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Of the reader of these pages, may I be permitted to inquire, before we part, Do you believe the truths of the Bible ? Dare you disbelieve them? Or perhaps I might better inquire, Dare you
believe them? Dare you feel, and live, and act, in all your intercourse with the world, as though the Bible was the truth of God?
I know there are some, who are very ready to profess their belief of the truth of Christianity, and then live as though there was no truth in it. But what good can such a belief of Christianity do? Must it not to those who persist in it, do immense hurt? Must it not deepen the stains of their guilt, and aggravate their final condemnation ?
I know, too, that there are some, who would receive Christianity in the gross, while they reject it piece-meal. They would have the credit of receiving it, while they are bent upon explaining away its solemn truths. But what good, I ask again, can such a reception of Christianity do us? What good can the mere covers of the Bible do us-although they be gilded covers—when its precious contents are all torn out ? What good can the chapters and verses, the words and the letters of the Bible do us, when their solemn meaning is discarded ?
Assuredly there is but one course which those who have the Bible, and who profess to believe it, can with propriety pursue. Let them henceforth live as though it were true.
Let them shape their faith and form their characters according to it. Consistency requires as much as this of them; and the God of the Bible requires no more. A character consistently formed on the basis of the Scriptures is a christian character and entitles its possessor to the Christian's reward.
THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, HEAD OVER ALL THINGS ; IL
LUSTRATED BY ANALOGIES BETWEEN NATURE, PROVIDENCE, AND GRACE.
By W. S. Tyler, Prof. of Languages, Amherst College. (Concluded from Vol. XI. p. 363.)
8. The order of proceeding in nature, providence and grace alike is gradual. The processes are never hurried, often exceedingly slow. The growth of the plant, the animal, the man is by almost imperceptible gradations. Human character and condition are formed and decided by steps equally gradual. And the same is true of the christian character and state.
Look at the same law of order on a larger scale. The work of creation occupied six natural days according to the common understanding of the sacred record. According to the interpretation of many philologists, and the records of geology, many thousand years were occupied in preparing the earth to be a suitable habitation for man.
How slow is the process of civilization, and the progress of society. All Europe was overrun with savage tribes from its first peopling till the supremacy of the Ronian empire, and the larger part of it remained in a savage state till after the reformation. It was only within a century, that government began to be administered for the good of the people ; and according to the analogy of past history, many and many a year must roll away, before this will become the end of all government.
We need not be surprised then at the slow progress of revelation and spiritual renovation. The human race lived 2000 years without any written revelation, and 2000 years more had elapsed, before the canon of Scripture was completed. A third period of 2000 years has almost passed away, and not one fourth of the human race bear so much as the christian name.
Not one fourth of these have the Bible in their own tongue and are able to read it; and of these again, not one fourth probably are real and spiritual Christians. Yet the process has been ever going on and is destined to go on, till the world is converted.
There is the increasing twilight, the gradual dawn, and the slowly advancing day alike in nature, providence and grace. Fverywhere, in every thing in our world, infancy, childhood, youth, manhood succeed each other by almost imperceptible stages.
9. This law of order is not only gradual but progressive. There is a gradual process of improvement or advancement alike in nature, providence and grace. “ First the blade, then the ear, then the full-corn in the ear." “ The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” These similes rest on the analogy between the natural and the spiritual worlds, of which I am speaking; and exhibit the order of every thing, which we see under the divine government. If " order is heaven's first law,” progression is its second, and no less universal, than the first. Particular illustrations without number will be suggested from the similes of the Bible and from every reader's own observations and reflections. We will confine our attention to the following of a more general nature.
