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may come short of these extremes, by various degrees. We believe that this is the case : and that it is so, till we come at length to some, who hold very few opinions on the subject of unfulfilled prophecy, but such as are also held by many, who are not numbered with their party. “ But they actually pretend,” says an objector, “ to assign the exact time of future events.” Who? Who pretend this ? Not all, we are certain. There may
be some such persons. But, for our own part, we never happened to meet with them ; and we have happened to meet with others, who plainly state that they make no such pretensions. They disavow the claim, altogether. The charge, then, of professing to know future times and seasons, is, as a general one, groundless; and arises from neglecting to look into the subject, and from making false assumptions. This charge, of professing to know the times, cannot be made generally, with truth. Indeed, for aught we, who are not prophets, know upon the subject, (and, really, most of us have taken very little trouble to know much about it,) some of those who pay particular attention to prophecy may, after all, have very moderate views upon the subject. And, in this case, the only real cause for apprehension will be, not as to their opinions, but as to the arguments which they may use in support of them. Let any person look at the statement, given at page 430 of our last volume. Now this is the statement of one, who writes as the opponent of views at present prevalent. Yet we question whether, among the students of prophecy, some might not be found, who would readily accept it, as a fair representation of their own sentiments.
Now, when we come to this, whatever difference there is, must be a difference to their advantage. The difference wilí then be, in the degree of attention which is given to the subject, in the degree of importance attached to it. And here we shall be disposed to maintain, that those who attach the greater degree are nearer the mark, than those who attach the less. Here are persons, who, in their views of prophecy, really differ, according to our supposition, but little from ourselves. The only matter is, that, in studying the subject, they are more in earnest. Many of us they see careless and indifferent; and that makes them more in earnest still. Then, we say, they, after all, are nearer the mark than we are. “ I have hope toward God,” said St. Paul, “ which they themselves also allow.” That is, his opponents merely allowed the hope of a resurrection, while St. Paul cherished that hope in his heart. Which of these do some of us resemble most? Are we not merely allowing all the great things promised to the church, and barely that?
And are not others anxiously expecting, and desiring them? And is not this, after all, what really makes a great part of the difference, between the two parties now at issue? Then, we say, let us exercise due discrimination. If there be any who wrest the word of God ; if there be any who are, directly or indirectly, subverting true doctrine; if there be any who are drawing away the minds of men, from the great truths of the
First, Gospel ;-proclaim them, expose them, denounce then. take care to be quite sure of the fact; then, lay open the evil with an unsparing hand. But if there be any who are in earnest, while you are lukewarm; if there be any who pay attention to the whole of Scripture, while there are parts to which you pay no attention whatever; if there be any, who are in that expecting frame, as to the great events predicted, which, the Scriptures tell us, is the right frame, while you admit not those events to a place either in your creed, your sermons, or your hearts; then consider whether you have not been unjust; then consider whether you have not indulged and propagated groundless prejudices, tending to confound right and wrong, and to obscure the truth; then consider, at any rate, whether you have hitherto sufficiently discriminated, in uniting, under one sentence, those whose real sentiments and characters, unknown to you, have most widely differed. With all the loose talking of the present day, we conceive that there has been no where more loose talking, than among those who talk against the prophets.
II. Our first object, then, was to recommend discrimination. Our next is, to promote Peace. But here our designs and wishes are of a much more extensive kind. We are persuaded, that some prompt and decided effort, to keep the peace of the church of Christ which is amongst us, requires to be now made on the very largest scale. It was our intention to have introduced, into the present Number, some statements of our future designs, as to the mode of conducting, if it be the Lord's will that we should conduct, the Christian Review. This intention, we have been led, by circumstances, to abandon for the present. Yet thus much it may here be proper to say, at once; that one object, very near our heart, is to make it a main endeavour of our work, to promote and establish peace.
We mean, particularly, peace within the walls of the church of Christ. For what is the present aspect of the times, as far as the church is concerned? The feature which strikes us as most alarming, is a general tendency to division and separation. We are not speaking of a disposition to separate from the Christian church, on the part of its enemies. This is common to every age. We are speaking of a tendency to separation and division, the tokens of which we now think we can very clearly discern, within the church itself. The causes which are at work, to produce such sad results, are various Fissures and openings are already beginning to shew themselves : one of which has its origin in the divisions upon the subject of prophecy. What happiness should we feel, if in any measure it should be our lot, to aid in healing the breaches, which are thus making their
! We call upon all to lend their help. Even now, while the storm is only commencing, and the waves are beginning to swell, let us pour_oil upon the waters.But where, alas ! have we that oil? Rather let us all unite in calling upon Him, whose voice the seas obey; that He may rebuke and suspend the tempest, ere it burst in all its fury; and say, with potent accents, to the elements already marshalled for the conflict, “ Peace, be still."
As to the manner, in which those whom we call the prophets have been dealt with, we have actually felt sore about it. We hesitate not to say it: they have been ill-treated. We belong not to their number. We may some day give proof of this. But the manner in which they have been used, we can hardly think of without pain. The church of Christ, in her treatment of this portion of her children, seems really to have departed from her true character. Her true character is kind, parental, maternal. Her treatment of this part of her children, has been harsh, ungracious, and intolerant. Really we can hardly help suspecting, that cowardice has had its influence in this business. A belief in the coming of the Millenium, and in unfulfilled prophecy generally, brings discredit with the world. Yet there was a time, when believers felt a common pleasure, in these joyful anticipations. Now, we are sorry to say, there seems, on the part of many, to be a shrinking from them. Some, in opposing particular views, contrive to oppose them in such a way; as to convey an idea, that they have no views upon the sub jects Are we wrong in mentioning cowardice? What shall we say, then? Surely laziness has had its share in the business, Surely there has been an indisposition to look into the subject, because of the trouble ; because of the necessary expenditure of labour, thought, and time. Hence, surely, the outcry. Hence, surely, the trying and the condemning without a hearing. Hence, surely, the readiness of all to speak unfavourably of that, whereof few or none are able to give any account. " But really our zeal for the truth; and our desire to keep out false doctrine"-False doctrine? Beware of that plea, for it will not stand. The fact is, that the church is not so very vigilant, at present, to keep out false doctrine. In other quarters, there is great want of zeal, in
guarding against false doctrine. We fear the too general tendency is, rather, to concession and compromise. We have got off from the plain, honest, intelligible, Calvinistic ground, of the last generation of divines, the Scotts, the Newtons, and the Romaines; and therefore we hardly know, on what ground we are standing. And then to raise a particular cry of alarm, as to false doctrine among the prophets :-indeed, indeed, this is rather too bad. Ah, we can draw towards our enemies—but we can be very valiant against our friends.
Come, then. Let us resolve that, from this time forward, we will treat our prophetical brethren better than we have done. Let us at least bear with them, if we will do no more. Let us call on them to unite with us against the common enemy; who, with howls and yells, is, even now, coming on to attack us from without. At any rate, let us, without being offended, suffer them to study an important subject, which we, too many of us, neglect. Let us have peace. Do we mean, let us have a compromise? No. But really there has been, of late, so much prejudice upon this subject, so many heart-burnings, so much ill-will, that we have felt the restoration of peace to be the first thing. It is no time, now, to augment the flames. It is rather a time to run with a bucket of water in each hand, to put them out. And we have said within ourselves; There have been so many hard thoughts, and so many
hard words :-let us reserve to ourselves the right, indeed,
of protesting against novel opinions at any future period :—but, for the present, let us try and have one Number of the Christian Review, with nothing in it against the prophets.
In fact, where two parties are divided, it will frequently be found that each has something right. Now apply this to the present division, on the subject of prophecy. Here we have, in the Bible, two distinct ideas. One is the idea of benefit to the Gentiles, from the fulness of the Jews. The other is that of benefit to the Jews, from the fulness of the Gentiles. We have these two ideas, not only both in the Bible, but both in one chapter. In the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, they will both be found. First, verse 12 : “ Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles ; how much more their fulness?" Here we have the idea of benefit to the Gentiles, from the fulness of the Jews. But secondly, verses 25, 26 :
“ Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.” Here we have the idea of benefit to the Jews, from the fulness of the Gentiles. Thus both these ideas occur in one chapter : there exists between them
an obvious parallelism : each evidently bears upon the other : and yet we question whether this has ever been properly noticed, or pointed out; and whether the light thus mutually imparted, by the connection between the two, was ever discovered. And, meanwhile, one class of interpreters goes on, perhaps, looking only for the fulness of the Jews; another class of interpreters goes on, looking only for the fulness of the Gentiles; neither being conscious, that, all the while, the Bible holds forth both; and that therefore the view which embraces both can be the only true one; and that, whichever we hold, if we hold it singly, we may learn something from those who hold the other.
As to the alarm, arising from the increased attention to the study of prophecy, we think there is one circumstance, which might tend especially to allay it. The Bible provides a certain safeguard, which is a kind of PLEDGE for our assurance, that the danger shall not be so great as we apprehend. For, though the investigation seems to conduct to the study of many things, that appear unprofitable, it yet conducts to the study of one thing, which is of the highest moment. It leads, we mean, to the very particular study of the atonement, because it leads to the study of the types. A man who has not studied the types, knows not, in all its length and breadth, knows not in all its height and depth, knows not in all its grandeur and glory, what the doctrine of the atonement is. But when, on the contrary, à man has been led to receive such a view of the atonement, as the types are calculated to give him, then that man may have an appearance of lightness and instability, in some superficial and exterior matters, or to the superficial and exterior observer; but he is likely to have a depth of knowledge, and of insight into the great mystery of godliness, which he could not otherwise possess; and which, applied to his heart, and sanctified by Divine grace, will tend so to establish him, that he shall, in, effect, however unstable he may appear to others, be rooted, grounded, settled in the faith. Like the pine, whose lofty top bends, indeed, before the mountain wind, but whose gnarled fibres take hold upon the rock beneath, with more than an iron gripe ; or like some gallant ship, that, carrying her royals high but her ballast deep, heels in the passing squall, yet still drives on, with measured sweep, and ploughs her stately course; so shall it be with the believer, who is thus grounded in Christ. The view which he has thus received, gives him many advantages, which others have not. The doctrine of the atonement requires, if we would view it aright, to be viewed in a thousand lights. Yet there are many, it is to be feared, who do not so view it, They have learnt the doctrine, not from the Scriptures, but from
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