Abbildungen der Seite

for the safety of our land, to guard which the wisest of them gurrounded us by as strong a Form of Law as the people would well bear.

Though it has been my purpose to treat this subject simply as an abstract principle, I cannot leave it without a word of application to ourselves.

The spirit of the age, as it is termed, which is now at work in the mother country, to the destruction, it is to be feared, of that which has constituted the peculiarity and the excellency of the English individual and national character, is rife here, and rife, too, without those needful checks and influences which are as yet spared to her. Need I speak of those reckless combinations of men, called mobs, which are breaking out over eve, ry part of our land ? They are but the momentary eruptions of those fires which are now burning at the very centre of our System itself. The principle may be found running through all classes of our society, from the lowest, up to the highest. And although, at this moment, a wholesome fear may be found operating upon the upper classes, is it not a fear for the security of property only, rather than an alarm which springs from a discerņing of the poisonous growth which is rooted in our very soil ? Yet, does not our condition show the truth of what I have endeavoured to make plain? Is there any need of going over the ground again, and of tracing up to the form of Law which is peculiar to us, that all-pervading, all-absorbing love of gain, which is our besetting sin; that tyranny of opinion, which leaves to no man the freedom of his own thoughts; that prying spirit, which mouses him out in his most secret retirements; and that meddling disposition, which puts shackles upon the freedom of all his acts ? Are not these things so? Let any man walk our streets. How sharp, and eager, and careful, are the faces he looks into! Let him lend an ear to what is said as he passes along; and will he not, when he goes home, and shuts his door after him, cry in weariness of spirit, with him of old, · Their talk is of bullocks'? Let us lay aside awhile our sensitive national vanity, and ask the liberal and intelligent who visit us from all lands, as to the reality of these things. In our Form of Liberty, then, is there not a subtile and pervading spirit of bondage weighing upon the freedom of the soul of man?

But a more obvious and a tremendous evil is threatening us ; the hatred of the poor to the rich ;-no, not of the poor, but of the middling classes of those who are well housed, and well clothed, and well fed, and who make their daily gains, and to whom the highway to wealth is as open as to those who have gone on before : These are they who are laying hold on their brother's heel, and would fain get from him his inheritance. And it is curious to remark how in the portion of God's heritage in which the principle of Liberty and Equality has been attempted to be most thoroughly carried out--in New Englandthis spirit is now most restless and alive. And why is it so, but from the very absence of checks and balances, and settled orders, and distinctive habits and associations, and the want of an agreement between the ordinary courses of Providence and our outward, public Form of Law? — The theory of perfect Liberty and Equality, when aimed at in act, ends in nothing more or less than despotism in its most awful form,—the despotism of the mad many over the considerate few. Money-loving as we are, this restlessness does not come mainly from our desire for wealth, but from our impatience at inequality of condition. Property happens to be its object, because property is tangible, and addresses itself to the sense, and because, too, it is not a peculiar, and individual characteristic of any one in particular, but intrinsically accidental, and in its nature within every one's reach: the very fact that it does not lie without the compass of any one, makes the possession of it the object of hatred to all. If this spirit went only to take wealth from the hands of its present possessors, it would be an evil comparatively light. But with the cry of Liberty and Equality, it goes to deprive each individual of the free exercise of his moral endowments and intellectual powers, -of his self-denial, his prudence, his sagacity, his enterprize, bis industry, and his strength of will; for it takes away the motive to their exercise, and thus destroys their life in robbing him of their rewards.-What oppression is here! The impossibility of realizing the notion of Equality, can, perhaps, in no instance be more distinctly seen. It is in contradiction to the exercise of every moral and intellectual attribute, and shows us that there is no Liberty without settled limits and restraints; and without inequalities in the social system, no security to rights.

Although some may think that too little of the good and too much of the ill have been here pointed out in that Form of Law which our Constitution most resembles, few will think that the true character and causes of those ills have been mistaken, or will doubt their lying deep in the workings of that system upon our natures, or that they must be guarded against by a watchfulness over every movement of pride, and by a strengthening of every principle of obedience and humility in man.

