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the church of these lands, so as not to be at liberty to do that which he seeth to be his duty unto God and to his Christ, I hold to be the very essence of the Papal apostasy; and I perceive with great sorrow that it is as deeply rooted in the courts, yea, in most of the ministers, of the Church of Scotland, in the elders too (and deacons, alas! there are none, or almost none), as ever it was in the darkest times of the Roman hierarchy.
The path of duty, to every minister who feels himself hampered in his faith by the Confession, or in his practice by the Acts of Uniformity, or by any human law or ordinance, be it of General Assemblies or of the whole legislative church, is, therefore, simply to regard them as good reasons for well weighing and deliberating before he take up any conviction contradictory thereof; but, having become convinced by the word and Spirit of God, he must make no tarrying, but straightway (for the Lord is even at the door) set himself in his place to correct his errors, as a minister and as a Christian ; and having done so, call upon
all his brethren to do likewise : not to be restrained for a moment by the question, What will my brethren think of this? what will the church do to me for this ? but, hating father and brother, and church also, and loving and serving Jesus only, to go forward, within the sphere of his own responsibility, and do the thing which is right, though the next moment the world should rush amain
his head. If it do, it will not hurt him, because from that inrushing of the world he will be preserved safe under the wings of Him that is the Almighty. On this principle I have ever acted as a ruler of the church; I have taught it to others, most frequently without success; and I lay it down as the only way in which a man can deliver his own soul, and the souls of them that hear him. Therefore let a minister preach as of the ability of Christ, sitting loose unto the laws of any church or state, to the authority of any man
or body of men. Yea, verily, let him hate all men, in order to love them with God's love, in order to be Christ's disciple, and receive from him those bowels of love which nature hath not, nor can procure, save by the baptism of the Spirit under the hands of the Man Christ Jesus, the Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. So soon as the Lord taught me, in my much meditation of the seven epistles to the churches of Asia, this the dignity of an angel or pastor of the church, this his responsibility to Christ alone, direct and immediate, without regard to any intermediate authority whatsoever, I went up at once and preached it fully out in the hearing of the Presbytery, and discoursed privately of it to those of the brethren who, like myself, had been most under the bondage of the presbyterial confederacy; which is good for its uses, but not good for intervening between Christ and an ordained mi
114 On the Decisions of the last General Assembly. nister; which if it dare to do, then is it no better than the pope of Rome. I had taught the doctrine before to my whole church, where a minister's duty is first to be discharged : I have since had to act upon it in the face of those whom I love most dearly, and I believe that every faithful minister of Christ's church will now have to do the same. For, in respect of the Church of Scotland, it hath been proved, beyond all question, that her ministers and elders in the General Assembly convened (and they represent pretty fairly the feeling of the church, as was evidenced by the concurrence of the lower courts) do feel that the Westminster divines are the Head of the church, and the state of Great Britain their supreme Lord.
Now the proper way of protesting is, not by running the gauntlet of the church courts, but by doing in your own room what is right, and standing to the consequences. You need not stir up the enmity of your brethren, it will rise soon enough: they are in a mood to rise against the heavens. Yet be not afraid of their terror, but "sanctify the Lord God in your heart, and be ready to give unto every one a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and with fear.”
With respect to my own case I would not say much, partly because I may be thought a partial judge, but chiefly because it is not yet come to an end : they have only judged my book, and not myself: but, so far as it went, it was the most notable instance of an unlearned, irreverent, and indecent judgment that is upon record. They condemned the doctrines upon which alone the personal manifestation of a God, the redemption of our fallen nature from sin, and its resurrection from the grave, do rest. They condemned as guilty of Bourignionism a book which had a section expressly directed against that abomination. They condemned it upon the loose report of a committee, at one angry sederunt. One declamatory speech followed another : there was not one spark of theological knowledge: the most barefaced heresies were rampantly proclaimed as orthodoxy. Invective, foolish jesting, falsehood, and all manner of ribaldry, were poured out upon the head of an absent and unoffending man, who never wished to think of them but with love, nor to speak of them but with reverence, and now grieveth over their flagrant acts worthy only of condemnation and rebuke. If the ensuing General Assemblies do not conduct themselves in another style, with due respect to justice, decency, and order, that venerable body will forego its character of a court altogether, and degenerate into a rabble; its judgments will lose the nature of grave decisions, and become angry and incoherent insults upon reverend men. I know too well the dignity of my office, and from whom I hold it, to be much moved on my own account by their most violent acts; but I am concerned for what little of dignity and authority is still left them, after more than half a century of unholy debates and unspiritual deçisions, Dignified as is its constitution, and great as its services were at the time of the Reformation, the General Assembly cannot bear the opprobrium of many more such actings as those which we have been considering. Already it is a grief to all pious and enlightened members of the Church of Scotland, and the astonishment of the learned and orthodox every where. The Church of Scotland is shooting fast a-head; already the rapids have a hold of her, and she is not far from the fatal plunge: the precipice and the yawning gulf are hard at hand. Brethren, there is a God who beholdeth ! there is a God who revengeth! Let the righteous hold
up their head, for their redemption draweth nigh. The end of all things is at hand. Watch, and be sober: He cometh, He cometh, He cometh quickly.
CHRIST'S KINGDOM ON EARTH.
