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This was a very remarkable conclusion, and it was true. The argument of Whiston as derived from astronomy is satisfactory on this point-it determines the year, month, and day of the Deluge in conformity with the Hebrew Scripture; but Whiston did not carry his astronomical evidence further back to the period of the creation of man; and his demonstration as to the period of the Deluge was unfortunately connected with certain speculations, so that it did not command the respect and confidence which it deserved, and would otherwise have obtained.
In the present day, however, a man has appeared who has given us astronomical demonstration that the chronology of the Bible is true, even up to the period of the creation of Adam. In this there is no guess-work, no conjecture; it is the precision of mathematical evidence as displayed in the heavens. It would not be possible within our limited space to give in detailed and scientific form the process by which Mr. Dimbleby works out and completes his demonstration. Those who have leisure and competent knowledge for tracing the process for themselves may do so, for he challenges mathematical investigation in his work, entitled, “ All Past Time," price only sixpence, and sold by the Book Society, 28, Paternoster-row.
Sufice it here to say, that the various celestial phenomena are laid under contribution to prove the conclusions which Mr. Dimbleby maintains : namely, the periodical motions of the moon ; the classification of all eclipses from the creation of the world; all the transits of Venus and Mercury, arriving by successive dates in Lines and Teams to those now seen ; also the three solar cycles of all time, namely, the original cycle of the Antediluvians; the ancient Hebrew cycle; the solar cycle of the present Christian era ; by which is determined the total number of the years from the first Sabbath until the present day.
In the use of these data Mr. Dimbleby shows not only the period of the death of Abel and the general Deluge, but he identifies the period of the call of Abraham, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the giving of the Law, the crossing of the River Jordan, the institution of Jewish annual festivals, the Jewish captivity, Ezekiel's visions, Daniel's prophecies, the deliverance from captivity, the birth and death of our Saviour, the Pentecost, &c. It is argued that the first day of man's existence, as stated in Genesis ii. 2, 3, was coincident with the day of the autumnal equinox, 1656 years before the Deluge, as the Hebrew Bible states; and it is shown that that period, and no other, perfectly agrees with all the subsequent facts of astronomy—that is, with all the revolutions of the heavenly bodies—with all the changes of the moon, with all the eclipses of the sun and moon, with all the transits of Venus and Mercury, and with all the cycles of the celestial bodies. And even if anyone should after all object, by alleging that the motions of the heavenly bodies might have been going on antecedently to the period of Adam, that objection is met by two facts, namely, the beginning of time on the Sabbath day, as the first week of time ; and the perfect coincidence of every subsequent Sabbath, and of every event recorded in Scripture with the periods indicated by the motions of the heavenly bodies, thus showing the harmonious coincidence between the Scriptures and celestial phenomena during the whole period of time.
Blessed be God for this grand old book—the Bible! It is true; it is God's word ; His faithful word; it proves its inspiration by its truth; and it stands the test of the most rigid investigation. It is true to science when science itself is true; it is true to history when history is true; it is true to chronology when chronology itself is correct. It is indeed the standard of truth : the grand test and infallible corrector of human errors. It not only confirms but oft anticipates scientific discoveries; and still sheds light on the future as ages roll on. It is true to man for this life, and for man's eternal life-his guide on earth, his conductor to everlasting blessedness, to the throne of God. Let science go on, we hail her discoveries ; but let scientists be modest, and shrink from touching the Ark of God with presumptuous hands. Let the Christian believe and fear not. With the Bible on his side he is safe. He builds on a rock, a rock of eternal adamant, which when the stars shall fade, the sun himself grow dim with age, and nature sink in ruin, shall endure, and never fail. Glory be to God for ever; and let all the Church of God say Amen.
I cannot conclude this article without solemnly calling the attention of the reader to the awful truth that the existence of the world, yea, the existence of sun and planetary systems which measure the roll of ages and the cycles of time, are but as an hour compared to that eternity into which we shall shortly enter. Reader, prepare to meet thy God!
We are surrounded by an unseen realm of spiritual reality, which is opened to us only as we grow into it.
