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by Dr. John Thomas
Hitherto, these materials have been shaped, or reduced, from chaos into form, by the modifying influence of truth and divine judgment.
But for these agencies "a universal brotherhood" of savages, such as we behold in the vast howling wilderness of Africa and America, would have shared the globe with the nobler beasts of the forest; unmitigated socialism after this type would have effectually super-sealed all ecclesiastical and civil association; or, if this extreme had given place to another, the world would have groaned under the ferocious despotism of a "brother of the sun and moon," a Nero, or of a Pope Alexander VI.
But truth and the sword of God have been thrown into the scale of human events.
Multitudes have embraced that truth in whole or part; vastly more, however, in part than as a saving whole.
According to their apprehensions of it, they have resolved themselves into party groups.
A minority -- a great minority, so great as to be styled "a few," have seized upon it in letter and spirit.
These contend against everything opposed to it without regard to fame, property, or life; they contend, however, not with the sword of the flesh, but with "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God".
Not so, however, they who embrace it in part, corrupt it by admixture with human tradition, or reject it altogether.
They fight for their opinions, as their means enable them.
They who corrupt or reject it endeavour to suppress it vi et armis , by force, not of argument, but by clamour, misrepresentation, and proscriptive laws; and where they can find no scope, by imprisonment, war, and murder.
But there are others who understand the theory of the truth to a considerable extent, but have only that spirit of liberty and sense of justice in them which the truth inspires; without that disposition to suffer patiently and unresistingly for it, which it inculcates.
Men of this class take the sword for liberty and the rights of men; and contend against all who would destroy them with a courage which strikes terror into their enemies.
By such agency as this, by action and re-action, by agitating the truth revealed, and the warlike conflict it produces among the nations, things have been shaped into the civil, ecclesiastical, and social constitution of things, which prevails upon the earth in the present age; and which, having waxed old, is ready to vanish away.
We come not to a very very interesting, and indeed, immensely important inquiry, namely: 'Upon what principle, or principles, did the God of heaven propose to carry out His purposes in relation to the developing of rulers for the kingdom and empire of nations; and for the peopling of the globe under its eternal and incorruptible constitution?
" Was it upon a purely intellectual, or a purely moral, or a purely physical and mechanical, principle; or was it upon all these conjoined?
For example, He peopled the present worm by first creating a human pair, and then placing them under the natural, or physical, laws.
Will he provide kings and priests for His kingdom, and afterwards people the globe in its perfect constitution, by natural generation, and physical regeneration; or, upon some other principle revealed in His word?
Will He bestow the honour, glory, and dignity of His kingdom and empire upon men, because they are men; or because they are descended by natural birth from righteous ancestors?
Or, will men inhabit the globe for ever, because they are flesh, and the offspring of His creative power?
It will doubtless be admitted, that upon whatever principle God might determine to operate, it would certainly be such a one as would redound most to the glory of His wisdom, justice, and sovereign power.
This being conceded, we would enquire, would it have been to the glory of God, if He had made man a mere machine? -- had He made inexorable necessity the law of his nature, which he must yield to as the tides to the moon, or the earth to the sun?
No reasonable man would affirm this.
The principle laid down in the scripture is that man honours God in believing His word and obeying His laws.