« VorigeDoorgaan »
him a friend indeed, whose soul and body are consecrated to God, and devoted exclusively to the good of mankind.
Thus have I been led along step by step, until I have found the true spiritual Ark, in which there are protection and safety; that spiritual Jerusalem which John saw in vision come down from God out of Heaven; the city of the living God, which has no need of the light of the sun or the moon; for the Lord Cod doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
I have now exhibited some of the leading circumstances, which combined under the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, to bring me where I now am. I could not consistently have written less, and I see no necessity of writing more, especially as it is my design to be as brief as possible in the illustration of the principles, which it is my object to exhibit in this publication.
I do indulge the cheering hope that my feeble efforts, as they are dictated by the purest motives, may be instrumental in producing that conviction on the minds of many, which invariably precedes the complete enjoyment of the truth in all its glory and fulness.
I know of no way, in which the principles of the Millennial Church can' be presented with greater clearness and force than through the medium of familiar dialogues. This is an opinion, in which the most illustrious writers of antiquity have coincided as to the exhibition of the principles of truth in relation to both science and religion. The conversations which follow, are not imaginary, but have actually taken place between the writer and a number of personages at different times and in various sections of the country. F. M.
B. Good morning, friend M. I have long been very anxious to see you, that I might get some information in relation to the principles of the people called Shakers. I am credibly informed that you have openly embraced their views, and have become the fearless advocate of their sentiments.
M. You have taken a very commendable course, friend B; for undoubtedly all the knowledge you have heretofore received has come to you through the medium of misrepresentation. The prejudice that rankles in the bosom of thousands owes its origin, in a great measure, to the false statements of those, who have proved themselves unworthy of the confidence and fellowship of the faithful and true. It is a fact beyond dispute, that most of the charges preferred against these people are those, of which the propagators themselves were guilty, and consequently lost the union and fellowship of the order.
B. It is true, the most of my information in relation to the principles and practices of the Shakers, has been received through newspaper paragraphs and observations of those, who have turned away from the order and consequently forfeited the union of the body in general; and therefore the information derived from such sources, cannot be relied on as correct. But still I am far from feeling the least inclination to adopt sentiments, which I imagine to be directly repugnant to scripture testimony and to the dictates of enlightened reason.
M. You doubtless speak truly in saying you imagine that both scripture and reason oppose our views; but imagination and proof are often very different in their results. You have frequently avowed in my hearing your readiness to receive light, let it come from what quarter it might. This disposition is characteristic of an ingenuous mind, and those who possess it, seldom remain stationary. Not being satisfied with present attainment, they joyfully improve every privilege calculated to increase their knowledge. But the blind bigot will "neither go into the kingdom of heaven himself, nor suffer those who are entering to go in." He zealously opposes every theory that wears the appearance of novelty. He is the creature of a blind education, and is invariably far in the rear of the light of the age, in which he lives. When such persons receive their birth in Rome, they are zealous Catholics. If Constantinople be the place of their nativity, we find them devoted Musselmen. In Hindostan, such fall before the car of Juggernaut, or in Egypt they sincerely prostrate themselves before the image of a calf! Had all been of this character when the gospel was first propagated, the trumpet of salvation would have sounded in vain. Immolated victims would have still been offered on the altar of superstition, and worse than Egyptian darkness
would have covered the mental firmament of the vast family of man. Consistent with the divine economy, God has progressively revealed the truth to the world of mankind, and in every age and dispensation there have been more or less who have lived up to the light of their day. From Adam to Moses, there were those, who "walked with God." From Moses to Christ, many prophets and wise men were divinely illuminated and gladly looked through the gloom of types and figures, to the brightness of that everlasting gospel, through which life and immortality are brought to light. Both Christ and his apostles prophecied of another dispensation, whose glory should eclipse all that had preceded it.
B. I know that the scriptures of the old and New Testament speak of the latter day of glory, when Christ shall make his second appearance, and the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the I may not live to participate in the joys of that glorious period, nevertheless I believe it will be accomplished in God's time.
