Imágenes de páginas

and all future editions, wherein she speaks of "the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, each contributing a missionary devil, invested with extraordinary powers, to tempt the kings and nations of the earth to battle against the Lord God Almighty.” Is not this, in a measure, to link the name of the enemy with mean and ridiculous associations, and does it not exemplify the truth of the excellent and too just remark already quoted, that “one of the hardest tasks which the awakened Christian has to encounter, is, to disconnect the name of the devil from such associations, and to dissuade others from thus offending?”

This, however, it must be acknowledged, is almost a solitary instance; and were we not writing at a distance from books, we could have no difficulty in paralleling it with many of a similar kind, from some of the most grave and venerable theologians of our Church-Bishop Andrewes, for example. Our aim, however, is not to justify, but to correct; and we would not that a single blemish should be plausibly imputed to a work which is not only excellent in itself, but specially suited, in the judgment of the Editor of the Christian's Family Library, (and who more qualified to judge in such a case) to meet a want actually existing in the Church at this time. We doubt not that the following quotations will fully vindicate this judgment to our readers :

“It is of the first importance that we should be prepared, not only for an outburst of Satanic malignity and cruelty, such as was never before permitted to devastate our world, but also for a manifestation of Satanic potency, such as men are fast losing all belief in. We do not give the enemy credit for possessing such powers as the word of God distinctly ascribes to him; we are apt to fancy that the blow miraculously inflicted on him during the early years of the New Testament church has crippled him for ever; and we therefore look for nothing more, in the things that are coming on the earth, than a peculiar readiness on the part of bad men to act upon his cunning suggestions. The consequence of this unguarded state of mind will be, that when leaders appear, assuming new ground, and confirming their assumptions by doing real marvels in our sight, we shall be tempted to receive them as Simon Magus was received of old, by the people whom he bewitched with his sorceries : To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.' Acts viii. 10. Not a few of those who held out against the Irvingite heresy in the days of its success, did so, as they acknowledged, only because its Apostles failed in performing any really miraculous work. Attempts were made to raise up the dying, and to revive the dead; and their open failure cooled the zeal of some very anxious inquirers ; should a similar delusion be brought forward, and such things actually effected, are we prepared to resist the evidence of sense, and to cling to the word of God alone? We shall be better armed for such a trial, by giving serious heed to what the Bible testifies in the passages here cited, and receiving the predictions in their simple, literal acceptation.

Popery is now heaping up its stately piles of architecture throughout the land, fitted, no doubt, in their secret recesses with a vast machinery for the exhibition of lying wonders,' on a grand scale, by which many will be snared and taken; but though a principal, still Popery is not likely to be the sole manifestation of Satan in these coming horrors. Forms of error less openly


revolting than the gross idolatry of that system, but not less fatal to the soul if persisted in, will be supplied, for those who would hurl the anathema at an angel from heaven if he dared to preach up the mass. Some will be led astray, but not finally; for it is plainly said, 'Some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end.' Dan. xi. 35. And to this the Apostle seems to refer, where he says of the sins and judgments of Israel, Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.' I Cor. x. 11, 12. No vain speculation should mix itself up with this solemn subject; it is one where each believer must seek instruction how to arm himself for the great battle in which he may expect ere long to be engaged: the word of God alone, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will show to each of us the might, the wrath, and the purpose of our adversary. It will also show us how that adversary is to be met and conquered: not by the might or by the power of man; not by the wisdom of this world, which amounts to nothing, when brought into the terrible controversy against the hosts of darkness, but by the Spirit of the Lord; by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of that testimony which his people are enabled to bear to the faithfulness of their covenant-keeping God.” (pp: 114-117.)

Poetic imaginations, how far influenced by the Evil One himself, we may not decide, have cast an air of haughty grandeur about what men call the infernal kingdom of Satan, but which the Lord calls the bottomless pit, the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and of which no other account is given us than that it is agonizing and everlasting: even supposing, which we have no right to do, that the language of these descriptions were metaphorical, still it yields no foundation for the fabulous inventions concerning hell and its inmates, which so greatly lead our minds astray from the sobriety, the solemnity of Scripture truth; and the more completely we forget all such, the better.

