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THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
Revelation xx. 5, 6. The following Extract from a Discourse, delivered by Rer. Pres. DWIGHT in 1812, will furnish an answer, and we think, a satisfactory one, tion proposed by ENQUIRER, in our second volume, page 435. June, 1827. 'Ed.
It is said, by St. John, that he saw the souls of them, that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and the Word of God; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. From this phraseology, and that, which follows in the two next verses, which is similar to this, Mr. Fleming, Bishop Newton and others, have supposed, that there will be a literal resurrection. The phraseology, it must be acknowledged, is obscure. Bishop Newlon says, “ If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense; then the rest of the dead, of whom it is said, they lived not again until the thousand years were finished, rise only in a spiritual sense ; but, if the rest of the dead really rise, then the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them: and we should be cautious, and tender, of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too.” But, notwithstanding the apparent, and I am not unwilling to say, the real, justice of these observations, I am still satisfied, that the whole representation is symbolical; and can no more believe, that this is a literal resurrection, than that Satan, mentioned in the first part of it, is a real dragon; that he was literally bound, and had literally a seal set upon him; or that, as in the fourth verse, there were thrones literally placed; and that those, who rose, sat upon them; or that the being, described under the name of the Beast, was literally a beast, having seven real heads, and ten real horns, and upon his horns ten real crowns, and upon his heads, the real name of Blasphemy; or that his votaries received, literally, his mark; [Charagna;] an impression like that of a seal, or brand, on their foreheads, and in their right hands. Where all the rest is symbolical, to understand this part literally is to do violence to the writing, in such a manner, as I am unable to justify. Indeed, this mode of changing the construction from that, which is literal, to that, which is symbolical, and vice versa, has, more than most other things, contributed to perplex the meaning of this book, and that of several other parts of the Scripture.
But, should we construe this part of the passage literally, our difficulties, instead of being lessened, will be increased. It is said, that the souls of these martyrs lived again; and that the rest of the dead lived not. This, literally construed, teaches us irresistibly, that the souls of the martyrs, anteceden!ly to the Millennium, were dead, as well as their bodies; and implies, that the rest of the souls of mankind were also dead. If this construction could be established, Dr. Priestly and his followers might have saved themselves all their labrur in attempting to prove, that the soul sleeps after death. For, here, the whole work is done to their hands. Unfortunately, how
ever, this construction makes St.John contradict himself: for in the 6th chapter, and 9th verse, he informs us, that he saw these very souls living, clad in white robes, and employed in prayer to God.
Nor are we yet at the end of our difficulties. St. John says this living again of these martyrs is the first resurrection; [e prote anastasis,] the first future existence. The word, Canastasis,] signifies, not a resurrection, but a future existence, as is unanswerably evident from our Saviour's use of it in his reply to the Sadducees, eor cerning the situation of the woman who had seven husbands: Matthew, 22d, 23d, &c. Here he adduces the declaration of God, E1odus 3, 6. “ I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, as unanswerable proof of the Canastasis;] not a resurrection, but a fulure existence. God,” he says, “is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” As, therefore, God declared at the time, that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; it was eertain, that these men were living beings, when this declaration was made. The declaration was, therefore, a complete proof of tbe [anastasis) or future existence; but it was no proof at all of the resurrection; because Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, were not then raised. According to this very interpretation, it is here said, that the souls of these martyrs lived, and reigned, with Christ a thousand years; and that this is the first [anastasis,] or living again. Were this intended literally, it could not be true; because St. John, as has been mentioned, saw the souls of martyrs having the same future life, many ages before; and because our Saviour asserts the same thing, under the same Greek name, concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and applies it generally to mankind. Besides Moses had this life on the mount of transfiguration; and many of the saints arose, after our Saviour's resurrection, and were seen of many: they were therefore living beings.
But what puts this matter out of all doubt, is this: the Scriptures positively assert, that Christ will never again appear in this world until the judgment. Thus says St. Paul: Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them, that look for him, shall he appear, THE SECOND TIME, unto salvation.” Thus, also, in many other places. This declaration, repeated in a variety of forms, places it beyond a debate, that Christ will never appear again personally, in this world, until he comes to the final judgment. As, therefore, the appearance, and reign, of Christ, here, are symbolical; it follows irresistibly, that that of the martyrs is symbolical also.
The real meaning of the passage, alledged by Bishop Newton, is, I conceive, the following: that those, who live in the Millennium, shall exhibit such a character universally, as that of these martyrs; and appear, as if the souls of these martyrs had returned to this world, and animated the bodies of its inhabitants. But the rest of the dead, that is, the wicked men, who will have die l before this period,
will not live again. In other words, none of the human race will appear, as if such souls, as theirs, animated their bodies. There will be a symbolical re-existence of the good men, that are gone; but none of the wicked, until the thousand years shall be finished. In simple language, there will be a universal, or more strictly, a very great and general prevalence of piety; and no appearance, or more strictly, very little appearance, of wickedness, until the close of the Millennium; when it will again revive, and prosper.
FROM THE CALVINISTIC MAGAZINE.
TRANSUBSTANTIATION. There is no doctrine in which Protestants and Roman Catholics differ more than on that, which relates to the Eucharist. The doctrine of transubstantiation, which every Catholic is bound to believe, is quite abhorrent to the mind of a Protestant. The Roman Catholic asserts that a miracle is always performed when the priest consecrates the elements, and that the bread and wine become actually changed into the flesh and blood of Christ. On this question, much, I know, has been written on both sides; but the view I mean to take of it, has not, as far as I know, been taken by any other person, and appears, to me at least, decisive of the controversy.
