« PreviousContinue »
of petty kings, who make war upon each other on the most frivolous pretexts, and in many instances with the accursed purpose of reducing . to a slavery of the most execrable sort all that may be obtained by conquest. How sickening to the heart of the Christian philanthropist, to cast his eye over this land, many parts of which were once renowned for their wise statesmen, philosophers, and poets, for their bold and intrepid warriors, their Christian bishops and devoted martyrs, and now to behold it enveloped in moral darkness, subjected to all the evils of a semi-barbarism, and oppressed by a civil and religious despotism as odious as it is irksome and degrading.
But even in this shadow of death' here and there a glimmering light is seen flittering across the path of a few missionaries who have been sent to explore this land of darkness and desolation. And though it is but just enough to render the surrounding darkness the more visible, it affords a gleam of hope that the time is not far distant when not only Ethiopia, which forms so small a part of this 'vast continent, but the whole of Africa shall stretch forth her hands to God, and in this imploring posture shall seek and find Jesus and Him crucified. Then shall the sons of Ham be included among those who shall bow and kiss the Son of God as the Saviour of the world.
What shall we say for Europe ? Shaken as it had been for a series of years, by wars and rumors of wars,' until many of its thrones were prostrated and its kingdoms convulsed, it still lives a monument of Divine forbearance, and in some of its kingdoms may be seen examples of Christian enterprise and benevolence worthy of all praise, as well as of the imitation of all virtuous minds. But has the revolutionary fire ceased to burn? Or shall it continue its
until heaven and new earth spring into being ? Whatever may be the final issue of the present struggles between the people and their rulers, we cannot but hope, from what we have already witnessed in that interesting quarter of the globe, that all these things will be overruled by Him by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, for the ultimate good of His Church, as well as of mankind generally. When the fire which has been so long raging shall have spent its fury on the combustible materials on which it has been preying, He who can quench it by the streams of His mercy, will bring the discordant materials together, form them into an edifice which shall hereafter resist the fury of the elements, and afford a safe and secure shelter for the wandering sons of men. There are, indeed, too many righteous ones here to admit of a doubt that God will spare the cities and kingdoms of Europe for their sakes. There is too much pure gold to permit the flames to do more than to refine away its dross. In a word, the spirit of ardent and liberal piety which actuates the hearts of so many of the distinguished sons of Europe, which breathes its purifying flame in their
pulpits, their desks, their writings, their numerous institutions of . charity, as well as in their halls of legislation, forms a most active and
redeeming quality in the mighty mass which composes the kingdoms and empires of Europe ; and which must, we think, operate as a purifier of silver, and finally be a means of saving the nations from the moral putrefaction to which all old kingdoms tend, and yet present them in a more healthful and vigorous state than ever they were heretofore. This anticipation is founded upon no chimera of the imagination, but upon the actual state of things, at least in some of the kingdoms of Europe, in regard to civil, literary, and spiritual improvements. And if we should be deceived at last, though the deception would be painful indeed, the present indulgence of a hope which unveils such a cheering prospect, affords no small satisfaction-a satisfaction of which we do not wish to deprive ourselves by anticipating a contrary result.
'Europe is given a prey to sterner fates,
To rescue and raise up, draws near,-but is not yet.' What can be said of America, the land of our birth, the home of freedom, civil and religious ? Would that we could say in truth that our improvements in knowledge, in morals and religion, are in proportion to our privileges. Here is an asylum for the oppressed, a refuge for the emigrant from the older continents, where the constitution of the United States, and the constitutions of the several states, secure to the citizen all the rights and immunities of freemen, without interfering with or at all infringing upon his religious privileges. If ever a nation under heaven were highly exalted in respect to both civil and religious means of improvement, it is the American nation. No odious taxation to burden the citizen ; no haughty and tyrannical priesthood is legalized to bind the consciences of the people and rob them of their property, and reduce them as unwilling vassals to its despotic sway; no civil despotism to trample upon the liberties of the citizens, and deprive them of their unalienable rights ; no dual-headed monster, combining in his person the sacred rights of the Church and the civil rights of the state, and thus wielding the temporal and spiritual sword for the double purpose of dictating to the Christian what is his duty to his God, and to the citizen what he must render to Cesar ; these things, so odious in the features of most of the governments of the older continents, have no existence in our own happy land and may they be for ever debarred an entrance here.
If we are
If, therefore, we are oppressed, it must be our own fault. not protected in the enjoyment of our rights and privileges, it must be from malversation in our rulers, and not in the constitution and laws which bind us together, and guaranty to all alike their civil and religious privileges. If we are irreligious or wicked, it must be because we voluntarily transgress the laws of our God, abuse the privileges of the Gospel, and pervert our powers as rational and accountable beings. And should we or our posterity be deprived of the privileges we now enjoy, it will be because the anger of Jehovah shall become enkindled against us for our sins, for the abuse of our mercies, and not because He is either unjust or unkind, or delights in withholding good things from His creatures.
• But thou, my country, thou shalt never fall,
How happy, in thy lap, the sons of men shall dwell ?' If indeed the prevalence of pure religion soften and subdue the hearts of the people to the obedience of Christ, and make the laws of justice and mercy of paramount authority among all classes of our countrymen, we may then say that our deep-founded strength' shall never become weakness, and of our country, Thou shalt never fall.'
