On the disputed subject of the premillennial or postmillennial Advent, which seems to many in these times the one great question of all prophecy and of all religion, the only reference is at the close of the volume, where the oldfashioned doctrine is maintained. The author believes that in the catastrophe attending the Seventh Vial there will be such a display of God's principles of governing the world, that not the Church only, but the nations generally, shall be deeply impressed with a sense of the justice and truth of the Most High. “Just and true are thy ways thou King of Saints.” And the prevalence of this feeling will usher in the Millennial era.

“Accordingly the song of the harpers concludes with an anticipation of the immediate approach of a better dispensation. “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name 2 for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.’ The grand principles which enter into the right constitution and the proper government of human society being demonstrated in these awful scenes, taken in connexion with all that went before since the rise of Popery, and the world being now put fully in possession of them, we have reason to think they will never again be lost. We cannot conceive of the knowledge of the six primary mechanical powers being lost. The mechanist and the artisan will proceed on these principles till the end of time. The law of gravitation, and the other fundamental laws of science, being now fully established, will continue through all time to form the base of all the reasonings and discoverings of philosophy. Why should not moral truth, if once fully discovered and clearly demonstrated, be retained, by the help of the Divine Spirit, with equal permanency? The grand fundamental laws of moral and religious truth, though the first in importance, have been the last to be discovered : nor till the awful scenes of the seventh trial shall be completed, will these great principles be fully evolved, and the world generally brought to the knowledge of them. But having come into full possession of them by painful experience, we have reason to think that they will not again be lost, but will confinue henceforward to mould the character and regulate the actings of society, both in its corporate capacity and its individual members. The reign of these

principles will constitute the MILLENNIUM.”

On the whole this treatise is one of the most satisfactory books on prophecy after the received views thereof. But we confess that we hold rather heretical opinions as to the established interpretation of the Apocalypse. There is in almost every book on prophecy with which we are acquainted a tendency to magnify what is present or local. This work on the seventh vial we think exaggerates the importance of passing events. We have difficulty moreover in believing any scheme of interpretation to be sound which leaves wholly out of view every part of the world save the map of Europe. Where is America with its vast Christian population and its flourishing Churches? Where are the young colonies of England, which give promise of being flourishing empires when Europe is worn out, “when the traveller from New Zealand, sitting on a broken arch of London-bridge, shall sketch the ruins of St. Paul's?” The prophetic interpretations as currently received are narrow and local in their field, and we believe the Bible not to be a mere European book, but in its prophecies, as well as its promises and precepts, of world-wide application.


The life of a country minister in a remote district of Scotland does not often afford events of sufficient interest for a public biography. But the subject of the present memoir was a man of so peculiar a character, and his labours were so abundant and varied, that we have rarely met with a volume more full of interesting and instructive matter. To most of our readers Dr. Duncan's name is known as the author of the “Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons,” and other works of deserved popularity. Among philanthropists, and in the records of political economy, he is distinguished as the “Founder of Savings Banks.” The success of the institution

* Memoir of the Rev. Henry Duncan, D.D., Minister of Ruthwell, Founder of Savings' Banks, Author of “Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons,” &c., &c. By his Son, the Rev. George John C. Duncan, North Shields. Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Sons. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Company. 1848.

[ocr errors]

in his own parish and neighbourhood, led general attention to the subject, and he lived to see his plans carried into practice in all parts of the civilized world. Not only in the establishment of such banks in various places he gave his personal assistance, but in framing the Acts of Parliament relative to the subject, the Government mainly were indebted to his experience and counsels. In 1826, when Brougham was planning the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, he wrote to Dr. Duncan, who was an old College companion at Edinburgh, to contribute a volume on the history and nature of savings banks. The narrative of Dr. Duncan's labours in this and other fields of parochial and political economy, is full of instruction and encouragement to all who are interested in the social improvement of mankind. Among scientific men Dr. Duncan's name is known as the originator of a most interesting department of Geology, that of Ichnology, or the study of the traces of the inhabitants of former creations on the rocks of our present world. On the sandstone of a quarry near Ruthwell he first observed the footprints of some strange animal that had passed over it, when the rock was yet soft, in ages long before any of the present denizens of the world were in existence. Geologists for some time were incredulous and even treated the announcement with ridicule. But Dr. Buckland, after seeing the specimens, and subsequently visiting the quarry, gave the following testimony:-"I look upon your discovery as one of the most curious and most important that has been ever made in Geology, and a discovery that will for ever connect your name with the progress of the science.” Dr. Chalmers also has testified concerning this, that “he was not only the first to point out traces of now extinct animals on the strata of former eras, but he at once also fully appreciated the importance of the geological phenomena to the science.” These ichnological marks have been since observed in many parts of the world, and specimens are found in most museums and collections. But it is not because of his science and learning and varied accomplishments, nor yet because of his abundant and successful labours, that this memoir is to us chiefly interesting. The charm of Dr. Duncan's life was his personal character, his warm, ever-gushing benevolence, his untiring and well-directed activity, his

