Page images
PDF
EPUB

lation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and that eventually salvation will prove co-extensive with redemption, that is, so far as respects the then population of the whole world. We say the then population of the world; for we utterly reject the ensnaring heresy of the Universalists, which seems to be Satan's gilded bait, to allure and destroy by unsanctified benevolence.

But salvation is, for the present, confined to a specific number of persons elected out of mankind in Christ. Thus the doctrine of this dispensation corresponds with the history of the church; while, at the same time, a redemption is prepared, of sufficient value, to meet the demands of the "dispensation of the fulness of times." Eph. i. 10.

Our judgment, therefore, is, (and, we think, not without evidence, yea, not without proof,) that the design of the present dispensation is not the conversion of the Gentile world, but the calling of an elect people out of the Gentiles to the knowledge of God and salvation by Jesus Christ. In confirmation of this view, I revert to what has been already stated, and observe, that if this be the design of the dispensation, then we see the progressive accomplishment of that design in the history of the church.

Another design of this dispensation is revealed to us, by comparing Deut. xxxii. 21. with Rom. X. 19. and xi. 11. “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me io anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” But I say, Did not Israel know? First, Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. “I say, then, Have they stumbled that they should fall?' God forbid: but, rather through their fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them (the Jews) to jealousy.” From hence we learn, not only that extending the blessings of the Gospel to the Gentiles would, in the first instance, excite the anger, and jealousy, and enmity of the Jews, but also, that eventually the Jews, being recovered from their judicial stupidity and carelessness about the things of God, and perceiving the Gentiles to be in possession of the riches of the Messiah, would be moved to a holy emulation, that they might not be surpassed in the service of Jehovah by any people.

To this agree the words of our Lord: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" by which it is clearly implied, that when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jerusalem shall not be trodden

1

The way

down any longer. And it is equally clear, that until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, all attempts to raise up Jerusalem as a nation must fail. We say, as a nation, because individuals may be converted, and Christians may be, as they have been, the favoured instruments of doing what the Apostle to the Gentiles laboured and prayed for, that is, of saving some individuals.

Thus, as during the times of the Jews, “all were not Israel who were of Israel:" the whole nation being called, but only a remnant really chosen and saved; so now, during the times of the Gentiles, all are not Christian who are of Christendom: all are called, but only a few are chosen and saved. of life is narrow for the present; but we are waiting for the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who will bruise the serpent's head, restore the Jews, and cause the whole Gentile world to flow together to the glory of the Lord, as manifested in the nation of Israel. This harmonizes the Scriptures, and provides for the rich abounding mercy of Jehovah to the world, in due time; without attempting to mar the symmetry of the Gospel, or to stretch this dispensation beyond its revealed measure. God concluded the Jews in unbelief saving a remnant. He will conclude Christendom in unbelief saving a remnant. And when he hath concluded all in unbelief, and secured to himself for ever the acknowledgment of every creature, that salvation is of grace, then he will have mercy upon all!“Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” -Rom. xi. passim.

These then, we conceive, are the designs of the present dispensation-1. To take a people out of the Gentiles.

2. To provoke the Jews to jealousy-so making way for the restoration and conversion of the Jewish nation, and the salvation of the whole heathen world.

II. With respect to the termination of the times of the Gentiles, it may be considered either as to its nature, or as to its date.

1. The nature of it will be to all Christendom, what every day of it is to some individuals in Christendom; that is, a separation, everlasting salvation to some, the damnation of hell to others. Of this most important and alarming statement we have, what appears to me, direct and satisfactory proof in the ancient prophecies, in the parables of our Lord, and in the apostolical epistles.

In the ancient prophecies.-The chief enemies of the Jewish nation, during the times of the Jews, were Edom and Babylon.

Edom, who shook off the yoke of Jacob according to the prophecy of Isaac: and Babylon, who held Judah in a seventy years' captivity. It is the general opinion of the Christian church, that the Jewish nation was at least, in one point of view, a type of the true spiritual church of Christ; whence the application so constantly made of the Old Testament promises, to what is called the spiritual Israel of God. Upon the same principle, we maintain, that the enemies of the Jewish nation were types of the enemies of the church of Christ, and make a similar application of the Old Testament denunciations of wrath against what we call the spiritual or mystical Babylon, or Edom, or Moab. The circumstances of the times in which the prophets I'ved, supplied a language, in the use of which, as applicable to those times and circumstances, the Holy Ghost overruled the mouths of the prophets to speak of greater things than those. Thus, in the opening of the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah, the language is swelled far beyond the description of any literal victory which the Jews ever gained, under any of their leaders, over Edom or Babylon.

