« AnteriorContinua »
number and the piety of members of Churches, and make them more efficient in the work of benevolence. As means of extending Revivals, we would speak of the Promotion of TEMPERANCE, in the largest acceptation of that term. The Peace Society, also, must occupy a greater share in the interest of the Churches; for the effect of war upon morals and religion is written in vivid and frightful characters in the history of New England. All nations must learn the principles of peace, or Christianity cannot spread over the earth. Then, the great work of Foreign Missions, Distribution of the Scriptures, and of Tracts must be followed up with increasing energy. As a further means of accomplisbing the designs of such enterprizes, Christians must unite to promote the Observance of the Sabbath, without which as the great mainspring of religious observances, every thing of a moral and religious nature will deteriorate and decay. In connection with the general cause of benevolence, and as a part of Christian efforts necessary to the bringing in of the latter day glory, all good men must labor for the Reformation of Prismers, and especially for the Abolition of Involuntary Servitude. As a grand auxiliary to the spread of the Gospel, the abundance of the seas must be converted unto God. As a sequel for the commencement of the great day, the Church must look and labor to promote, with special interest, the Conversion of the Jews.
All these departments of benevolent religious enterprize, together with the kindred subjects of charitable contributions, and benevolent agencies, Mr. Cogswell has treated of in the work before us in a very fundamental, thorough, and interesting manner. The sentiments advanced in the book upon all these subjects are such as will meet the views and feelings of every real Christian, because there is nothing sectional or denominational in them. We believe that all who are engaged in the labor of doing good will love to have this work by them as the text-book of benevolent activity. There is also much valuable instruction upon religious subjects interspersed through the volume. We would refer particularly to the chapter on the Distribution of the Scriptures, and to the notes connected with that chapter, in which the author in a summary manner alludes to the evidence of the plenary Inspiration of the Book of God. Such remarks as are given in this connection are extremely judicious, reminding the Christian, by placing before him a view of the leading evidences, that in distributing the Scriptures, he is not following or circulating cunningly devised fables. We were also much gratified with similar remarks in connection with the Dissertation on the Sabbath,-a subject which notwithstanding all that has been done and written in regard to it, lies in the minds of numerous Christians in a vague, uncertain state. To all such, the remarks upon the subject in this volume cannot fail to be profitable. For these reasons, the work is valuable as a convenient book of reference, as embracing the leading arguments and considerations which the great enterprizes of the present day proceed. The Appendix, containing historical and statistical matter, is a part of the work exhibiting great and persevering labor. We venture to say that many a tedious hour was spent in searching for soine of the details in that collection; and many a future compiler will thank its author for saving him a vast amount of toil. The body of the book, as well as the Appendix, gives proof of great industry in the preservation of important facts connected with its various topics. The Author has evidently been one who in studies of this character has not labored in vain nor spent his strength for nought; for on almost every page are discovered the marks of a curious, busy and retentive mind.
The word MILLENNIUM attached to a book has been con. sidered of late years by many as only another name for fanalicism; and its Author' has been consigned to the number of visionary speculatists, and forgotten ; or else remembered to grace the long enumeration of exploded theories, or to illustrate the perversion of the human faculties. That men have written upon this subjert in such a manner as to expose themselves and their theme to ridicule, it is useless to deny. Sonetimes the only motive in writing the book has appeared to be a love of gain. We have heard of a clergyman who many years since published a work to prove that the day of judgment and the end of the world would come in twenty years. Soon after the appearance of the book, he built a house with brick ends, which was at once considered by his people as an indication that he did not believe in his own theory, and that he had reaped the reward and gained the only object of his lucubrations. Now, this was too solemn a subject for an eccentric man to draw idlo contempt; and doubtless the effect of such speculations upon the niinds of many already inclined to mock at religion and its ministers was. to give them occasion to fortify themselves against the truth. The seat of the scornful is crowded with “ respectable" scossers, who make the name of “the Millenniun" an occasion for their thoughtless mirth. Doubtless they have long since regarded it as a sort of “ Philosophers stone" in religion,
” because so many have made pretensions to some great discovery. The language of multitudes now is, as in the days of
Peter, “Where is the promise of his coming ? It is necessary that all who write upon
“the Millennium" should bear this in mind; and we think that in this respect all which this book contains upon the subject is unexceptionable and very commendable. Without referring to the numberless theories which have been framed, or venturing one of his own, our Author lays down a proposition which every believer in revelation will ap prove, and which we think is all that can be said in regard to the time of the Millennium. The propo-ition is this: There will be a time, in which the church of God will be in a state of far greater prosperity than it has ever yet been. In regard to the characteristics of that time, the writer observes the * words of truth and soberness." The impression which his remarks are fitted to make on Christians is, that the Millennium is not a day of sudden brightness, with the appearance of which they have no more to do than with the breaking out of the sun after a long storm; but that it is essentially a time when the people will be all righteous; when benevolent efforts will have been nude to the utmost of the ability of the church, and crowned with divine blessing; and therefore that the sooner the church begins to live and act for the Millennium, the sooner it will begin to appear. This we feel to be agreeable to the word of God; and directly opposed to the indolent and wretched spirit of many professors wbo, unlike the saints of old, make the divine predictions the pillows of their sloth, and every glo rious promise a soporific drug. It is wonderful to observe, in reading the Old Testament, that by as much as an event was foretold with great clearness and certainty, the prayers, and intercessions with God, for its accomplishment rose to a degree of agony which could not be uttered! When Christians learn the secret of such piety, and the divine decrees are sought for in the Bible only, as the foundation and encouragement of their efforts ; when they go to the word of God with full and breaking hearts, crying,
“O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion, and to see whether the promises of God warrant all their earnest desires, then," as cach new prešliction breaks upon their minds they will pour out their souls in prayers, and spend their strength in efforts which will be the sure presages of the Milleni.ial years.
