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The duty of ministers to enforce the pacific principles of the gospel, is beginning to be extensively acknowledged. Not only has the American Peace Society for years encouraged this practice by gratuitously furnishing a large number of pastors with its periodical to assist them in performing this part of their duties, but many of our highest ecclesiastical bodies have repeatedly recommended the same thing; and, as the time appointed for this effort is fast approaching, we would urge the importance of prompt fidelity to this cause, and suggest some of our reasons for wishing ministers to preach statedly on the subject of peace.
i. Peace is confessedly a part of the gospel; and, if required to “preach the gospel to every creature,” and “ declare all the counsel of God,” can ministers consistently refuse to preach its principles of peace any more than they could repentance or faith?
It is in vain to say, that there is much diversity of opinion respecting what the Bible teaches on this subject. Be it so; but is there not a similar diversity concerning other parts of the gospel ? Christians are not entirely agreed respecting the Sabbath, the character of God, or the nature of repentance and faith ; but shall ministers refuse for this reason to preach on such subjects ? Such a principle would exclude all the pecu
liarities of the gospel. Ministers must study the Bible for themselves, and then preach in its proper place every doctrine and duty which they find on its sacred pages. We do not require them to inculcate our views of peace; but we do urge them to enforce their own conceptions of the gospel on this subject as faithfully as they do what they believe it to teach concerning repentance or faith. This is just the course taken on kindred topics; for, when societies or ecclesiastical bodies have urged special efforts in behalf of the Sabbath, they have left ministers to preach, and Christians to coöperate, according to their respective belief of what the Bible teaches concerning that blessed day.
2. We regard the cause of peace as a part of the instrumentalities requisite for the world's conversion. We cannot now detail our reasons for this belief; but we doubt whether any other custom has done so much to neutralize the saving power of the gospel in Christian lands, and to prevent its spread and triumph over the earth. The magnitude, long continuance, and consequent inveteracy of this evil, demand specific efforts for its removal ; and the reasons for such efforts in this cause are essentially the same as for those leading enterprises of the age whose claims are so cheerfully admitted by the great body of Christians.
3. No enterprise of benevolence or reform belongs more appropriately to ministers of the gospel than the cause of peace. They must lead its van, or it never can succeed; and in many ways they could easily promote it in public and in private, from the pulpit and the press. It is in their power so far to revolutionize public sentiment on this subject, that the rulers of Christendom would be constrained, in compliance with the strong desires of their subjects, to discard appeals to the sword, and employ only pacific expedients in settling international disputes.
4. The long neglect of this subject renders the course we recommend necessary in order to reincorporate the pacific principles of the gospel, where our Saviour left them, in the faith and habits of his disciples as a body ;—a step which we deem absolutely indispensable to prepare the way for the Millennium, but which will never be taken until ministers generally begin to preach peace as a part of our religion essential to a consistent Christian character.
5. We wish, also, to supersede as far as possible the necessity of agents in this cause. Such a necessity, wherever found, results from the neglect of pastors and churches to do their
duty; and, had they in every age done their whole duty on this subject, there would have been left no room for specific efforts in behalf of universal peace. In the present state of things, however, we must have some agents, or abandon the enterprise ; and, for the purpose of increasing our resources both in money and personal coöperation, we must for a time send them occasionally to churches whose pastors plead the cause with a commendable degree of fidelity:
6. Our plan of conservative reform requires from ministers such coöperation as we solicit. On them, and their brethren in the church, would we devolve the responsibility of this cause as identical with the gospel, and as a part of the means indispensable to the world's conversion. We have great confidence in their disposition as a body towards this and every other enterprise which deserves their support; we doubt not they will eventually come cheerfully up to the work in earnest; and, though we may chide their delay, and mourn over the present incorrectness or inadequacy of their views on some points, yet we cannot distrust their willingness to sustain a cause so obviously their own, so dear to their Master in heaven, and so essential to the extension of his kingdom through the world.
