The Theocratic Kingdom - Part 1

THE THEOCRATIC KINGDOM 
PART 1
George N H Peters

Published 1884

“Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”—Pr 23:23.

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.”—Ps. 25:14.

INDEX TO VOLUME 1

  1.   PROPOSITION 1.—The Kingdom of God is a subject of vital importance
  2.   PROP. 2.—The establishment of this Kingdom was determined before, and designed or prepared from, the foundation of the world
  3.   PROP. 3.—The meanings usually given to this Kingdom indicate that the most vague, indefinite notions concerning it exist in the minds of many
  4.   PROP. 4.—The literal, grammatical interpretation of the Scriptures must (connected with the figurative, tropical, or rhetorical) be observed in order to obtain a correct understanding of the Kingdom
  5.   PROP. 5.—The doctrine of the Kingdom is based on the inspiration of the Word of God
  6.   PROP. 6.—The Kingdom of God is intimately connected with the Supernatural
  7.   PROP. 7.—The Kingdom being a manifestation of the Supernatural, miracles are connected with it
  8.   PROP. 8.—The doctrine of the Kingdom presupposes that of sin, the apostasy of man
  9.   PROP. 9.—The nature of, and the things pertaining to, the Kingdom can only be ascertained within the limits of Scripture
  10.   PROP. 10.—This Kingdom should be studied in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and not merely in that of Creeds, Confessions, Formulas of Doctrine, etc.
  11.   PROP. 11.—The mysteries of the Kingdom were given to the apostles
  12.   PROP. 12.—There is some mystery yet connected with the things of the Kingdom
  13.   PROP. 13.—Some things pertaining to the Kingdom intentionally revealed somewhat obscurely
  14.   PROP. 14.—Some things pertaining to the Kingdom not so easily comprehended as many suppose
  15.   PROP. 15.—The doctrine of the Kingdom can become better understood and appreciated
  16.   PROP. 16.—This Kingdom cannot be properly comprehended without acknowledging an intimate and internal connection existing between the Old and New Testaments
  17.   PROP. 17.—Without study of the prophecies no adequate idea can be obtained of the Kingdom
  18.   PROP. 18.—The prophecies relating to the establishment of the Kingdom of God are both conditioned and unconditioned
  19.   PROP. 19.—The New Testament begins the announcement of the Kingdom in terms expressive of its being previously well known
  20.   PROP. 20.—To comprehend the subject of the Kingdom it is necessary to notice the belief and expectations of the more pious portion of the Jews
  21.   PROP. 21.—The prophecies of the Kingdom interpreted literally sustain the expectations and hopes of the pious Jews
  22.   PROP. 22.—John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples employed the phrases “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Kingdom of God,” etc., in accordance with the usage of the Jews
  23.   PROP. 23.—There must be some substantial reason why the phrases “Kingdom of God,” etc., were thus adopted
  24.   PROP. 24.—The Kingdom is offered to an elect nation, viz., the Jewish nation
  25.   PROP. 25.—The Theocracy was an earnest, introductory, or initiatory form of this Kingdom
  26.   PROP. 26.—The Theocracy thus instituted would have been permanently established if the people, in their national capacity, had been faithful in obedience
  27.   PROP. 27.—The demand of the nation for an earthly king was a virtual abandonment of the Theocratic Kingdom by the nation
  28.   PROP. 28.—God makes the Jewish king subordinate to His own Theocracy
  29.   PROP. 29.—This Theocracy, or Kingdom, is exclusively given to the natural descendants of Abraham, in their corporate capacity
  30.   PROP. 30.—The prophets, however, without specifying the manner of introduction, predict that the Gentiles shall participate in the blessings of the Theocracy or Kingdom
  31.   PROP. 31.—This Theocracy was identified with the Davidic Kingdom
  32.   PROP. 32.—This Theocratic Kingdom, thus incorporated with the Davidic, is removed when the Davidic is overthrown
  33.   PROP. 33.—The prophets, some even before the captivity, foreseeing the overthrow of the Kingdom, both foretell its downfall and its final restoration
  34.   PROP. 34.—The prophets describe this restored Kingdom, its extension, glory, etc., without distinguishing between the First and Second Advents
  35.   PROP. 35.—The prophets describe but one Kingdom
  36.   PROP. 36.—The prophets, with one voice, describe this one Kingdom, thus restored, in terms expressive of the most glorious additions
  37.   PROP. 37.—The Kingdom thus predicted and promised was not in existence when the forerunner of Jesus appeared
  38.   PROP. 38.—John the Baptist preached that this Kingdom, predicted by the prophets, was “nigh at hand”
  39.   PROP. 39.—John the Baptist was not ignorant of the Kingdom that he preached
  40.   PROP. 40.—The hearers of John believed that he preached to them the Kingdom predicted by the prophets, and in the sense held by themselves
  41.   PROP. 41.—The Kingdom was not established under John’s ministry
  42.   PROP. 42.—Jesus Christ in His early ministry preached that the Kingdom was “nigh at hand”
  43.   PROP. 43.—The disciples sent forth by Jesus to preach this Kingdom were not ignorant of the meaning to be attached to the Kingdom
  44.   PROP. 44.—The preaching of the Kingdom, being in accordance with that of the predicted Kingdom, raised no controversy between the Jews and Jesus, or between the Jews and His disciples and apostles
  45.   PROP. 45.—The phrases “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Kingdom of God,” “Kingdom of Christ,” etc., denote the same Kingdom
  46.   PROP. 46.—The Kingdom anticipated by the Jews at the First Advent is based on the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants
  47.   PROP. 47.—The Jews had the strongest possible assurances given to them that the Kingdom based on these covenants would be realized
  48.   PROP. 48.—The Kingdom being based on the covenants, the covenants must be carefully examined, and (PROP. 4) the literal language of the same must be maintained
  49.   PROP. 49.—The covenants being, in Revelation, the foundation of the Kingdom, must first be received and appreciated
  50.   PROP. 50.—This Kingdom will be the outgrowth of the renewed Abrahamic covenant, under which renewal we live
  51.   PROP. 51.—The relation that the Kingdom sustains to “the covenants of promise” enables us to appreciate the prophecies pertaining to the Kingdom
  52.   PROP. 52.—The promises pertaining to the Kingdom, as given in the covenants, will be strictly fulfilled
  53.   PROP. 53.—The genealogies of our Lord form an important link in the comprehension of the Kingdom
  54.   PROP. 54.—The preaching of the Kingdom by John, Jesus, and the disciples, was confined to the Jewish nation
  55.   PROP. 55.—It was necessary that Jesus and His disciples should, at first, preach the Kingdom as nigh to the Jewish nation
  56.   PROP. 56.—The Kingdom was not established during the ministry of “the Christ”
  57.   PROP. 57.—This Kingdom was offered to the Jewish nation, but the nation rejected it
  58.   PROP. 58.—Jesus, toward the close of His ministry, preached that the Kingdom was not nigh
  59.   PROP. 59.—This Kingdom of God offered to the Jewish elect nation, lest the purpose of God fail, is to be given to others who are adopted
  60.   PROP. 60.—This Kingdom of God is given, not to nations, but to one nation
  61.   PROP. 61.—The Kingdom which by promise exclusively belonged to the Jewish nation, the rightful seed of Abraham, was now to be given to an engrafted people
  62.   PROP. 62.—This people, to whom the Kingdom is to be given, gathered out of the nations, becomes the elect nation
  63.   PROP. 63.—The present elect, to whom the Kingdom will be given, is the continuation of the previous election chiefly in another engrafted people
  64.   PROP. 64.—The Kingdom being given to the elect only, any adoption into that elect portion must be revealed by express Divine Revelation
  65.   PROP. 65.—Before this Kingdom can be given to this elect people, they must first be gathered out
  66.   PROP. 66.—The Kingdom that was nigh at one time (viz., at the First Advent) to the Jewish nation is now removed to the close of its tribulation, and of the times of the Gentiles
  67.   PROP. 67.—The Kingdom could not, therefore, have been set up at that time, viz., at the First Advent
  68.   PROP. 68.—This Kingdom is then essentially a Jewish Kingdom
  69.   PROP. 69.—The death of Jesus did not remove the notion entertained by the disciples and apostles concerning the Kingdom
  70.   PROP. 70.—The apostles, after Christ’s ascension, did not preach, either to Jews or Gentiles, that the Kingdom was established
  71.   PROP. 71.—The language of the apostles confirmed the Jews in their Messianic hopes of the Kingdom
  72.   PROP. 72.—The doctrine of the Kingdom, as preached by the apostles, was received by the early Church
  73.   PROP. 73.—The doctrine of the Kingdom preached by the apostles and elders raised up no controversy with the Jews
  74.   PROP. 74.—The belief in the speedy Advent of Christ, entertained both by the apostles and the churches under them, indicates what Kingdom was believed in and taught by the first Christians
  75.   PROP. 75.—The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the churches established by the apostles, was perpetuated
  76.   PROP. 76.—The doctrine of the Kingdom was changed under the Gnostic and Alexandrian influence
  77.   PROP. 77.—The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the early Church, was finally almost exterminated under the teaching and power of the Papacy
  78.   PROP. 78.—The early Church doctrine was revived after the Reformation
  79.   PROP. 79.—The Kingdom of God, promised by covenant and prophets, is to be distinguished from the general and universal sovereignty of God
  80.   PROP. 80.—This Kingdom of covenant, promise, and prediction is to be distinguished from the sovereignty which Jesus exercises in virtue of His Divine nature
  81.   PROP. 81.—This Kingdom, as covenanted, belongs to Jesus, as “the Son of Man”
  82.   PROP. 82.—This Kingdom is a complete restoration, in the person of the Second Adam or Man, of the dominion lost by the First Adam or Man
  83.   PROP. 83.—This Kingdom is given to “the Son of Man” by God, the Father
  84.   PROP. 84.—As this Kingdom is specially given to “the Son of Man” as the result of His obedience, sufferings, and death, it must be something different from His Divine nature, or from “piety,” “religion,” “God’s reign in the heart,” etc.
  85.   PROP. 85.—Neither Abraham nor his engrafted seed have as yet inherited the Kingdom; hence the Kingdom must be something different from “piety,” “religion,” “God’s reign in the heart,” etc.
  86.   PROP. 86.—The object or design of this dispensation is to gather out these elect to whom, as heirs with Abraham and his seed Christ, this Kingdom is to be given
  87.   PROP. 87.—The postponement of the Kingdom is the key to the understanding of the meaning of this dispensation
  88.   PROP. 88.—The Church is then a preparatory stage for this Kingdom
  89.   PROP. 89.—Christ, in view of this future Kingdom, sustains a peculiar relationship to the Church
  90.   PROP. 90.—Members of the Church who are faithful are promised this Kingdom
  91.   PROP. 91.—The Kingdom of God is not the Jewish Church
  92.   PROP. 92.—This Kingdom is not what some call, “the Gospel Kingdom”
  93.   PROP. 93.—The covenanted Kingdom is not the Christian Church
  94.   PROP. 94.—The overlooking of the postponement of this Kingdom is a fundamental mistake and fruitful source of error in many systems of Theology
  95.   PROP. 95.—If the Church is the Kingdom, then the terms “Church” and “Kingdom” should be synonymous
  96.   PROP. 96.—The differences visible in the Church are evidences that it is not the predicted Kingdom of the Messiah
  97.   PROP. 97.—The various forms of Church government indicate that the Church is not the promised Kingdom
  98.   PROP. 98.—That the Church was not the Kingdom promised to David’s Son was the belief of the early Church
  99.   PROP. 99.—The opinion that the Church is the predicted Kingdom of the Christ was of later origin than the first or second century
  100.   PROP. 100.—The visible Church is not the predicted Kingdom of Jesus Christ
  101.   PROP. 101.—The invisible Church is not the covenanted Kingdom of Christ
  102.   PROP. 102.—Neither the visible nor invisible Church is the covenanted Kingdom
  103.   PROP. 103.—This Kingdom is not a Kingdom in “the third heaven”
  104.   PROP. 104.—The Christian Church is not denoted by the predicted Kingdom of the prophets
  105.   PROP. 105.—The Lord’s Prayer, as given to the disciples, and understood by them, amply sustains our position
  106.   PROP. 106.—Our doctrine of the Kingdom sustained by the temptation of Christ

Introduction

In this work it is proposed to show what the Covenants demand, and what relationship the second coming, kingdom, and glory of “The Christ” sustains to the same, in order that perfected Redemption may be realized. This, logically, introduces a large amount of converging testimony.

The history of the human race is, as able theologians have remarked, the history of God’s dealings with man. It is a fulfilling of revelation; yea, more: it is an unfolding of the ways of God, a comprehensive confirmation of, and an appointed aid in interpreting the plan of redemption. Hence God himself appeals to it, not merely as the evidence of the truth declared, but as the mode by which we alone can obtain a full and complete view of the Divine purpose relating to salvation. To do this we must, however, regard past, present, and future history. The latter must be received as predicted, for we may rest assured, from the past and present fulfillment of the word of God, thus changed into historical reality, that the predictions and promises relating to the future will also in their turn become veritable history. It is this faith, which grasps the future as already present, that can form a decided and unmistakable unity.

This is becoming more profoundly felt and expressed, and is forcibly portrayed in some recent publications (e.g., Dorner’s His. Prot. Theol., Auberlen’s Div. Rev., etc.). Seeing that all things are tending toward the kingdom to be hereafter established by Christ, that the dispensations from Adam to the present are only preparatory stages for its coming manifestation, surely it is the highest wisdom to direct special and careful attention to the kingdom itself. If it is the end which serves to explain the means employed; if it is the object for which ages have passed by and are ever to revolve; if the coming of Jesus, which is to inaugurate it, is emphatically called “the blessed hope;” if it embraces the culmination of the world’s history in ample deliverance and desired restitution; then it is utterly impossible for us to determine the true significance, the Divine course, and the development of the plan of salvation without a deep insight into that of the kingdom itself. Prophets, apostles, and Jesus himself, especially in his last testimony, continually point the eye of faith and the heart of hope to this kingdom as the bright light which can clearly illumine the past and present, and even dispel the darkness of the future. Scripture and theology, the latter in its very early and later development, teach us, if we will but receive it, that we cannot properly comprehend the Divine economy in its relation to man and the world, unless we reverently consider the manifestation of its ultimate result as exhibited in this kingdom. It follows, therefore, that a work of this kind, intended to give an understanding of a subject so vital, however defective in part, requires no apology to the reflecting mind. Every effort in this direction, if it evinces appreciation of truth and reverence for the word, will be received with pleasure by the true Biblical student.

In the reaction against Rationalism, Spiritualism, Naturalism, etc., special attention has been paid to the kingdom of God and the relation that it sustains to history. The attack and defense revealed both how important the subject, and how sadly it had been neglected. It has been admitted by recent writers of ability (e.g., Dr. Auberlen, Div. Rev., p. 387), that much is yet to be learned in reference to it; that only a beginning has been made in investigating the subject; that a correct solution of the difficulties surrounding it in order to give a satisfactory reply to objections is still a work of the future. Some (as e.g., Rothe), when looking over the great array of Biblical authors, still find in their labors a something lacking, which when carefully analyzed resolves itself in a lack of Divine unity in reference to the kingdom of God, evincing itself in a mystical, if not arbitrary, definition of it, in various forms, to suit a present exigency, or harmonize a supposed difficulty. This feeling is strengthened by the continued assaults of unbelievers, which have been for some time made against the early history of Christianity. Numerous works have appeared, and with the boldest criticism have pointed out discrepancies existing between the ancient faith and that entertained by the large body of the Church at the present day; and from such differences of belief have inferred that the early faith was sadly defective, and that its promulgators are therefore unworthy of our confidence. We are told that the apostles, apostolic fathers, and the first Christians generally were well-meaning and even noble men, but “ignorant, enthusiastic, and fanatical” in their opinions. Rejoinders, on the other hand, have appeared, which, professing to defend the apostles, and fathers, are yet forced, most unwillingly, to admit the leading charge preferred by their opponents. Thus, e.g., the German Rationalists point to the preaching of John the Baptist, the disciples, and the first believers, and show conclusively that they preached a kingdom which accorded with the Jewish forms—viz., a kingdom here on earth under the personal reign of the Messiah, the Davidic throne and kingdom being restored. They press this matter with an exultant feeling, realizing that the great proportion of the Church being opposed to such a belief materially aids them in condemning the first preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, and thus making the founders of the Church unworthy of credence. The Church itself, by its published faith respecting the kingdom, forges the weapons that are employed against it. Every work on the other side in defense of the founders of the Christian Church, unable to set aside the abundant and overwhelming evidence adduced, frankly admits that the first preaching was in a Jewish form; that the faith of the early Church is not now the faith of the Church (saving that of a few individuals); and endeavors to solve the difficulty (as, e.g., Neander, and others) by declaring, that the early period was a transition state, a preparatory stage, an adaptation to meet the necessities of that age; that hence the truth in the matter of the kingdom was enveloped in a “husk,” and was to be gradually evolved in “the consciousness of the Church” by its growth. Aside from thus virtually making Church authority superior to Scripture (for according to this theory we know far more doctrinal truth than the apostles), we earnestly protest against such a defense, which leaves the apostles chargeable with error (embracing the husk instead of the kernel), invalidates their testimony, and makes them unreliable guides. Under several of the propositions this feature will be duly examined; for the present we have only to say: the reason for such a lack of unity, of vital connection, of satisfactory apologetics, arises simply from ignoring a fact brought out vividly by Barnabas in his Epistle—viz., that the Abrahamic Covenant contained the formative principles, the nucleus of the Plan of Redemption; and that all future revelations is an unveiling, a developing, a preparation for the ultimate fulfillment of that covenant, and of the kingdom incorporated in the predictions and promises relating to that covenant. The legitimate outgrowth is alone to be received as the promised kingdom, without human addition in the way of defining and explaining. In this way only can we preserve the simplicity and harmony of Scripture, find ourselves in unison with the early preaching of this kingdom, and consistently, without detracting from the apostles and their immediate followers, defend the Divine record against the shafts of unbelievers.

