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" their fathers, on the other side of the flood, even Jerah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachon, served other gods.” After giving undue veneration to the solar fire and host of heaven, the old Assyrians began to render something like the worship which the Latin Church calls dulia to the founder of their state. This is the kind of worship alluded to by Paul, when he says, “ Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Plato tells us who these demons were, and what was this doctrine of demons. “When good men die,” he says, "they attain great honour and dignity, and become demons. Every demon is a middle being between God and men. All commerce and intercourse between gods and men is performed by the mediation of demons.” Nimrod may have been the first object of their saintly worship; and under the appellation of Baal or Bel—for Bel was a Babylonian as well as a Syrian idol —that name and worship spread abroad till it reached this land. We have a memorial of this Baal worship, in connection with the solar fire, in the celebration of the first of May by bonfire lighting on the tops of hills; and in the name given to that month by the old Celtic inhabitants of these islands, Mi-na Baal tine, or the month of the fire of Baal.
It was only gradually that the knowledge of one God disappeared, and was replaced by polytheism. This knowledge was just beginning to wane when God called Abraham from the east; and it had a shaded existence, and was not wholly eclipsed, among some of the great old nations, at a period long posterior to the settlement of the Jews in the promised land. “ The mistaken humility," says the writer in the Review quoted above (p. 799), “ which deems God too far exalted to be addressed immediately by his mortal creatures, is the first step in the career of error. When, instead of trusting God's mercy, and approaching him in person as his child, man sets up a symbol of God, with the view of worshipping thereby more reverentially, he has taken his first lesson in heathenism. As far as history can reach into the matter, a symbol, taken either from nature or from among the honoured memories of men of ancient, and, as conceived, better times, is always the first form of idolatry.”
To preserve alive the knowledge of one true God, and of the full and free salvation for man through the covenant of his grace; to preserve the true worship of his name, and give to mankind a written revelation of his will, God was pleased to separate to himself a peculiar people, in the line of Shem, and in the family of Abraham. And what a glorious declaration on the side of monotheism is this, the first passage of Scripture that a Jewish parent, even to this day, teaches his children, “ Shama Jisrael Jehova Eloheim, Jehera echad," “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.'*
See here, again, the Light Reflected, and how the Word becomes its own interpreter. The New Testament statement harmonizes completely with the declarations of the Old. Jesus said, “ The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” And the scribe replied, “ Thou hast said the truth, for there is one God.” The Epistles re-echo the teaching of the Gospel. “Now a Mediator is not a Mediator of One ; but God is one. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and man."
The New Testament throws still further light on, if not the unity of God, the manner in which it may be interfered with, in which man, while yet he thinks not, may become an idolater. It teaches us that this unity is endangered, without reaching the gross idolatry of the heathen, that it is destroyed by the supreme love of a creature. The Saviour says the service of Mammon is inconsistent with the service of God; it dishonours him, and leads to a denial of him. “ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." In the
case of the rich young man the unity of God was destroyed. He made a god of his riches, a god that he preferred to the one living and true God; and he went away sorrowful. Paul also tells us in one of his letters, that “ covetousness is idolatry.” So that the unity of God is overthrown, in lands called Christian, as well as in the lands of the heathen, by an inordinate love of the creature.
There may, then, be false gods in the imaginations and minds of man, as well as in their hands—in the hearts of men as well as in their temples. “Ye are the temples of God.” “ Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost.” Now if there be a rival, or rivals, in those temples, whether in the imaginations, minds, or hearts, it is clear that the unity of God is destroyed, and that the man in whom these are is an idolater.
The one Jehovah of the Bible is Spirit, not matter ; a spiritual, not a material being. The Old Testament declares the spirituality of God. You heard a voice out of the midst of the fire,” said Moses to Ísrael, “but you saw no similitude.” There was none to be seen. The people of God were allowed to make no likeness of their Jehovah. " Thou shalt not make any likeness of anything," was the command of God to them. They looked up and worshipped the God that dwelleth in the heavens. One of the Roman satirists, who could form no conception of worship without a visible object to which that worship would be paid, supposed that the Jews were atheists, and said, “ Nullum numen adorant,” they worship no divinity. He supposed that if they worshipped any being at all, the blue cloud must be the object of their worship, because it looked above. The God of the Bible is a Spirit. “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit or flee from thy presence ?"
He is a pure Spirit, dwelling in the light that is inaccessible, and clothed with it as with a garment. Here again we have Light Reflected, as the New Testament speaks of God in a strain similar to the Old. “ No man has seen God at any time." Being a Spirit, he has no material likeness to be seen.
