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“ Expository preaching possesses the high recommendation of fixing the special attention of a hearer upon the word of God. If an audience could be made to listen each with an open Bible in his hand; if they could, as the preacher proceeds, be incited to trace, from sentence to sentence, and from doctrine to doctrine, God's own unerring testimony; and if they could, at the close of each service, "search the Scriptures,' to compare 'spiritual things with spiritual,' to meditate upon the law of the Lord;' and to experience a longing of soul after God's statutes ;' they would then, doubtless, be in the way to attain, in the highest degree, and the noblest excellence, the results of Christian instruction.
“A modern methodical discourse, when the doctrines of it are sound, and the spirit of it is devotional, and the practical appeals of it are faithful, will not fail, indeed, to feed the flock of God;' and it will not be the less successful, that a textual discourse is virtually but an expanded exposition of Scripture, and that even a pulpit essay, when stamped with the impress of truly evangelical preaching, abounds with Scripture quotations and allusions : still the expository lecture—the oration which explains verse by verse, or, clause by clause, a section of the divine word, is what the primitive Christians appear to have thought most edifying," and it merits general adoption.
Professor Vaughan observes: “It may be proper to remark that at the commencement of the thirteenth century, two methods of performing this service (preaching) had prevailed. These were technically called declaring" and “postillating." According to the former, the preacher commenced by announcing the subject on which he meant to discourse; and proceeded to deliver what, in modern language, is called an oration, or an essay, rather than a sermon. To postillate was to commence by reading a portion of Scripture, and then taking its parts in the order of the writer, to offer such remarks upon them as were fitted to explain their meaning and secure their application.
To the latter method, with that now called lecturing, or exposition, another was added about this period, and one by which the ancient practice of “declaring" was, ere long, nearly abolished, and the far better custom of “ postillating” was rendered much less frequent. The sacred text had been recently divided into its present order of chapters ; and the logic to which the schoolmen, (or learned men, belonging principally to the universities,) were so devoted, suggested the selection of some brief portion of Scripture as the basis of a sermon, and also that the matter to be discussed, should be divided in the manner still so frequently adopted by preachers. The sacred writings were too highly valued by Wycliffe to be dispensed with as the obvious foundation of the instructions delivered by him from the pulpit: the motive, also, which led him to avoid the practice of “declaring" appears to have rendered him doubtful concerning the utility of the new scholastic method of teaching, and to have determined his general preference to the expository method.”
No. XIV.-- Page 257.
ON PREACHING THE GOSPEL AS A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS.
BY TIE REV. H. MELVILL.
“. This gospel 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 aceomplished 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. CUNNINGHAME, 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, aifirms 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 testiinony 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 ainong 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 purgatas, 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
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
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.”
“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 re 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."