Page images




them to the adjudication of an International Commission, says, 'the Conference will disappear, and leave no trace of its existence beyond a practical admittance of the complete effacement of Europe before English omnipotence in the East.' The Moniteur also states that German diplomacy has resulted in replacing the Anglo-French Condominium in Egypt by the British Protectorate, and asks where is the success for Europe.'

Contemplating the whole situation, we get a most startling demonstration of our identity with Ephraim—the heir of the world.' Strange indeed it is that men who profess to believe all that the prophets have spoken,' and to acknowledge the Hand of God in history, should be so blind as not to see it! The facts are briefly and simply these : God brought us, when we were an inconsiderable people, out of Assyria, as Sharon Turner proves; and He has given us a secure and peaceable habitation in these ‘Isles of the Sea.' Here He has caused us to renew our strength,' to

spread out our branches,' to 'overflow,' and 'run over the wall,' even to Canada, the United States, and the Rocky Mountains on the West. In the East, He has given us our vast Indian Empire, ' as large as the Continent of Europe without Russia, with an area of 1,486,319 square miles, and a population of 240 millions.' And still we are multiplying 'as the sand of the sea!' By an irreversible Law of Destiny, therefore, we must proceed to assert our supremacy in the very quarter, aye, the very Land, which Jehovah gave on oath to Israel 'FOR AN EVERLASTING POSSESSION !' Our acquisition of Cyprus, of the Armenian Protectorate, and now, practically, of that over Egypt, show 'how the wind is blowing; i.e., how the Divine Spirit is moulding the future of the nations ! Even our envious rivals, in their own despite, are forced to admit the overwhelming superiority of our actual interests and claims in these ancient lands; and though doubtless we shall have to fight, and fight hard, with the Military Despotisms, and to pass through great national tribulation,' ere we take final possession of the country from the Nile to the Euphrates, that this is our assured destiny is plain to the most unprophetic observer. But mark, good reader, unless God has broken His oath, to do this is the exclusive right, prerogative, and inheritance of Israel !

“Nor must the magnificent moral goal, to which we are thus being led, be lost sight of. 'All they who take the sword shall perish with the sword.' The nations that depend on mere brute force, and human state-craft, must succumb. Sin, by a Divine Nemesis, becomes its own punishment. By war shall the nations that delight in war'be destroyed! This is the end decreed to all the 'bloated armaments' and military science of the 19th century. And the nation that shall have dominion shall acquire and hold it for ever, not by its own might and wisdom, though it has both, but because it is of the Covenant which God made with Abraham ; because to it are committed the oracles of God ; ' and

[ocr errors]


it has been raised up,' quickened, and energised by the Gospel of Christ, and in order to disseminate it. Thus 'shall righteousness and praise spring forth before all the nations.'

“Praise, praise ye the name of Jehovah our God,
Declare, o declare ye, His glories abroad!
For His love floweth on, free and full as a river,
And His mercy endureth for ever and ever.'”



of — terval between death and resurrection-forming, as they evidently do, the certain basis of all the principal prevalent errors

religious subjects, it would be impossible to over-rate the importance of the duty thus devolving on all who profess the Christian faith, of submitting the case to the only legitimate test, the Word of God; which has a paramount claim on their confidence, and will ever be found to furnish the simplest and most reliable solutions of the difficulties whereby the consideration of the subject is otherwise necessarily beset. Were its teaching respecting it in any way dubious, or uncertain, there had been less room for wonder at the existence of the prevalent notions on the subject. But, so far is this from being the case, that on no other subject of revelation is the testimony of that Word more unmistakeably intelligible, and less open to misapprehension, than on this; while it pervades the whole Book, including both Old and New Testaments. It is no wonder that, considering the now prevalent ideas on the subject, there should be experienced so much difficulty in so many otherwise plain portions of the Word, which it is impossible to reconcile therewith ; whereas, viewed in the light of the express and abundant teaching of Scripture on this subject, a child might understand them.

The now so generally received, but once unknown, opinions on the subject may, perhaps, have met the more ready credence, and comparatively uninquiring and implicit acquiescence, because of its finding a willing response in the human heart, in its not unnatural anxiety about the departed objects of its affection.

“Quod volumus facite credimus.

The wish is father to the thought." Had we no revelation bearing on the subject, or even nothing in the Word incompatible with the current traditions respecting it, the indulgence of the natural feelings just alluded to were a comparatively harmless thing, though the issue should show that it had been unfounded. But, when that Word has not merely not been silent, but explicitly intelligible in its abundant testimony against the now-prevalent opinions on the subject, it surely cannot be a matter of indifference, or of no moment, which side of the question we adopt.

There are grave issues of eternal consequence (the importance of which, as I have already said, cannot be over-rated) inseparably bound up with the acceptance or rejection (as the case may be) of the plainly-revealed truth on the subject before us; there being, in point of fact, not even one of the leading fundamental doctrines of Christianity that is not so affected thereby, as to render it at least questionable, and in most of the cases simply unfounded, and therefore undeserving of credit. There is no room whatever for doubt, but that the admission of the now commonly-received views of the intermediate state, coupled with the equally generallyreceived notion of the alleged natural immortality of the soul, would necessarily involve the impossibility of the truthfulness of our Lord's death, which is the foundation of all our hopes for Eternity-and of the Resurrection, which is indispensable, in order to the admission of the dead into the Kingdom of God. These being the principal points for consideration, I shall for the present limit my remarks to them; and reserve for another opportunity some comments on the remaining cases.

