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We, therefore, hold fast the Scripture number, and determinately reject all attempts to add to it, or to make God a being of any number but one. “ To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” 1 Cor. viii. 6. “ There is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all." Eph. iv. 6. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. ii. v.
Many of the Millerites believed that last week-October 21, 1844 -was appointed for the burning of the world ; not “positively for the last time this season,” however, for a majority suppose it will occur to-morrow. Their system of theological navigation is supplied with elaborately prepared charts, from which they learn that "the Lord will certainly leave the mercy-seat on the 13th of this present October, and appear visibly in the clouds of heaven on the 22d.” Alas for every one of us, sinners or saints, if our Father should leave the mercy-seat, even for so brief an interval !
It was stated some time ago, in the papers, that Mr. Miller had given it as his opinion, that if the prophecy was not fulfilled, as expected, last spring, it would occur soon after the autumnal equinox. Meanwhile, even the memory of this excitement seemed to have passed away from the ever busy crowd. But with the autumnal equinox, it returned with renewed fervor. Mrs. Higgins, a young woman from Boston, I believe, is here preaching with that enthusiasm and earnestness of conviction, which always imparts a degree of eloquence. She and her zealous coadjutors are creating a prodigious ferment, and making many proselytes ; all of whom are welcomed to their ranks, as brands plucked from immediate burning.
A man, who has tended an apple-stall near the Park, went to hear her, and straightway gave away all his fruit and cakes, to the great delight of the children, who became warmly interested to have this faith spread through all the cake-shops and apple-stalls. A vender of stoves, near by, has shut up his shop, with the announcement that no more stoves will be needed on this earth. A shoemaker in Division. street, began to give away all his stock ; but his son came in during the process, and caused him to be sent to an insane asylum, till the excitement of his mind abated. A shop in the Bowery mounted a placard, on which was inscribed, in large letters, MUSLIN FOR ASCENSION Robes ! I know not whether this was done for waggery, or from that spirit of trade, which is ever willing to turn a penny on war, pestilence, or conflagration.
Thousands of minds are in a state of intense alarm, but I have heard of very few instances of stolen money restored, or falsehoods acknowledged, as a preparation for the dreaded event. One man, of whom I bought some calico, took two cents a yard less than he asked. When I thanked him, he said, “ I suppose you are surprised that I should diminish the price, after you have bought the article ; but the fact is, I have been hearing Mr. Miller, and I thought he proved his doctrine clear enough to satisfy anybody. If we are all to come to an end so soon, it is best to be pretty moderate and fair in our dealings.” “But we cannot come to an end,” said I. “Oh, I meant the world and our bodies,” he replied. And if they come to an end in '98 instead of ’44, is it not still best to be moderate and fair in our dealings ?” said I. He admitted the premises ; but as one admits an abstraction.
A prophet who appeared in London, many years ago, and predicted the destruction of the world, from Scripture authority, produced a much more decided effect in driving people into good works. Under his preaching, very large sums of money were restored, and seventy thousand persons were married, who had formed illicit connexions.
Some of the Millerites have written glowing letters, intreating me to make haste to escape from the wrath that is impending over all unbelievers. One of them has seen me in a vision, radiating light, and considered this a special indication that I was to be summoned to ascend with the saints. I feel sincerely grateful to these kind, well-meaning persons, for their anxiety to save me. But if there has been no preparation in my previous life, the effort to make ready in a few days could avail but little. Even if I thought the end of all things was so very near, I could see no better way of preparing for it, than by purity of life and conversation, a heart at peace with all men, and diligent efforts to do all in my power to save and bless. And if the earth is to revolve on its axis for millions of years, still in that direction only lies the spirit's ascending path.
What matters it to me whether the world is destroyed in 1844, or in 18,044 ? For me it must soon cease to exist, even if nature pursues its usual course. And what will it concern my spirit, in the realms beyond, whether this ball of earth and stones still continues its circling march through space, or falls into the bosom of the sun ? Let spirit
change forms as it will, I know that nothing is really lost. The human soul contains within itself the universe. If the stars are blotted out, and the heavens rolled up as a scroll, they are not lost. They have merely dropped the vesture that we saw them by. “Life never dies ; matter dies off it, and it lives elsewhere."
My belief in spirit is so strong, that to me matter appears the illusion. My body never seems to me to be myself. Death never seems to me an end of life, but a beginning. I suppose it is owing to this vivid and realizing sense of spiritual existence, that the destruction of the visible world would have so little power to affect me, even if I foresaw its approach. It would be but a new mode of passing into life.
For the earth I have the same sort of affection that I have for a house in which I have dwelt; but it matters not to me whether I pass away from it, or we pass away together.
If I live a true and bumble life, I shall carry with me all its forms of love and beauty, safe from the touch of material fire.
I am sorry that the Millerites have attracted the attention of a portion of our population, who delight to molest them, though it is more from mirth than malice. All sincere convictions should be treated respectfully. Neither ridicule nor violence can overcome delusions of this sort, or diminish their power to injure. Such crowds are continually about the doors of the Millerite meetings, that it is almost dangerous to life and limb to effect an entrance. Stones and brickbats are thrown in, and crackers and torpedoes explode under their feet. The other night, while Mrs. Higgins was exhorting and prophesying, with tempestuous zeal, some boys fired a pile of shavings outside the window near which she was standing, and at the same time kindled several Roman candles. The blue, unearthly light of these fire-works illuminated the whole interior of the building with intense brilliancy, for a moment.
