« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
concerning the nature of Christ's kingdom, or ot the church of the New Testament, though modified in such a manner as to have lost its noxious qualities, and to be no longer pernicious in its influence.
The Mennonites are subdivided into several sects, whereof the two principal are the Flandrians, or Flemingians, and the Waterlandians. The opinions, says Mosheim, that are held in common by the Mennonites, seem to be all derived from this fundamental principle,— that the kingdom which Christ established upon earth is a visible church, or community, into which the holy and just alone are to be admitted; and which is consequently exempt from all those institutions and rules of discipline that have been invented by human wisdom for the correction and reformation of the wicked. This principle, indeed, was avowed by the ancient Mennonites, but it is now almost wholly renounced: nevertheless, from this ancient doctrine many of the religious opinions that distinguish the Mennonites from all other Christian communities seem to be derived. In consequence of this doctrine, they admit none to the sacrament of baptism but persons that are come to the full use of their reason; they neither admit civil rulers into their communion, nor allow any of their members to perform the functions of magistracy; they deny the lawfulness of repelling force by force; and consider war, in all its shapes, as unchristian and unjust: they entertain the utmost aversion to the execution of justice, and more especially to capital punishments: and they also refuse to confirm their testimony by an oath. The particular sentiments that divided the more considerable societies of the Mennonites, are the following: The rigid Mennonites, called the Flemingians, maintain with various degrees of rigour the opinions of their founder Menno, as to the human nature of Christ, alleging that it was produced in the womb of the Virgin by the creating power of the Holy Ghost; the obligation that binds us to wash the feet of strangers, in consequence of our Saviour's command: the necessity of excommunicating and avoiding, as one would do the plague, not only avowed sinners, but also all those who depart, even in some light instances pertaining to dress, &c. from the simplicity of their ancestors; the contempt due to human learning; and other matters of less moment. However, this austere system declines, and
the rigid Mennonites are gradually approaching towards the opinions and discipline of the more moderate, or Waterlandians.
The first settlement of the Mennonites in the United Provinces was granted them by William, prince of Orange, towards the close of the sixteenth century; but it was not before the following century that their liberty and tranquillity were fixed upon solid foundations, when, by a confession of faith published in the year 1626, they cleared themselves from the imputations of those pernicious and detestable errors that had been laid to their charge. In order to appease their intestine discords, a considerable part of the Anabaptists of Flanders, Germany, and Fnesland, concluded their debates in a conference held at Amsterdam in the year 1630, and entered into the bonds of fraternal communion, each reserving to themselves a liberty of retaining certain opinions. This association was renewed and confirmed by new resolutions in the year 1649; in consequence of which the rigorous laws of Menno and his successors were in various respects mitigated and corrected. See Anabaptists.
MEN OF UNDERSTANDING. This title distinguished a denomination which appeared in Flanders and Brussels in the year 1511. They owed their origm to an illiterate man, whose name was Egid/ius Cantor, and to William of Hildenison, a Carmelite monk. They pretended to bt honoured with celestial visions, denied that any could arrive at perfect knowledge of the Holy Scriptures without the extraordinary succours of a divine illumination, and declared the approach of a new revelation from heaven, more perfect than the Gospel of Christ. They said that the resurrection was accomplished in the person of Jesus, and no other was to be expected; that the inward man was not denied by the outward actions, whatever they were; that the pains of hell were to nave an end; and not only all mankind, but even the devils themselves were to return to God, and be made partakers of eternal felicity. They also taught among other things, that Christ alone had merited eternal life and felicity for the human race; and that therefore men could not acquire this inestimable privilege by their own actions alone—that the priests to whom the people confessed their transgressions, had not the power of absolving them, but this authority was vested in Christ alone —that voluntary penance and mort ideation was not necessary to salvation.
This denomination appears to have been a branch of the Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit.
MERCY is that disposition of mind ■which excites us to pity and relieve those who are in trouble, or to pass by their crimes without punishing them. It is distinguished from love, thus: The object of love is the creature simply; the object of mercy is the creature fallen into miser)'. Parents love their children simply as they are their children; but if they fall into misery, love works in a -way of pity and compassion: love is turned into mercy.