6 God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” God is pure Spirit. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; and if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with the saints, and with the Father and the Son."
The personal Jehovah of the Bible, one in essence and spiritual in substance, is self-existent, exists of himself
, has a necessary existence. He is the “I am that I am," having his being independent and of himself.
We cannot form a conception of an eternity of empty nothing, or of infinite space being an absolute void. Had there been nothing in eternity, we cannot conceive how or why there should be something in time. So that the existence of an eternal being, an eternal self-existent being, is an ultimate truth. The mind needs it to rest on, receives it, and does not go beyond it. Had matter been the eternal existence, there seems no reason why matter should not have existence everywhere, and why boundless space should not have been everywhere filled with matter. But Jehovah, the eternal Spirit, the infinite Mind, could and did exist everywhere, and so occupied space as that matter might not be excluded from it, should it be the good pleasure of his will to call it into being.
To mention this subject, however, is almost beyond our present purpose, and to pursue it would carry us out of due bounds. We thought to have included in this paper our remarks on the plurality of persons, in the one divine, spiritual, and necessary essence, but our space is exhausted, and we reserve them for a place in our succeeding number.
CHINA AND ITS MISSIONS.*
In the last two papers I read before you, modern civilization ; and that some of I endeavoured, by a glance at the extent of these arts we have not yet learned at all. its population, the boundlessness of its They tell us that the Chinese practised the wealth, and its position as a dependency of art of printing 500 years before it was the British Empire, to show that India discovered in Europe; that they have a presented to us a field for missionary enter. literature, both ancient and modern, that prise that demanded our earnest attention. will not compare unfavourably with our To-night I have to direct your attention to own; that since long before the Christian a field of still greater magnitude, to a wil era they have paid the greatest attention derness of still more unsightly barrenness, to education, and have given special honour to a nation over which for centuries have to those who have devoted thpir whole lives hung such thick, dark clouds of super- to literary pursuits, considering them as stition and idolatry that scarcely a ray of forming the highest of the four classes into Gospel light has ever reached it,
which they divide society—it is first the The population of China is equal to more literary class, then the agricultural, then than one-third of the whole human race, the manufacturing, and then the mercan. that is, the number of its inhabitants are tile ; that they are truly a reading people, 300,000,000 souls ; and how many of that fond of intellectual pursuits, and especially vast multitude have given their idols to the delighting in poetry and the drama ; that moles and to the bats ? From the latest their nature is to live peaceably with all statistics of nineteen Missionary Societies, men, and to be industrious and energetic all engaged in the work there, it appears in their pursuits, and though in their deal. that the total number of converts they have ings with Europeans they have shown a at present under their charge is little more large amount of cunning, venality, and dethan 2,000 (included in this number I may ceit, yet they have many good traits to mention is 150 converts, the fruit of our balance these defects. Such are the people English Presbyterian Mission). 2,000 we have to deal with in China ; such are against 300,000,000! and this 2,000 the some of the characteristics of this third of fruit of years of devoted labour of at least the human race to whom God has given 100 missionaries. It does look discouraging us the opportunity of preaching the "glad But what of that? Is not China part of tidings," and so to help forward his kingChrist's purchased inheritance ? Has not dom, and to hasten the complete triumph the prophet said, “These shall come from of Him who is the Mighty Conqueror. far: and, lo, these from the north and But what is the present state of China ? from the west ; and these from the land of Well, we can now see tokens of decay in this Sinim.”
