« AnteriorContinuar »
and be proved when I come to speak of the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxii. 4). Secondly, faith shall shake and cease, or fail, in respect of present weakness that shall come on all the saints that are sensible of their captivity.
“ I shall but hint the proofs of this. (1) When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ? (Luke xviii
. 8; Lukexxi. 26). Then will be those shakings of heaven and earth, and seas roaring (at Christ's coming), that men's hearts will fail, and faith too. (2) All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field, &c. By flesh is meant man's natural ability; by the goodliness of flesh, man's spiritual excellency: grace endures all the year, the flower of the field fades in a month; so soon do our spiritual excellencies wither ; sooner than our natural abilities, the experience of saints speaketh; but this will appear clearer, when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together (Isa. xl. 5, 6): then all that is of flesh and the goodliness thereof shall wither before the Lord. And that faith is bụt the goodliness of flesh, is proved by this : first, all is flesh, that is, below God ; second, faith shall cease at last (as all say, when we come to heaven), therefore it is but flesh ; thirdly, when Isaiah saw the Lord in his glory, all his spiritual excellency ceased and he became unclean, and his people also, even the whole church was as the world (Isa. vi. 5). (3) Doth not the Apostle say that knowledge shall vanish away? What is faith but the spiritual knowledge of Christ ? (1 Cor. xiii. 2, 8): Yea, the Son shall be subject, &c.' (1 Cor. xv. 28). (4) When Christ was in the depth of his sufferings where, was his faith? When he cried out (as a man forsaken of God) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Psa. xxii. 1,) surely bis faith (in feeling at least),failed him, for he roared in his cry, and his God heard him not as he thought (ver. 2). Truly the saints must not only fill up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ in their flesh (Col. i. 24)), but come up to the fellowship and fulness of his sufferings. What means Zion else, when she said My God hath forgotten me, my Lord has forsaken me? (Isa. xlix. 14), that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (5) This fulness of Christ's sufferings in us will then appear when the whole body shall be raised, when all the saints shall see themselves as dry bones, and not only dead (as legal and Gospel churches were, Col. iii. 3), but dry bones, without any flesh or faith appearing; for so it was the whole house of Israel, which said, Our hope is lost, and we are cut off for our parts (Ezek. xxxyii. 11).
Oh, the people of God have not yet found themselves in Babylon, nor lain below among the dry bones in the valley: for then they will tell me another thing than what is now talked of concerning believers, and baptizing into his death, and being
buried with him by dipping, &c. Truly that is past ; for we are not only dead, but dry bones ; and what is it to dip a dry bone, or baptize believers, when there is no Gospel faith can be shewn this day? (John vii. 39; xiv. 12; Mark xvi. 17). Besides, burial is of the body new dead (as Christ was, and the church too then); but we are as those long dead till the bones be dry. Besides, the most spiritual saints under antichrist's reign are the two witnesses not suffered to be buried (Rev. xi. 9).
“ Brethren, all my speaking cannot stir you ; but when the Lord shall speak, when he roars in you, he will shake your foundations, your forms, and faith too ; but this is the comfort, that
; this shaking of heaven and earth is not threatened, but promised (Heb. xii. 26). It is the last and greatest promise, that God will yet once more shake, not only the earth, but the heavens also. Once more, saith he; for the earth of Legal dispensation was shaken when the Gospel came in ; yea, their heaven, or highest light of sun and moon, that is the light of the Law, was darkened, &c. (Acts ii. 18, 20, 21.) Then again the heaven of that Gospel dispensation was shaken, and sunk down into the apostasy, or falling away, when all that Gospel glory in gifts, and a ministry of the Spirit, with spiritual and heavenly ordinances, were darkened, confounded, and filled with the smoke of the bottomless pit, darkening the sun and the air, &c. All this, and more, has come to pass upon us in Babylon, although we knew it not. Now, in Babylon's fall the heavens shall shake again more terribly than ever; a greater earthquake also than was since man was upon the earth; a most dreadful darkness shall fall upon sun and moon, and on all the lights of heaven, &c. (Isa. xiii. 10–13; Rev. xvi. 18.)
“ This will be also when the Lord shall reign in Mount Zion (Isa. xxiv. 23). Therefore all this shaking is for settling of that which abides, that those things that cannot he shaken may remain (Heb. xii. 27). What is that? The Lord himself, and man's life in God alone; all besides must shake and fall, and none
on the earth but God only (Zech. xiv. 5-9). “ Lastly, let none think it strange that the faith of Christ failed (at least in feeling) when he suffered in his spirit, or rather in his soul or inward flesh; for Jonah, the type of Christ, cried out, I am cast out of thy sight, O Lord, when he was in the whale's belly, or belly of hell, as Christ also was in spiritual sufferings : the pangs of hell gat hold upon him. If faith were in hell, hell were but heaven (John ii. 2-4; Acts ii. 27).
“ Also Jeremiah's lamentation was but the church's cry in her captivity. What says she there ? "My strength and my hope is perished in the Lord'(Lam.ii. 18): 'Remembering mineaffliction and misery, the wormword and the gall,' &c. - This I recal to my mind, therefore have I hope' (ver. 21). Her hopeless state was
a strong foundation of hope ; that is, that God was her hope; for when all shakes and sinks to nothing the Lord God is all in all. Then the Lord is the hope of his people, and strength of the children of Israel. It is a mystery : Christ's flesh never did rest in hope till it was crucified, and quite dead ; in death only his hope was to be raised.”
We think it right to warn our readers, lest they should be tempted to purchase any of the numerous treatises of Mr. Erbery in consequence of seeing the above extracts, that the writer held many dangerous errors; the two principal of which were, first, disbelief of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity ; and
; secondly, setting aside the letter of Scripture by his system of spiritualizing, and confounding the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ now in his members, with the second advent of Jesus of Nazareth in his own proper person.