“Satan will succeed in his last expedition so far as the deceiving, and consequent destroying of a people is concerned ; whose number, we are told, is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever.' Rev. xx. 9, 10.

“Beyond this the word of God does not lead us ; the secrets of that burning pit are not revealed to man. The terribleness of Divine wrath, in its unmitigated inflictions, no heart can conceive, neither may tongue essay to describe it. Some have spoken of the state of the lost, as though it were one where rage and blasphemy continually poured forth their despairing defiance of the Most High. It may be so, as regards the evil spirits, but Scripture leads to no such supposition respecting the ruined souls of men. Anguish most bitter, weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ; a full appreciation of what has been rejected, and an agonizing consciousness of what is incurred --the total absence of hope, the blackness of darkness, to be known and felt for ever and ever-these are a part of what we are told will be the portion of those who believe not : the doom of such as will not obey. Let this awful glimpse of unspeakable and everlasting woe suffice; and may the blood of Him who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot for our sins, be so applied to the soul of her who writes, and of every individual who reads these pages, that they may never know, by experience, the terrific reality of what, by faith, they are assured, is reserved for the enemies of the gospel of Christ."-(pp. 129—131.)

We have thus presented to our readers an analysis of the first

[ocr errors]

portion of this work—“Of Evil Spirits.” The second—“Of the Holy Angels”—is not less interesting in itself, or less important to us; and cold indeed must be the heart of those who can peruse it without a glow of thankful affection towards the high and sinless beings who sympathize with us in this our low estate of guilt and sorrow; who


around us to watch the movements of our deadliest foes, and who wait and long to welcome us into the heavenly mansions of safety and peace prepared for us by their Lord and Master. The honor which we legitimately and duly pay to these exalted intelligences is here clearly discriminated from that voluntary or self-willed humility and angel-worship into which men have been seduced by “intruding into things which they have not seen, vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind.” It may readily be imagined that Charlotte Elizabeth omits no opportunity of exposing and protesting against the unscriptural practice of the misnamed Catholic church in this respect; and among many other strong and substantial grounds upon which we could most heartily respond to Mr. Bickersteth's recommendation of the work, this would hold a prominent place—that no person can have digested its contents without being amply furnished with armour of proof against one of the most seductive errors of the church of Rome.

We conclude with the author's apology for having handled a subject so important—if apology it may be called—in the sentiments of which we heartily acquiesce, and concur in her prayer, that it may be made as profitable to the soul of the reader, as the writer has found it to her own :

“We sometimes have the counsel gravely given, to leave these things to learned men, as being too high for simple minds. The seventy disciples whom our Lord sent forth, we are told, returned to him with joy, because even the very devils were subject unto them through his name. They were simple, unlearned people, who, fully believing all that he had said, instead of sitting down to hold a learned disquisition on the nature of evil spirits, went and acted upon what he told them, commanding the devils in his name. He answers their glad communication by telling them that he beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; he invested them with unlimited control over

all the power of the enemy,' and, after cautioning them not to rejoice so much in this supernatural gift as in the knowledge that their own names were written in heaven,-“ In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.' (Luke x. 21.) With this encouragement before us, with a perfect consciousness of being a mere babe in worldly wisdom and worldly prudence, and simply believing that every word spoken of God is true, we have fulfilled our task; may it be as profitable to the soul of the reader, as the writer feels it has been to her own, while with the Bible

, and nothing but the Bible, to guide her, she has endeavoured to trace the outlines of what can never be perfectly filled up, until the veil of mortality is withdrawn, which now withholds our eyes from contemplating in all its wondrous details, the mysterious world of spirits.”—(pp. 301, 302.)