The effect on the highly excited congregation was terrible. Some fainted, and some screamed. Several serious accidents happened amid the general rush ; and one man, it is said, was so deranged with nervous terror, that he went home and attempted to cut his throat, The mayor, and a strong array of constables, now attend the meetings. to prevent a repetition of these dangerous tricks. But the preachers say that no protection is needed ; for four angels are stationed at the four corners of the earth, and they have sealed the foreheads of all the saints, so that no harm can come to them.
I often hear this called a singular delusion ; but to me it seems by no means singular. The old Jewish idea of an external kingdom with the Messiah passed into Christian belief, with many other traditions. In the very first centuries of the church, there was a sect which believed that the Roman einpire would be overthrown, that all the wicked would be destroyed, and the faithful would arise from the dead, to enjoy a paradise on earth with the faithful living. Every ear of wheat would then produce ten thousand grains, and every grain ten pounds of wheat flour ; and every vine would yield millions
on millions of measures of wine. The New Jerusalem would descend from heaven, and furnish them with splendid houses.
The end of the world was very strongly expected by some in the year 1000. A sect of this kind rose among the Lutherans, soon after the Thirty Years' War. Bengel, a famous mystical writer, calculated that the millenium would begin in 1836, and last two thousand years. Up to the present period, the external theological teaching of our churches has tended to cherish similar ideas. The people have been told for a series of years, that the world would be destroyed by material fire, and that the Messiah would come visibly in the heavens, to reign as a king on the earth. It is but one step more, to decide when these events will occur. The Jews, who, in the first advent of a Messiah, expected a powerful prince, to conquer the Romans, and restore the national glory of Judea, were not more grossly external in their application of the prophecies, than are most of the theological commentators on the second advent. Yet, unconscious of the limitation of their own vision, they speak with patronizing compassion of the blindness of the Jews. If men applied half as much common sense to their theological investigations, as they do to every other subject, they could not worship a God, who, having filled this world with millions of his children, would finally consign them all to eternal destruction, except a few who could be induced to beliove in very difficult and doubtful explanations of prophecies, handed down to us through the long lapse of ages.
Beneath the veil of this external belief, there is, however, spiritual significance and prophecy. The old heavens and the old earth must pass away, and they are passing away. In other words, the religious sentiment of Christendom is changing ; and of course old theological opinions, which are merely the garb of sentiments, are everywhere falling off, like tattered, scanty, and ill-fitting garments. As the church changes, the state inevitably changes, too; and the civil and social condition of man is slowly ascending to a higher plane.
This is felt, even by those who deprecate it, and would avert it, if they could ; and pressing thus on the universal consciousness, its ultimate and most external form is Millerism. The coming of a new heaven and a new earth cannot reveal itself to their apprehension through any other medium, than the one in which they announce it. Walking in the misty twilight of outward interpretations, they easily mistake the angel approaching with a halo round his head, for a demon of vengeance, torch in hand, to set the world on fire.—Letters from Ver York, by Mrs. Child.
OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF PRESBYTERIANISM, IN
BY THE REV. II. MONTGOMERY, IL.D.
( Continued from page 166, No. V.) In the year 1842, the Calvinistic Presbyterians of Ireland celebrated the Bi-Centenary return of the day on which the First Presbytery was instituted. Such a celebration was quite natural, and would have been praiseworthy and becoming, had the religious services and other proceedings been conducted in the spirit of candour, forbearance, and charity, suited to a great and solemn occasion. So far, however, from this being the case, the opportunity was eagerly seized by many for the purpose of rekindling the smouldering embers of sectarian rancour and party animosity. All the horrors of The Forty One Wars were paraded before excited assemblies, to inflame their hearts with hatred of their Roman Catholic Brethren ; as if the spirit of Catholicism were the same now, as it was two hundred years ago, when, in dark and barbarous days, the great body of the people of Ireland were smarting under recent confiscations, oppressions, and infamous religious persecutions, which cast a lasting disgrace upon the Protestant name. It is true, indeed, that by the use of such means a considerable sum was raised to promote the conversion of Catholic Ireland, by Presbyterian Missionaries ; but, had the amount collected been Fifty Thousand instead of Five Thousand Pounds, it would have been a poor compensation for all the spiritual pride and evil passions engendered by its accumulation. Neither could a Fund so raised be rationally expected to accomplish Christian objects; for, the taint of uncharitableness hangs around it, and men have never yet been converted from error by misrepresentations or abuse. Is it not strange, that after three hundred years of civil and religious persecutions, during which the Roman Catholics of Ireland have multiplied like the children of Israel under Egyptian bondage, no church should have hit upon the Christian expedient of endeavouring to make converts by reasoning, gentleness, and conciliation! Most assuredly, our New Reformation and Presbyterian Missionary Societies have not only signally failed, but by their uncharitable denunciations and injudicious plans of operation, they have largely strengthened prejudices, and augmented the zeal and vigilance of their opponents
. Nothing, indeed, could be more absurd, than the expending of large sums upon fruitless attempts towards the conversion of Catholics in the south and west of Ireland, whilst tens of thousands of nominal Presbyterians are living in gross ignorance and practical heathenism, at our own doors.