We trust that ministers, in redeeming their pledge to our Society, will inake a special effort. It is by no means enough to draw a few inferences in behalf of peace from a discourse devoted to another subject; they are bound in good faith to preach one whole sermon on the pacific principles of the gospel; and we see not how a real friend of the cause could refrain from making, in addition to this, such inferences and allusions in its favor as a variety of topics in the Bible can hardly fail to suggest. Will not every pastor, pledged to our aid, strive to interest his people as deeply as possible in this cause, and to secure not only their prayers, but their pecuniary aid? The Society is now in very special need of funds amidst the pressure of the times; and will not ministers use their influence to obtain from their congregations a cheerful and generous contribution ? We trust that every one who preaches on the subject, will propose a contribution in some form. And would it not be much better to take it up at the close of the sermon than at the concert of prayer?
We would not dictate the precise time for preaching; but, as the 25th of December, the time appointed for the annual concert of prayer for peace, comes this year on Monday, cannot ministers inake it convenient 10 preach on the subject the day preceding? We are anxious to have this subject, as a part
of the gospel, brought forward, just like faith or repentance, amidst the ordinary services of the sanctuary ; and the practice of reserving it for a fast or thanksgiving, does serious injury to our cause by producing an impression, that it is too secular for the sanctities of the Sabbath. It has, indeed, some secular aspects and bearings more proper for such occasions; but the minister who does not know how to exhibit the pacific principles of the Sermon on the Mount in a way strictly evangelical, should lose no tirne in supplying this deficiency in his qualifications as a preacher of the gospel of peace.
We earnestly hope that pastors will prepare their churches for the concert of prayer. It is surely not asking too much, that followers of the Prince of peace should set apart one hour in a year to pray especially for the smiles of Heaven upon efforts for the spread of peace coextensive with their religion. Will not ministers make an effort to secure a full attendance, and to render the concert so interesting that Christians shall hereafter welcome its annual return with joy? We leave every pastor to take his own course for this purpose ; but, if the following articles are not read in full at the concert, we request that the substance of them may be communicated on that occasion.
PRAYER FOR THE UNIVERSAL PREVALENCE OF PEACE.
God has foretold the prevalence of peace over the whole earth as expressly as he bas-promised salvation to the penitent believer in Christ. “It shall come to pass in the last days,”— under the Christian dispensation,—“chat the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks ; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the call, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain ; for the earth shall be full of the knowledye of ibe Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” *
Is not this language plain, unequivocal, decisive? The Bible contains no promise more explicit than that of universal peace; we have as good reason to hope for the peace, as we
have for the conversion of the world; and consistency would require us either to reject the word of God entirely, or to regard the ultimate prevalence of peace over the whole earth as perfectly certain.
But how can we secure the fulfilment of this promise? Is there nothing for us to do? Are any of God's promises unconditional ? Will he not be inquired of by his people to do the very things he has expressly promised? We expect to see no Christian growing in grace, no sinner brought to repentance, no progress made towards the conversion of the world, except in answer to the requests of his children; and can we delude ourselves into the belief, that God will full his promise of universal peace without their prayers and efforts? Will he make this case an exception, a direct contradiction to the whole course of his providence? If not, there is as much urgency, and as much encouragement, to pray for the peace, as for the conversion of the world.
But the providence of God, as well as his word, is encouraging our prayers for this object. Special efforts in the cause of peace began to be made only a little more than twenty years ago; and the smiles of Heaven have crowned them with such success as to keep the general peace of Christendorn during all this period, and thus prevented an immense waste of blood, and treasure, and human happiness. There have been local broils of a domestic nature productive of great mischief, but nothing like the wars consequent on the French Revolution, destroying myriads of property, and drenching a whole continent in tears and blood.
How cheering the spectacle, how benign the influence of all the Christians on earth uniting their prayers to God for the universal and permanent reign of peace! Would they not breathe through Christendom a spirit that would lull the demon of war to sleep? Should the waters of strise beyin to rise, and dash, and foam, would they not pour upon them such celestial oil as would hush them ere-long into peace? Should all the followers of Christ in England and this country pray aright for this object, would it be possible for rulers again to embroil the two nations in war?
Reflect on some of the motives to prayer and effort in behalf of this cause.
If war is a sin against God, are we not as truly bound to seek its abolition, as we are the extinction of idolatry and superstition? If war bas contaminated and debased our religion, ought we not to remove this plague-spot from the