colossal empire, which for more than 2,000 China possesses, from its history and years has remained unshaken, amidst the its position at the present day, a peculiar shocks of internal revolutions and the daninterest, and our curiosity regarding it has gers and difficulties of conquest from withbeen stimulated by the facts which have out. Our missionaries tell us that “No been brought to light by those who have stranger can come to China without having been able to get into the interior, and, by his attention strongly drawn to the traces mingling with the natives, to view it of an energy and prosperity now gone." It closely. They tell
that although looks like a country that has seen better the country stretches from east to west days. “Every where there are temples that 1,400 miles, yet on the northern side it is have been once rich in ornament in a state traversed by a wall which was built 2,000 of dilapidation ; everywhere there are foryears ago ; that the Chinese have preserved tifications and stone-paved roads, which their customs from a period far beyond the have been made at great expense and are beginning of history in any other land ; that now falling to pieces, no one thinking of reChina was civilized when Europe was pairing them. Pekin, formerly a city of peopled by barbarians ; that they have long palaces, is now, speaking comparatively, a practised arts which we have but recently desert; and to crown all this, the country is discovered, and consider triumphs of our now being devastated by the Taepings, who
have rebelled against the reigning dynasty, A paper prepared by a member of the St. and who are so strong as to be able to defy Andrew's Young Men's Society, Manchester, who the power of the Government to conquer is appointed by the Society to bring forward mis- them." sionary intelligence at stated periods, and read by him recently to the St. Andrew's congregation at
But from these facts our missionaries the Monthly Missionary Prayer.meeting. seem to draw encouragement, for they con
sider that all these upheavings of society to contemplate the vast array of agents will be overruled by God for the furthering wbich the Church of Rome has at work all the Gospel in China, and they say that over China; their success is also very great, the spirit of indifference to everything be- and it will never do to pooh.pooh it. It is yond private gain, which seems to possess one of the most formidable facts with which the people, has loosened the hold of their we have to grapple. The self-denial, religious beliefs, so that a Buddhist will patience, energy, and laboriousness of now even enjoy an exposition of the folly of Romish missionaries are fitted to make one his religion, and moreover that under all | blush.” This same riter, speaking of a this apathy and selfishness they have not district he had been visiting, says: “This only a large reserve of energy, but con- quarter is a stronghold of Romanism; siderable powers of organization and self- their cause is flourishing; a priest spends government. May we not hope, therefore, the greater part of a year here, and not in that this very rebellion, which has so tried vain. Whatever else may be said of the faith of many of the Chinese converts Romish missions, it is a sad fact that they already, and has caused them to suffer at rivet on their converts the yoke of Rome the very outset of their Christian pilgrim- but too successfully.” So you see our misage such severe hardships, will be like the sionaries have to fight in China against Indian mutiny, just another proof how the errors of Rome as well as the idolatry often God makes the wrath of man to of the land. praise him.
It is now more than thirty years since the But let us see what is the nature of first Protestant English missionary was disChinese idolatry. The State religion, that patched to China, namely, the celebrated established by law, and, as far as I can Dr. Morrison, who devoted his whola lifa learn, the most influential, is a kind of to the study of the language and the literaMaterialism, founded on the doctrines of ture of the Chinese, translated the Bible Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher. into their language, and by his labours laid Its worship is divided into three classes ; the foundation for the Christianising of the greatest objects of worship are the the country; he has been succeeded by heaven and the earth ; the next are the men of a liko zeal and wisdom, and now gods of the land and the grain ; the third there are at least 100 missionaries labourare departed heroes, states inen, and phil »80-ing in the field which for years he occupied phers. But there are two other sects be alone. sides this which are tolerated by the Govern- But what is the state of the China Misment, and have immense numbers of sion now? and what has been accomfollowers. One of these is Buddhism. It plished in the face of all the difficulties we was brought into China from India, and have noticed ? All who have experience the principal features of it are that it in miesion work, testify to the necessity of teaches the transmigration of souls, wor- organizing in every mission field a native ships idols, and allows its devotees to say church, to be presided over by native their prayers by machinery; the other is preachers, and of obtaining the services of the sect of Rationalists, whose doctrines as many natives as can be equipped, for seem to have been a sort of Epicurean the work of colportage and teaching ; and philosophy, which time has turned into a the ratio of a mission's success may be gross superstition, a belief in talismans and pretty well judged by the number of natives spells, &c. Since 500 years before Christ so engaged. Now, in China we find that two at least of these sects have beld undis- there are 146 native catechists and teachers turbed sway over the millions of China, so engaged under the auspices of the nineteen we can easily conceive what an influence societies before alluded to, who employ they must possess.
only eighty-four ordained missionaries. I The first European missionaries to China may mention that thirteen of these native were the Jesuits, and by their zeal and dis- preachers belong to our English Presbycretion they have been enabled to obtain a terian Mission, and that we have now three firm footing in the land, and now are not natives studying for the ministry. Let us only diligent in proselytising, but also in follow one of these natives through one trying to hinder the work of Protestant day's work, and we will be able to form a missionaries. They have met with more better idea of the value of these labours.
