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world's conversion. What can be more interesting to spiritual spectators in the heavenly world, than to see the great troops of God's enemies, in the utmost rage, malignity, and fiery violence of their industry, just cutting out and bringing in great blocks of marble to rear up the highway of the Divine providence ! Of all the distorted shapes of evil which they can contrive to throw in the way, probably there is not one, out of which some good use is not witnessed in heaven. God is an omnipotent moral architect, and makes enemies as well as friends do his bidding; in their shortsighted wickedness, the rebels against his government are only proved his materials to work with.
The same may be said of empires as of individuals. The great Christian Poet of England has occupied some of his sublimest pages in the delineation of these lessons :
Know thou that heavenly wisdom on this ball
On the chief strength and glory of the frame. It seems to be another great principle in God's providence to use this world“ as the great laboratory of truth for the universe ; and that no truth can be fully brought out, nor its virtue proved, till it has undergone every experiment to which perverted ingenuity can subject it, and every modification which the mistakes of its friends can give it." This remark, thrown out by Mr. Dana, is of importance in considering the time necessary for the display of the Divine providence. Truth here is in a state of warfare ; truth and goodness against error and wickedness. The world's pro
blem may thus be stated. Given : the rebellion and depra. vity of man. Required: to make the most out of this state of things, for the confirmation of Divine truth, and the revelation of the Divine glory. To bring out the result of this problem in full requires necessarily that human wickedness should have time and room to play in, and Divine truth time and room to be tested in. In this view of things, there are ample reasons, even to our short vision, why God should not arbitrarily interpose to cut short the instructive drama, either by a miracle of sudden universal regeneration, or in any other way. He will let the play be played out, for in no other circumstances than just such a world of probation as this affords could such a series of scenes for the instruction of the universe be unfolded ; and meantime, the very presence of God's truth, in its trial, is enough to vindicate his righteousness, were there any imputation thrown out against it on account of the slow progress of redemption in the world. Men have their own consciences, and the invisible things of God in the creation; they may hear, obey, and finish the conflict between truth and error, if they choose. They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them ; they have Christ and his apostles, and may bring the scene to a close whenever they are willing. Meantime, while they are delaying, and the longsuffering of God also waits, grand principles are unfolding. Here the trouble of Job, Why doth the wicked live? and of David, How long shall the wicked triumph ? receive for the present a satisfactory answer.
Human revolutions grow out of human passion. Human revolutions may be termed the mediums, the bases, to use the chemical phrase, through which the tissue of truth has to be passed, that its colors may be permanently set; thus fixed in historical experience, the figures never wash out, but the lessons of wisdom remain for ever. The same may be said of human depravity in connection with God's word; every va. riety and strength of it, through which the illuminated record of the wisdom of God's Spirit is passed, does but set its divine colors more deeply, and give them an intense light. The process looks strange, and often very hazardous, while the truth is passing through it; but in the end, it is all the more glorious. Divine truth shone all the brighter at the era of the Reformation, for those preceding ages of Papistical superstition, persecution, and darkness. Divine truth will only shine the brighter and more permanent, for that medium of infidelity through which it has been passing in Germany. It takes time for such experiments ; but one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day; and in working out truth for eternity the experience of thousands of years is but a little. We should regard an empire as comparatively stable, that should stand the circle of ten centuries; but what is that, when it has perished? What is that in comparison with the permanence of truth and righteousness?
Great practical truths we always learn very slowly, and nations more slowly than individuals. The nations take their course, and by and by a mighty truth is illustrated in their experience. The appalling consequences of the extremes of national infidelity and atheism in the dissolution of society into the mere chaotic elements of wickedness, was exhibited in the whirlwind of the French Revolution. The more important truth that the preservation of empires in happiness depends upon the vital principles of the gospel is slower and more gradual in working out. The baneful influences of the Roman Catholic religion on nations long under its power is a lesson quite apart from the discovery and conviction of its monstrous errors and superstitions. These were laid bare at the era of the Reformation ; but at that time the progress of those causes of national ruin was as yet hidden; they were not regarded as such; their deleterious influence in sapping the vital energy of a people, and poisoning their whole character, their alliance with despotism, their opposition to the freedom of the human mind, and their connection with almost all possible evils, which humanity in great masses can suffer, demanded a different exposure. The free and noble growth of Protestant States, with all
the grand and state-supporting institutions growing out of Protestantism, must be exhibited side by side with the decrepitude and degradation of empires under the incubus of Popery. The pure and happy domestic character of a Prosestant people must be compared with the discomfort and licentiousness of social life elsewhere.