M.A., Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford. Second Edition.
London: Rivingtons. 1842.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

We have recently been occupied with the important and interesting enquiry, When the “ falling away

falling away” predicted by St. Paul, in 2 Thess. ii. 3, took place ? And we found the accomplishment of the prophecy exactly to agree with the leading marks and signs described by the Apostle, as to time, circumstances, doctrines, &c. The manifestation of the apostacy or “falling away” was to become visible when that which previously“ withheld,” to wit, the imperial power of Rome, should be “taken out of the way.” Accordingly, at that very period we perceived the springing up into mature and perfect form and due stature,”—to use Mr. Newman's own words, of an ecclesiastical system totally unlike and opposed to that of the Apostolic times. 'St. Paul had said, “ Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.” He had enjoined, “Let a bishop be blameless, the husband of one wife ;” “let the deacons be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their households well.” But the church authorities of the fourth century said, “Let bishops, priests, and deacons have no more to do with their wives, on pain of degradation ;” “let all who have to offer the holy sacrifice, remain unmarried.”] St. Paul had said, “For meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse.” But the Church began now to teach that “ fasting is an efficacious means to obtain remission of sins ;” and to ask, “what doth God require of thee, but only a pure heart, and a body unsoiled, and brought down by fasting?” St. Paul had said, “ Bodily exercise profiteth little,” but now it became common for men “ to load themselves with chains, to make long and tedious journeys, to put themselves into unnatural and inconvenient postures,

,"? &c. Symeon, the Stylite, established himself on the top of a pillar, whereon he lived, and slept, and prayed. An eye-witness counted, at one time, 1244 inclinations of his body in worship, each time the forehead touching the feet. And this fanatic, instead of being placed in a lunatic asylum, was venerated as the greatest saint of his day; emperors entreating his counsel, and learned bishops extolling his memory. St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, to whom he could say, si Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto you wisdom, and | Dupin, vol. ii. p. 196, 284, 286, &c.

2 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 68, Argust, 1842.

4 L

righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” pressed largely the duty of alms-giving, telling them that « God loveth a cheerful giver ;” and “ God is able to make all grace abound toward you." (2 Cor. ix. 7, 8.) Yet never once does he press this duty upon unconverted men (to whom, in fact, he was not speaking) as a means whereby to buy salvation. But in the Nicene age it became common thus to confound cause and effect, and to exhort men to purchase heaven! Chrysostom, for instance, exclaims, “ Heaven is on sale and we heed it not. Give a crust, and take back paradise: give the least, and receive the greatest: give the corruptible

, receive the incorruptible.” 1 Again, Peter having committed the fearful sin of publicly and solemnly denying his Master, was yet compassionately remembered of Christ within three days after

, (Mark xvi. 7.) and restored to his apostleship in less than six weeks. St. Paul, after excommunicating a notable offender, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, proceeds, in his second, to " forgive and comfort him," on assurance of his repentance. But now, in the fourth century, we find ten, fifteen, and even twenty years' penance enjoined for grave offences, and as much as five years for a third marriage, and three years for lending garments for a profane show.? Lastly, throughout the whole of the apostolic narratives and teaching, we search in vain for the least trace of superstition or creature-worship. But now, says Mosheim," some buried the bones of dead men in certain retired places, and then affirmed that they were divinely admonished, by a dream, that the body of some friend of God lay there. Many, especially of the monks, travelled through the provinces, and not only sold, with frontless impudence, their fictitious relics, but also deceived the eyes of the multitude with ludicrous combats with evil spirits or genii."3 On the whole, then, we find the entire ascendancy of “another gospel,”—we find, to adopt Tractarian language, that " the tone of the fourth century is so unlike that of the first

, on each and all these topics, that it is impossible for the same mind to sympathize with both. You must choose between the two lines. They are not only dirergent, but contrary."

vse remarked,' in the course of that enquiry, that we had the concurrence of Mr. Newman himself, as to the period on which we had fixed; for that gentleman's own words were:

“ Three “ centuries and more were necessary for the infant Church to attain her mature and perfect form and due stature. Athana“sius, Basil, and Ambrose are the fully-instructed doctors of her “ doctrine, morals, and discipline.” 1 Hom. iji, tom, ji.

: Dupin, vol. ii. p. 244. 3 Mosheim, vol. i. pp. 366, 367.

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »