Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29, 30)
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20, 21)
The question for our consideration tonight is, Will the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ a second time be a coming in person or in spirit? Is it to be an outward display in the sky, and an alteration in the material universe, or is it to be the descent of new principles from the Lord, forming human souls on earth into the image of his glorious kingdom in heaven? To these questions we reply, Undoubtedly it is to be a coming in spirit and not in person; not by outward show or observation.
We would beg of you to bear in mind this fact, that all the teaching which we esteem to be Scriptural and harmonious with the whole counsel of God, must come up to the threefold test of which I have previously spoken; namely, it must be rational, it must be in harmony with science, and it must be Scriptural.
In relation to doctrines, we also require that they should be taught in the very language of the Sacred Scriptures--not simply that the ideas should be in harmony with the spirit of the Bible, but that the foundation principles should be absolutely expressed in the very language of the Bible. The very language of the Bible in answer to this question you will find in our second text, when in reply to the Pharisees and Scribes, Jesus said: "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, 'Lo here!' or, 'Lo there!' for behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Now that is precisely what we teach upon the subject; everything else comes in the way of illustration. The very letter of the Scripture teaches the true doctrine. It is so with every doctrine we teach. As a doctrine we not only know that it is in harmony with the whole Scriptures, but it is one which can be stated in the very language of the Scriptures--it is "Thus saith the Lord."
It is not so with what may be called the old doctrines of Christendom; not one of them can be stated in the very language of the Sacred Scriptures. They are supposed to be inferred--supposed to be provable by something else that is stated, but they are nowhere said in so many words.
To illustrate this, begin with the doctrine of the Godhead. This says, there are three divine persons in God, and these three form one God. You cannot find this, however, stated anywhere in the Bible; not even two divine persons are mentioned there. It is not to be found from Genesis to Revelation. I can find plenty of statements to the opposite. God is one, is the grand doctrinal note. And so it is with every one of the peculiar doctrines which have been very commonly supposed to be the doctrines of true religion. Not one of them can be stated in the exact and precise language of the Bible.
If I ask a man to bring me a passage of Scripture that says the natural body shall rise again--that the material body shall rise again--that flesh and blood shall rise again, or anything which specifically states what he means upon that subject in the very words of the Bible, he cannot do it. The statement that the dead shall rise is to be found there; but how, or in what body shall they come? That is the particular inquiry: How they are to rise, and when?
Ask me for a passage that says flesh and blood shall not rise, and I give you one in a moment, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:50). "The body thou sowest is not the body that shall be" (1 Corinthians 15:37). I can give you half a dozen if you like, to state in Scriptural expression our view upon the subject.
And now in connection with the subject of this lecture, the question is, whether the Second Coming of the Lord is to be by outward show--by a visible appearance in the sky--or whether it is to be effected by an inward change, to take place by new principles being given. And here is the Word of the Lord: "The kingdom of God cometh not by observation." It is easy and simple; short and to the point. Men shall not say, "Lo here! or, lo there!" Nor is it to come in the eastern sky, or the western sky? "For the kingdom of God is within you."
Let us think for a moment of this beautiful and Scriptural statement as to the "how." It is not as to whether the Lord will come and form a new kingdom or not, but as to how it is to be done.
Just think of it; consider whether this Scriptural statement, that it is not by outward show, is not as rational as it is Scriptural? Have not men been going on for hundreds of years thinking that they could make themselves happy by outward show? Some by an outward show in religion; some by an outward show in irreligion; one man by the terrible ambition of royal, imperial, or priestly rule; another man by thinking that he would be thoroughly happy if he could only manage to get a thousand pounds, or a house of a certain size, or some other form of external grandeur--and has there ever been a man made happy by that means?
Is it not evident to a thoughtful mind that this world--this glorious universe of our God: the grand canopy on high, and the beautifully carpeted earth on which we live--is the sublime creation of infinite Love and Wisdom; and that nothing is needed to make this world a paradise, but that men should become outwardly and inwardly permeated by the Spirit of God, and as obedient to his will as the outward world is?
What is it that makes the world unhappy? False and wicked principles. Take these away, and this world would then become--it is true in a lower degree, yet it would become for man--the outward kingdom of our God; this world would then become a world of preliminary and preparatory happiness; a nursery for heaven; a place of preparation where, as far as inward spiritual powers and beauties and blessings could be expressed by the body and in the body, we should have a heaven upon earth.
There is nothing amiss with the world; there is nothing wrong with the sky; there is nothing wrong with God's part of creation; it is man's selfishness and sin that make the mischief. Let there be unfolded in the spirits of men, true, Godlike principles, not the revelation of divine wisdom perverted--let it be seen what it is that makes heaven there, let it be insisted upon that the same principles must be acted upon here, and you will then have the powers of heaven brought down upon earth; you will have that fulfilled which, probably, every one of you have been praying for today and every day; for our blessed Lord taught us all to do it--"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth."
That has not yet been the case. Not yet, even though prayed for so long. But surely it is to be. Surely all this teaching, and all this prayer, and all the promises of the Sacred Scriptures are to be fulfilled. And may it not be that mistaken notions of religion have stood in the way of their fulfillment hitherto--and that true ideas of religion will bring it about? It is rational to think so. Thus is it with an individual. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is then within the experience of every person, that it is an inward change that is wanted--a real inward change. Instead of self ruling in the soul, Christ rules there; instead of fanciful and self-conceited notions being what we act upon, the holy principles that form the essence of all religion are these which we shall act upon.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
This view is rational, then, as well as Scriptural, and it is in harmony with science. Science says nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ coming in an outward way, and the world being destroyed, and the universe becoming an awful wreck.
We invite especial attention to the language of our text. Every now and then persons rise up, who come with great zeal and energy, and declare that either in a few weeks, or a few years, this general wreck and conflagration will take place; and they agitate the minds of simple and ignorant persons until these become almost, and sometimes quite, frantic with the idea that the present universe is to be completely annihilated, that there is to be an utter wreck of worlds and suns, and that this is to be attendant on the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And here, I may remark, such persons would select my first text as their peculiar authority for teaching this. There are a few texts which are commonly made use of for this purpose, but none more striking than this, and for that reason I have selected it.
The true mode by which Christians are to attain right views, is not by shirking the views of other people or shunning the texts that other people regard as teaching different views; but it is by looking them straight in the face, and making the entire Scripture harmonize together; and when you can not only see your own, but harmonize the others with it, there is good reason to believe that you have got the right key to the whole.
It is too often with religion as it was with the outer garment of the Savior when he was crucified. The soldiers divided the garment amongst themselves. Too often it has happened that fighting Christians, those who have been earnest in dispute, have overlooked the spirit of real religion: each has taken his piece; each has kept his part of the garment. They have divided his garment amongst themselves. And, precisely in this way, the Bible has been taken piecemeal; each taking his bit, scarcely looking at what appears to be of a somewhat opposite character.
The safer principle is the other; take what seems to be contrary to your view, and examine that well; see what you can make of that. There is no real contrariety. But when a person takes his part of the letter of the Scriptures, abides in the letter, and pays no attention to the spirit or the grand entirety of divine revelation, then comes error. "The words that I speak unto you," said the Lord Jesus, "they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). "The letter killeth," saith St. Paul, "but the spirit giveth life" (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Well, now, as to this first passage. It says that about the time when our Lord shall come, and previous to his coming, "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven"; and the common notion has been that this is literally to happen. And while men had no true knowledge of the grandeur of the system of the universe--while they supposed that this world was not so large as it is, and that the sky was just a blue arch raised over the world, in which the stars were fixed as lamps or glory holes through which light gleamed from heaven which was just above it--while they had this kind of notion, the idea of the stars falling to the earth did not seem to them a very startling thing or an irrational one at all.
But now it is known that our earth is not the center of the universe, nor is it larger than all the rest of the universe put together, as it used to be thought. It is known that our earth is only a comparatively small portion of our own solar system; that our sun is as large as thirteen hundred thousand earths put together; that some of the planets in our solar system are many hundred times larger than our earth; and that there are about ninety planets, greater or less, belonging to our solar system. It is known that our solar system all together, the sun and all his worlds if seen from another fixed star, another sun--all together would only seem like a point, like a star; the worlds would be hidden in the glorious beams of the sun, and seen from another star, the whole would only be as one star in the firmament.
When it is known that there are millions of such stars, which are doubtless suns attended by worlds revolving round them, then "the heavens indeed declare the glory of God."
This is not all. Great and powerful telescopes discover to us small, dim bodies which have been called "nebulae," because they have a cloudy appearance in the heavens, and these powerful telescopes show these small bodies to be groups of stars--other grand starry systems--which, though they are thus seen through the telescope to be stars, are most probably suns with worlds around them, with other dim nebulae unveiled. The most powerful telescopes, indeed, discover other cloudy bodies behind these--other systems, other grand collections of suns and worlds. When I say that some of these worlds, some of these suns even, are so far distant that light takes millions of years to come from them to us, we come to see how wondrously grand is this universe of our God.
What, then, are we to think of the idea of the stars falling down to the earth, when one of the secondary class, one that is only one of millions, is many hundred times larger than the earth? Why then, surely science necessitates our thinking a little more upon the subject, to see whether we have got the right system of interpretation or not. In our view of the matter, we shall easily perceive how beautifully the divine sense coheres and comes out.
With the ordinary view, let a person just think that, first of all, as we said before, one star is far too large even to be received upon the earth. Let him imagine that the notion even of all the stars falling to the earth is unphilosophical, because the earth is suspended in space, and the stars are all around, so that a very large portion of them would have to rise to the earth instead of falling to it, while others would have to approach on the same level; and these wonderful bodies, if they were to be making their way to the earth, millions of millions of miles before they got there, would all be wedged fast. Again, such is the power of gravitation that very, very long before these suns and worlds even came together, they would so powerfully attract our world as to rend it to atoms; there would be no world to come to--it would be all gone into ten thousand thousand thousand atomic forms.
A person may, however, say, "I have nothing to do with that; I have to believe the Scriptures." The question is not one of believing the Scriptures; the question is of understanding the Scriptures. And if you choose to abide by the letter--the "letter" that "killeth"--instead of coming unto the "spirit" that "giveth life," rest assured you are not honoring God; you are merely yourself clinging to a piece of unreasonable nonsense, and dishonoring God who teaches you by science and by reason, as well as by the express teaching which I have already quoted, that his kingdom does not come with outward show. God teaches you to rise from the letter to some higher signification; and if we are at all conversant with the Sacred Scriptures, we shall have no difficulty in reading these glorious symbols.
God who made the spiritual and outward worlds, has made them all beautifully corresponding to one another. And one of the grandest of all sciences is the science of seeing the relation, the correspondence, that there is between outward things and inward things, between matter and spirit, between the outward universe of nature and the inward universe, the universe of mind.
Now it is according to this grand law that God speaks in the Bible; and you will find there that sun and moon and stars, that heaven and earth, are not used in the sense of the earthly and material objects which are understood when men are speaking about earthly things. But by the "sun" is meant the higher sun, the sun of the soul--God himself; by the "moon" is meant a higher and nobler moon, that faith which reflects God's light upon the soul, as the moon reflects the light of the sun upon the earth; and that the "stars" are used as the symbols in the Sacred Scriptures of all the lesser lights of heavenly knowledge, of the knowledges of heavenly things given in the sacred Word, when understood--each one shining like a little star in the soul.
In this way the Church is like that glorious image given us in the Book of Revelation, where it is said by John:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (Revelation 12:1, 2)
Everyone will see how beautiful the image becomes when we bear in mind that the woman--or the Church, which is represented by a woman throughout the Bible--the Church is the Lamb's wife; she has the sun of God's love around her; she has the moon of faith for her support; she has the inward ornaments of all the knowledges of heavenly things shining about her head; she brings forth the true doctrine which forms men-children: those that are really men; God's men; those that really bring out all that is angelic and manly; those that rule everything within them in subordination and obedience to the divine will; that rule all nations with a rod of iron.
I have said that the "sun" is the corresponding image to God himself, especially to his divine love. And here perhaps one may ask, Well, but where is there a text for that? It is quite ready. You will find it in the Book of Psalms: "For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). If you want another, turn to Isaiah: "Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isaiah 60:20). If you wish for further evidence, turn to Malachi, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Malachi 4:2).
How beautiful is the idea that the soul has its sun as well as the body; that there is a true light that enlightens every man that cometh into the world--that same glorious Sun who, in the person of the divine Savior, came to reconcile the world unto himself, and of whom John says, he "was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).
Now this is the Sun with which the Scriptures have to do. It is our relationship to that Sun that is of the highest importance to all of us; and if we can open our souls to let that Sun shed its glorious light upon our hearts, we may then walk on, illuminated and blessed by its splendor, which will ever throw a light upon our path, and enable us to advance from light to light unto the perfect day.
In fact it is in this way alone that we can understand the Scriptures, either when they speak of a new heaven and a new earth being formed, or of the old being broken down and dissolved.
Here allow me to direct your attention for a moment to some passages in the Scriptures to which men commonly appeal. They are not many in number; but they are passages which, to people who do not think deeply, seem to say that the world is to be dissolved, and the heavens also, with great heat, simply because they have not observed the Scriptural mode of speaking. They have taken their notions to the Bible, and interpreted the Bible according to them, instead of just taking their minds to the Bible, and letting it teach them.
Now, if they had adopted the latter plan, and had read steadily the sacred pages, they would have found there that whenever God speaks of forming a new dispensation after the end of an old one, he calls it making a new heaven and a new earth; and when a religion becomes faded, perverted, and broken down, it is called the old heaven and earth being dissolved, and passing away. This is the mode in which God speaks throughout the Scriptures. In all these things we are most strikingly instructed by the sacred writings themselves.
Take, for instance, as an evidence of the mode of forming a dispensation, the passage in Isaiah:
And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people. (Isaiah 51:16)
Now here, you perceive, God speaks of planting the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth. But everyone may know that when he puts his words into the prophet's mouth, or when he puts his words into your mouth or mine, he does not then and thereby make the outward universe, which was made thousands and millions of years before. But yet this is called "planting the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, Thou art my people." But what "heavens?"
The heavens within--the heavens with which we have to do. What "earth?" The new earth of a new life and conduct--new institutions, to which the new heavens give rise--new practice, a new outside as well as a new inside. This is called the "planting of the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth."
Refer again to Isaiah, and you will find, where thy Lord is speaking of founding the Christian world, he says:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (Isaiah 65:7, 18)
But if creating a new heaven and earth meant that he would do away with the natural universe and form a new natural universe, it would be no rejoicing for Jerusalem or her people either, for they would perish along with the rest of the earth.
But then when we read the Scriptures attentively, we see that what is meant is the removal of the old principles, which have formed a wretched state of society, and the bringing forth of new principles to form a new and holy and pure state of society. The "last days" and the "end of the world" do not mean the last days, or the end of the outward world, but the end of the former dispensation--the former Church, the former mode of thinking and acting. We are not only taught in the Scriptures that the earth will be dissolved, but you will find precisely the same language used concerning what it has been.
In David's time the Jewish Church became corrupted. Saul, who ought to have been its great protector, became forgetful of his God: a breaker of all divine ordinances; a conspirer against the truly good. And how is that described? The Psalmist says, "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved; I bear up the pillars of it" (Psalm 75:3). Not they shall be dissolved at some future time, but are, are now dissolved. No one with common sense can suppose that the outward world in David's time was all dissolved and done away with; and that he, like another Atlas, was propping up the outward system of things.
But that is the way in which divine revelation speaks. Because, as I said before, the earth with which it has to do is the moral earth, the spiritual earth, not the outward material world. The outer earth is all right. What we have to do is to receive God's principles into ourselves, and use God's Word aright.
It is not an isolated state of things of which I am speaking, but it is interspersed throughout the Word of God. It is very often found to be the case, that when a person comes upon a new truth in science, he is astonished that he was so dull as not to have seen it before, when it has been lying under his nose all his life; and when others see it they also wonder that they had never found it out. And so it is in religion. When you get a really new view--one that is an advance in divine revelation--you wonder you never saw it before. So it is with this view; it is found throughout the sacred pages, yet numbers read them without perceiving it.
Turn to the Psalms once more:
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are out of course. (Psalm 82:5)
No one surely can suppose that because the people would not understand, and would not know and act upon the principles of true heavenly light, the rocks went out of course. "The foundations of the earth are out of course." But the foundations of what earth? Why, the foundations of the moral earth--the foundations upon which all men must build if they would have a solid superstructure of holiness, wisdom, and true righteousness. The grand foundation is Jesus Christ and his divine Commandments; these form the foundations. But when men will not have them; when they love darkness rather than light; when they walk on in darkness, then these foundations get out of course.
You will find it just the same in every one of the Prophets, the same in the Gospels, and in the Epistles. We have the end of the world--or, as it ought to be translated, the consummation of the age. We have it in this very chapter in Matthew, from which our text is taken. The Lord says, in answer to the inquiry of the disciples about the end of the age, called the end of the world, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved"; that the time shall come when "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:12, 13).
But what can be meant by enduring to the end of the natural universe--living on unto the end of the world? Why, if none are to be saved but those who do so, then all those that have died up to this time must be lost; for the world has not ended yet. Jesus says, "He that endureth to the end"; that is to say, when religion is becoming perverted and cold; and although men may talk a great deal about faith then, it is faith in something of their own; it is not faith in what Jesus teaches and lays down; it is very often only the name of faith.
When men talk about faith alone being saving, it is not the faith of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing with him as faith alone. He does not recognize such a faith; his Apostles did not recognize it. If a person has nothing but faith, he has not faith; he has only fancy. He alone is saved by faith whose faith is full of love, and goes out into practice. It is never faith alone. "Though I have all faith," says St. Paul, "so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2). "Show me thy faith without thy works," says James, show it me; let me look at it, "and I will show thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18).
That alone is true faith. Tell me what a man does, and I shall know what he believes. He may talk about his faith from morning till night; but if I see that he acts from a spirit of selfishness and injustice, he does not believe in Christ, he believes in himself--that is his faith, the other is only a sham--one that he talks about and keeps for show; and perhaps after deceiving others for a long time, he at last deceives himself, and supposes he believes what he talks about believing. He has got something that is not what the Lord Jesus recognizes as faith. He said to the woman that loved him, "Thy faith hath saved thee." When persons love him, then their faith will act; for it is faith not alone; it is full of love.