The multiplicity and utter inconsistency of prevailing interpretations of the kingdom; the complete failure to reconcile such meanings with the preaching of the apostles; the unfortunate concessions made by able theologians to the Strauss and Bauer school on the subject of the kingdom; the impossibility of preserving the authority and unity of the apostolic teaching from the modern standpoint of the kingdom; the honest desire to obtain, if possible, the truth—these and other considerations led the writer to repeatedly consider, for many years, the Divine Revelation (in connection with the history of man) with special reference to this subject, until he was forced, by the vast array of authority and the satisfactory unity of teaching and of purpose which it presented, not only to discard the modern definitions as untrustworthy, but to accept of the old view of the kingdom as the one clearly taught by the prophets, Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, the apostolic fathers, and their immediate successors. In a course of reading and study it has been constantly kept in view, and the results, after a laborious comparison of Scripture, are now laid before the reader. This work is far from being exhaustive. Here are only presented the outlines of that which some other mind may mould into a more attractive and comprehensive form. Owing to providences which prevented the writer from actively prosecuting the ministry, he was directed to a course of study which influenced him years ago to draw up a draft of the present work. The need of such an one was then impressed, and this impression has been deepened by a varied and close observation. Yet, feeling the necessity of caution, it was held in abeyance to allow renewed reflection and investigation, until finally a sense of duty has impelled him to publish it as now given. If it possesses no other merit than that of presenting in a compact and logical form the Millenarian views of the ancient and modern believers, and in paving the way for a more strict and consistent interpretation of the kingdom, this itself would already be sufficient justification for its publication. The work, aside from its main leading idea, contains a mass of information on a variety of subjects and texts which may prove interesting, if not valuable, in suggestions to others. The author is not desirous to play the Diogenes, evincing, under the garb of humility and pretended low opinion of self, the utmost vainglory; or to enact the Alexander, showing, through an ardent desire for praise, a strong ambition for honors. A due medium, involving self-respect and a sincere desire to secure the approval of good men, is the most desirable, and also the most consistent with modesty. He therefore concluded, that no one could justly suspect his honesty of purpose, integrity, and desire to promote the truth, if he would publish his thoughts in the form herein given, even if he went to the length—impelled by what he regarded as truth—of giving the decided opinion, with reasons attached, that the views so universally promulgated respecting the kingdom of God are radically wrong, derogatory to the Plan of Redemption, opposed to the honor of the Messiah, and a remnant, remarkably preserved, of Alexandrian, monkish, and popish interpretation. Not that the writer claims entire freedom from error himself. Imperfection and a liability to err are, more or less, the condition of all human writings, even of the most well intended. Therefore, while, in illustrating or defending my own views, the opinions of others may be brought into review, it is far from me to assert that in some things, either through inadvertency, or ignorance, or prejudice, the author may not be ultimately found to be in error. Seeing that this is our own common lot, it would be unwise to approach each other’s works with any other than candid eyes and charitable hearts; so that, while we may feel to regret what appears to us a mistake, we may at the same time duly acknowledge the truth which is given. It may be proper to add in this connection, lest the spirit and motive be misinterpreted, that in the course of the work the names of authors are necessarily presented whose views are antagonistic to those here advocated. As it would have required considerable space to insert in each instance the respect and high regard the author has for them, although they thus differ from him, he may be allowed, once for all, to say that, while compelled to dissent from them, he nevertheless esteems them none the less as believers in Christ. Honestly impelled to differences, and, in justice to our subject, to criticize the views of eminent men, we still gratefully acknowledge ourselves largely indebted to many of them for valuable information, instruction, and suggestions. We have no desire to reproach them, or, in imitation of some of them in reference to ourselves, to call their integrity, or piety, or orthodoxy into question. We may even indulge the hope that this work may elicit renewed reflection, study, and discussion, leading to the removal of the evident weakness and contradictory statements of the prevailing Church view. Its publication may, we trust, be provocative of good, sustaining as it does the humble position of a forerunner of the truth, or the relationship of being merely suggestive, and thus opening the way for a more severe and critical examination of a doctrine which has been too much taken for granted. Defective as our works are in some respects, yet gifted minds have asserted, with charity and truth, that no mental toil, no laborious research, no earnestness of effort to interpret the Scriptures, however deficient in part or whole, should be undervalued, or scouted, or denounced, because all such may either present some truth which may serve to elucidate others, or produce thoughts that may be suggestive to others in introducing true knowledge. We too often overlook even our indebtedness to opposers of our opinions and belief. What Julius Müller says should influence us not only to attempt to labor ourselves, but to tolerate the efforts of others: “Our attempts to exhibit the truth in its entirety and connection are only like the prattle of children, compared with that clear knowledge which awaits us; but woe would it be to us if, because we cannot have the perfect, we should cease to apply to the imperfect, in all truthfulness and honor, our strength and toil” (quoted by Auberlen, Div. Rev., p. 415). This work is written under the impression, deepened by the testimony of able scholars, that the love of truth is one of the fundamental principles given to us by Christianity, and revived by the spirit of Protestantism and Science. Ignorance, fanaticism, party prejudice, etc. may indeed at times have obscured it, but intelligent piety has constantly restored it. Under its influence every inquiry after the truth, if conducted with reverence to the Word, without animosity, and in meekness, even if unsuccessful in its full attainment, is regarded by the truly learned and wise with charity, without an impugning of motives, or questioning of the religious standpoint of the searcher. This leads of course, to the position, that the credit we desire to be awarded to ourselves for presenting what we conceive to be truth, should be likewise extended to others. And if others claim, that they are not to decline the responsibility of holding forth the whole truth from our apprehension of consequences; that they are not to disguise or withdraw it through fear of giving offense, of losing reputation and support—we justly claim the same privilege. More than this: we can say with a distinguished theologian, who, contrasting the labors of more recent theologians with those of the older, and pointing out how the Old Testament is beginning to be appreciated in its relations to the New Testament, and the future—how the historical and doctrinal features of the primitive Church are more distinctly developed, how the place of the Church in its relation to the kingdom of God is more fully recognized—adds, that these are only “the beginnings of a work in which it is a pleasure and joy to have any share.”

This pleasure, however, is materially affected by one feature, the natural result of human infirmity. Uprightness demands that we follow the truth wherever it may lead, regardless of results, keeping in mind the remark of Canstein (Lange, Com., vol. 1, p. 516), “Straightforwardness is best. When we seek to make the truth bend, it usually breaks.” The doctrine discussed in the following pages being within the field of controversy, and the subject of varied interpretation, it will become in its turn, owing to its antagonism to the prevailing theology, the legitimate subject of criticism. Of this we do not complain, but rather commend the fact. “History repeats itself,” and in such a repetition we do not flatter ourselves to escape the usual fate of our predecessors in authorship. Indeed, we already have had sad foretastes of the same, confirming the teaching of Scripture, and corroborating the experience of good men, that no exercise of wisdom, caution, and prudence will be able wholly to avert the evil tongues and pens of others. Some men seem to be constitutionally constituted to be “heresy-hunters,” and imbibe largely the spirit of Osiander of Tübingen, who (Dorner’s Hist. Prot. Theol., p. 185, note) discovered in Arndt’s writings Popery, Monkery, Enthusiasm, Pelagianism, Calvinism, Schwenckfeldianism, Flacianism, and Wegelianism. Arndt survived the attack and still gloriously lives in the esteem of true Christian freedom, while his opponent is almost forgotten. This random illustration is taken from a vast multitude familiar to every scholar, and serves to indicate a weakness naturally inherent in some men, and who, perhaps, are scarcely answerable for its unfortunate display. Truth itself, however, requires no such picking of flaws, no harshness of language, no personality of attack, no bigoted and selfish support. She loves to hide herself in meekness, humility, and love, while the graces of the spirit surround and accompany her. The rude grasp, the rough touch even, is sure to mar the neat foldings and to spoil the downy softness and shining luster of her garments. That this work will bring upon the author bitter and unrelenting abuse is almost inevitable, presenting as it does unpalatable truths to a proud humanity. How can this be otherwise, when even the institution of the Lord’s Supper, intended as a bond of union and love, has been made the subject of uncharitable discord, violent abuse, and miserable hatred between professed believers. While we trust that the spirit which actuated many of the eucharistic controversies may never again arise, we are only too sensible, from treatment already experienced, that human nature remains the same. If the amiable Melanchthon did not escape, but most earnestly wished to be delivered from the rabies theologorum, how can others be safe? Even the Master himself was and is attacked, and the disciple is not above his Master. The virulence occasionally received from some quarters reminds one of the utterances of older controversialists, such as Henry VIII.’s work, Luther’s reply, and More’s rejoinder. Perhaps, like St. Austin and others, they regard such a manifestation of spirit as perfectly legitimate, desirable, and honorable. We do not quarrel with those who have inherited a taste for “bitter herbs.” Expressing ourselves candidly and fairly toward our opponents, we dare not return the epithets so liberally bestowed upon us. Two reasons prevent us: the first is, that dealing as we do “with the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy,” entering the sacred province of Scripture with the words of God constantly flowing from our pen, portraying the holy utterances of the Most High, it ill becomes us, when thus writing of the precious things pertaining to redemption, the kingdom of the Great King, and the ultimate glory of God, to mingle with it the painful evidences of human passion. The second is, dealing with a subject which, in the writer’s opinion, has been misapprehended by talented men, it is amply sufficient, for the elucidation and confirmation of the truth, to point out defects and exhibit statements in opposition without defaming the character or standing of any one. The latter procedure is worthy alone of a groveling jesuitical casuistry. Our names (Millenarian) have been linked with Cerinthus, heresy, etc., which is only imitating the amiable example of the Jesuit Theophilus Raynaud, who was noted for coupling his adversaries with some odious name to render them, if possible, contemptible by the comparison. It is the same trick resorted to by some Jews to wound Christ, and can only have weight with the unreflecting. To hold up the faults of opinion in others, for the sake of contrasting, explaining, and enforcing the truth, is allowable to all; especially when they are published, and thus become a sort of common property, or at least challenge the notice of others; but to hold up a man’s faults simply to make him odious is a despicable business. As Fuller (Eccl. Hist., Book X., p. 27) has wisely said: “What a monster might be made out of the best beauties in the world, if a limner should leave what is lovely and only collect into one picture what he findeth amiss in them! I know that there be white teeth in the blackest blackamoor, and a black bill in the whitest swan. Worst men have something to be commended; best men, something in them to be condemned. Only to insist on men’s faults, to render them odious, is no ingenious (sic) employment,” etc. We doubt not the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah 66:5 in the case of many who have been thus defamed: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” This passage suggests that a mistaken zeal for God’s glory may often be the leading motive of controversial bitterness—that our “brethren” may, through such overzeal, be its willing instruments. This, alas, embitters authorship on controverted questions. The opposition and obloquy consequent to and connected with such a discussion as follows while duly anticipated, as a heritage of the studious sons of the Church (the more marked their labors, the greater the abuse), would be less painful if it came only from infidels or the enemies of the truth, but much of it comes through those from whom, in view of a common faith and hope, we expect different treatment—at least forbearance if not charity. Acknowledging the respectful and Christian manner in which we are spoken of by a number of our opponents, yet the simple fact is, that if any one dares to arise and call into question the correctness of popular views and propose another, one too in strict accordance with the early teaching of the Church, his motives are assailed, his piety is doubted, his character is privately and publicly traduced, his learning and ability are lowered, his position is accorded a scornful and degrading pity, by persons who deem themselves set up for the defense of the truth. This plainness of speech the reader will pardon when he is assured that the writer, for the sake of the opinions set forth in this work, has suffered all this from the hands of “brethren,” who, by such efforts, reproaches, innuendoes, etc, have sought to lessen his influence and retard his preferment. Precisely as the learned Mede and hundreds of others have experienced. We here enter our protest, that truth is never benefited by such conduct, and that Christianity in its most rudimentary form forbids such treatment. But in justice to the really intelligent class of our opponents, we must say that such dealings toward us do not come from the truly learned opposer—for among such the writer has the pleasure of numbering valued friends. One feature of this work will bring upon us the censure of some—viz., the candid concessions made to unbelievers who attack the Scriptures, and the acceptance of the principle of interpretation (i.e., the grammatical sense), the views entertained respecting the kingdom by John the Baptist, disciples, and early church, etc., to which the writer is forced by justice, love for the truth, and the decided, overwhelming proof presented in behalf of the same. It must be acknowledged that many facts pertaining to the kingdom, as covenanted, predicted, and preached, are either entirely ignored or most imperfectly (inconsistently) explained by Christian Apologists. But these very concessions form for us a means of logical strength, of consonant unity, of accordance with Scripture and history, that, meeting unbelief fairly and honestly upon its own ground, furnish us with the proper weapons for defending the integrity of the Word and the reputation of the first preachers of “the gospel of the kingdom,” bringing a continued verification of the Divine utterance, that “a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Of course, we expect no special favor from gross Infidels, Spiritualists, Mystics, Free Religionists, and a variety of others, whose basis necessarily leads to opposition and whose unbelief is frankly criticized. Yet even such have dealt far more justly toward us, owing to our honest conceptions of historical facts, than members who were united with us in the same church. We may suitably close this section by again referring to that noble characteristic of candor which should, above all, mark our criticism of doctrine. We select as an apt illustration of our meaning the honorable example of Professor Bush. Although in his writings an opposer of Millenarianism, he endeavors to conceal no facts, however adverse to himself, but freely gives them, being too much of a scholar to be unacquainted with them, and too much of a gentleman and Christian either to ignore, or to despise, or to deny them. Thus, e.g., he fully admits the universality of our doctrine in the first three centuries and eloquently says: “We are well aware of the imposing array of venerable names by which it (Chiliasm) is surrounded, as if it were the bed of Solomon guarded by threescore valiant men of Israel, all holding swords, and expert in war.” Unable to receive our doctrine, he still does justice to that noble list of martyrs, confessors, writers, theologians, missionaries, and others, who have held it, and finds in them the redeeming qualities of Christian integrity, faith, love, and holiness.