His notion respecting the Trinity seems to be that commonly known by the term "the indwelling scheme;" a delusion prevalent amongst some Moravians and Quakers. Its refutation is seen in the personality of man, who, being created as the image or representative of God, shews forth personality in Godhead, or man is no image or representative of the Creator. Moreover, without personality there could not be distinction, and without distinction there could not be incarnation; and thus the Lord Jesus Christ would be only a phantasma, without a reality, and all revelation of Deity is swept off the face of the
The effect of his spiritualizing the second coming of Christ into a mere operation of the Spirit performed in men, is to turn religion into mysticism, and destroy all reality of it on earth, as his scheme of the Trinity destroys all its reality in heaven. These subjects, however, are not so prominent in his writings as those concerning which we have brought forth certain portions. The truth should have been entertained by his brethren, and he himself might haply have been delivered of his errors.
WHAT, AND WHERE, IS THE CHURCH ? The promise of the Lord is, that there should ever be on the earth a church, against which the gates of hell should not prevail: therefore the church is somewhere. The Papacy says, I am the church, and there is none else. The Church of England says, I am a church; the Church of Scotland says, I am a church; and so does every knot of schismatics and heretics throughout Europe. All writers use the word in many different senses, by which there is a constant confusion maintained. The largest sense is that of the whole body of saved souls, from the days of Adam to the Day of Judgment; the second, the whole body of living professors, as the tribes of Israel, or the nations of Christendom ; the third, the elect only in all these, a body essentially known to God alone; the fourth, the different associations or congregations of the individuals composing these nations, under some common immaterial forms or ceremonies. It is in writing or speaking of this fourth that the errors arise. The Article of the Church of England defines " the visible church ” to be “a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly ministered, according to Christ's ordinance, in all things that of necessity are requisite to the same.” The administrators of the Church's affairs, the bishops and ministers, have admitted, and do admit, men into the congregation who are not faithful: bishops and ministers have been, and are appointed, who do not preach the pure word of God: and therefore, without going any further into the matter, the Church of England, as it at present exists--nay, more, as it has ever existed-is not, upon its own shewing, and according to its own definition, the visible Church of Christ; nor is the Church of Scotland, nor any church in Europe. If it can be granted
, that it is right to administer the sacraments to unfaithful as well as to faithful men, then may it be granted that they are duly administered: although here allowance must be made for the manner of receiving the Lord's Supper, which is certainly not thereby ministered according to Christ's ordinance.
Now the definition given in this Article is exactly what every band of schismatics will subscribe to : and therefore she cannot consider any separatists from her to be schismatic, nor does she; and therefore her refusing the ordinances to the Non-conformists was the more unjustifiable and the more tyrannical. If it be schism to separate from her, it is equally schism to separate from any other assembly which holds to the same definition of a church : and therefore her anathemas against schismatics have ever proved mere brutum fulmen, and the real ground of the railing against them has not been out of love for misguided souls, but from apprehension of the loss of power and wealth.
The Article very properly says that “The visible church is a congregation;" yet all the writers speak of the Church of England, instead of the churches in England. Hence the Papistical part of the ministers have ever confounded the refusal to attend a particular congregation with separation from the visible church. This confusion and absurdity have been noticed before by us, and we now restate our views in an extract from a former Number. “The view which God takes of a church, is a body of Christians gathered under the ministry and government of their pastor, with his council of elders and deacons; not a confederation of churches gathered under a confession of faith.”.
...."Ifanyone, being at liberty, do without cause, and knowingly, and in express prohibition of God, put himself under false teaching, hath he any reason to expect either the furthering or preventient grace of God ? Surely not."...." And would I cease, therefore, to be less a member of the church of God in that parish, town, or city where I resided ? Verily no. Or less willing to sit under a pastor who had the word of life on his lips, when such an one was sent ? Verily no.
It is one chief part of a Christian's calling, to testify to the truth, and to make a distinction between the preachers of truth and the preachers of error; but if he is bound in duty to God, or to Christ the Head of the church, to abide under the ministry of one who does not hold the Head, how shall he be able to testify to the truth? It is clear to me, that these things cannot co-exist; namely, an obligation to witness against error, and an obligation to take a preacher of error for your minister. The Church of England, or of Scotland, may license and ordain men who deny God's love to all men, Christ's coming in flesh, and the Holy Ghost's work of assured faith : and they may have the king's sanction, to teach and to preach in the parish where you reside: but neither king nor church can bind me to acknowledge such a one as a herald of Christ, and an ambassador of God. I am called upon at once to gainsay and gainstand such a false teacher; to beware of him myself, and to warn others against him. I may not give him my countenance, I may not be silent and hear him; and because it is contrary both to law and good order to testify against him by interruption, I am bound not to bring myself into the peril of hearing the counsel that causeth to err.
So long as it is a question of imperfect knowledge, of ignorance, and unacquaintance with the truth, of manner and of degree, I must and ought to forbear, and to separate were schism; but when it becomes a matter of momentous truth and error, I must separate from such an one; and not to separate, is to allow him in his evil deeds, and to help the people into the snare.
The whole mass of modern Dissenters is nevertheless schis matic. Wherefore ? Because they cut off the Church of England, and desire its destruction. The whole mass of the Church of England is schismatic, because it cuts off all Protestant churches except the Moravian. It were perfectly possible for all Protestant churches to have preferred certain ceremonies of man's invention to other ceremonies, and yet to have held common intercourse with each other, like the different systems pursued in different regiments composing the same army; but, instead of this, they have made every variation from each other a ground of division, and an irreconcileable bar to real union.
Now although the schismatic spirit has prevailed universally throughout Christendom, the churches have been unable to com