Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

The divine beauty of the principles here advocated, which are as completely in harmony with all the interests of man, taught by the lessons of history, as they have elsewhere been proved to be with the teachings of inspiration, is seen in the fact, that, while they are most powerful for good, they are least potent for evil. They alone embody the true idea of a spiritual church; seeking none but spiritual members, using none but spiritual means, directed to no other than a spiritual end. Should spirituality die out of such a church, it becomes to all intents dead; and though the fumes of its decay may for a short time pollute the moral atmosphere around, yet it cannot live again as a persecuting beast of prey.

If it be objected that these principles do not afford sufficient scope and encouragement

encouragement to genius and extensive learning; the reply is, that they offer but small encouragement to talents and purposes like those of Hildebrand, Casar Borgia, Loyola, Richelieu, Wolsey, and Laud. But the transcendent genius of Milton and of Bunyan, the far-reaching faith and unconquerable soul of Williams, the profound intellect of Fuller, the burning energy and iron diligence of Carey, the classic grace, the giant strength, and the resistless eloquence of Hall, were quickened, and nurtured, and trained, by long and devoted communion with these principles. They inspire genius only as allied to goodness. They encourage learning only that it may be consecrated to Christ. They foster not genius which burns but to consume, nor learning which only erects a monument to its own glory.*

The Baptists of England first turned the attention of Christians in Europe and America to the work of evangelizing the benighted millions of the East. They commenced it amid scorn, obloquy, and opposition. But they persevered till the Scriptures have been translated into fifty languages and dialects, till churches have been planted, prejudice subdued, the favor of governments secured, and many other bodies of Christians have entered into their labors. Their devotion and success find a parallel only in those of the apostles and the early churches. It is instructive to contrast their poverty and fewness, with the numbers, the wealth, and abundant resources of other religious bodies around them, in comparison with their achievements.

* Dr. Chalmers pays the following noble tribute to the Baptists of England :

“Let it never be forgotten of the Particular Baptists of England, that they form the denomination of Fuller, and Carey, and Ryland, and Hall, and Foster; that they have originated among the greatest of all missionary enterprises; that they have enriched the Christian literature of our country with authorship of the most exalted piety, as well as of the first talent and the first eloquence; that they have waged a very noble and successful war with the hydra of Antinomianism; that perhaps there is not a more intellectual community of ministers in our islands, or who have put forth to their number a greater amount of mental power and mental activity in the defence and illustration of our common faith; and what is better than all the triumphs of genius or understanding, who by their zeal and fidelity and pastoral labor among the congregations which they have reared, have done more to swell the lists of genuine discipleship in the walks of private society-and thus both to uphold and to extend the living Christianity of our nation."

Not without good reasons, therefore, do Baptists maintain that the principles of church polity which they love and cherish are favorable to the development of the best order of individual character-to the highest culture and most luxuriant growth of the noblest graces of the mind and of the heart; that they are the most salutary and powerful to improve the civil and social condition of the human race, by fostering the love of liberty, restraining its excesses, and illustrating its real benefits by promoting general intelligence and self-government; that they are efficient in spreading throughout the earth the knowledge of Him by whom life and immortality are brought to light, in that gospel the effects of which are profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. These principles have no tendency to form a party, but, correctly applied, abolish all parties, and make every man who adopts them the equal, the friend, the helper of his fellow. Ours is no worldly establishment. Our principles find no interested or partizan advocates. They challenge the credence of the world, by their simplicity, their liberality, their purity, and their truth.

ARTICLE V.

OBSERVATIONS IN THE East, chiefly in Egypt, Palestine,

Syria, and Asia Minor. By John P. DURBIN, D. D. In two volumes. New York: Harpers. 1845. pp. 347, 299. 12mo.

BY THE EDITOR.