It is a fact, lamented by some of our ablest divines, that there must be something radically wrong in our prevailing interpretation of the Bible, which allows such a diversity of antagonistic exegesis and doctrine, and by which the truth is weakened and humbled, so that Revelation itself, by its means, becomes the object of Rationalistic and Infidel ridicule and attack, and is even sorely wounded in the house of its friends by its stumbling, conceding, but well-meaning apologetic defenders. To indicate this feeling, which prevails to a considerable extent, Dr. Auberlen (Div. Rev., p. 387) quotes Rothe as saying respecting the defects of exegesis: “Our key does not open—the right key is lost; and till we are put in possession of it again, our exposition will never succeed. The system of biblical ideas is not that of our schools; and so long as we attempt exegesis without it, the Bible will remain a half-closed book. We must enter upon it with other conceptions than those which we have been accustomed to think the only possible ones; and whatever these may be, this one thing at least is certain, from the whole tenor of the melody of Scripture in its natural fulness, that they must be more realistic and massive.” This is a sad confession after the voluminous labors of centuries, and yet true as it is sorrowful. We may be allowed to suggest, that the only way in which this key can be obtained is to return to the principles of interpretation adopted and prevailing in the very early history of the Christian Church, by which, if consistently carried out, the kingdom of God in its “realistic and massive” form appears as the reliable interpreter of the Word. In other words, we have no suitable key to unlock Revelation if we do not seize that provided for us in the revealed Will of God respecting the ultimate end that He has in view in the plan of redemption and the history of the world. A way is only known when the beginning and terminus are considered; a human plan can only be properly appreciated when the results of it are fully weighed: so with God’s way and God’s plan, it can only be fully known when the end intended is duly regarded. How to do this will be contained in some of the following propositions. That it will be accomplished we doubt not, and we are encouraged to labor on when such men as Dr. Dorner (p. 4, Introd., vol. 2, Hist. of Prot. Theol.), expressing the sentiments of many others, says: “There can be no doubt that Holy Scripture contains a rich abundance of truths and views, which have yet to he expounded and made the common possession of the Church,” and adds, that this will be done as the necessity of the Church requires. This, however, cannot be accomplished without long and laborious study of the Scriptures, diligent comparison of them, and inflexible abiding within the limits of their plain, grammatical teaching. We have no sympathy with that flippant, unargumentative, high-sounding, but unscriptural mode of presenting theological questions, so prevalent at the present day, by which the merest tyro of a student endeavors to elevate himself, as a teacher, above men who have been trained by grave and extended reflection, and which manifests itself by despising the teachings of the Apostolic Fathers and of the noble men of the Church, and enforces its views by an applauding of modern views and modern theories as evidences of progression in truth. The dignity of religion, the steadfastness of faith, and the reliability of the discovery of truth, must suffer by such a style, which lacks the strength imparted by a scriptural basis—a “thus saith the Lord”—being built upon the deductions of reason, with, perhaps, here and there a scripture passage thrown in by way of ornament. Give us men, who, instead of following their own fancies, or binding their faith to human utterances, availing themselves of preceding knowledge, patiently, thoughtfully, and reverently go to the very roots of questions, and in things revealed by God determinately reject everything inconsistent with such a revelation. We know that such a course demands courage and study, but in every instance when exhibited by published labors, it will command, if not the entire assent, the respect of the truly learned; for the latter, from experience, can appreciate, at least, the toil in producing such a work. Give us such men, and then we can hope to make advancement in Christian knowledge, in harmonizing the difficulties besetting theology, and in widening the domain of thought, faith, and hope. “What we want is solidity, and that, in theology, is alone attainable by having underneath as a foundation to build on the pure declarations of God. What God says is true, what man says may be true; and the truthfulness of the latter can be ascertained, its certainty demonstrated, by comparing it with that which God has declared. If the comparison is favorable, let us accept of it; if unfavorable, then let us have the Christian manhood to reject it, no matter under whose name, patronage, or auspices it is given. Rendering the regard due to the writings of others, it does not follow that we must elevate them to the position of competitors of, or peers with, the Divine utterances. Such a test the author solicits from the reader, bringing to the consideration of the subject an impartial judgment, and weighing its value and authority in the scripture balance and not in human scales. Every sincere lover of the truth, even should his labor be rejected in part or whole, must feel honored by the institution of such a comparison.

It has, however, been the fate of some authors to be so far in advance of their contemporaries that, appreciated only by the few discerning or candid, it has required time, or the necessity of the Church, or the endorsements of a line of students to give importance and weight to their statements. While the deepest thinkers freely admit that new and valuable contributions to theology are reasonably to be anticipated, that such are absolutely required at the present juncture, and that such can only be found in the rich resources of the Word, yet it is remarkable that a contribution thus given will, especially in the hands of those whose minds are controlled by human traditions and by an exalting of Church authority above that of the Scriptures, be rejected and anathematized on the ground of its being in opposition to their preconceived and favorite formula of doctrine. Others, through indifference or an indisposition to examination, will pass it by with, probably, a momentary interest. Others again, the few tried friends of intellectual and theological effort, will give it a fair, frank, and sincere reception, and form a candid estimate of its value based exclusively upon its correspondence with the Holy Scriptures. The latter occupy the real student position—one that Dorner has aptly characterized as of “individual freedom, that indispensable medium for all genuine appropriation of evangelical truth”—a freedom only limited by Revelation. Without intending an imitation of such great writers as Bacon and others, who declared that they wrote for “posterity,” and that it would require time to “ripen” their views so as to cause their due appreciation, yet such is the subject-matter of this work, so beset and resisted by the torrent of opposing doctrine, so circumscribed by the entrenched prevailing dogmas, so unpalatable to the licentiousness of the increasing free-thinking, so unwelcomed to a proud and self-satisfied reason, that we are justly apprehensive of an overwhelming opposition to the following propositions. In this belief we are fortified by the predictions of the Word, which unmistakably teach that they will find but little acceptance with the world, and even with the Church at large, and that they will only be pondered and received by the thoughtful few. In this period of prosperity, of sanguine hope of continued and ever-increasing peace and happiness, the minds and hearts of the multitude will be closed against all appeal, all instruction. It is only when the dreadful storm of persecution and death, alluded to in several propositions, shall, when excited and marshaled by the elements and forces now at work, burst with fearful violence upon the Church, and beat with pitiless vehemence upon the heads of true, unflinching believers in Christ, that this work will find a cordial response, a hearty welcome in the breasts of the faithful. Time with its startling and terrible events will justify this publication. When the dreams of fallible man, now so universally held as the prophetic announcements of God, are swept away by stern reality; when, instead of the fondly anticipated blessedness and glory to be brought about by existing agencies, the blood of man shall again stain and steep the soil of earth with its precious crimson, then will the doctrine of the kingdom, as here taught, be regarded worthy of the highest consideration, and then will it also become a solace, hope, and joy under tribulation. But to remove the suspicion of arrogance or pride in making so strong an assertion, we may be allowed to say, that such a future estimation is not based on literary or theological merits or attainments, but solely upon a strict adhesion to and firm belief in the infallible Word of God as herein delineated under the guidance of a legitimate rule of interpretation, by which the Divine purposes relating to the Church and world are plainly and distinctly taught. The possessions of God, even the most costly, are often given to mere children, and denied to the wise and noble. The Magi, although babes in knowledge compared with the Pharisees, came nearer to the truth than those who supposed themselves to be specially set up for its advocates. Numerous examples attest the same and reveal the feature, that just in proportion as a man, learned or unlearned, receives and endorses the declarations of God, to the same extent will his writings have an abiding value. Especially is this true concerning the things pertaining to the future—that region, those ages known only to the Eternal, and utterly impenetrable to mere mortal vision. Hence, the writer consistently claims that his labors will not be in vain; that they will at least some day be esteemed in the degree that they sustain to the Bible. We firmly hold to the opinion, confirmed by the providences of God, that the necessity has arisen for a renewal of the early Church doctrine respecting the kingdom. If the millennial age, as conceded by a host of antagonistic writers, is near at hand, and if the kingdom in that age is such as herein portrayed, then is the kingdom itself not very distant, and then too ought we reasonably to expect—in view of its peculiar nature, prominence, aims, etc., especially of its immediate tremendous and frightful antecedent preparations, and of its becoming a net and snare for the unbelieving and wicked—that before its appearance God will raise up instruments—even if weak Jonahs—who will so distinctly announce the order of events, so vividly represent the nature of the kingdom, point out its manner of manifestation, give a precise understanding of the Church’s actual relationship to the world and this kingdom, that the Church will be prepared to endure the awful scenes awaiting her, and that the saints, called to suffer the loss of life, may, in the thus revealed will of God, find encouragement and comfort instead of disappointment and despair. With the hope of being thus honored with others as an instrument in upholding the faith of God’s dear children in the darkest period of the Church’s history, one will sadly but cheerfully endure the censures of mistaken zeal and bigotry, and give his days and years of wearisome labor as an inspiring sacrifice of love.

The doctrine herein advocated, because of its being so directly opposed to the current theology, and perhaps new in form to some readers, must not be regarded in the light of a novelty. It is, as we shall show, far older than the Christian Church, and was ably advocated by the founders and immediate supporters of that Church. It is admitted by all scholars, that the Apostolic Fathers and many of their successors endorsed it, and that since their time eminent and pious men have taught it, and that today it is embraced in the faith of some in the various denominations of the Church. We therefore are not open to the charge of introducing a “modern novelty.” Again: men of pretensions, without perceiving the logical result of its once being universally held by the early Church, may deride this early view of the kingdom and stigmatize it as a return to “Jewish forms.” But persons of reflection, seeing how largely it is interwoven with the very life, prosperity, and perpetuity of the Church in its earliest period, and perceiving how deeply we are indebted to “Jewish forms,” even if unable to accept of its teachings, regard its faith with respect. Indeed, it is difficult to apprehend how any one can scorn that which inspired a hope that supported and strengthened the ancient steadfast witnesses for the truth, the very pillars of the Church in their sufferings, the dying martyrs at the stake, on the cross, or in the circus. Cut off the believers of this very kingdom as they existed and testified in the first, second, and third centuries, and where would be the Church? The really intelligent comprehend this, feel its force, realize their indebtedness to such believers for the perpetuation of gospel truth, and hence from such we anticipate no censure, couched in derision, in advocating what was once almost, if not entirely, universal in the Church. They are ready to acknowledge how, instead of its being a novelty and being held by weak and unreliable men, it interpenetrated the most significant and remarkable era, and how widely it was inculcated by the very teachers to whom the Church owes, under God, its growth and extension.

Some, probably, may object to the quotations as excessive or pedantic, but the reader will allow me thus to express my gratitude to and respect for others; thus to avoid the charges of misquoting or misstating writers (from which he has unjustly suffered); hence the author, book, and page are adduced to facilitate reference and indicate an intended fairness in argument, thus to aid those who are disposed to examine the affirmations in the following propositions; to show how many great and earnest thinkers have given this subject, or parts of it, their earnest attention; to evince my indebtedness to others, and avoid the appearance of so many writers of the present day, who, while under great obligations to others for valuable material, give no sign of a just recognition; to imitate the conduct of those who go forth to meet the storms of the sea, taking in a quantity of ballast to keep the bark steady among the currents and winds; to emulate the practice of writers of conceded merit, impressed by the fact tersely stated by D’Israeli (Curios. of Lit., vol. 2, p. 416), that “those who never quote, in return are seldom quoted;” to present a sense of delicacy by avoiding “the odium of singularity of opinion,” adding weight and authority to what otherwise might be regarded as doubtful; and, lastly, to avoid even by implication the application of the simile of Swift in The Battle of the Books—viz., of being like the spider weaving his flimsy nets out of his own bowels, instead of being like the bee passing over the field of nature and gathering its sweets from every flower to enrich its hive. We may be allowed to add: like the bee, however, we may justly claim, if nothing more, the industry and skill requisite in the gathering of the wax, the honey, and the building of the cells. Indeed, such is our infirmity, that we all are more or less influenced by the authority of names, and in the reading of a work chiefly composed of controverted questions given in an argumentative form, we reasonably expect an array of advocates on both sides, which imparts confidence that the author has bestowed some attention to the subject, and makes his labor, in consequence, the more valuable as an expression of opinion or a book of reference. At the same time, important as it is to the student to know and trace opinions, we are not influenced, either by their commonplaceness, axiomatic nature, or remoteness in time, to assert, as Glanvil (Lecky, Hist. of Rat., vol. 1, p. 132, note) sarcastically charged the scholars of his day, on the authority of Beza, that women have no beards, and on that of Augustine, that peace is a blessing, or to believe that common pebbles must be rare because they come from the Indies.

Finally, the form of propositions adopted avoids repetition and insures easy reference. It also gives distinctness to the numerous subjects so intimately connected with the kingdom, and it enabled the writer to abridge what otherwise would have required considerable enlargement. The design kept in view has been to give the greatest amount of information within the smallest space, resisting the temptation, often presented, of extending some salient point. The propositions, separately treated, are to be examined and criticized in the light which each one sustains in its connection with the whole. It is but a low polemical trick to detach one from the rest without indicating its relationship to others, and upon such a detachment frame a charge of error. It does not require much cunning or skill to wrest the words of any author from their connection, to misrepresent their meaning, and to hold them up to undeserved reproach. Willing to have any fault or error pointed out, it must, to give it adequate force, be done not only with a consideration of the manner and relation in which it is set forth, but also of the scriptural arguments, if any, which profess to sustain it. Otherwise, we take refuge in what Zeisius (Lange, Com., vol. 1, p. 496) says: “If the words of Christ, who was eternal Wisdom and Truth, were perverted, why should we wonder that His servants and children suffer from similar misrepresentations.”

GEORGE N.H. PETERS
SPRINGFIELD, OHIO, 1883. 

Prop. 1. The kingdom of God is a subject of vital importance

The Scriptures cannot be rightly comprehended without a due knowledge of this kingdom. It is a fact, attested by a multitude of works, and constantly presented in all phases of Biblical literature, that the doctrine respecting the kingdom has materially affected the judgments of men concerning the canonical authority, the credibility, inspiration, and the meaning of the writings contained in the Bible. If in error here, it will inevitably manifest itself, e.g., in exegesis and criticism. This feature has been noticed by various writers, and, however explained, the views entertained on this subject are admitted to greatly modify the reception, the interpretation, and the doctrinal teaching of the Word.
    To illustrate: Olshausen, Pref. to Com., attributes Luther’s remarks and hesitancy concerning the Apocalypse to a preconceived opinion of the kingdom, and to his not “thoroughly apprehending the doctrine of God’s kingdom upon earth.” Numerous examples will be given as we proceed. It is gratifying that recent writers begin to appreciate the leading doctrine of the kingdom. While some are wrong in not more accurately distinguishing between the Divine Sovereignty (Props. 80 and 81) and the covenanted kingdom (Prop. 49, etc.), yet, as the Bible, they correctly make the kingdom of God the central topic around which all other doctrines logically arrange themselves. Correctly apprehending the kingdom of God as the guiding idea, Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. i. p. 65) justly observes: “The dogmatic theology which understands its vocation will be neither more nor less than a theology of the kingdom in all the force of the word.” He aptly remarks (p. 168): “The idea of the kingdom of God is the golden thread which runs through all; and of this kingdom the Bible is the document;” and quotes Nitzsch: “The Word of God is the testimony of His kingdom, in the form of a history and doctrine explained and continued by personal organs.” Many others, however they may treat it, designate it as Augustine (The City of God), a fundamental thought or idea.

Obs. 1. Its importance may be estimated by considering the following particulars: 1. The kingdom is the object designed by the oath-bound covenant (Prop. 49). 2. It is the great theme, the burden of prophecy (Props. 33–35, etc). 3. It is a subject which embraces a larger proportion of Revelation than all other subjects combined; thus indicating the estimation in which it is held by God. Dr. Pye Smith, Bickersteth, and others have well observed and commented on this peculiarity—viz., that inspired writers say more respecting the kingdom of Christ than they do concerning all other things treated or discussed in the Word. 4. It was the leading subject of the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ, the disciples and apostles (Props. 38–74). 5. It was a cherished subject of preaching in the primitive Church (Props. 75–77). 6. It is the foundation of a correct scriptural preaching, for the Gospel itself is “the gospel of the kingdom.” 7. To promote its establishment Jesus appears, suffers, and dies (Props. 50, 181), and to manifest it He will come again (Props. 66, 68, 130, etc.). 8. Jesus Christ Himself, must be deeply interested in it, since it is a distinguishing blessing and honor given to Him by the Father (Prop. 84), and belongs to Him as His inheritance (Props. 82, 116, etc.). 9. We are invited, as the most precious of privileges, to inherit this kingdom (Prop. 96). 10. It is the constantly presented object of faith and hope, which should influence us to prayer, duty, and watchfulness. 11. It is the result of the preparatory dispensations, enabling us to appreciate the means employed to attain this end. 12. It embraces within itself perfect completed redemption; for in it all the promises of God will be verified and realized. 13. It exhibits in an outward form the pleasure of the Divine will in the salvation of the race and the deliverance of creation (Props. 149, 145, etc.). 14. It brings the Divine utterances into unity of design (Props. 174, 175), exhibits manifested unity (Prop. 173), and vindicates the inspiration of Holy Writ (Prop. 182), including the Apocalypse (Prop. 176). 15. It enforces not only the humanity (Props. 82, 89) of Christ, but also His Divinity (Props. 85 and 183), with the strongest reasoning. 16. It exhibits to us the majesty and glory of Jesus, “The Christ,” as Theocratic King (Props. 88, 89, 132, 184, etc.), and the preeminent position of “the first-born” who are co-heirs with Him (Props. 118, 119, 127, etc.). All these, as well as other related points, will be fully discussed in the following pages. A sufficiency is briefly stated, that the reader may not fail to see how significant must be a proper comprehension of this subject.