M. You, with thousands of others, labor under a mistaken view of what is meant by the "coming of Christ." In consequence of this misapprehension, the nation of the Jews rejected him in his first appearing, and as a necessary effect of their unbelief, excluded themselves from a participation in the joys of his kingdom. They firmly believed that the Messiah would come, as their prophets had uniformly declared it; but they looked for him to originate from some illustrious family. They supposed he would be surrounded with the paraphanalia of an earthly prince; that he would sway an earthly sceptre, and make Jerusalem the seat of a flourishing empire; that he would not only deliver their nation from their vassalage to the Romans, but also subdue the surrounding kingdoms. But contrary to all these exalted notions, the Saviour originated from an obscure family, and exhibited nothing in his manner calculated to attract the attention of the great and noble of this world.
It is not strange that the greater part of mankind are equally benighted in relation to the testimony of Christ's second appearing. Being altogether led by the letter of scripture testimony, they indulge the delusive expectation, that at some future day, Christ will appear in propria persona, surrounded with a retinue of angels, and exhibit in all its fulness the insignia of human greatness!
B. But do we not read in Revelation, "Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him ?" "That he shall descend from heaven with a mighty shout?" I suppose that this will be literally accomplished. I see no reason or propriety in spiritualizing such plain declarations.
M. Your conclusion and mine are entirely at variance in this respect. Both "reason" and "propriety" are directly opposed to the common notions entertained by professed Christians in general, on this subject. The supposition that Christ will literally descend, enveloped in literal clouds, and that every eye shall see him, is as groundless a chimera as ever was palmed upon mankind. It is universally admitted by those who have but a limited knowledge of astronomy, that the earth turns upon its axis once in twenty-four hours, and that whilst its inhabitants are beholding the visible heavens on one side; the other are contemplating them in an entire opposite direction. They consequently must fail of beholding the descent of so splendid a retinue! Besides such a pompous parade would be entirely incompatible with the unassuming manner Christ exhibited in his first appearing.
B. I acknowledge there is a propriety in your remarks; but still I am at a loss to understand those passages, unless the views I entertain of them are correct.
M. But my dear friend, does not the apostle speak of himself and his associates being surrounded by a great "cloud of witnesses ?" It was therefore in a cloud of witnesses the Saviour was to make his second appearance. This will appear still more clear when you are informed that Christou in Greek signifies anointed. All the Christ that ever was known or ever will be known, is the " anointing power" which appeared upwards of eighteen hundred years ago, and which has now appeared the second time in the true witnesses. The day, for which you have so long prayed, has already arrived, and you are called upon freely to partake of the rich blessings it presents.
B. I perceive then that one tenet of your order, is, that Christ has already appeared" without sin unto salvation." This is an idea entirely new to me. I should like to hear your arguments upon it.
M. As I never had the least reason to doubt your friendship, or to suspect your want of candor, I the more cheerfully endeavor to gratify your wish in this respect. The Saviour undoubtedly first appeared at the time appointed by the great first Cause of all things.
B. I have no doubt but what the time of Christ's first appearing was according to the divine purpose of Him, "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." The time, manner and object of his crucifixion are clearly predicted by the prophets of Israel.
M. In this you are perfectly correct. Indeed, how could the prophets foretell an event but in accordance with the purpose of God? And the exact fulfillment of their predictions corroborates the truth of their testimony. This fact, however, does not infringe on the freedom of volition or action; nor should it be urged in such a manner as to strike at the foundation of man's accountability. Though the Jews were instrumental in accomplishing the purpose of God, by putting to death the Prophet of the Highest; yet in so doing, they brought upon themselves the just maledictions of Heaven.
B. I cannot see how man can be justly punished for acting in accordance with the divine determination.
M. The children of men do not act in reference to this. The Jews were entirely ignorant of it, according to the declaration of Peter; "Him being delivered according to the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, have ye taken, and with wicked hands have crucified and slain." It is the motive that renders an action righteous or wicked, holy or unholy. Should we admit the existence of an infinite evil, the character of God could not be defended on the ground which we have assumed; and it is in vain for those who adopt such a chimerical idea, to offer their Causa Dei in justification of the divine Being. That the greatest possible good to mankind will result from the Saviour's passion will not admit of the shadow of a doubt. That the Jews were destined to receive condign punishment for the part they took in that tragical scene, is a truth no one will attempt to dispute.
B. I acknowledge your views to me are wholly new, and I see no reason in disputing them; they appear to be founded in scripture and