THE DISSENTERS—THEIR INCREASE.—The number of "certified chapels” in Great Britain at which Nonconformists hold religious services has increased within thirty years from 14,662 to 21,366, or nearly fifty per cent. It is claimed that the number of attendants at Nonconformist services is nearly as large as that of the worshippers in the Established Church, although the accommodations for the former are only a third of those provided by the Church.
SPIRITUAL LIFE AND THE EXTENSION OF
DEAR DR. COOKE,-I venture to address you on a subject which I know lies near to your heart, and & subject of great importance, viz., the spiritual condition of the Churches in our beloved Connexion. The heartstirring accounts in the “Connexional Outlook" in the October number of the Magazine must have sent a thrill of holy joy to many amongst us, and if it should please the Great Head of the Church to arouse the whole Connexion to a fuller and more vigorous spiritual life, God will be glorified, precious souls will be saved, many will be called out of darkness into light, who in future years will become devoted servants of God to carry on His work, and all will heartily rejoice. I would fain offer my humble con.' tribution towards this great and glorious work. It seems to me that God has special claims on us as a Connexion for abundant spiritual work at the present time. Our forefathers, by divine help, and through much toil, persecution, and suffering, fought and won for us religious liberty, and they have left us a precious legacy of Christian privileges, so that our hands are left entirely free to carry on purely evangelical work, unhindered by the distractions and anxieties incidental to a struggle for bare existence as a portion of Christ's Universal Church. To what end? I ask, and I seem to hear the Great Master speaking to us as a people,“ Since I have given you to sit under your own vine and fig-tree, none now daring to make you afraid, go forth in My name and strength, and carry My Gospel everywhere to the souls for whom I shed My precious blood.” Shall we not respond, “Dear Master, we will; help us to do so, and from henceforth use us, all we have and all we are, all our body, soul, and strength, for Thy glory and the good of precious souls" !
One certain sign of the existence of spiritual life amongst us will be seen in the growth of God's cause in our midst, for a fundamental law of all true spiritual life is what we express by the words growth, progress, enlargement, and increase; wherever that life exists it must develop itself, it cannot be "cribbed, cabined, and confined,” it cannot be shut up within narrow limits, but, like the plant and the tree, it will be always trying to strike its roots deeper, spreading forth its branches on every side, thus ever seeking the light and the air ; for unless it has room to grow in it will pine and die
“A garden walled around" is not only an inadequate, it is also a very false and misleading figure of the kingdom of God on earth; the field of that kingdom, according to our Lord's teaching, is the wide world, and any attempt to confine that kingdom within narrower limits must, in the very nature of things, prove a failure. The law of spiritual growth was frequently exemplified in the history of God's ancient people, it has been still more amply illustrated in the life and teaching of Christ and His apostles, and in the history of the Christian Church, and it is a law which we in the present day need constantly to recognise and act upon.
If we possess true spiritual life we shall never be content to lead the mere monkish life, and sullenly shut ourselves up from the rest of the
world; on the contrary, we shall mingle with our fellow-men, and by our example and persuasions attract others to join our holy band, until the place where we dwell will become too strait for us, and we shall require a larger place, and more room to work in. Now, that is a very blessed state of things when God's people get crowded out by the sheer increase of their numbers ; better, far better, that they should be wedged together in the most uncomfortable manner, than that they should find the place where they dwell daily becoming too large for them, for, if they are true and loyal to God and to His cause, they will not wish to shrink and dwindle, but constantly to grow and increase.
In seeking to extend God's cause we need the wisdom of faith, as well as the spirit of enterprise, to guide us in our choice of a locality wherein to labour. Faith is a grand and an essential factor in every enterprise that seeks to honour God and to bless men, but even faith needs to be joined with wisdom, otherwise it is in danger of degenerating into blind pre. sumption. Let us not, like some of the monks of the middle ages, go to the howling wilderness, where we shall neither find materials to build a house for worship nor human souls to fill it when it is erected; and let us not choose some snug spot where we may doze away our lives, unmindful of the wants and miseries of our fellow-men.