It is a superficial view of things, to give into the faith, that a present difficulty overcome, all will be well. It is painful to find the great men, now struggling for our preservation, giving strength to this faith ; and to stave off an immediate and pressing evil by winning the people to their side, imbuing them with a rash confidence in final and permanent success, through declamations about their light, their knowledge, their virtue and their power, thus fitting them to renew the very evils dreaded now, or to bring down upon themselves even worse than present dangers—worse to them, because made presumptuous through present escapes. Let the voice of our wise Witherspoon warn us,—“I look upon ostentation and confidence to be a sort of outrage upon Providence; and when it becomes general, and infuses itself into the spirit of the people, it is a forerunner of destruction."

We must beware then of that popular, but most dangerous creed, that a free country will work off its evils. No country is free, that is not moral; and no country moral, that bows not itself in lowliness of spirit, to its God, and moves not on in patient Obedience, through the many wise arrangements of His Will.

[ocr errors]


Designations of Time in the Prophecies.





By M. Stuart, Prof. of Sacred Lit. in the Theol. Sem. Andover.

A question, which, every considerate reader of the Scriptures at the present time must well know, is more easily asked than answered. It would seem, however, when one reads the mass of English and American interpreters of prophecy from the time of the venerable Joseph Mede down to the present day, as if they had seen or felt little of the difficulty which has been suggested. Since the publication of the Clavis Apocalyptica by Mr. Mede, in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, most of the expositors in our language have in a manner taken it for granted, that one day stands for a year in the prophetic writings, particularly in those of Daniel and John.

As this assumption lies at the very basis of all the calculations which have been made by these interpreters, respecting the time when events predicted in the Apocalypse and in the book of Daniel will be fulfilled; and as it has given birth to a multitude of confident and often repeated assertions, respecting the period when the reign of the man of sin will cease and the days of latter glory be introduced; it becomes a matter of deep interest to all who love the word of God and the cause of truth and righteousness in the world, to examine soberly and carefully, whether there is any good foundation for the opinion which has just been mentioned.

No article of our creed essential to saving faith depends indeed upon the point before us; but the anticipations, the hopes, the fears, and therefore the quietude, of many a christian mind, stand connected with its views of the time when the day of glory shall be ushered in. Christian action, moreover, may be seriously affected by these views.

Before I proceed to examine in detail the particulars, which must be considered in order to come to a satisfactory conclusion relative to the point before us, it is proper, and perhaps necessary, that I should premise some general considerations respecting the interpretation of the prophetic books; and particularly that of the Apocalypse. Vol. V. No. 17.


It will be admitted by all, that one great object of prophecy was to teach; and of that part of it which properly comes under the denomination of prediction, to teach something relative to future events. If this be not so, for what



prophetic inspiration be given ? The prophet surely designed, when he utiered any predictions, to give some light, to administer some consolation, to disclose some matter of grief or of rejoicing, or in some way to act upon and influence the men to whom his prophecy was first directed, and for whom it was in some particular manner uttered. But if this be true, then it would seem to follow, that he must have spoken or written in such a manner as to be intelligible at least in the main, to sensible and enlightened men of his time and nation. Just so far as his words were unintelligible, or were not actually understood, so far there was in them neither light, nor consolation, nor matter of grief or joy ; nor could they produce any influence whatever, at least no good one. If Daniel or John spake what they neither understood themselves, and what others whom they addressed could not understand, then the books which they have written, so far as they consist of such unintelligible prophetic declarations, were to them and their cotemporaries nothing more than a prediction written in Chinese would be to us, if now presented to the religious community of our country.

Nay, I might well say, the case in respect to the prophets would be a much more desperate one than ours. Men could be found, here and in England, who understand and could interpret a Chinese writing. But if John, for example, did not, even when under the influence of divine inspiration, understand what he himself wrote ; and if the Christians whom he addressed did not understand him ; then how could any subsequent generation discover the meaning of the apostle's predictions ? Will you say, that such generation must apply the laws of interpreting language, in order to understand them? The answer is, that John and his cotemporaries could do the same. The laws of exegesis, i. e. the fundamental laws of it, are founded in the reason and common sense of all ages and of all nations. They were cominon to John and his cotemporaries, and to all who have lived since their time and have read their writings. If now John himself, and the churches whom he addressed, did not and could not understand the predictions which he wrote; if they could not, with all the advantages they possessed from living in the same age and same country, and from speaking the

« ZurückWeiter »