high moral principle, and his humble, happy piety. r. Duncan was born in 1774. In 1799 he was inducted to the parish of Ruthwell, in Dumfriesshire, where he laboured for forty-three years as a minister of the Established Church. At the disruption in 1843 such a man was, as a matter of course, with the party which became the Free Church of Scotland. The narrative of the events connected with the disruption is o in this memoir with great impartiality and clearness. The following passages are extracts descriptive of the state of Dr. Duncan's parish at the disruption, and of his own labours after it, and the last scene of his life:– “About the period at which we have now arrived, the parish had reached a high degree of cultivation, if we may employ the word. During a course of years his own advance was indicated by the increasing energy with which his pastoral work was prosecuted, and the new schemes by which his love to souls was developed—the ea periments, so to speak, by which he strove to discover the most favourable means of impressing their hearts and awakening their consciences. He had for some time held, with growing frequency, what may be called extraordinary meetings for devotion, sometimes on Sabbath evenings in the Society room or parish schoolhouse, or in the schoolhouse which had been erected, as related above, in a distant corner by the surplus fund of the parish bank—sometimes on the evenings of working days, either there or in the private dwellings of his parishioners. His Sabbath-school instruction, formerly confined to the Church, and of course only attended by the children of the neighbourhood, was now diffused over no fewer than six localities, all of which, in turn, with the aid of members or inmates of his own family, he personally superintended, his object being to bring the benefits of the institution to every child in the parish. An infant-school was opened in 1832 in the village, and a teacher engaged chiefly at his own expense, the superintendence of which he committed to the willing care of his daughter. He was peculiarly attached to the young, and sedulously watched over them as they approached the verge of manhood, to train them in the principles of truth, and guard them from the dangers and temptations to which they were apt to be exposed. Classes for such youths were held for long periods, every season, on two evenings of each week. There he appeared among them more as a friend and fellow-learner than a master. For them he employed some of his leisure hours in preparing models and transparencies, meant to illustrate Jewish manners or scriptural scenery; and when they were drawn together, he invited and encouraged the familiar remark, and the free inquiry, gladly striving, by every means, to engage their attention and awaken their interest. The Sabbathschool teachers, also, who were generally of this class, gathering from every district of the parish, held at the Manse a monthly meeting for mutual improvement at which he presided, and in which each of the young men, in turn, was encouraged to lead the devotions. “To his classes in preparation for the communion he paid very anxious attention, and he early introduced a practice which he followed to the end of his ministry, of requiring all catechumens to make a profession of their faith before the congregation. These classes were larger or smaller according to circumstances, and at times he used to regret that, for several days at their first opening, the attendance was discouraging. On one of these occasions, which the writer remembers, a single youth arrived at the appointed hour. This was intimated to Dr. Duncan, when some one present remarked, that it was a pity he should take the trouble of meeting with but one. “Don’t call it trouble,” was his reply, “we must make a beginning. John shall not be sent away because he comes alone.’ It was among the young accordingly, as might be expool, that when the day of trial came a arge proportion of his most devoted friends and followers were found. In short, no efforts which ingenuity, stimulated by a love for souls, could prompt, were omitted. Every family had become more than ever his peculiar care, and now he seemed to be realizing, but in a higher sense than he was once capable of imagining, the early anticipated position of a father and universal friend to the people of his charge.” “One happy result of the disruption became apparent in the course of Dr. Duncan's dis-established ministry. Hitherto, the strictness of clerical etiquette had confined him within the limits of his own parish. Many a summer's evening had he spent in preaching to such as were brought by circumstances within the range of his parochial ministry, though