But though in many places wickedness abounds, and the love of some may wax cold, we have abundant reason for thankfulness to the Author of all our mercies for the manifest tokens of His loving kind
Though it be the almost unavoidable consequence of the character of our government, that party is arrayed against party, and one Christian sect against another, yet hitherto we have been preserved from being torn asunder by political factions, or entirely'alienated from each other as Christians. In addition to these things, for some years past God has in a most merciful manner visited our Churches with the outpourings of His Spirit, with extensive revivals of His blessed work ; and the hand of Christian charity is extended to our Indian neighbors, many of whom are bowing their necks to the yoke of Christ.
These things, together with the exertions which are making in this and other nations to evangelize the world by means of Bible, missionary, Sunday school, and tract societies, give us reason to hope, that however furious the storms may rage in the political horizon, the Sun of righteousness will yet shine on all lands and illuminate all hearts. The signs of the times indeed indicate that our Immanuel is even now riding forth, with his sword girt upon his thigh,' to conquer the na
tions, to subdue the kingdoms to himself, and finally to make all things
But ere this desirable event shall arrive, a great work must be done. Three fifths of the world are yet in the hands of the • false prophet,' and of the gods of paganism ; and what proportion of the remaining two fifths is infidel or semi-infidel, baffles human calculation, because we are forbidden to scan the human heart. It is, however, encouraging to believe and know that the number of true, hearty believers in Christ, is increasing—that the number of evangelical ministers is also increasing that more zeal, love, and faith, are exemplified among both ministers and people and that consequently the exertions which are made for the conversion of sinners are becoming more and more successful.
From this slight survey of the present state of the world, we may encourage ourselves in the anticipation of a yet more speedy and extensive spread of pure and undefiled religion among the nations. The ripplings in the political ocean which have succeeded to the storms and tempests with which it was so violently agitated during the period of the late destructive wars, are, we humbly hope, but the precursors of a smoother sea, on which the Church may be wafted along by the breath of Christian benevolence toward the desired haven of a safer and more permanent repose. The mind of the public is sinking down into that calm and deliberate state which is favorable for sober and accurate investigation; and the principles of civil and religious freedom are becoming better understood, while religion itself, stripped of the meretricious robes with which its glories had been hid from humap view, is no longer viewed by the thinking portion of community as an enemy, but as a friend to human improvement and happiness; and though sectarian jealousies and rivalships still exist, and operate, iso far as they spring from pride and unholy ambition, as a check to the progress of truth and righteousness, yet a brighter era seems daw ning upon the Church and upon the world ; and we hope that the day is not far distant when the only inquiry shall be, What shall we do by which the most good may be accomplished ?
Allowing the accuracy of these remarks, who does not perceive that the present state of the world—even the political world—is highly favorable to the progress of Christianity—that even the revolutions of states, kingdoms, and empires, by which so many portions of the world have been convulsed, involving so much of national and individual suffering, have been so overruled and managed by the hand of that God whose mercies are over all His works,' as to make them subserve the
purposes of His love to men, and on the whole promotive of their highest interests ?
But the mighty workings of His Spirit are yet more visible in the projects of benevolent enterprises by which the Church is at present
distinguished. While Satan and his angels' were at work to flood the world with desolation and wo, the Lord Jesus, from the throne of His excellent glory, beheld His struggling Church with pity. To relieve it from its bondage, and finally to emancipate the world from its thraldom, He inspired His servants with an uncommon degree of wisdom to devise plans for the melioration of human society, with zeal to execute them, and with faith to trust in Him for their success.
They have not been disappointed. Bible, missionary, Sunday school, and tract societies, are like so many angels of mercy, 'flying through the midst of heaven, haying the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth.' Their voices are heard in the four quarters of the globe. . And though but few, comparatively speaking, have yet heard the joyful sound,'' many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increasing'—and increasing with a rapidity hitherto unknown. Has not the time therefore nearly arrived when God shall shake all nations, and when the Desire of all nations shall come,' and reign universal King in the earth ?
If these fond anticipations shall not be realized, the responsibility of the failure will rest on the Church. God's goodness is clearly manifest-the rainbow of His promise is seen half circling the heavens in the far east, and while the cloud of His mercy is hanging over all the west, the north and the south are becoming illuminated by the rays of the Sun of righteousness. Let us but work while it is day,' and we shall assuredly possess the land in peace.
OUR DUTY TOWARD THE AGED. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not "seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,? Psa. xxxvii, 25.
THERE is a parallel text in the seventy-first psalm, Cast me not off in my old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.' Both psalms were penned by David ; and in writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the psalmist had one object in view, a tender regard for the aged ; and we may add the watchful care of God over them.
The language is consoling, · Fret not thyself because of evil doers.' Rise above the fleeting, momentary afflictions of this present life. • Trust in the Lord,' and thou shalt be fed :' Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart :' Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass :' • Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.' Whether in a storm or tempest, hold fast thine integrity ; cast not away thy confidence, which hath great recompense of reward ; as if a person's life was compared to a tempestuous or stormy voyage. Confide in thy Guide, thy Pilot, thy Captain. He will steer the vessel and conduct thee safe into
In the seventy-first psalm there is exultation, as if the suffering