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influence and presence of that blessed Agent. Till you have experienced effects of this kind, you are in a wretched state, though surrounded with all the brightest earthly prospects, because you are estranged from God, and exposed to his eternal wrath and displeasure.
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Suggestions For The Conversion Of The World, respectfully submitted to the Christian Church. By Robert Young. 18mo. pp. 154. John Mason.
When we look at the comparatively small number of those who after a period of eighteen hundred years, have, by the efforts of Christianity, been converted from darkness to light, from the power of satan unto God, and who evidence the reality of their conversion by the conformity of their conduct to the teachings and example of Christ, we are ready to exclaim, Will the World ever be converted? If we had not the Divine assurance that the kingdom of which Christ is King, and which God has set up in the earth, "shall never be destroyed; but, that it shall break in pieces, and consume all other kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever;"—then, we confess, we should be ready to conclude, that the conversion of the World, much as it ought to be desired, would never be effected. The testimony of unfailing prophecy, however, assures us that "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea:"—that the dominion of Christ shall be " from sea to sea, and from the river unto the end of the earth."
Hitherto, the exertions made by professing Christians, to spread the benefits of the Gospel of Christ, have borne no proportion to the obligations under which they lie to Christ—or to the extensive, sublime, and all-glorious object of reclaiming a rebellious and miserable world to its allegiance to God, and the possession of happiness. We hope, however, that the Church of Christ, encouraged by the prophetic promises of ultimate success, is now resolved to prosecute the all important enterprise, with increasing and untiring vigour, until the whole world shall be seen sitting at the feet of Jesus, receiving the law from his lips, and enjoying all the blissful blessings of his universal reign.
Among many encouraging circumstances to which we might refer, is that of the earnest attention which is now directed to the consideration of the all important subject of Christian missions. Of late, we have had a rapid succession of valuable publications issued from the press, designed to call forth more extended efforts for the evangelization of the world. Last month we noticed Dr. Harris' Prize Essay, and now we have the pleasurable duty of noticing a volume which, although not of large extent, is nevertheless admirably adapted to produce well directed efforts to enlarge the Kingdom of Christ.
The duty of all Christians to become preachers of righteousness is clearly and forcibly set forth by Mr. Young. On this subject he says—
"The commands of Scripture on this important Christian duty are sufficiently clear and imperative. They require God's people not only to pray for all men, but to make known in some way, and to the extent of which they are capable, the vital doctrines of the Gospel to those persons whose conversion they desire, and thus to furnish that divinely appointed instrument by which the Holy Ghost awakens, converts, and saves. For this purpose they are directed to teach the words of the law "diligently to their children, and to talk of them when they sit in the house, and when they walk by the way; when they lie down, and when they rise up." They are "in any wise to rebuke their neighbour, and not suffer sin upon their brother." They are to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." They are "to do and teach the commands of God, that they may be called great in the kingdom of heaven;" and to " teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know ye the Lord;" and, in fact, to be "teachers of all good things." This was the practice of the primitive church. We are told in the Acts of the Apostles, that "there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison. "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." This is the relation of a most wonderful event. It merits more attention than it has yet obtained from any of the commentators. The fact is soon stated: on examination, however, it will appear to have been an occurrence to which there is nothing at all equal or parallel since the foundation of the world. The whole church were scattered abroad, 'except the Apostles.' Of how many did this church consist? Some conception may be formed of their number from a glance at their history. For wise and beneficent ends, it has pleased the Spirit of all grace to construct this part of the narrative somewhat remarkably. We have a reiterated statement of numbers, and other expressions respecting augmentation, from which a tolerable correct idea may be formed of the multitudes who were thus scattered abroad, for the general and simultaneous illumination of Judea, and Samaria, and the regions round about. The first intimation presents us with a list of disciples comprising "one hundred and twenty;" the second announces an addition of "about three thousand" in one day; the third, that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved;" the fourth, that "the number of men was about five thousand;" the fifth, that "the number of the disciples was multiplied;" and the sixth, that "the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the Priests were obedient to the faith." Now, considering the peculiarly chastened character of this history, and the utter absence of all exaggeration in the language of its statements, it really seems to us a moderate estimate, when we take the male disciples at from ten to fifteen thousand, and the female and youth at a much larger number. This great multitude went every where preaching the word. No wonder that Christianity so rapidly spread during the apostolic age. The inspired historian informs us of the success which attended the labours of some of those scattered disciples. They travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come
