Imágenes de páginas


it seems alone possible to account for the universality of its adoption by the Primitive Christians.

To the millennial state of rest which is to be hereafter enjoyed by the Church, there is the plainest allusion in the Epistle to the Hebrews :17 on the assumption of its truth the whole tenor and consistency of the author's reasoning is indeed wholly dependant. In the consciousness under which he wrote, that his readers were not unversed in the subject, we find a sufficient justification of the general terms under which he expresses himself respecting it. In adducing proof from scripture, that “a sabbatism remained to the people of

no doubt can be long entertained that the author's allusion is to the Great Sabbath, which the Jews commonly understood by the Millennium.9 On the authority of the Psalmist, who had shewn, that however this rest had been promised, it had never been enjoyed, he undertakes to establish, that it remained to be expected. In the course of his proof he reasons from the analogy of such a state of rest, and that which had been enjoyed by God at the time of the creation. A doubt has been, indeed, founded upon the inference of the Apostle, whether the rest from which God excluded the Israelites under Moses, with an oath, and which they had failed to attain under Joshua, as it remained unenjoyed until the times of David, 17 Heb. iv. 1-11.

18 Ibid. 9.

19 Fell, ubi supr.


were analogous to the state of repose which directly succeeded the work of creation.20 But that the allusion of the author points to a sabbatism of a higher and different kind, will not long remain doubtful, when it is considered that the rest of the sabbath was not only experienced in the wilderness, but that of the jubilee and sabbatical year observed, on the settlement of the Jews in Canaan. And the Apostle, in a subsequent chapter, clearly shews, that the promises of God and expectations of the Patriarchs were directed, from the earthly Canaan, to ó a better country, and heavenly Jerusalem,' in every respect analogous to the abode which is assigned by St. John to the blessed, in his description of the Millennium.” But the point seems to be placed beyond ambiguity by an Apostolical Father, to whom the translation of the Epistle to the Hebrews into Greek has been ascribed ; and who was not only the companion of St. Paul, but has addressed his Epistle to the same people, and on the same subject, as the great Apostle.23 St. Barnabas, while he delivers himself more fully respecting it, has established the connexion, which is merely intimated by St. Paul, between the sabbath of God,' and 'the sabbatism ‘ reserved for his people.” He accordingly shews, that the period of seven days was chosen by the Almighty, who might have atonce called the creation into existence, as indicative of the term of seven thousand years, which he had prescribed to the world that he had created. The last day, as he intimates, was appropriated by God to repose from his works; as the last millennium would be consigned to a respite, for his people, from care and labor. And he justifies the analogy on which he reasons, by the authority and language of scripture, to which St. Peter has given a similar application, when apparently delivering himself on the same subject :-5 concluding, that, as one day was ' with the Lord as a thousand years,' the world would be only oppressed with toil and sorrow for so many thousand years as days had been consumed in the work of the creation. With this illustration, the connexion in St. Paul's reasoning becomes obvious and conclusive; which, without it, appears to be inconsequential and paralogistic. • There remaineth therefore ' reasons the Apostle, • a sabbatism to the people of God. For he that inferred, from the rest into which God entered,' that ‘ a rest remained to his people.' But this analogy not being pre-supposed, no conclusion can be directly deduced from the rest which the One enjoyed at the foundation of the world, that a rest remained for the other, at any subsequent period.

20 Vid. Wolf. Cur. in Epist. ad. Hebr.iv. 3. Vol. IV. p. 643. 21 Vid. S. Hilar. Tract in Ps. xci. col. 236. b. 22 Comp. Heb. xi. 16, xii. 22. Rev. xxi. 42. 23 Wolf. ut supr. p. 592.


is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from · his works, as God did from his.26 « The sabbath' being allowed, as St. Barnabas assumes, to be the type of the sabbatism ;' it was necessarily to be

24 S. Barnab. Epist. cap. xv.
25 Ps. xc. 4. 2 Pet. iii. 8. 26 Heb. iv. 9, 10.

Although the allusion to the subject of the Great Sabbath in St. Peter 27 is sufficiently obvious, it is less strikingly marked than we have just observed in his brother Apostle. It deserves, however, to be remarked, not so much as a matter curious in itself, as illustrative of the plenitude of the scriptures, that the link in the reasoning of the one Apostle, which has been deduced from the epistle of his companion St. Barnabas, has been likewise supplied from the argument of the other; and that the application of the passage in St. Peter, in illustration of the text of St. Paul, is in some measure justified by the positive reference of the former Apostle to the writings of his beloved brother · Paul, in which ’he particularly declares, “ there are some things hard to be understood, as there are also in all his epistles. But whatever conclusion be formed on this subject, it is atleast obvious, that, while St. Peter alludes to the time of the creation, from which the doctrine of the Millennium is deduced by St. Paul, and to the destruction and renovation of the earth, with which it is connected in the Apocalypse by St. John ;-9 he asserts the analogy between the length of a day and the period of a thousand years, on which the certainty of that Great Sabbatism was established, from its type in the sabbath. And when it is remembered, that the opinions held by the Jews on the subject were generally acknowledged by his readers, as their prevalence in the Primitive Church places almost beyond dispute; a very slight allusion to the doctrine which was pressed on their attention by St. Barnabas, if not by St. Paul, was fully adequate to bring it under their consideration. It is indeed introduced to their notice, by the Apostle, with a reproach, and enforced by a repetition, which was atonce calculated to awaken their attention, and recall their remembrance. · For this ’ he declares, “ they willingly are ignorant

27 2 Pet. iii. 2--13. 28 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.

of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water which are now by the same word kept in store, • and reserved unto fire against the day of judgment * and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be ' not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with

the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years * as one day....But 'he continues · the day of the

Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the · which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent 29 Comp. 2 Pet. iii. 7. 10. 12, 13. Rev. xx. 6. 11, 12, xxi. 1.



« AnteriorContinuar »