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that he is now in heaven at his Father's right hand : so we do believe, that, at the time appointed of the Father, he shall come again in power and great glory; and that at, or after, his coming the second time, he will not only raise the dead, and judge and restore the world, but will also take to himself his kingdom, and will, according to the Scriptures, reign on the throne of his father David, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, for ever.' *
“It must not be concluded by the reader, that all Episcopalians were antemillennarians : on the contrary, they numbered in their ranks some able theologians and interpreters, who took, what I will venture to call, the orthodox view of prophecy. Nevertheless, to hold Millennarian views exposed a man to reproach; which was at one period carried to so great an extent, that Bishop Newton states, “it was esteemed a mark that a man was a Puritan, and a certain obstacle to his preferment, to preach that the pope was antichrist.'
“ Others, who are known by their sentiments, published within this period, (the 17th century,) to have been Millennarian, are: Doctors W. Alabaster, W. Allen, T. Burnet, D. Cresserer, W. Hakewell, G. Hicks, N. Homes, J. Mather, W. Potter; and the following divines and laymen, abroad and of this country : T. Adams, W. Alleine, J. Archer, E. Bagshaw, T. Beverley, W. Burton, M. Cary, J. Cocceius, W. Deusbury, J. Durant, W. Erbery, G. Foster, T. Gale, G. Hammon, S. Hartlib, E. Huet, J. Hussey, P. De Launay, R. Maton, J. Mede, W. Medley, R. Mercer, C. S. Nuncius, A. Peganius, S. Petto, J. Ranew, W. Sherwin, and J. Tillinghast. This list is necessarily very defective; nor is it to be understood at all, who are therein enumerated, are equally Millennarian in degree; for some of them contend only for a premillennial resurrection; whilst a few, still conceiving the Millennium to be past, look for the appearing and kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be established upon a renewed earth.
“In the English Encyclopedia, under the article 'Cocceius,' we are told that he was the founder of a sect called Cocceians; who held, among other singular opinions, that of a visible reign of Christ, in this world, after a general conversion of the Jews, and all other people, to the true Christian faith, as laid down in the voluminous works of Cocceius.' This was no other than the eminent John Cocceius, professor of theology at Bremen,-a man continually quoted and applauded by Vitringa for his piety, learning, and ability, as an expositor of prophecy. The Rev. H. Horne, speaking in his ·Introduction, &c., of his commentaries, says, “that they abound with valuable illustrations, and will amply repay the trouble of perusal ;' and Robinson says of him, that it passed into a proverb, that 'Grotius finds Christ no where in the Old Testament, Cocceius every where.'
“ The Pietists of Germany were also, in general, Millennarians. The Methodists of this present century were also, in general, Millennarians. John Wesley himself, and Fletcher of Madeley, held Millennarian views, and doubtless, therefore, they were responded to in this matter by their followers in general.
* Farther extracts of an interesting character to the student of prophecy, will be found in the Dialogues on Prophecy, vol. 11., p. 267, and in a small work by Mr. Cox, a Baptist minister at Woolwich, entitled, A Millennarian's Answer of the Hope that is in Him
«That I may not seem to judge the condition of the Dissenting congregations through a prejudiced medium, I would refer to the fact, that an annual sermon was, about the middle of the 18th century, appointed to be preached at Great Eastcheap, exclusively on prophecy, for the purpose of preventing the subject from sinking altogether into oblivion. Various sermons preached on this occasion by the eminent Dr. John Gill, a decided Millennarian, are in existence; in which he deplores not only the neglect of prophecy, but the decay of genuine piety. In his discourse, for example, on Isaii xxi. 11, 12, he observes :- A sleepy frame of spirit has seized us; both ministers and churches are asleep; and being so, the enemy is busy in sowing the tares of errors and heresies, and which will grow up and spread yet more and more.'
“The following additional writers to those mentioned, are among the namber of those whose sentiments were Millennarian to a greater or less extent, both in the Establishment and out of it, both at home and abroad; and whose works, therefore, tend farther to evince what the voice of the church was in this century. Bishops Clayton, Horseley, Newton, and Newcome; Doctors P. Allix, P. Frank, S. Glass, J. E. Grabe, S. Hopkins, (of Rhode Island, N. A.,) J. Knight, F. Lee, S. Rudd, and E. Wells; among the divines of lesser degree--T. Adams, (of Winteringham,) R. Beere, J. A. Bengelius, C. Daubuz, R. Heming, J. Hallet, R. Hort, R. Ingram, P. Jurien, J. B. Koppins, C. G. Koch, P. Lancaster, A. Pirie, R. Roach, J. D. Schoffer, A. Toplady, E. Winchester; and among the laity-Sir I. Newton, and H. Dodwell, and E. King, Esqrs.
