Page images
PDF
EPUB

better or worse. A little occurrence has sometimes raised a siege, and caused a wonderful alteration in the state of things. A word casually spoken has been the occasion of a marriage union, where the parties have not only had a numerous offspring themselves, but have lived long enough to have seen their children's children, who have followed them to their graves.

A mistake in a message, or a speech perhaps, has given such offence as to have been the innocent occasion of long enmity and misunderstanding, if not of duels, bloodshed, and murder.

And respecting spiritual things, from how small a beginning did Christianity itself arise! It lay a great while under ground, so to speak; it was hid in prophecy a long while; and when it first began to make it's appearance, it was so obscurely, and in so small a way, that it met with little else but scorn and contempt. The Founder of it himself compared it to a grain of mustard seed (as to size one of the least of seeds), but in due tine how has it spread and come forward, and become a greåt tree, and all inferior dispensations are sinking under and giving way to it! As Moses' rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians, so the Christian church by degrees will one day do the same, and all false churches will fall before it. · It will take time, and be in various forms, and come on by stages and periods; and every fresh æra will be small in it's beginnings, and open perhaps in a way that appears trifling and insignificant; but. x 3

the

the latter end shall greatly increase. The New Jeritsalem state of it begins in this way; it is just breaking out, and is as nothing, yea worse than nothing, in the eyes of some. But prophecy assures us, this little one shall become a thousand; this small one a strong nation; and that the Lord himself will hasten it in his own good time. In it's general dispensation it is thus little though great ; and as it takes place in individuals, and becomes a church in man, it will be in this little though great way, if it be cherished and nourished, and no sinful impediments put in the way of it. The spiritual and internal, as well as the natural and external man, arise from small beginnings. Heaven itself is peopled from earth, and the highest arch-angel was once a little child. Nay, the Lord himself was so, respecting his natural humanity; he was first in the womb, then an infant of days, then a child or youth, then a wise and rational man, and at last, the Divine, or God-Man, besides whom there is neither God nor Saviour. This may shock the faith of an Arian, hurt the feelings of a Socinian, and damp the spirit of a tri-personal Trinitarian; but the true and full-taught Christian rejoices in this article of his creed. Who then, from all that has appeared, will not say, that greatness is littleness, and littleness greatness, when causes and effects are considered together? But marvellous things in judgment and justice, as well as in mercy and loving-kindness, do we see and find on record.

TO

To go no further back than Scripture history; what strange and great events đo we see happen and fail out, from comparatively little and inadequate causes.

Die nah, in mixing with strangers, and the daughters of the land, got polluted and defiled; which was so resented by Simeon and Levi that they came boldly upon the city where Hamor and Shechem dwelt, and slew all the males, and made a great spoil. A man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath-day was stoned to death for so doing; which to us who see not the reasons of it, seems too great a punishment for so small an offence, or too great an event for so little a cause, was there not a fur.. ther meaning, and an internal sense in it, as in the above case of Dinah. See Arc. Cæl. n. 4493. When the walls of Jericho fell down, the fall was great, and the consequence still greater; but the means used were small and insignificant. The same means occasioned a panic, and discomfited the whole host of the Midianites. Uzza, for only touching, or putting his hand to the ark of God, when it was likely to fall from the stumbling of the oxen that drew it, was instantly struck with death for it, which in the history and mere relation only, seems an event not adequate to the cause, especially as there seemed to be a good design in Uzza. It is said David was displeased because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza; but it was one of those marvellous things in righteousness better taken in the spirit than in the letter of it. And here, may we not say in this, and

in

in such like things, O! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! --Things most strange and unaccountable to us, are all right and good as they come from him, even the most adverse, the most dark and intricate; and have love and mercy in them, however they may appear at present. He delighteth in mercy; and such also are his wisdom and power, that he equally delights to display himself in bringing about his grand and most noble purposes, by ways and means seemingly little, and to our view unlikely to accomplish them. He humbleth himself to behold the things which are in heaven, as well as in earth; yet so condescending as not to think the meanest of his creatures beneath his notice, or above his care: nay, he makes use of them to accomplish his vast designs, and to execute the great counsels of his will. How then ought man to lie in the dust before him!'adore where he cannot comprehend, believing him to be the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: though to make his greatness and power more conspicuously known, he brings about great events, by little, small, and sometimes apparently frivolous causes and occasions.

Your's respectfully,

PHILANTHROPOS.

ON ON THE CHURCH OF GOD. IT is possible that many may conceive themselves to be of the Church of God who have neither part nor lot therein, and that others may conceive themselves to be out of the Church who are nevertheless real members thereof; it becomes, therefore, a subject of serious enquiry What is that which constitutes the true Church of God? what is that without which it cannot with prow priety be said to exist?

The Greek and Latin word which we translate Church iş Ecclesia, which originally meant an orderly assembly of the people legally called together in contradistinction to Agora which meant a confused and promiscuous multitude: But although the word Ecclesia originally meant an assembly of a secular or civil nature, yet, as made use of by the Apostles and primitive Christians, we are to understand by it a religious assembly; and this is the true idea which is to be attached to the word Church; the Church is a religious assembly, or, in other words an assembly, society, or congregation of religious persons.

In the most general or catholic sense the word means the whole people of God, consisting of all those religiously disposed persons of all nations who “ fear God and work righteousness," according to the best light which they have received. “The general assembly and Church of the first-born who are written in heaven." Therefore our author says,

- The Church is catholic or

universals

કે,

« PreviousContinue »