« AnteriorContinuar »
TRIUNE LORD HIMSELF EVEN AS
CLEARLY BEHOLD THE HE IS.” But whence are these words ? from what book of Scripture, from what record of the primitive church, have they been derived ? “ I go," said Christ to his disciples, " to prepare a place for you : and if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, AND RECEIVE YOU unto myself, that where I am ye may be also ” (John xiv. 2). Here it is plain enough, that the glorious place prepared by Christ for his saints is not possessed by them until he comES AGAIN.
Then indeed, according to the intercessory prayer (John xvii. 24), the saints shall be together with Christ, and shall behold his glory :.“1 shall be satisfied, O Lord, WHEN I AWAKE with thy likeness (Psalm xvii. 15).
It seems equally incongruous with the Scriptures and with sound reason, either to require supreme punishment, or to expect supreme rewards, before they have been decreed in judgment, and their respective causes shewn; and the Scriptures speak of no judgment before the end of the world. That is
the day in which God will judge the orb of the earth (nolkovuevn) by Christ” (Acts xvii. 31)? Then shall every work be tried” (1 Cor. xi. 15): “ Then shall every one receive according to what he bath done in the body" (2 Cor. v. 10): Then are "the thrones placed, and the books opened, and the dead judged according to their deeds” (Apoc. xx. 11--13): then are the righteous and unrighteous separated, the sheep from the goats; those being placed on the right hand of the Lord, and these on his left; and upon both he pronounces sentence. For this we receive from Christ's own mouth (Matt. xxv. 31 et seq.) : " When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...Then also he shall say to those on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Behold the time, behold the method, the rewards, and punishments, and the sentence of execution pronounced; and all these things future-namely, “. come.” But if it be objected that these things are to be understood of the general judgment only; and that there is, besides that, a secret and particular judgment, which is instituted immediately after death, and received by every human spirit on its exit from the body; Produce the texts, if you please ; direct us to those sacred Scriptures which attest it, that we may see
THE SON OF MAN SHALL
whether they demonstrate any such thing. The passages we have cited are before you, as clear as light itself; and they indicate nothing concerning a previous judgment, but rather exclude the idea. In matters of this sort, which rest upon Divine will and the revelation that God hath vouchsafed to us, we may not according to our own will prescribe a new order, to serve our hypotheses. It is true enough that every human spirit, on its exit from the body, undergoes a tacit and private judgment, inasmuch as it is conscious in itself of the good or evil
which it hath previously transacted; and carries in its bosom its own witness, and its sentence also; and recognises in that dispensation and affection which it experiences THE PRESENCE of a propitious or of an offended God*; and discerns, yea, sees as already imminent, the fate decreed upon it: but all this realizes nothing without, all this transpires within the spirit; which, nevertheless, continues in one and the same place, state, and habit, till the resurrection.
We have remarked before, that the resurrection is rendered useless by the Roman Church ; when it forestals the glory of the saints ; and we may add, that the general judgment is rendered no less superfluous by the same violation of Divine order. For if every one be judged already according to his deeds; if the just and the unjust be now separated—those enjoying heaven and the sight of God, these tormented with punishments external as well as internal-then what need for any future judgment? what is it to effect? or upon what actions is it held? Was the former judgment erroneous, that it requires to be renewed ? or do THE DAMNED APPEAL? Surely you dare not suppose it. But you will say, that the sentences pronounced and executed in private, should be demonstrated equitable and righteous before the whole world. This were intelligible, if the injured party could lodge a complaint; but you have supposed that every one condemned is self-condemned ; and slowly enough, upon your supposition, is the question of the equity of their punishment examined, when they shall have already suffered the torments of gehenna for ages : and, on the other hand, equally preposterous were an inquiry into the justice of their rewards who have been possessed of all the joys of heaven, not for ages only, but for thousands of years.
Ånd, to return to the resurrection : Let us see what the Papal theology teaches us concerning it. The Romanists say, that the bliss of the human spirit is not more intense after the resurrection
As“ the man after God's own heart” rejoiceth to acknowledge, “ Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there : IF I MAKE MY BED IN HADES, BEHOLD
(Psalm cxxxix. 8); so the bereaved Patriarch, “THERE 18 NO DARKNESS, NOR SHADOW OF DEATH WHERE THE WORKERS OF
(Job xxxiv. 22).
THOU ART THERE
MAY HIDE THEMSELVES
than before; or, to be accurate *, “ That the glory of human spirits is not augmented in the resurrection, unless in extent, not in intensity” (Bellarm. de Beat. Sanct. chap. ii. & v.)—unless accidentully, and not in itself ; the spirit remaining in the same beatific vision of God, in the same light, in the same glory, in the same perfection of its functions, in the same intrinsic bliss, which it had before, according to these theologians. How small an accession of good accrues from the resurrection of the dead ! How ill do their words agree with those of St. Paul! (1 Cor. xv.) Is this trivial addition of enjoyment the all, “ without which, saith the inspired Apostle, “we are of all men most miserable" (ver. 19); without which he esteems the immortality of the spirit as nothing ; without which he would direct our hope to this life alone (ver. 32); apart from which he mentions nowhere all that previous bliss, whether you call it the beatific vision, or by any other name? Then only he expects his reward; THEN also his crown (2 Tim. iv. 8); thence he procures consolation under every trial, and against death itself (1 Thess. iv. 14, 18). What St. Paul calls “ an exceeding eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. xiv. 17; Rom. viii. 18—23; Eph. i. 10-14), they of the apostasy regard as a trivial overflow; and what St. Peter calls « a crown of glory which fadeth not away” (1 Pet. v. 4), they account a mere appendage of our glory, and not the chief nor a principal part of it.