This is the only faith that Jesus Christ recognizes as faith--that which the Apostle speaks of when he says, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). That is saving faith.
Well, then, the Lord teaches that before his Coming there would be a great lack of faith--that the sun would be darkened, and the stars should fall from heaven.
But I have said that the end of the world, the last day, and suchlike expressions, refer to the end of a dispensation, not to any destruction of the material world, and that this is the meaning in the New Testament as well as in the Old. We will just examine the New Testament first.
We have already said that our Lord's words would be unintelligible if we thought of the end of the world. But where a man is faithful, and holds to the truth and the love of Jesus Christ, and will not swerve from them--though he sees his neighbor getting rich by cheating, and his neighbor believing in cheating--he remains a man who believes in Christ, believes in justice, believes in goodness, and clings firmly to these, not only in his prayers and on Sunday, but in his practice and every day in the week, a man with a real faith; he is enduring to the end, and he will be saved. The other man is being lost in the wreck, and he will not be saved.
At the end of the Jewish system, which was called "the end of the world," or "the consummation of the age," and "the last days," you will find the use of the term "ends of the world" by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians: "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Not will come, but "are." Here we have the very expression itself: the Apostle says it was the end of the world. But of what world? Why, the Jewish world, the Jewish dispensation, which had become altogether corrupt and false. And the Lord Jesus Christ from his cross proclaimed it to have come to an end: "It is finished"--and the veil of the temple was rent in twain; all was then over with that dispensation; then was the end of it.
You will find that in the Apostolic writings the terms "last days" and "last time" very frequently occur. As, for instance, the Apostles, when preaching on the Day of Pentecost, were charged with being drunk, and Peter stood up and said, "These are not drunken. . . . But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh. . . . And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke'" (Acts 2:15, 19), and so on. Precisely a similar passage to what we have in our text, only that Joel had spoken it hundreds of years before Christ came; and when Christ came and put an end to the Jewish Church, and began the Christian Church, what that prophet said was in these last days fulfilled. These were the last days of that dispensation, and the first days of a better and a higher.
So, again, in the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul wrote: "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Hebrews 1:2). Mind, in these last days. John said: "Little children, it is the last time" (1 John 2:18), and that was nineteen hundred years ago, but it was then the last time, the last days, the end of the world.
All these declarations were made then as applicable to that time, but, as we have asked before, What was it that came to an end? It was the existing dispensation, not the world. This is God's mode of teaching that the moral system had become corrupt, and was no longer carrying out God's will, and that it was time for it to pass away; and he did away with it.
The new Christian Church is called a new heaven and a new earth. When it was said that this was to occur again, it is to teach us that the principles he gave to man in Christianity would again become corrupt; again would delusion come instead of faith; again would selfishness come instead of love; again would blindness come instead of the light of life. And therefore, Christ said that "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven."
And has it not been so? If the sun be, as we have said, the love of God shining upon the heart--the Sun of righteousness pouring out his divine influences over the affections, has not that been darkened? We are now rising gradually from the depth of darkness into which men sank--rising, and have been rising for a considerable time, to somewhat better things; but even now everyone knows we have much to strive for. God's love is darkened in too many hearts, even now. It is no uncommon thing for persons to say to themselves, "Where is there a real Christian? I know plenty of professors, but where are those in whom the love of Christ is continually operating?" God be thanked there are a few, here and there. But is it not the case that we in this land of enlightenment and Bibles--that even with us, everyone feels that there is only here one and there another, and that to the vast mass the sun is still darkened? But how dense was that darkness when Christians, during the middle ages, were engaged in infernal hate--persecuting one another even to death, and doing so in almost every land! How terrible must have been the darkness that shut out the Sun of heaven from the human spirit!
"The moon," it is also said, "shall not give her light"; and the moon we have seen represents holy faith, not in some scheme of our own, but a faith in the living light that comes from Jesus Christ, and is reflected upon the soul when it is going on in the darkness of spiritual night. The soul has its nights as well as the body. There are times of glory and blessing in which the sun is felt to be shining; and there are times in which there are shade and night--we can hardly see light, look where we may. There are times of sorrow and distress. God leaves us to ourselves that we may see and know what we are. "Weeping may endure for a night," the Psalmist says, "but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
There would be complete darkness did not faith, like a silvery moon, lend her light, and tell us to hope; trust in God; fear not, I will be with thee; hope; night will not always last; be faithful, and in a little time a new morning will break over the spirit, and thou wilt come to a state of blessedness again. "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord" (Hosea 6:3). This is the moon shining over the soul.
But when men have falsified religion--when their views have altogether become immersed in terrible colors--when they say that nobody can be saved but those who belong to their little clique--that there is no salvation for those out of their chapel or sect--the moon is being darkened, the highest and brightest and divinest blessings are being driven away from the soul.
It is a God of love that gives men comfort. It is a God unchangeable, kind, and gentle--it is our holy Savior breathing love; and when we are in the depths of sorrow, he stretches out his hands, and says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). But when the moon is darkened, it is a bad time with the soul.
This is that which is meant when it is said concerning this time of bitterness, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!" (Matthew 24:19). That is, woe to them that are trying earnestly to be born again; that are trying to have the new man of the heart born from God within them--woe to them; it is hard with them when false religion is prevailing, and true religion has become obscured; it is hard for them when they are trying to become new men, and feed upon "the sincere milk of the Word"; "woe to them that give suck in those days"--when the Bible is either closed through false interpretation, or not allowed to be in their hands at all; it is "woe to them that give suck in those days," for almost all the milk is turned into poison. The stars fall from heaven.
We have said that the stars mean the lights of heavenly knowledge. Every verse of the Scriptures becomes a "star" when you understand it. It becomes a beautiful light that gives its ray in the right place and at the right time. That is the sort of star that Peter spoke of in his second epistle: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). It is a star that rises in the heart; the same sort of star is meant by the Lord in the Revelation: "And he that overcometh . . . I will give him the morning star" (Revelation 2:26, 23).
