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gether without some special salutary re-l are represented as living in aggregations straints, they become reckless and regard- of wretched filthy huts, in a state of less ; a few of the baser sort pollute the almost perfect bestiality, working on whole, and, being a multitude, they are Sundays as on week-days, numbers of emboldened to wickedness both in word them having lost their christian and surand in deed. What painful illustrations names, and rearing broods of children of this may every year be seen on our deteriorated both in body and mind to the harvest fields, where persons who have very lowest pitch. Mr Chadwick conconducted themselves with decency and siders that a great part of the evil results propriety in the adjoining village all the from the labourers having no direct conrest of the year, at once throw off restraint, nexion with the proprietors or directors and indulge in conversation and behaviour of the railways, who are generally persons the most flagitious! For behoof of the of respectability. But they let out the railway labourers, preaching stations have lines to contractors, who often subdivide in many cases been instituted, and tract it into smaller portions among an inferior distribution resorted to. So far well; class. These, in many instances, being but let the character and condition of the little superior to the labourers, are conpeople be considered. There are amongst cerned only to have the works completed them, of course, a great variety of classes. at the proper time, and at the least posNumbers of them, however, are papists ; sible cost. Often their contracts are numbers, grossly ignorant of the first taken at a very low rate, and they have principles of the oracles of God, and alto- no way of extricating themselves but by gether without the advantages of educa- setting up shops for the workmen, and tion, incapable of reading, and possessing paying them in drink and provisions à vocabulary the most limited, and desti- generally inferior in quality, and reckoned tute almost altogether of the terms of at an exorbitant price. He refers to one theology; numbers, the slaves of drunk case, where a contract was taken so low enness and other debasing vices; numbers, that there will be a loss on the work, yet avowed, boasting infidels, materialists, or upwards of L.7000 will be realized by socialists; and great numbers more, cha- the sale of beer and inferior provisions. racterised by nothing than by a mingled This truck system is illegal, but it must, feeling of contempt and detestation for in many cases, be winked at, because, all ministers of the gospel. Clearly, the huts being at a distance from any tracts adapted for ordinary circulation, and village, the people could not otherwise be sermons appropriate for congregations of supplied with necessaries. Mr C. is of professing Christians are totally unsuitable opinion that the legislature ought to in. for such characters, even were they will-terfere,—that railway directors should be ing to avail themselves of these means, made responsible in a number of imporas pretty generally they are not. How to tant matters, that providing habitations deal with them is a problem we shall not suitable for human beings should be made presume to attempt solving. It is mani- compulsory,--that moral supervision and fest, however, they must be approached instruction should be provided, that with great kindness. It is especially ne-weekly cash payments on the spot, and cessary that all things, towards them, not in public houses, should be made, should be done with charity. There is and that the payments should take place much need also for wisdom, and prudence, in sections, so many being paid on Monand tact, and for long suffering and per- day, so many on Tuesday, and so on. severance.
We have heard the horrible reason asMr Chadwick has published some in- signed for paying only on Saturday, that teresting papers relative to the labourers there will always be a day of drinking on several of the principal English and and fighting after pay-day, and that, if a Irish lines. Of these papers some account week-day were spent in that manner, the will be found in Chambers' Journal for works could not be got finished in time ; 4th April. Many of the details are ex- Sunday, therefore, which is an idle day at ceedingly revolting, yet the worst should any rate, must serve for the rioting and be known. In some instances the people debauchery.
MURRAY AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
UNITED SECESSION MAGAZINE
FOR JUNE, 1846.
THE SEVEN SPIRITS BEFORE THE THRONE.
This is the designation applied to the Holy Spirit in the apostolical salutation to the seven churches in Asia, with which the Revelation of John commences. It has, indeed, been maintained that created spirits are meant, or that the seven Spirits before the throne are angels of a high rank, who are admitted to a station near to the throne of God, as the counsellors of a king wait in his presence. But this view is alto-gether inadmissible. Where in all the sacred Scriptures can an instance be found in which spiritual blessings are supplicated from creatures, or in which they are associated with God, and placed, as it were, between the Father and the Son, as equally with them the source of grace and peace to men? It would be strange, indeed, if angels were introduced into such a sublime in vocation as that in which this title occurs, while no reference was made in it to the Holy Spirit, who is presented in Scripture as an object of worship and prayer, to men, and who is associated with the Father and the Son in the prescribed form of baptism, and in the apostolical benediction. No one who recollects these forms of words can doubt that the Holy Spirit is meant, being described by a symbolical title which harinonizes with the emblematical character of the book of the Revelation.