We are prepared, from such considerations, to appreciate the remark attributed by Lange (Com., vol. 1, p. 254) to Starke: “The kingdom of heaven must form the central point of all theological learning.” Van Oosterzee (Theol. of the N.T., p. 69) calls it the foundation thought, and, after giving the doctrine of the kingdom its proper position in the teaching of Jesus (saying, “that the idea of the kingdom of God is fundamental in the theology of Christ,”) remarks: “Already Hess has furnished a treatise on the doctrine of the kingdom of God, in which he shows how prominent a place this idea occupies in Holy Scripture, especially in the teaching of the Lord. It is surprising therefore that Schmid, in the work cited, assigns to it the third place in his treatment of the doctrine of Jesus. Much better Neander, who, in his life of Jesus, derives a ‘whole system of truths’ from the parables of the kingdom of God.” Let us add, however, that even Schmid does ample justice in acknowledging its importance, when (e.g., Bib. Theol. N.T., p. 243) he calls it, the groundwork of His (Christ’s) teaching. 

    Such testimony could be multiplied. It is gratifying to find numerous recent writers of eminence (as e.g. Delitzsch, Auberlen, Kurtz, Bonar, etc.) who emphatically declare that the most important subject for careful consideration, and the one, too, that will most serve to explain the plan of salvation, is that contained so prominently in the preaching of Christ, viz., that of the kingdom. We conclude in the words of one of the most recent, Thompson (Theol. of Christ, p. 19): “The whole circle of doctrines taught by Christ revolves about this central point, that he represented to men the kingdom of God;” or to recall Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 169): “The central thought is contained in the idea of the kingdom of God.” Dr. Kling (Herzog’s Ency., Art. “Kingdom of God”) pertinently says: “The idea of the kingdom of God is the central idea of the entire economy of revelation; the kingdom of God is the purpose of all heavenly revelation and preparations, and therefore the moving principle of Divine works, guidance, and institutions of the Old and New Testament, the law and the gospel, and even of creation and promise from the beginning on.”

Obs. 2. It is significant to the thoughtful student—a fulfillment of prophecy—that the idea of a distinctive Divine kingdom related to Christ and this earth, a kingdom which decidedly holds the foremost place in the teaching of Jesus, should be made, both (with few exceptions) in theology and the confessions of the Church, to come down from its first position in the Bible and occupy, when alluded to, a very subordinate one. In hundreds of books, where it reasonably ought to be conspicuous, a few references of a somewhat mystical and unsatisfactory nature, or a brief endorsement of the old monkish view that it applies to the Church, dismisses the entire subject; while inferior subjects have long chapters and even volumes in their interest. There is, to the reflecting mind, something radically wrong in such a change of position, and the wider the departure from the scriptural basis the more defective does it become. Any effort, as here made, to restore the doctrine of the kingdom to its true and paramount Biblical station should at least solicit attention.

Obs. 3. The kingdom deserves the first place in Biblical and the first rank in Systematic theology. The reasons for this, as already intimated, are abundant. This has been too much overlooked, and the kingdom has been placed in a subordinate position, until for some years past a reaction—induced by unbelieving attacks—has taken place, and the kingdom (however explained) is brought out again most prominently, especially by Lange (see Pref. to Com.), Van Oosterzee (Ch. Dogmatics), Thompson (Theol. of Christ), Auberlen (Div. Rev.), and others. while thus advocating its claims to doctrinal position, we do not, as sometimes unjustly charged, depreciate the importance, the value, and the exceeding precious-ness of the person and death of Jesus. The latter is doctrinally the outgrowth from the former, and as provisionary (for without the latter the kingdom, as covenanted and promised, could not possibly be obtained), for the kingdom, is of incalculable consequence.
    If it be said that “the Christ” is of greater importance than the kingdom, this is fully admitted, inasmuch as the theocratic king who establishes the kingdom is greater than the kingdom itself. Indeed, as the student will observe, our line of reasoning proceeds to exalt the kingdom because of the vital union existing between the king and kingdom—the latter being the inheritance of the former. On the other hand, we glorify “the Christ’ by showing the result and grandeur of His work as exhibited in this theocratic ordering. In the kingdom, Jesus Himself is evermore the central figure, and He can never be regarded in a higher, holier, clearer light than that reflected upon Him by His theocratic relationship. This will hereafter be brought forth in detail. 

Obs. 4. In proportion as investigation advances in this direction may we expect valuable acquisitions. Reuss (Hist. of Ch. Theol. of Ap. Age, p. 137), although mistaken in his interpretation of the kingdom, truthfully says: “There can be no doubt, then, that this full and suggestive idea of the kingdom of God must be in some way the mine to be explored by us, in order to bring to light the treasures which Christian science have to mould and fashion, to meet the necessities of every successive sphere, and the measure and capacities of every mind.”

Obs. 5. That the subject of the kingdom is one widely acknowledged as leading can even be seen in the most extreme views, as e.g. Swedenborgianism, Mormonism, Shakerism, etc. We need only refer to the simple fact that writers of pantheistic and mystical tendencies have taken the phrase “kingdom of heaven” to be the real starting-point of Christianity, which they designate “The New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven;” and from which they argue that all men should morally labor for the infinite, making every effort, whether in religion, science, poetry, art, etc., to be hailed as a subjective submission to, or acknowledgment of, this kingdom. Taking the spiritualized notion entertained by many in the Church, they enlarge it by giving to it a pantheistical dress or mystical adornment, to suit their ideas of evolution, law, unity, philosophy, human nature, spiritualism, etc. Attention now is only called to the circumstance, that in systems and theories of religion the most unscriptural, still a great degree of prominency is given to the idea of the kingdom.
    Even Bauer says: “The essence of Christianity is the doctrine of the kingdom of God, and the conditions requisite for a participation in this, so as to place man in a genuine moral relation to God.” Christlieb (Modern Doubt, p. 38) approvingly quotes Bauer, but is inclined to make the essence to be Christ, bringing men back in and through Christ. Both are correct: viewing Christ as the means of salvation, etc., He is the foundation of the Christian system; but regarding the Bible in its doctrinal aspect or even the end designed by Christianity and its relationship to the past and the future, then the kingdom of God forms the fundamental idea, and “the Christ” is the chosen instrumentality by which it is to be realized. As our work is devoted to the doctrinal aspect, we would say that the essence of Christianity, linked with the past dispensations and the future one, is the kingdom of God, more specifically shown to be obtained through Jesus Christ—now the heirship by repentance and faith in Him, then by actual inheriting at His coming.

Obs. 6. This subject is attractive to the reverent believer not merely because of its being the absorbing theme of Old Testament prophecy and New Testament prediction, but owing to the personal relationship that he sustains, as an heir, to it. It is fitting to recognize, comprehend, and appreciate our inheritance. But even the literary aspect, the intellectual excellence of it, invites earnest investigation. Aside from its being a predominating idea of a book, which has had such a molding influence in all the departments of life, it is the topic which, above all others, calls forth the most eloquent and sublime of all the descriptions and promises of the Bible, culminating in the last heart-stirring words of Jesus entrusted to John.
    This excellence is illustrated, e.g., by the last chapter of Habakkuk, which Dr. Franklin admired as exceeding all human descriptions, and which, it is said, he caused a number of infidels at Paris, reading it to them without informing them that it was in the Bible, to eulogize as something descriptively grand. The reader, too, may recall the poet Burns, so sensitive to beauty, that it is said of him that he could not read Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 21:4, and kindred passages without being affected to tears. Who can estimate the emotions, the delight excited by this subject, as presented by inspired men, in the hearts of believers in the past and present.

Obs. 7. When surveying the vast array of facts and events, some the greatest that the world has ever witnessed, all pointing to this kingdom as a contemplated end; when looking at the same as they occur and exist today, preparatory to the kingdom; and when contemplating the host of remarkable, astounding events predicted to come to pass in connection with the kingdom still future, surely this forms a subject worthy, beyond all others, of the earnest, devout and patient study of every student of the world’s eventful and, without this key, perplexing history. The kingdom embraces so much, both in preparation and in actual realization, that, in view of its extent, the doctrine exceeds all others in magnitude, enfolding in itself nearly all doctrine.
    To this we may add the pregnant idea (Lange’s Com. Luke, p. 326, Doc. 1): “It lies in the nature of the case that Christian eschatology, the more the course of time advances, must become less and less an unimportant appendix, and more and more a locus primarius of Christian doctrine.”

Obs. 8. A deeper investigation of this doctrine and a correspondent return to the old faith, held by men who, by position and association (as e.g. Apostolical Church), were pre-eminently qualified to comprehend it, will remove those painful concessions now made to unbelief, which stigmatizes the apostles and early Church as still under the influence of “erroneous Jewish forms.” Such a study and return, will relieve theologians from being driven to the humiliating expedient of virtually acknowledging that the apostles were mistaken in their notions respecting the kingdom; that they embraced “the Jewish husk,” which, however, contained the germ of truth (which they, situated as they were, could not properly appreciate) that “the conciousness of the Church” in its development (so Neander, etc.) was to strip of its surroundings and fructify into full grown truth. It is alone in the direction indicated by us, that we can hope—defending as it does every utterance and doctrinal position of the first preachers of the kingdom—for a consistent pleading, justification, and protection against the Strauss and Bauer school (and others), which has driven noted theologians—led by a preconceived doctrine of the kingdom—to place “the consciousness of the Church” (that finally obtained the truth which had escaped the grasp of the apostles), as exhibited in Church authority or theology, or the productions of fallible men, above that of the Scriptures containing “the Jewish husk.” The importance of our doctrine is evinced, in that it reverses all this, exalting and vindicating both the Scriptures and the correct knowledge of its inspired writers.
    This doctrine, rightly apprehended, is not only important to elevate apologetics, to meet the objections of unbelief, to honor the authoritative doctrinal utterances of the Scriptures, but is admirably adapted to refute numerous errors, out of which religious systems are originated, and through which they are maintained. The following propositions will introduce many of these, and practically show how they are met and defeated by this doctrine alone. 

Prop. 2. The establishment of this kingdom was determined before, and designed and prepared from, the foundation of the world.

These two phrases are given in Matthew 25:34, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3, I Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8, in comparison with other passages. The one may indicate that the Divine purpose relating to the kingdom existed in the mind of the Eternal before the creation of the world; and the other, that the creation itself both evinced His intention to carry out His design (i.e., was preparatory), and that it was in fact, as it existed before the fall and ensuing curse, the prepared sphere of its manifestation.
    Comp. Matthew 13:35, Luke 11:50, Revelation 17:8. Whatever application these passages may have to the future kingdom, we cannot rid ourselves of the plainly implied meaning that, in the mind of the Divine Architect and Purposer, the contemplated final use of this world was allied with its origin. Shallow, unbelieving criticism makes itself merry at the idea of “the foundations of the earth,” and present it as a proof that the Bible teaches an untrue form, and hence exhibits ignorance. The forcible figure of speech and the intent are entirely overlooked, for the sake of making an uncritical attack. As to the form, the Bible gave it (Job 26:7) long before science taught it; as to “the foundations,” the general analogy of the Scriptures teach that these are in the creative power, wisdom, love—the attributes—of the Creator “in whom we live, move, and have our being.”

Obs. 1. Hence, we properly infer the dignity of this subject, comprehended in the eternal counsels and evolved from the ever-existing “purpose of Him, which worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”
    King Edward VI.’s Catechism (Bickersteth’s Promised Glory, p. 2), however it may explain it, correctly affirms: “Before the Lord God made heaven and earth. He determined to have for Himself a most beautiful kingdom and holy commonwealth.” Moll (Lange’s Com. Heb., Doc. p. 211) says: “At the very creation of the world God looked forward to and made arrangements for the eternally abiding and unchangeable kingdom of glory; and to the introduction of that kingdom tend all the revelations, arrangements, and providences of God in the history of the world.”

Obs. 2. We also justly infer, that God’s will thus expressed respecting the kingdom indicates a Divine plan, which, in view of His attributes, necessarily embraces unity of design. Therefore, when the kingdom is once defined by the Spirit, no change or modification can possibly be allowed without the most express declarations from God announcing it.

Obs. 3. The idea of the kingdom being thus identified in its connection with eternal purpose and with creation, God will undoubtedly accomplish His revealed will concerning it, confirmed as it is even by oath. God Himself stands pledged to the ultimate realization of this idea. 

Obs. 4. The exercise of creative power, and its continued exhibition in behalf of man and the world, clearly shows the Divine determination to establish this kingdom, notwithstanding the antagonistic elements introduced by the fall. All things exist, because God has a determined end in view, which end is embraced in this kingdom.

Obs. 5. This kingdom is one pertaining to the earth. Before the creation of the world, it only existed in the determination or purpose of God, but at creation the very foundation of the world was laid in preparation for it. We know that the expression “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” is interpreted by many simply to mean, prepared for you from the beginning or from eternity, and refers only to purpose. But taking into consideration the paradisiacal condition of the earth at creation and the fact (Props. 140–148) of its future restoration to the same when the kingdom is to be established, we believe that the phrase embraces a far deeper significance, viz., its relationship to the earth. “From the foundation of the world” is indicative that God purposed this very earth, when founded, for this kingdom.
    Fairbairn (Typology, vol. 1, p. 312) says: “Because destined for Christ and his elect people in the mind of God,” to which we add, destined to become the theatre of a theocratic kingdom. It may be suggested: As will be shown hereafter, this kingdom embraces completed redemption, and this alone indicates the truthfulness of our proposition, because redemption (which the kingdom perfects) was in purpose co-existent with that of creation (Ephesians 1:4, I Peter 1:20). This enables us to consider the unbelieving objection that God made creation so imperfect that it required constant interference or “tinkering,” seeing that all things have been previously foreseen and provided for in order—against all adverse influences arising from free will, passion, prejudice, etc. to carry out a predetermined result to its intelligently expressed consummation. On the other hand, it answers the extravagant eulogies heaped by unbelief (in opposition to revelation) upon nature, its perfection, sublimity, etc., in showing that the Creator Himself, far from deeming nature able to save man, to render him happy, to deliver him from evil, declares it placed, with all its faded nobility, with all its tarnished greatness and riches, under a curse, and proposes in the doctrine of the kingdom a renewal, a deliverance, a restitution, which shall free nature, exalt man, and glorify the Maker.

Obs. 6. Such phraseology involves, of necessity, owing to the fall and entailed curse, a glorious restitution for which provision is to be made. We are pointed to that original perfection of creation which the Almighty pronounced good, but this being marred (as the Bible teaches) by sin and resultant evil, it is requisite, before God’s purpose is fully carried out, to restore that forfeited perfection. How this is done will be explained at length hereafter.

Obs. 7. This phraseology respecting the kingdom includes, in view of expressed predetermination, the appointment or preordination of the king (I Peter 1:20). It also comprehends the number of the rulers, elect, heirs or inheritors of the kingdom (Ephesians 1:4, etc.), as well as every particular, provisionary and realized, pertaining to it. God does not undertake the accomplishment of a set purpose without His perfect knowledge embracing all things relating to it. For “known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18, Isaiah 46:9–10, etc.)

Obs. 8. The idea of the kingdom being the beginning (i.e., leading to creation, etc.) and the ending (i.e., embracing the final result) of the dispensations or ages, we may well believe what the Scriptures state concerning it, viz., that this idea is carried on to a practical accomplishment in order that the supremacy and authority of God may be universally acknowledged, and that the manifold wisdom and love of the Lord may be displayed and experienced in the eternal ages. It also reaffirms that for this object and end all things are sustained and allowed, to work out, under Divine Providence, their destiny in respect to this kingdom.

Obs. 9. This language, so expressive of the comprehensiveness and fundamental nature of the kingdom idea, suggests to us that the dispensations or ages themselves (the Adamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Christian) are ordered in their succession as part of the Divine purpose in relation to this kingdom. If we are to take the rendering given by Locke, Chandler, Clarke, Whitby, etc., to Ephesians 3:11, such a special ordering is announced. Instead of our version, “according to the eternal purpose,” etc., they read: “according to the disposition or arrangement of the ages which He made for (or, in or through) Christ Jesus our Lord.” Whatever translation we may prefer, one thing is certainly taught in the passage, viz., that in the “eternal purpose,” or “the purpose of the ages,” etc., is included the notion that time itself is embraced in God’s plan with special reference to Jesus Christ as the King of the kingdom, for whom the plan is carried into execution and by whom it will be perfected.
    Favoring the rendering “the arrangement of the ages” as most in accord with analogy (teaching that times themselves are controlled, etc., by God), yet we object not to receive Bloomfield’s “disposition of the ages” or Barnes’ “purpose of the ages,” etc., because under all of them is still included the provisionary measures instituted in time, following each other in succession, for and by Christ. The idea of a Divine plan, ever-abiding and sure, is necessarily connected with the passage, which, as Holy Writ teaches, includes the doctrine that all things are ordered for and have their foundation in Christ, because He is the Christ, the theocratic king. The plan of salvation contemplates a restoration effected through Christ and witnessed in this kingdom, and, therefore, it embraces all arrangements, even those of time. This is corroborated by other passages. Thus e.g., I Corinthians 2:7 reads: “the mystery which He ordained before the worlds” (πρό τον αιο͂νο͂ν, before the ages), i.e., the ages relating to the world (Comp. Prof. Lewis’s ch. on Time-worlds in Six Days of Creation).