No one will suppose that he means, that to the man who overcomes in his spiritual conflict, he will give an earthly morning star, either Jupiter or Venus; no one will be so foolish as to think so. No; the star that Jesus gives is a star of true light from himself, the true knowledge of himself, that star of which he speaks when he says, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). When he shines into the soul, he is, to him that conquers selfishness and evil, first of all, a "morning star," an inward heavenly light that tells him of a new day, which assures him that the night is ended and his morning is beginning. But that same star will enlarge, will become grander as he presses on, until from a star it will become at length, the great Sun of righteousness, that with healing in its wings will shed its manifold blessings upon him.
When religion is corrupted, when the Church is fallen, then men make use of the knowledge they have of heavenly things, not for heavenly purposes, but for earthly ones: the stars fall from heaven. Men care nothing then about heaven, they make pelf and power the great objects of their concern; they may talk about Scripture, they may preach like saints; they may make use of religion as if they were the most earnest men in the world; but it is self that is at the bottom, it is some earthly advantage; they talk of God, but mean themselves; they talk of religion, but mean getting a good living by it; they bring the stars down from heaven, and mix them up with their own life, their own low and selfish persuasions and feelings. This is when the stars fall from heaven. It has nothing to do with the wreck of the outward universe; it is the wreck of the inward universe. The stars fall from heaven.
But man's necessity is God's opportunity. When men have come to the end, then is the time for God to begin. The darkest hour of the night is that just before the morning. And hence, directly after the passage has stated that all the great lights are darkened, come the words of restoration: "Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven"--the sign of the Son of man; the banner of the Son of man. For this is what the "sign" means: the banner, the flag, as it were, the ensign--the true symbol of the Son of man. The ensign of an army is the banner, by which it is known where the general is, where the headquarters of the army are. Thus it is known where the ruler is. The sign of the Son of man is the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. His banner is the doctrine which declares who he is, what he is, and what he requires. "Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." That is to say, Thus will the Lord Jesus make himself known afresh in his true and perfect character; so that men may know that Jesus Christ is God, the manifest Deity, and that they must be like-minded with Jesus Christ, in order to be Christians.
This true doctrine, to be revealed when a new dispensation, or a new heaven and earth, are to be formed, is in this blessed book called "the sign of the Son of man." It is promised in other parts of the Sacred Scriptures. Jesus said, "The time cometh when . . . I will show you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25). Mark the word "plainly." But except in the New Church, whose doctrines have been revealed in these latter days, men know no more of the Father than the Jews did. In the New Jerusalem it is seen that Jesus Christ himself is what Isaiah taught, when he said: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). The doctrine that teaches this, teaches "plainly of the Father." Jesus Christ has the Father in him, as a man has the soul in him. "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
In this way we perceive how plainly the Father is revealed to us in the divine Savior, and that no man can come unto the Father but through him and by him. He that seeth him seeth the Father; and this is the plain teaching of the Father, "the sign of the Son of man in heaven." When persons separated the idea of the Godhead from Jesus Christ, so that they worshipped two other distinct persons or Gods, whom they called the First Person, and the Third Person, some imagined this God was of such a character that he had only made a few to be saved; others, that he was of such a character, that it was excessively difficult to please him; and although they would readily go to Jesus Christ for mercy and salvation, they dreaded the other two, particularly the first. They must be continually mortifying themselves, not only in wrong things, but in right things; making themselves miserable all their lives long, not enjoying the beauties of their Father's world, or the mercies of their Father.
This is not the plain teaching of the Father. Hence, creeds which became generally accepted in the Middle Ages said, "The Father is incomprehensible, the Son is incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost is incomprehensible." That is not the plain doctrine of the Father, or of the Son. That which is "incomprehensible" cannot be plain; and hence, those who adhere to this creed attempt to stop investigation by saying it is a great mystery. You must not think about it, they say; it is a mystery.
Well, so it is, but that is not the plain teaching of the Father. These persons put their own sign up, that their doctrines are not those which Jesus Christ declared would at some time prevail, for he says that the time would come when he would teach us plainly of the Father. Such persons say these doctrines are incomprehensible. You are, then, only a provisional church; you are confessedly not what Jesus meant, when he said: "The time cometh when I will show you plainly of the Father."
In other parts of the Sacred Scriptures it is said: "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). This was to be another sign of the Second Coming of the Savior. "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord." This prophecy will be fulfilled undoubtedly. How few yet know the Lord truly! Those who call themselves Christians are not a fourth of the human race. Of these, is one in a hundred really so? Of these, how many have a clear knowledge of the Lord? The prophecy has not yet been fulfilled; and how can it ever be fulfilled with the Church's present mysterious doctrines? Ponder this well. The knowledge of that which cannot be known never can cover the earth.
The ordinary Churches confess they have not a knowledge of God. They sometimes try to prove it cannot be obtained. We believe the Scriptures, however, and are convinced there is a knowledge of God that can be comprehended. When this is done--when men can have such a knowledge of God as they can see to be first Scriptural, then rational, and lastly in harmony with all that science discovers--then each man, and every man, aye, and every woman, and every intelligent child too, can give to the heathen, to Mohammedans, to Jews, to all classes of men, the knowledge of the Lord, that may, and will, cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. But this will not come till men have been taught, that he who said: "Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am" (John 13:13), is the real Lord Jehovah of the Old Testament as well as Jesus of the New; the only God of the universe, by whom "all things were made, and without whom was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3).
The next grand feature which is connected with the revelation of the Son of man in this and other parts of the Sacred Scriptures is that there should be such a state of innocence by walking in the Lord's path, as that, in the beautiful language of Isaiah, none "shall hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:9). That passage has not yet been fulfilled. Those who read over the sad pages of the dark history of what has been called the Church for hundreds of years gone by, will find it a record far removed from this ideal. It has been a record of one man calling himself a Christian, yet injuring another as much as he possibly could; of the men of one system persecuting those of another as relentlessly as they could. Nay, a record not only of Christian nations struggling and fighting against each other, but of Christians of one nationality struggling and fighting amongst themselves.
Even now we are very far from the state described in which none shall hurt or destroy in God's holy mountain; very far from what the Scriptures teach, that the time shall come when men "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" (Isaiah 2:4). Oh no! Brethren, with the common Christianity, which ignores the fact that God is a Being of divine love and wisdom, true peace can never be. An angry God makes angry Christians, a sectarian God makes sectarian Christians.
