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No. XIV.-- Page 257.
O, PREACHING THE GOSPEL AS A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS.
BY THE REV. H. MELVILL.
“* This gos
of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.' Matt. xxiv. 14. When we regard as “the end,' Christ's coming to judge, we are to expect, as the precursor of this end, the universal publication, but not the universal reception, of Christianity. The Gospel is to be preached every where for a witness; but this differs widely from being every where believed in to the saving of the soul. And it is the fulfilment of this prophecy, thus literally interpreted, which we consider now in the act of being effected, through the labours of institutions which give a glory to the age. And yet, at one time or other, Christianity will be universally received; for it is on this noble consummation that prophecy pours its most animating strains. We are at a loss to discover how Scriptural statements, which represent Christ's coming as preceded by only a partial reception of the Gospel, can be reconciled with the opinion of numbers, that this coming is to follow a Millennium ; a season during which the Gospel shall be universally received, and when, according to the language of our text, the universal publication, but not the universal reception, of Christianity, is regarded as a sign that shall usher in the end. Then it is, we say, that notwithstanding the small measure of actual success, institutions for disseminating truth fill nobly a place in the accomplishment of prophecy. Support may have been given to these institutions on a supposition which, we think, will not bear the test of rigid inquiry,--a supposition that God would use them as his instruments in eradicating falsehood from the whole of this creation.
“ Those who have considered that Christianity is to advance to unbounded dominion, without fresh interference on the part of its Founder, and that the moral condition of our globe is to be gradually ameliorated until, independent of any new manifestation of Christ, the lion shall lie down with the lamb, such persons, we say, may naturally have regarded Bible and Missionary Societies, as the engines through which shall be accomplished the result, that all shall know God from the least even to the greatest : but if it be a consequence of the coming of Christ, that idolatry is to be abolished, and every falsehood extirpated, the Redeemer himself appearing, according to the description in the Apocalypse, to destroy them who destroy the earth,' it must follow, that to entertain the opinion just mentioned, is to substitute the powers of our societies for that visible making bare of the arm of the Lord, which prophecy associates with the Redeemer's Second Advent. Yet in holding that the Bible and Missionary Societies are not to regenerate the world, we also hold that they share a part, the most splendid and important to perform. They seem to be as instruments for the accomplishment of that which, ere Jerusalem fell, was accomplished by apostles and apostolic men,—the preaching the Gospel for a witness to all nations.
" It is not, then, that our societies are engines for accomplishing the predictions which assert the universal diffusion of Christianity, but they certainly are engines for accomplishing those predictions which define what must happen ere this universal diffusion takes place: they are instruments for effecting what must be preliminary to the Millennium, though they will not in any sense produce that Millennium.”
“We feel (and is this no cause of exultation ?) that with greater and greater distinctness is that sign being exhibited which must be displayed in its fulness, ere the Millennium can dawn, the sign announced in our text, that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness,' and that then, it is said, the end shall come.''
No. XV.–Page 264.
ON THE SEPARATE STATE.—BY W. CUNNINGRAME, ESQ , &c.
“ That the whole orthodox church in the first ages, held a doctrine on this point opposed to that of the moderns, may be seen by a reference to the fourth chapter of the learned work of Dr. T. Burnet, De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium, wherein he has collected a powerful body of evidence on this subject.”
“ Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, affirms that the souls of the pious remain in a better place,' εν χρειττονι που χωρω μενειν, the unjust and wicked in a worse place expecting the judgment.
“ Irenæus says, ' As the Lord went into the midst of the shadow of death (a term for Hades,) where the souls of the dead were, and afterwards rose in the body, and after his resurrection was received up; it is manifest also, that the souls of his disciples, on account of whom the Lord hath wrought these things, shall go into the invisible place, fixed for them by God, and shall dwell there till the resurrection, awaiting the resurrection : afterwards receiving bodies and rising perfect, that is, corporeally, in the same manner the Lord arose, they shall so come to the presence of God.'
