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The craving is for something more vague and nebulous, something about which men can dream deliciously, without being startled with the possible appearance of the literal, personal Christ, or the literal risen body. “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him," is, say what we will, an awful declaration to many Christians, as well as to unbelievers. But tell men that this is not the prediction of a literal fact-tell them that this event has already taken place ; assuage the terror of the scene by obscuring it in the dust and tumult of the siege of Titus, and drown the sound of the last trumpet in the crash of the falling city of Jerusalem, and a fearful strain of dread and expectation has been lifted from the mind. We do not charge the author of “ Parousia” with catering to men's skepticism and aversion on this matter. We only say that his theory is one after which multitudes will “ run greedily,” since it so happily puts behind them what they so dreaded as before them.
But this is not the gravest objection to the book. We regard it as utterly untenable exegetically. It has confounded the "ages” of which the New Testament speaks, taking the end of the Jewish age for the end of the Christian age. It is a style of exegesis which has no eye for perspective. It has huddled distant events and near events all into the foreground, and given us a Chinese picture of the facts of eschatology, instead of conforming the sketch to the rules of Christian art. There is “the end of the age” which came at the destruction of Jerusalem—the termination of the Jewish economy; and there is “the end of the age” which is the harvest, when “the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend,” etc.—the termination of the Christian economy. It seems to us that these are so clearly distinguished and so distinctly separated, that it is utterly impossible to confound them. All our ordinances, all our commissions, all our endowments as the Church of Christ, are timed and terminated by the end of the age and the return of our Lord. If the end of the age has come, and if Christ's advent has really taken place, then these commissions have run out, and these endowments are outlawed.
We were commanded to celebrate the Lord's Supper “till he come.” If he has come, we are as much at fault in keeping up this commemoration as the Jewish Christian was in holding on to circumcision after the age of Judaism had terminated.
We have the Spirit given to the church as the third person of the Trinity, the invisible manifestation of Christ among his people, with the promise that he should abide with us “for
“For the age,” or “unto the end of the age,” is the language of Scripture. If the age has terminated, and Christ has come, we cannot see what right we have to claim that the dispensation of the Spirit is still continued. Indeed, there is nothing simpler than the Scripture presentation of the ages or dispensations. These open out of each other like the successive lengths of the barrel of a telescope; and looking through them we get a clear sight of “the bright and morning Star.” The work which we are criticising “ telescopes” the ages, shuts them all together, and looking through them now we can see nothing definite or clearly defined in the future--we cannot fix our place in history because we have lost sight of the “day star."
But it was not our purpose to criticise “ Parousia,” but to write a few lines of introduction to the able review of the work herein presented by Dr. Litch. The critic we believe has the best scholarship of the ages on his side. He is simply defending the historic faith of the church.
When Dr. Whitby, the Arian, had published his “new hypothesis," as he named it, which was the first formulated presentation, so far as we have found, of post-millenarianism—the doctrine now generally in vogue in the theological schools of this country-a Bishop of the English Church expressed his dissent from the hypothesis on the ground that it tended to destroy the doctrine of the resurrection by making the time of each man's death equivalent to the coming of Christ and the day of resurrection.
This tendency culminates we conceive in Dr. Warren's work. In it death and resurrection have at last been reconciled. To die is to rise from the dead : to lie down in corruption is to put on incorruption. Then waiting for God's Son from heaven is a needless attitude and an obsolete duty. The crown which belongs to Immanuel is put upon the ghastly head of death-and we are to wait for the coming of death instead of watching for the coming of Christ in glory.
This teaching we do not charge exclusively, however, upon “Parousia." It is in the air-“ Parousia” has condensed it and put it into tangible shape. Those who feel the untenableness of modern Post-millennialism will fly for refuge to this theory. Those who wish to stand on the securer foundation of the Pre-millennial faith,-the doctrine of the advent which even so prejudiced a witness as Dr. Whitby himself admits passed unchallenged for the first two hundred and fifty years of the church as the belief of “all Christians who were exactly orthodox,”—will do well to follow the lines of criticism which Dr. Litch has so ably marked out.
A. J, G. Boston, May, 1880.
As of liberty so of evangelical doctrine, its price is "eternal vigilance.” The tendency of human nature has always been downward ; and Satan's tares are profusely scattered in every field where the wheat of Christ is sown. After the experience of Orthodoxy some fifty years ago, in its struggle with Unitarianism, and the battles fought and victories won by Drs. Griffin, Beecher, and their associates, and the establishment of orthodox principles, churches and schools over New England, there was good reason to hope that at least for the nineteenth century the ground would have been maintained and the work of God have been carried on upon the same basis. But such hopes have been doomed to disappointment. A leading journalist, editor of a professedly Orthodox periodical, the leader of the denomination in a New England State, puts forth before Christendom a labored work to prove that Jesus Christ is never to return visibly in the clouds of heaven ; that instead of the resurrection of the dead being (as the Scriptures plainly teach) at the close of this dispensation, when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,” each human being is resurrected at the moment of death, by an elimination of a “nonatomic enswathement of the soul” ; that instead of a day, or period, of general judgment, when the human race shall be arraigned and judged-each receiving his final doom, the judgment is now; and that instead of the dissolution of the material world, the aerial heavens and the earth, by the action of fire at “the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men,” to give place to “a new heaven and a new earth," as Peter wrote the, great foretold change is to be brought about by human agency.
Had these utter perversions of God's most holy word been the work of an open enemy, I had beld my peace; but when Christ is thus betrayed and pierced in the house of his professed friend, and the leaders of professed orthodoxy, from professor's chair, press and pulpit, either pass lightly, or else endorse and commend such betrayal of a sacred trust, feeble though the effort may be, the reviewer of Dr. Warren's PAROUSIA felt constrained to do what he could to expose such heresy and neutralize the virus thus infused into the sacred mystical body of Christ.
Let the principles of hermeneutics involved in Dr. Warren's book be adopted and the Bible, as a standard of faith, is of no value whatsoever. There is not a heterodox sentiment extant but what may be sustained by it ; nor is there a doctrine taught in its pages that is of any force whatever. If the Book of God does not mean what its words express, who is the pope that shall tell us authoritatively what it does mean? If the sin-sick soul cannot be assured that the Holy Scriptures mean what the obvious import of the words express, on what shall its confidence be based in order to find peace and rest ? When Jesus Christ says to a sinful world : “This is the will of the Father which sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him should have everlasting life ; and I will raise him up at the last day,” if the last clause of the promise does not mean what it says, what perishing, sinking soul will dare to risk his eternal interests on the testimony of the first part of the verse ?
Believing most firmly as the reviewer does, that Dr. Warren's PAROUSIA is jeopardizing immortal interests, and undermining the faith of those who embrace his sentiments, he has undertaken this review, and now sends it forth in this form, in the name of the Lord, on its mission of protest, wherever it shall find a reader, against a system of grievous and dangerous
For Dr. Warren himself, the author has only the kindest of feelings ; and only wishes that his valuable talent might have been employed in a better cațse than thus shamefully