There must be new principles, surrounded with such a glory of heavenly light as is called in our text "power and great glory." Power: the power of practical religion; the power of a religion, clear and loving, that is no contradiction in itself; that does not say it is, and it is not, that to repent and be good is the way to be saved, and yet that the vilest murderers, whose lives have been a chain of crimes, can be saved by believing at the last. The power of religion that has no back doors to heaven; that says the soul must really be trained for heaven by actually living a godly life, is real life, is real power. If you put it off until you hope to make it up by a little faith at last, you may depend upon it you are not taking Christ's method. Christ says, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
People generally, and especially religious teachers, have been too fond of talking about the dying part of religion, and too little intent, either in precept or in practice, on the living part of religion. No religion can really operate a change in human souls, in nations, and in the world, but a religion that teaches men how to live; and which tells them that if they live aright their death is sure to come aright. It must be a religion that begins with childhood, a religion that says, "Suffer little children to come unto Me." To come unto me! This is one of the most cheering signs of the new age.
We have begun in these latter days to be very anxious and earnest about the children. Sunday schools have arisen within the last hundred years, and are one of the grandest fruits of the second outpouring of divine love. Sunday Schools are indeed a movement in the right direction. They take little children and train them to live, but unhappily they too often have not had full, free, and fair effect.
The religion given in too many Sunday Schools has been imparted to the scholars in such an unpleasant fashion, and is itself so sectarian and comfortless, that the schools become distasteful. The children are crammed with catechism and made miserable by gloomy tales of hell, instead of gently giving them here a little and there a little of the beautiful, the true, and the good, respecting heaven and earth. The little souls are often frightened with the description of a terrible God, instead of being attracted by a God of lovingkindness--one who would take them to his arms and bless them. Fear has been the great exciting stimulant by which men have been called to God in the old religion.
The new religion has for its grand principle love--Christ as a God of love--religion as a religion of love. Heaven is the land of love; the Bible is the story of love, when it is truly understood. And this grand principle operating with children, so as to lead them to love religion--not to be frightened into it, and terrified with everything about it; to love it as the way to happiness; to enable them to live in religion when they are living on earth, as the true way of happiness; to overcome in themselves what opposes religion, as the only mode of cleansing out the sources of misery; to exhort and teach children to remove from themselves that self-love which has been the gall of bitterness in past ages, and will be so to them if they do not begin to fight against it, and obey the divine Savior and his laws--this is the essential lesson.
This is the spirit of the new dispensation. This is the new proclamation; the banner of the Son of man. And when this spirit, combined with reason, seen to be in harmony with religion and science--seen, I say, to be in harmony with both, is accepted, it will present us with the principles which, when spread, will really cause none to hurt, none to destroy, in all God's holy mountain.
The same period of the latter days is represented in the Scriptures to be a period of light--a period of intelligence. And true religion is, and must be really so. It is only a mistaken religion that has an inward fear of its own principles, that keeps continually saying to men, "Now do not reason about them, for you will get into infidelity if you do not take care; you must not be too eager about science, science reveals some very strange things; science teaches one thing and religion another." The religion which opposes as long as it can the teachings of science, and when it cannot oppose further, modifies itself as little as it can, is a religion you should suspect. It is a mistaken theology.
True theology is in all respects harmonious with itself, it harmonizes with its God, harmonizes with science, and harmonizes with true reason: it comes to man "with power and great glory." "The tribes of the earth," it is said, "mourn." Those that have believed previously in other views and in other principles, mourn at first; they dislike it, change is sad for them. To part with old notions, prejudices, and beliefs, is always difficult. We have all mourned when we have found that we have been holding false principles, and that we have to change our views and habits; but "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted."
Let them always remember, however, that although they may view new light and new principles as taking away things that have been dearly cherished, that he who passes from error to truth gains a reward which more than pays him for any mourning, any difficulty, any degree of pain or agitation. He cannot but gain in this glorious conflict. He who loses wins. He who finds that he has been mistaken before, but who now embraces a higher and nobler view, is the gainer. When two are considering a subject, the person who has maintained the right, when the argument is finished, is where he was; but the person who has upheld the wrong, though he loses the argument, has gained the truth, which is a thousand times better.
And as the influence of these sacred principles from the Most High, meant by the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God, which have come, therefore, not by man's discovery, but by God's revelation; as the influence of these principles extends, the Savior is coming, and will come. His spreading light, his spreading love are leading men to become truly brothers, more and more. It is breaking out sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another, and it is advancing gradually, as God does everything, but yet, spiritually, with giant strides. He never flashes from night to day all at once.
It is in the moral world as it is in the material. The sun rises gradually--tips first the top of the eastern hills--gradually extends his beams down their sloping sides, over the plains, and over the fields, until, at length, his silent majesty diffuses over the face of nature its glorious light, and the whole horizon is illuminated. Just so it is in the moral and spiritual worlds. Truth always begins with the few. Only the eleven disciples met after Jesus was crucified; only eleven of them met together. They were shut up in a house for fear of the Jews; but from these went forth the new light, which was taken up by another band at the time of Pentecost. This gradually spread itself through the first century--onwards it went, until the banner of the Savior, despised as it had been, was bowed down to by the chiefs of the earth, and the cross that had been a disgrace became a glory.
And so it is always. God begins with a few. He touches some holy souls with the rising light of a new day. It is like the glittering summit of the highest mountain that gets its first glories, and reflects its brilliancy to another and another; God's truths become gradually unfolded, and first one and then another receives them, and still fresh souls widen the circle, until at length that which was known at first only to a few becomes spread throughout the world.
And so will it be--it is coming, not by outward observation, but by inward diffusion. There are men with principles of this class being formed amongst all Christian denominations. Those that love God are gradually receiving views more worthy of God, and this diffusion of divine truth, partly through a few men, but really from the great Lord of lords, will leaven the whole world. It has commenced its glorious career; it will never cease. "I beheld One that sat upon the throne," wrote the Apostle John, who said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end"; who said also, "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" and further, "Behold, I make all things new."
