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Mr Brown has undertaken in the work now before us, and in discharging it, he has not only produced immeasurably the best work on this subject, but one of the finest specimens of controversial theology, alike unexceptionable in doctrine, exegesis, and argument. Such a work had come to be required. Since the days of Dr Hamilton and other opponents of Edward Irving, premillennialism has undergone, and is undergoing, in the hands of its Bickersteths, M`Neiles, Elliots, and Bonars, new and extensive modifications. Proteus-like, it is difficult really to lay hold of it, and being laid hold of, it is not easy to bring a scheme so variable under the restraints of scripture and reason.
Mr Brown's readers will admit that the former was the more difficult part of his task, and we have the authority of one of the most estimable of his opponents, when we assert that the premillennial system is fairly represented by him. This is important, and we shall transcribe Mr H. Bonar's testimony to this effect :-'I am satisfied that he has done his subject full justice, much more so than any of his predecessors in the same field. He knows somewhat better than most what millenarians really hold. He does not brandish his weapons in the dark, nor set about the demolition of imaginary opinions instead of authentic millenarianism. Thus far he has faced the real subject, and met the real argument of the case. The present edition may be said to be a new work, it is so greatly enlarged, corrected, and improved. This is owing in part to the extensive notice which the first edition attracted, and the numerous replies which it has drawn forth.
Some of Mr Brown's remarks in his opening chapter are of great use in marking off common ground, and thus defining the real state of the question. For example, the term milenarian is too ambiguous and indefinite; because a millennium of prosperity to the cause of Christ
, and of consequent peace and happiness to the world, is now the general expectation of the church. Nor is it Christ's second advent
, properly speaking, that is in question. It is not, Will he come? on this all christians are, agreed. But the question is, When will he come, and for what purpose ? May he come now to set up a kingdom of men in the flesh, or will he come at the end of all things, and set up the eternal state ? Nor is the question whether this earth, being purified by fire, shall form part of the abode of the blessed. This is an expectation fondly cherished by not a few sound divines since the Reformation, and at the present day. See Turretine, Locus xx., quest. v., and Dr Candlish on Genesis, throughout. Nor is there
any question about the influence. which the second advent ought to exercise on believers, and that their own death, important as are the benefits which they then receive from Christ, cannot be substituted for it, although there are such points of resemblance between the two events, that texts referring to the one are often, by accommodation, referred to the other. We admit that the death of believers cannot occupy that place which the second coming of Christ occupies. Viewed in itself, the forcible separation of the soul from the body is an affecting memorial of God's displeasure against sin, and when the bodies of saints become the victims of a corruption as loathsome as those of other men, to outward appearance, death seems to Reformers employed in confuting the Popish dogmas of transubstantiation, purgatory, extreme unction, and Peter's supremacy. For each of these the letter of scripture is pleaded, and Protestants are accused by Romanists of rationalism. This may be rationalism; but it is such rationalism as must be brought to scripture, if we are to apply it as a universal rule of faith and practice; such rationalism as we still employ in constructing harmonies of the four gospels, evincing the concord of James with Paul, defending the right of infants to baptism, and the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week; without such a use of reason, neither can the cavils of infidelity be repulsed nor the figments of Popery exposed and overthrown.
The resurrection spoken of in Rev. xx., with the reign of the saints consequent upon it, is similar to that depicted to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, and similar to the resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses who, in an earlier version of the Apocalypse, are represented as ascending up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies beheld them. It gives us to expect that at that period, when Antichrist shall have been overthrown and Satan bound, true and spiritual religion will be greatly revived and widely diffused—that the ordinances of pure scriptural worship and government will be everywhere set up, and solemn public allegiance done to the Redeemer as the King of Zion, and Governor among the nations. Christianity, no longer in the wilderness, will
cquire the ascendant, and pervade with her benignant and meliorating influence the literature, the science, the arts, the commerce, and the political constitutions of mankind ; bringing the full bloom of prosperity over the desolate wastes of humanity, turning the dark places of the earth into realms of light, and the habitations of horrid cruelty into the abodes of holiness and peace.