The opponents of the doctrine of the personal presence of the Redeemer in the Millennial kingdom, endeavour to evade the force of the very plain, explicit, and numerous texts which speak of Him as a King sitting and ruling upon his throne and executing judgment and justice in the earth, by asserting that all this is figurative language; and that it means no more than that he shall be a spiritual King-i.e. that he shall rule by his Spirit in the hearts of his people ; that, men at some future period being converted by the preaching of the Gospel, and universally becoming real Christians, that state of blessedness and felicity will take place in the earth which is to constitute what is denominated in Scripture Christ's kingdom, that kingdom whose arrival we pray for in the form which He bimself taught us. According to their view, this spiritual reign is to constitute the fulfilment of all those prophecies just alluded to; whilst, all this time, Christ himself is to remain in heaven, and only at length to return to this earth for the purpose of finally destroying it, and carrying away his saints with him to some other abode.
How they reconcile this view with the declaration of St. Peter (Acts ii. 21), that the heaven will receive Jesus only till the times of the restitution of all things (i. e. not the destruction, but the restoration of all things to their original order and primeval perfection); and how they make out that simply this universal reception of the Gospel, which they look for, as constituting the Millennium, is to have the effect of lengthening out men's lives to many centuries (which the lxv th chapter of Isaiah proves will be the case at that period, as Bishop Lowth and other commentators admit), I shall not now stay to inquire; but I will go on to state, at once, what I believe to be the true doctrine of Scripture upon the subject, and lay before my readers some proofs of what I advance.
I believe, then, in one word, that Christ will actually, and personally, and visibly, be revealed from heaven, at the commencement of the Millennium (which I further believe to be very near at hand), to take possession of the promised land, to sit on the throne of his father David, and to "reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.”
Before I proceed, however, to establish this view by a regular chain of proof, I am desirous of making a few preliminary observations, to shew the reasonableness of our expectation that the whole of the prophecies will receive a literal fulfilment, apart from that direct and conclusive evidencc which, I think, can be adduced.
Throughout the prophetic portions of the Old Testament which relate to the person of the Redeemer, He is spoken of in a two-fold character. He is represented as weak, and as powerful; as humble, and as exalted ; as degraded and outcast, and as triumphant and glorious; as a mean man, of no form nor comeliness, and numbered with the vile of the earth, and as a victorious and irresistible Conqueror and mighty King. So striking is this distinction, that the Jews of later times, not seeing how it was possible for one person to fulfil all that was predicted of Messiah, have adopted the notion (which I need hardly observe is a mere fable) of two Messiahs, one for each class of the predictions: the former, to be the son of Joseph, of the tribe of Ephraim, who should suffer and die; the other, to be the son of David, of the tribe of Judah, who should be prosperous and triumphant *. At the time, however, of our Saviour's first appearance upon earth, the Jews, not observing the order of these predictions-namely, that the sufferings should precede the glory-indeed, overlooking the predictions relative to the sufferings altogether, expected nothing but a glorious Conqueror, who should deliver their nation, by force of arms, from the bondage of Rome, subdue all nations, and get for himself universal dominion. The result was, that, as a nation, they rejected the lowly Jesus, who then came to fulfil the former class of prophecies; and, now dispersed and outcast, a byeword and reproach among the nations, they are suffering the consequences of their fatal error. Is it too much to say, that the Christian church, as a body, has fallen into a similar mistake? Christians in general receive Jesus, indeed, as a suffering and crucified Saviour; but, except in what is called a spiritual sense, they reject him in his character of a glorious King. The mistake, if not attended with such heinous guilt, is at least similar in kind.
* Collier's Sacred Interpreter.
As, however, there were many individuals amongst the Jews, who, at Christ's first coming, received him, notwithstanding all appearances, as the undoubted Messiah, who should fulfil every jot and tittle of what was foretold; so Christians (a faithful few) have not been wanting, in all ages, who have believed, looked forward to, and fearlessly proclaimed, his future glorious reign with his saints upon the earth, as revealed by the holy prophets in the Scriptures; and the number of these is every day increasing. As the Bridegroom's approach draws nearer and more near, so the “ cry” in the church, announcing it, grows louder still and louder, and daily more and more are hearing and obeying it, and preparing to go forth to meet Him.
I will now place before you a selection from each class of the prophecies to which I have alluded. One class of these has, confessedly, received a literal and exact fulfilment: and I would earnestly and affectionately entreat every reasonable and candid person to lay aside all pre-conceived opinions, and ask himself, calmly and honestly, what ground is there for expecting, whilst one class has actually received a literal fulfilment, that the other shall not, when both are expressed in precisely the same kind of language, and sometimes occur even in the same sentence ? (as Isa. lii. 13—15.) What proof, or substantial reason, can possibly be brought forward 'that there will be any
difference in the manner and mode of their fulfilment? Let me beg, then, your attention to the following.Prediction.
Fulfilment. Isa. vii. 14: “Behold, a virgin Matt. i. 18: “ Now the birth shall conceive and bear a son.... of Jesus Christ was on this wise : and shall call his name Im- Whenas his mother Mary was manuel.”
espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.....and Joseph...knew her not till she had
brought forth her first-born son." Micah v. 2 :
Thou, Bethle- Matt. ii. 1 : “ Jesus was born hem Ephratah....out of thee shall in Bethlehem of Judea.” he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel.” Zech. ix. 9: “Rejoice greatly,
Matt. xxi. 6 : “ And the disciO daughter of Zion...behold, thy ples...brought the ass and the colt, King cometh unto thee....lowly, and put on them their clothes, and riding upon an ass, and upon and they set him thereon.” (And a colt the foal of an ass.
thus he rode into Jerusalem.) Isa. liii. 3:
66 We hid as it John i. 11 : “He came unto his were our faces from him."
own, and his own received him not.”