not inhabitants of Ruthwell. On the seashore he had had for a time a regular congregation, partly composed of such strangers—labourers engaged on the spotin rearing an embankment—who, when their tools were laid aside at the close of the day, used to gather around his phaeton, from which he addressed to them the message of salvation. Still he had often had cause to regret, when openings of usefulness presented themselves beyond his own boundaries, that he was precluded by the recognised rules of ministerial intercourse from taking advantage of them. Now, however, he was set free from old restraints, and with hearty good-will he took the opportunity of carrying his message beyond the boundaries of Ruthwell, wherever, in the neighbourhood, he was so happy as to find an open door. The parish minister of forty-three years, became at once the Gospel missionary. “‘Though in his seventieth year,” “he went every alternate Sabbath evening many miles along the shores of the Solway to preach in the open air, to about two hundred people, in Caerlaverock parish. In Mousewald, and Dalton too, he often preached, and in each of these latter parishes we got a sabbath-school placed, so that though a portion of his stated flock left him, he had by the disruption, means of searching out others who were not “Gospel hardened,” and some of whom received the good news gladly.’” “Many attended church who had separated themselves from his ministry, but still retained an affectionate regard for his person. There was an impressive solemnity and earnestness in the services, which deeply affected his people. His text in the morning was from John iii. 18 —“He that believeth not is condemned already.' He told his hearers that he had not come among them to speak smooth things, or to flatter them in favourite delusions; that there were some among them of whom he stood anxiously in doubt, and that he felt as if he fulfilled his duty best by faithfully sounding an alarm. His mind had doubtless been dwelling on the hardening influence which seemed to have pervaded the hearts of too many, with whom he had often in vain pleaded on behalf of their souls; and he now left them his last warning, to “flee from the wrath to come.’ “In the hurried course of visitation to which the two following days were devoted, hardly one old friend was omitted. His warm heart carried him indiscrimi

[ocr errors]

nately into the houses of his o whether of the Free Church or of the Establishment, and by all he was cordially greeted. On the Tuesday, he was followed by the eyes of several of his people to the church-yard, at the gate of which they observed him stop and fasten his horse. He then entered, and was seen to stand long by the railing that encircled the spot of earth where many years before he had laid a long-loved partner, and where, on the Tuesday following, he was himself to find a grave. What memories of former days then crowded on his mind, we shall never know. Probably a shade of regret was there that he might not at last rest among those whom he had loved so much, and for so many of whom he felt all the tenderness of a parent for his children. “He had been invited by an elder in the Establishment to hold a prayer-meeting in his house at Cockpool on the evening of that day; and, as it drew on to the time, he was noticed, with a step almost youthful, speeding from door to door in the village of Ruthwell, that, if possible, no kind heart might be wounded by an omission. He had a cheerful and a hearty word for each; and he finished this two days’ labour of love, ‘weary in body, but rejoicing in spirit,' by driving to the place of meeting, which lay about two miles westward. Here he was kindly welcomed. The house soon filled; and, as the sun had set, he proceeded by candle light to conduct the services. It was remarked by his auditors, when the subsequent stroke had rendered every small movement matter of observation, that their minister was at this time free from agitation, and held his presence of mind, up to the moment when the first note of the final summons was sounded in his ear. The table on which the Bible was placed was low, and consequently the light did not reach the book when raised in his hand. Instead of making a bustle, by applying to the good woman of the house for some means of raising the light, he cast his eye quietly around, and, with the old fertility in expedient and adaptation for which he was remarkable, took a jug which hung on the wall, placed it on the table, and on it set his candlestick, and then proceeded to read. After singing the 121st Psalm and prayer, he gave out as his text, Zech iii. 9, “For behold the stone,” &c. It was while in the act of illustrating these words that the messenger of death met him. He had not