"As we are all the objects of mercy in one degree or another, the mutual exercise of it towards each other is necessary to preserve the harmony and happiness of society. But there are those who may be more particularly considered as the objects of it; such as the guilty, the indigent, and the miserable. As it respects thegw'/fy, the greatest mercy we can show to them is to endeavour to reclaim them, and prevent the bad consequences of their misconduct, James v. 20. Mercy may also be shown to them by a proper mitigation of justice, and not extending the punishment beyond the nature or desert of the crime. With regard to those who are in necessity and want, mercy calls upon us to afford the most suitable and seasonable supplies; and here our benefactions must be dispensed in proportion to our circumstances, and the real distress of the object, 1 John iii. 17. As to those who are in misery and distress, mercy prompts us to relieve and comfort them bv doing what we can to remove or alleviate their burdens. Our Lord strongly recommended this act of mercy in the parable of the man who fell among thieves, and was relieved by the poor Samaritan: and in the conclusion he adds, * Go and do thou likewise,' Luke x. 30—37.
"This merciful temper will show and exert itself not only towards those of our own party and acquaintance, but to the whole human species; and not only to the whole human species, but to the animal creation. It is a degree of inhumanity to take a pleasure in giving any thing pain, and more in putting useful animals to extreme torture for our own sport. This is not that dominion which God originally gave to man over the beasts of the field. It is, therefore, an usurped authority, which man has no right to exercise over brute creatures, •which were made for his service, convenience, support, and ease; but not for the gratification of unlawful passions, or cruel dispositions.
"Mercy must be distinguished from those weaknesses of a natural temper which often put on the appearance of it. With regard to criminals or delinquents, it is false compassion to suppress the salutary admonition, and refuse to set their guilt before them, merely because the sight of it will give their conscience pain: such unseasonable tenderness in a surgeon may prove the death of his patient: this, however it may appear, is not mercy, but cruelty. So is that fondness of a parent that withholds the hand of discipline from a beloved child, when |ts frowardness and faults render seasonable and prudent correction necessary to save it from ruin. In like manner, when a magistrate, through excessive clemency, suffers a criminal who is a pest to society to escape unpunished, or so mitigates the sentence of the law as to put it into his power to do still greater hurt to others, he violates not only the laws of justice, but of mercy too.
"Mercy to the indigent and necessitous has been no less abused and perverted by acts of mistaken beneficence, when impudence and clamour ace permitted to extort from the hand of charity that relief which is due to silent distress and modest merit: or when one object is lavishly relieved to the detriment of another who is more deserving. As it respects those who are in tribulation or misery, _ to be sure, every such person is an object of our compassion; out that compassion may be, and often is, exercised in a wrong manner. Some are of so tender a make, that they cannot l>ear the sijjht of distress, and stand aloof from a friend in pain and affliction, because it affects them too sensibly, when their presence would at least give them some little comfort, and might possibly administer lasting relief. This weakness should be opposed, because it not only looks like unkindness to our friends, but is really showing more tenderness to ourselves than to them: nor is it doing as we would be done by. Again; it is false pity, when, out of mere tenderness of nature, we either advise or permit our afflicted friend to take or do any thing which will give him a little present transient ease, but which we know at the same time will increase his future pain, and aggravate the symptoms of his disease." Seeing, therefore, the extremes to which we are liable, let us learn to cultivate that wisdom and prudence which are necessary to regulate this virtue. To he just without being cruel, and merciful without being weak, should be our constant
aim, under all the circumstances of guilt, indigence, and misery, which present themselves to our view. See BenefiCence, Charitt, Love.
