« VorigeDoorgaan »
unless the Gospel simplicity be returned upon them, and exhibited again and again, they will not sufficiently consider it.
Had I read Gibbon's Rome, at an earlier period, I might have had a much nearer road to my opinion of the present churches. That most excellent historian has exhibited, in a clear light, the controversies of the corrupted and apostate churchmen, respecting the TRINITY of persons in the Godhead, and the Two NATURES of Christ, in one person. The disputes concerning the duality, or double nature of Christ, succeeded the disputes concerning the Trinity of God; and it was not until the Council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451, that the ROMAN THEOLOGY of "The Christ in one person, but in two natures, was announced to the Catholic world."* In speaking on this point, Gibbon says, "During ten centuries of blindness and servitude, Europe received her religious opinions from the oracle of the Vatican; and the SAME doctrine, already varnished with the rust of antiquity, was admitted, without dispute, into the creed of the REFORMERS, who disclaimed the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff. The Synod of Chalcedon still TRIUMPHS in the Protestant Churches ; but the ferment of controversy has subsided, and the most pious Christians of the present day, are ignorant or careless of their own belief concerning the mystery of the incarnation."†
What wonder that the deadly wound of the Roman head of the beast, was healed, and that the present Protestant forms of professing Christendom are only another member of the one body of Anti-Christ, since the REFORMERS, as they are named, instead of returning to the Gospel truths, erected their edifices, without scrutiny or dispute, on the errors and idolatries of PAGAN Councils! In what part of the Bible do they find it alleged that God is THREE PERSONS in one substance, or that Christ is TWO NATURES in one person? If by "persons," they do not mean distinct individualities, but only relations, or attributes considered in regard to the divine works of CREATION, REDEMPTION, and SANCTIFICATION, what need of the aid of Councils, or scholastic jargon, to render that plain, which the word of God sufficiently reveals? And if, by the two natures of Christ, they mean only the mystical union of the body and spirit, in one person, this would be no more a mysterious duality of natures than we all know each living child of Adam, in the body, possesses.
But, rejoice; for now the end is come. The covenant of the churches, with death and hell, shall no longer stand. Christ, in spirit, is come again, from the Holy of Holies, to judge the world, and to reward and grant deliverance to His people!
* Gibbon's Decline and Fall, vol. 6, page 33.
+ Ibid., pages 33 and 34.
The important changes, at this season, to take place, will not be in a few things, nor for a brief time; but will be the beginning of a new era, and will separate the future from the past, as distinctly as the first advent of our Saviour in the flesh. Nor may this new condition of affairs be consummated without commotion, and tumult, and fear, and suffering. For the false spiritual dynasties, which have usurped their standing in heaven, are to pass away with a great noise; the elements of the present social system will melt with the fervent heat of wickedness; and the nations of the earth will be convulsed and struck against each other, and consumed by their own works.
How preposterous is it for any one to believe that God takes no notice of what is done on earth; or that men, nations, or churches, can really prosper in iniquity! When we flatter ourselves that peace and safety are at hand, sudden destruction comes upon us. No law of God can be violated with impunity. It is impossible! And when men think that they deceive God, they cheat only their own souls. When they least expect it, they are exposed, and driven from every shelter and evasion; they are put to open shame, in the presence of an assembled universe, and their very names branded with eternal infamy and abhorrence.
But I have no thought that the changes now to occur, or, rather, begin, will be either miraculous, or, in all their developments, instantaneous. As the preparation has been, so will be the consummation-an unfolding and enlarging action of natural laws. Neither does God desire the infliction of suffering, nor the committing of any cruel act: those who perpetrate the evils, and take part in the violences, must answer for their sins. They cannot justify their malignity, nor mitigate the sentence against themselves, by pretending that this is a day of Divine wrath. The wrath is the wrath of the wickedness of men; and it is no more desired by the Lord, in itself, than the cup which our Lord drank upon Golgotha, and which he prayed might pass away; but it could not be.
Was the guilt of Joseph's brethren, who sold him into slavery, in Egypt, less atrocious, because his captivity there was overruled by the Lord, for good? But it is useless to urge the point. It is clear and manifest. Therefore, take heed, ye who profess to know and serve the Lamb of Peace, how you stain your garments with blood, or how you help forward the approaching calamities. Christ was, indeed, in his day, steeped in blood; but it was His own blood: and our course must be conformed to the precepts and example, the mercy and long-suffering, the gentleness, the meekness and love of Him who gave Himself a ransom for His enemies, and who died for His persecutors and murderers.
We will be much assisted in forming a right conception of the revolutions now to be developed, by considering the manner in which the old world passed into new forms, after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, and the preaching of the Gospel. As the foundations of Anti• Christian Rome are being removed, several sudden, momentous, and violent revolutions may occur, in different nations, or through many nations, and perhaps in society; but I presume that many years, or ages, will elapse before a new order of things will be established, on a settled and permanent basis. But this can be only conjectural. For no past history can inform us, minutely and correctly, as to the combinations and movements hereafter to take place; experience and observation may store us with knowledge and wisdom to discern the operation of causes: but the forms of the effects, while they are yet future, none but the all-seeing eye of God can fully explore.
However, it is entirely within the option of the world, at once to place themselves in harmony with the laws of our Creator, both as regards government and a social arrangement; and so escape all the afflictions which are denounced against transgression. For the Almighty does not willingly grieve His creation; and with joy would He bestow on us blessings and happiness, instead of visiting us with the consequences of rebellion. Let no one, therefore, intermit his intentions to advocate and promote an extended and peaceful reformation, on Bible principles; for if such a reform should not be universal and eternal, it is not because the Lord does not, Now, at this instant, elect and desire it—but, because mankind will not accept the proffered gift.
