« PreviousContinue »
THOUGHTS ON UNIVERSAL PEACE.
THURSDAY, JANUARY, 18, 1816.
THE DAY OF NATIONAL THANKSGIVING
FOR THE RESTORATION OF PEACE.
BY THOMAS CHALMERS,
MINISTER OF THE TRON CHURCH, GLASGOW.
ISAIAH ii. 4.
"Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they leara war any more."
THERE are a great many passages in Scripture which warrant the expectation that a time is coming, when an end shall be put to war-when its abominations and its cruelties shall be banished from the face of the earth-when those restless elements
of ambition and jealousy which have so long kept the species in a state of unceasing commotion, and are ever and anon sending another and another wave over the field of this world's politics, shall at length be hushed into a placid and ever-during calm; and many and delightful are the images which the Bible employs, as guided by the light of prophecy, it carries us forward to those millenial days, when the reign of peace shall be established, and the wide charity of the gospel, which is confined by no limits, and owns no distinctions, shall embosom the whole human race within the ample grasp of one harmonious and universal family.
But before I proceed, let me attempt to do away a delusion which exists on the subject of prophecy. Its fulfilments are all certain, say many, and we have therefore nothing to do, but to wait for them in passive and indolent expectation. The truth of God stands in no dependence on human aid to vindicate the immutability of all his announcements; and the power of God stands in no need of the feeble exertions of man to hasten the accomplishment of any of his purposes. Let us therefore sit down quietly in the attitude of spectators--let us leave the Divinity to do his own work in his own way, and mark, by the progress of a history over which we have no control, the evolution
of his designs, and the march of his wise and beneficent adminstration.
Now, it is very true, that the Divinity will do his own work in his own way, but if he choose to tell us that that way is not without the instrumentality of men, but by their instrumentality, might not this sitting down into the mere attitude of spectators, turn out to be a most perverse and disobedient conclusion? It is true, that his purpose will obtain its fulfilment, whether we shall offer or not to help it forward by our co-operation. But if the object is to be brought about, and if, in virtue of the same sovereignty by which he determined upon the object, he has also determined on the way which leads to it, and that that way shall be by the acting of human principle, and the putting forth of human exertion, then let us keep back our co-operation as we may, God will raise up the hearts of others to that which we abstain from; and they, admitted into the high honour of being fellow-workers with God, may do homage to the truth of his prophecy, while we, perhaps, may unconsciously do dreadful homage to the truth of another warning, and another prophecy. "I work a work in your days which you shall not believe, though a man declare it unto you. Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish."
Now this is the very way in which prophecies have been actually fulfilled. The return of the people of Israel to their own land was an event predicted by inspiration, and was brought about by the stirring up of the spirit of Cyrus, who felt himself charged with the duty of building a house to God at Jerusalem. The pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was foretold by the Saviour ere he left the world, and was accomplished upon men who assembled themselves together at the place to which they were commanded to repair; and there they waited, and they prayed. The rapid propagation of Christianity in those days was known by the human agents of this propagation, to be made sure by the word of prophecy; but the way in which it was actually made sure, was by the strenuous exertions, the unexampled heroism, the holy devotedness and zeal of martyrs, and apostles, and evangelists. And even now, my brethren, while no professing Christian can deny that their faith is to be