“ Tertullian thus writes : ‘But if Christ, God and Man, having died according to the Scriptures, and having been buried, satisfied this law also, underwent the likeness of human death among those under the earth, and did not ascend into the highest heaven till he had descended into the lower parts of the earth, that he might there make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of himself : you have both grounds for believing in the region of the dead below the earth, and for refuting those who proudly enough do not consider the souls of the faithful as deserving of Hades, placing the servants above the master, disdaining the comfort of waiting for the resurrection in the bosom of Abraham.'
“ If we inquire into the sentiments of the earlier, or as they are usually called, the apostolic fathers, we find them in like manner, altogether silent upon the supposed glorification of the saints when they leave the body. Clement of Rome having recounted the labours, and sufferings and martyred death of Paul, merely affirms that. He departed out of the world, and went to a holy place.'
The author of the Physical Theory observes : “ We are taught to think of the state of souls, as a state, not of unconsciousness indeed, but of compara• tive inaction, or suspended energy :-it is, so far as we may gather its con
ditions from the scattered intimations of Scripture, a transition state, during the continuance of which the passive faculties of our nature, rather than the active, are awake; and throughout which, probably, those emotions of the moral nature that have been overborne, or held in abeyance, by the urgent impulses of animal life, shall take their free course, and reach their height, as fixed habits of the mind."
No. XVI.- Page 265.
ON THE SEPARATE STATE. BY THE REV. J. W. BROOKS,
“ It is very plain from the testimony of Justyn, that in the primitive church they held those not to be Christians, who maintained that souls are received up into heaven immediately after death. Irenæus ranks them, in his work against heresies, (lib. 5,) as among the heretical; and the testimony of the church is uniform on this point, (if we except some questionable passages in Cyprian,) down into Popish times : and indeed it was the general opinion of the Greek and Latin churches, down to the council of Florence, held under Pope Eugenius IV., in 1439. A passage from Bishop Taylor's Liberty of Prophesying (sect. VIII.) will set this matter in a clear light. When showing how doctrines of antiquity were sometimes contradicted in subsequent ages by councils, or by some ecclesiastic of power or popularity, he says, “That is a plain recession from antiquity, which was determined by the council of Florence,—Piorum animas puigatas, mox in cælum recipi, et intueri clare ipsum Deum trinum et unum sicuti est: (that the souls of the pious being purified, are immediately at death received into heaven, and behold clearly the triune God just as ludes, is, I suppose, the fact recorded in the history of this council by Creighton, who wrote in 1660, and in Geddes' Introductory Discourse to Varga's Letters; who state, that the Pope first inveigled the patriarch of Constantinople, and some of his clergy, to meet him at a council at Ferrara, which he then adroitly adjourned to Florence; and when the Greek ecclesiastics pleaded inability to bear the charges, he actually defrayed all their expenses himself. The patriarch died at Florence, and the Greek church (according to Gaspar Pencerus) not only disowned the acts of the clergy present, but excommunicated them, and denied them Christian burial.”
is :) for those who please to try may see it dogmatically resolved to the contrary by Justyn Martyr, Irenæus, Origen, Chrysostome, Theodoret, Arethas, Cæsariensis, Euthymius, who may answer for the Greek church. And it is plain that it was the opinion of the Greek church, by that great difficulty the Romans had of bringing the Greeks to subscribe to the Florentine council, where the Latins acted their master-piece of wit and stratagem,—the greatest that has been, till the famous and super-politic council of Trent. And for the Latin church, Tertullian, Ambrose, Austin, Hilary, Prudentius, Lactantius, Victorinus, and Bernard, are known to be of opinion, that the souls of the saints are in abditis receptaculis et exterioribus atriis, where they expect the resurrection of their bodies and the glorification of their souls; and though they all believe them to be happy, yet that they enjoy not the beatific vision before the resurrection.'
“ The stratagem employed by the Romanists to which bishop Taylor al
“The early Reformers maintained the primitive faith on this point, plainly perceiving that the object of the Papists was to help forward the doctrine of purgatory and invocation of saints. Thus Tyndal, disputing with the Papists, says, 'If the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good case as the angels be? and then what cause is there of the resurrection ?' (p. 324, Works by Fox.) And afterwards in reply to More, who objects against Luther, that his doctrine on this point encouraged the sinner to continue in sin, seeing it so long postponed the ultimate judgment, Tyndal says: Christ and his Apostles taught no other, but warned to look for Christ's coming again every hour ; which coming again, because ye believe it will never be, therefore have ye feigned that other merchandise.'