to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the haDd of the Lord was with them: and a great multitude believed and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch; who, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart "they would cleave unto the Lord." These "men of Cyprus and Cyrene" were not Apostles, nor outwardly called to preach, but they were persecuted laymen; and Barnabas, on coming to Antioch, did not censure their conduct for speaking in the name of Jesus, neither did he describe it as being an irregularity; but he rejoiced on witnessing their success, and laboured to gire stability and permanency to the good work they had been the means of promoting. Having ascertained the true state of the case, in the days of the Apostles, it is of comparatively small importance what views were entertained in after-times. It may, however, serve to confirm the views which we entertain of apostolic practices, if we find the same order of things prevailing in the ages that succeeded them; and that such is the fact, may be clearly shown from the writings of the first three centuries. The order of things which prevailed in the days of the Apostles was still plainly discoverable at the close of the second century; and in the fourth century, Hilary, a deacon among the Romans, a man of learning and discernment, in an Exposition of the Epistle to the Ephesians, declares that after churches were established in all places, and officers appointed, things were conducted in a different manner from that in which they commenced; for at first all taught."
In the propagation of true religion human agency will be utterly in vain, unless accompanied by the influence and blessing of the Holy Spirit. Paul may plant and Apollos water, but it is God that giveth the increase. While then we are with unwearied diligence planting and watering—which we are by the most solemn obligations bound to do, let us not be forgetful of our dependence for success upon the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit; remembering, however, that if we use aright the means prescribed, God will bless our efforts, and crown our labours with abundant success. With the Divine blessing accompanying human endeavours to promote God's glory in the salvation of sinners, the feeblest Christian may become gloriously successful. Referring to the wonderful effects produced on the day of Pentecost and by the apostolic ministry, it is justly observed :—
"In those revivals pagan temples were deserted, heathen oracles were silenced, ancient prejudices were uprooted, vicious habits were forsaken, the religion of every state was enfeebled, and unnumbered multitudes embraced the faith of the crucified Redeemer. And by what agency was this extensive revolution effected? The Apostles chiefly were the visible agents employed in promoting it. And what potency did they possess to effect so great a change? It was not their wealth, for "silver and gold they had none." It was not their rank and influence in society; for they were not only of the peasantry of Judea, but despised Galileans. It was not their eloquence or learning; for they were without excellency of speech, and, with the exception of Paul, they were illiterate men. It was not their popular doctrine; for the doctrine which they taught was the most unpalatable to the carnal mind that could have been inculcated, and much calculated to rouse opposition; sweeping away, as it did, the very foundations upon which many were reposing their hopes of future happiness, and boldly assailing the pleasures, the praewi tli the decay of piety, nor imagine we can want the aids necessary to prevent the latter, unless we have forfeited them by presumption, negligence, and sloth. Whenever Christians sensibly decline in religion, they ought to charge themselves with the guilt of having grieved the Spirit; they should take the alarm, "repent and do their first works;" they are suffering under the rebukes of that paternal justice which God exercises in his own family. Such a measure of gracious assistance in the use of means, being by the tenour of the new covenant ascertained to real Christians, as is requisite for their comfortable walk with God, to find it withheld should engage them in deep searchings of heart; and make them fear lest "a promise being left them of entering into rest, they should come short of it." But this leads us to observe, in the last place, that—