Lastly: The Lord Jesus Christ himself hath taught us not to antipicate nor expect the redemption of the saints before the end of the world (Luke xiv. 14; xxi. 28); and he promises not any retribution before the resurrection of the just: so opposite to the doctrine of the Gospel are the decrees of the Roman church on this point. That which the Apostles, the blessed martyrs, the ancient fathers, esteemed as the chief promise of the Gospel, the foundation of the Christian faith, the anchor of hope, is rendered, according to those decrees, all but void, useless, and superfluous. And be it remembered, that Christ hath purchased that redeemed life, that renewed hope, with no less a price than his own life, and confirmed it by bis own resurrection (1 Pet. i. 3,21; Heb. ii. 14; 2 Tim. i. 105. And him that rises not, he treats as lost, in that sacred discourse of John vi. 39, &c.; as also doth St. Paul, in his memorable argument to the Corinthians, 1. Cor. xv. 16–18.
This, then, is the miraculous operation of the Divine energy, even the victory and the triumph of God in DEATH ITSELF made manifest this the summit of our perfection; for which we strive; to which we all aspire (Philip. iii. 10); and beyond it, ambition (however great) hath not an aim.
* Animarum gloriam non augendam esse in resurrectione : nisi extensive, non intensivè.
lutely to reject the truth, he insinuated a pernicious error in their minds. Taking advantage of the false spirit of love, and unsanctified, anti-christian benevolence, which he had been long infusing into their hearts, he found a soil well prepared for the reception of his damnable doctrine of universal redemption ;-a doctrine not only in direct contradiction to many express declarations of God's word, but utterly at variance with every object that is revealed as to be answered by the incarnation and death of the Son of God; by the creation, fall, and redemption of man. This error spread far and wide: many of God's own children were deceived; and, if they did not absolutely embrace it, received so much of it as for a long time to unsettle their minds, and unhinge their whole scheme of divinity: while indolent and ignorant preachers either did not perceive its consequences, or were too indifferent to their duty to warn men of its danger.
As, in calculating the value of the services of Luther and Knos, we must refer to the times, and the grossness of the practices which they were raised
up to overthrow; so must we call to mind the state of the church, when we are forming an estimate of the powers
of the man whom the Lord raised up to be His witness in another day. While the majority of professors of religion were in the state of mawkish sentimentality which we bave above describedwhining and puling about Christian love, although hating God's revealed character in their hearts--Mr. Vaughan was prepared of God to withstand the delusion that Satan had introduced. He performed this office in the most effectual, if not in the only, way in which it is possible to meet this heresy; which is, by reference to as much of the ultimate end and purpose of God in all his intermediate acts as is revealed in God's word. The subject has been handled by many divines, among the most eminent of whom may be named Hooker, Charnock, Edwards, and Williams. The first refers to it only by the way, in the course of a treatise on another matter. Charnock takes a more extended view, as the nature of his work required he should do, but without bringing it to bear upon any one specific point. President Edwards alludes to it only in reference to Arminian errors : and Williams has written with one great fallacy running through his work, which makes some reject it as altogether deceptious; while others receive it, fallacy and all, without being able to discriminate between them. The form, therefore, which the present heresy has assumed, required Mr. Vaughan to treat the subject in a manner different from all his eminent predecessors.
There are two principal methods on which an argument may be constructed. The one is, by announcing the proposition intended to be proved at the commencement of the oration, and following it up by a series of proofs : the other is, by stealing
on the hearers gradually, and winning them to the conclusion at which it is meant to bring them, without exciting any opposition to their previous prejudices. Both these modes have been used by the masters of rhetoric. Demosthenes seems to have availed himself of them indiscriminately, without giving one a preference over the other. Aristotle points them out; as does also Cicero, in his treatise de Oratore, observing that he used both, but without stating his reasons for employing one or the other. Mr. Vaughan usually adopted the former. Much may be said in favour of both. In the present day of superficial knowledge and apathy in religion, it may be well to state at once some startling proposition, which shall have the effect at least of rouzing the auditors out of their “death-like stilness and their dread repose.” On the.other hand, so great is the ignorance of religionists, and so little are they in the habit of reflecting or of reasoning, that the plainest truths will be rejected, unless supported by some name in repute amongst them. Examples of this are seen in the universality with which the facts connected with the second coming of the Lord were branded by the whole of the Evangelical oracles as new! and the flippancy with which, in their folly, they called the orthodox creed of our Lord's true humanity a heresy.--Mr. Vaughan's object is thus described by himself.' By popular essays,' the author means essays
addressed to the common people, as distinct from the learned ; • and by this title holds himself excused from going at large • into the investigation and defence of every assertion and reference which he may introduce into his work. Following the
advice of a judicious prelate, he aims to write “ dogmatically * rather than controversially ;." but desires it to be understood,
that he advances nothing without serious thought, and some • research. He begs his reader not to be dismayed if he meet with a word or sentence here and there which he does not instantly comprehend. Before he has finished the number or essay, he ' will probably find some light thrown upon it which removes his difficulty. The secrets of God cannot be received or told at once. The author stipulates, therefore, for patience, atten* tion, and repeated rumination. The thoughtless, the super
ficial, and the desultory, will either disdain to read, or quickly • throw aside so dull, so laborious, so unpersuasive a performance. • The author has not rigidly adhered to the received version in his long and multiplied quotations from the Scriptures. Whilst he admires the simplicity, energy, and numerous arrangement
of that version, and is ever ready to maintain that it constitutes 'a fair transcript of the original volume, sufficiently accurate • for general use; still, in collecting and reciting the testimony of God upon any proposed subject, he deems it necessary to exercise a scrupulous fidelity in the rendering of every word,
VOL. I.NO, IV.