MERCY OF GOD is his readiness to relieve the miserable and to pardon the guilty. 1. It is essential to his nature, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7; not, indeed, as a passion or affection, as it is in men, but the result of his sovereign will, and guided by his infinite wisdom.—2. It is tree, as nothing out of himself can be the cause of it; for then there would be a cause prior to him, the cause of himself. The misery of the creature is not the cause of mercy, for he is not wrought upon as creatures are, nor are the merits of the creature the cause, Tit. iii. 5; nor are even the sufferings of Christ the cause, but the effects of it; but it arises from the goodness of his nature, and from his sovereign will and pleasure, Exod. xxxiii. 19. Rom. ix. 18.— 0. His mercy is infinite; it pardons offences committed against an infinitely holy Being, and bestows an infinite good on all who believe, even Jesus Christ, Luke i. 78.—4 It is immutable . nothing can change it; it is invariably the same, Mai. iii. 6. Luke i. 50.—5. Shall be for ever celebrated in a future state, Psal. lxxxix. 2. ciii. 17.—6. It is only displayed in and through Christ, Eph. ii. It has been farther distinguished into, I. Preventing mercy, Psal. lix. 10.—-2. Forbearing mercy, Rom. ii. 4.—3. Comforting mercy, 2 Cor. i. 4.—4. Relieving mercy, Psal. cxlv. 8, 9.—5. Pardoning mercy, Is.lv. 6.—6. Universal or extensive mercy. It extends to all kinds of beings and fallen creatures. The brute creation share in it, Psal. cxlv. 9. xxxvi. 5, 6. The ungodly are the objects of it in a general way, Matt. v. 45. 1 Tim. iv. 10. The saints on earth are continual monuments of it, Rom. ix. 23; and the spirits of just men made perfect in elory are always praising God for it. Finally, it is enjoyed in an especial manner by all who are true believers, of every nation, in every age, in every circumstance, in all places, and at all times. See Grace, Pardon; Gilt's Body o/Div.\o\.i. p. 124.oct.ed. Saurin's Ser. vol. i. ser. 8. Dr. Goodwin's Works, vol. v. part 2. Tillotson's Ser. ser. 147. Hill's Ser. ser. 10.
MERIT signifies desert, or to earn: originally the word was applied to soldiers and other military persons, who, by their labours in the field, and by the various hardships they underwent during the course of a campaign, as also by other services they might occasionally render to the commonwealth, were
said, mertre stifiendia,Xo merit, or earn their pay; which they might properly be Said to do, because they yielded in real service an equivalent to the state for the stipend they received, which was therefore due to them in justice. Here, then, we come at the true meaning of the word merit; from which it is very clearly to be seen that there can be no such thing as merit in our best obedience. One man may merit of another, but all mankind together cannot merit from the hand of God. This evidently appears, if we consider the imperfections of all our services, and the express declaration of the divine word, Eph. ii. 8, 9. Rom. xi. 5, 6. Tit. iii. 5. Rom. x. 1, 4. The Doctrine of Merit \ stated, ser. i. vol. iii. South's Strmons; Tofiladij's Workk, p. 471, vol. iii. Hervey's Eleven Letters to Wesley; Robinson's Claude, vol. ii. p. 218.
MERI IS OF CHRIST, a term used to denote the active and passive obedience of Christ-, all that he wrought and all that he suffered for the salvation of mankind. See articles AtonkMent,Imputation, Righteousness ! Of Christ.
MESSIAH signifies anointed, the title given by way of eminence to our Saviour; meaning the same in Hebrew as^ Christ in Greek., and alludes to the authority he had to assume the characters of prophet, priest, and king, and that of 'Saviour of the world. The ancient Jews 1 had just notions of the Messiah, which [ came gradually to be corrupted, by ex, pecting a temporal monarch and conqueror; and finding Jesus Christ to be '■ poor, humble, and of an unpromising i appearance, they rejected him. Most of j the modern rabbins, according to Bux| torf, believe that the Messiah is come, t but that he lies concealed because of j the sins of the Jews. Others believe he | is not yet come, fixing different times for his appearance, many of which are elapsed; and, being thus baffled, have pronounced an anathema against those who shall pretend to calculate the time of his coming. To reconcile the prophecies concerning the Messiah that seemed to be contradictory, some have had recourse to a twofold Messiah; one in a state of poverty and suffering, the other of splendor and glory. The first, they say, is to proceed from the tribe of Ephraim, who is to fight against Gog, and to be slain by Annillus, Zech. xii. 10; the second is to be of the tribe of Judah and lineage of David, who is to conquer and kill Annillus; to bring the first Messiah to life again, to assemble all Israel, and rule over the whole world.
That Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, and actuallv come in the flesh is evident, if we consider (as Mr. Fuller observes) that it is intimated that whenever he should come, the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Mosaic law were to be superseded by him, Ps. xl. 6—8; 1 Sam. xv. 22; Dan. ix. 27; Jer. xxxi. 31, 34; Heb. viii. 13. Now sacrifice and oblation have ceased. They virtually ceased when Jesus offered himself a sacrifice, and in a few years after, they actually ceased. A few of the ancient ceremonies are indeed adhrred to, but as one of the Jewish writers acknowledges. "The sacrifices of the Holy Temple have cea.-ed." Let every Jew therefore, ask himself this question Should Messiah the Prince come at some future period, how are the sacrifice and oblation to cease on his appearance, when they have already ceased near 1800 years.
Again, it is suggested in the Scripture, that the great body of sacred prophecy should be accomplished in him; Gen. iii. 16; xxii. 18; Is. xlix. 10. liii. 1. The time when he was to come is clearly marked out in prophecy: Is. xlix. 10; Hag. ii. 6—9; Dan. ix. 24. He actually came according to that time.—2. The place where Messiah should be born, and where he should principally impart his doctrine, is determined; Mic. v. 2; Is. ix. 2; and was literally fulfilled in Jesus.—3. The house or family from ■whom he should descend is clearly ascertained. So much is said of his descending from David, that we need not refer to particular proofs; and the rather as no Jew will deny it. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke, whatever varieties there are between them, agree in tracing his pedigree to David. And though, in both it is traced in the name of Joseph, yet this appears to be only in conformity to the Jewish custom of tracing no pedigree in the name of a female. The father of Joseph, as mentioned by Luke, seems to have been his father by marriage only; so that it was, in reality, Mary's pedigree that is traced by Luke, though under her husband's name; and this being the natural line of descent, and that of Matthew the legal one, by which, as a king, he would have inherited the crown, there is no inconsistency between them.—4. The kind of miracles that Messiah should perform is specified; Is. xxxv. 5, 6. He actually performed the miracles there predicted, his enemies themselves being judges.—5. It was prophesied that he should as a King be distinguished by his lowUnesa; entering into Jerusalem, not
in a chariot of state, but in a much humbler style; Zech. ix. 9; this was really the case, Matt. xxi. 6. It was predicted that he should suffer and die by the hands of wicked men; Is. xlix.7; liii. 9. Dan. ix. 26. Nothing could be a more striking fulfilment of prophecy than the treatment the Mes-iah met with in almost every particular circumstance.— 7. It was foretold that he should rise from the dead; Is. liii. 11. Ps. lxviii. 18. xvi. 10. his resurrection is proved by indubitable evidence.—8. It was foretold that the great body of the Jewish nation would not believe in him, and that he would set up his kingdom among the Gentiles; Is. liii. 1. xlix. 4—6. vi. 9—12. Never was a prophecy more completely fulfilled than this, as facts evidently prove.
Lastly, it is declared that when the Messiah should come, the will of God would be perfectly fulfilled by him, Is. xlii. 1, 49. Is. 3—5. And what was his whole life but perfect conformity to him? He finished the work the Father gave him to do: never was there such a character seen among men. Well therefore may we say, Truly this was the Son of God. See article ChristiAnity.jesus Christ.
There have been numerous false Messiahs which have arisen at different times. Of these the Saviour predicted, Matt. xxiv. 14. Some have reckoned as many as twenty-four, of whom wc shall here give an account.
1. Caziba was the first of any note who made a noise in the world. Being dissatisfied with the state of things under Adrian, he set himself up at the head of the Jewish nation, and proclaimed himself their long expected Messiah He was one of those banditti that infested Judea, and committed all kinds of violence against the Romans; and had become so powerful, that he was chosen king of the Jews, and by them acknowledged iheir Messiah. However, to facilitate the success of this bold enterprise, he changed his name from Caziba, which it was at first, to that of Barchocheba, alluding to the star foretold by Balaam; for he pretended to be the star sent from heaven to restore his nation to its ancient liberty and glory. He chose a forerunner, raised an army, was anointed king, coined money inscribed with hi« own name, and proclaimed himself Messiah and prince of the Jewish nation. Adrian raised an army, and sent it against him. He retired into a town called Bither, where he was besieged. Barchocheba was killed in the siege, the city was ta
ken, and a dreadful havoc succeeded. The Jews themselves allow, that.during this short war against the Romans in defence of this false Messiah, they lost Jive or six hundred thousand souls. This -was in the former part of the second century.