According to the first chapter of Genesis, the order of creation was as follows: first inorganic matter, then successively grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, reptiles, the monsters of the deep, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, the cattle after their kind, and man in the image of God. There is obviously a constant progress from good to better, from less perfect to more perfect forms of organization and modes and ranks of existence. Now whether geology presents us with a record of this same creation, as some maintain, or as others hold, carries us back to an earlier series of creative acts succeeding each other at long intervals, all agree, that it exbibits the same general law of progression from the rudest mineral up through successive stages to the most perfect animal—from mere chrystalization to vegetation, from improving vegetation to dawning sensation, from advancing sensation to commencing sagacity or intelligence, and from rising intelligence to reason and moral sense, where the progression ceases to be transferred from one species to another, but will go on in the same species through the countless stages of improvement, to which man is destined during an endless exis
« • Geology shows us, that organic beings became more and more perfect from the commencement of life on the earth to the time of man's appearance.”—M. Rozet.
See also Buckland, chap. 12. Says Kirby (Bridgewater Treatise
It cannot be denied, that there has been a progression in the providential development of nature's resources to the knowledge and use of man. Look back upon the history of our own country and you see a condensed but faithful epitome of the world's history in this respect.
Little more than two centuries ago, the savage roamed undisturbed over the whole continent, beheld with superstitious amazement or stupid indifference all the energies and operations of nature, and suffered the pangs of want and starvation amid all the exuberance of fertile prairies and teeming forests, mighty rivers and grassy meadows, tropical suns and fertilizing showers.
But the forest has been gradually felled and the prairie subdued ; boundless fields of grain and fruit drink in the rain and the sun-shine; the produce of every clime is borne on the mighty rivers, wafted by the wind that whistled idly along their channels, or propelled by steam, that has been elicited from their own waters by fuel, which once stood embowering them above, or lay imbedded beneath and by their side, and where thousands starved, millions now live in plenty and luxury and hundreds of millions might live upon the new and vast resources, which are in a process of daily development. Throughout the world, society on the whole has been on the advance, government has been gradually improved in theory and in practice, the arts and sciences have multiplied and advanced, and the means of subsistence and happiness have greatly increased. There seems to be in society a capacity and a tendency to progress unto perfection, which it is not unreasonable to suppose it may áttain in another and a better world.
Religion has also been progressive. Universal idolatry was followed successively by the patriarchal, the Mosaic and the christian dispensations, each of which was a great advance upon its preceding era. The true religion was confined at first to a
chap. 4.) “The first plants and the first animals are scarcely more than animated inolecules and appear analogous of each other; and those above them in each kingdom represent jointed fibrils. It is singular and worthy of notice, that the Creator after the creation of inanimate matter probably first imparted the living principle to bodies of the same form with the molecules and fibrils, into which that matter is resolvable, thus uniting by common characters things essentially distinct, and preserving unbroken that wonderful chain, which links together all created things."
single family, then to a single nation. Under the last dispensation, it is enjoined as a sacred duty to propagate it among all mankind, and the church feels more and more every year her obligation and ability to set up in all the earth, that kingdom, which “consists in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Divine revelation was at first only a faint streak of light glimmering in the East; like the natural sun, it rose gradually into view, till it became full orbed; it has ever since been rising higher and higher above the obscurity of the horizon, and breaking more and more through the mists and clouds of earth; in its meridian splendor, it will enlighten every land ; and it will never decline from the zenith, but fade away in the brighter glories of the Lord God and the Lamb in their upper kingdom. Such then is the law of God's universal government:
“ From seeming evil still educing good,
In infinite progression."
But even here the analogy holds. There have been exceptions to the progress of society, Society has had its relapses and its dark
ages. And there were exceptions to the law of progression in the successive creative acts which geology discloses.* There was a general advance from lower to higher grades of existence. But occasionally more perfect organizations, both animal and vegetable, are found to prevail with or even before, the less perfect. As if the Creator, while he usually proceeds according to established rules, intended to show by occasionally departing from them, that he is not necessitated to abide by those rules.
It is worthy of a passing remark here, that in the development of nature, providence and grace to the view and for the benefit of man, there is usually a progress or a relapse together, Witness the dark ages, when the three kingdoms seemed to be all shrouded in darkness—when the light of natural science, of social knowledge and virtue, and of spiritual wisdom seemed at
• Buckland, Chap. 12. p. 115, London, 1836. Vol. XII. No. 31.