In the providence of God great evils are sometimes left to work their own cure. They become so enormous, as to attract the gaze and abhorrence of all, and the acknowledgment and conviction even of those who cling to them. It
is in this way that a conviction of the evil of slavery, not only as a sin, but as a cause of national and state degradation and political ruin, is sometimes forced upon the mind. The ruin of nations by evils, which the selfishness and love of error in the mind of man would not admit as evils, though declared as such even in the word of God, and marked with the seal of his reprobation, is a mode of teaching on a vast scale, for which this world, as the laboratory of truth for the universe, affords a grand opportunity. Who can tell that our own beloved country, in spite of all the apparent pur. poses of God for our good, is not destined to show such a lesson to the universe on a most appalling scale ! We need beware, or God will leave the evil we are cherishing, to work its own cure in our destruction.
The lessons to be drawn from this slight survey of the methods of God's providence, converge directly and powerfully upon the missionary enterprise of the present day. Divine wisdom has been laying long and mighty trains of events, of which the connection from generation to generation is sometimes to us invisible, but which are always ripening to a great fulfilment. Meantime, disciplinary arrangements, and secondary providential movements, necessary for the stability of the object aimed at, have been also accomplishing. Perversions of the gospel have been fully tried; the experiment of a vast scheme of false Christianity has failed ; the mystery of iniquity has wrought to the uttermost ;, the experience of a church embraced, perverted, and weakened by the world, has gathered into history a host of heresies with all their consequences of corruption for the future warning and guidance of a church that is to embrace and save the world. The laboratory of truth has been wide open, and depraved and ingenious minds have rushed in to scrutinize and distort it with unsparing and unavailing malignity. The nations have tried the path of Atheism, and empire after empire, crash after crash, strews the ground.
With these general lessons before us, we may proceed to notice the present apparent crisis of God's providential movements in reference to the Missionary Enterprise.
The history of the church on earth is a history of experiments in human nature. They have been made by Divine providence in vast cycles of time, on a scale of great gran. deur. The first embraced the whole Antediluvian world
for 2000 years ; the second, with a chosen people, and a great dispensation, lasted for 2000 years longer: the third, with the Gentile world, for nearly 2000 more; the fourth is now in operation. The first experiment ended in the deluge; the second closed with the crucifixion; the third was renounced at the reformation ; the last has but just been entered on. It was a Hebrew Church after the deluge ; a Christian Church after the destruction of Jerusalem; and last of all, a Reformed Christian Church out of the corrupt Roman Catholic. It remains to be seen whether this last experiment will have the permanence of either of the others ; whether it will have the comprehensive spirit of that which preceded it, and at the same time, unlike that, relain, as it progresses, the purity and simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. It is this last experiment, in which it would seem that God destines the Missionary Enterprise to be at least recommenced on a scale proportionate to its grandeur. The work of preparation for that enterprise has been going on for centuries, with steadfast and increasing energy. Its commencement dates with the Reformation. The whole foundation of the modern work of missions may be traced to the little town of Eisenach, in Germany, the birth-place of Luther.
Here, in attempting to gather up the meanings of events as they roll onward to the completion of the Divine purposes, we cannot but remark on the wonderful providence of God in first breaking through, and breaking into pieces that form of spiritual despotism with which the Romish Hierarchy had encircled the Christian world. The Roman Catholic religion had grown into such a den of abominations, such an engine of ambition, cruelty, and lust, such a collection and defence of enormous abuses, that it had ceased to be the Church of Christ, and had become at once the mother of harlots and the man of sin. The form of unity, and of catholic, that is universal worship, does not constitute the Christian Church, any more than the form of crystals constitutes salt. The constitution of a new Church at such a period is not a separation from the Church of Christ, nor a division in it, but a solemn disowning of that false system of iniquity, which, in the face of Heaven, has usurped that sacred name. It was the assertion of freedom and religion for the followers of Christ, wherever they might choose to