« ZurückWeiter »
beyond all question; and we are thus presented with a splendid instance of the indefeasible certainty with which the receiver of God's truth, the hoper of no peradventure, may, standing on the limit of things existing, contemplate, and in faith lay out, that futurity which so mocks the tiny and tenureless but incessant conjectures of the ungodly, whom it ever haunts, and who are ever longing to usurp and abuse it. The very craving of all men for an insight into the future issues of even the most ordinary events, and the looseness of those probabilities which they would rather adopt as their guides than consent to look away from the future, only prove how slavishly they would shape their conduct by it, if they only knew it: and it is not more a foul stain on the faith than a strange anomaly in the constitution of the saints, that when they do know it, in regard to God's works, they heed it so little ; and that, when they may know it better, they care so little to investigate and employ it. It is not the shallowest of Satan's arts, to deter those who tremble at the word of the Lord from proceeding beyond the limits of mere routine in their acquaintance with its contents, by the fear of seeking to be wise above what is written, or by the reflection that the essentials are better without the curiosities of faith. What, are not our fruits the only things about us which glorify God? Is not the understanding of the word the only mean whereby the Spirit brings these fruits forth in us? Is not the whole of that word intended to be so understood ? Is it not all for edification, just as truly as-just because—it is all the inspiration of God? Or are men to sit its self-constituted, its blasphemous judges; and decide that this is essential, that not so; this edifying, that curious; (or, to be Papists at once) this “necessary and useful,” that's
unnecessary and useless ?” True enough it is, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church: but is it enough to say, with most misnamed, most unbelieving, most Godwithstanding simplicity, either that we will bid away from us as unnecessary all revealed knowledge as to the principle on which, or the manner in which, the church shall have the victory, being content with the fact; or to refuse all inquiry whether such additional revelation appear in the word of God, or not? What is this but to say how little God ought to have revealed-perhaps, how much less than he has ? What is it but to avow salvation as the final object of the new man; God's glory therein as a thing which may be blindly subserved, but needs not be sovereignly regarded ? What is it but to avow, if any thing, a care to reach a selfish heaven, in a condition as meagre, as ignorant, as possible, except in the varied catalogue and deep sinuosities of spiritual pathology? Satan may prevent our knowledge of the word; he may puff us up, he may betray us, thereby: but the general proposition is true beyond question, that in Divine things edification keeps pace with knowledge-if we would not deny either the wisdom or the aim of revelation. If it does, then it follows that he whose knowledge regarding the future state of the church, however true, is vague, must be less edified than he who has more definite knowledge: and it is no less true, that if what is Scriptural is edifying, then what is unscriptural is much more than not edifying—it impedes edification ;—so that if the man who is convinced that vague opinions as to the future are less edifying than definite opinions, does, in seeking the latter, adopt those which are unscriptural, such an adoption must retard, instead of hastening, his growth. No opinion whatever, regarding Divine things, can be merely neutral, merely innocent : first, because it must be either Scriptural or contrary to Scripture; for of Divine things not in Scripture we know nothing: If the former, we may take God's word (if we can persuade ourselves to prefer it to our own experience in these unbelieving days), that, whether apparently or not, it must be edifying: If the latter, then, speak experience as it may in favour of its effects, we may, on the same warrant, assuredly believe that it must ultimately be contrary to edification, on this simple principle, that, in reference to the things of God, Christ is THE TRUTH, and God's word concerning him the only truth ; and that whatever it does not contain, in regard to these things, is positively of the devil,the father of all lies. Now either the hopes and fears, the future hazards and woes and deliverances of the church, must be left in perfect silence and disregard, or they must be set forth as God has set them forth. And let no man, therefore, who is not prepared to keep silence on the future altogether, come forward to tax prophetic investigation with mere curiosity and unprofitableness. God wills that his church should know what he will do with her: from him alone may she learn it: at her peril let her refuse to learn, or decline to inquire ; still more at her peril let her learn of Himself.
It is under the weight of these considerations that the ensuing application of the seven epistles to history, past, present, and future, is undertaken. That the church shall yet have great blessedness on earth, all admit. How and when that shall be affected, are the questions in debate. That Christ shall come in judgment on a backslidden church, and himself conduct the millennial reign, will in all probability abundantly appear from the sequel : it is the truth of God: but, granting it a mere probability, and contemplating its fearful contrast to the opinions generally received, the
resolution not to try its truth is in itself a woful symptom. It has ever been seen, that God brings to pass his words in ways which none but a few are prepared for, and the reverse of which the many anticipate. If the
state of the Laodicean church be impending, and the great day of the Lord be nigh, while men are all the while looking for a millennium from ordinary agency, methinks that man who would fear or fail to warn his brethren in love, while knowing the former, were not less than a religious traitor. From this millennial illusion, in the hope of which men are now walking after their own imaginations (2 Pet. iii. 4), Lord, do thou in great mercy disabuse them!
We now proceed to interpret the seven epistles, trusting that we shall be enabled to shew, not only the perfect accuracy of the application, but also the wonderful wisdom with which the address to each church is framed in terms which, alike by what they import and by what they do not import, mark out the church and period with almost unparalleled effect and beauty.
(To be continued.)
ESSAYS ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON.-NO, I. The title of the book in the Hebrew Bibles is simply “ The Song of Songs ;” an expression which indicates, as I think, not so much the excellence of the work, as the peculiarity of its structure. It is a song, or chaunt, consisting of many songs; whereof some are in the present tense, others retrospective, and others altogether prospective, or prophetic; the whole constituting a divine opera, declaratory of the catholic sentiment of the church universal, from the time that the kingdom of heaven was opened to all believers, until the time of our Lord's second advent.