“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this, that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I, that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment; for the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” This passage is usually applied to our Lord Jesus Christ, at his first coming to make an atonement for sin; but will the language bear such an application? At that time, our Lord shed his own blood only. Here he is described as stained with the blood of his enemies. At that time, he manifested his loving kindness and tender mercy towards his enemies, making intercession for them even in the agonies of death. Here he is described as treading them down in his anger, and trampling them in his fury. At that time, peace, and love, and free forgiveness, were in his heart towards the vilest of sinners, evidenced in his reception of the dying thief. Here he is described as having the day of vengeance in his heart. When, therefore, it is maintained that for their blood we should read his blood; that for anger and fury, we should read loving-kindness and tender mercy; and that for vengeance, we should read free forgiveness, and undeserved love-then,

it may also be maintained, that the passage before us applies to the first coming of our Lord in his humiliation unto death. But, until these errata, in the language of Isaiah, shall be pointed out on sufficient authority to alter the text, we must espouse the contrary opinion, and maintain that the passage before us applies to a very different coming of our Lord, at a period predicted by himself, when he shall say concerning those enemies of his, who would not have him to reign over them, “bring them forth, and slay them before me!” Luke xix. 15—27.

Thus also, in Jeremiah I. and li. throughout, the great idolatrous apostasy of the times of the Gentiles is denounced by the same name of Babylon, and with the same details of vengeance which are afterwards reiterated by the apostle John, long after the literal Babylon had ceased to exist. Compare Rev. xviii. with Jer. 1. and li. On this theme of dreadful judgments to be inflicted upon the enemies of God, at the close of this dispensation, when the Jewish nation shall be restored, and the saints gloriously saved, the prophets are peculiarly full and explicit. Nothing, indeed, can be more clear than that the times of the Gentiles will end in a great separation. We have further proof

In the parables of our Lord. - In the parable of the tares and the wheat, which is written and expounded in Matt. xiii., Jesus describes the mixture of the children of the kingdom, and the children of the wicked one, as continuing all along till the harvest; which harvest is expounded to mean the end, not of the material world, tou xormou but of this dispensation or age, fou el lQUOS TOUTOU, and then the separation, the tares bound in bundles to be burned, and the wheat gathered into the barn.

In like manner, in the parable of the net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to the shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away; so shall it be at the end of the world (here again the expression is dwuos, the age, or dispensation): the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So also in the parable of the ten virgins, we find a separation at the end of the dispensation, or, in other words, at the coming of the Son of Man. “Five of them were wise, and five were foolish;” they all slumbered and slept;" "the bridegroom came; the wise went in with him to the marriage, and loo

ut. “Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; but he answered and

[ocr errors]

was

said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not."'*

This is even more alarming than the former; because this applies to the state of the professing church in Christendom, as distinguished from the nations generally; and it shews us that the true remnant, who enter into the joy of their Lord, will fall short, not only of the world, commonly so called, but also of the seemingly religious world.

My brethren, take heed unto yourselves: in Jesus Christ there is salvation for you, and nowhere else: his blood cleanseth from all sin, and nothing else can cleanse from any sin: his righteousness justifieth from all things, and nothing else can justify from anything: he is a complete Saviour, and there is no Saviour but he; a just God and a Saviour there is none else. Depend on him, venture on him, yea, venture wholly, without hesitation or reserve, counting all your own best righteousness but as dross and dung, that you may win Jesus Christ, and be found in Jesus Christ. And now, brethren, I say unto you, "Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.”

Here it is objected, that the parable of the leaven gives a different view of this subject, and represents the assimilating process of the Gospel as continuing till the whole is leavened. In reply to which I observe, that the quantity of meal in which the leaven is described as being hid, is a definite and small quantity-three measures; while the field in which the tares are described, is indefinitely the world, o normos; which circumstance has induced commentators to apply the one parable to the mixed aspect of the Gospel kingdom, as set up in the world; the other to the progressively sanctifying nature of it, as it is set up in the heart of the individual.f In adopting this distinction, therefore, we are not framing an ingenious device, to support our scheme, but simply following Mr. Scott and others, in the solution of a difficulty which has been felt, wholly independent of the subject now before us, and in order to avoid making the parables contradict one another; and it is obvious, that this distinction wholly removes that objection to our general view, which is grounded upon the parable of the leaven.

The conclusion, then, which we would draw is, that the termination of the times of the Gentiles will be a separation of

* Matt. xxv. 1-13. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened,” &c. For explanation of this note of time, compare chap. xxiv. at the end, especially verse 42, with chap. xxv. 13.

+ See Scott on Matt. xiii. 33. He says, "The former parable represents the kingdom of heaven as set up in the world. This shews us the nature of it as it is set up in the heart.If this distinction be correct, then in the three measures of meal there may, perhaps, be an allusion to the three component parts of each individual, as enumerated by the Apostle, 1 Thess. v. 23.

« PreviousContinue »