It was in March, 1835, that the real condition of the present churches was first unveiled to me, by my mind being prepared and opened to understand the prophecies in the book of Revelation. From that time to this, I have declared the "DEATH and HELL" of present Christendom. What was then disregarded, as the ravings of a supposed monomaniac, is now heard, in redoubled sounds, from other and independent sources; and the startling cry, that death is in every house and temple,* must soon arouse the slumberers from their lethargy, and send many forth from Egypt. †
*Exod. xii. 30.
† In the summer of 1840, when I was correcting the proofs of my former work, I first saw and read Combe on the Constitution of Man; and was surprised and gratified to find with what accuracy the discoveries in regard to moral duty, arising from the investigation of the nature of man, accorded with the instruction of the Scriptures. Spurzheim, I am told, is far more explicit than Combe; but I have not read him.
Yet, although, from many other and independent sources, it is quite manifest that the present condition of society, and of nations, cannot continue, I am not aware that an attempt has been made, by any other person, to revive both Church and State, as co-members in the resurrection of the one body of Christ, our Lord and God. Most of the reformers, who appeal to reason, and who wish to establish the happy empire of sound sense, appear, to me, to consider our Saviour in the light of a mere creation; while those who regard Him as God, maintain the doctrine of a joint finite soul in Christ, with the Deity; and, instead of expecting the overthrow and removal of the churches, as the temples of Dagon, they felicitate themselves upon the fancied dawn of a millennial reign. Or, if any of them believe that certain of the churches are lost in death, they attribute, if I mistake not, their condemnation to particular circumscribed principles, and not to a broad fundamental doctrine, which is the basis upon which stands the entire cross of God, and the universal salvation, in righteousness, of all mankind. It is, therefore, apparent that the ground occupied by me, is absolutely necessary for the work of regeneration; for no matter how closely you may bring dead limbs and joints together, by any social system: and though you may have there the sinews, and the flesh, and the covering of skin, yet, unless the Spirit of God descend and quicken the carcass, it will possess no more power of life than the fragments of a statue, which you may arrange in orderly connexion. Our resurrection must be the resurrection of the dead body of Christ, by the quickening Spirit of the Lord Himself.
I have to entreat that no one will condemn me, unheard. Let not your prejudices hinder you from yielding, to the following pages, a fair and impartial examination and judgment. How know you that I may not be
Some time in or about January, 1843, I was asked to attend a meeting of Fourierites, in Bayardstown, Pittsburgh. I had never before heard of Fourier, nor of his principles. I went to the meeting; and a few short addresses were delivered, by some of the persons who were conducting it. They were only inquirers, and were wishing to take some action in association. One of them lent me Brisbane's work on Fourierism. I read it with delight; and speedily saw that the body of a social organization, for united action, as the receptacle of a spirit of charity and mutual advancement, was there delineated.
In this work of Brisbane, I had additional indications that the present churches and nations are to pass away; for this transition must follow from his principles. Thus, whether we consider man's individual constitution, or the construction of society, or the word of God, we gather, from all quarters, the astounding intelligence that the present organization of the world is contrary to the laws and harmony of nature; and that it must be destroyed.
The very fact that we see the evils which surround us, is an evidence that the Spirit of the Lord is coming to dispel them; unless we obstinately harden ourselves. Now, let those who gladly seek the truth, lift up their heads; for their redemption draws nigh!
right? The arguments which you will read, I was not taught by men of this day; but, in oppositioon to all influences surrounding me, I have derived them from the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which do not contradict, but confirm NATURE, and upon which I build, as my sole authority, in faith and practice. Nor do I announce a complicated system of salvation, nor unrevealed mysteries, nor a limited and partial principle, or operation; nor can any one set forth a more transcendant, or infinitely glorious and happy perfectibility! I announce that God is our Father; that our souls are created in His image and likeness; that, if we are like God, God is like us; that the Lord is, in very deed, a rational, volitive, and sensitive Spirit, having faculties and sentiments like ourselves, but without imperfection; that, in order to turn and unite us to Him, by a kindred love, He assumed and clothed Himself with the FIRST Adam-A FLESHLY BODY— typical of the universal race of man: thus representing a new and perfect humanity, composed of the entire universe of rational existences, as comembers, one with another, in the collective body of the Lord; and for ever knit together, and increasing in unending knowledge, and power, and holiness, and joy, with the continual and daily increase of the revelation of the Spirit of God.
Who will say that these are not Bible truths? Who, believing what the Bible declares of Christ, can seriously deny that Christ is God? The names, the nature, the character, the actions, and the government of God, are all ascribed to Christ; and, both in the Old and in the New Testaments, the same, or a like history of God is recorded. You cannot erect a Church, except upon the doctrine of the GODHEAD of our Saviour. Reasonable men, whose souls are earnest in the work of religion, will not listen to the tale of a finite Redeemer. Our God must be our rock; and no God can save us, who does not veil his glory, and submit his power, as a meek and lowly Lamb, pierced and slain by and for his children. All other gods, but the God of Israel, raven upon the blood and the lives of their flocks; but Christ, as a good shepherd, gives Himself for His people. He is the only God who is both the victim and the Saviour; and this test, instead of being a disproof of His divinity, is the most exalted argument which could be offered, to prove, at once, His right to the Eternal Throne, and the invincible certainty that He will never relinquish His warfare of love, till He shall have subdued the very last enemy to the power of His resurrection, to a participation in His righteousness, and a free and gracious communion in His immortality and unspeakable joy.
Pittsburgh, June 27, 1843.
H. H. VAN AMRINGE.