« AnteriorContinuar »
treasure is, there will your heart be also ;” Matt. vi., 19, 21. And again, “ Provide for yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not;" Luke xii., 33, 34. St. Paul exhorts all who are risen with Christ, to "Set their hearts and their affections, not on things on the earth, but on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God," and that because they are dead with Christ unto these earthly things, " and their life is hid with Christ in God," so that when“ Christ who is their life, shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory.” Now if Jesus Christ, in this very sermon, as the advocates for the personal reign of Christ on the earth suppose, encouraged his disciples to suffer with patience and meekness upon the consideration that they should inherit the earth, and had pronounced them blessed upon this account, surely they might have sufferred upon this very prospect of laying up for themselves treasures upon the earth in this personal reign of Christ, and might have had their hearts and affections placed upon them ; since they are directed to lay up treasures in heaven, and to set their affections on things above, because these are the blessings promised as the reward of Christian piety and patience? If, then, these blessings are to be enjoyed on the earth, after the resurrection, and are to be the rewards which God has promised to the piety and patience of the Christian, what reason can be given why he should not seek, and set his heart upon them also ? If it be so great a privilege to have a part in the first resurrection, to enjoy this plenty, peace, and indolence upon the earth, that St. John styles them blessed who have part in it, should they not seek and set their affections upon the very things in which their happiness is to consist? And yet the consolation which our Lord and his apostles present to the minds of Christians to console them under sufferings, is only this, that “great is their reward in heaven;" that " when they are tried, they shall receive a crown of glory ;” and that they have in heaven a better, and more endearing substance;" which places the reward and comfort of Christ's suffering members not on the earth, but in heaven, and so gives us just reasons to conclude that our Lord and his apostles knew nothing of this personal reign of Christ on the earth with his saints, or thought it no great matter of consolation. It was this which induced some of the ancients to say, “ If the inheritance of martys be in heaven, their reign on earth can be no better than a fable."
4. Once more, this doctrine of an earthly paradice is inconsistent with the spirit and teachings of the New Testament. The New Testament writers represent the Christian as one who is entirely dead to the world, and to the things of the world; one who is not to love it, nor the things of it, who is to use it as if he used it not; as one “whose conversation is in heaven;" and on the other hand, they make the character of one who is the enemy of the cross of Christ, that he minds " earthly things;" whereas if this be the sum of the gospel promises made to Christians for their consolation and encouragement under the troubles of this present world, that they shall, after this life is ended, live again on the earth, and enjoy a life of plenty, peace, and indolence; if this be the principal reward which God has promised to those who suffer for his name, surely, it becomes them to have their minds and their affections set upon it, to live in expectation of it, and to desire to enjoy these goods of fortune, this peace and plenty upon the earth ; hence, it would be the character of those who bear the cross, in the prospect of this blessing, to mind earthly things. It is this consideration, says St. Paul, which makes the sufferings of this present life so easy to Christians, that they “ look not at things which are seen, but which are not seen,” not at things “ temporal” but “ eternal,” even at “ an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” But if to reign with Christ personally upon the earth include the great and precious promises of the gospel, and made for the encouragement of Christians to suffer for Christ's sake, then they must look at the things which are seen, and not at the things which are not seen ; and for an earthly house, and not for one eternal in the heavens.
5. Finally, this doctrine of an earthly paradice cannot be reconciled with the approved conduct of the patriarchs. It is maintained by all the advocates of the doctrine of the second advent, in 1843, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs and prophets, are to be sharers with the righteous in this reign on the earth, and that then will the promised Caanan be made good to them ; whereas, the apostle plainly tells us, that they expected no reward on earth, nor did they mind that Caanan where they dwelt, but waited for an heavenly country: “They confessed,” says the apostle, “ that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth,” that “ They were not mindful of that country whence they came out, but sought a better country, that is, an heavenly;" Heb. xi., 13, 16. Since, then, these holy patriarchs, and choice friends of God, disdained any inheritance on earth, but sought an inheritance in a heavenly country, and seeing that this was the only inheritance that God, as their God, provided for them, this then must be the inheretance which they will possess at the resurrection. Surely, then, in vain must Christians hope for any reign on the earth with them, who, pofessing themselves to be strangers and pilgrims in it, declared that they were not mindful of such a habitation in the land of Caanan, and who are at the resurrection to be made like the angels, and to enjoy not an earthly, but that heavenly country, which God has graciously prepared for them. Such an earthly paradice as our second advent friends proclaim, where we are to enjoy the goods of fortune, and live in a state of indolence and peace, is too mean, too much beneath the sublime spirit of Christianity, to constitute the substance of her great and precious promises.
On the Conversion of the Jews.
It is asserted by those who maintain the second coming of Christ, in eighteen hundred and forty three, that the Jews will never be converted to the Christian faith, and that all expectation of this event is false and founded in error. But it should be recollected, that they are necessarily driven to assume this position, in order to maintain a favorite hypothesis ; and that no class of men are more liable to be misguided by error, than those who are blinded by a favorite dogma. It would be well, then, to examine this subject in the light of truth, and ascertain what the Scriptures teach concerning it. We, therefore, propose, to enter upon the discussions of this subject, and inquire what the prophets and apostles have said respecting it; and we hope to do this with a mind free from the prejudices of party, and also free from the controling influence of any favorite dogma. We desire to be guided in our inquriry by the light of truth, and to come to such results as are clearly stated by the Holy Scriptures.
