« VorigeDoorgaan »
cordially embraced and faithfully acted upon, if not absolutely by all, yet by an incalculably great majority. At present, to say nothing of the huge multitudes involved in the darkness of Paganism or the mists of Mohammedism, the greatest exertion of Christian charity, the most laborious attempt to hope against hope, will leave no conviction in the minds of the truly serious, that even in countries professing the religion of the Messiah the majority are faithful followers of their Lord. We are compelled to acknowledge, by the melancholy testimony of our very senses, that too many have a name that they live, and are dead; that not merely lukewarmness and indifference and a disreregard to the spirit of Christianity are prevalent, but that numbers, in consequence of their actual criminality, can be distinguished from Pagans only by an appellation, in their cases, an empty geographical appellation. Now let us suppose this state of things to be reversed; let us picture to ourselves either the whole, or nearly the whole, of mankind as being Christians not in word only, but in deed: and we may perhaps form some conception of the nature of the Millennium. What the narrow primitive Church was in spirit and in practice, the immense millennian Church would likewise be. Behold how these Christians love each other, would again become a true remark. Where universal affection prevailed, where selfishness was as much extinguished and evil lusts and passions were as much subdued as among the first believers, wars and dissentions, both public and private, would be no more. Where holiness of conversation, springing from grateful love to God through Christ, was predominant, the various miseries arising from vice and immorality would be unheard of. The world, in a degree, would be brought back to a Paradisaical state;
and, when the minds of men ceased to be agitated by bad dispositions, and their bodily strength to be undermined by intemperance and excess on the one hand and by poverty and wretchedness on the other, it is natural to suppose, that their lives would be extended to a much longer period than they are at present.
But some perhaps may ask, How can these things be? To such a question the believer finds it not very difficult to give an answer. It was by an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit, not by any natural inherent goodness of their own, that the primitive Christians were made to differ from others. It is by the agency of the same Spirit (I speak throughout of his ordinary operations), that every believer of the present day thankfully acknowledges, with Scripture and the Church, that a new heart is created within him. And it is by a yet more abundant effusion of the Holy Ghost both on Jews and Gentiles, as we are expressly taught in prophecy, that the great mass of mankind will truly and effectually be gathered into the fold of Christ in the days of the Millennium. There is no difficulty in, conceiving, had it been agreeable to the purposes of the Most High so to have ordered matters, that all men in the apostolic age might have been made like-minded with the primitive believers; and that the Gospel might have been universally received, instead of being universally opposed. There is no difficulty in conceiving, that the heart of a Nero or a Dioclesian might, through the Spirit, have been as effectually turned to the knowledge and love of the truth, as the heart of a Peter or a Paul. Consequently, there is no difficulty in conceiving, that the Holy Spirit, who was pleased only to operate to a certain extent in the days of the Apostles, may hereafter operate so generally as to render nearly the whole of mankind
similar, perhaps even superior, in holiness and genuine piety to the first Christians. All this, I repeat it, may easily be conceived; for who shall presume to limit the extent of God's operations? And, whether I be right or wrong in expecting a miraculous interference of the Divine Word, we are certainly led from prophecy to believe, that some such general diffusion of holiness will assuredly take place, and with it (what is indeed its natural consequence) a general diffusion of happiness.
This period, we are taught to expect, will be intro. duced by the most dreadful political convulsions that the world ever witnessed. Before "the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven," to adopt the language of Daniel, "shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High," the tyranny of the two little horns must be broken, and the empire of the great Roman beast, in his last form and under his last head, must be dissolved. In the midst of the expiring struggles of God's enemies, the Jews must be restored and converted. And thus at length, when this tremendous tempest shall have exhausted itself, the glorious day of millennian happiness shall dawn upon a long benighted and distracted world.
What part we may be destined to take in these awful events, may well afford matter of anxious anticipation to all of us, more especially when the present situation of Europe is considered with a reference to prophecy. That some prevailing maritime power of faithful worshippers will be chiefly instrumental in converting and restoring a part of the Jewish nation, seems to be declared in Scripture more than once with sufficient plainness: but I am persuaded that your Lordship will agree with me, that we may employ ourselves much more profitably in labouring to diffuse
the knowledge of the Gospel and to increase among us the number of the truly pious, than in speculating upon the probability or improbability of our being the maritime power in question. We live in times, which might produce seriousness even in the most unthinking; and I am willing to hope, that there actually has been of late years a considerable increase of genuine religion among us. Our situation peculiarly fits us to be the ark, as it were, of God's Church. We must beware of making him our enemy, and then we need not fear what man can do unto us. But, however matters may terminate, your Lordship will have the satisfaction of reflecting, that you have not been silent; that you have raised your voice, as a watchman of our - Israel; and that, in the solemnity of what you have conceived might be a last address, you have borne your testimony against any relapse into a superstition, from which our pious forefathers separated themselves, and which is destined to fall in the course of God's righteous judgments, ere the glorious kingdom of the mountain shall commence.
I have the honour to be
Your Lordship's most obliged
February 25, 1808.
GEORGE STANLEY FABER