Into that part of our author's work which treats on the millennium, we have no space to follow his reviewers. The conversion of the Jews to christianity, and their restoration to Canaan, occupies a prominent place in the scriptural anticipations of that period, and a right view of God's dealings with his ancient people is of great use to preserve us in the golden mean between the gross literalism of some, and that excessive spiritualism which makes the whole of the Old Testament typical, and finds nothing moral or exemplary either in its histories or predictions. We confess we were on these grounds disappointed at finding the future prospects of the seed of Abraham so cursorily adverted to in the work before us. If this seem a defect in the book, it is not a defect in the author of it. He is the author of three admirable essays on the conversion of the Jews, and their restoration to Canaan, in a miscellany now discontinued, from the pages of which, where they are comparatively buried, we hope he may transfer them to enrich the next edition of the present work. But Mr Brown has done the greatest service to the cause of truth, by coming forward at this time plainly to warn the church how deeply premillennial views affect the fundamentals of christianity, as being inconsistent with the scripture doctrine concerning union to Christ, the last judgment, the work of the Spirit, the instrumental sufficiency of the present means of grace, and opposed to that part of the bible economy in which the invisibility of the Saviour is employed as a means of exercising the graces and developing the characters of his people. But this work is not only valuable as a counteractive of error; it is so also as an exhibition of truth. When error on this point is removed, may we not hope that the truth will be seen, that we may love it, and brought near, that we may entertain and embrace? The second advent has so often been mixed up with what is erroneous in doctrine, and enthusiastic and extravagant in practice, as to have been put out of its own prominent place in the sphere of divine truth. But, says Durham (Exposition of Rev., p. 669), “This is the very character of a christian in good case, that he is one who is waiting for the appearance of Jesus Christ. What can be proposed to the immortal soul like this, to hear Christ say, Behold, I come quickly? Truly the apprehension is at a stand in unfolding that blessedness which is included in this one sentence. And no wonder that it draws the holy heart forcibly out after it, breathing out all the way such a desire: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”'
LETTER TO THE REV. JAMES LUMSDEN,
CONTAINING REMARKS UPON HIS SPEECH ON THE COVENANTS, DELIVERED IN THE
FREE CHURCH PRESBYTERY OF ARBROATH.
Rey. SIR-I read with much interest the discussion on the subject of the Covenants, in the Free Church Presbytery of Arbroath, at the time when it took place. Though more than two months have since elapsed, yet, as neither truth nor error has any very close relation to time, it is hoped you will not consider it too late to take into candid consideration the following remarks on the speech delivered by you on that occasion.
The author of this letter believes himself to be influenced solely by a spirit of pure and patriotic concern for the best interests of his country, with feelings of unfeigned affection for the Free Church of Scotland, and with all due respect for the character and talents of him whom he has presumed thus publicly to address. In common with all the adherents to the constitution which the Church of Scotland framed for herself in the exercise of her own free and independent authority, and no part of which has ever been repealed by ecclesiastical law, he is gratified to see a part of that constitution, which Erastianising statesmen and moderate churchmen long ago combined to suppress and destroy, beginning to attract attention within a body so large and influential as the Free Church, the discussions of whose judicatories deservedly command attention at home, and are read with interest in all parts of the world where evangelical religion is known, or to which indefatigable Scotchmen have made their way.
