« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
accomplished this part of his mission, he could do no more, consistently with the principles of God's moral government, towards establishing this religion in the world, than to yield up his life for this purpose. This he did. And hereby he setthe great seal of attestation on its truth. He had predicted that the last, conclusive "sign from heaven" should be given through his resurrection from the dead. Accordingly he submitted to the ignominious death of crucifixion. And God verified his prediction, by raising him up from the dead. The truth of his gospel was now finally sealed. The fainting hopes of his disciples were revived; their fears were scattered, and their faith firmly established.
And it is through faith-faith in the gospel as a divine system of truth and duty-that men are saved. Throughout the New Testament we find great prominence given to faith. And why? Because, unless men believed in the divine mission of Jesus, and of course in the divine authority of his gospel, they could not be expected to become his disciples and obey his precepts. This is evident. Faith, then, lies at the foundation of Christian salvation. But what kind of faith? A barren assent of the understanding? a belief in Christianity as a speculative curiosity? a superstitious faith in ceremonies, or a faith in certain controverted topics? Far from it. Christian faith is a practical faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a living principle; it works righteousness; it manifests itself through obedience to the divine commands. Truth is its origin-holiness its end. This is the faith that is counted for righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe." *This is the "righteousness of the saints," spoken of in the Book of Revelations; and this was the righteousness of the multitude whom John saw in vision before the throne of God. They were there, because they had so believed in Jesus as to be made holy in heart and life by their faith. Their faith in Jesus Christ was a living principle of holiness. They believed with the understanding and with the heart. Therefore they loved therefore they obeyed. And through obedience they were clothed with the virtues enjoined in the gospel, with habits of justice, benevolence and piety-the white robes of saints. Arrayed in this vesture around the throne of God, whose goodness had revealed to them the gospel, through which they had washed their robes," or acquired just, benevolent and pious habits, they ascribed their salva
*Romans iii: 22.
tion, not to their own merits primarily, but to the sovereign, rich and free grace of God, manifested in Jesus Christ, saying, "our salvation be ascribed to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb." And all the heavenly host worshipped God, and responded "Amen" to the ascription.
I have been thus particular in attempting to explain what we are to understand by the emblematic language," washing our garments and making them white in the blood of the Lamb," as I have supposed it possible that this and similar language in some parts of the New Testament, might not in all cases be easily understood, or correctly apprehended.
THE DIAL, FOR OCTOBER, 1840.
SANCHO PANZA, one of the few truly wise men whose biographies have come down to us, says "all cats look grey in the dark." It is upon this principle alone that we can account for what we hear said and see written respecting the Transcendentalists and the Dial. When men place Carlyle and Brownson, (who calls the former a "flippant Englishman,") under one head, and call them both "grey," we presume they are "in the dark." When men take this Dial, and make up their minds as to all its contents by reading an "Orphic saying," we know they are "in the dark." Nay, when Messrs. Emerson, Brownson & Co. are condemned altogether because of some opinions, we think it clearly a "grey cat" case. Professor Stowe, at the College of Teachers told us of a newfangled Transcendentalism which was the quintessence of nonsense: we presume he referred to the views of these "Dialists." We were surprised to hear him say it; not only because we thought all agreed in believing that no system of faith is wholly nonsense, but also because the two chiefs of this party, Emerson and Alcott, have been lately placed by the London and Westminster Review, and the Foreign Review, at the head of American writers. But so the world goes. Professor Stowe advocates Norman Schools; Professor Telford says, in substance, they are a mere humbug. Dr.Wylie says "sectarianism is heresy;" Dr. Beecher replies that "Sectarianism is Christianity." Now is it best to get light enough to see wherein we approve our neighbors, and wherein we differ from them, or shall we stay in the dark, and call all cats grey?
For ourselves we wish to analyze such compositions as these Transcendentalists present us; to dissect the men and women themselves, and to gain wisdom by learning their diseases. Are they not worth study? Cons der this fact, that Waldo Emerson has been lecturing for some years to the delight of such men as Jeremiah Mason of Boston. Is it probable such a lecturer speaks only nonsense? nay, is it not certain he speaks excellent sense, by intervals at least? We do not believe any of us comprehend the world: we apprehend a piece of it; lay hold on a clod or two, and so do others; and, as the world is round, some are right opposite to us, and yet have a hold as truly as we have.
Now these Dialists, as we take it, are anti-sensuous in their philosophy, as also are many of their abusers; they are heterodox in their theology, making belief in inspiration, miracles, and dogmas of little moment, though not rejecting them as a body; and in expression, they are peculiar, seeking to address the reason rather than the understanding; they use words and phrases in a technical sense, and we may as well laugh at a proposition in Euclid, having never studied Geometry, as unintelligible, as at one in Kant, in Coleridge, or in Alcott, for these three agree in having a phraseology each to himself. Thus, that Orphic saying, second only to Sam. Weller as a laughter-mover, beginning "The popular genesis is historical," has a visible meaning when we read the preceding proposition. To be sure, it seems to us that the meaning might be expressed less symbolically and more plainly, but we infinitely prefer this fantastic outside with something beneath, to the common emptiness which is concealed by plausible words.
