Abbildungen der Seite

he not only overthrows his interpretation, but almost seems to feel bound to substitute a better of his own before pronouncing it untenable. It is certainly unsatisfactory work merely to demolish, but in the interpretation of prophecy, this, at certain stages of the church's history, may be all that the best interpreters are equal to. It may be their sole God-intended calling. History may not have shed enough of light upon prophecy to enable them to do more. They are not on this account, however, to stand still and allow palpable errors—it may be heresies -to be propagated through a perverted prophetic interpretation, because they cannot suggest a better themselves. This were a dangerous principle and mode of procedure. We do not, therefore, feel ourselves bound, before exposing the errors of Mr Elliott, to be ready with a satisfactory explanation of the slaying and resurrection of the witnesses, and of the subsequent earthquake and destruction. Holding these events to be future, we are not in circumstances to explain their precise nature, while we are perfectly justified in exposing the erroneous conclusions of others who believe them to be past. We may only be permitted to say to those who urge the improbability of such alarming times, as the slaying of the witnesses involves, being still future—that it is agreeable to nature and Scripture analogy that such a monster as Antichrist, instead of growing better with the progress of years, should become worse and worse-more malignant and persecuting—that his death, and the events which lead to it, should be terrible, corresponding to the long preceding life of iniquity and cruelty—that his last appearance on the prophetic stage is under the aspect of a woman reeling drunk with the blood of the saints—that the slaying of the witnesses may possibly be the latest crowning crime which shall fill up the awful cup of Antichrist's sin and doom-a crime consummated after the fullest light and warning, and much long-suffering in the midst of multiplied privileges and mercies. And is there any thing, even in the present aspect of things, to induce us to dismiss the idea as an idle foreboding? Is it not certain that scoffing Infidelity, of the worst description, is one of the characteristics of the “ Last times," as well as revived and triumphant Popery? And when we remember what progress both have made in a few years—such progress as no prophet of evil could have anticipated—and that that progress, from the nature of things, is an accelerating one, and that none can foresee what twenty years may accomplish-when, moreover, it is remembered what manifestations of the power of combined Infidelity and Popery are appearing in Switzerland and France, how one daring act of aggression against the gospel and its liberties is appearing after another, more serious than its precedessor-how Infidelity,

in quickened popular activity, is gathering its strength in Germany—how Popery is invading and well-nigh absorbing the Church of England-how Ireland is the tool of Popish rebellion, half-smothered but prepared to burst forth in flame almost at a moment’s notice :-when these and kindred manifestations are considered, surely there is nothing very improbable in the supposition that times of great trial may be awaiting Evangelical Christendom—that it is high duty, as well as common wisdom, for churches to be preparing for the worst-that every thing which savours of the lulling and quiescent, must be at once foolish and dangerous, and that the church, individually and collectively, cannot be too diligent nor too devoted, especially in preparing the young and after generations by AN ENLARGED AND THOROUGHLY SCRIPTURAL EDUCATION, for the fearful struggles of their day and calling. We have no pleasure in anticipating evil, nor in alarming men's fears. For our country and for Christendom we wish we could, on solid grounds, cherish opposite expectations. We would rejoice to think that the worst was past, but holding the views which we have been led on serious consideration to entertain, we would be wanting in true fidelity and charity, were we to be silent, even in deference to the opinions of one so justly esteemed and admired as Dr Candlish. We are well persuaded that he would be the first to condemn any such deference.

Not a few may have been in the habit of thinking and saying, Of what great consequence is it to us to know the date of the slaying of the witnesses ?-is the question not at best one of speculative curiosity? The remarks which we have offered, brief and imperfect as they may be, will, we hope, serve to show that the question, however it may be determined, is one essentially and eminently practical in its bearings--one which it is not safe for the Christian church, apart from all other considerations, to allow to remain as a matter of carelessness or uncertainty. Among the advantages of the discussion raised by the volumes of Mr Elliott, that will not be the least important which reminds the church of the solemnity of her prospects, while this in its turn may exercise a more powerful influence upon the decision even of the Erastian portion than would at first sight appear.

We again render our warmest acknowledgments to Dr Candlish for this fresh service to the cause of truth. He has laid not a few individuals, nor a single religious party, but the comprehensive Church of the Redeemer, under lasting obligations by his skilful and fervent defence of principles which enter vitally into all the great controversies of the day. Whether his views be appreciated at the present moment or not, we are persuaded every new year of difficulty and trial will attest their soundness and value.

Art. III.-1. Histoire Religieuse, Politique, et Litteraire de la

Compagnie de Jesus, composée sur les Documents inédits et authentiques. Par J. CRETINEAU-Joly. Ouvrage orné de Portraits et de Fac-simile. Paris, Paul Mellier, 1844. (Religious, Political, and Literary History of the Company of Jesus, compiled from unpublished and authentic documents. By J. CRETINEAU

Joly. Adorned with portraits and fac-similes. Paris, 1844.] 2. De lExistence et de T'Institut des Jésuites. Par le R. P. de

Ravignan de la Compagnie de Jesus. Cinquième Edition, Augmentée d'une Preface. On the Existence and the Rule of the Jesuits. By the Rev. FATHER de RaviGNAN of the Company of Jesus. Fifth edition, augmented with a Preface. Paris,

1845.1 3. The Jesuits, their Origin and Order, Morality and Practices.

By ALEXANDER Duff, D.D., one of the Free Church of Scotland's Missionaries, Calcutta. Second edition. Edinburgh,

1845. 4. The Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal. A New Translation, with Historical Introduction and Notes. By the Rev. Thomas M'Crie. Edinburgh, 1847.