4. If we wish to enjoy the light of the Spirit, we must take care to maintain a deportment suited to the character of that divine Agent. When the apostle exhorts us not to "grieve the Spirit of God, by which we are sealed to the day of redemption," it is forcibly implied that he is susceptible of offence, and that to offend him involves heinous ingratitude and folly: ingratitude, for what a requital is this for being sealed to the day of redemption! and folly, inasmuch as we may fitly say on this, as Paul did on a different occasion, " Who is he that rnaketh us glad, but the same that is made sorry by us?" Have we any other comforter when he is withdrawn? Is there a single ray of light can visit us in his absence, or can we be safe for a moment without his guidance and support? If the immense and infinite Spirit, by a mysterious condescension, deigns to undertake the conduct of a worm, ought it not to yield the most implicit submission? The appropriate duty owing to a faithful and experienced guide is a ready compliance with his dictates; and how much more may this be expected, when the disparity betwixt the parties in question is no less than infinite? The language of the Holy Ghost, in describing the manners of the ancient Israelites, is awfully monitory to professors of religion in every age; "they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit, therefore he turned to be their enemy, and fought against them." As we wish to avoid whatever is more curious than useful, we shall not stay to inquire precisely on what occasions, or to what extent, the Spirit is capable of being resisted: it may be sufficient to observe, it is evident from melancholy experience, that it is very possible to neglect what is the obvious tendency of his motions, which is invariably to produce universal holiness. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness, gentleness, temperance, faith:" whatever is contrary to these involves an opposition to the Spirit, and is directly calculated to quench his sacred influence.
From his descending on Christ in the form of a dove, as well as from many express declarations of Scripture, we may with certainty conclude the indulgence of all the irascible and malignant passions to be peculiarly repugnant to his nature; and it is remarkable, that the injunction of not grieving the Holy Spirit is immediately followed by a particular caution against cherishing such dispositions: "let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. with all malice. And be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Have you not found by experience, that the indulgence of the former has destroyed that self-recollection and composure which are so essential to devotion? Vindictive passions surround the soul with a sort of turbulent atmosphere, than which nothing can be conceived more opposite to that calm and holy light in which the blessed Spirit loves to dwell. The indulgence of sensual lusts, or of whatever enslaves the soul to the appetites of the body, in violation of the rules of sobriety and chastity, it seems almost unnecessary to add, must have a direct tendency to quench his sacred influences; wherever such desires prevail they war against the soul, immerse it in carnality, and utterly indispose it to every thing spiritual and heavenly. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit j" it bears a resemblance to its Author in being a spiritual production, which requires to be nourished by divine meditation, by pure and holy thoughts.
If you wish to live in the fellowship of the Spirit, you must guard with no less care against the encroachments of worldly-mindedness; recollecting we are Christians just as far as our treasures and our hearts are placed in heaven, and no farther. A heart overcharged with the cares of this world, is as disqualified for converse with God, and for walking in the Spirit, as by surfeiting and drunkenness; to which, by their tendency to intoxicate and stupify, they bear a great resemblance.
How many, by an immoderate attachment to wealth, and by being determined at all events to become rich, " have fallen into divers foolish and hurtful lusts, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows!" and where the result has not been so signally disastrous, a visible languor in religion has ensued, the friendship of serious Christians been shunned, and the public ordinances of religion attended with little fruit or advantage. As it is the design of the Spirit, in his sacred visitations, to form us for an habitual converse with spiritual and eternal objects, nothing can tend more directly to contract it than to bury our souls in earth; it is as impossible for the eye of the mind, as for that of the body, to look opposite ways at once; nor can we aim at the things which are seen and temporal, but by losing sight of those which are unseen and eternal.
But though a general attention to the duties of piety and virtue, and careful avoidance of the sins opposed to these, is certainly included in a becoming deportment to the Holy Spirit, perhaps it is not all that is included. The children of God are characterized in Scripture by their being led by the Spirit: led, evidently not impelled, not driven forward in a headlong course, without choice or design; but being, by the constitution of their nature, rational and intelligent, and, by the influence of grace, rendered spiritual, they are disposed to obey at a touch, and to comply with the gentler insinuations of divine grace; they are ready to take that precise impression which corresponds with the mind and purpose of the Spirit. You are aware of what consequence it is in worldly concerns to embrace opportunities, and to improve critical seasons; and thus, in the things of the Spirit, there