« FöregåendeFortsätt »
seize upon the present, as the only good, making a merry and a joyful life the end of existence.
"I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of good."
The phrase “ to do good,” in verse 12, should be understood in the sense of to gain, to acquire good, that is gratification, or pleasure. This is one of the meanings of the original word, here rendered “to do," and is, no doubt, its true meaning in this place.
The author then, (verses 15, 16,) in further confirmation of his principles, 'repeats the sentiment, that all the arrangements of providence are fixed and immutable. Nothing can be added to or taken from what is appointed-an arrangement which God has established, that men might stand in dread of him. (The context requires that this meaning should be attached to the term fear, as here used.) Not only are all the divine arrangements fixed and changeless, but nothing is to be expected from them in the future, excepting a repetition of results already experienced. “God requireth that which is past," that is, has so arranged his providences, that the future shall only reproduce what the past has already produced. It is vain then to hope for any melioration of our condition at any future stage of our existence.
“I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
“That which hath been, is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."
The preacher than alludes (verses 16, 17) to certain views which he had once held in respect to the future designs of providence, that were in opposition to those above avowed. These views, views which he had entertained when he walked in the paths of uprightness, he was subsequently led to retract. In verses 18-21, he states the reasons which led, in his mind, to their retraction. Formerly, when he had looked upon the place where "judgment,” that is, justice and equity, ought to obtain, and found that wickedness, that is, injustice prevailed there, and upon the places appointed for the establishment of righteousness, and found that even there iniquity ruled, he had concluded that the time would arrive when God would reward the righteous, and punish the wicked, according to their respective deserts.
"And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there ; and the place of righteousness that iniquity was there."
"I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time for every purpose, and for every work.”
Subsequent reflection, however, (reflection, we should remember, arising in his heart during his apostacy,) “in respect to the estate of the sons of men,” that is, a contemplation of what actually happens to them, had convinced him, that God had soarranged his dispensations in regard to them, that when their true condition was made known to them, that is, when God should manifest them to themselves, they would see clearly that their condition and prospects were, in no important respects, better than that of brutes.
"I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts."
The above, we think, is the true meaning of this verse. It is thus rendered by Rosenmuller. “With myself I have thought,” (that is, such is the conclusion to which my reflections have finally led me,] “in respect to what happens to men, that they are so destined of God, that they should appear to themselves to be brutes."
Manifest facts, he goes on to say, (verses 19–21,) forced this conviction upon his mind. Their condition here is the
What happens to the one, happens to the other. As the one dies, so dies the other, each having the same spirit or breath, so that man had no pre-eminence over the brute. Neither the one race nor the other, were of any importance in themselves. They had a common origin, and both returned to the same state. Moreover, the same uncertainty attended their prospects after 'dcath.
“For that which befa:leth the sons af men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them : as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath: so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
“ All go unto one place : all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of a beast that goeth downward to the earth."
Nothing, therefore, remained for man, but to bury himself in the present moment, and draw from it all the gratification he could. The future none could reveal, so that he could know what awaits him there. He should, therefore, have no reference to it in anything he does. "Let
us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." This is the maxim which should govern man in all his doings.
"Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him ?"
Such are the results of unbelief, in all times and nations. God, in the human mind, is degraded from his supremacy, as a God of truth, mercy, justice, and equity. In thus dethroning God, man also is brought down to the level of “ four-footed beasts, and creeping things." All his hopes and aspirations are buried in the present, where the soul finds its cheerless, hopeless sepulcher. Our subsequent annotations upon this book are reserved for a future article.
Come-outism and Come-outers.
By Rev. JAMES A. THOME,
This subject, it will he recollected, was originally designed to be discussed in connection with the article in the last number of the Quarterly on Light and Love. As this however could not be done without swelling that article beyond proper limits, we were under the necessity of deferring the completion of our design to the present number. Continuations are always an evil-(except the continuation of paying subscribers)—but in the present case the evil is peculiarly serious, since in prosecuting this discussion we must make frequent reference to the principles established in the article alluded to, which therefore should properly be read in connection with this. Our specific object is to test the merits of this new reform-a reform which is bestirring itself with the bustling activity and breathless haste of one who seems sensible that he has waked up rather late in the day, but who nevertheless means to overtake and distance all his predecessorsour object is to test its claims to confidence as a genuine reform, by bringing it to the standard of allied light and love. No reform ever set out with higher pretensions; none ever asserted bolder doctrines or inculcated principles more ultra radical. It is at least a hundred rods in advance of all other reforms—indeed it is the reformer of reforms and the regenerator of religion itself. Its lofty heroism, its uncompromising positions, its double portion of the martyr spirit, its parade of logic withal, and its specious eloquence have attracted to this so called reform no little attention. Honest and conscientious minds have in some instances been beguiled into a temporary approval by the garland of moral axioms and postusates which it has shrewdly contrived to place upon its brow at once as a cover of deformity and a crown of glory. Others have been seriously perplexed, not being able to detect the sophistry which lurked under the glitter of advanced light. Indeed a movement arrogating to itself such superior purity, and proclaiming with such unwavering confidence and prá phetic assurance its speedy triumph, would probably, in spite of its in harmonious name, have constrained our reverence and carried us along upon its mighty swell, had we not bethought
ourselves that this is the age of empiricism and charlatanry. All is not gold that glitters. It is not the mill that clatters most that grinds the best grist. In a day when Texas may become a sister state in the greatest Republic in the world we need not be surprised if even Come-outism should be found claiming a place in the sisterhood of reforms. We therefore to test its claims.
It seems necessary at the outset of the discussion to recall the principles which were established in the article to which reference has already been made: for the arguments by which these principles were sustained we beg leave to refer the reader to the article itself.
1. Light and love are correlated principles.
2. Their correlations are fixed and definite, and should never be reversed or deranged.
3. These correlations are not only fixed but vitally important, and cannot be violated without disaster. The moral efficiency and hence the value of light and love depend entire
these correlations-neither the one nor the other can be an agent of good if their established adjustments be deranged; the right understanding therefore and observance of these is commensurate in importance with light and love themselves.
4. He who divorces light and love with a view to more eficient reformatory movements, or upon whatever high benevolent pretext, not only must fail of accomplishing his object, but does a wrong in the sight of God and of Truth by that separation which a life time of benevolent effort cannot atone for, nay, which it can only aggravate at every step by maintaining and perpetuating the guilty separation.
5. No degree of light merely, or of love merely, can entitle a movement, however imposing or magnificent, to the digRity of a true reform. The higher the degree of the one, in the absence of the other, the more hurtful, ceteris paribus, will the movement prove. If a so called benevolent enterprise be based upon light only, or upon love only, the more it has of that light or that love (nominal love) the more unbenevolent in its legitimate operations will the enterprise be.
6. We have said nominal love, for there can be no genuine love separated from light. Light on the other hand may be wholly separate from love. There may be a loveless light, but there cannot strictly be a lightless love. When therefore we speak of a reform based upon love only, we accommodate our phraseology to the predilections of the friends and lead