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on such an occasion. We also defer, for the present, our remarks upon the bills before the legislature; as the King's demise may probably prevent some of them passing through the usual stages before a new parliament is summoned. Among the measures which we are most anxious should not lapse is that for the abolition of capital punishment in all cases of forgery, except forging wills. This provision has passed the House of Commons, and is proceeding through the House of Lords, by the wisdom and humanity of the legislature, and the public feeling of the country, against the opinions and influence of government. It is a most important
instance of the triumph of principle and actual experience, over the fears and prejudices which so often impede measures of great wisdom and public advantage. We trust the same success may attend the efforts in progress for the abolition of slavery, the extinction of our present injurious code of poor laws, facilitating the course of justice, and many other questions of great importance; among others, that which Sir R. Inglis has been strenuously pressing upon the attention of the govern ment and legislature, the practice of making British soldiers assist at popish and heathen ceremonies.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
A CONSTANT READER; T. W. H.; R.; INQUIRER; J. H. R.; P. G. H.; A WoULDBE CHURCHMAN, P. S. J.; A BARRISTER; G.H.; J. H. M.; and AN OLD READER; are under consideration.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY.
It is perhaps only because the speeches at the late anniversary are the last, that we seem to think them among the most interesting that we have ever read on this always interesting occasion. The document needs not one word of introduction, to induce its eager perusal by our readers.
If we have sometimes thought the public, and not least the religious part of the public, too languid in seconding the efforts of this valuable institution for the extinction of slavery, we rejoice in inferring from the interesting proceedings at the last meeting, that this opprobrium is likely to be removed. Seldom has a public assembly been conducted with greater animation, greater energy, greater devotion to the object of the meeting; and we may add with greater unanimity; for the very discussion which arose as to the best means of obtaining the proposed end, only shewed how eagerly all wished it, and how fixed and unalterable was the determination to obtain it. This meeting will form an epoch in the Anti-slavery cause. A resolution has been passed to implore parliament to fix a day, and the earliest day practicable, beyond which, all children born throughout the British dominions shall be free. Hitherto all that has passed in the cabinet, in the legislature, and still more in the colonial assemblies, has but mocked the hopes of every enlightened and benevolent mind. Let us come, at length, to some precise, intelligible, tangible determination. The present House of Commons will not meet again after their separation : let every Christian, every man of justice and humanity, do all that in him lies, that the next parliament shall effect far, very far, more than the present has done;-let the abolition of slavery be the watch-word-not in a spirit of political party, but solemnly, and as in the sight of God, of every election banner throughout the kingdom. Let every candidate feel that not to give a full and unalienable pledge on this subject, is to abandon all claim to represent his fellow-countrymen within the walls of parliament. God, who is infinitely just, and infinitely merciful, will not be deaf to the prayers which are offered for the desolate and oppressed, or the zealous and self-denying efforts which are made for their benefit
BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY. We are happy to see it stated by Lord Bexley that the great object of this important society is" scriptural education," or in the expressive words of the Kev. G. Noel, that "it is a distingishing feature of the society that it educates not only for time, but for eternity." Mr. Bennett attests the great benefit derived to Christian missions, from the system of mutual instruction, as pursued by the society. The statement respecting the New-York African schools is highly encouraging; but we would particularly point the attention of our readers to the communication respecting the increased facilities for introducing Christian schools into China, to promote which the society has established a special fund, which we trust will be replenished in a manner worthy of the importance of the object.
The length of the above documents obliges us to defer the Bible Society Monthly Extracts, the Anti-slavery Supplement, the Reports of the Hibernian Society, the Peace Society, and other Societies, the Prayer-book and Homily Society speeches, &c. &c.
ON PROPHETIC SPECULATION.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
S you have ever opened your pages to temperate discussion, on a subject interesting, in various degrees, and for different reasons, to a considerable portion of the reading public, you will perhaps admit the inclosed letter, addressed to me by a clerical friend, whom I consulted on the occasion which he states. It is forwarded by his own consent; and he only begs me to add, that all its claim to attention rests on a wish to make the prophetic controversy an incidental cause of practical usefulness. The communication will, however, speak for itself. FRANCISCUS.