INCIDENTS of travel in the regions visited by Dr. Durbin can have, in these days, but little novelty. The whole ground has been again and again examined. Every thing pertaining to the route is nearly as familiar to most American readers, as the streets of their own native city or village. From the pyramids of Egypt to the Holy Land, we have accompanied so many travellers, through their narratives, that we are able not only to predict the chief objects of interest which a stranger will see, but even to discuss questions relating to the antiquities, the geography, the morality, and the economy of the several countries. The journals of oriental travellers must necessarily contain many descriptions of the same objects, scenes and characters. Not only the places which travellers visit, but even the men, are the same. The eastern world does not change. That which is variable elsewhere, here is stereotyped. Hence one might easily amuse himself, at his leisure, in constructing, from the existing works, a new book on the East, combining the excellences of all, and omitting what is feeble, irrelevant, personal, casual and of merely temporary concern, and we should have a volume or series of volumes surpassing all that have been written, in interest, fairness, completeness and accuracy. The highest effort of the human mind in this department might be produced, without the necessity of leaving one's own fireside in New England. Something would be wanting in freshness; but more would be added in sobriety, exactness, and truth.

It is a natural and a laudable desire which men gratify in directing their steps towards those portions of the eastern world—the birth-place of the human race; the spot once pressed by the feet of prophets, apostles, and the Son of God, and hallowed by their prayers, their toils and their communications from heaven. All that is grave in antiquity, solemn in religion, important in faith, and glorious in promise clusters about those countries. And the avidity with which volumes describing them are read, shows how deep an interest they inspire in those who cannot visit them in person. The feeling is honorable to our nature, our faith, and our religious principle, and we welcome every new effort for its gratification. We are not likely to become too familiar with scenes which stand in so close connection with the history of God's interposition in the affairs of men, and the history of human redemption.

In the present volumes, Dr. Durbin does not profess to present any thing new, except in his views of the place where the Israelites made their exode out of Egypt. In addition to the ordinary topics presented in volumes of travels in these regions, the present work exhibits, in a few chapters, the political condition and prospects of the Turkish empire, the past and present state of Christianity in the East, and the history of missionary efforts of various denominations, for the disenthralment of the people from the fetters of Mohammedan and Pagan superstition, and from the errors of a corrupted Christianity-also, a chapter on the restoration of the Jews, as a nation, to the Holy Land. The route of Dr. D. was one differing in some respects, from that of many travellers. On leaving Egypt, he pursued the ordinary course to Jerusalem and Beirut, and thence striking into Asia Minor, he surveyed the seats of the seven churches to which the apocalyptic Epistles were addressed. In the course of his tour, he exhibits many interesting facts, showing how exactly the divine predictions have been verified. The work, on these accounts, has a Biblical value. It associates itself with the Scriptures, illustrating and confirming them. It appeals to us on other grounds than those of mere curiosity. It is fitted to win the attention of those who would not read it at all, except for its bearing on the word of God.

The volumes are adorned with views of the site of the seven churches in Asia, and with other steel engravings, to the number of eighteen, besides several illustrations on VOL. XI.-NO. XLI.

8*

wood, and maps and plans, which add much to the beauty and value of the work. The literary execution is highly respectable, being equally removed from the light and flippant style of newspaper correspondence on the one hand, and from the lordly air of self-conceited pride on the other. Dr. D. describes well the incidents which fell under his observation. He has, in a high degree, the faculty of seizing that which is importaut, and passing by that which is trivial. He is, also, an independent thinker, not awed by revered names, nor following a beaten track; but differing from the highest authority, whenever he sees reason to differ. In some respects, however, he appears to us to have reasoned inconclusively, especially on the subject of the restoration of the Jews; as we shall show hereafter. In most things, we are pleased with his sober and rational views; but on this point, his exegetical ability seems to have signally failed him.

Dr. D. states, in his preface, that his principal guidebook was the “Biblical Researches” of Messrs. Robinson and Smith, and that he was almost daily astonished at its exceeding accuracy. He also pays a merited compliment to the volumes of Dr. Olin, remarking especially of his account of Egypt, that "it is the best that has appeared in this country,—perhaps in the language.”'

It is not our object, in these notices, to follow the remarks of our author as he proceeds from place to place; but to select a few only of the most important topics.

We have alluded to the fulfilment of prophecy in the history and present state of eastern nations. God has made those nations standing monuments of the truth of his word. The wandering tribes of the desert, the Jews, the cities of Babylon and Tyre, the rocky dwellings of Petra, the sea that rolls over the ancient site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the broken towers of Nineveh, the desolate wastes of Egypt, illustrate the veracity of him who “ sees the end from the beginning," and who has visited the wicked with just retributions. The cities which were once the seat of the seven apocalyptic churches, still exhibit the evils of apostacy from God. In most of these cases, there has been a literal fulfilment of the words of God by his prophets.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »