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the drunken ; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. xxiv. 48–51.)
Earthly priesthood, standing between God and men, has been introduced instead of the recognition that He “ that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” “ hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” (Rev. i. 5, 6.) These priests of Rome, of various degrees, have become “ lords over the heritage, as though Peter (from whom they claim succession) had not written the contrary (1 Pet. v. 3). And no wonder, they have forgotten the “ appearing of the Chief Shepherd,” and thus the evil servant saying in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming,” has begun to smite his fellow-servants.
A human priesthood is quite consistent with the denial of our complete justification so soon as we believe. If we do not know that we are brought nigh unto God by the blood of Christ, we cannot understand “ His High Priesthood," and our common priesthood through Him. An ordered priesthood meets the supposed want, especially such a one as that of Rome, which claims “ the power of sacrificing for the sins of the living and the dead !"
I need not say how entirely Rome has forgotten “ the heavenly calling” of the church; how entirely separation from the world has been set aside; how the hope of the church, even the coming again of the Lord Jesus, has been deprived of all practical power; to these things the word bears unequivocal testimony; but they accord not with her who seeks present ease, power, and greatness in the earth.
“ Brotherly love,” of which the New Testament speaks so much, finds no true recognition in the system of Rome: “Hereby shall men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one towards another.” Love was to be the great principle of fellowship, and of rule (see the Epistle to Philemon) in the church.
I have not been trying to draw a picture of Romanism, nor yet to systematise the doctrines of the New Testament; I have only sought to state some few of the particulars in which Rome contradicts those Scriptures which she holds forth as inspired.
I need not speak more, I suppose, in order to shew how unimpeachable is the testimony of Rome to the transmission of Scripture. It is like a prisoner bringing his death-warrant, and pleading its authenticity with the same confidence as though it had been his pardon.
The Holy Ghost, who sees the end from the beginning, has given, in the epistle addressed to the saints who were then at Rome, the especial testimony against apostate christendom, and therefore against Rome as the trunk. " Thou standest by faith, be not high-minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; upon them that fell severity, but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in His goodness, otherwise THOU ALSO SHALT BE CUT OFF(Rom. xi. 20—22.) I need not say another word to shew that Rome has departed from the faith of the Gospel contained in the New Testament, and in this epistle in particular. I have shewn already that EVERY ONE of the writings of the New Testament supplies evidence against Rome : “ Thou shalt be cut off, ” is the sentence which God has already passed.
The branches which have grown out of this great trunk, cannot plead an exemption from the sentence ;* they, by their separation from Rome, bear testimony as to the failure of the professing body; and yet they retain so much of the leaven of Rome, as to shew, in many things, that they condemn themselves by asserting the authority of the New Testament, just in the same way that Rome does The mother has transmitted to her established daughters, and her dissenting grand
* Observe the terins of the passage,“ if thou continue ;" if the body has not continued in His goodness, cutting off is the sentence on it. The fact of reformation having been needed, proves that the body ḥas not so continued, thereforc“ cutting off” is the irrevocable sentence, even though the separated protesting portions had been themselves faithful. Individual saints are safe, just as believers, who were Jews by birth, were safe, though the nation of Israel was cut off: but excision is the doom already passed upon the professing Church ; and the long-suffering of God is the only thing on which the fulfilment of the sentence depends; meanwhile let every saint take heed and be separate.
daughters, much of her own nature; and they also shew the features of Rome, mixed with a greater profession of subjection of mind to the word of God; this higher profession, on their part, is quite enough to manifest that they share in the guilt; it puts them in the position of partially using the word of God, and partially taking the authority and tradition of man.
If any one wishes to see the contrast between the Lord's tradition and man's tradition, let him read what is written in 1 Cor. xi. about the Lord's Supper ; and then contrast it with the human additions which Rome, her daughters, and her grand-daughters, have made through man's tradition to this blessed and simple ordinance.
The whole professing Church is condemned by the New Testament; and yet it asserts the authority of that very book as divine: and just as the evidence is now conclusive, as to the transmission of the Scriptures, so it would be found at any period between the Apostles' days and our own: there would always be found the denial of the truth contained in the Scripture, while the authority of that very Scripture was in word maintained. This consent of all ages is so far important, that it strengthens the argument, that God has confided His word to the professing body as a witness against it, and for Himself.