“With the exception of Mr. Faber, there is scarcely to be found a writer on prophecy of any eminence in the present century, who is not looking for the premillennial advent of Christ; and all the periodicals which have arisen, thắt have been exclusively or chiefly devoted to prophetical subjects, (as the Jewish Expositor, the Morning Watch, the Christian Herald, the Investigator, the Christian Witness, the Christian Record, the Watchman, the Expositor of Prophecy,) advocate primitive Millennarianism. And it is farther remarkable, that in almost all the instances of works issuing from the press in this century, directly pointed against Millennarian doctrine, the writers themselves have honestly avowed that they have not made prophecy their study, and are so far incompetent to treat the subject in a satisfactory manner.
“ The Dissenters who were formerly the conservatives of the doctrine, are now almost universally either opposed, or entirely indifferent about it. Some few eminent exceptions may be mentioned; for example, Robert Hall, formerly of Leicester, who, towards the latter end of his life, was brought decidedly to subscribe to the Millennarian interpretation of prophecy; Mr. Cox and Mr. Tyso, both Baptist ministers ; Mr. Hughes, minister of an Independent church at Hackney; William Thorpe, author of an acute and very seasonable work entitled, “The Destinies of the British Empire, and the Duties of British Christians at the Present Crisis ;' and Mr. Anderson of Glasgow, already mentioned. Mr. Cunninghame, an able and distinguished writer, who has advocated these views now for a lengthened period, and Mr. Begg, are likewise to be numbered among the Dissenters who have powerfully pleaded this cause.
" It must not be omitted to be stated that numerous writers have appeared to support and still continue its advocates, some of whose writings are distinguished for Christian meekness, sound judgment, and great talent." Among the clergy” of the Establishment, “ we have only to mention the names of Bickersteth, Burgh, Fry, Girdlestone, Hales, Hoare, Hooper, Hawtrey, Marsh, the Maitlands of Brighton and Gloucester, Madden, M'Neil, Noel, Pym, Sirr, Sabin and Stewart;--and among the laity, Frere, Habershon, Viscount Mandeville, T. P. Platt, Granville Penn, and Lieut. Wood,” in order to satisfy the unprejudiced reader.”
No. XIII.-- Page 255.
PREACHING CHRIST CRUCIFIED.
We cannot perceive that the exhibition of fundamental doctrines should supersede the preaching of what is reared upon their bases. Indeed, the idea of a fundamental doctrine seems to preclude the notion of its exclusive regard, as being but a part of the whole. That the atonement of Christ is the principal fundamental doctrine of the New Testament,--that he is our only “ hope,” -is undoubtedly the joy of his people,—because it resolves the motives of love and obedience into a simple act of faith; the most glorious and delightful consideration of the believer. He is no longer distracted with various and incongruous motives to obedience; but builds his hope on one sure and exclusive foundation; "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, &c." But how are the converted to be brought to the practical knowledge of the will of God, if the numerous practical duties which result from faith in the atonement, be not clearly and circumstantially exhibited, as they are in the Gospel? How is the Christian conduct to be regulated, if the moral precepts of Christ and his Apostles be not opened and applied to the understanding? Do we not find them adapted to all diversities of individual obligation? We do. And why should the ministers of Christ take a different course from that which the Apostles practised? What caused Felix to tremble before Paul ? Was it not that the latter “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come," and this was when Felix “heard him concerning the faith in Christ.” Here, then, it is evident that Paul did not confine his preaching to the fundamental doctrine of faith in Christ, but described the nature and characteristics of righteousness and temperance; and represented the consequences of their rejection. To preach a crucified Saviour, effectually to the converted, is to exhibit also the peculiar excellency of his injunctions, to display them in all their lustre, and to insist on the necessity of obedience to them. But this can never be faithfully performed by merely general expressions ; but by explaining the details of conduct. As faith in the Redeemer is the only effectual spur to practice, an exposition of the various obligations to righteousness, and the abandonment of whatever is commanded by this faith, are necessarily comprised in the doctrine. Paul's desire was, not to restrict his preaching to any one doctrine or principle in particular, but "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ," to "go on to perfection,”-i.e., " in all holy conversation and godliness.” This he unquestionably derived from his faith in Christ crucified, as the ground of all those acts and labours of love which are acceptable to God by Him.