“Calvin also, in his Psychopannychia, replies thus, to another objection against this doctrine: 'I answer that Christ is our head, whose kingdom and glory have not yet appeared. If the members were to go before the head, the order of things would be inverted and preposterous. But we shall follow our Prince then, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and sit upon the throne of his majesty.' (p. 55.)
It is greatly to be lamented that the Protestant church of a later period should have fallen into the errors of the Papists on this subject, (abating the distinct acknowledgment of purgatory :) and that the Scottish church more particularly, should, in its Catechism, avow distinctly a belief, that the souls of believers ' pass immediately into glory; —a belief which cannot be supported by holy writ,—which is contrary to the general voice of the primitive church, —which echoes, to a great extent, the popish heresy on this subject, and which has done more than any other thing, perhaps, towards withdrawing from the church the lively expectation of Christ's advent.”
"I am indebted for what concerns the council of Florence in the above statement, (excepting the extract from Bishop Taylor,) to an anonymous work, entitled — An historical view of the Controversy concerning an Intermediate State, &c., between Death and the Resurrection,' a work written with no great honesty in behalf of the extreme opinion that the soul is in a state of unconsciousness and perishes at death : for the view which the fathers maintained on this particular point is carefully kept back. The reader who desires to see more of the testimony of the fathers may consult the learned work of Dr. Burnett, De statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium.”
No. XVII. - Page 280.
ON THE MILLENNIUM, &c.--BY THE REV. J. W. BROOKS AND DR. BOGUE.
“Dr. Mosheim observes : ' After the encomiums we have given to Origen, &c., it is not without deep concern we are obliged to add, that he also, by an unhappy method, opened a secure retreat for all sorts of errors, which a wild and irregular imagination could bring forth.' And after noticing that he abandoned the literal sense, and divided the hidden sense into moral and mystical, or spiritual, he adds: 'A prodigious number of interpreters, both in this and the succeeding ages, followed the method of Origen, though with some variations ; nor could the few who explained the sacred writings with judgment and a true spirit of criticism, oppose, with any success, the torrent of allegory that was overflowing the church.'” (Ch. Hist., cent. Ill., part 2., sect. 5, 6.) “ Milner, in his Church History, says somewhat similar ;– No man not altogether unsound and hypocritical, ever injured the church of Christ more than Origen did. From the fanciful mode of allegory, introduced by him, and uncontrolled by scriptural rule and order, there arose a vitiated method of commenting on the sacred pages ; which has been succeeded by the contrary extreme, viz., a contempt of types and figures altogether. And in a similar way his fanciful ideas of letter and spirit tended to remove from men's minds all just conceptions of genuine spirituality. A thick mist for ages pervaded the Christian world, supported and strengthened by his allegorical manner of interpretation. The learned alone were considered as guides implicitly to he followed; and the vulgar, when the literal sense was hissed off the stage, had nothing to do but to follow their authority, wherever it might lead them.' (Vol. 1., p. 469.)”
“Of those fathers from Origen to Jerome who decidedly took the Millenniarian view, the most eminent was Lactantius, who flourished in the time of Constantine the Great, about A.D. 310. He was considered the most learned of the Latin fathers, and his works abound with testimonies to the matter in hand.”
“Methodius, bishop of Olympus, who suffered martyrdom under Decius about A. D. 312, says, in his book on the Resurrection, written against Origen. • It is to be expected that at the conflagration, the creation shall suffer a vehement commotion, as if it were about to die, whereby it shall be renovated and not perish; to the end that we, then also renovated, may dwell in the renewed world, free from sorrow. Thus it is said in Ps. civ: Thou wilt send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou wilt renew the face of the earth, &c. For seeing that after this world there shall be an earth, of necessity there must be inhabitants.'
“The most important testimony in regard to the prevalence of the Millennial doctrine during the fourth century is, the countenance given to it by the council of Nice, called by Constantine the Great, A.D. 325. This council, besides their definition of faith and canons ecclesiastical, set forth certain diaTUT WOELS, or forms of ecclesiastical doctrines. Some of these are recorded