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the world I mean the present asw age or dispensation) will come to a common end; and die in that close embrace in which they have lived together? That as the night of the literal Judaism was dispersed by the first rising of the Sun of Righteousness, so the still darker midnight of the spiritual Judaism, the reign of the man of sin, will cover the nations, till it is scattered and dissipated by the brightness of his second coming?

ESSAY III.

Same Subject Continued.

Without entering into the more immediate arguments from Scripture, for the personal advent and reign of the Messiah upon earth, there are, I conceive, grounds of presumption, in favour of that doctrine, to be derived from other sources. And these are not without weight, especially in a case where the directer testimony is such as to leave the most diligent interpreters of prophecy still so much at variance in their conclu

To a few collateral arguments of this kind I have alluded. I shall now offer to your notice a few additional considerations.

The first of these is, the internal evidence which the promise of a personal advent is calculated to afford, to a 'mind which had previously doubted the truth of Scripture, and even of natural religion.

Suppose that a book, written in a character wholly unintelligible to me, were, by some accident, placed in my hands, and that an assurance were at the same time given, that this book would clear up things, and account for matters, which had before presented to my apprehension only difficulties and darkness. Wholly unable to decipher it myself, I apply to two persons, each professedly acquainted with the language. They both present me with their translations. In the one I find nothing but matter questionable to my understanding, and irrelevant as to any points on which I needed information. It elucidates no subject on which I wanted light. It leaves me in the same difficulties as I felt before. What then is my conclusion? That if this be the right translation, the book in question is not what it was said to be.

The other translation appears to me to be plain and consistent sense. It addresses itself at once to subjects deeply interesting to my mind. It clears up doubts which harassed me before. What then is the natural inference here? That

if this latter be the right translation, I hold in my hand a document of inestimable value.

Now apply this principle to the case before us: that of one who doubts the truth of Scripture, and to whom the whole scheme of prophecy presents nothing but a mass of incoherence and confusion. Nevertheless, this book, wholly unintelligible to him, claims to be a revelation from God; and, while its contents seem thus wrapped in darkness, two classes of expounders offer themselves to his notice. They both say, we have examined this record; and here is the result of our inquiry. Now it is my firm conviction, that the advocates for the personal appearance of Christ, with all his saints, would present to such a mind a scheme calculated to vindicate the ways of Providence; nay, to prove, where it has been doubted before, the existence of a God. While, on the other hand, it is my belief, that the assertors of a spiritual millennium open a field of expectation, in every way ill suited to arrest the attention, or answer the objections, of the infidel.

There is nothing which tries men's faith, or, rather, which banishes the very principle from their minds, so much as the want of some palpable evidence of a supernatural power. Nor is this want felt to be merely a defect of evidence in favour of its existence. It is taken by some as evidence against it. Why the Creator and Ruler of this world should dwell in light inaccessible to his creatures; why he should leave to their own guidance a race of beings whose whole history proves them incompetent to the task; why he should thus withdraw himself from man, whose circumstances and wants call for the interposition of some higher nature, as the greatest of all conceivable blessings; why this should be the arrangement of infinite goodness, power, and wisdom, if there exist a being in whom these attributes reside;—is a question which has puzzled and confounded multitudes, who hold their peace upon the subject. If these doubts do not more frequently occur, it is attributable merely to the stupid indifference, which the generality of men feel to every elevated consideration. Nevertheless, amongst the few who think and reason upon such things, all, except the still fewer whose minds are spiritually enlightened, are, I believe, more sceptical as to the fundamental truths of religion, than is generally imagined. The outward profession of Christianity imposes a restraint upon their words. Each man keeps his own secret, and knows not that his neighbour entertains the same doubts that he does. If, indeed, these doubts terminated in a settled conyiction that the objects of faith had no reality, then men would speak out. But few comparatively arrive at this conclusion. They remain sus.

pended. They feel that to utter their doubts would injure their own character, and disturb the peace of others. Or they deplore, perhaps, their want of faith as a weakness and misfora tune, and shrink from any overt act of disobedience to that authority which commands them to believe. Nevertheless, the suppression, is not the removal, of these doubts. Their silent whispers still are heard. And it is the nature of the peculiar doubt, to which I have adverted, to feed upon itself. For the question still recurs, Why are we left in suspense? Why does not God manifest himself to his own world?

Now it appears to me, that the doctrine of the personal advent is admirably calculated, in these respects, to satisfy the doubting mind, and to meet its natural requisitions. The interpretation of prophecy given by its assertors, carries to the understanding internal evidence of its truth; inasmuch as it vindicates the ways of God to man. It discovers to the mind that the desire of all nations will be yet accomplished, and that the call of the creature will be answered by the Creator. It declares that this world of rational souls will not always be left without a ruler whose tribunal is accessible, without a leader who can guide them with confidence, and whose voice none can misinterpret, when he says, "Lo, this is the way, walk ye in it.” Is not such a dispensation, I ask, devoutly to be desired? Would it not be an unspeakable benefit and blessing to mankind? Is it not, in the nature of things, a rational supposition, and, previously to all experience, to be expected, that if God were to create a race of accountable beings, he would clearly show them the authority to which they owed subjection, and give them free access to the sovereign whom it was their duty to obey? What I contend for, then, is, that where interpreters of prophecy are divided on the point, whether the great God and Saviour is, or is not, to appear and reign upon the earth,—there is much in the reason of the case, to favour those whose interpretations produce a result, so cheering to the hopes of man, and so satisfactory to the mind, as it respects the character of God, and of his government of this lower world.

