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was soon rebuilt. The branch house in Cincinnati was established in 1820. In 1836 the capital was $281,650. The present net capital is about $1,500,000. The aggregate of the several bound volumes published by the Book Agents is now over nineteen hundred.* Surely this is a great enterprise, requiring men of capacious minds to manage it. And yet, considering all the facts, all the inspirations, all the directions in the Book of Discipline, and the character of our ecclesiastical ancestry, it is only what a seer would have prophesied, and what we now see to be in harmony with the genius of Methodism--the soul and product of work. In prohibiting the “reading of those books which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God,” one of the General Rules has all along impliedly urged the Church to profitable reading; and from the first, Mr. Wesley with his coadjutors was wise to provide suitable reading for his followers. The Book of Disciplina urges on all the preachers a diligent employment of their time,“ reading the most useful books.” If for the lack of reading taste they fail to do so, they are urged to “ contract a taste for it by use, or to return to their former em. ployment." † And that the laity, also, shall be a reading people, it is made the duty of preachers “ to take care that every society be duly supplied with books.”+ Sections 1 and 5, 6, corering nineteen pages of the Discipline, are devoted to advices and directions on the subject of education, on the printing and circulation of religious tracts, and on books and periodicals.
It being, therefore, well established that the inworking and directing spirit of Methodism is toward an intelligent ministry and a well educated and reading people, we see its harmony with the directions of the Great Teacher, who says to all his disciples, “Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me, and of the great Apostle who not only commended the mother and grandmother of Timothy for the good foundation which they laid in his yonth for intelligent piety, but who urges Timothy to continue his study to show himself “ approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," S and, for the enriching of his mind, to
* Methodist Almanac for 1871. † Discipline, Part II., chap. ii, sec. 5, ans. 3. * Disc., Part II., sec. 17, ans. 7. $ 2 Tim. ii, 15.
"give attendance to reading;" * and then he requests him, when he should come to him in prison at Rome, to “bring the books, but especially the parchments." +
It is said that study makes an accurate and critical man, that reading makes a full and versatile man.
evil communications," come they from whatever source and by whatever means, “corrupt good manners," it is well, it is wise, that the authorities of the Methodist Episcopal Church have, from the beginning, taken special care to make her entire people both intelligent and pious. In this work ministers are ex• pected, by advice and example, to take the lead. Indeed, it is made their duty “to preach on the subject of education once a year,” and “to diffuse information by the distribution of tracts, or otherwise.” An intelligent and educating ministry is in full harmony, if only anointed from above, with the life and power of godliness, and the highest degree of progress.
And the best field and time for the formation and development of a sound mind, of a good character, and of correct tastes, are within the range of childhood and in families. As in reference to the knowledge of art, of science, and of history, so in reference to the knowledge of religious principles and Christian experience, youth is the time for productive work, as the family and the Church are the field. The reading of good and instructive books and magazines is a source of mental strength, the reading of bad or of worthless ones is about the same as is an association with evil persons. Indeed, the habitual reading of light, fictitious, and corrupt literature is worse than the ordinary associations of lite, because it is more quietly, thoughtfully, and continuously done. The power of the printed page is often greater and more enduring, because more entrancing, than is conversation. The thread of thought is more continuous, and the plot and machinery of the story lead to a bewitching revery or to an absorption of thought and feeling. Much of the more popular literature of the times is written for the purpose of large sales and pecuniary profits. Beauty of style is niade the covering of sin. An undue exaltation of humanity is made to depreciate the power of Christian truth, and the heroism of imagined characters is wrongly ennobled and falsely made to outrank and outshine Christian virtue. Not unfrequently the sanctities and obligations of marriage are lightly esteemed, Christian restraints are ridiculed, and the bonds of virtuous society are loosely held or are utterly disrupted. Under the adornments of rhetoric the poison of intidelity and sensuality is infused into the life-currents of thought and feeling, and thence into domestic and social circles. But the pleasure and advantage of choice reading are very great. It has been said that the disuse and loss of steam power in mechanics and travel, and the abolition of telegraphic communication, would throw civilization back a thousand years. But the destruction of printing and of books would be a much greater calamity, and would bring on a deeper barbarism.
* 1 Tim. iv, 13. + 2 Tim. iv, 13. # Discipline, Part T', sec. i, ans. 3.
