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Jews saved, Haman's possessions confiscated, Mordecai raised to fill his place as prime minister, and the city of Shushan and the Jews everywhere filled with joy and gladness.
This is all we have of the account of Esther. Her public acts so far as published were performed in a short space of time. They were however important. The weal of multitudes was involved in them. Joan of Arc turned the tide of war against the English and in favor of the French, when Henry VI. was contending for the throne of the latter country.--Isabel of Spain assisted Columbus in fitting out vessels to discover the American continent. And Elizabeth ruled the British realm with great ability. Many others of the sex have done nobly, but Esther excelled them all.
ART. VII.-THE MILLENNIUM.
The fragment; * entitled “Christian Growth,” was designed to show that the human race was placed in an earthly probation for growth, as seeds are placed in the soil for germination, and that the growth already attained, as well as that more perfect development foretokened for the future, results from the operation of celestial influences,-influences not always nor every where uniform in kind or degree, but varying as Providence has seen best that sunshine and rain should vary on different portions of the earth, - and that the ultimate development of humanity is provided for through Christianity alone.
From the views there presented it follows that the promised triumph of Christ and his gospel to which the church has given the name of millennium, will be an integral part of the gospel dispensation, — not a substitute for it, —not something that comes after it. It will be the ripening of the “full corn in the ear" -- the perfection of that which is now seen in the germ.
*See page 69, of the present volume of the Quarterly.
The propagation of an opposite view which places the millennium after a literal resurrection and the renovation of the earth by fire, and makes it consist in a visible reign of Jesus with his saints for a thousand years, has been the source of many extravagant follies and heresies. But for this, Millerism, with its resulting materialism, could never have taken root to darken the church by the shadow of its gourd-like growth. This theory denies the facts of history by declaring that the race only waxes worse and worse and manifests no tendency to prog
It perpetuates degrading interpretations of the Scriptures by substituting a materializing literalism for the truth which they meant to teach. Like the ancient Jews it insists that the Messiah's kingdom must be a temporal and material one, with the Saviour in a local capital swaying the sceptre of the world from the throne of David ; and it joins the Pharisees in denying that Jesus is now setting up his kingdom because it “cometh not with observation.” By denying that Jesus has come to destroy the works of the devil, and teaching that this will be done only at his second coming, it contradicts the New Testament. It impeaches Providence and inculcates a view of the gospel plan of redemption which makes it little better than a failure. While parading the success of missions as a sign of the speedy close of the gospel age, it treats the hope that animates Christ's chosen band of missionaries as a delusion.
That this doctrine impeaches Providence appears in this. The enterprise and scholarship of the Christian nations hear the voice of Providence saying, “Perfect your mastery over nature; make her yield up all her secrets; use all her powers in the spread of civilization, in the service of peace and righteousness.” But these theorists impeach Providence, by assuming that all the wonderful discoveries in science, which are annihilating space, giving ubiquity to thought and making human power and ingenuity almost omnipotent, have come too late to be of service in the spread of knowledge or of Christianity. Long before man created, God was storing in the depths of earth, treasures of wealth and sources of power which man has just begun to bring forth and put to use, and which seem to have been specially reserved by Providence for this and coming ages, and for the
nations who will employ them in subduing the earth to the dominion of the Messiah. Yet this theory declares that they were garnered there, not to serve in building up Christian civilization, but solely to add fierceness to the heart of the last conflagration. Human pity, expressed in philanthropic efforts and in political and religious reforms, is giving promise that, enlightened and commissioned by divine love, it will yet triumph over opposing affections and lift up the weak and the crushed. This promise millenarians refuse to see or they dismiss it as a hollow pretence. Providence has interposed in behalf of human freedom. Along the track of history we see nations are led, however slowly into the light of ideal justice and liberty,—an ideal remote as yet, but which we see may be realized whenever men shall become intelligent and be controlled by love.