“ WHEN the gentlemen of the mission, or others of the Church of Rome, who concern themselves with the conversion of Protestants here in England, make their attempts on the lower or middle ranks of men, (which, indeed, are observed to be the game they have been chiefly pursuing for some past years,) there is reason to believe, their business is not so much to convince their understandings, as to manage their spirits, not to enter into the merits of the controversy between us, by endea. vouring to show them, from Scripture, antiquity, and reason, the falseness of the Protestant, and the truth of the Popish doctrines and religion, but to infuse into them certain prejudices against their own, and in favour of the Roman Catholic religion, suited to that cast and turn of mind, which they observe or judge them to be of. To those who are seen to have a proper regard to rule and order, or any tolerable notion of Church communion, they talk of the divisions, and numberless sects among Protestants; to men of benevolent and charitable dispositions they flourish upon the charities and pious foundations, which are so much encouraged, and are everywhere to be seen in their church; as to men of devout tempers they magnify the devotions of it. To those of darker and more gloomy complexions, they display the rigours and severities practised in it; and the lovers of virtue, goodness, and good men, they entertain with the holy lives of their saints, and with the crimes and disorders, real or supposed, of some of our first Reformers. These suggestions and pretences, besides their being suited to the tempers and inclinations of particular men, are level to the capacities of all, and therefore I am satisfied, have made more converts than their deepest and most learned arguments against the religion of Protestants, or in defence an vindication of their own; just as, in battle, the small shot does frequently more execution, than the heavy artillery which often grazes upon the ground, or flies over the heads of an enemy."

Such is the opening of the preface to the Rev. John White's able work against Popery, published in 1753. It speaks of an activity which we had not before suspected, on the part of papal emissaries in England at that time, among the same classes of the population, whose Protestantism was then receiving the best of all revivals from the evangelical preaching of the Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists; and but for which revival, we doubt not that their success would have better answered to their expectations. But it is to another and a higher class of society, that Mr White's description applies at the present day. It is not now among the yeomen and burgesses of the south, that the emissaries of Rome chiefly lay their snares. The return made by the papacy for the unbounded hospitality with which the French refugee priests were received in this country fifty years ago, and for the generosity displayed by our aristocracy towards them, is that they have ever since been employing all the tricks and devices above described, to seduce where they durst not argue, and to pervert taste and sap morality where they could not directly convince. It is to be lamented that the aristocracy of England has experienced no such evangelical awakening as that which, about a century ago, armed the middle ranks against such wiles and stratagems, simply by making many of them earnest Christians. The crowds who came away touched by the Spirit accompanying the preaching of Whitefield, and Wesley, and so many others who, with the zeal of the first apostles, went about preaching in season and out of season, were in little danger of being seduced into Mariolatry and a belief in purgatory, &c., by such agents as Mr White describes. But very different is it with the youthful members of the two great English universities, and with the noble and the wealthy who now, no longer alarmed with threats of invasion from abroad, or of revolutionary insurrections at home, easily become the dupes of their own romancing fancies aud puling sensibilities, when wrought upon by Jesuits or papists trained in the arts of the Jesụits. Hence we are gratified to see that while on both sides of the channel, the most seductive works are proceeding directly from the papal printing presses, and while a vast number, almost equally noxious, are emanating from Tractarian writers, works such as those of Dr Duff and Mr M‘Crie, do occasionally come forth by way of counteractive, though by no means so often as the emergency of the case requires.

What the Jesuits are now doing in the British islands we

know not, but certain we are, that the importance of this intellectually and commercially active corner of Europe cannot have escaped them as an important theatre for their operations; that they must feel that here, if any where, they must work in secret and under ground; and that we cannot be too much on the alert in endeavouring to discover and counteract their movements.

But in order to this they must be far better known, and more justly appreciated, than we have any reason to think they are. The word “ Jesuit" is, indeed, in every body's mouth; all use it as if they perfectly knew what it stood for. But an institution so original in its conception, so powerful in its springs of action, so admirably fitted to pursue its objects under every variety of circumstances, prosperous or adverse-an institution that has now been three hundred years in existence, has passed through the utmost variety of trials and vicissitudes, now influencing the politics of all Europe, now crushed and scattered by those who had long been its slaves-an institution which, after a quarter of a century of the revolutionary devastations that swept the continent, rose, phenix-like, from its ashes, and exhibits at this moment the same vigour that enabled it two centuries ago, to arrest the tide of Protestant reform, and to win back to Rome whole peoples which seemed to have revolted from her for ever-such a marvellous institution as this must be studied in order to be known, as well as known in order to be counteracted.

To this we have long thought it a duty to contribute, however inadequately. To do something is better than to attempt nothing at all. Possibly we may stimulate curiosity, supply a few useful hints to guide investigators, and awaken our church office-bearers in particular, to a wholesome jealousy of one of their most formidable and yet least assailable adversaries.

The study of the Jesuit Institution and its history, were it useful for no other purpose, is eminently fitted to stimulate the religious energies of all Protestants who engage in it. Whatever may be objected to that body in other respects, however essentially worldly may be the motives they enlist in their service, the principles on which they operate, the daring profaneness with which they tamper with the revealed will of Jehovah, it may surely well awaken a holy vigilance in Protestant Christians, to see with what perseverance, and with what success, they pursue their all-engrossing object—the aggrandizement of their faith. Alas! how little do our free and easy Christians who consume so much time and thought in business purely secular, or in that silly tittle tattle, that mere talk, which composes the staple of the innumerable dinner parties of our winter seasons—how little do they think that all the while there is a host of spiritual mi

« ZurückWeiter »