« ÎnapoiContinuă »
land, and it is almost certain that, in a few years, this whole new world, from the Arctic Circle to the cliffs of Patagonia, will be inhabited by a professedly christian people.
Turn your eyes to Africa. The navy of France sweeps across the Mediterranean, batters down the wall of Algiers, and takes possession of the country. Whatever may have been the political motive for this measure, the result which God educes is, that the institutions of Christendom supplant the delusions of the fasle prophet.
England and America establish their colonies along the western coast of Africa, from Mount Atlas, till her southern cape is doubled. Though political ambition or mercenary interest may be the inspiring motive, the result is that the naked savage disappears as the European and American take his place; the altars of heathenism vanish as the church spire rises, where the rude temple of idolatry once stood; barbarian chieftains, who have drenched the land in blood, are succeeded by intelligent governors, and constitutions are engrossed, and laws enacted, and courts of justice established, and colleges founded, and schools supported ;-and where the miserable hut of the Hottentot or the Caffaree deformed the landscape, the embowered cottage of European or American taste, cheers the eye with its cultivated fields and ornamental garden.
England, to extend her commerce and strengthen her political power, sends her steam ships to ascend the Nile, and stage coaches cross the desert from Cairo to Suez, and the tribes listlessly lounging upon the shores of the Red Sea behold with amazement the majestic steamer rushing through their silent waters. Thus are the political movements of nations crowding into the Continent of Africa on every side, and with resistless power, the influences and the institutions of Christendom.
In Asia the same wonderful movement is apparent on a scale of still more astonishing grandeur. Not long ago the Turkish empire was the terror of Christendom. But now, with her janissaries slain, her fleet destroyed, her treasury exhausted, and her empire dismembered by the successful revolt of Egypt and of Greece, Turkey has sunk below contempt. The crescent which now glitters upon the minarets of Constantinople, like the waning moon it symbolizes, is a fitting emblem of Mohammed's departing power.
The Euphrates, the Tigris, the Indus, and the Ganges, are but the great arteries, through which, by armies and by embassies, by diplomacy and by commerce, the enlightened nations are diffusing the science, the arts, and the civil institutions of Christendom through the Asiatic Continent. And the nameless nations who people her vast interior must receive, with these influences, that only religion which can exist with cultivated intellect and high civilization. Even China, with her three hundred millions of imprisoned subjects, has had her doors of exclusion battered down; and the time can not be far distant when that mysterious empire shall be open to the commerce and the travel of the Christian world. Thus are all the great politi
cal movements of the nations of the earth tending to usher in the universal reign of Christianity.
II. The progress of civilization and the arts indicate this approaching change. A few years ago it required the painful labor of years to copy the Bible, and the wealth of a prince to purchase one. Think of a Bible, such as our forefathers had, written by the slow process of the pen, upon the skins of goats, sewed together, making a roll two feet wide, and ninety feet long. Now, the art of printing scatters the word of God like autumn leaves, and it is found in the humblest dwelling.
Not many centuries have passed since none could read but the learned few. Noble lords, proud barons, powerful kings, and even bishops of the churches, could neither read nor write. Now, common schools have brought instruction to every man's door. Knowledge is becoming, like the sun light, every where diffused.
War has ever been one of the greatest obstacles in the way of human improvement. Now, apparently resistless causes are operating to end these scenes of blind demoniac rage.
1. There is, first, the rapid extension of piety, carrying with it the principles of peace, convincing of the iniquity of war, and influencing man to regard his fellow man as a brother.
2. And then, there is the extension of information, of enlightened views, of national policy, so that every cabinet in Christendom is satisfied that there is no calamity so disastrous to national wealth and power, as war.
3. Another influence of vast magnitude, is to be found in the rapid descent of power from a few rulers to the people. The time has gone by when the caprices of a king, or the ambition of a favorite courtier, can involve nations in fire and blood. The people who are to furnish the money, and sleep in the tented field, and to be mowed down like grass before the destructive engines of modern warfare, are to decide for themselves the question whether they will live in peace in their dwellings, or whether they will abandon their homes to bleed and to die on the field of carnage.