The transmission of a written record must not be confounded with mere tradition ; for it is the handing down of that which cannot be altered by taking the form of the thoughts of a man's mind whilst in the course of transmission; while things unwritten vary in the report, even if it be only from human infirmity; so that the transmission of the written word would possess claims such as no tradition of facts or the like could give, even if the word did not so entirely assert its own authority by the evidence which it bears against those with whom it has been deposited.
And truly it is a sad spectacle to see how the Church of God has departed from its proper standing. On every side we see a fulse unity; we see Rome making herself the centre; the Establishment joining together the church and the world, and making conformity to her the gathering point ; while, yet more entirely forgetful of the unity of the Church, dissenting bodies seek their own little “interests,” and gather a few to themselves, instead of knowing all who are in Christ Jesus as being one body. O the thought is grievous, that the body of Christ should be rent asunder, and that those who are one in Him should be joined in worldly associations, and on grounds more or less narrow than those which the word prescribes.
False unity is practically the denial of all that the Church has in her risen Head.
The manner in which the Holy Ghost is pleased to dwell in the Church, is on every side practically denied; the Scripture teaches that “ By one Spirit we are all baptised into one body” (1 Cor. xii. 13); and that the members of that body have each one its own proper office for ministry, in which the Holy Ghost qualifies the individual. The ground on which we are called to recognise our fellow-believers, is that they have received the Spirit. This was the ground on which Peter received and baptised Cornelius (Acts x. 47). This is in itself the proof that an individual has been received by Christ (Eph. i. 13), and our union in Christ is set before us as the ground of manifested union with all saints (John xvii.). And just as the reception of the Spirit is that which is to give union together, so ought the Spirit to be allowed to manifest Himself in gifts as He sees fit. Every member has some gift
, whether ostensible or not, and all the members ought to be received for that place for which God has fitted them.
True fellowship is denied by all sects, and so is the liberty of the Spirit. The arrangements of man hinder those whom the Holy Ghost has gifted from exercising their gifts; and whatever of human appointment or arrangement does this, sets itself in direct opposition to God and his word.
It is no use for us to shut our eyes to the fact, that the Word sets forth liberty of ministry in the Church, and that the professing Church denies this liberty; in other words, denies the Holy Ghost in the manner in which He is present. Whatever of office, ordination, or the like, sets itself to prevent those whom the Spirit has gifted from exercising thair gifts, or affirms that the sanction and appointment of man are needful for this, must be that which God can never approve, for it contradicts bis Word (see Mark ix. 38). The warrant for preaching the Gospel to the world is not the mission of man, but s We having the same spirit of faith, as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." (2 Cor.
iv. 13). When human authority can give faith to the preacher, then it may also say who shall preach to the world. Learning occupies a high place in the minds of the professing Church as to “ministry;" but does this accord with “ In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. ii. 3). See 1 Cor. i. 30; ii. 2, &c. Liberty of ministry is God's order; restriction and appointment are man's order: the professing Church has chosen the latter; and sad indeed is the confusion. “ Ministry” in the New Testament is not limited to speaking, but it includes the exercise of all gifts.
The Word presents before us the Church as not being of the world : “ They are not of the world, as I am not of the world” (John xvii). “Our conversation (or citizenship) is in heaven” (Phil. iii). And yet the professing Church has so thoroughly identified itself with the world as to partake in its politics! I need not stay to prove this. But where does the New Testament recognise the saint as mingled with this world's politics ? The principles on which every disciple has to act, run counter to the pursuit of the power, wealth, and influence of the world (Matt. v. &c).
I shall not rest more on this. Let those who think that a Christian may be a politician find some authority for it in the New Testament; but let them take heed that they do not contradict the directions which it gives for their practical conduct. The apostasy of the professing church
is plainly marked by its false unity,practical denial of the presence of the Spirit,—and fellowship with the world; and amidst all this darkness, and the consequent sorrow of heart, we cannot be sufficiently thankful that we have the light of the word of God.
To this we must take heed. I have shewn how its authority is practically denied ; let those who see this and lament it look to the testimony of God and to that alone, not judging it by the thoughts of men, but judging all things by it.
The light of Scripture shines brighter from its contrast to all things around: it stands forth, not imperfect like the works of man, but bearing throughout the impress of Him who gave it forth. The failure of the professing church is there plainly set forth in the word of prophecy (see 2 Tim. iii.; 2 Pet. ii. ; Jude &c.); and thus we see that the same Scripture which was given to the church at the first, still meets the need of every saint. God gave forth His word, with the full knowledge of how deep an apostasy would come in ; and the word is that to which reference is made, as being able to guide aright in times of difficulty. It is thus that it is impressed upon us (2 Tim iii.) for after Paul has spoken of the “ perilous times” which would come in the “ last days,” he says,
66 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived; but continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. iii. 13–17).*
The whole word of God is thus presented before us, as that to which, in days like these, we should take heed, when false teaching abounds, and the form of godliness is to be seen where the power is denied.
* Of course, Paul by “ Scripture" recognises all those books which were so received by the Jews; now, we know that these then were the same which we now have as the Old Testament, to the exclusion of the Apocrypha.
The Apostles equally recognise the writings of the New Testament : thus Peter classes together the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us, the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (2 Pet. iii. 2). He gives his full sanction to Paul's Epistles," as being “ Scriptures” (2 Pet. iii. 16): although his own conduct had been mentioned with blame therein (Gal. ii).-It is remarkable and interesting, to see how, on that occasion at Antioch, the reproof of Paul to Peter meets all, who even tacitly belie the gospel, and who bring in “ expediency," and the allowance of a little “ non-essential” evil in the church.
Paul gives his sanction to the writings of Luke, although he was not an apostle; classing bis gospel and the law of Moses together, as being Scripture. He says, "The Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox ibat treadeth out the corn;' and,' The labourer is worthy of his reward.'' (1 Tim. v. 18.) The former of these cited passages is written in Deut. xxv. 4. The latter is only written in Luke x. 7. See the original Greek.
For learning from Scripture, we have no need to refer to authority or tradition ; for God has given His Spirit to His children ; "we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Cor. ii. 12). The Holy Ghost works by the word; and this answers the many questionings which might arise about understanding what is written. We must also remember, that subjection of mind to the word is absolutely needful; the promise is, “ If any man will do (desires to do] His will, he shall know of the doctrine."
There is a habit among many Christians of being contentedly uncertain about truth. If it were the opinions of men with which we have to do, this would be different, but the doctrines of God ought never to be regarded as matters of doubtful questioning; what God has said, we ought to know as true. This uncertainty leads to the distinction between essential and non-essentiul truths, as if
, to a believer-a saved person—there were any part of the truth of God which is not essential to discipleship. Let the uncertainty with which many speak about truth, be contrasted with the use made in the epistles of the words “ we know.” “ We know that the Son of God is come.” “We know that we are of God.” “We have known, and believed, the love that God hath to us,” &c. Here there is certain knowledge; and we ought to know these things on the testimony of God, for he has given us the Holy Ghost for that very purpose. It is not presumption to be confident when God has spoken : nay it is the height of presumption for us to question what He has said ; and every one is guilty of this who makes
the standing or the acceptance of a believer a matter of questionable opinion. The standing of the Church glorifies Jesus; and if we care for Him, we ought never to disparage the power of his blood.
Let no Christian be astonished or alarmed at finding in the Word what may seem to be new truth. Let us remember how the poor remnant who returned from the captivity, acted on what they found written concerning booths. It is not for us to say that any thing is not true or important, because Augustine, and Bernard, and Luther, and Calvin, and Owen, and Leighton, may not have seen or recognised it : our business is with the Word, and not with what others may have learned from it, or thought about it. The Lord Jesus has said, “ Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of MY WORDS, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in his Father's, and of the Holy angels” (Luke ix. 26).
In concluding these remarks, I would press upon all the children of God before whom they may come, the importance of fully receiving the Scripture testimony as to a few points, as being those which will give power and intelligence in standing, on the Lord's side amidst the encroachment of Roman error, and other forms of worldliness.