Obs. 10. The kingdom being comprehended in the eternal counsels of God and in the design of creation, and being allied with various orderings extending over the past history of the world and with others still future, we ought reasonably to anticipate it to be a deeply involved, widely comprising subject, having a variety of aspects (as e.g., in relation to the Father, Son, elect, etc.), and an encircling of other subjects (as e.g., election, resurrection, judgment, etc.), as well as a profundity of scope (as e.g., in relation to time, the person of the king, glorification, etc.), which demand most careful study, reflection, and comparison to understand.

Obs. 11. The proposition indicates a fundamental position that the student of the kingdom must occupy. It implies that as the kingdom is God’s purpose, all knowledge of the kingdom must be derived from Him. It is God’s idea, contemplated and realized, that we are endeavoring to apprehend, and all reliable information must come from Him. Hence, compare Prop. 9. 

Obs. 12. In Proverbs 8:31, wisdom is represented as “rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth,” and as delighting in or presenting “my delights” to “the sons of men.” When the Divine purpose, as embraced in this kingdom, in reference to the earth and man, is completely manifested, then the reason of this will also fully appear. Wisdom will be justified both in preparing this earth for its display and in exhibiting itself in the riches bestowed upon her adherents in the theocratic relationship. If it is wisdom to receive any truth of God, much more is it wise to lay hold of the great leading truths, that we may finally obtain the blessings that true wisdom imparts.

Obs. 13. The proposition, from a purely Biblical standpoint, shows that we cannot entertain the view that unbelief urges against the Bible, viz., that Oriental religions antedate the Bible by many centuries. The respective proofs of priority are found in the respective religious works in the shape of assertion, and the truthfulness of one or the other must be determined by its contact with the facts of history. Now history, as far as known outside of the religions books, does not countenance Oriental exaggerations of age; on the other hand, history corroborates the Bible statement, which, owing to a plan systematically developed and with which is connected a vast array of facts, is fully sustained both as to alleged age and contents. (Compare Props. 179 and 182.) The proof of a continuous plan, evidenced in the history of the past and present, and in the immense superiority of subject matter, adaptation to man, etc., will follow in various propositions.

Obs. 14. Lastly, this proposition is based on the scripturally derived statement, that a Divine Creating Mind and a Ruling Will orders and rules over all, so that notwithstanding apparent difficulties and unexplained problems, that Mind and Will shall be ultimately triumphantly vindicated in an open, revealed manner, indicating, what piety already realizes as an earnest in preparatory work, their close and intimate relationship with man and earth. This absolute Mind and Will, affirming that it consciously and personally works to introduce a predetermined kingdom, is, of course, the original fountain-head from whence all proceeds. To the believer in the Word, it is unnecessary, because our views are based on Scripture, to add anything; but to the unbeliever we may remark: that in defense of such a position it is not required to represent the absurdities, the contradictions of reason, etc., into which those fall who deny this existing Mind and Will (other writers have ably done this), but rather to follow out in all its connections the leading doctrine of the kingdom, and from the evidences of marked design and unity manifested in its history, bring forth a proof in behalf of a personal existing God, ordering and overruling all things, that will commend itself to the intelligent reader more than any other that we could possibly propose. The greater the work contemplated—and there is none greater than this kingdom—the more clearly ought we to see the intelligence of the Mind that originates it, and the power of the Will that performs it. If that Mind and Will has proposed, in Revelation to man, a certain, determinate plan of operation by which the kingdom shall, after a while, be openly revealed; if the design and mode of procedure and result commends itself to faith and reason as adapted and desirable; if history and experience plainly sustains the developments of such a plan through the ages, then we may rest assured that in harmony with such a purposed plan, with its corroborating history and adjustment to the necessities of man and creation, there must be, as the Bible wisely and scientifically affirms, a guiding mind and controlling will. It would be premature to press this argument; let us then first present an array of incontrovertible facts, and from these facts, as a conclusion (e.g., Prop. 182, etc.), deduce the statement made, that the kingdom itself is dependent upon the pleasure and work of the Father both in its inception and provision, in its prediction and realization. (Comp. e.g. Prop. 84.)
    This proposition logically follows from the idea of intelligent design. The Bible appeals to the evident manifestation of design in the mind of the Creator as exhibited in the ordering of the universe. Natural theology lays special stress on the evidences of a previous forethought and knowledge of adaptedness. The Scriptures likewise refer us to the abundant testimony of design in the mind of the Almighty Ruler as declared in the ordering and provisionary ruling of the world. The moral, religious, and civil training of mankind, the fundamental laws of society, etc., are appealed to in proof. Numerous passages like Psalm 94:9–10, Isaiah 40:14, Acts 15:18, Isaiah 46:9–10, Romans 11:33, Ephesians 1:8–9, etc., indicate not merely God’s knowledge and wisdom, but the manifestation of such in a predetermined purpose. Systematic theology directs particular attention to the evidences of a previously settled purpose. Our subject largely develops this fact, and insists upon the truth and force of Ephesians 3:10–11 and kindred passages. 

Prop. 3. The meanings usually given to this kingdom indicate that the most vague, indefinite notions exist concerning it.

Theologians, eminent for their piety and position in the Church, are now entertaining crude ideas and contradictory conceptions of the kingdom. For many centuries, under the interpretation given by men who have, probably unconsciously, largely imbibed the spirit of the Alexandrian school, the kingdom has been made to mean a variety of things at the option of the writer. Modern authors, with but few exceptions, instead of discarding this looseness, seem to revel in it, making the kingdom to denote almost everything that fancy connects with religion, or the Church, or even with humanity. We select, out of numerous examples, several to illustrate the prevalent mode of expounding it, and the latitude of opinion expressed concerning it.

Obs. 1. Albert Barnes, who, possessing many admirable traits, is regarded as a popular commentator, gives the following definitions of the kingdom in his Commentary. The kingdom is, Matthew 3:2, “His (Messiah’s) spiritual reign begun in the Church on earth and completed in heaven;” Matthew 6:10, the “reign,” God’s reign, or the Gospel of Christ advanced; Matthew 13:24, “the gospel,” or “the effect of the gospel;” Matthew 13:31, “piety in a renewed heart, or the Church;” Matthew 13:44, “the gospel, the new dispensation, the offer of eternal life;” Matthew 13:45, “religion,” or “the gospel;” Matthew 13:52, “the gospel,” or “the truth;” Matthew 25:34. “salvation,” “eternal life,” or “heaven;” Matthew 26:29, “heaven;” Matthew 19:24, “way of salvation;” Matthew 21:31, to “become Christians,” or to “follow the Saviour;” Matthew 5:19, “the Church;” Matthew 5:20, “the Church,” or “the world to come;” Matthew 11:11, “preaching the kingdom of God, or the gospel;” Matthew 16:19, “the Church on earth;” etc. With minor changes (as e.g. John 3:5, “the true Church,” I Corinthians 15:24, “dominion in general”), and a hesitancy in precisely determining what it means (as e.g. Mark 10:15, “the gospel, the new dispensation by the Messiah, or the reign of God through a mediator,” etc.), we find these often repeated. Surely the kingdom cannot possibly mean all these things, seeing that such explanations are both arbitrary and contradictory. The gospel of, or concerning, the kingdom is one fact, the kingdom itself is quite another; the dispensation in which the kingdom is to be manifested is certainly different from the kingdom which it embraces; the heirs of the kingdom are certainly not the inheritance. These and other plain scriptural statements are entirely overlooked in such definitions. The evident antagonism of such popular explanations are amply sufficient to their refutation. The reply to all such definitions will follow, as e.g. Props. 90–115. 
    Dr. Lawrence in the Independent, October 23d, 1870, makes “the kingdom of heaven” to mean: 1. “The universe of matter and mind;” 2. “That part of the revolted human race which has been brought into subjection to Christ;” 3. “A kingdom of grace, because it is by God’s love in Christ that they—believers—are brought into it;” 4. “A kingdom of glory in heaven;” and 5. “It is His reign over His loyal subjects.” Our Church literature is permeated with similar definitions. M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop., Art. “Kingdom of Heaven,” defines it, first, “the Divine spiritual kingdom, the glorious reign of the Messiah;” then afterward it is “the Christian dispensation or the community of those who receive Jesus as the Messiah;” this again is divided into “an internal and external form”—internal “in the hearts of all Christians,” and externally it is “embodied in the visible Church;’’ and then finally in its future relation, “it denotes the bliss of heaven, eternal life.” Compare Dr. Craven’s remarks, in an excursus, Lange’s Com. Rev., p. 94, on Robinson’s definition (Greek Dic.) of the kingdom, who makes it a dispensation, also a principle, and likewise a people actuated by that principle. Dr. Craven justly objects to such “a looseness in the use of language.”

Obs. 2. Dr. Barrow, On the Creed, explains “the kingdom of heaven” as “capable especially of two acceptations.” Without discarding other views, he lays down this proposition: “It first commonly signifies the state or constitution of religion under the gospel, in opposition to, or contradistinction to, the state of things under the ancient law.” To prove this, he shows that “in the time of the law, God’s kingdom was in a manner earthly,” and proceeds to point out its earthly characteristics; but that now under the gospel “God’s kingdom is more capacious, unlimited,” and, in brief, more spiritual. From this he deduces that it may denote: 1. The state of relation; 2. The society of men put into such a state; and then also adds: 3. It is “taken for the perfection or utmost improvement of this state.”
    Aside from the indefiniteness of such a definition, indicating the difficulty of forming a consistent whole (for the relation in which men are placed is superseded by the men themselves, and then again by the perfection of the state realized), we only now notice some self-contradictions which it contains:

1. If the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used “in opposition or contradistinction to “former dispensations (the ancient Theocracy), then it follows, which he himself will not allow, that no true kingdom of God existed previously to the Christian Church.

2. If the kingdom only denotes the state or constitution of religion, does it embrace or reject that which preceded the Christian era? If it embraces it, then, after all the kingdom is a continuation of the former; if it rejects, then it does not allow that religion existed previously in “a state or constitution.”

3. If the mere “capaciousness,” etc. causes such a change in phraseology, that the expression “kingdom of heaven” is applicable to the Church now and not to the Church previously existing, how comes it, notwithstanding its supposed earthly nature (as opposed to the present state), that the ancient saints are accounted equally worthy with Christian believers to enter in and inherit the kingdom? The whole theory, in its invidious comparisons, is derogatory of God’s previous appointments, and degrades the position occupied by the ancient believers. Other objections, still more serious, will be brought forth under appropriate heads: these however, briefly suggested, are sufficient for the student to note the defectiveness of interpretation.

Obs. 3. Neander’s elaborated theory of the kingdom is pervaded by the same indistinctness and contradiction. Thus e.g., in one place (Life of Christ, sec. 213) the kingdom is something not visible, not outward; in other places (Hist. Ch. Church, vol. 2, p. 176) “the Church comprised the whole visible form of the kingdom of God,” and (p. 177) “hitherto, therefore, there could be no visible appearance of the kingdom of God beyond the pale of the Church.” His view only makes these “apparent” contradictions; for he has a number of kingdoms to suit the varied demands of his development speculations. He gives us:

1. An invisible kingdom connected with the Church;

2. An invisible kingdom established in the heart;

3. A visible kingdom in the Church;

4. A future consummation or completion by the direct intervention of Jesus Christ;

5. The present as one with the future, i.e. viewed connectedly;

6. A kingdom in the person of Christ;

7. The higher spiritual world or heavenly community co-existing with the invisible Church.

    In defining, a singular variety is introduced, and as we shall have occasion to quote largely from him under the propositions relating to the Church, one illustration (Hist. Ch. Church, vol. 1, p. 499) will suffice: “The idea of the Church is subordinate to that of the kingdom of God, because by the latter is denoted either the whole of a series of historical developments or a great assemblage of co-existent spiritual creations.” Here is certainly a latitude opened great enough to introduce the various changes that strict adherence to the development theory required. Following propositions will show how unscriptural such interpretations are, when compared with the simplicity and unity of the Word. They engraft upon Holy Writ the deductions of Hegelian philosophy, and thus, through the great ability and learning cojoined, mislead the unwary reader.

Obs. 4. Dr. Lange (Bremen Lectures, 1871, Lec. 8) says: “The kingdom of God itself, the older theologians divided, not without grounds, into the kingdom of power, the kingdom of grace, the kingdom of glory. Still it must be remarked that each of these kingdoms properly separates into two kingdoms; the kingdom of power into God’s rule over entire nature, and His rule over the whole rebellion of such intelligences as, in the misuse of freedom, have gone astray; the kingdom of grace, into the typical prefiguration of the real kingdom of heaven, or the Old Testament theocracy, and into the real, i.e. spiritually potent, New Testament kingdom itself; the kingdom of glory, into the realm of the triumphant Church in the other world, and the union of that world and this in the final consummation.” Lange thus forms six kingdoms or divisions of the kingdom, which was rendered necessary by the partial rejection of the early Church doctrine. These are purely theological deductions, having no foundation whatever in Scripture, as will appear when “we come to the preaching of the apostles, the doctrine of the Church, etc. As we are only now concerned in giving a few specimens of entertained opinions, it is premature to present our reply. Like preceding definitions, it lowers the theocracy by denying to it the reality of being in all respects the kingdom of God. This alone should cause us to receive it with grave doubts.
    It is difficult at times to understand those complex and contradictory meanings. Thus e.g., Lange in his Commentary gives a variety, some of which are not in accord with those just mentioned. In the general introduction he says: “As mankind was originally destined to form the kingdom of God, and for that purpose was arranged into one family, the kingdom of God may also be viewed as the restoration of mankind to one body under the One and Eternal Head (Acts 3:21, Ephesians 1:22) in whom it was elected from all eternity, and called, for the harmonious manifestation of the glory of God, Ephesians 1:4–5.” (This we can cordially adopt with the provision that this is done in the covenanted way proposed). But then he adds: “The kingdom of God is that new creation in which God reveals Himself in His character as Redeemer.” “It consists in the restoration of the dominion of the Spirit of God over the hearts of men,” etc. Hence it existed from the beginning of time, for he says, p. 3, “the real kingdom of God was founded when redemption was introduced,” etc. On p. 24 he has it founded in the Apostolic Church and manifested in “ecclesiastical and Christian life.” On p. 25 he has “the kingdom of heaven in the person of Christ,” and afterward “the person of Christ in the kingdom of heaven.” On p. 25 he has “His kingdom founded upon earth by the planting of His Church through the power of the Holy Ghost,” etc. Thus there is a shifting from one position to another, a substitution of the means by which to obtain the kingdom for the kingdom itself, etc., that evidences a weakness incompatible with a leading doctrine of the Bible. For indefiniteness, see Com. on Matthew 16:13, 20, p. 298, where it is, and then it is not, the kingdom of heaven. Comp. p. 299, s. 5 and 6, etc.

Obs. 5. Olshausen (Com. on Matthew 3:1) defines the kingdom of heaven to be both “external and internal;” externally in the Church, and ultimately in its consummation; internally in believers, and in the ideal future world. Hence a believer is already in the kingdom, or carries it with him, and “yet even for him it is still to come,” i.e., a higher manifestation or realization of it. This is also “applied to different relations” both of time, place, etc. How unsatisfactory this is in the light of covenant and promise, will be shown under the Church (Props. 94–115), where the incongruity of persons being in the kingdom while still heirs, the lack of resemblance between the covenanted kingdom and the Church (visible and invisible) are fully noticed. Much that Olshausen has written is valuable and suggestive (take e.g. the caution, ch. 10, p. 116, Introduction), but his exegesis of Matthew 3:2 is most certainly defective. For any theory which can make “is at hand” to be actually present, thus arbitrarily changing the tenses used; which virtually makes the kingdom of God “always existing,” thus not discriminating between things that materially differ; which makes the theocracy under Moses and David a mere type, thus overlooking its reality as a kingdom; which applies Luke 17:21 to a kingdom in the heart, divides and subdivides the kingdom after the fashion of those already referred to, and tells us, without proof annexed, that “the Saviour put forward its ideal character,” must be received with great caution.
    The reader will notice that we also introduce those who are Millenarian, or have a strong bias for our doctrine (as Olshausen, Lange, etc.), and yet largely adopt the mystical notion of the kingdom. While such have the kingdom pre-eminently, and in its fulness, in the millennium, they also (not accurately distinguishing the kingdom, as covenanted, from the Church, not observing the postponement of the kingdom, not discerning the difference between the Divine Sovereignty and the Theocracy, etc.) have a kingdom now existing in the Church and individual believer, preparatory to and merging into the other or proper one. A large number of eminent men take this position, as e.g. Oosterzee, Delitzsch, Auberlen, Bonar, etc. A careful consideration of Scripture compels us to differ from brethren highly esteemed; the reasons will follow in their order.

