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complied with, than in receiving instruction; and want of acquaintance with the order of the primitive church has led some to apply certain rules of the Scripture to our own times, where this order no longer subsists, and in so doing greatly to mistake. We loosely speak of every congregation as a church, and suppose that the directions in the fourteenth of 1st Corinthians apply to such a promiscuous assembly; but it is not so. The church then constituted, and the persons there addressed, were tried and gifted persons, called believers, or faithful ones, and such only. These each had a psalm or doctrine, or tongue or revelation, and were required to give place to each other, that all might learn and all be edified, and that all things might be done decently and in order.
But in the same congregation were those who occupied the room of the unlearned (ver. 16), and the unbelievers (ver. 23): these were not, as we are too apt to suppose, infidels or scoffers, but inquirers or catechumens, who, though admitted to be present, took no part in the services of the church. And the directions in the latter part of the chapter will not apply to our times, unless there be an assembly of bishops and divines, and elders, occupying one part of the church, and the people, as spectators, occupying the room of the unlearned in another part of the church. Ordinary men cannot from hence assume a right to speak in churches: they must either be authorised by the church, or by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. We should “covet earnestly the best gifts;" we should " covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues :" but till we receive the desires of our heart, the orderly course of instruction from the pulpit, and of prescribed forms, whether of liturgy or of single extempore prayer may not be disturbed without offence to God.
Two principles, in short, are equally and simultaneously to be maintained-namely, the Lordship of Christ over the members of his body the church; and the oneness of these members with each other, and with Christ the Head, through the Holy Spirit. The Lordship of Christ would be subverted in the church, if the individual members should be allowed to contravene the authority of the minister, who represents Christ the Head; and this just deference to the ordinance of God, whether in church or state, is continually enjoined in Scripture, and was constantly practised by the Apostles. When the Jewish rulers forbad the Apostles to preach or teach in the name of Jesus, they went beyond the authority given to them; while the Apostles, in obeying the command of God to witness of the things which they had seen and heard, contravened no previous order of the law or of the temple.
But the minister, " the angel,” who represents Christ in every church, in having power to rule and to preserve, has power of course to direct and to restore. All these offices he must exercise under responsibility to Christ; and, that he may fill them properly, must seek for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, either given direct to himself from the Word, or spoken to him by any other member of Christ. He must listen to the voice of God continually, that he may order all things according to the mind of God; and if he alone, in his single judgment, is unable to see his course, he must call together his brethren to consult, as the Apostles did (Acts xv).
Further, the Lordship of Christ may be subverted, and the unity of the church broken, not only by the several members of bis body refusing to submit to his authority standing in the minister ; but by their allowing in themselves any gift of the Spirit to become lord over them, instead of their being lords of the gift. Certain it is, that the bestowal of a gift does not lessen the responsibility of him that receives it, but increases responsibility in proportion to the value of the gift; and the gift is under the controul of the man, not the man the slave of the gift. “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets :” grieve not, quench not, resist not the Spirit of God.
: In this, as in every other case, the true doctrine grows out of a right understanding of the Trinity, where each Person has his own proper office, yet not independent of the other persons, but in conjunction with them. The Father is both the source and the container of all, but unfathomable and unknown in himself; and revealing himself and acting continually by the Son through the Holy Spirit
. The Son doeth nothing of himself, but being sent by the Father, doeth His works, and testifieth continually to His glory. (John xiv. 2, &c.) The Holy Spirit sent from the Father by the Son, speaketh not of himself but testifieth of the Father and the Son (John xvi). Thus, in the church, the election of the Father is known to him alone, and the visible church stands under the minister, Christ's representative, in the living members dwelt in by the Holy Ghost. And as Christ, though God, condescended to become man, and the Holy Spirit, though God, condescended to be sent by Christ, so in the church, those members in whom the Spirit manifests himself are in subordination to the representative of Christ, and he is in subordination to the universal church, the election of God the Father.
Finally, the Lordship of Christ may be subverted, and the unity of the church broken, in our species, in mankind, if the distinction between man and woman, wherein is set forth the mystery of Christ and the church (1 Cor. xi. 3; Eph. v. 23,32), be destroyed; if the man yields his place to the woman, or allows her to usurp it. A woman, therefore, must not teach or take authority of any kind in the church; nor may she speak, or ask questions in the church, but must learn in silence, and ask questions of her husband at home (1 Cor. xiv. 34). This prohibition, however, does not forbid women to prophesy, even in
the churches : on the contrary, directions are given in 1 Cor. xi. that the women, when prophesying in the churches, are to have their heads covered. Without this permission the prophecy of Joel, concerning our" daughters,” and our “ handmaidens,” receiving the Spirit could not be fulfilled, and the permission being restrained to speaking in the Spirit, and with the head covered, in token of subjection, preserves still the great original type of Christ and the church, while it also recognises the universal character of the Christian dispensation, in which all are destined to become as the angels of God in heaven, and where is neither male nor female, bond nor free, but every soul united to Christ is equally dear to his heart. Unless we allow this liberty to women, we add restraints to the Mosaic dispensation, instead of removing them. For though in the temple service women were not allowed to worship with the men, but had a court to themselves, yet prophetesses were allowed, and obeyed, as Miriam and Deborah and Huldah and Anna spoke in the temple ; and the daughters of Philip prophesied ; and so may Christian women now, when filled with the Holy Ghost. “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.”
INTERPRETATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE
Matt. xxii. 1-14.
