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to please you, and you to be pleased-that is, if you shall be so pleased; otherwise, like Paul, I shall be pleased to let you please yourself, in your own way.
There must be a good and sufficient reason for Paul's peculiar phraseology. What does Paul's phrase signify? "How shall they preach, unless they be sent ?" Very opportunely has Paul answered the inquiry, and saved us the labour of conjecture, 66 as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" How beautiful! with admiration Paul contemplated the preaching of the preacher that is sent. He is known by a certain criterion, by a sure and infallible sign. He preaches the gospel of peace he brings glad tidings of good things.
Reader, I have an appeal to make to your conscience, your reason, and your common sense. Look at the subject, in its simplicity; and answer, for you can, respecting the preacher that is sent, and the preacher who pretends to be sent. Two preachers are presented for your inspection. One of them preaches the gospel of peace; and brings you glad tidings of good things. The other preaches wrath-war to the death, the endless death of those who hear him—and sad tidings of bad things, even a future and interminable Hell of horror, as the portion of his hearers. Are tidings of Hell and misery, good things? Is the pretended gospel of death and endless destruction and misery, a gospel of peace to your soul? No! You know to the contrary. You know, that instead of being beautiful, such feet are horrible as the hellish dogma they are so swift to bring, so alert to preach. Which of these two preachers, preach morality? Which of them preach the truth? and which falsehood? it immoral to preach truth? Is it moral to preach falsehood? Answer, reader, to your conscience, and to your God.
As a preacher of morality on the present occasion, I am bound to affirm the truth. I, therefore, say, that it is my intention to give pretended preachers a broad hint. So broad, that it shall cover the whole ground of their argument; and prevent their escape from the hint, untouched, unreproved for their falsehood, their unmerciful doctrines, their uncharitable and cruel creeds. Let them look to it. It is to all concerned, greeting: but "in the words of truth and soberness"-in "great plainness of speech."
My text is on this wise-"The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of [not water, but of] repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Reader, I again appeal to you, and ask, Is not this beautiful preaching? Remember, it is the word of God that came unto John-it is the prophet of God, from whom the quotation is made. Reader, you very well know, that when the word of the Roman pope, or of Calvin, or of Hopkins, or of Arminius, comes to preachers, they preach a very ugly doctrine. We never hear these preachers preach as Luke the Evangelist has represented the preaching of John, and the prophecy of Isaiah, of the result of the coming of the Lord; that harmony shall succeed to discord, and all flesh see God's salvation. John as the forerunner of Christ, preached a preparatory doctrine. Prepare-make ready-the Lord Jesus is coming. John preached the baptism of repentance. True, John baptized with water-but this baptism with water, John explained, saying, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.' 99 Reader, is it not a strange thing, that 1800 years after the Lord has come, we find men calling themselves Baptists, and preaching the old story over again? I cannot well refrain from citing as the only parallel case that has come to my knowledge, that of Rip Van Winkle, who, in consequence of his long nap, was ignorant of the occurrence of the war of the Revolution, and its consequences; and imagined our free and independent States to be colonies of Great Britain. Now these Baptists, it seems, are the forerunners of the coming of the Lord Jesus, 1800 years after the event has transpired! And they insist upon baptizing people with water, although a new baptism has been introduced by the Lord Jesus, even fire. Query
Do these visionaries think their water will subserve a better purpose than the fire of Christ's baptism? One thing is certain, their water will not put out this fire! for it is unquenchable.
There is a trait in John's preaching that is so very singular as to differ altogether from modern Arminianism. John's preaching admitted of no ifs. And he said not a word about, nor made any pretensions to, saving souls from a future and endless Hell. But he affirmed positively of what the Lord would do; predicating nothing on the faith, or works, or the baptism with water, of men. And John characterized the multitude that came to him to be baptized, "a generation of vipers." But John, without any qualification whatever, affirmed of the Lord who should come, that "he would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and fire." And John was equally positive that the Lord would burn the chaff with fire unquenchable; and gather the wheat into his garner. Reader, this is a glorious doctrine. To baptize men with the Holy (Pneuma) Spirit, and with fire-to burn the chaff, and secure all the valuable grain, is a glorious doctrine. The figure is a beautiful one, and sublimely expressive of Christ's gospel of the salvation of a world.
Surely John warned the people, the multitude, to "flee from the wrath to come.'
No, reader, John did not warn them; for he inquired of the people, who it was that had warned them to flee from the wrath to come? We hear a great deal from modern preachers about a wrath to come. Can it be possible that the wrath that was spoken of as to come, in John's day, has not yet come, after a lapse of 1800 years! Paul, nearly thirty years after John's death, affirmed that "the wrath had come upon them to the uttermost.' (1 Thess. ii. 16.) And Luke affirmed, "These be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke xxi. 22.) Reader, when modern pretended preachers of truth, preach about a wrath to come, they talk about something that is not written.