2. In the reign of Theodosius the younger, in the year of our Lord 434, another impostor arose, called Moses Cretensis. He pretended to be a second Moses, sent to deliver the Jews who dwelt in Crete, and promised to divide the sea, and give them a safe passage through it. Their delusion proved so strong and universal, that they neglected their lands, houses, and all other concerns, and took only so much with them as they could conveniently carry. And on the day appointed, this false Moses, having led them to the top of a rock, men, women, and children, threw themselves headlong down into the sea, without the least hesitation or reluctance, till so great a number of them ■were drowned, as opened the eyes of the rest, and made them sensible of the cheat. They then began to look out for theirpretended leader, but hedisappeared, and escaped out of their hand.
3. In the reign of Justin, about 520, another impostor appeared, who called himself the son of Moses. His name was Dunaan. He entered into a city of Arabia Felix, and there he greatly oppressed the Christians; but he was taken prisoner, and put to death by Elesban, an ./Ethiopian general.
4. In the year 529 the Jews and Samaritans rebelled against the emperor Justinian, and set up one Julian for their king; and accounted him the Messiah. The emperor sent an army against them, killed great numbers of them, took their pretended Messiah prisoner, end immediately put him to death.
5. In the year571 was born Mahomet, in Arabia. At first he professed himself to be the Messiah who was promised to the Jews. By this means he drew many of that unhappy people alter him. In some sense, therefore, he may be considered in the number of false Messiahs. See Mahometanism.
6. About the year 721. in the time of Leo Isaurus, arose another false Messiah in Spain; his name was Serenus. He drew great numbers after him, to their no small loss and disappointment, but all his pretensions came to nothing.
7. The twelfih century was fruitful in false Messiahs: for about the year IV>7, there appeared one in France, who was put to death, and many of those who followed him.
8. In the year 1138 the Persians were disturbed with a Jew, who called himself the Messiah. He collected together a vast army. But he, too, was put to death, and his followers treated with great inhumanity.
9. In the year 1157, a false Messiah stirred up the Jews at Corduba, in Spain. The wiser and better sort looked upon him as a madman, but the great body of the Jews in that nation believed in him. On this occasion almost all the Jews in Spain were destroyed.
10. In the year 1167, another false .Messiah rose in the kingdom of Fez, which brought great trouble and persecution upon the Jews that were scattered through that country.
11. In the same year an Arabian set up there for the Messiah, and pretended to work miracles. When search was made for him, his followers fled, and he was brought before the Arabian king. Being questioned by him, he replied, that he was a prophet sent from God. The king then asked him what sign he could show to confirm his mission. Cut off my head, said he, and I will return to life again. The king took him at his word, promising to believe him if his prediction came to pass. The poor wretch, however, never returned to life again, and the cheat was sufficiently discovered. Those who had been deluded by him were grievously punished, and the nation condemned to a veryheavy fine.
12. Not long after this, a Jew who dwelt beyond Euphrates, called himself the Messiah, and drew vast multitudes of people after him. He gave this for a sign of it, that he had been leprous, and was cured in the course of one night He, like the rest, perished in the attempt, and brought great persecution on his countrymen.
13. In the year 1174, a magician and false Christ arose in Persia, who was called David Almusser. He pretended that he could make himself invisible; but he was soon taken and put to death, and a heavy fine laid upon his brethren the Jews.
14. In the year 1176, another of these impostors arose in Moravia, who was called David Almusser. He pretended that he could make himself invisible; but he was soon taken, and put to death, and a heavy fine laid upon his brethren the Jews.
15. In the year 1199, a famous cheat and rebel exerted himself in Persia, called David el David. He was a man of learning, a great magician, and pretended to be the Messiah. He raised an