It may, indeed, seem to some a small matter that the people of God should ever be exercised as to their choice of a locality wherein to labour, and let it be granted that there are cases when we dare not confer with flesh and blood, but must obey the imperative call of God's Spirit to go forward in the name of the Lord; and wherever souls are perishing for lack of knowledge, where the people are scattered as sheep having no shepherd, where no man cares for the souls of his fellow-men, and where the cry, the pathetic and beseeching cry, comes to us, as it did of old from Macedonia, “Come over and help us,” there it is our duty at all risks, and for the time discarding the ordinary maxims of prudence, to go, as far as we have strength to do so, in the spirit of Christ, and trusting to Him to bless the work, and to call the wanderers into His fold.
Some of the grandest and most successful enterprises of old-fashioned Methodism have been begun, continued, and perfected in this spirit, and God forbid the day should ever come when the cry of perishing souls will be unheeded by us, until we have settled whether it is prudent or not for us to go to them.
That is one side of the question, but there is another side to which we also do well to give heed. Considering the enormous amount of work required to be done for the world's conversion, it is truly lamentable that the strength of the Church should ever be wasted on unwise and fruitless enterprises. Take London as an extreme case-mighty London, with its four millions of souls, and where there is room for as many places of worship as the people of God will be able to rear for two or three generations to come, provided they are wisely located. Yet in London it is no uncommon thing to find three or four places of worship crowded together in some narrow locality, while at the same time there are wide tracts, teeming with human souls, untouched and uncared for! But in country districts the evil is still greater, for in some comparatively small country
villages there are to be seen three or four places of Worship, belonging to different denominations, while the entire population is scarcely more than enough to fill one of the places! In some instances it is to be feared that this is the result of mere sectarian pride and ambition, and where that is the case we cannot wonder if God should smite such places with spiritual barrenness; but even where it is due only to a want of judgment, surely there ought to be sufficient humility and self-denial among the various denominations concerned to lead them to hand over the work there to the one body most likely to succeed, while they themselves hasten to places more spiritually destitute.
For the extension of God's cause, earnest and devoted labour is required; men of action are needed, men, so to speak, who are neither afraid nor ashamed to shoulder the axe, to hew the wood and draw the water, and, in short, to do whatever is required to be done. It is easy enough to criticise and find fault with what others do, or even to sit still oneself and merely advise others what they ought to do; but, after all, the main and essential thing is, by divine help, to go and do one's own work, for no great enterprise has ever heen successfully carried out by mere passive assent. No, our wicked world still needs men of action, workmen, God's skilled workmen, Christ's devoted and untiring labourers, if the world's vices are to be demolished, and in their place temples of peace and purity are to be reared.
Another thing much needed for the extension of God's cause is a wise division of labour, and we'may learn a lesson on this point from the sons of the prophets. Their plan was for every man to take a beam. (2 Kings vi. 2.) Now, some beams were heavy and others light, and some of the sons of the prophets may have been physically weak, while others were strong, but by every man taking a beam, a wise division of labour was secured; the light beams could be carried by the weaker brethren, the heavy beams by the stronger; and thus every beam would find its proper place, and every man his proper work, for which he was most fitted. Another good result of this wise division of labour would be that the little beams, which were just as much required as the big beams, would not be despised or left behind because some were too proud or too strong to carry a little thing. And the cause of God needs a corresponding division of labour now. If it is to be successfully carried on, every man must take his share of the work, and do his part in this grand enterprise, and every man must do what he is most fitted for. Some labourers in the Lord's vineyard are overburdened and overworked, while others cursed with the spirit of idleness, and will do little or nothing; others allow the evil spirits of pride and jealousy to enter their souls, and because they cannot do great things will not even attempt to do little things. Oh, for a wise division of labour in the work of the Lord ! Oh, for every man to be determined to do something, and to be content and thankful to take his own proper share of the work, whether that share be great or small.
A wise division of labour is fruitful in promoting the spirit of unity amongst God's people. The self-respect which leads each man to do his own proper share of the work begets mutual respect for each other, and unites them as one man in their enterprise. Now, as a theans to an end.