This peculiar title cannot be understood as implying that he is numerically seven, or that there are more than one person in the Godhead, who, as distinguished from the Father and the Son, are collectively called the Holy Spirit; neither can the use of it be regarded as furnishing any valid objection to the doctrine of the personality of the Spirit, or as sanctioning the notion that this title denotes not a distinct divine person, but only an influence, or virtue, or operation of the Deity. Without adverting to the proofs of his unity and personality furnished by Scripture, it is only necessary to remark, that plural appellations are never given to him except in prophecy, in which symbolical language is employed. They are, therefore, to be regarded as figurative. Such figurative representations, however, are not without an object; and it
NO. VI. VOL. III.
is proper that the Christian should inquire into their meaning, or endea Tour to ascertain the truths which they were intended to teach.
The notion of plurality generally suggests the variety of the gifts and operations of the Spirit. Though he is numerically one, the results of his agency are many and diversified. “ Now," says Paul, when speaking of his operations in the first age of the gospel, “ there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues : bat all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” A similar appeal might be made to the vast variety of living beings produced by his energy, whose forms, and qualities, and modes of life, though characterized by a unity which indicates the operation of a single agent, are at the same time almost endlessly diversified ;-to the different natural endowments conferred by him on different individuals, to qualify them for the place they are destined to occupy in the church, and the services to which they are appointed ;-and to the various graces of which Christians generally are the recipients, or the love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, which he works in all the heirs of salvation.
But it is not plurality indefinitely that is ascribed to the Spirit. He is spoken of, pot generally as Spirits, but definitely as the seven Spirits; and no other number is in prophecy employed in reference to him. In the prophecies of Zechariah, where Christ is represented as not only the Architect of the spiritual temple, but its foundation stone, the reception of the Spirit by him, to qualify him for his work, is expressed by the figure of seven eyes carved or engraven on it. To indicate alsó the agency of the Spirit in the dispensation of the gospel, John represents the Lamb who received the sealed book from him that sat upon the throne, and who was commissioned to open it, as having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God: Zech. iii. 9; Rev. v. 0. The interpretation of these symbolical represeutations bas, in the opinion of some, been found in the prediction of Isaiah respecting the promised Messiah, that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him, as “ the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord,” and also the Spirit of equity or judgment: Isa. xi. 3-5. But though this prophecy is explanatory in so far as it ascertains diversity to be the ground of the plural designation, “ Spirits,” the pumber cannot well be interpreted by it; for, though seven appellations may be found in it, they are not all so distinct as to constitute seven views of the Spirit, but may be reduced to two classes,-power, and wisdom, the same qualifications which are denoted by the horns and the eyes of the Lamb, each of which are said to be seven. A more general idea must, therefore, be regarded as intended to be suggested by the number seven, when applied to the Spirit. In all ages, and more especially in the early periods of the world, certain numbers have been venerated as possessing a mystical
signification. None, however, has been more universally venerated than that of seven. The testimony of Scripture proves that its influence extended alike to the common actions of life, and to the business of religion. Jacob, when he met his brother Esau, bowed before him seven times, and Balak, at the request of Balaam, once and again builded seven altars, and offered on them seven bullocks and seven rams. This respect to it was not without a divine sanction. Noah was enjoined to take into the ark the clean animals by sevens; the Israelites were required to compass Jericho seven tinies, preceded by seven priests blowing with trumpets; and Elisha commanded Naaman to wash seven times in Jordan for the removal of his leprosy. Nay, even in the stated ordinances of the Mosaic system a similar importance was attached to it. The golden candlestick consisted of seven branches, the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled seven times, and the seventh day and seventh year were pronounced sacred. The importance attached to this number may have originated in the circumstance, that God on the seventh day rested from the work of creation, which naturally suggested the association of the idea of fulness or perfection with the number seven, or prompted the veneration of it as the number which exhausted or completed every thing. But whether traced simply to this fact, or to some original purpose in God fixing for himself a number that should regulate his works, so as to indicate to his creatures their coincidence in predetermined perfection, nothing can be more certain than that it is in Scripture expressive of