John told the Jews to "bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire!" Reader, the Jews
had Abraham as their spiritual father. In modern times men claim under their spiritual fathers-whether of Calvin, Arminius, etc. John's phraseology goes, as I apprehend, to disqualify the Jews' pretensions, and expressed as a caution not to begin to justify themselves, or to predicate their hopes on any foundation whatever, save on the Lord who should come, &c. And John dealt by wholesale with human pretensions of all sorts and kinds, when he used the figure of the axe, the trees, and the fire. For every tree shall be hewn down which bringeth not forth good fruit. This cuts off the trunks of the whole. Not a tree is left standing, on which to display the banner of Arminius. Jesus Christ settled the question for us. "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt. Every tree shall be cast into the fire. Not into an orthodox Hell. And this is a figure of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, even by fire. For the axe signifies the same as the Sword of the Spirit, which cuts up all human pretensions, and lays man prostrate in the dust from whence he was taken.
I have heard the conjecture, that the phrase, of the axe being laid to the root of the trees, justified the conclusion, that the axe being laid to the root, singular, of the trees in the plural, designated Jesus Christ as the root; and all men in him as the trees, who were included in his death, resurrection, &c. I consider this view a forced one, for the reason that the term root, considered in its relation to a tree, signifies the efficiency of the operation contemplated. The axe is therefore represented as operating on the root of the evil. The things mentioned as the effects of the coming of Christ, are figurative of the most effi cient means being used to produce the end which was the object of Christ's mission as the Mediator between God and men. And when we consider that it is through death, as a mean, that death is to be destroyed, and a complete deliverance effected of all men, or the every man for whom Christ tasted death, also, that salvation by and through the Lord Jesus, is a salvation from sin, the figure of the axe is appropriate all men as sinners, the subjects, or trees-and the root, from which proceeded the evil to be remedied, the only proper place to designate for the application of the remedy. The proud and all that do wickedly, are designated by the prophet as the stubble, that the day of the Lord shall consume root and
branch. Then, "every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." But in order to effect this, every tree shall be levelled the humble shall be exalted-the proud brought low-the stubble consumed root and branch-and every blind eye opened to see the truth, the salvation of God. Remember, it is through death, that death shall be destroyed. The root of the evil shall be exterminated.*
In volume I. p. 149, in a note, a reference is made to Acts iii. 21, "Restitution of all things," &c. ; in which note referred the reader to the Greek term apokatharizo, (to cleanse, purify, etc.,) as the root of apokatastaseos, rendered restitution. It has been objected that apokatastaseos, is derived from apokathistemi. This is true; as the direct derivation of the term restitution, is from the word signifying to restore. This, was not exactly my meaning. However, my note was too brief, etc., and I have altered the expression in the second edition of Vol I., merely to signify that a relation existed, etc. As the subject is an important one, I will explain myself, by some detail:
It has been objected that "the restitution of all things," does not signify a moral or spiritual renovation of all men, in a sense that implies a restoration of sinners from a state or condition of moral impurity, to a state of holiness. This absurd objection is fully met, in the apprehension of an unprejudiced mind, by the simple fact, that the character of the Agent, through and by whom the restitution is effected, is a sufficient guaranty. This is the pith of the matter. The Lord Jesus Christ, who will make all things new, produces this renovation by a resurrection of the recipients in the Heavenly image. Hence the offices of Christ, as Mediator, and Priest. He will purify; and the figure of the assaying of metals by fire, is introduced, purifying silver from all dross, tin, or alloy, to illustrate the quality of the act of the Mediator, in reconciling the world to God the Father. This is the relation that exists, between the act itself, and the quality of the act. The quality of the act, is expressed by the term apokatharizo, viz: to purge, to cleanse, to purify, to justify. But the act, itself, is an act of restitution; by which the purified sinner is made holy. It is in this important sense, that I consider the relation to exist, and it, the relation, gives to the term apokatharizo, the character of a root, or a certain affinity, to all terms that stand in this necessary relation to it. It points to the whole redemption of man from sin, by the Mediator Jesus; expressing the quality of the act, by which the man is purified from his transgressions, and restored, in the image and likeness of his Creator, to his heavenly home. Therefore the conclusion, in the grammatical lineage of terms, in the science of Philology, the term apokatastaseos is not directly derived from the term apokatharizo, as its root. But, in the Gospel of Christ, so important is the purification, cleansing, and justification, expressed by the term apokatharizo, defining the quality of the act, that every term that signifies the act itself, viz: restitution, exists, and stands in a direct, although, grammatically, a remote, relation to it.
The above explanation is an expression of my opinion on an important subject. I will therefore thank the objector, who has furnished me an