A miracle is something that happens contrary to the usual course of nature. And, therefore, before we consider whether a miracle has been performed or not, it is necessary that something must have happened contrary to the course of nature; and this can only be ascertained by the help of one or more of our senses. When a miracle is performed in the scriptures, it is always made apparent to the spectators that something contrary to the course of nature had taken place; for, till that has bappened, no question about a miracle can arise. When our Saviour opened the eyes of a man born blind, by a word, it was evident that something contrary to the course of nature had happened. The spectators knew that the man had been blind from his birth; and when they saw that he was immediately restored to sight by our Saviour, they confessed that a miracle had been performed. Let us now apply this test to the doctrine of transubstantiation. The Catholic affirms, that, by the act of consecration by the priest, the bread is immediately changed into the flesh, and the wine into the blood of Christ. If this be so, it is unduubtedly a miracle. But then, according to our rule, it is first necessary to ascertain that this is really the case; that the bread is actually become nesh, and the wine blood. This can only be ascertained by one or more of our senses. Let us first examine it by our sight. Have the bread and wine a different appearance from what they had before? They certainly have not: they still look like bread and wine. Have they a different smell or taste? Most undoubtedly not. And therefore I can come to no other conclusion, than that nothing contrary to nature has taken place, and that do miracle bas been performed. How different was our Saviour's first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, when he changed the water into wine! It was evident to the guests assembled, that something contrary to the usual course of nature had taken place, and that a miracle had been performed. It was evident that the water no longer retained its former appearance: it not only tasted like wine, but was declared by the governor of the feast to be much superiour to what they had been drinking before. Suppose now our Saviour had said, “See, I have worked a miracle, I have changed the water into wine;' but that it still retained the appear ance of water, and, when the guests tasted it, it also tasted like water; would they not have considered Christ as an impostor, and a mere pretender to miracles! The same observation may be applied to our Saviour's other miracles. It is evident, therefore, that there is no foundation for supposing that the bread and wine are changed in the Eucharist; that it rests solely upon assertion; and that, in fact, no miracle has been performed. All our senses attest this truth; and every man endued with common understanding must allow, that the doctrine of transubstantiation is a fiction, and founded upon error.
While these, and other pretended miracles, are made a matter of faith in the Roman Catholic Church, can we be surprised, that the minds of men are alienated from, and disgusted with a church, which aids and abets such delusions? When the Irish Roman Catholics ask for, what they call, emancipation (of which not one in a hundred could feel the benefit,) they should ask for an emancipation from their various superstitions; they should ask to be restored to the free and unfettered use of the Sacred Scriptures, which would immediately detect the errors of their church; and they would be induced to quit a religion which sanctions and allows them. Indeed, we may hope, under the blessing of God, that such an emancipation is not far distant. The Reformation seems to be making considerable progress
in Ireland: conversions to the Protestant religion, and a purer Church, are every day occurring; and I trust that the great body of Irish Catholics will soon wảnt no other emancipation. They will then have thrown off their allegiance, both spiritual and political, to a foreign power; and will partake unreservedly of all the blessings of the Protestant religion, and the benefits of the British constitution.
MENTOR. In Brookfield, (Mass.) since 1318, two hundred and five persons have been admitted to the church; of whom One hundred and Thirteen were from the Sabbath School: three are licentiates, and two or three others are destined for the ministry.
DOCTRINAL TRACTS. A writer in the Boston Recorder, in answer to an article previously inserted in that paper, calling for the publication of doctrinal Tracts and asserting that those we now have “ virtually deny the importance of the doctrines of grace, by wholly excluding them," questions the truth of this statemení, insomuch as the publications of the American Tract Society do teach clearly the fundamental truths of the Bible. He then refers particularly to the following TractsNo. 185 on the Trinity-33 and 45 on the inspiration of the Scriptures—15, 26 and 103 on the Evil of Sin—98 and 105 on Regeneration–4, Holiness required-183 on Repentance-131 on Faith—32 and 166 on Future Judgment—119, 155, 160 Future punishment of the wicked—134, 181 Future punishment endless.
The above statement and reply show conclusively, we think, that while we are not destitute of Tracts giving a general view of some of the more important doctrines of grace, there is, nevertheless, only a partial supply: and since there is a strong feeling among a portion of the Presbyterian church in favour of having a full exposition and able defence of our doctrines circulated through the medium of tracts,and especially since other denominations, in giving currency to their peculiar tenets, are pursuing this course with an industrious and untiring zeal, we see no reason why our depositories should not furnish abundantly these useful helps in illustrating and establishing the distinguishing doctrines, as well as enjoining the peculiar duties, of the gospel.--Christ. Jour.
“ WHERE IS THE WORK OF THE LORD ?" The following is an extract from the English Review in the new Baptist Miscellany, of a Discourse, by Rev. John Neave, on means of promoting a Revival of Religion in the Churches.”
Places of worship are multiplying on every band, and each succeeding one surpasses its predecessor in architectural magnificence and splendour ; the style of preaching in them is becoming daily more refined, the congregation dress with the most accurate observance of the modes of the current month, and larger sums of money than ever, are raised for domestic and foreign objects; but, as Samuel Pearce exclaimed, in almost his last sermon,
" WHERE IS THE WORK OF THE LORD?” Where shall we discover the spirituality of mind, the sterling, self-denying, enduring, active, glowing piety of a former age? Then the exterior of religion was indeed deficient of the elegances of a modern profession; but then those "who named the name of Christ,” bore his image and breathed his spirit. There is, it must be confessed, a sufficiency of excitement at present; but we much fear that this excitement arises more from the imagination than the understanding, and affects the nerves ina stead of the heart.