perfection, and is accordingly used in the book of Revelation explicitly for the purpose of intimating the perfection of the divine administration, both in its general plan and subordinate departments. Its prophecies are arranged under seven seals, the last seal including seven trumpets, and the last trumpet seven vials. The whole book, in fact, is constructed on the principle of sevens, which is prominently introduced in every part of it. The title, “ the seven Spirits," may, therefore, be viewed as indicating not only the variety, but the completeness, of the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit, or the adequacy of his agency to accomplish all the objects which it is intended to effect. It leaves nothing defective, or requiring to be supplemented from some other quarter. There is, however, a special reference in the designation to the fulness or perfection which characterizes “ the manifestation of the Spirit" under the gospel economy with respeet both to the privilege enjoyed and to the means by which it is imparted ;-the “ seven Spirits" denoting, in regard to the first, the abundance of his consolations, the sufficiency and copious measure of his supernatural influence, and the plenitude of his gifts and graces ; and in regard to the second, the completion of the sacred oracles, to gether with the simple, spiritual, and eminently efficacious system of ordinances, which belongs to the christian dispensation
But the fulness or perfection characteristic of “ the manifestation of the Spirit” in the New Testament times, involves in it the universality and the perpetuity of his presence with believers, and the adequacy of his power, and the adaptation of its operations to the varying aspects of the church, and to the state of its members in every place and in every period. In the introduction of the epistle to the church in Sardis, the seven Spirits and the seven stars--the emblems of the angels or ministers of the churches—are so conjoined as to indicate a close relation between them : “ These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of Gud and the seven stars.” And the prayer in which the title first occurs, was presented on behalf of the seven churches in Asia. The appellation was thus chosen from its correspondence with the number of the churches, for whom the blessings of grace and peace are requested, and of the angels of those churches who were addressed in the subsequent epistles. It was, therefore, intended to intimate the presence of the Holy Spirit with each of them, or to assure them that though there had been a distinct spirit for every one of them, they could not have received a richer supply of grace and peace than this one Spirit was able to afford. Now, as these churches were selected to be the representatives of the church universal, the title intimates that his agency is sufficient for all in every part of the world, and in every period of time, that he is present in all, and that he supplies to all whatever influence is needed by them, or will be useful to them. His operations are co-extensive with the church of Christ, however widely it may be diffused, and no church, and no individual, has reason to fear that the multitude of places in which his agency is required, will occasion the neglect of any. The seven eyes of the Lamb are " the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” It was chiefly on this ground, that our Lord asserted the expediency of his departure to heaven. His bodily presence must have been confined to one region; but his presence by the Spirit is universal as well as perpetual."
The high privilege enjoyed by believers under the gospel dispensation, is also indicated by the position ascribed to the seven Spirits. They are before the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. This position may be viewed as indicating the subordination of the Spirit to the Father in the economy of grace, and the readiness with which he fulfils the commission given him according to the divine arrangements. Though there is no personal or essential inferiority of the Spirit to the Father, the latter in the execution of the purpose and plan of salvation acts as the representative of Deity, and it is by the exercise of his authority as seated on the throne of supreme Majesty, that the Spirit is sent forth to apply the salvation procured by Christ to the chosen objects of mercy. This mission he is not reluctant to undertake. The love of the Spirit is as conspicuously manifested in the work of redemption, as the love of the Father or the Son. It is with satisfaction and pleasure that he comes to earth to distribute his gifts, according to the appointment of the Majesty on high. He is before the throne-always willing and prepared to fulfil the mission assigned to him. But these are not the only truths which the position ascribed to the Spirit was intended 'to suggest. In the symbolical view of the throne of God furnished to John, “ there were seven lamps of fire, burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God :" Rev. iv. 5. The allusion here is obviously to the seven-branched candlestick which stood before the mercy-seat in the sanctuary of God among the Jews. The former was symbolical of the light of the church, of which the Spirit is the source, both by external revelation, and by internal or saving illumination; and the latter was an emblem of the throne of divine Majesty, converted into a throne of grace to men by the blood of atonement. Now, in the typical repre