Suppose that to day a voice should be heard from Heaven, saying, “ The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.” The annunciation would be to many Christians only a voice of alarm and terror. There is so little of the “latter day" spirit in their hearts and lives, that the sound would seen a precursor of some dreadful com
motion in the earth, and perhaps would terrify them as much as the ju Igment trumpet. Oh what a change must take place in the church of Christ before the dawn of the Millennium ! How high must be the standard of Christian character, how different a thing to pass for a Christian than at present! We learn this from an expression in one of the prophets: “Who may abide the day of his coming ? and who can stand when he appeareth ? for he shall be like a refiner's fire and like fullers
These words were spoken primarily in reference to the coming of the Messiah, who was to extend the application of the law of God to the thoughts and intents of the heart; but the passage waits, without doubt, for its fulfilment till the coming of Christ in his power and glory to set up his kingdom. Then there will be such tests of sincerity and of real attachment to his cause, that sinners in Zion will be afraid : fearfulness will surprise the hypocrite. No one will then be able to make a profession, enter the visible church, and sink into a sleep. Voices will break into his ears, “ Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” “The master is come and calleth for thee." Every insincere professor will then be made manifest ; the times will call for such ardent devotion, that no one can sustain the relation of a church member, who is not a saint, elect and precious.
It is evident. then, that before the coming of the Millennium, the standard of Christian character will be greatly raised. In order to sustain the mighty efforts which must be made for the conversion of the world, Christians must know more of the spirit of such texts as these. “ The love of Christ constraineth us ;" “ No man liveth unto himself, and no man dieth unto himself.” The miserable life which many now lead of envire devotedness to the present world will be changed for a life whose great end, in all its business, in all its cares, will be the glory of God. It is therefore in vain that any look for the appearance of the Millennium before the churches awake and put on more beautiful garments than they now wear. The disputes and divisions and jealousies which rend some of Christ's flocks must quickly cease; the indifference manifested towards the souls of men must be done away by a spirit of self-denying and disinterested labors for others, and every Christian must present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. Without this, the book which we have now considered would be merely a description of a splendid dumb show, and all the Societies here enumerated, with their mighty projects, would be cnly the pageantry of pride. They cannot by any means redeem a soul from death, unless accompanied by the blessing of God, and that blessing will not be given except in answer to the prayers, and in consequence of the spiritual life of the church. The great body of Christians may contribute as much as they have already, and swell their contributions ten-fold, but unless they are themselves " Holiness to the Lord,” it seems to us as if these offerings would be like treasures stripped from dead bodies, and that a secret pollution would go with them, preventing the blessing of that God who is a spirit
. The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom ; great projects, great piles of treasure are nothing to him, unless they promote in the hearts of their originators, and of those who are intended to be benefitted by them, a state of sanctification. How useless would have been the gold, the crimson, the blue, the precious decorations of the ark of the covenant, the altar, the splendid vessels, the awful scenery of the temple, without the spiritual presence of Jehovah ! How useless to think of building the temple of grace without a corresponding spirituality! The sending forth of missionaries, the contribution of treasure, the raising of places of worship, the industrious dissemination of the good seed, will be useless unless Christians remember this truth : Ye are God's husbandry. Ye are God's building. When, therefore, we see the churches of Christendom anxious for the promotion of pure and undefiled religion within themselves, when questions of merely local or personal interests are merged in great efforts for a more spiritual life in the Christian body, when each professor feels the solemn responsibility resting upon him in particular, to be a holy, humble, zealous follower of Christ, and instead of leaving the work of his own sanctification to be done for him by his minister, or by the merely foreign or external influence upon his soul of religious assemblies; when he lives to labor, instead of laboring to live, and the spirit of the early Christians spreads through his soul and pervades the whole church, we shall see the day dawn, and the glorious things which are spoken of the city of God will begin to appear.
For then the power of religion will go forth from every church upon the surrounding community, and you might as well believe that the light of the rising sun could be shut down below the horizon, as that the influence of such a body of Christians would not be felt by the world. We believe that as it is inherent in the nature of light to shine, so it is impossible but that spiritual religion should exert an immediate influence upon the characters of impenitent men. And as upon the appearance of the sun, a thousand plants and flowers, feeling the stimulating influence of its rays, open to the day, so will a surrounding community feel a pervading influence from a spiritual VOL. VI.-NO. VII.