4. And there is another cause singular indeed in its character, but most influential in its operation. It is the invention of irresistible engines of destruction. The more terrible the instruments of war become, the more reluctant are the nations to expose property and life. Torpedoes, congreve rockets, Paixhan guns, and sub-marine batteries, are indeed horrible instruments of ruin. And they who use, must face these weapons. So powerful is the combined operation of all these causes, that it is doubtful whether another war will ever again be waged between any of the leading nations of Christendom.
Involuntary servitude, by which the many have been doomed to ignorance, degradation and toil, to administer to the pride and luxury of the few, is fast passing away. Slavery has existed in every land a formidable obstacle in the way of human improvement. Man has
ever been the tyrant over his brother. But the doom of slavery is sealed. Its knell is tolled. The degraded castes of India are breaking their chains. England, France, and even Spain, are saying to the oppressed, "go free." Nicholas, of Russia, on his throne of limitless despotism, from motives of national policy, is endeavoring to elevate his enslaved serfs to the dignity of freemen. And the American slaveholder, (even if his heart remain impervious to justice,) can not long resist the influences which are pouring in upon him from every quarter. Slavery has received its death blow. The religion, the literature, the popular sentiment of christendom has said, "it must die."
The wonderful facilities of intercommunication, now making almost miraculous progress, have opened a new era upon the globe. Railroads and steamboats, seem to bring the poles of the earth together, and to make neighbors of the most distant nations, breaking down the crumbling walls of prejudice, and effacing the decaying landmarks of hostile division. A good thought, conceived in the silent study chamber of the student, is no sooner uttered than it is echoed by a million voices in the streets of every city, and by the fireside of every farm house. An useful invention, made in the most secluded spot, is instantly conveyed to earth's remotest bounds. All these causes are tending most powerfully to hasten on the promised millenium.
III. The present state of the sciences indicate the speedy and universal prevalence of Christianity. It is one of the marked sayings of Lord Bacon, that a "little learning tendeth to atheism, but more bringeth us back to religion." Nearly all the sciences in their infancy, in the period of superficial knowledge, have been arrayed as hostile to christianity. Now, with hardly an exception, they defend and establish revealed religion.
The early astronomer, with but slight glimpses of the wonderful developments of this magnificent science, supposed that with telescope and diagram he could prove christianity false. But now in the comparative maturity of this science, when the astronomer sweeps the heavens with instruments of once unimagined power, and passing beyond our planetary system; piercing through the myriads of stars which compose the cluster of our own firmament, discovers, in the infinite abysses of space, other universes, other clusters of congregated suns and worlds-systems of every variety of form and structure, adapted to conditions of being and modes of life of which we can now form no conception, he obtains but the most interesting corroboration of God's word, that in heavenly places there are thrones and dominions, and principalities and powers-that there are many mansions in my Father's house-that God has erected fitting abodes for angel and archangel, cherubim and seraphim. And now revealed religion has not a more admired, honored and efficient coadjutor than modern astronomy. And though conceited ignorance may cling with depraved affection to infidelity, Newton and Herschell find God's works confirmatory of his word
GEOLOGY is rapidly rising to the rank of one of the noblest of sciences, developing the most stupendous facts. Superficial knowledge has boasted that these facts contradict God's word-that the history of creation, given by Moses, is repudiated by the cosmogony of geology. These mists of ignorance are now dispelled, and the skeptic's song of triumph is hushed. On the mountains and rocks, and the mighty mausoleums of the brutes that perish, eclipsing in their grandeur, the georgeous temple, the monumental bronze, the regal pyramid, God has engraven in eternal characters, the history of this world during those apparently endless cycles when the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and he has registered there the hour when he said, let us make man; and he has written there the story of those openings of the windows of heaven, and that breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, when the loftiest mountains were submerged in floods of rushing waters. And now, Geology may be called almost a Christian science, and she is converted from an ignorant foe, into an enlightened ally and friend.