That the gospel is designed thus to inform and control men, the theory of a millennium after the resurrection denies, and thus wars against both Providence and the gospel. It takes all the significance out of the great Master's order to the church—“Go ye into all the world.” It belittles or nullifies the meaning of the promise that Christ shall have the heathen for an inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. It takes for granted that the gospel, inaugurated by the realization of a thought so stupendous as the appearance of the Infinite Sovereign in the form and condition of his sinful subjects, as their Mediator and Saviour, is to cease its redeeming power, before it has had half as long to save as idolatry had had to corrupt mankind. It assumes that the plan of redemption is to have no mature development, but is to fade from the earth while it is budding with civil, social and intellectual as well as religious awakenings full of richest promise for the future, and while those whom the gospel has most highly blessed are sensible that it has not yet fully displayed its saving power any where, and while they see that by the force of culture and example, it may work a far more complete as well as more general salvation in coming centuries than is possible in this.
The assumption that the work of the church in obedience to the command to “disciple all nations” is very soon to end, is nothing less than the charge that God will abandon the scheme of saving men through Christ crucified as at best a partial failure. It is not strange that in early ages of confusion and persecution, when the minds of men were not free from the influence of Jewish and even pagan ideas this theory was welcomed. It is not strange that devotees of popery, who keep a relic of idolatry in the worship of images and the adoration of the consecrated wafer, should hold this notion also. It may have been for a time at least cherished by Luther, amid the appalling cruelties and corruptions of his time, but any mind that holds it at the present day must be a victim of ignorance or of uncandid prejudice.
One, stumbling upon the materials for a building-piles of stone and brick,-lying in indiscriminate confusion, might innocently mistake them for rubbish of which the ground should be cleared. But only ignorance and stupidity could pronounce the same decision after those materials begin to take shape under the hands of the workman. Or a traveler arriving along paths of spotted trees, at some locality where a pioneer in the wilderness had just gathered his first harvest, and looking over the solitary clearing, with its blackened stumps already sprouting amid the stubble, and into the lonely hovel_a
-a poor shelter against the winter's cold or the savage dwellers in the wilderness,—might be pardoned for predicting, “Here is a wretched experiment just coming to its end." But such a prediction applied to the work of the hardy settlers of New England, and repeated from year to year, after annual harvests begin to wave where the dank forest trees tossed their arms, stately mansions to replace the temporary cabins, and groups of children to be training in the schools to carry forward their sires' work and more than fill their places, would not have been more signally refuted by the intention of the pilgrims and the results of their toils, than this millennial theory is contradicted by the revealed plan of the gospel and the course of Providence.
More and more it appears an unworthy and wicked travesty of trust and truth, as each successive age brings its testimony to the power of Christianity. Christians are rising to a clearer apprehension of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, and of the grandeur of the promise “Lo I am with you always," which is increasingly the inspiration of the church, and which will yet marshal its united hosts for aggressive action as victorious armies are wont to be aroused by the summons to battle and the assurance of victory.
“But," it may be asked, "does not prophecy indicate that a grand consummation is drawing near?” So it certainly seems. And has not the world already seen several, since the Christian dispensation began? First, when Jerusalem and the Jewish dispensation came to their prophesied termination, and again, in the predicted destruction of the Roman Empire? And was not another the end of the dark ages and the rise of protestantism which began with Wickliffe and Huss and culminated with Luther?
We trust they have not read amiss the prophetic visions nor the signs of the times who look for wondrous things in the coming kingdom of the Son of man. The Lord is coming in grander than material changes. Earth shall have a purification more sublime, and more needed, than any by material fire! Nay, the Lord has come to send fire on the earth and what . if it is already kindled !"*
Christian toiler, thou art on the road to a millennium. Its betokening earthquakes and falling stars are around thee in the convulsions that shake the moral and political world. The command to thee is to be—“ looking for and hastening the coming of that day of the Lord.”+ Act so that each to-morrow may find it nearer than to-day. Act under the inspiration of the grand thought that thou art helping on the time when from the remotest region of the earth the last tribe of savage men shall have exclaimed as did the converted son of China, “ This gospel was made for me !” Nay more, for the time when from the whole world the influence of idolatry shall have disappeared as completely as that of our Saxon ancestors has faded from the Christian minds of Europe and America; for the time when Greek and Papal 'superstitions shall have ended; when organized tyranny shall have dropped its gory sceptre and hidden its grim and sinister visage ; when doubting and
*Luke 12:49. +2 Pet. 3 ; 12.