The superstructure of “perfecting holiness in the fear of God," should be sedulously reared by the preacher as it respects all the minutiæ of life. For, were it sufficient to leave the members of Christ's church to their own construction of moral conduct in its numerous, varied, and intricate relations, after simply preaching the doctrine of the cross, He would not have supplied us with his sermons on the mount and on the plain, and with the precepts so largely interspersed throughout His Gospel. The omission of an unremitting inculcation of the whole circle of personal and relative duties, as the production of an enlightened and operative faith in the sacrifice of the Redeemer, must therefore be a grossly defective mode of preaching His word. We repeat that the various situations and circumstances of life, and whatever can be conceived and experienced in relation to them, should be familiarly unfolded and practically explained, so far as the pastor's knowledge and experience permit, showing in what consists a perfect conformity to the laws of Christ. It is precisely in these things,--(i. e., throughout the whole range of personal and relative duties,) that we find professing Christians so lamentably defective. Inconsistency, glaring inconsistency and expediency, are, to a considerable extent, the order of the present times — It may be replied : “This is simply because many are but professors." This may be true in most cases, yet sincere Christians are often in error. And it is not the Scripture mode of decision ; for we know not what they would be, did we present them with “the whole counsel of God.”
Moreover, as “we are saved by hope,” it is necessary that the great additional stimulus to love and obedience set forth in the Millennial doctrines should be at all times fully and faithfully declared ; otherwise a vast proportion of the counsel and promises of God becomes omitted ; and a corresponding defect in the efficiency of preaching inevitably ensues. In a word, Christ crucified and Christ glorified are indissoluble doctrines, because both constistute the prime motives of the believer. See John XVII.
How many are the followers of Christ, who both in youth and manhood, have deviated from strictly prudent paths; and thus by a slight error in judgment have rendered the remainder of their lives miserable! They have afterwards discovered, that had they had but a little more light, or knowledge of Scripture injunctions, they would not have fallen into these errors ; had they but possessed a little more insight into the duty or course of conduct in question, they would have wholly escaped the delusion, because their consciences, actuated by grace, would have compelled them to avoid it.
Besides the great number and variety of the preceptive portions of the New Testament, (and they should be distinctly examined and applied in all their bearings,) a very extensive store is vouchsafed us in the various books of the Old Testament. Many of the most impressive are found among the prophetic writings, and strictly applicable to the Christian conduct. No book of Scripture, we think, should be wholly omitted in the preacher's catalogue : yet, those
which seem designed to be more inspiring and stimulating to holiness than athers, are decidedly the prophets. The fulfilled, fulfilling, and unfulfilled portions of the Revelation of John urge to a conscientious and holy discharge of duty from “the hope that is set before us ;” Christ being both the Finisher and Author of our faith. And though he, “the King,” seems, at present, “afar off,”--the eyes of our understanding being enlightened,” we dwell by faith on the “beauty” and eternal results of his glorious appearing ; earnestly striving to secure an interest in “ the promised redemption,” having a foretaste of the “purchased possession" which constitutes the end of the revelation of God. Guilt,” says Mr. Begg, "may perhaps be as really contracted by having our attention so completely engrossed by the sufferings and death of Christ, that we disregard or discredit the testimony of God by his prophets concerning the Redeemer's glorious reign, as in being so dazzled by its splendour as not to perceive the necessity of his death for the redemption of a lost and guilty world, and the glorious display which was thus made of the divine perfections.”
“ The public addresses delivered by the pastors of the early churches were usually called sermons or orations ; but they differed considerably, both in form and structure, from the greater portion of modern pulpit discourses. Nearly all public Christian instruction consisted simply in the reading, and the expounding the Scriptures. Before the pastor stood up to teach, a section of the divine word, embracing as much as two, three, or four of our modern capitular divisions, was read to the assembly. This was termed 'the lesson ;' it was emphatically the instruction of the hour, and was regarded by pastor and people as the 'portion of meat,' to receive which the latter had assembled.
Origen, who wrote early in the third century, calls the sermons of ministers, 'Explanations of the Lessons ;' and Justyn Martyr, who wrote about the year 155, says, “The reader of the Scriptures having ceased, the president (or pastor) made a sermon by way of giving instruction as to the excellent things which had been read, and of holding them up to imitation.'
“ If Origen’s may be regarded as a specimen, the primitive sermons resembled very much, as to structure and method, the modern expository lecture. The preacher commenced with a short exordium; he then, verse by verse, or sentence by sentence, explained the lesson' or text; first, as to the import of its language, —and next, as to its mystical meaning and its moral lessons ; and he concluded by a formal application of the truths which he had discussed to the consciences of his hearers. When his text was too long, or too replete with matter to be all advantageously expounded, he noticed only such portions throughout it, as were of chief importance, or made selection of one small consecutive part.
“Origen says, “If he should treat every part of the subject, he must occupy not only the one hour of their assembly, but several. From which we might probably, without rashness, infer this curious and not uninteresting fact, that the primitive discourses usually extended in delivering to about an hour.
“Great care seems to have been used by the primitive preachers to render their discourses practical, and to adapt them to the capacities, attainments, and spiritual condition of their audience.