In one of my former papers, the ruler of the Papacy has been pointed out, as a sort of figure of him who is one day to become the visible head over all things to his Church. As the Pope, then, foreshows his priestly office, so do the secular governors of the earth, in some remarkable particulars, represent him in his regal character.

In the very constitution of monarchical governments, there are marks which strongly indicate that something more than man is wanting to fill the throne. Every expedient is resorted

to, to array the monarch in superhuman characters. The titles which belong to God are solemnly applied to him. He is encircled with pomps, and shows, and otherwise unaccountable ceremonies. A whole artificial system of illusion and enchantment is thrown around him. Every thing which imagination can devise is resorted to, to distinguish him from others, and to disguise the fact, that the King and his subjects are partakers of a common nature. In short, the great object of all these inventions, (wise, I grant, because necessary expedients,) is to dress up a man, to act the part of one who belongs not to the human, but to a higher nature. But to leave these lighter exhibitions which play around the royal person, what are the graver determinations of the law concerning him, even under our own mild [the British) form of government? Three of these, at least, do not properly belong to man? First, the king is the fountain of all honour: whereas the Scripture saith, “How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour which cometh from God only?" Secondly, the king can do no wrong: whereas the Scripture saith, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Thirdly, the king never dies: whereas the Scripture saith, "It is appointed unto men once to die.”

Now, take all these considerations together, and do they not prove that there is a general sense and confession upon the part of mankind, that their case requires, and their circumstances call for, the manifestation of some superhuman power? For what are their circumstances now? Without any natural superior to guide or to control them, they are forced to take from the low level of their own weakness and corruption, one, whom they thus call by titles which do not belong to him, and dress in attributes which nothing but the necessity of the case can acquit of blasphemy and idolatry. What, then, can be more reasonable in itsell, or more answerable to that general law of nature, by which all tendencies denote the actual existence of some object to which they tend, than the accession to the universal empire of the earth of such a sovereign as the second advent promises?

This glorious expectation may, perhaps, account for what would be otherwise unaccountable in the history of the human mind; I mean, the passion of loyalty. I say passion; because loyalty, as a principle, has its sure foundation in the word of . God.

It seems to me, that, from time to time, the Almighty has brought the mind of man under the operation of powerful influences, which cannot be traced to merely natural causes, and which, consequently, must have been especially imparted, to

serve some temporary purposes of Providence. There was a period of the world when patriotism was the master passion of man's soul. Nevertheless, I cannot conceive that patriotism, so intense and so absorbing, has any legitimate foundation in man's nature. The love of home, the scene of early recollections; the love of neighbourhood, within whose bounds were gathered all that we intimately knew, and all that was intimately endeared to us;-these are strictly natural and perfectly intelligible feelings. Nor is the love of country unaccountable, when we consider it as the enlargement of these more interior circles of affection. Again, when our country is thought of, in a strange land, or when its interests are assailed by foreign nations, then its claims upon the heart are claims of nature; because our country, when opposed to strangers, or when diminished by the laws of distance to a single point, is in fact our home. But what that patriotism was, which was neither the extension of a moral central feeling, nor the identification of country with neighbourhood or home—what were the natural sources of this passion, I confess myself unable to con'ceive. Where this passion once prevailed, it is not difficult to account for the spread of the affection. But, I ask, what could have given birth to a sentiment, thus opposed to the natural order and progress of the feelings? What could have caused the human heart to fly from the more interior to the wider circle of its affections, and prefer country to home, to friends, and to life itself? Patriotism, then, as a ruling passion, can be explained on no natural principles, and must be referred to the overruling will of God. It had, doubtless, providential purposes to serve: but into its final cause I shall enter no further than to hazard the following observations. The days of Grecian and of Roman liberty were conspicuously the age of patriotism. The history of these, ran parallel with the history of the Jews; and Roman liberty, and with it the spirit of patriotism, declined shortly before the final dispersion of God's people. Considering, then, that the Jewish dispensation was strictly and essentially national, it might have pleased Providence, during its continuance, to impart to the human mind that principle, whose operation binds the national compact with peculiar tenacity and force. How far it might have acted on the patriotism of the Jew, to impregnate some portion of the neighbouring atmosphere with the elements of a congenial spirit, I know not. But that the very passion which was the cement of the Jewish economy should have lived during the continuance of that dispensation, and died off as its termination approached, is a fact which cannot but appear remarkable,

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