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MAN'S RENEWAL. By AUSTIN PHELPS. Alexander Straban, 56,
Ludgate Aill, London. This work is composed of four chapters, the subjects of which are conversion, its nature-regeneration, the work of God-truth, the instrument of regeneration-responsibility, as related to sovereignty in the new birth; and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We consider that the work of Dr. Anderson on Regeneration," is one of the best in our language on the subject, and the one before us does not seem in any way inferior. It is an admirable production. Its exposition of the subject, whilst it agrees with the teaching of Scripture, chimes with the voice of philosophy and experience, and the author is serious in conviction, strong in argument, succinct in phrase.
LECTURES ON THE Book of REVELATION. By John Brown, B.A.
London: Pitman, 20, Paternoster Row. We have been long waiting for a work on the book of Revelation of a thoroughly practical character-a book stripping the Apocalypse of all its imagery, and laying bare those great principles that are true to man everywhere, and for ever. Such a work has not yet come into our hands. The one before us approaches it as nearly as any one we have seen. The work has much good thought in it, and the writing is clear and strong.
REASON AND Religion. By R. E. HOOPPELL, M.A., F.R.A.S.
London: William Macintosh, 24, Paternoster Row. This is a course of seventeen short lectures on what are called the leading doctrines of Christianity. Many of the difficulties which the thoughtful reader of the Bible experiences in his endeavours to believe in some of its leading doctrines, are obviated in these discourses. The work is thoughtful, plain, and practical—an admirable volume to put into the hands of young converts.
Out of HARNESS. By THOMAS GUTHRIE, D.D. Alexander Strahan,
56, Ludgate Hill, London. This book is a republication of articles that appeared in the “Sunday Magazine,” and, therefore, its contents must be familiar to most of our readers. They are well worth working into a permanent volume. The illustrious author does not require us either to characterize his style, or commend his productions. The heart of a Christian philanthropis heats in every sentence, and the rays of genius flash on every page.
CONCERING THE COLLECTION, - By JOHN CRAPs. London: Eliot Stock. This letter contains many admirable remarks as to the duty and mode of contributing to the cause of philanthropy and religion.
A HOMIL Y
Christianity the Great.
"That, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.”—Ephes. i. 10.
HERE are many subjects of grand and engrossing interest in our text.
I. THE CRISIS OF THE UNIVERSE.—The ex
pression, “the fulness of time," and its equivalents, occur more than once in Scripture. Its meaning is sufficiently obvious. It appears to refer to the climax or culmination of a particular cycle in the providence of God, and is applied by way of pre-eminence to the consummation of the Redemptive scheme by the coming of Christ Jesus in the flesh—made of a woman, made under the law.
But as in the physical arrangements of the universe there are primary and secondary revolutions, each complete in itself, yet all contributing to the grander development of one majestic system—“cycle on epicycle, orb on orb”-so in the mysterious scheme of God's providence, there seems to be a wheel in the middle of a wheel, a planetary and solar economy, so to speak, in the moral government of the world. The period referred to in our text, we conceive to be the
climax of one of these grander periods, in which a circle of events usually regarded as full, final, and complete in itself, is made to take up a subsidiary position. For, be it observed, the plural term is here used, and a system of periods, and not merely one particular period, is spoken of. The scheme, or "dispensation," is made up of many fulnesses, each constituent chain of providences forming but one link in the greater chain which here unites the beginning with the end of God's purposes.
As with Ezekiel on the banks of Chebar, the heavens seem opened to us by this text, and we see visions of God. “The appearance of the wheels, and their work is, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel,” moving noiselessly forward, without variableness, or shadow of turning, never swerving from its purpose, “full of eyes," and influenced simultaneously with the ministering spirits that pass in and out amongst them, but all working together for good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose. Some of these providential cycles, these wheels of destiny, may have seemed to our unschooled vision “so high that they were dreadful”; but all have been full of eyes, all have been moved and stayed by an ever-wakeful God, and all have been tending toward this Crisis of crises-—"the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.”
If we look at our text from this point of view, with what consummate grandeur and majesty does the Gospel schemie become invested! The climax of the universe, with its myriad intelligences, is identified with the completion of the great work of redemption. “All things in heaven, and all things in earth” look to Jesus in his full-orbed royalty as the sun and centre of their sublimest aspirations. When God,
ringing his first-begotten into the world, commanded all the angels of God to worship Him, a grand climax was reached in the procedure of his purposes of grace. So, also, when Christ poured out his soul unto death, and the cry, full at once of anguish and exultation, was attered, " It is finished!” Again, when He ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, what an important cycle was completed ! But all these are here woven into one stupendous dispensation-"the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.” Look again at
II. THE SCENE OF REDEMPTION. When the first Napoleon, with a few of his more intimate and favoured friends, was flying, sallow and sullen, from the plains of Waterloo after his memorable defeat, the retinue was of course watched with the utmost earnestness by those who had come out to learn the fortunes of that fatal day. It was easy at once to see that the arms of France had suffered a disastrous
and everyone asked eagerly where the sad event had taken place. The word “Waterloo !” was murmured and re-murmured along the route, and the people, collecting into groups, discussed with considerable excitement the supposed whereabouts of that village. Those best conversant with the locality maintained resolutely that no such place existed, till at length the credibility of the whole story began to be doubted, because of the extreme insignificance of a spot now pre-eminent in the history of nations.
In a spirit somewhat akin to this have the rejectors of Revelation regarded that section of the universe where the stupendous battle of man's Redemption has been fought, According to their ideas, this infinitesimal speck in the limitless wilds of God's universe would be very far below the consideration of a Being who had strewn all space with such myriads of planets, suns, and systems. The objection seems to us a very foolish one, as it iniports a material element into the region of metaphysics and religion, and makes the question of bulk, measure, and specific gravity, necessary constituents in the educational and spiritual government of intellectual existences. They cannot complain if, for the sake of consistency, we suppose that their views of the Bible-scheme are of very small type indeed, and that they believe God to have chosen so small a world in which to carry out his plan, because it affected primarily the interests only of an obscure people, destitute of art, science, literature, or refinements of any kind, and that these people were not to influence the surrounding nations, by whom, in fact, they would be contemptuously ignored. Schooled by a succession of seers and prophets, rising up one after another, they were at length to be visited by a Divine Teacher, called the Son of God, who, being rejected by them and put to death, was by that death to procure for them and for a few others the blessings of glory, honour, and immortality.
But how is this narrow and unworthy view of Christianity rebuked by the magnificent text on which we are remarking! Of all the inconsistent charges brought by the sceptic, the rationalist, and the deist against the Bible, the most contemptible is assuredly that of littleness, as contrasted with the other modes and media by which He has made Himself known to man. These men tell us they want no Bible, and that the volume of nature is sufficient to instruct them in the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Almighty. But we think that they would look in vain among the "elder scripture" of the stars, or the glories of other districts of creation without arriving at any such sublime disclosures as are opened up to us by these verses. Let it, moreover, be borne in mind that all the many orders of intelligences above man, belong exclusively to the Christian : the deist has no claim to any one of them. Angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, and all the glorious hierarchy of heaven, are introduced to us only in that volume which they regard as insignificant, heterodox, and unnecessary. They seem to have mistaken mere magnitude for majesty, and illimitable space for consummate grandeur; but if God be Mind, as even these reasoners will admit, surely his highest glory must consist in his mental and moral rule over beings of the loftiest type of intellect. The divine kingdom advocated by the deist, is the mere rule over inert matter, motion and irrational life, with one solitary exception in favour of Reason, as it inheres only in the lowest type of all - fallen and fallible Humanity.