives the following state
"The Kent, Captain Henry Cobb, a fine new ship of 1350 tons, bound to Bengal and China, left the Downs on the 19th February, with 20 officers, 344 soldiers, 43 women, and 66 children belonging to the 31st regiment; with 20 private passengers, and a crew (including officers) of 148 men, on board."
"With a fine fresh breeze from the north-east, the stately Kent, in bearing down the channel, speedily passed many a well-known spot on the coast, dear to our remembrance; and on the evening of the 23d, we took our last view of happy England, and entered the wide Atlantic, without the expectation of again seeing
land until we reached the shores of India.
"With slight interruptions of bad weather, we continued to make way until the night of Monday the 28th, when we were suddenly arrested in lat. 47 deg. 30 min.
long. 10 deg. by a violent gale from the south-west, which gradually increased during the whole of the following morning." "The activity of the officers and seamen of the Kent appeared to keep ample pace with that of the gale. Our larger sails were speedily taken in, or closely reefed; and about 10 o'clock on the morning of the 1st of March, after having struck our top-gallant yards, we were lying to, under a triple-reefed main top-sail only, with our dead lights in, and with the whole watch of soldiers attached to the life-lines, that were run along the deck for this purpose. The rolling of the ship, which was vastly increased by a dead weight of some hundred tons of shot and shells that formed a part of its lading, became so great about half-past eleven or twelve o'clock, that our main chains were thrown by every lurch considerably under water, and the best cleated articles of furniture in the cabins and the cuddy were dashed about with so much noise and violence, as to
excite the liveliest apprehensions of in
"It was a little before this period that one of the officers of the ship, with the all was fast below, descended with two of well-meant intention of ascertaining that the sailors into the hold, where they carried with them, for safety, a light in the patent lantern; and seeing that the lamp tion to hand it up to the orlop deck to be burned dimly, the officer took the precautrimmed. Having afterwards discovered one of the spirit casks to be adrift, he sent the sailors for some billets of wood to having made a heavy lurch, the officer unsecure it; but the ship in their absence fortunity dropped the light; and letting go his hold of the cask in his eagerness to recover the lantern, it suddenly stove, and the whole place was instantly in a blaze." the spirits communicating with the lamp,
Every possible effort was instantly made to repress the flames; but this being found impracticable, Captain Cobb directed the lower decks to be scuttled, and the lower ports to be opened so as to admit a free passage of the waves into the vessel. The immense body of water thus introduced into the hold checked the flames, but the danger of sinking now became imminent; and it seemed doubtful by which of the two instruments of destruction the unhappy company of human beings congregated in the vessel would perish that they must perish by the one or the other, appeared inevitable.
The scene of horror which now