Natural immortality is never even once assigned to man in the Word of God, while everywhere, throughout its whole extent, he is spoken of as mortal. But, not only is this the case, but we can go further, and say, on the authority thereof, that GOD “ ONLY hath immortality!(1 Tim. vi. 16), while twice in the same chapter man is called upon to lay hold on eternal life(Vers. 12, 19). What would be the meaning of calling on a man to “lay hold of” a thing already in his possession ? And, besides, the Word always represents "eternal life" as the promise of God to the believer exclusively; as, for example, in 1 John ii, 25, where the Apostle, the beloved disciple of our Lord, addressing his brother believers, to whom exclusively the epistle is written, says, "And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.” Then, in that case, they had it not naturally, but were to partake of death, as they afterwards did. What would be the meaning of promising them what they already naturally possessed ?

The notion of man's natural immortality, which had its origin in the theory of Plato respecting the human soul, was naturally enough turned to account by the enemy of God and man, “the Prince of this world,” for the promotion of his own purposes, to the carrying out of which he has found it mainly contributory, and which shall therefore, of course, have the honour of his patronage throughout the fearful closing scenes of the present Dispensation; the Scriptural representations of which differ so entirely, and in every respect, from the current theology on the subject, which teaches that its close shall witness the universal prevalence of the truth, and the establishment of the “ Kingdom of God," as the result of that teaching ; than which it would be impossible to conceive anything more opposed to the teaching of the whole Word of God on the subject. The directly contrary to this is the uniform, explicit, and repeated testimony of that Word respecting it. And, in support of this statement, I shall just select, as an example, the language of our Lord Himself on the subject, as recorded in Matt. xxiv. 22: “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be." So that the awful state of the world, at the period of our Lord's coming (with which event the context connects His statement) shall be such as to have been without precedent, while it shall also be unsucceeded by anything similar. How directly, expressly, and plainly opposed to the current, fanciful, anti-scriptural, and therefore false teaching, and believing, of the present day, as to the condition of the world at the now imminent close of the present dispensation !

It would be easy, were it necessary, to add to these solemn statements of our Lord, extracts from the prophets and apostles to the same effect, and almost without number. But, as I hope to have another opportunity of saying something on the subject, I would now offer a few remarks, as I proposed, on some of the very sad and fearful errors which seem to me to be necessarily involved in the prevalent views of this subject. And, in the first place, I would fix on the death of our Lord, which seems to me to be, on the ground of the current theory, a simple impossibility. In connection with this point I shall be, I trust, excused for offering an extract from a little treatise of mine, published some years since, and which, I may add, met a better reception at the hands of the reviewers and the public than my knowledge of public opinion on the subject led me to anticipate :-“And here we are consequently constrained by the necessities of the case to go even further than this; and to say that the notion in question involves, as is manifest, no less than the denial of the Redeemer's death, and, of course, in that case, the only atonement for sin. The writer is fully aware of the responsibility he incurs by hazarding this statement. But he cannot allow such a consideration to influence him to the withholding of what he believes to be necessarily involved in the common opinion on the subject. He repeats, then, that the virtual denial of the Redeemer's death, and the only atonement for sin thereby effected, seems to him to follow, by logical consequence, from the admission of the above premises. For, if the soul of man be in itself naturally immortal, then so must have been the soul of the Redeemer, He having taken our nature, sin only excepted; in which case He could not have died, or laid down His life ; for His personality being bound up (as is alleged) with His soul, and that being, according to this theory, naturally immortal, how could He, in that case, have died at all? Of course, such a conclusion would be as abhorrent to the feelings of every one of his brethren in Christ as to those of the writer ; but he sees no way of escape from it, except in the abandonment of the premisses from which it necessarily flows. If He merely laid aside at death the outward covering—the body-and in His immortal essence (as is said) still continued to exist, that alleged immortal part constituting His personality; how or in what sense can He be said to have died ? and what would be the meaning of the several portions of the Word which speak of His resurrection ? If the theory in question were true, there would seem to have been nothing to be gained by that event, on which the Word of God makes the whole Christian system to depend." I would just add here that Divine Omnipotence could by no possibility raise from the dead one who had not died. Our Lord Himself declared both His death and resurrection; as, for example, in saying, “I am He that liveth and was dead.” How could He have more plainly acknowledged both the one and the other than in these words ? And, after His resurrection He said to Mary, “I am not yet ascended to My Father.” He had died and been buried, but had not yet gone to heaven, whither the prevalent errors send man on death ; thus turning into a premium, as it were, that which God had ordained as the penalty of sin; and at the same time ignoring resurrection and judgment.

Hoping, if spared, to take into consideration, in a future number, the general evidence of the Word on the subject together, with the arguments usually adduced by the advocates of the prevailing theory respecting it, and concluding with some notice of the various heresies now in existence, which are the natural result of the antiscriptural views now generally taken of the subject before us, I, for the present, come to a conclusion.





No I.

OLD TESTAMENT. MELITO TELITO OF ASIA,” as he is termed, was illustrious for piety

and learning. He appears not to have entered the married state, in order that his conversation might be more manifestly in heaven. Polycrates, who probably knew him, but outlived him, and who was of Ephesus, one of the seven churches of which we read of in Revelation (chaps. ii., iii.) of which Sardis was another, whose bishop Melito was, thus speaks of him in a letter to Victor of Rome, preserved by Eusebius. “Why should I speak of Melito the Eunuch, who managed all things by the Holy Spirit; who lies at Sardis awaiting the visitation which is from heaven, when he shall rise again from the dead.” Jerome places him in his

« PreviousContinue »