My dear friend,-You have been pleased to ask, and with a certain earnestness of manner, my opinions on the subject of prophecy. I scarcely know whether I have any opinions on a topic so intricate and extensive-any, I mean, sufficiently definite for your purpose; and certainly none which are at all adequate to my own wishes, if I aspire to become your adviser. In this connexion, indeed, I alternately feel ashamed and despondent. I ask myself, Is it not wrong for a public instructor to be ignorant on points which form so considerable a portion of the Scriptures? and my sense of ignorance induces shame. Yet, on CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 343.
the other hand, it seems impossible in this matter to be wise: and therefore I am tempted to despond, and to be content to know nothing, because there is a limit to knowledge. But in the circumstances under which you address me, I think that in what I have to say, our discussion may be narrowed. You are the incumbent of a populous parish, making incessant demands upon your time; not merely for public services, but for what may be of at least equal importance-the pastoral care during the week, and the management also of the machinery of your various religious and charitable institutions. The question is, how far a clergyman so situated should enter into the prophetical labyrinths of the day,
Let me observe, then, in the first place, that if we are to preach on the prophecies, as guided by the assumed rule, that every scriptural subject should form the material of pulpit instruction in proportion to the space which it occupies in the Scriptures themselves, we doubtless ought to preach more than most of us generally do on prophetical topics; for it would surprise those who have not examined the fact, to be informed what a vast portion of the Bible is written by the pen of prophets, as such; beginning at Moses, and closing with the last chapter of the Revelations. But of this portion, it appears, so far as I am acquainted with the actual state 3 E
of things among us, that only a small part comparatively is connected with the favourite theories of certain among our brethren. Consequently, the rule of proportion, if it be a rule, is evidently violated; and hence, if you and I are accused-and, so far as I can calculate, very justly in both instances-of being too silent on points which the Spirit of God has largely offered to our consideration, it may become those who accuse us to examine, on their own parts, how widely they have departed from the rule, by making selections where they ought to have received the whole; and also by being too busy where we have, perhaps, been all but entirely negligent. I suspect that if all parties preached with a more familiar knowledge of the Scriptures, we should not be so unwilling, as perhaps we are, to lead our congregations to meditate on the ob scure intimations of prophecy; and our reprovers also would discover, that the Divine record contains very many heads of instruction, which are not properly worked into the texture of their public discourses. We may thus recriminate, and, as in many similar cases, slide back again to our several stations; having come out of them for nothing better than to increase our mutual obstinacy, and to give the unbelieving world one proof more of our disunion and ostensible determination never to be convinced. Nay, worse than this, the common enemy settles down upon the lees of sin. He was amused, but none of us alarmed him he possibly thought that our quarrels constituted our religion. If such were his opinion, who of us, having a rising consciousness of this effect, endeavoured to shake him out of his delusions; and warned him that we were at least agreed in one thing, by making the correspondent inquiry, "Who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire."
In connexion with this appeal to conscience, I advert, in the next
place, to the dogmatism and intolerant manner in which some of our friends, lay and clerical, insist upon the nearness of the appearance of Jesus Christ. Now, let us assume, that it certainly is near; and, by way of giving the party in question a considerable advantage in their argument, let us even go so far as to fix, for the second advent, the year 1836-only six years from the present date. It may tend to realize the position, that if we look back over the same period of our past existence, we return to the comparatively recent year, 1824-the brief interval having vanished as a dream, and indicating the rapidity with which the same prospective period will fly away. Add to this, the emotion created bythe remembrance, that in this portion of the past eternity —and oh, how short!—there are few among us who do not notice many vacancies in their social circles occasioned by the inroads of death. Now I think we may very solemnly ask such of our brethren as hold the assumed date, or any other specific date, what preparation a Christian is bound to make, with reference to the coming revelation of 1836, which he needs not make, for the very next year of his mortal existence-nay, for the next month, day, hour, moment! For he is no more certain of surviving to witness the supposed approaching appearance, than are those who will be summoned into the eternal world, in any second of the intermediate time. "Be ye therefore ready." For what? for a definite period, when life itself is proverbially uncertain? No; but for the hour when Jesus Christ shall call us; as he has called the innumerable millions, now in their graves, into the invisible state. I own that I am startled by the doctrine implied by the speculators in prophecy, that there is a certain preparation of the soul for an event six years, or any precise number of years, hence, distinct from the preparation which is demanded for death itself, under the usual circumstances of its
approach and temporary dominion,