1. In the covenant which God made with Abraham, was laid the foundation of all the promises which God made to the Jewish nation. These covenant transactions which God had with Abra. ham, the father of the Israelites, are recorded by Moses in the following passages ; Gen. xii., 1-3, 14—16 ; xv., 147, 18; xvii., 1–8; xviii., 10–18. According to the exposition of this covenant, which St. Paul has given in his Epistles, it had both a literal and mystical meaning. Abraham was to be a father in a double sense; he was to be the natural father of a numerous offspring ; and he was, also, to be the constituted head and father of a spiritual race; he was, consequently, to be the father of a double seed, a natural and spiritual seed. His natural seed was to be his legitimate offspring, descending down through Isaac and Jacob, to the exclusion of Ishmael and Esaw. " In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” His spiritual seed, of whom he was to be the constituted head and father, was to be all true believers in every age and among all nations. “ They who are of faith,” says St. Paul, “ are blessed with believing Abraham." And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Here the two seeds are particularly mentioned.
One of the promises contained in this covenant, is expressed in the following words : " I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant. And I will be their God ;" Gen. xvii., 7. This promise, though expressed in the most simple language, is exceedingly comprehensive. It consists of two parts; the
first is contained in these words: “I will establish my covenant between me
and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant.” This establishment of God's covenant with Abraham and his seed in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, in its literal meaning implied, that Abraham's natural seed were to remain a distinct people in their successive generations, without ever being destroyed ; because, if they were to be destroyed by ceasing to exist as a distinct and separate people, God's covenant with them would not be everlasting. To this interpretation we are led by Moses, who declared that if God destroyed Abrabam's natural seed, it would be a breaking of the covenant with them: “And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them ; Lev. xxvi., 44. Agreeable to this promise, God declared by Jeremiah, that he would utterly destroy the nations who had oppressed the natural seed of Abraham, but would never make a full end to his posterity: “ Fear not, O Jacob, my servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee: for I will make a füll end of all the nations whither I have driven thee, but I will not make a full end of thee;" xlvi, 28. - It is in allusion to this covenant obligation, that St. Paul, personating a Jew, proposes this question: "I ask then, have they stumbled so as to fall forever ?” to which the apostle answers, By no means.” The apostle was aware that if God should cast off the natural seed of Abraham for ever, he would break his covenant promise to Abraham, and to his seed in their generations after him. He, therefore, maintains that this rejection of the literal seed of Abraham, was merely a temporary rejection, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in ; at which time“ a deliverer would come out of Sion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
In this promise, according to its literal meaning, an event is foretold of a most extraordinary and singular nature, viz: that Abraham's natural seed are always to continue a distinct race, and are never to be lost by mixing with other nations. Nothing has ever happened like this. For where are the people who, being scattered over the face of the whole earth, have preserved themselves distinct from the rest of mankind, so that after continuing in a state of dispersion for thousands of years, the individuals, in their successive generations, are known to be of that people? The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Grecians, and the Romans, have all in their turns conquered, but have not kept themselves distinct from their conquerors, although they were not carried captive from their own country, far less were they scattered over the face of the earth, as the Israelites have been. All these nations are now so mixed with their conquerors, that the individuals of them cannot be distinguished. The continuance of Abraham's natural seed distinct from all the rest of the world, foretold in this promise, must, to the reason and experience of mankind before it happened, have appeared an event utterly improbable. Yet this improbable
event has actually taken place, through a long succession of ages. For from the time of their going down into Egypt to the present day, the Israelites, notwithstanding the many calamities which befel them, have still been preserved a distinct and numerous people, and they will be continued a distinct and numerous people, till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, and their existence as a separate race is no longer needed to strengthen the evidence of the gospel. When the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, at that period, they also shall be converted to the faith of Christ; and, entering into the Christian church, they will, with the other disciples of Christ, assist in preserving the knowledge and worship of the true God among mankind to the end of the world.
The second article of this premises is contained in these words: “I will be thy God." This implies that Abraham's natural seed were in general to know and acknowledge the true God as their God, that he would reside among them, and that he would be their constant protector, and bestow on them all the blessings which men expect from the objects of their worship. And I would here remark, that God frequently declared himself to be the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Abraham's seed in their generations after him. And again he says: "I will be their God." This promise God has fulfilled in the preservation of Abraham's seed, as a distinct people, for three thousand years. He preserved his seed in Egypt, and delivered them from their Egyptian oppressors; he sustained them miraculously in the wilderness during forty years, and introduced them into the possession of the land of Caanan; he preserved them in their captivity in Babylon, and brought them back again to their own land, and they have remained a distinct and seperate people during their long dispersion, since they were driven out of Caanan by the Romans. Since their long dispersion, they have suffered many evils for their faith, not only from Mahometans and heathens, but from Christians also; but they have continued to know and to worship the God of their fathers agreeable to the rites of Moses, so far as their circumstances would permit, and God has continued to preserve them, agreeable to his covenant promise, a separate and distinct people to the present time. They are still beloved for their father Abraham's sake, and they will be preserved a numerous and distinct people, till the whole purposes of their separation from the rest of mankind are accomplished.
We admit that this promise has, also, a secondary sense, a mys, tical meaning, and refers to Abraham's spiritual seed, which God has fulfilled to them in their successive generations, and which he will continue to fulfill till time shall end. But as this branch of the covenant does not come under our immediate observation, in the discussion of this subject, we shall not here enlarge upon it.
The Jews were the first nation which were owned by God as his people, and, therefore, styled his first born. “ And thou shalt