Much of the opposition to our Covenants arises, I am convinced, from vague, indefinite, and hazy conceptions of the nature of these solemn engagements. To prevent this, let us take the liberty of
you that I
with him; all things being alike present, in one perpetual now, before him—alike certain to his knowledge, possible to his power, controllable by his will. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness. Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Fifthly. We must remember the provision he has made for the consolation of the church in her present condition. 'I will send you another Comforter;' and for as fondly as you doat on my personal presence, such are the benefits to be derived by His presence and operation among you, that I tell you the truth, “it is expedient for
go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you ; but if I depart, I will send him to you.' Sixthly. Christ comes quickly; and the time that, in some respects, seems long, is short to the church, because all her energies are called into activity to prepare the way for his coming. Hers is not the part of the sentinel idly pacing his slow and monotonous round. She must descend into the arena of an arduous and exciting conflict, or enter the field of persevering and selfdenying labour. “The Lord God will visit his flock—the house of Judah —and will make them his goodly horse in the battle.' Seventhly. Our blessed Lord comes quickly when we think of all that he has to do by the
way. He meets with many enemies; with these enemies he bears long, for he is a long-suffering and merciful Prince; and, therefore, waiting that he may be gracious, he comes as quickly as he can in consistency with that long-suffering, which is not willing that any should perish. He has many poor rebels to pardon and reconcilehe has many lost captives to set free—he has a numerous company along with him to care for and to save. He is not only a warrior, he is also a shepherd king; and, like Jacob, when he sent on Esau before him, he must 'feed his flock like a shepherd, gather the lambs in his arms, carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.' In his very delays, how much of his love will at last be seen! He will be found to have come quickly enough for the world which he comes to condemn, and quickly enough for the church which he comes to save. Eighthly. He comes quickly; because all the while his progress is visible. If you do not see his face, you hear the sound of his chariotwheels, the waving of the banners, and the gleaming of the lances, which are borne aloft before him. “My beloved is like to a roe or a young hart on the mountains of Bether.' At some times he removes such formidable obstacles to the development, extension and triumph of his kingdom, and gives such a prelude of his glorious coming, that, in describing these events, the inspired writers use language applicable to the second personal advent. Such an event was the destruction of Jerusalem. Another of the same class was the overthrow of Paganism, when the imperial diadem was laid, by the hand of Cæsar, at the foot of the cross. Such an event will be the downfal of Antichrist. And hence the language in which this great deliverance to the church of Christ, and the great judgment on his enemies, are described, is applicable to his glorious appearing; but these two events are distinct in themselves, and separated by a long interval of time. This is exemplified in the 7th of Daniel, 9th ver. Like the downfal of Paganism,
depicted in the sixth seal, the downfal of Popery is described in this chapter of Daniel, in words not only suggestive of the second advent, but so applicable to it, as to furnish on every occasion the most impressive language by which its awful realities can be brought vividly before the conceptions of men. For a confirmation of our author's view of this passage, for which he has been rudely handled by some of his respondents, we gladly refer our readers to Lecture 28th of · Providence, Prophecy and Popery,' by the Rev. Wm. White, Haddington, where they will also find a most comprehensive and judicious treatment of the whole subject.
In opposition to that interpretation of Revelation, 20th chap., which finds in it a proof of a premillennial personal advent of our Lord to earth, accompanied by glorified and raised martyrs and saints, to set up a kingdom over men in flesh and blood, we assert that the sense put on the symbolical language of this figurative passage is at variance with express scripture assertion, in the doctrinal parts of the word where the second advent is fully and professedly handled. Thus scripture teaches us that, at the second advent, the whole church of loved, redeemed, sanctified and glorified men, will be numerically completed and presented to the Father. (Eph. v. 25-27; 2 Thess. i. 10.) That the means of grace will then terminate. (Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13; Matt. xxvi. 18–20.) That then He will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. (1 Cor. xv. 24–26; Ps. cx.) That then there will be a universal and simultaneous resurrection of the righteous and wicked. (1 Cor. xv. 20-23; John vi. 39, 40; John v. 28, 29.) That then will be the final judgment, followed by the everlasting punishment of the wicked and the perfect blessedness of all the redeemed. (Matt. XXV., throughout; 2 Cor. v. 9-11; 2 Thess. i. 6–10; 1 Tim. iv. 1.) That the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be accompanied by the conflagration of our mundane system, from the ashes of which, when all the elements have been melted with fervent heat, new heavens and a new earth will arise, in which righteousness shall dwell. (2 Peter iii, 7; Rev. xx, 11 ; Rev. xxi. 1.)—See our author, p. 52 to p. 310.
But the symbolic language of Rev. xx., on which the premillennial theory is founded, being susceptible of an easy and natural interpretation in full harmony with the explicit assertion of the doctrinal parts of scripture, reverence for the word requires us to put that construction upon it, instead of the other, which, with the semblance of literalism to recommend it, has really nothing more; for the hieroglyphic character of the book being once admitted, a consistent literalism requires that the same value be given to the symbols throughout, so that the same quantities shall be invariably represented by the same symbols. For applying this rule, all who oppose the premillennial views are stigmatised by their advocates with rationalism. But this is such a use of reason as is not only legitimate but necessary; unless reason is to be debarred from entering the temple of sacred truth even to worship there. But christianity invites her to enter; and having put off her shoes, she does not ask her either to put out or cover her eyes, for the heavenly mysteries are above reason, but, in no case, contrary to it. This may be rationalism ; but it is such a rationalism as the