spoken above ten minutes when his voice faltered, his whole frame trembled, and all the symptoms of paralysis became apparent. He was supported to a chair, but could not sustain himself upright. An attempt was then made to lift him into his conveyance, which was quickly o but this was found impracticable; and at length it was suggested that a bed should be extended on a cart, on which he might be laid, and so carefully conducted to Comlongon, which lay at the distance of about a mile. This plan was adopted. Supported in the cart by one of his tudio people, and followed by those who, not an hour before, had gathered together to attend on his instructions, he was silently conveyed to the house of his affectionate relatives. “As the melancholy procession moved along, the moon looked down with chastened lustre, and the more brilliant of the stars shone unclouded over the scene. Lifting up his hand, though now scarce able to speak, he was heard, as he cast his upturned eye over the heavens, to utter the admiring exclamation, ‘Glorious ! most glorious !' Arrived at their destination, he was lifted by tender and willing hands, and conveyed to bed.” He died on the Friday, three days after the stroke, in the seventy-third year of his age. “Never did worn-out veteran find a death more in keeping with his history. Struck down at the successful close of what he had long contemplated as his last campaign, with the weapons of his spiritual warfare still in his grasp, he died a Christian soldier's blessed death, amid scenes dignified by his unceasing labours, and in the midst of those who had followed the banner which, on behalf of Christ, he had nobly unfurled because of the truth. His duty done, the Master thus at its close called him to his reward.” We have only to add our commendation of the skill, delicacy, and good taste with which the memoir is drawn up. The son of such a father we are glad to have as a minister in our English Presbyterian Church, and he is manifesting in his field of labour the good school in which he was trained. We are sure that no reader will be disappointed as to the rich treat we romise them to obtain from the perusal of this valuable volume.

It is better to gain one soul to Christ than to gain a world.—Oliver Heywood.


We have received a very interesting letter from Cambridge, the writer of which complains of the great want of training for the ministry in the Church of England, and asks if it be not possible for the Presbyterian Church to aid any students who are desirous of obtaining that preparation which is in vain looked for in the University. We give some extracts from the letter, adding such remarks as are thereby suggested:— “Cambridge yearly sends out between three and four hundred men, yet how few from among them ever become devoted ministers, and still fewer missionaries; a fact to be deeply deplored, though impossible to be denied. For all those best acquainted with the kind of life there bear testimony to its being one almost wholly subversive of Christian activity, either at home or abroad, and instead of tending to prepare men for the high and holy calling of the Christian ministry, it hinders them in many ways from ever becoming what ministers ought to be. “Out of these numbers sent out every year there are always some men full of Christian zeal and enterprise, desiring to pass through a course of College study that they may be better fitted to go forth to the glorious work to which they have before God dedicated themselves. But where is the public provision for this training? And even when such men meet in private for prayer and searching the word of God that they may perfect themselves as best they are able for the work, these meetings are watched with suspicion, and only connived at by those who ought in every way to encourage them. The greater number, when they have passed through their whole academical career, are sent forth into the world untrained and inefficient ministers. And many of those who went up, as far as human judgment could discern, fired with the glowing zeal of youthful converts, and only anxious to complete their years of study in order to go forth as heralds of salvation to a careless and perishing world, every year of their stay at Cambridge become more and more cool and indifferent to missionary work. This was confirmed at the last meeting of the Church Missionary Society in Exeter Hall, where it was stated that almost all their recent missionaries, and certainly the most devoted of them, were those

who offered their services from other quarters than from the Universities. Many will say this is an exaggerated statement made by one who is unfriendly to the method of training, or else ignorant of it, but it is fully borne out by those who understand it best.” We quite agree with our Correspondent in the estimate of the training at the Universities; and at Oxford matters are worse, if possible, than at Cambridge. Faithful and zealous ministers come from both, but the number is comparatively small, and it is not from any public source that their preparation has been derived. With the exception of what has been gained from the occasional discourses of Evangelical ministers and from private study alone or in companionship, no Cambridge man can say he got much ministerial education from his Alma Mater. There is no school of theology worthy of the name. There are no public courses of lectures on Divinity, Church History, Biblical interpretation, and Pastoral Theology, such as are found in the Colleges of other Protestant countries. And the books chiefly in vogue for private study are of a very different stamp from what once were in common use. When Horsley was at College, “Calvin's Institutes '' was still the text book of theology. How many Cambridge men study Calvin and Turretine, or even Perkins and Owen now? How few read anything deeper than “Burnet on the Thirty-nine Articles,” or “the works of Bishop Tomline !” Hence the meagreness of doctrinal divinity among the majority of what are called Evangelical clergymen. How rarely do we meet with men who come up even to the mark of Scott and Simeon And we look in vain for anything of the masterly power and spiritual unction that pervaded English theology in the days of the Puritans. We fear, however, that this is a degeneracy not confined to the English Church, though in it most marked and most to be regretted. While we pray that God may send a time of quickening and revival from his own presence, it is right at the same time to desire that the means of sound theological training should be employed, for which in the English Universities there is at present so little provision. With this feeling our Correspondent makes the following suggestion:“Since there are always some earnest men, sensible of the defective system

« ElőzőTovább »