That these Dialists are whole and sound is not probable. Who is? That they write nonsense is certain. Who does not? But do they not write sense too? do they not give good thoughts? are they not doing their share to christianize the world?
These men, in common with many others, are helping forward two great truths, truths which have been known from the earliest time, and yet for long periods lost sight of, so that to our generation they have to be spoken as if new.
One of these, is the truth contained in all the systems opposed to Locke's. It relates to intuitions, innate ideas, necessary truths, "transcendental elements of knowledge," or whatever we please to call those ideas which do not come from outward nature through the senses, and yet exist in all, even the youngest child.
Another great truth, as we deem it, which they are preaching, is this, that Christianity does not rest on miracles, but may be fully received by one, for instance, who never heard of the great works of Jesus. There is no necessary connexion between a miracle and truth: powers may control nature within certain limits which are not pure or true. It is true as we have heard said, that the character of Jesus gives interest and meaning to his acts, quite as much as they give evidence of his character. His miracles are part of his life, and are needful to it; we should feel as if something were wanting, had such a being no command over nature more than we.
These two truths, simple in themselves, but in their results most mighty, overthrowing kingdoms and changing the face of the world, are now taught by many of all sects and views: the Dialists among the number. Thus far, to speak frankly, we do not think they have shewn the power they possess. The articles in the number before us, if we except two or three, will, we think, do little good. However, we know that among the writers for this work, are some dozen of the purest, clearest, and trueist minds in the land, and such as will be felt, and felt deeply. We wish them all success.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
THE phrases, the kingdom of God, or, the kingdom of Heaven, which are synonymous, often occur in the New Testament. We read these words now without attaching to them any very definite meaning, and they make little or no impression on our minds, and yet they appear to have fallen on the ears of the Jews of our Saviour's times, with a power awakening like that of the earthquake. Thus we read, Matt. iii: 1-5, that when John the Baptist announced the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, the whole Jewish nation flocked to him. To what cause then, must we attribute it, that these words, which once produced such a powerful effect, fall now powerless on the ear? I can imagine but one cause of this, namely, that in the minds of the Jews there were certain important ideas connected with these words, which are not associated with them. in our minds.
Perhaps it may not be uninteresting to inquire, what ideas the Jews held with respect to the kingdom of God, and what we are to understand by it. John the Baptist,* our blessed
*Matthew iii: 2-6.
Saviour, and his apostles,t all commenced their ministry by announcing the advent of that kingdom, and a doctrine, which has been preached to us by such messengers, cannot be one of passing interest.
In entering upon this subject, I am fully sensible of my incapacity to do justice to it. To execute it as its importance deserves, would require a greater acquaintance with the Jewish writers of that time than I possess, and a much deeper degree of research, than circumstances permit me to make. Perhaps however my imperfect effort may induce some one more capable of doing justice to this subject, to undertake its investigation, and to illustrate it as it deserves to be.
If I mistake not, we must go back to the earlier history of the Jews, for an explanation of the terms, the kingdom of God, or of Heaven. The first form of government of the Jews was a theocracy. God himself designed to be the ruler and law-giver of his chosen people. He directed their exodus out of Egypt, guided them in their wanderings in the desert; gave to them, through the mediatorial agency of Moses, laws for their government, and civil and religious institutions for their observance, and led them, after a preparatory training of about forty years, to the promised land of Canaan.
With the death of Moses, this direct divine guidance of the national affairs of the Jews, appears to have in a great measure ceased. We read, it is true, that on sundry occasions, God did signally interpose for the deliverance of his chosen people; but the ordinary administration of their government appears gradually to have been left, like that of other nations, to the wisdom of their rulers.
About the time of the advent of our Saviour, the opinion appears to have almost universally prevailed among the Jews, that the time was at hand when Jehovah was to introduce a new theocracy. God, it was expected, would send a new Mediator, who, like Moses, should stand between God and his people, to reveal his will to them, and to direct them in their conduct; and this expected order of things, the Jews designated by the appropriate terms of the kingdom of Heaven, or the kingdom of God.
The personage, who, under God, was to administer this kingdom, was by them designated by the name of Messiah, which means in Greek, Christ, and in English, Anointed. This term owed its origin to a custom common among the Jews, to anoint, or pour oil on the heads of such as were set apart to fill the offices of king, prophet or priest; and hence, all
*Matt. iv: 23, and Mark i: 14, 15. +Matt. x: 7, and Luke ix: 2.