He has again made his spiritual coming; again new things have been poured out amongst mankind; again the glorious light has been spreading, and will spread, until the realization to the finest minds of the Scriptural prophecies--the realization of men's hopes and feelings and anticipations will be altogether expanded into the universal brotherhood of good and holy men, who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God; under the fatherhood of the Lord Jesus Christ, "in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
He will be seen reigning over their souls, and thus reigning over their bodies, until that glorious period is realized which the prophets have foretold, and all the great souls of poetry have sung, which every good man anticipates, desires, and strives for; the crown of all toil, the perfection of all ages, the reward of all suffering; earth's imitation of heaven, the true establishment of the unfailing nursery for angels.
The Rev. Mr. ____: I am a clergyman of the Church of England, and while agreeing with much that I have heard, yet I must object to your reference to the Athanasian Creed. You seem to think that all persons who use the word "incomprehensible" in the creed, do so in a sense meaning not capable of being understood, and that persons attached to that Creed show their absurdity in so saying. I am not used to public speaking; but I take it to mean, according to the original, "infinite," not able to be grasped. The Father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Ghost infinite--I take that to be the meaning of "incomprehensible," and the English word admits of that interpretation.
Dr. Bayley: I am perfectly aware that there are many, and I hope the number will still increase, who interpret the word "incomprehensible" in the sense that you have given it, which appears to me to be quite unobjectionable. A very large number, however, do not use it in that sense; a fact probably within your own experience. Probably you have had to correct people who have drawn the idea from the word "incomprehensible," that God cannot be comprehended at all. It is so very common, unless my experience has been unusual, to meet those who, holding that creed, represent God as incomprehensible, in the sense of not being capable of being understood in any way. I have wished very much oftener to have met with your version than I have.
Clergyman: I believe you did not think of its true meaning when you referred to it; for if you did, you did not clearly prove what you intended, and what I think you would desire to impress.
Dr. Bayley: I am exceedingly obliged to you for drawing attention to the circumstance. Of course, we are obliged to omit many exceptional statements which, at other times, may be brought strikingly forward; and it is a happy thing when, on such an occasion, a friend will take the opportunity of throwing some light on a point that has not been dealt with. At the same time I am fully satisfied that the idea you have given is not the general idea in the Church of England--that it is an exceptional view ("No, no")--and that the general notion is, that the doctrine of the Godhead is a great mystery that cannot be understood. (A voice: "So it is.") A friend says, So it is; and that is the common idea, and to this common idea I have addressed myself. There are a few who, like our friend, are willing to interpret the Athanasian Creed in a different fashion, and I hope the number will increase.
Clergyman: I did not mean to say that that was the general acceptation of the term, but that it was the right interpretation. I know that the other view is a popular delusion, and that great numbers think that God cannot be comprehended; but I hardly think that justifies your attack on the Athanasian Creed.
Dr. Bayley: Our friend admits that what I have described is a popular delusion, and that this is chiefly grounded on the Athanasian Creed, which entirely justifies my reference to it. My reference, moreover, was meant not as an attack on the Athanasian Creed but as a statement of the impression that people largely hold in relation to God. I spoke to the popular mind, and spoke of a popular delusion.
If I had been attacking the Athanasian Creed, I can assure our friend it would hardly have been in so tender a style. I have not the slightest respect for it. I believe it to be a tissue of contradictions from first to last. ("No, no.") It says the thing of which it speaks is a great mystery, and then it proceeds to explain it, and, in this pretended explanation, contradicts itself in sentence after sentence. After giving what the unknown author intends for an explanation, but which is a series of contradictions, he then declares three times over that no one can be saved unless he accepts undoubtedly his very questionable explanation of this great mystery. For such a Creed I have not the slightest respect. (Cheers and hisses.)
The applause and the hisses have nothing to do with the argument; we should endeavor to preserve ourselves, if possible, for argument; noise never proves anything. As soon as there is manly feeling enough in the leaders of the Church of England to dare to be faithful to the truth, and to alter their creed and catechisms, they will not let our great dignitaries get up in the House of Lords and confess that these things must not be altered because destruction will follow. When the people become thoughtful enough to say, "We will have the truth, and nothing but good will follow," I believe that one of the first things will be the blotting out of the Athanasian Creed. (Cheers.) Archbishop Tillotson, the once great leader of the Bishops of England, wished they were well rid of it. Many, both clergy and people, still wish they were rid of it.
Our friend, as a clergyman, will know, that although the creed is said to be that of St. Athanasius, there is a great doubt as to whether he wrote it, or, rather, it is certain he did not write it. It is thought by many that Vigilius, an African Bishop, composed it. It is a creed that professes to explain what it cannot explain, and then damns all that do not receive it. (Hear, hear.)
A friend said lately that a clergyman had suggested to him that if it were always recited in Latin it would not be felt to be so severe as when read in English. Perhaps that would be best, as the first step towards getting rid of it. If it were always read in Latin, so that no one understood it, there would not be much harm. (A laugh, and cheers.)
Another Gentleman: You, Sir, did not come to Brighton, I am sure, with these truths in your mind without being perfectly certain that you would go against the grain of most men's ordinary belief. You did not come here without being pretty well prepared to be called names; to be told you were heretical.
But, sir, I remember in ancient history a story told of a shrewd practical man, whom I have no doubt his fellow tradesmen called a most sagacious man--a man named Demetrius, who, when Christianity came, felt that his craft was in danger, and cried out "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Those whose craft is in danger will cry out, but nevertheless truth must prevail. The world is really on the move once more. Men's souls are being stirred towards a better way; and, sir, until the clergy learn to understand the feeling lying underneath the conviction and the expressed belief of the intelligent laity of the Church of England, I say, sir, her influence is diminishing, will diminish, and ought to diminish.
The truths you have told us are identical with those which for twelve years I have obscurely been working out on my part with an agony of brain, for which perhaps you will scarcely give one credit in these days of easy popular religion and platform oratory. I say it is true that our teachers, not merely the Church of England but our popular teachers, have always taught in a mere forensic tone a scheme more fitted for a nisi prius lawyer. I say, sir, that these are the teachers that make our infidels.
We can believe in the infinite love that created us and sustained us, and which, we are told, has redeemed us--we can believe such doctrines as these--but some men will tell us that these things are "cunningly devised fables," and that we want ancient creed-made truth. No, sir, we want clear distinct declarations flowing from that simple truth, the infinite love of God.