PHYSIOLOGY has, in the darker ages of superficial investigation and misinterpreted phenomena, been judged hostile to the claims of revealed religion. And the believer has enquired with solicitude, and the infidel with triumph, how is it possible that one pair, Adam and Eve, could give birth to offspring so widely different as the black man and the white man? How can we reconcile the declaration of God that he made of one blood all the nations, when there are apparently now distinct species of men of such diversity of physical conformation as the jet black Hottentot and the fair skinned Caucasian. But these were the doubts and solicitudes of the day of ignorance. As physiological science has unfolded new developments, and established new facts, it has dispelled forever all those shadowy fears; it has established beyond all question the common origin of the whole human family. Enquire of Lawrence, of Humboldt, of Blumenbach, of any of the most enlightened physiognomists of the present day, and they will assure you that physiology confirms revelation, that disarmed of all hostility she follows, with winning homage, in the train of Christianity's triumphs.
CHRONOLOGY has, in former years, been claimed as irreconcileably conflicting with the statements of the Bible. And men, with the spirit of Voltaire, credulous in unbelief, have found histories, which they have claimed as authentic, narrating the vicissitudes of mighty nations ten thousand years before the birth of Adam. And in one of the pyramids of Egypt, an astronomical chart was discovered, the famous Zodiac of Dendara, describing the position of the heavenly bodies, thousands of years before the chronology of the Bible admits that man was created. For a time, Europe resounded with the shouts of infidel exultation. But soon the truth's of Bacon's adage was verified, "a little learning tendeth to atheism, but more bringeth us back to religion." Farther investigation proved that these ancient histories were fables, and the loud vaunted Zodiac but a painted toy. And
now, the chronology of the Bible, and the chronology established by the history and the monuments of antiquity, coincide. Thus one after another, have all the sciences been vanquished, and compelled to pay tribute to the Christian faith. These are wonderful victories. There is now not a single science, which makes any pretence even of being antagonistic to the Bible. The ripest and the most cultivated intellects of the world, disciplined in the school of the sciences, are now elucidating and demonstrating the divine authority of God's word.
IV. The past achievements of Christianity prove its eventual and perfect triumph.-Imperial Rome, earth's master and tyrant, fell prostrate before her. Nor Goth nor Vandal could stay her progress. Even Nero could not build fires hot enough to burn up her energies. Even the wild beasts of the Coliseum could not daunt the Christian's heart. The philosopher has toiled in vain to undermine the deep foundations of the church, and the shafts of the satirists have fallen harmless from her adamantine shield. The hostility of earth has marshalled every possible power, in every possible combination, against Christianity, and all in vain.
When the idols of Ephesus, of Athens, of the Pantheon, crumble from their pedestals at the approach of Christ, can the miserable feather Gods of the Pacific and the mud idols of India resist his approach? When the Roman empire, in the plentitude of its power, exhausted its energies in bloody persecution in vain, can we fear that earth may furnish other powers of persecution yet more terrible?
When we have seen philosophersand poets, and historians, and dramatists, and princes, combine with the highest resources of wit and wealth; and Christianity steadily advancing, notwithstanding all their endeavors, is it to be feared that other literary opponents will be able to accomplish that, which Hume and Voltaire and Gibbon and Frederic, the conspiring encyclopedists of Europe, in vain essayed ?
He who looks upon the past triumphs of Christianity, even though it be only with the eye of a philosophic observer of cause and effect, must admit that the religion of Christ possesses an inherent energy, which must inevitably make it triumphant over the world.
V. The triumphant advances Christianity is now making, indicate its universal extension.-When we add to all the above considerations, the rapid progress of Christianity at the present day-a progress hitherto unparalleled when we see revivals of religion multiplied through all the nations of christendom, our cities shaken by pentecostal power, and the most secluded villages re-echoing the song of Christian deliverance; when we see our young men and maidens by tens of thousands, with triumphant and rejoicing hearts, thronging the avenues to heaven, and our aged men, venerable with conflict and toil, exulting in the brightening glories of these latter days; when we see the youth of nearly all christendom in our colleges and higher seminaries of learning, instructed by men of piety, and genius and eloquence, in the