Page images

sively added to up to the period of the return from Babylon and the building of the second Temple. We know from our Saviour's doctrine, and from the application of prophecies and types of the Old Testament, that much was intimated concerning the christian dispensation, and much also concerning the millennial; yet were they, "whilst under the law, kept shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed." Next came the revelation to the christian Church; the character of which on the one hand is, that life and immortality are brought to light; whilst on the other hand we are assured, "that we know but in part, and see through a glass (or rather, in an enigma) darkly."

Again, each decidedly marked æra in the history of the Church has not only been accompanied by an increase of revelation, but by a disannulling or superseding something going before. How few of the traditions which were in the early Church, and by which it was mainly guided until the giving of the Law, are preserved in the Pentateuch. And how fallen into disuse are the ceremonial and civil law, which formed nevertheless so large a portion of the Mosaical dispensation. These things are indeed by no means unprofitable: many, if not most of them, are still shadows of good things to come; and all serve to reflect light upon the things now possessed. But it is nevertheless evident, that their use is exceedingly different now, to what it was when they existed as ordinances of worship in the Church; and this essential change in the use and application of them it is, that bespeaks us to be now under a dispensation differing from the Mosaical. When therefore a similar difference shall exist in the use of the New Testament revelation, it will be equally manifest that a new dispensation has arrived. Nor will the Scriptures, superseded in the Millennium, be devoid of interest or use; but they will serve in the way of retrospect and memorial:* excepting some very few passages, respecting the little season when Satan shall be loosed and the events which are to follow. At the Millennium then, will be fulfilled more completely, as I apprehend, the prophecy of Joel: "And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I "will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the

b Gal. iii. 23.

c1 Cor. xiii. 12.

Thus the manna given in the wilderness ceased on the entering of the Church into the promised land; but a pot of it was laid up in the ark as a me morial. Thus also the Lamb of the Passover shadowed forth the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus which was to be; and the bread and the wine are the memorial of the same.

servants and handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit." (Joel ii. 28, 29.)

There are one or two other circumstances characteristic of a new dispensation, which may still further serve to illustrate the case in point by analogy. In every successive state of the Church man has always been put afresh upon his trial, but under different circumstances; it being apparently one of the objects of God to teach his redeemed, experimentally, the impossibility of continuing upright, by their own strength, however varied their circumstances and advantages. Thus, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times," they will have a most unequivocal conviction, that they would fall, were they not sustained by the special grace of God. It is a lesson not only to be learned by men, but to be exhibited also to the thrones and principalities in heavenly places; that the elect angels may likewise comprehend the footing on which they stand.

How awfully instructive is the history of the Church in this respect! We see man placed first in a state of innocence, enjoying occasional intercourse with his Creator; he is tempted, and he falls. Being now in some measure taught by fatal experience, having acquired also the knowledge of good and evil, he nevertheless presently apostatizes again, and the whole human race, excepting eight persons, is swept away! After the flood we know, from the attempt to build Babel, and from the state of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Canaanitish nations, how little the world had gained by the further experience granted to it; but (to keep more immediately to the history of the Church) the Law is now given, and man is to be restrained or stimulated by various threats and promises, given under circumstances awfully impressive; he is to enjoy a great increase of divine revelation; and is to witness numerous remarkable evidences of the divine power, providence and glory. Wonderfully increased are his advantages now: neverthelesshe falls! Next he passes into the spiritual dispensation, the superior advantages of which cannot be better described than in the words of our Lord and those of his apostles after him. "Verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."-"For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory." We know, however, from the prophecies already considered, that in the latter days of this dispensation men will again fall away from God. We have indeed already witnessed Matt. xii. 17; 2 Cor. iii. 9.

instances of kingdoms and states, which have either corrupted the truth of God, or forsaken it; and we have seen, alas! that sad indications are prevalent, throughout the Christian Church, of a spirit of increasing apostasy from God. The millennial state will succeed; and this will apparently combine all the various advantages hitherto enjoyed. There will be the open vision of Christ, angelic intercourse, the concentration (as it were) of spiritual light and power, the absence of temptation, and the experience of six thousand years; yet, we know from Rev. xx. that man will again apostatize!*

It would appear likewise, that men, as well as angels, must have continually before them some striking memorial or specimen of God's vengeance against sin,-and this the vengeance of eternal fire. The angels have the example of those angels that rebelled and are cast down to hell. The antediluvians had the cherubim with the flaming sword, to remind them of the Eden from which Adam was ejected. The post-diluvians soon had "Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." In the Millennium there is apparently to be a similar example: some portion of the earth shall be so visited, "that the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch: it shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever, &c." And when "upon the wicked the Lord shall rain snares, fire and brimstone,—a horrible tempest!" "the redeemed shall go forth (from one sabbath to another, according to the context) and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched." So also after the Millennium, there shall be the devil and the men deceived by him, "cast into the lake of fire, and shall be tormented day and night for ever."

It may be objected, that in some of these latter circumstances I have assumed for granted that certain passages belong to the millennial period, which others refer to the last judgment: this I undoubtedly have done; and it would be well if those inclined to advance the objection would carefully examine the grounds on which they so refer them. In the mean while, what I have previously stated concerning the Scriptures, is unencumbered by such an objection, and humbly submitted to their serious consideration.

Of course these observations do not affect the risen saints: these can neither die any more, nor sin any more.

* 2 Pet. ii. iv. 1 Gen. iii. 24. * Jude v. 7. *Isaiah lxvi. 23, 24.

b Isaiah xxxiv. ¡ Psalm xi. 1 Rev. xx. 10.








E. G. Dorsey, Printer.

« PreviousContinue »