I proceed to a third point. If the disciples of the modern school of prophecy assert, that, till theyadopted its theories, they never possessed exalted views of the glory of Christ, and of his offices in the mystery of the Gospel, neither experienced the powers of the world to come in their own souls, I would offer two inquiries respecting this statement. The first is, whether they really do possess this high estimate of Christianity-whether they do experience these spiritual influences. It is easy to imagine that a novice, or even a man of the world, who meets with an impassioned treatise on any religious subject, and thence becomes a convert to its author's opinions, may set himself down as a proselyte, and wonder, both at his master's powers of reasoning, and at his own previous ignorance; and if the work contain vivid representations of the greatness of the Redeemer, it is scarcely too much to say, that even a libertine might be dazzled, and plead that a system so imposing must be true. But his fancy is gratified, while his heart is untouched; and he mistakes the transient pleasure for conviction-the opinion for the principle. Now it may be well for such as connect their assumed spirituality with an expectation of the second advent, to bring their assumption to some practical test. If they bring forth fruit, let it be proved whether it is the genuine
grape; and from what was it ga-
Allow me now to advance a theory, on my own part, explanatory of the confusions of the times; and with especial reference to our immediate subject. It shall be submitted to you, in the shape, also, of an inquiry: Is not the present inordinate ardour for prophetical speculation, an incidental proof of the morbid state of personal religion among us; either (as the inquiry might be extended) of its absolute non-existence in many who consume their days in unfruitful industry, or of its degradation from the very circumstance of its being brought
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into contact with these current delusions? As to myself, I am comparatively a recluse, and know nothing personally of those who have occasioned this communication. You perhaps, who are almost compelled to live in a crowd, can tell how far the prophetical students shine as lights in the world-whether they are "poor in spirit," "pure in heart," "hungering and thirsting after righteousness," possessed of "the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus," and altogether distinguished from others as "a peculiar people, zealous of good works." I do not ask you, and I am sure you do not aspire yourself, to become a spiritual physiognomist, and a discerner of spirits: but every man has a character; and, generally speaking, its broader features are visible. If these students are only equal to Christians not of their own school, what have they gained? If they are inferior, their very tower of strength betrays its weakness.
then to confute their opinions by the inconsistencies of their character; but by a serious, a searching, and an affectionate appeal to their consciences. Controversy, as such, is generally an unsuccessful toil, and very often inflames the wound it would heal. Discussion is quite another thing; for, in the proper sense of that word, we do not talk to conquer, but to persuade, and to communicate mutual edification.— Should you however be driven, or seduced, to descend into the printing-house, I confess without reserve, that I shall watch your entrance into that damp and noisome edifice with great anxiety. Mr. Faber, who is allowed, I believe, to be by far the most learned author of the age in this department of theology, shall be my voucher that a writer on prophecy must march to the field in the panoply of sound erudition; and may even then be foiled, or sink under the weight of his own barness. I am at least pretty confident of one consequence that if you once bury yourself in the investigation, it will be no small labour for your parishioners to dig you out; and it will be well, if you even allow their attempt at exhumation. You may, at this moment, have no suspicion of what it is to be absorbed in any of the innumerable forms of hypothesis. I will present you with one gratuitously; just as it swam in my imagination in the waking visions of last night, when I could not sleep, but when I could doze and dream. The son of the late emperor of France, as Napoleon the Second, will become autocrat of Western Europe; establish himself at Rome; annihilate the Papacy; restore the faith You ask me whether it would be of the New Testament; witness the advisable for a clergyman, in your commencement of the Millennium ; situation, to add one more to the settle the Jews in Palestine; and die writers on prophecy. In what I at Jerusalem*. I can readily imahave above advanced, my aim is to persuade you to try first, what may be done by a plain examination of the parties themselves ;-I do not mean as a meddler, or as one who wishes to catch them tripping, and
You will observe, that after all I do not deny the truth of the modern system of prophecy. I am only speaking of the injurious tendency of pursuing this or any other speculation, so as to lose sight of our immediate interest in the acknowledged and indispensible verities of the Gospel itself. There is a sound common-sense maxim, frequently heard among the wise and prudent of this world-first things first; and if we were equally sagacious, we should not have to mourn over the aberrations of certain brethren, who seem anxious first to become interpreters of the dark sayings of old, and then to inquire into the way of salvation.
Recent advices from Rome state, that "Madame Letitia, after giving legacies of 500,000 francs each to her children and and tokens of remembrance to her attendto Cardinal Fesch, with numerous pensions ants and friends, and considerable dona