Obs. 6. In Dr. Hodge’s recent work on Systematic Divinity, we find (p. 596, vol. 2) a section entitled, “the Church, God’s kingdom.” To prove this caption, he informs us that God determined to deliver man from his apostasy, and hence inaugurated a kingdom antagonistic to that of darkness. This kingdom thus introduced had no “visible organization apart from the families, the people of God.” It was afterward through the descendants of the patriarchs formed into a “visible kingdom,” which has existed down to the present day. But when we ask, if it has always thus existed, why e.g. do the prophets speak of it as non-existing, as still future, as something to be anticipated, as set up by the Messiah at His coming, such questions, and similar ones, that readily suggest themselves to the scholar, remain unanswered. Indeed, as he goes on defining, he forgets his previous declaration; for when speaking of the nature of Christ’s kingdom he tells us, that “as the Messiah was to come to make all things new” (which he thus strangely locates with the first Advent instead of the second, as the Scriptures do), we have also “the establishment of a new kingdom.” How can it be new, if it has always existed? Then he has Christ’s dominion over the universe, calling it “the kingdom of power;” Christ’s “spiritual kingdom,” which is twofold, viz., an invisible kingdom consisting only of the regenerated, and a visible kingdom manifested in the organized, external society of believers. Finally, he gives us “the kingdom of glory” to be revealed when Christ comes again. Thus he presents us, 1. An invisible kingdom down to the patriarchs; 2. A visible kingdom down to Christ; 3. An invisible one down to the first Advent; 4. Christ’s kingdom of power; 5. Christ’s invisible kingdom since his Advent; 6. Christ’s visible kingdom extending from the same period; 7. And the kingdom of glory. Surely the very enumeration of such a list, when compared with the simplicity and uniform phraseology of the Bible, forces upon our minds the suspicion that there must be a serious defect in a system which requires such an array of kingdoms; which ignores the distinctive marks of the covenanted kingdom; which does not distinguish between the universal Divine sovereignty and the kingdom as predicted; and which presents us a series of definitions utterly unknown to those who were specially set apart to preach the gospel of the kingdom.
    Such interpretations, with slight changes, could be multiplied. The New Testament, with notes published by the American Tract Society on Matthew 3:2, makes the kingdom “the sway of Christ’s Gospel and dispensation over the hearts, lives, and destinies of men, both in this world and the next,” and this (mistaking the means for the end) is equivalent to “the Messiah’s reign as predicted by the prophets.” But to make this out, recourse is had to various “stages” in the “heart of the individual believer, in the churches, in influencing society, in the millennium, in the judgment-day, and in the heavenly world.” Storr, in Diss. on the Kingdom of Heaven, compresses the matter so that it shall “embrace the whole time of the Messiah.” He forgets that this is not the time of the Messiah (e.g. Luke 17:22), but the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24), and that the predicted time of the Messiah is still future, (Comp. e.g. Props. 136 and 137). Schmid (Bib. Theol. N.T., p. 244) tells us that “the kingdom of God is understood to be both present and future; the dominion of the exalted Christ, which consists partly in the influence over the minds of men exercised by the Word, partly in the guidance of the external destinies of the Church, partly in the rewards and punishments at the last judgment. In it, too, is perhaps recognized the kingdom of grace, the temporal institutions of religion, the kingdom of glory, and the future acts of judgment; adding, too, the idea that Jesus was only in error in fixing too close a proximity for this judgment.” Schmid afterward defines the kingdom to be “in its nature, on the one hand, something simply existing and eternal, and, on the other, something temporal, developing itself through various conditions;” being also “a Divine order of things,” “a communion of spirits founded by Christ,” “a fellowship of men,” etc.

Obs. 7. The definitions given to the kingdom by Infidels, Rationalists, Free Religionists, etc., are varied. While some reject the idea entirely as a mere phantom or “Jewish conception,” others incorporate it and make it mean, “God manifested in and through nature,” or “God in humanity,” or “God in progressive development,” or “the truth,” or “the supremacy of reason,” or “the supremacy of the natural dignity and nature of man,” etc. Renan (Life of Jesus, p. 240) makes it, “the reign of the poor and disinherited,” “the literal accomplishment of the Apocalyptic visions of Daniel and Enoch,” “the kingdom of souls” (p. 249), “the good,” “the reign of justice,” “the liberty of the soul,” etc. In this direction there is no end to the notions respecting it, generally drifting, however, toward the idea of a humanity redeemed by an enthroned reason (of which Jesus is an example of high genius), or of a God permeating nature and man.
    Indeed, no doctrine of the Bible has fared so badly through mere fancy, imagination, enthusiasm, and fanaticism as that of the kingdom. In behalf of a theory or system it has been perverted, distorted, and abused until many persons, looking only at the abuses and antagonism (forgetting that all truth is subject to the same), discard the whole matter. When the Papacy, Shakers, Mormons, etc. define it in a way to embrace their particular organizations; when Anabaptists, Fifth Monarchy men, etc. interpret it so as to include their ambitious projects; when almost every denomination, sect, etc. explain it so as to make themselves the recipients of the kingdom; when it has been prostituted to the basest of purposes, and it is presented in a hundred different aspects and claims—all this only shows how important these parties consider the incorporation and possession in some form, of the doctrine. It is amazing to a person who steadily for years notices the definitions of others, how latitudinarian they have become in these modern days. Recently a tract written and published by Speer informs us that the Church was “taken into the Roman kingdom of God”—i.e., into the Roman Empire, thus designating that “the kingdom of God” which the Scriptures (Daniel 2 and 7) call a “Beast.” We are told by Rev. Fowle (Contemp. Review, May, 1872, art. “Christ, and Immortality”), that “by the kingdom of heaven Christ meant almost, if not quite exclusively, the establishment of God’s rule and order upon earth;” and to make this denote the Church is, in his opinion, “a substituting a secondary and comparatively unimportant interpretation for the primary and true one.” This, then, opens the way for mystical incorporations, for it supplies “the missing link needed to bind together the morality of Paganism and Christianity,” and brings us to this result: “the kingdom of heaven is civilization viewed religiously, owning God as its Creator and Judge, and looking for still nobler developments in other spheres.”

Obs. 8. Those who give us such definitions, antagonistic to the primitive Church view, exhibit also the greatest diversity among themselves respecting the commencement of this kingdom in its supposed present form. They are as little agreed concerning its beginning as in its meaning. Some commence it in paradise; others, after the fall when redemption was proposed; some with the patriarchs or with the theocratic ordering at Sinai; others, at the preaching of John the Baptist; some, with the birth of Christ; others, at Christ’s baptism; some, at the preaching of Jesus and disciples; others, at the confession of Peter; some, at the death of Christ, or at his resurrection and ascension; others, on the day of Pentecost; and others, at the destruction of Jerusalem. Some again have several commencements or different stages; others have only one, regarding all previous as merely typical and unreal. Quotations illustrative of this antagonism will be given in following propositions. Let us only now suggest to the reader: is it not remarkable that a kingdom of God, so distinctively covenanted and predicted, should be so indefinite in its commencement that eminent and pious men are unable to point out its beginning with any degree of absolute certainty? That we even find many who, in their perplexity, have several beginnings, such as “typical,” “initial,” etc.? That they are undecided from what period in Christ’s life to date it? Surely, is it not wise to consider that such a diversity, unknown to Scripture, and based solely on assertion, may arise from some mistake, a fatal flaw in its meaning? Having a kingdom to find and at present existing (over against the plainest statements of Scripture to the contrary), it is easy to see how such a confusion and variety arises.

Obs. 9. Attention is called to the fact, that the most serious contradictions greatly weaken the force of these definitions. Thus e.g. eminent men inform us that there has been a continuous kingdom, without intermission, from the earliest period down to the present. Now others, as e.g. Van Oosterzee (Theol. of N. Test.) positively makes the kingdom of heaven or of Christ something “new;” not a mere continuation, for “since it had first come nigh in the fulness of time, it did not before exist on earth;” and then asserts that it is a mistake to make the Church the kingdom. He reduces the force of the latter by admitting that, although it is spiritual, yet the Church is also the external form in which it appears. With some truth, we have here an admixture of error and weakness, that neutralizes the whole. In the following pages, it will be shown, step by step, that the kingdom of God did previously exist on earth, that it does not apply to the existing Church, and that the kingdom of Jesus Christ, when established, is not new but a renewal with precious, astounding additions. Meyer (Com. on Matthew 3:2), seeing how fanciful, arbitrary, and contradictory are the interpretations usually given, cautiously remarks: “These expressions ‘kingdom of heaven,’ etc., never signify else than the Messianic kingdom, even in those passages which seem to denote the Church, the Christian religion, etc.”

Obs. 10. Able authors admit that Christianity has met with, and undergone, changes since its introduction. Buckle (Hist. Civ.) informs us that this has been affected by foreign events contrary to the original scheme. This has been pressed by Bauer, Renan, etc. All confess to some variations from the original; one class contending that they are for the better—another, for the worse. However this may be, it must be acknowledged, that when comparing the early Church doctrine of the kingdom with the meanings now so extensively given and adopted, a wide departure from the original and primitive meaning is fully evidenced. It is a substitution, too, so opposite and diverse, that it assumes the attitude of hostility to the first one adopted by the Church, casting, at the same time, as many shadows as Simon Magus is reported to have done when walking the streets. The design of this work is to restore and defend the original meaning, by showing its scriptural basis and historical connection.
    It has been truthfully said by Jer. Taylor (Works, vol. 5, p. 348) that “men will call all opinions by the name of religion; and superstructures by the name of fundamental articles; and fancies by the glorious appellation of faith.” This, alas, is constantly repeated, so that the student needs constant watchfulness. Nothing is exempt from diversity, so that, as illustrative, Vares long ago assured us that he reckoned the old philosophers had about eight hundred opinions concerning the “summum bonum.”

Obs. 11. Considering the various conflicting interpretations entertained by learned men respecting the kingdom, we realize what Glanvil (The Vanity of Dogmatizing) developed from hints given by Bacon, viz., the fallibility of the most powerful mind even under the most favorable circumstances, and in its moments of highest confidence. After making due allowance for the leadings of education, the tenacity of prejudice, the proneness to error, the inherent weakness of intellect, we have still a sufficiency to guide us. God foresaw this diversity, and hence accommodated Himself to our weakness in the plain, grammatical language and sense in which He expresses Himself. But unfortunately we are prone, in our superior wisdom, to overlook this fact, and arrogate to ourselves the higher power of adding to the grammatical meaning our own constructions of what the sense ought to be, and thus plunge ourselves into hopeless embarrassments.

Obs. 12. The only way to rid ourselves of these ill-defined and antagonistic explanations, is to adopt legitimate principles of interpretation, and then carefully, in detail, examine the original covenants and promises upon which the kingdom is based; and if we have obtained a definition strictly in accordance with these, never to depart from the same, without the most express—not inferential—proof in hand that a change is denoted.

Obs. 13. It is a lamentable fact, that few theologians are to be found who are willing to give a rigid scriptural examination to this subject. Preachers, who profess themselves called to proclaim “the gospel of the kingdom,” totally waive such a study. A few isolated passages, either torn from their connection, or misapprehended in their relationship to other Scripture, form the basis of a vast inferential structure. Instead of making Holy Writ the standard of interpretation, multitudes, while in theory recognizing the Bible as the sole measure of faith, yet in practice will take the explanations and Scriptural references given by favorite authors as their reliable guides, without the least attempt to verify, by a personal application to Scripture, their correctness. Undoubtedly we are greatly indebted to writers for definitions, interpretations, suggestions, etc., yet, after all, those who are called on to instruct others should satisfy themselves by a personal study of Revelation that their belief and opinions are scripturally founded. Error, too, is often plausible and friendly; truth sometimes comes in the garb of an adversary.

Obs. 14. Many shrink from investigation when they find that things which they fondly believed, incorporated in their prayers and hopes, and portrayed with eloquence, are subject to the suspicion of being built upon a sandy foundation. It is a trite saying that “truth never dies,” however great the opposition; and we may rest assured that any opinion that we may individually entertain, can never alter or seriously affect the truth of God. It is folly to shelter ourselves behind the fear that, peradventure, inquiry and scrutiny may lead to a revolution of our views. This may indeed be an amiable weakness, but it is one as fatal to the student as Delilah’s hands were to Samson. If in earnest search after the truth, such a result, should it occur under clear apprehension and decided conviction of Scriptural authority, must be accepted as alone honorable. It is to the credit of some of the greatest writers (especially the German who so frankly express it), that opinions once strongly advocated were subsequently discarded under the persuasion that truth, honesty, and integrity required the change. 

Prop. 4. The literal, grammatical interpretation of the Scriptures must (connected with the figurative, tropical, or rhetorical) be observed in order to obtain a correct understanding of this kingdom.

On a proposition which has brought forth many volumes in its discussion, we desire simply to announce our position, and assign a few reasons in its behalf. Its import is of such weight; the consequences of its adoption are of such moment; the tendency it possesses of leading to the truth and of vindicating Scripture is of such value, that we cannot pass it by without some explanations and reflections.

Obs. 1. We unhesitatingly plant ourselves upon the famous maxim (Eccl. Polity, B. 2.) of the able Hooker: “I hold for a most infallible rule in expositions of the Sacred Scriptures, that where a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the letter is commonly the worst. There is nothing more dangerous than this licentious and deluding art, which changes the meaning of words, as alchymy doth, or would do, the substance of metals, making of anything what it pleases, and bringing in the end all truth to nothing.” The primitive Church occupied this position, and Irenaeus (Adv. Hœr. 2, C. 27) gives us the general sentiment when (in the language of Neander, Hist. Dogmas, p. 77) “he says of the Holy Scriptures: that what the understanding can daily make use of, what it can easily know, is that which lies before our eyes, unambiguously, literally, and clearly in Holy Writ.” However much this principle of interpretation was subverted, as history attests, by succeeding centuries (not without protests), yet at the Reformation it was again revived. Thus Luther (Table Talk, “On God’s Word,” 11) remarks: “I have grounded my preaching upon the literal word; he that pleases may follow me, he that will not may stay.” In confirmation of such a course, it may be said: if God has really intended to make known His will to man, it follows that to secure knowledge on our part, He must convey His truth to us in accordance with the well-known rules of language. He must adapt Himself to our mode of communicating thought and ideas. If His words were given to be understood, it follows that He must have employed language to convey the sense intended, agreeably to the laws grammatically expressed, controlling all language; and that, instead of seeking a sense which the words in themselves do not contain, we are primarily to obtain the sense that the words obviously embrace, making due allowance for the existence of figures of speech when indicated by the context, scope, or construction of the passage. By “literal,” we mean the grammatical interpretation of Scripture. Some writers, to avoid lengthy or circumlocutory phraseology, have employed the phrase “literal interpretation,” by which they denote, not that every word or sentence is to be taken in its rigid literalism, but that the language of the Bible is to be interpreted by the customary rules of grammar and rhetoric, which are used in determining the sense of the Iliad, Paradise Lost, and works of human composition. We are to accept of a strictly literal rendering, unless we have the distinctive marks of figures of speech, when the tropical sense is also received, without afterward, in addition, engrafting upon it another and separate sense which is not allowed by the rules of grammar, but which (i.e., last added sense) is applied by many to the Bible, as if the language of that book was not fairly circumscribed by, but formed an exception to, the universal laws of language. This is our position endorsed by the exhortation given to all to search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11, John 5:39), by the frequent appeals made to the fulfillment of prophecy on a literal basis, by the obligations to know God’s Word founded on the ability (Matthew 24:15) to comprehend it, etc. When employing the word “literal,” we are to be comprehended as also fully acknowledging the figurative sense, the beautiful ornaments of language; we cordially accept all that is natural to language itself, its naked strength and its charming adornments, but object to additionally forcing on it a foreign element, and enclosing it in a garb that hides its just proportions. When, too, it is said that the Bible is thus to be interpreted like any other book, governed by the laws which alone can protect us against a wrong imposition of meaning, reference is solely made to its grammatical construction, and not, as Liberals and others employ this idea in behalf of unbelief, that it is merely a human production. With the human element there is also a Divine; grammatically, to accord with our infirmity, it is constructed like any other book, but under, in and through this are truths far beyond human conception and production. 