far than our missionaries, Over the bay opposite Swatow, on the probably owing to the fact of their permit- west side, is a large town called Toa-chne. ting their converts to practise much the To this town, Chaiki, a native preacher, same superstitious rites as Romanists which was sent to break ground for the first they did xs heathens; but these priests time in that district. He went in a boat show a devotion and a wisdom that teaches from Swatow, and his reception was not a lesson to our missionaries. One of our pleasant. As soon as he began to preach missionaries writes of them, “It is fearful she had plenty of people to hear him; and
he told, in his own earnest, impassioned trine is you will love it as Paul did ;” and way, the story of the wonderful love of then he went right on and preached Jesus. God. Some ridiculed, some stoned, and Chaiki had won the victory, and this very some abused and threatened; but he man who had threatened him offered to kept on, first in one place, then in another, take him home to his house and give him in the streets, in the markets, and at the his supper and bed. The pext morning gates of their temples. One of his bearers, Chaiki returned to Swatow and told how à so-called wise man, came to puzzle him another door was opened to him for with hard questions, and taunted him with preaching the Gospel. The advantage the eating, foreign money, that is, being sup- native preachers have over the missionaries ported by foreigners, but nothing could is, that they can go where the missionaries daunt this brave soldier of the Cross. In dare not, and we cannot look for great the course of his wanderings, Chaiki came results in China until there is a large native across one man who had heard this truth agency at work. It is a satisfăction for us before, and knew enough about it to say to know that our Presbyterian Mission in that it was not the folly his fellow-villagers China is carried on with great energy and thought it. But it was getting late ; time success by men thoroughly fitted for the passed rapidly away, and the setting sun work, men of talent and of apostolic zeal, bade him hasten back to the landing. who, taking their lives in their hands, have When he arrived the regular boats were gone forth at their Master's bidding to this all gone; he tried to hire a special one, but vast field which is whitening to the harvest. no one would take him for less than twice Two of our missionaries, Mr. Douglas and the sum he had in his possession. What Dr. Maxwell, have lately gone to the island was he to do? He was a stranger preach- of Formosa, and there established a mising an unwelcome doctrine in an unfriendly siin after much opposition and many place. He felt a little dejected, he said, trials. But every letter received from but he prayed to God to take care of him, China is filled with urgent demands for and give him a place to rest in due time. more labourers. Our missionaries are His care being thus rolled off on Him who every day lighting upon new fields where a careth for us, he began preaching again in wide door is open for them; yea, even in another quarter of the town. Just as he some cases they have urgent calls from the concluded, a woman came up and gave bim natives themselves to come and preach to an invitation, on the part of a shopkeeper them the new doctrine ; but what can near by, to come and stop for the night at his they 100 men among 300,000,000 ? house ; but just then an unwelcome sight They are compelled to wander from place met his eye, the town was at clan feud with to place, and one of them tells us that his un adjacent town, a crowd of the stronger circuit is so wide that it will take him a portion of the people had been out fighting year to visit every town and village inall day and were now coming home; Chaiki cluded in it. Thus you see our missionaries had been warned to keep clear of them, are always, as it were, breaking new and he meant to do so, but here they were, ground, and have no time to build up the and here he was. In a moment they were converts in the faith, and to teach them down upon him, for he was a stranger, and the way of God more perfectly. And the might have some connection with their very success of the mission increases the enemies. Chaiki told them at once that missionaries' difficulties, and makes it all he had nothing to do with the other vil- the more necessary to send help to them lage, but that he was preaching the Gospel | at once. of Jesus, peace on earth, and goodwill to We hear from one of them “ that a men. Oneman, on hearing the name of Jesus, wide-spread interest in the Gospel message came up to Cbaiki and raised his chopping exists among the scattered villages ; and in knife ready to strike, and said, “Now speak the neighbourhood of Baypay the whole of the name of Jesus if you dare.” That was that densely peopled district is becoming Chaiki's hour of peril, but grace was given leavened with it. At Kwaytham, never to him to reply even while the knife was before visited, for nearly two weeks after still poised over his head. “My friend,” said his arrival the missionary and his native he, “ if you want to cut me I can't resist, helpers were thronged with crowds of but first hear what I have to say. There people, who came to see and hear, from was once a man called Paul, who hated morning till late at night.” Oh, is there this doctrine as much as you do, and went not then a loud voice coming from China, about persecuting and killing its disciples, saying to us, “ Come over and help us”? but afterwards he repented and believed and should not every one of us be stirred the doctrines himself
, and went about up by our prayers and our means to forpreaching it to others ; so I am not angry ward this glorious cause ? What is wanted at you at threatening me, but rather do I is more missionaries who will devote their hope that when you hear what the doc- souls and bodies to this work. And is it