I dare not enter into the questions that you have brought before us; I cannot say that I yield them my entire assent, although I have no antagonistic doctrine which I can bring against them. For any man to stand up and say he has got the whole truth, is as absurd as if he were to go to the seaside and fill a tiny vessel with water, and say he had got the whole waters of the ocean. Truth is a glorious system of many sides; and he will do the Church an infinite service who will distinguish from outward creed and ceremonies, the spiritual good that lies underneath. When that is done we shall have men really practical, living Christians; and, sir, I feel that I am not merely thanking you in my own name, when I propose a vote of thanks, but in the names of most here, when I thank you for the truth preached here at Brighton. (Loud cheers.)
I hope these germs of holy thought will be to many of us germs of holy obedience. I trust, sir, that your present visit will not be the last. (Hear, hear.) I never saw you before I saw you stand at that table, and now I feel that what you have said is real, spiritual, rational truth, a refreshing draught for the thirsty soul; and as such I bid you "Godspeed" in your work. (Loud cheers.)
Dr. Bayley: Suffer me, my beloved friend, to thank you also.
The Clergyman here intimated that he also joined in the vote of thanks, though he dissented from some few of the sentiments.
Dr. Bayley: You have my kindest thanks both for your remarks and for the manner in which you made them. I cannot but be gratified at the little incidents that have arisen out of them. I assure you it is not a conventional invitation to the audience to make remarks and offer difficulties. I feel there is living beauty in divine truths that will give us comfort in time, and happiness in death, if we understand and love them. In the principles that I have been endeavoring to impart to my fellowmen, there will be found clearness, harmony, and peace.
I have had many of the same difficulties to master, the same objections to surmount which others may be feeling at the present time. When we view the subjects in the way I have presented them, we shall get light where there was darkness, confidence where there was hesitation, and harmony with science and reason where there seemed to be contradiction and difficulty. It is to help many to understand and explain these things that I have ventured to come to Brighton.
I am exceedingly gratified for the kind and brotherly attention that has been paid to me both by the clergy and others who have brought their particular views under our notice; I have endeavored to receive them in a friendly way and now I trust we shall part with a determination to "search the Scriptures," as the fountain of truth, to see whether these things be so. Let us dare to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good," and determinately to have our hearts set upon working out our salvation, both in truth and in goodness, with fear and trembling, but certainly with the conviction that God will never, never deny his light to a seeking, earnest, loving spirit. Let us make the determination that we will take up the maxim of the beautiful spirit of Cowper:
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast,
In scenes of plenty or the pining waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
Allow me to wish you, then, an affectionate "Good night," and to express a most earnest desire for your success in your spiritual and in your earthly endeavors. Allow me to say "Godspeed" in your spirit's work, under the protection of him who is love itself and truth itself. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. Mott, surgeon, in the chair: I humbly request your attention for a few moments this evening--this being the last lecture the Rev. Doctor will give in the present course. They have been given gratis--no expense whatever being incurred by any person in Brighton; everything has been done gratuitously. [Subsequently, friends in Brighton insisted upon paying the expenses.]
We have heard six most eloquent, striking, interesting lectures upon the most important points that involve the welfare of man's life, both here and for eternity, and I think you will agree with me that we ought all to join once more in giving a vote of thanks to the Rev. Doctor for his kindly coming here and delivering to us these lectures. (Loud cheers.)
Rev. J. Ross: I think the eloquent lecturer has acquitted himself as a workman that needeth not be ashamed (Hear, hear); and if there are any in this assembly who dissent--and I believe some will think differently from him--yet we must all agree that he has shown a singular Christian-mindedness in his mode of stating truth, and great ability and clearness in the proclamation of his own views. (Applause.) I am afraid, sirs, that my testimony will not be of much service to Dr. Bayley, who, like myself, has been considered to be a heretic--I, sir, have suffered for the proclamation of many of those truths which Dr. Bayley, with more eloquence than myself, has expounded in the course of these six lectures. (Hear, hear.)
I am not ashamed to give my testimony; and in order to gather up into a focus the chief points or principles in which I coincide with Dr. Bayley, I will just distinctly state them. First: He has done great service in this town in proclaiming that "God is one" (hear, and cheers)--that there is a baptism that teaches us that we are baptized not into three names, but One infinitely divine name, the name of that Savior who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; whereas, the common Christianity teaches that there is a severance of persons in the Divinity. Dr. Bayley has done great service to God's truth in teaching us, second: That the atonement is a thing not wrought to change God's mind, but that it was a great process in which God's mind was revealed to the world; the Scriptures never say that Christ reconciled God to man, but, on the contrary, that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." Third: Dr. Bayley has done great service in restating the Apostolic doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, and the rising up of the spiritual man from the mortal clay. When the work through the mortal body has been done, we then come forth in what is called the immortal, the principle within, which rises up to the Eternal forever. But, last of all, Dr. Bayley deserves our cordial thanks for proclaiming that the first, midmost, and last feature in religion is charity. God is love; Christ is the love of God seen in the flesh.
One word sir: I feel that I must disburden my conscience. I am not going to controvert any statement of yours; I feel that the last place in the world for the discussion of truth is a popular assembly, yet I preach as I believe, and that is, that God's charity will never rest satisfied while a man remains in the hells of selfishness. No man, however, can be saved by simply saying that he believes. He must subdue sin, and work out his salvation; God never changes. He always does his utmost to enable man to follow him; and if man does so, he will find that God is all in all.
And now, my dear friend, I cordially thank you, and I am sure all this audience does, for your kindness in coming to Brighton, and for the ability you have shown in delivering these lectures; and I beg to second the motion. (Cheers.)
The resolution was then put and carried with but one dissentient hand being held up.
It was then resolved to request that Dr. Bayley should revisit Brighton at his earliest convenience, which also was carried with the solitary hand only being held up for the negative.
Dr. Bayley: I beg, my dear friends, to thank you all for your courtesy and kind feeling. I assure you that this meeting has been a sufficient inducement to dispose me to visit Brighton again early. I thank our dissenting friend, too, for bravely putting himself in opposition to the whole meeting when he thinks he is right. He stands up for what he believes to be the truth, and he should be held worthy of all respect as a brave and worthy man. (Loud cheers.)