Obs. 2. The only true standard of interpretation is the grammatical (aided by the historical), and this opposes: 1. That spiritual or mystical one which looks for an internal revelation either in or under the letter; 2. The rationalistic notion that such an interpretation must be attached to the letter as will best accommodate itself to reason; 3. The Romish idea that such an interpretation of the letter can only be accepted as is in unison with the authoritative utterance of the Church; 4. And the High Church notion, that only such a meaning as is consistent with symbolical representations can be received. The adoption of any one of these four opinions immediately causes a prejudicing of the Word, and thus unqualifies the person from becoming an unbiased interpreter. Let the reader consider that the grammatical interpretation was for ages the only one used; and can a reason be given why it should suddenly be abandoned for another? Much of Scripture was presented long before Christ, and the portion thus written was literally comprehended by the Jews, not only without rebuke from, but with the decided approbation of, the Almighty. God appeals to the literalness of His Word, as affording proof that each part shall find in due time its mate. His veracity and power are staked on a literal fulfillment. Now if the Word was not thus to be understood; if a hidden and recondite sense lay beneath it waiting for Origen, Swedenborg, etc., to reveal it, how could the Jews be censured for misapprehending the Scriptures; how could they derive comfort and edification from them; and how could they possibly have entertained an enlightened faith and hope? To suppose this is equivalent to saying, that for many centuries the Jews held to an erroneous sense—to the “husk,” as Neander and others phrase it—and that they were guided into, and confirmed in, such a belief by the express words of God Himself. If we reject the literal and substitute another mode of interpretation, there is no deliverance from this dilemma, however much men may attempt to gloss it over by “progression,” “development,” etc. Admitting that revelation was gradual, that truth and additional light were introduced by degrees, all this has nothing whatever to do with the mode of interpretation, seeing, as we shall abundantly show hereafter, that a consistent unity can only be preserved by a continuous application of the same method of interpretation to the respective additions given. It is the most reasonable to anticipate, that a principle of interpretation once universally held and for ages applied, would not undergo a reversal without a plain direction from God authorizing it to be made. 

Obs. 3. Such a reversal or change is, unfortunately, inferred from several passages of Scripture, and professing to be controlled in this matter by the Word, it becomes requisite to examine the legitimacy of the inference. I Corinthians 2:14 is advanced as in conflict with our proposition and as fully endorsing its opposite, viz: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This passage pushed to an extreme, forms the key-note of the mystical, spiritualizing, Origenistic system of interpretation; the foundation of countless vagaries. Let us test it, e.g., by the facts connected with the incarnation and death of Jesus; these were revealed by the Spirit and realized in such a manner that they are to be understood literally (as commands, duties, etc.), but to one class they are foolishness, and they do not know them, in the sense of appreciating their value, or importance, or relation to God and man (for knowing is used, as any concordance will show, as an equivalent for appreciation, experience, etc.); while to another class they are known by “spiritual discernment.” What does this latter expression denote? That we are to attach to the incarnation and death a spiritual meaning and discard the literal? No! “spiritually discerned” is discerning “the things of the Spirit,” i.e., things given by the Spirit; noting how the Spirit reveals and records them in the Scriptures, submitting ourselves to the guidance and enlightening influence of the Spirit through the written Word, until by His teaching and Divine aid we learn to appreciate and to appropriate the truths revealed to ourselves; and not to reject a literal rendering, and fasten, under the assumption of special superadded enlightenment, another sense upon the Scriptures. “The things of the Spirit” are a matter of record, and not left to the fancies or heated imaginations of every man who professes to be remarkably guided and influenced by the Spirit. Therefore, to properly discern what are the teachings of the Spirit, the record itself must be received in the sense prescribed by the usage of language. Even if the passage be regarded as teaching that the soul, mind, or Spirit discerns the truth, this does not invalidate the literalness of the recorded things of the Spirit, as already evidenced by the example presented. For in the context it is distinctly stated that God reveals His truth through the Spirit, and that such a revelation is contained “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but “(in the words) “which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things “(i.e. the things taught by the Spirit) “with spiritual things” (i.e. with other things also received from the Spirit). This brings us back to the question already answered, How are the words themselves to be apprehended—as teaching what they grammatically contain, or as including some other meaning? 

Another passage often paraded as against us is found in II Corinthians 3:6: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” While it is impossible to preserve the force and true apprehension of this Scripture without understanding what is meant by the New Testament or covenant (which will be examined Prop. 50, in connection with the Abrahamic covenant), yet, aside from this, sufficient reason can be advanced to rebut its reference to a literal, or any other system of interpretation. Asking what is meant by “the Spirit,” the answer comes in the very same chapter “Now the Lord is that Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17, comp. Barnes’ admissions, etc.), and (in II Corinthians 3:18, according to Barnes, Beza, Wolf, Locke, Rosenmüller, Doddridge, etc., the Greek is) “from the Lord the Spirit.” If Christ be the Spirit here denoted, how can it refer to interpretation? Or, if the testimony of the apostle, that by the Spirit Christ is meant, is set aside, we ask then, How comes it, according to the statement of Neander and a host of writers, that the apostles could not rid themselves of the “materialistic husk” of a literal interpretation of the Word? If the “literal” application “killeth” as some declare, how does it come then that God gives His word in such a form? Is it reasonable or credible that He, who is justly lauded for benevolence, mercy, and grace, would give truth surrounded by a deadly covering—truth too indispensable to secure the happiness and peace of man? Is it not the rule of the Divine procedure (uttered by Jesus, Matthew 7:8–10, etc.) that even man will not give to an asking son a stone for bread or a serpent for a fish, much less God? Such are a few of the questions that immediately suggest themselves, when making the passage advocate a proceeding that would be inconsistent in man. The simple, unpretending meaning of the verse is this: that the Word of God in its letter (i.e. in its plain, unambiguous written form) cannot give life; that possessing the letter alone would inevitably lead to death, for having only the letter the covenant promises could not be realized, but that having the Spirit, even Christ, the assurance is given that the letter itself—death without Christ or the Spirit—or the promises of God contained in the letter, shall be duly verified and accomplished. Two passages throw light on this verse; the one where even the letter of the Gospel, the preaching of the apostles, may prove to be a “savor of death unto death” (II Corinthians 2:16) without Christ; and the other (John 6:63), when Jesus, to indicate the future resurrection and possession of eternal life, says: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth” (comp. II Corinthians 4:14; John 5:21; Romans 8:11; Galatians 4:17; Philippians 3:21), keeping in view that this quickening is applied to Christ in I Peter 3: 18, “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” Hence the literal aspect of the truth is far from being condemned or set aside; if so, it would sweep away the most precious promises that the Bible contains. It is then to be received, but in connection with it, that also which alone gives it efficacy and power in this world, and in that which is to come. The idea, therefore, of the apostle is, that without the related work and power of Jesus, as the Christ, and His Spirit exerted in our behalf, the mere reception of the truth in its material form will, instead of delivering from, only conduct to death. There is nothing in the scope of the passage to indicate any such reference as many attach to it, so condemnatory to the Bible and the practice of the apostles.22 

Obs. 4. Briefly, then, we are forced by a regard for consistency to endorse the proposition for the following reasons: 1. God communicates with us through language, and He follows, in order that we may understand, the usages of language. 2. The literal interpretation was the ancient mode employed down to the time of Christ. 3. It was the early Christian Church method, and continued thus until subverted by the Alexandrian and monkish one. (Comp. e.g. in reference to interpretation of Scriptures relating to kingdom, Props. 70–78). 4. It is the one to which God alone appeals in behalf of the veracity, etc., of His word. 5. It is the only one that can give us the certainty that it is not the work of man. 6. The fundamental truths of Christianity, the covenants, the person, incarnation, life, and death of Jesus, the promises, the fulfillment of prophecy, etc., are based upon it. 7. It is the one that maintains its reasonableness and accordance with the laws of language, and can thus be tested and proven. 8. It presents a simplicity which binds together the Old and New Testaments in unity of language and of design that no other system bestows. 9. It brings forth most prominently the analogy of Scripture and of faith. 10. It not only preserves the promises of God intact, but fully shows how and when they are fulfilled. 11. It conduces to bring out most distinctively a perfect Redeemer and a completed redemption. 12. It prevents a host of contradictory meanings applied to the kingdom, clearly tracing and presenting it as the covenants and promises demand. 13. It effectually closes the door to a flood of wild and antagonistic interpretations fastened on the Word under the claim of superior spiritual enlightenment, discernment, and sanctity. 14. It aids us fairly to meet, without lowering and degrading the Word by abject concessions and the accommodation theory, the assaults of unbelievers. The bearing of all this will be evidenced as we pass over the leading doctrine of the Bible; and the result of our labors, the fruit of adherence to grammatical interpretation, will indicate the solidity of the ground occupied. 

    Dr. Sprecher in his Groundwork of Theol., p. 1, ch. 5, on “The Right of Private Judgment and the Sufficiency, Intelligibility, and Efficacy of the Sacred Scriptures,” fully and ably sustains our position. After insisting upon the intelligibility of the Scriptures, because “a revelation unintelligible is no revelation at all,” etc., he (p. 109) remarks: “As the revelation is made in oral communications and in written words, in articulate speech and intelligible language—language intelligible to its first hearers and readers—it follows that the words in this revelation must have been used according to the rules of language then prevalent, the usus loquendi of that day, according to the meaning or sense of the words to those to whom the language was vernacular. Otherwise the communication could not have been understood by them. It is evident, therefore, that the Bible must be explained in the same way, and interpreted by the same rules which apply to any other books written in the same language. This was the view of Luther, and he called it the sensum literalem.” Brookes (Maranatha, p. 38) justly observes, in behalf of the grammatical sense, that if the Word is at the mercy of the interpreter, then the Bible “is no longer a revelation, but a concealment of God’s will.” Professor Riddle (Hints on Bible Interpretation) forcibly observes that “the right of private interpretation” “assumes that the Bible is a human (in its language) book; that however its human authors were inspired, they wrote or spoke so as to be understood, using words, whether literally or figuratively, in the sense in which general usage employs them. For if this principle of interpretation were not correct, there could be no duty of private interpretation.” “Indeed, any other position makes the Bible a dishonest book.” Chillingworth (Works, vol. 1, p. 231) affirms our view, because God designed His Word not simply “for the learned, but for all men,” which design is only met by the grammatical sense.

Obs. 5. Our position is endorsed, at least in theory if not always in practice, by the ablest writers. Our introductions and aids to the study of the Bible (as e.g. Horne’s, vol. 1, p. 322, etc. Comp. Alford’s How to Study New Testament, Dunn’s Study of the Bible; Smith’s Dic. of the Bible; Herzog’s Encyc, The Bible and its Study, etc.), regard it as fundamental to a correct understanding of the Word. Theologians and authors in every statement of doctrine or argument, lay stress on it as the strongest possible proof to be adduced in favor of what the Scriptures actually do teach. This, e.g. is evidenced on almost every page of such works as Kitto’s Cyclopedia, Fairbairn’s Bib. Dictionary, Kurtz’s Sac. History, etc., and in all our leading commentaries, in Sys. Divinity, etc. Indeed, the plain grammatico-rhetorical sense is to multitudes the end of controversy. The reformers, as stated (comp. Mosheim’s Ch. Hist., Cent. 16, S. 3; Eichhorn’s Gech. der Cultur, p. 1, and 175; Hallam’s Introd. Lit. of Europe, vol. 2, p. 287 etc.) confined themselves, more or less, to the literal interpretation. Even some eminent Roman Catholic divines (comp. Calmet’s Dic.) have admitted the literal sense, as e.g. John Charlier De Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, of whom Neander (Hist. Dogmas, vol. 2, p. 607) says: “Gerson first of all asserted as a fundamental maxim that the literal sense of the Bible was the only true one; that all things necessary to salvation were plainly contained in the Bible, and that no true doctrine could be at variance with the Bible.” He, however, neutralized this by also declaring that this literal sense must be explained by the interpretation of the Church, given to it through General Councils. The most pompous array of testimonials might be presented in favor of the interpretation advocated by us—even from men who are largely addicted to spiritualizing—but the illustrations appended will suffice. It is self-evident that, in the perusal of the writings of others, we feel, explain it as we may, that in the interpretation of Scripture they are correct and truthful in proportion as the literal sense or the natural figurative one sustains them. Barnes (Com. Galatians 4:24) expresses our view: “the great truth has gone forth, never more to be recalled, that the Bible is to be interpreted on the same principle as all other books; that its language is to be investigated by the same laws as language in all other books; and that no more liberty is to be taken in allegorizing the Scriptures than may be taken with Herodotus or Livy.”

    Rev. Dr. Sprecher, my honored instructor in theology, in a letter addressed to me dated January 16th, 1856, after referring to his extensive reading on the subject and the reflection of years, says: “Their (i.e., Millenarians) principles of interpretation are correct,” however he may differ on some details of exegesis. Rev. Robert Hall, in his Review of Gregory’s Letters, utters the following: “Let the fair grammatical import of Scripture language be investigated; and whatever propositions are, by an easy and natural interpretation, deducible from thence, let them be received as the dictates of infinite wisdom, whatever aspect they bear, or whatever difficulties they present. Repugnant to reason they never can be, because they spring from the author of it; but superior to reason, whose limits they will infinitely surpass, we must expect to find them, since they are a communication of such matters of fact respecting the spiritual and eternal world as need not to have been communicated, if the knowledge of them could have been acquired from any other quarter.” Ernesti only expresses the views of many when he tells us: “Theologians are right when they affirm the literal sense to be the only true one.” In the Inst. Interp. of the New Testament, he lays it down as a fundamental law of exegesis that the interpretation of Scripture is to be conducted by the same rules applicable to the interpretation of a classical or profane author. (This has not been wholly eliminated in Professor Stuart’s translation). The only caution requisite is, that no exegesis is to be considered isolated from other Scripture, but must be regarded in its connection with the general analogy, spirit, or design of the writers. The painful fact is, that, however correct in principle, Ernesti, Michaelis, and others too much overlooked the internal and Divine unity exhibited by a grammatico-historical interpretation—i.e. its union and correspondence with a continuous Divine plan. They failed to combine what even exegesis presented. Every reader of course knows that without the literal interpretation, works on the fulfillment of prophecy cannot be effective as seen in writings of Sherlock, Newton, Kett, Faber, Keith, Hurd.etc. Greswell (Parables, vol. 3, p. 173) denounces the dangerous practice of making varied senses, as “substituting an indefinite and capricious standard of interpretation,” and then forcibly adds: “If there is any one principle of interpretation which from the nature of the case is not liable to vary; which is founded in the reason of things, and cannot accommodate itself to the peculiar tastes or prejudices of individuals, in the use and admission of which persons of every persuasion might be capable of concurring, and which would lead all, if they applied it rightly, to similar conclusions; which is consequently the least likely to fail of the desired effect, and therefore we may presume was of all others intended to be our guide and director in arriving at the knowledge both of what we are required to believe, and of what we are bound to practice; it appears to me to be this, that we take the words of Scripture as we find them; that we endeavor to ascertain their true, grammatical sense, whether in the Old or the New Testament, in the first instance, and then receive the truths which are thereby conveyed, whether articles of faith or rules of practice, according to the plain and simple and obvious meaning of the language itself.” Graff, in his Lay Sermons, No. 1, observes that “the language is human,” and adds: “It is this human phase of the Scriptures which brings them within our reach, even as it is the human nature of the Divine Person, of whom they treat, that renders Him capable of being our Saviour, Representative, and Friend. As in the perusal of other books, so in reading the Bible, there is no better general rule than that the obvious meaning is the true.” A sensible art. on Biblical Interpretation may be found in the North Brit. Review, Aug., 1858. We only add this: if the idea contained in the grammatical sense is not the one inspired, then the inspiration of the views presented is largely left to the option of the interpreter.