No entertainment is at the same time so cheap and profitable as is instructive reading. For a few dollars, which are spent by many persons in “needless self-indulgence" or in dissipation, any young person may supply himself with the means of varied knowledge and with sources of intelligence, the pleasures of which far surpass those which are secured by a waste of time and money in sensual gratification. But in the selection of reading matter there should be a wise discrimination. One hook of science, of travel, of biography, well written, lively, racy, suggestive, full of facts and of practical thoughts, pure and good, and carefully read, is more useful than a hundred insipid and exaggerated ones, hastily run over with no higher motive than to get an idea of their plots and of the issues of their unnatural tales. The eloquent Fénélon once said, "If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all.” Choice and instructive reading is a grand means of improvement in all that constitute and proinote symmetrical character and true civilization. And the burning of the famous library at Alexandria was, therefore, a greater loss to the world than would have been the destruction of the armies of Alexander. And the late destruction of the great library at Strasburg, by the bombardment of that city, is a greater calamity to the world of letters than is the fall of the city—which, by the way, is now transferred to a Protestant power-or than the marring of the cathedral, because of the burning of many rare manuscripts and volumes which
Fourru SERIES, VOL. XXIV.
may not be replaced. The exhumings of Nineveh and Babylon, of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and the discovery of the Sinaitic Codex, by which the Codex Vaticanus is corrected or confirmed, reveal the amount of literary wealth time and catastrophe have buried.
The reading of good and useful books and periodicals, and the gathering of them into family, academic, and public libraries, promotes sound and wise intelligence. The reading of bad and noxious ones has a contrary tendency. Infidel productions, the vagaries of doubting neologists, the sickly sentimentalities of weak minds, the worse compound of American transcendentalism, are multiplied a thousand-fold and in every possible form, for the perversion of virgin thought and for the invalidation of solid Christian character. In order to supplant these kinds of literature, or, which is better, to prevent contact with them so far as one great Christian community is concerned, the authorities of the Methodist Episcopal Church have, from the beginning, attempted the encouragement and the publication of a great variety of books and periodicals in almost every range of thought, suited to families, to ministers, and to Churches. And they have done well, grandly well. No Church has done better.
ART. III.-THE APOCALYPSE A DRAMATIC ALLEGORY.
The history of the world is a drama performed in the presence of invisible spectators.UPHAM WISE MEN, p. 125.
Is there any key to a clear understanding and interpretation of this wonderful book? We think there is, and the title to this article is the key.
An allegory is a figurative description of real facts. pose is to teach, to encourage, and caution. A spiritual or religious allegory is designed to convey a truth and illustrate a doctrine, more than to give a minute and historical detail of facts and the duration of events. This we take to be the drift of the book before us.
Duties and doctrines are the sum and substance of its pages, and these are illustrated and applied, enforced and impressed, with all the effect of a most brilliant and gorgeous panorama. And while we say this of the Apocalypse, we may also say the same of most of the prophetic and poetic books of the Bible. So of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Canticles, etc., and many of the sayings of our Lord,
It is not, therefore, properly speaking, either prophecy or revelation, and yet it partakes of the nature of both. It is preaching, illustrated and applied by metaphor instead of anecdote; or rather, it is religious truth dramatized. It is the Gospel of Christ, and the Church militant and the Church triumphant; each an act, with scenic representations drawn by a master-hand, most graphic, grand, and gorgeously glorious. It is divinely histrionic, elaborated by divine art, drawing from three worlds its acts, and actors, and audiences, and scenic surroundings.
Shakspeare dramatizes history and human character. Bunyan dramatizes Christian life and destiny, and John has inimitably dramatized Christian doctrines, duties, and destiny. Bunyan is allegorical, so also is Shakspeare. It is equally true of the Apocalypse. Shakspeare creates personages and pageants; so does Bunyan; so also does St. John the Divine. Shakspeare calls up from the unseen world his dramatis persona. Bunyan
St. John the Divine does the same in a bolder, loftier style, for his subject demands it, and his familiarity with the Prince and Ruler of all worlds gives it a naturalness and a dignity at once impressive and commanding, equal to a special, and glorious revelation, which in reality it is designed to be and is.
We shall endeavor to arrange and analyze this dramatic allegory, so as to present the subject of it in its varied aspects in the simple and forcible light which its author designed.
I. THE CHURCH IS ADDRESSED. (Rev. i, 4, 9–11.) II. THE MOĐEL CHURCH IS SYMBOLIZED. 1. Christ, its glorious author, head, and purifier, living and reigning in it. (Rev. i, 5, 8, 12-16.)
2. The plenary indwelling of the all-quickening Holy Ghost : (Rev. , 4, last clause :) " and from the seven spirits which are before the throne.”
does the same.