I conceive that it is called the Song of Solomon both because Solomon was, under Divine inspiration, its author; and because the purport of the whole of its contents has respect to the true Solomon, the King of peace, who is also the King of righteousness, and Priest of the Most High God for ever (Heb. vii. 1-3).
The first song to be found in the Bible is that of Moses (Exod. xv.) which himself and the children of Israel sang unto the Lord on the day of their baptism (as a nation, 1 Cor. x. 2) in the Red Sea ; when the Lord separated them from the hosts of their oppressors by the interposition of his own presence (Exod. xiv. 20); when the armies of Pharaoh were overwhelmed before their face; when the Lord their Redeemer led them forth, guiding them in his strength, unto his holy habitation. (See Rev. xv. 3.) “ And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. VOL. II.-NO, II.
In Numbers xxi. 16 we find another song, which the children of Israel sang at the fords of Arnon : " Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: the princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by (direction of) the lawgiver, with their staves.” (See Numb. xx. 9, with 1 Cor. x. 4.) The song of Moses in Deut. xxxii., and that of Deborah and Barak in Judges v., are further examples of song, when Israel had as yet no temple service.
It is evident that the bride, or heroine, in this divine poem still waits for the enjoyment of personal intercourse with her beloved (i. 7; ii. 7, 8; iii. l; iv. 6, 16 ; v. 2, 8; vi. 1, 2;
1 vii. 12; viii. 1, 4, 14); she hath not yet given him her loves (vii. 11): yet she constantly hears his voice, and ever anticipates his approach (ii. 8; vi. 11); realizing, in the ardour of her faith
B and love, the substance, and evidence, the perfect hope of enjoyments not yet actually in her possession.
She imagines him to be in her arms, in chap. ii. 6; while in the very next sentence she declares that he is still asleep (ver. 7); and presently hears his voice at a distance (ver. 8); and afterwards expresses her wish that he were but as her brother, whom she might be permitted to bring into her mother's house (viii. 1-3).
The only explanation that can be afforded of these apparent inconsistencies, is to be found in the nature of FAITH.
She who entertains a well-authorized and perfect faith in her Betrothed, united to a pure and entire love of his person, must anticipate his actual embrace. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ;”- the present realization in idea of things which are to be realized in fact hereafter; the present possession in spirit, of that which waiteth for its manifestation unto sense.
By faith we understand that the worlds” (the æons, or ages) “ were constituted by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Heb. xi. 3). It is not wonderful, therefore, that the church, apprehending by faith the word of the won to come—the fiat or promise which shall give unto all things their being, their form, and whatever else they shall possess in that day-it is not wonderful, I say, that she should be found expressing herself as if those things were already in her possession. She hath already the reality of their substance, and the only evidence of their reality, in the WORD which she hath believed ; and which alone, in the time appointed, shall produce them. That word of
, God, through the operation of God believed (even as we believe and know the present fact of our own existence), is itself the substance and the evidence, and all but the demonstration, of the æon, or age, of which I am speaking: for “ heaven
and earth shall be dissolved, and pass away, but that word shall not pass away."
Furthermore : as the spirit of a man may in no wise be said to intervene between his head and any of his members, but is indeed the very bond of union that maketh the animal frame but one individual, whatever may be the number of its members even so “ by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. xii. 12, 13). “As he who bruiseth, or in any way hurteth, one of my fingers, hurteth me ; even so have I learned from the Scriptures, that whosoever offendeth any member of Christ's mystical body, offendeth him (Matt. xviii. 5, 6 ; xxv. 40, 45: Heb. iv. 15: Isai. Ixiii. 9: Coloss. i. 24). And as it is the law of my hand, notwithstanding its perpetual involuntary trembling, or occasional convulsion, to be moved by my will; so do I read that “it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do according to his own good pleasure” (Phil. ii. 13): his life is ours (2 Cor. iv. 10, 11; Gal. ii. 20; Coloss. iii. 3); and as he is, so are we, in this world (1 John iv. 17).
And as all science, that is not “ falsely so called," doth testify to the truth of God (Rom.i. 20); so do we learn from the discovery of Archimedes in the bath *, that corporeal unity is only an error of sense, an optical deception; or at best a mere hypothesis, an imperfect expression of the positive unity of substance (that is, of the word of Him who created all things by the breath of his mouth, Psa. xxxiii. 6; who upholdeth all things by the word of his power, Heb. i. 3 ; whose word therefore is the 178, the base, the substans, even as Himself is 278, the Lord of every creature), or of the real and actual unity of spiritnamely, as exemplified in the body of man, which without the spirit is dead, and hastening into dissolution, the opposite of union (James ii. 26).
Although, indeed, the omnipresent Spirit of God is a distinct Person from the Son of God and from the Father, yet the Godhead is only one. Where the Holy Ghost is present, there also the Son is present, and there the Father also : as it is written, “ If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John xiv. 23). “For thus saith the High and Lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;
The various specific gravities of bodies plainly shew that some contain a greater quantity of matter than others of equal bulk, or, in other words, a greater number of the ultimate particles of matter within the same space : hence it is evident that the ultimate particles of the heaviest body save one, are not in absolute contact, but might be still further compressed into the smaller space occupied by an equal weight of the heaviest of all : while even this last admits of the addition of electric matter, or of caloric, in various quantities, without a proportional increase of its busk. The specific gravity of the diamond (the hardest or all bodies) is 3.5; that of quicksilver 13.5.