I. The full acceptance and security of the believer, through faith on the Lord Jesus. II. The entire separation of the Church and the world, the former being “ blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ," the latter being dead in trespasses and sins.”. The “heavenly calling” (Heb. iii. 1) of the Church is almost lost sight of, although this is used by the Holy Ghost as an incentive to faithfulness ;
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth : for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory; mortifý, therefore, your members which are upon the earth,” &c. (Col. ii.) If earthly principles be at all tolerated in the Church, there is the practical denial of the “heavenly calling."
III. The true hope of the Church, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called “ to wait for God's Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. i. 10). “ (ur conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. ïïi. 20, 21). “That the trial of your faith found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (i Pet.
“ Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall sce Him as He is.
And every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself
even as He is pure” (1 John iii. 2, 3). Let
loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men who wait for their lord” (Luke xii. 35, 36).
If we thus expect our Lord's return, according to the Word, it will have a practical power in freeing us from thoughts about present things. If we really expect the Lord Himself, we shall care but little for thoughts and judgments of men; we shall see every thing in the light of the glory of that day, when nothing that is of man will be able to endure.
O that the Church may be aroused from that slumber into which Satan has lulled her! and that she would, as one who hears the cry, go forth to meet the Bridegroom! O that every saint, resting upon what the word has said concerning the glory that is to be revealed, would hear the word of Jesus, “Behold, I. come quickly," and respond, “ Even so, come, Lord Jesus !--Amen!"
There have been recently published two small works against the doctrine of the premillennial coming and the personal reign of our Lord Jesus Christ; the one entitled “ Millennarianism Unscriptural," and the other, “ Jefferson's Millennium, or the Millennium a Spiritual State, not a Personal Reign.” Upon the character of these two works, we feel constrained to offer a few remarks.
Though we are entirely opposed to the views of these two writers, because they contradict the plain and simple testimony of the word of God, upon the subjects on which they treat, we would not, on that account, desire to tincture our remarks with the least degree of acrimony; being assured that the cause of truth, and the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, can, in no circumstances, be promoted by the bitterness of human passions, or by the strife of disputants contending only for the mastery.
But because the writer of “ Millennarianism Unscriptural” has taken up the subject, in the way of proposition and objection (assuming certain hypotheses, and then reasoning from the consequences of ħis own theory), without any appeal to the law and to the testimony," we shall speak of it simply as a matter of revealed truth ; and content ourselves by following out, as far as our limits will allow, one single, but the only important, question ; “What saith the Scripture ?" And we hope the author of the book in question, will, as a Christian, see the propriety of our abstaining from following his own mode of treating this subject, when we remind him, and our readers, of the way in which the neologian biblical critics, and the advocates of geological science, are attempting, by their philosophical wisdom, to set aside the plain and simple record of the word of God concerning the creation of the world, and also the inspired account of its destruction, in accordance with God's prophetic word, by the waters of the flood; to say nothing about the unbelief of the Jews which caused them to reject the Messiah of their own prophecies, or of the wretched objections of socinians and infidels against the blessed person and work of the Son of God, which are drawn exactly from the same source as that from which the writer of “ Millennarianism Unscriptural" has drawn the whole, or nearly the whole, matter of his book.
The whole argument of this book is básed upon consequences resulting from the admission of certain doctrines and principles ; and it places its author in exactly this position, that if these doctrines are based upon the statements of the word of God, then the statements must be held upon their own authority, whatever may become of consequences and objections ; or, if the consequences are to be maintained as valid, then there is nothing, of course, left but to give up the Bible as the word of God. It is so far well for the author that neither the doctrines of the millennium (as he has stated them) nor his distressing consequences as flowing from them, have any thing whatever to do with the testimony of the Scriptures upon the subject : and, therefore, can be of no weight with the simplest and the weakest Christian, that is, taking as his guide the word of God instead of the writings of men. The book is written in the form of a dialogue, and the author has made the person whom he is opposing, say all manner of absurd and foolish things ; and then he gravely refutes them. A most easy way of triumphing in an argument, when an opponent is made to say nothing but what one knows beforehand he can contradict! One cannot