It is a great mistake to suppose that the parables of our Redeemer belong to what are called the plain parts of Scripture. Many persons, reputed wise among men, beginning and ending with this inpression, have taken occasion therefroin to gainsay the clearest truths of prophecy; grounding their rejection of what they refuse to study in one part of Scripture on the confidently assumed import of what they misunderstand of another. While they have warned the simple off the whole breadth of prophecy, as a matter to be consigned solely to the “ private interpretation" of the learned (though the prophecy came not by the private will and wisdom of the learned, as Peter says), they have placed no such interdict on the Parables ; but have rather commended them to the ignorant, as easy matters, in which the ignorant should not err. But I trust to make it appear to demonstration, in the course of these papers, that the majority of the Parables have indeed been much misunderstood, whatever may be thought of the interpretations of some of them which I shall venture to offer; and that these discourses, the nature, connections, and terms of which have been so ill appreciated, are indeed, like the Speaker of them, a key-stone of the truth, furnishing stability and consistency to the whole edifice.
All the parables of which, by the grace of God, I purpose to write, concern the ending of the present dispensation. They are not doctrinal, but prophetic discourses; and have for their subject, judgments in which the quick, and the quick only, are contemplated. I shall commence with the Parable of the Marriage Feast, Matt. xxii. : to the consideration of which I shall premise, first, a few introductory remarks ; and, afterwards, a careful examination of the circumstances under which it was spoken, as developed by its preceding context.
It is a solemn fact, put beyond doubt by many portions of the New Testament, that the Christian dispensation, under which we live, was to find its end in a great apostasy, which should call down sudden destruction from on high. Our Lord and his Apostles foresaw, for they foretold, this. They foresaw that the visible church wbich they were founding would in the end utterly corrupt itself; that the sow which was washed would return to her wallowing in the mire, the dog to his own vomit; that they who had escaped the pollutions of the world should be re-entangled again therein ; and the unclean spirit re-enter, and re-possess with seven-fold power, his original victim. This is a truth not to be gainsayed. It is the last sad theme of the Apostles Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude, respectively. Moreover, that this climax of Christian apostasy (like the climax of Jewish apostasy of old)—this returning of the sow to her wallowing in the mire, and of the dog to his own vomit; this reentanglement in a world's pollutions, and re-possession by sevenfold uncleanness--that all this (the last great apostasy, properly so called), while it is a wickedness in men against God, is nevertheless a judgment on men from God, a dementation introductory of perdition, which reason might infer, but Scripture expressly declares. In proof of this, let only 2 Thess. ii. be attentively perused, which, hy common consent of Protestants, foreshews the great Papal apostasy. It is there written, at verse 11, “ For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe
lie, that they all might be damned wlio believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” But for what cause shall God send them strong delusion? because of the man of sin? Nay, but because of their having lent themselves to him. The "strong delusion,” therefore, is not Popery, but its effect; and the chapter signifies expressly two apostasies, whereof the second is the judicial consequence of the first. There is, therefore, a falling away which succeeds the Papal; a delusion deeper and darker, poured out by the hand of God himself, preluding the destruction of the ungodly.
I will now beg the reader's attention to the xxist chapter of Matthew, from verse 23; the whole passage from which verse to the end of our parable (xxii. 14) represents a scene which
took place in the temple at Jerusalem ; the actors present being the Lord, the Jewish common people, and their rulers--the Lord himself being the principal speaker. And, that light may be carried forward for our main purpose from every consideration capable of affording it, I make the following survey of all that occurred. Our Lord entered the temple at Jerusalem-that temple whose enriching was become the great religious work of the time; in whose splendour was seen the symbol of a corrupt and ostentatious hierarchy-a structure, near to annihilation, to be replaced by another and far different, whose stability remained to be tried-yet the temple, withal, which was the type of an eternal building, not to be supplanted by any principles of corruption or decay. Our Lord had entered the temple, and was teaching the people;-a people who hearkened not to the Prophets, and should resist the Apostles sent unto them ;-a people who knew not their Lord, who now stood among them, though they had been willing for a season to rejoice in John, as “a shining light,” and did as much as apprehend that this was some prophet who now spake unto them ;-a people full of envy, and easily excitable against their rulers, yet ever kept back from God by these, and now to the uttermost. The Lord had entered the temple, and was teaching the people, when, behold, the rulers of the people, chief priests, and elders, came in after him. They came in to their own house, and found there a man -no priest, no elder, but the reputed Son of a carpenter, probably in meanest attire--taking upon himself to instruct their people, and they break upon him thus : " By what authority
; doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority ?” Saith our Lord, in reply; “By what authority did John baptize? Answer me, and I also will answer you.” Now, they believed not in John, but feared to gainsay his ministry in the presence of the people, who did believe in him : so the Lord's question shuts their mouths, and at the same time opens the ears of the people, who all held John as a prophet. This from vers. 23 to 27 inclusive. Next, taking occasion from their confusion, the Lo adds a parable against the intruders; and, in the application thereof, informs them that the lowest dregs of the people there present were fitter and readier than themselves to enter into the kingdom of God: which what was it but to say, that the former, believing John, listened willingly to Him, whom they, rejecting John, were come to reject also ? Here was another step towards displeasing these rulers, and gaining, at the same time, favour with the people. This carries us to ver. 32 inclusive. But this was not all the intruders heard by their interruption. The Lord had silenced then by the fear of the people; He had angered them by his preference of the people : He proceeds next to denounce them for their treatment of the people; and concludes