Obs. 6. This proposition is of the utmost importance, seeing that, as all frankly acknowledge, our doctrinal basis and subsequent superstructure depend upon its adoption. The early Christians in their simplicity and faith occupied our posture, and therefore held a doctrine concerning the kingdom, which, by a change to another attitude, is now regarded by the masses as erroneous. We are mainly indebted to Origen for this transformation, he giving the leverage through which it was accomplished. Luther and others may give their estimate of his performance. It is sufficient to say that he laid down the principle “that the Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written,” etc. (Porter’s Lec. Horn., p. 51). He advocates (De. Princ. B. 4 C. 1) the threefold interpretation; the obvious sense he likens to “the flesh; a higher sense is equivalent to “the soul,” and a still higher is represented by “the Spirit;” “for as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture.” How this system spread is briefly stated by Mosheim (Eccl. Hist., Cen. 3, p. 2, S. 6): “A prodigious number of interpreters, both in this and succeeding ages, followed the method of Origen, though with some variations; nor could the few, who explained the sacred writings with judgment and a true spirit of criticism, oppose with any success the torrent of allegory that was overflowing the Church.” Augustine (City of God, *) gives a threefold meaning to the prophecies, one referring to the earthly, another to the heavenly Jerusalem, and a third to both of these. The moral sense advocated by Kant (Horne’s Introd., vol. 1, p. 323), which, setting aside the grammatical, imposes a moral meaning, whether the passage can naturally bear it or not, is an offshoot of such a system. So also the theory of accommodation to the opinions and prejudices of the Jews as advanced by Semler and developed by his followers (Horne’s Introd., vol. 2, p. 324), is the natural offspring of such bold handling of the Word. In addition: the extravagant claims of Swedenborg that he was set up as the true interpreter of the Word, is exclusively based on the notion that to him was, for the first time, given the secret key by the Creator himself, to unlock the Bible and portray its meaning; and this key, on examination, turns, only in a more scientific way, the old bolts in Origen’s lock, now enlarged and reburnished. It resolves itself in as wide a removal as possible from the literal, and finds morality and religion in the plainest historical statements and facts; in short, wherever a mystical ingenuity could engraft them. Without questioning the sincerity, intended honesty, and piety of such men, justice to ourselves, and a desire to vindicate the truth, demands an exposure of their inconsistency and dangerous tendency. Many, indeed, reject the vagaries of Origen, the absurdities of Augustine, the folly of Kant and Semler, the visions of Swedenborg, and would regard it as uncomplimentary to be classed as interpreters with one or the other of them, who, notwithstanding, are precisely in the same category. For with all these, they also forsake the literal sense, or, if the passage contains it, the figurative sense, and add as the true sense another, viz., a spiritual or mystical. It is singular, too, that many writers, unable to discriminate between figurative language and their own superadded spiritualizing, confound the two, although greatly differing, as one. Waldegrave, Fairbairn, and others employ the term “figurative “as if it were equivalent to spiritual, overlooking the fact that all figurative language falls under the grammatical construction of speech and is very different from the additional meaning fastened upon the obtained figurative sense. Let us again say: all parties admit—however some may afterward discard it—the literal sense; they all accept of the figurative meaning ascertained by the rules of grammar and rhetoric; these are freely admitted as contained in the words or sentences, and thus far all are agreed, but here the points of agreement cease, and the paths become diverging. We are satisfied with the sense thus obtained, seeking no other foreign to all languages, and which no one dreams to apply to any book except to the Bible. They, on the other hand, are not contented with such a sense—frequently finding it contradictory to their preconceived theory—but gravely tell us that this grammatical sense is a purely representative sense of another and differing one, which last they fail, either through design or discrimination, to distinguish from the literal. This peculiar mode of interpretation, traceable to the old Origenistic method, makes it easy to fasten almost any meaning to “the kingdom of heaven.” To its looseness are we indebted for the varied interpretations concerning it.28 

Obs. 7. A departure from the literal sense has not only caused those immensely varied and antagonistic interpretations of the kingdom, but it has, in its self-defence, forced able and pious men to a confession which undermines and destroys the authority of the Bible. Strauss, Bauer, and others, charge the Bible, including the New Testament, with teaching in a direct, literal sense a visible, outward kingdom here on earth under the personal reign of Jesus; in brief, a kingdom in its Jewish form. This is frankly admitted by eminent theologians; indeed, there can be, as we shall hereafter show, no question about its being a fact. But how do they get rid of this objection as urged by Kenan, Parker, and others? Easily enough, by turning on to it the light afforded by their additional sense. We have one of the most scholarly inform us. Thus e.g. Neander (Life of Jesus, p. 250, etc.) concedes that the true idea of the kingdom of God was contained in a “materialistic husk,” which (the latter) he designates a “chimera, which was the rough rind of the sacred bulb;” and contends that this “husk” was in the second or third century removed, and then “the real kingdom of God was made clear,” and the believers in that “rough rind” by the change “became heretics.” In other words, the literal sense once held is discarded and another sense, which is pronounced the true one, is given to the kingdom, and a complete reversal of opinion follows, so that in the estimation of many the former believers are no longer to be regarded as in sympathy and belief with the Church. We earnestly protest against such a procedure, which makes the apostles and early believers to put their faith in a “chimera,” “a rough rind,” “a materialistic husk;” which proclaims with the utmost self-complacency that “in the things of the Spirit,” in doctrinal truths, we, or the Church, are far in advance of the apostles; which makes inspired men and preachers of the kingdom ignorant of the leading doctrine of the Bible, and one too that they were specially to proclaim. Let this husk be the grammatical sense—strictly literal and figurative—we are abundantly satisfied with its consolations, profundity, and sublimity. Its meat is wholesome and nourishing, imparting strength, and we need no other, although it is, with high-sounding words, pronounced to be the inner, sacred germ developed by “the consciousness of the Church,” or by the growth induced by the Spirit. When we see that the reception of this inner germ produces direct antagonism to one admitted sense of the Word, hostility to the early faith of the Church, inability to fairly meet the objections of infidelity, a countless number of mystical additions leading to the most extravagant revelations, we respectfully, but firmly, decline the intoxicating potion. This “germ system” virtually makes the Bible “all things to all men,” in a way that opens wide the door to the entrance of that mournful, endless procession of diverse, adverse, opposite, inimical opinions, doctrines, systems, etc., which appear in the history of hermeneutics, theology, and the Church. Should we not, to say the least, hesitate before we endorse a method which has been so widespread for evil, and which, with the best intention, sweeps a net with meshes so large that it cannot hold in confinement the fishes it encloses; which is a power so explosive and dangerous to manage that when handled its effects cannot be controlled? It leads even such men as Cocceius to exult in the prolific manner in which reason can become the measurer of Scripture, saying: “The Scripture is so rich that an able expositor will bring more than one sense out of it.” What kind of riches these are, we need not now delineate.

The most dangerous attacks of unbelief against the Bible are based on a purely grammatical interpretation of it. The result is, that the teaching of the Scriptures being diverse—as e.g. in reference to the kingdom—from the spiritual conceptions of the modern Church, both are rejected on the ground that they are unreliable, for the first given by professed inspired men is not entertained by the Church, and the second is solely the work of fallible successors. Now the vast mass of the Church, having left the apostolic interpretation and followed the Alexandrian, monkish, and popish interpretations, is utterly unable to resist those attacks without resorting to a double, concealed, inner, or spiritual meaning. Here is the fatal lack of consistency; for it is virtually admitting that the Word according to its letter cannot be defended, thus opening a wide gap for the enemies of the truth to enter, conceding that one admitted sense possesses a serious defect. Now, we propose in this work to take the principles of interpretation correctly adopted by unbelievers, admitted by many orthodox to be sound and reliable, however they may violate them, and show, step by step, presenting Scripture proof as we advance, that they preserve the integrity of the Word, the inspired teaching of the apostles, and a marked unity of design in redemptive purposes. While there is a large class who make their attack against Christianity through the literal interpretation and reject it as untenable, there is another large one who profess to retain some regard for the Bible, and under this esteem manipulate the literal sense by engrafting upon it what they designate a higher and nobler sense. Rationalistic, Naturalistic, and Liberal books, full of Free Religionist ideas, develop this feature largely. Alas! this destructive work was taught them by the system of believers, and they plant themselves complacently upon the interpreting basis so kindly provided—all objections being swallowed up in the latitude given by a supposed freedom. Grammar, rhetoric, and history are violated for the sake of an idea, an “inner germ,” and the most scholarly, learned men are pushing on, exultantly, the work. Prudence dictates a return to the grammatical sense, which all admit, and a strict adherence to the same. Every one feels that just in proportion as an important doctrine or truth is founded upon such a sense, in that proportion is it credible. Even mystics, the greatest spiritualizers, seek to sustain their views by an appeal to such wherever available. The leading doctrine of the kingdom cannot prove an exception to a rule which commends itself to good judgment. 

Obs. 8. While urging a literal interpretation, we are, as already intimated, equally opposed to that ultra-literalism which makes no allowance for the figures of speech incident to all language. Tropical usage is by no means an evidence of ambiguity or weakness; it is rather that of clearness and strength, for according to the decided testimony of rhetoricians, its design and province is (Blair’s Rhet., S. 14) to “illustrate a subject, or throw light upon it,” or (Jamieson’s Rhet., p. 138) “to give us, frequently, a much clearer and more striking view,” etc. Hence to reject them is to evince a childish play, such a puerile literalism as was exemplified in Origen’s unfortunate emasculation (how much had this to do with the after-development of his threefold sense?), and even in the contest between the great reformers Luther and Zwingli on the words instituting the Supper. This disclaimer is the more necessary, since in numerous books, reviews, and newspapers, it is alleged that Millenarians confine themselves to the exclusive, rigid, literal sense, admitting no other, and denying that of figure. One writer even, Dr. Spring, made the utterly unwarranted assertion that we “affirm that the prophetic and apocalyptic writings which speak of the Millennium are free from figures, symbols, and are altogether literal.” The simple truth is, that not a single Millenarian author, from the days of the apostles down, holds to such an opinion; all of them, without exception, fully recognize symbols, types, and figures of speech, notice their peculiarities, and discriminate them from the strictly literal. It is their plain, unanimous statement that language must be interpreted by the laws which produce and regulate it: if symbolic, it is to be interpreted by the laws governing symbols; if typical, then by the laws underlying types; if figurative, then by the rules controlling figures; and if rigidly literal, then by the laws of unfigurative speech. Works specially directing attention to these rules are presented by Millenarian writers, as e.g. Brookes, Bickersteth, Lord, Winthrop, etc. 

Obs. 9. To prove that our proposition is wrong in limiting the interpretation of the Bible by the laws of language, as universally held, it must be shown: 1. That the Bible in its usage of language is an exception to all other books. 2. That the subject-matter, superior to that contained in other books, is not conveyed to us through the common channel of language in the ordinary way. 3. That a sense beyond that given by the rules of language is a legitimate one, and either, in some manner, drawn from language itself or found incorporated or announced in the Word. 4. Some rules or directions for ascertaining and applying this additional sense, so that it may be easily recognized and not arbitrarily used. 5. Some decided—not inferential—examples of such a sense being determined and enforced by the Bible, in order to elevate it to a justly recognizable rank. In this way we may, perhaps, be enabled to appreciate that overwhelming stream of scholasticism, mysticism, and spiritualism pervading our theological literature. Men laughingly refer to those enormous summaries of Divinity concocted in past ages, with their violations of Scripture language, while they themselves, unconsciously, approvingly quote and endorse in their formative theology many of the erroneous interpretations of the Thomists, Scotists, Occamites, etc. Having a system of interpretation identical in many respects with the scholastics, etc., it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to rid themselves entirely of their interpretations.
Another feature must also be discarded. It has become quite fashionable with recent writers, in their efforts to find arguments against us, to practically lower the prophetical portion of the Word by placing the non-prophetical of the New Testament in the scale as far superior to the former, etc. (so e.g. Waldegrave, comp. Lord’s Journal, Ap. 1857). Now, whenever a system is forced, in self-defence, to thus discriminate between the Scriptures and portions of them, exalting one part above the other as more worthy of reception or credence, instead of receiving the whole as standing upon the same ground of being a revelation of God’s will and purpose (comp. Prop. 16), it is evidence—decisive—of weakness and imperfection. A substantial method does not need such unstable propping. Notwithstanding its plausible and authoritative air, it becomes, by its disintegrating qualities, a dangerous instrumentality. It is the weapon so freely employed by German Rationalists and others to invalidate the credibility and authority of the prophetic writings, and to graft upon them any desired meaning. To make one portion of scripture to be the sole and exclusive arbiter and interpreter of the Bible, is subversive of the light given in a general analogy and a continuous Divine plan. Such a course is like to that of a person who, in a large room containing a number of windows, contents himself with the light of one when all are available; and then, owing to the quantity of light received, distinguishing things imperfectly, still contends that such is their true and only appearance.

Obs. 10. In our Introductions to the Bible it is a generally admitted principle that no important doctrine should be solely based on figurative language; that to give it certainty it ought to be founded on the literal meaning of the words. This is a necessity, notwithstanding the theorizing, so much impressed, that in every promulgation of doctrine, men will instinctively feel that if they can secure the literal sense in their favor, the strongest possible proof is thus obtained. Why reject this when we come to the doctrine of the kingdom? Surely, if there is a doctrine in the Bible that ought to be sustained by the clearest evidence, it is the leading one of the kingdom. This is abundantly provided, if we will only consider and receive it. Its simplicity should not deter us; this feature ought rather to recommend it to our special notice. More than this: if we reject it we will be held responsible for the same, just as Jesus held the Jews accountable for the literal understanding of the Scriptures. We certainly are not amenable to a still “higher sense” of interpretation, whose laws are not given; and certainly we are not to be condemned for rejecting that which is said by men to be concealed, hidden under the letter, and which it is impossible to perceive in the letter by the rules regulating that letter. Thus e.g. out of the many meanings engrafted upon the kingdom by the adoption of a hidden germ, etc., which sense ought we then to adopt, and what assurance have we that it is, after all, the correct one? No! we are only answerable to God’s demand, how we have treated the very letter committed to our trust, and this obligation presses alike upon the learned and unlearned. Our doctrine, firmly adhering to one system of interpretation, is found equally in both Old and New Testament. Our opponents tell us that the Jews understood the Old Testament too literally, and in place of their belief we are informed (Essays and Reviews, S. 7, p. 406), that it is necessary for the salvation of the world to introduce new truths into the Old Testament in place of the old. Others plead that the primitive Church comprehended the New Testament too literally (Neander, etc.), but that this was merely a transition stage before “the husk” was thrown off and the genuine truth revealed. Once for all let us say, that as reverent believers in the Word, it is impossible to credit such explanations, condemnatory of God’s Word, justice, and love, and cruelly unjust to His ancient people, as if they were in faith a deceived people, and the deception grew out of God’s mode of teaching. Never can we accept, however sincere its advocates, of such consequential, evil-tending teaching. We desire not to endorse a system which, in the hands of a God-fearing man, may result in comparative little injury, but which, in the grasp of infidelity, becomes a power, widely felt, in subverting all the distinctive orthodox doctrines, the most cherished hopes of the Church, and the true idea of the kingdom of God.

    The literal interpretation is especially valuable in argument. It gives the only solid foundation for the expression of opinion; for a sense that language bears upon its very surface is undoubtedly the one intended by the author, and however unwilling persons are to admit it, yet they, notwithstanding, feel its force. Even mystics, etc., in explaining the added spiritual sense, wish us to receive their own explanations in this way. To resort to added senses, engenders doubt, or impresses the mind that something evasive exists. Coleridge (Aids to Reflection, p. 82) justly observes that, “in arguing with infidels, or the weak in faith, it is the part of religious prudence, no less than of religious morality, to avoid whatever looks like an evasion. To retain the literal sense, whenever the harmony of Scripture permits, and reason does not forbid, is ever the honester and, nine times in ten, the more rational and pregnant interpretation. The contrary plan is an easy and approved way of getting rid of a difficulty; but, nine times in ten, a bad way of solving it.” Ellicott (Aids to Faith, Essay 9) well says: “The true and honest method of interpreting the Word of God—the literal, historical, and grammatical—has been recognized in every age, and the results are seen in the agreement of numberless passages of importance that may be found in expositors of all periods,” and it is this agreement, thus cemented by a common bond, that adds force in argument.

Obs. 11. All believers ask for the aid of the Spirit in understanding the Scriptures, but this aid or enlightenment is not outside of the scriptural truth, but of it. Faith, in its influence upon the heart, qualifies the believer to appreciate the Word; for its truths can only be properly estimated by him who practically receives them and experiences their power in heart and life. The higher our experience of God’s promises, the more we are enabled to understand Holy Writ containing them. The Author of the Scriptures is the Spirit: we honor Him by asking His assistance to comprehend them, and such honor and reliance is only properly exhibited by a personal study of them. Human helps are valuable, and the Spirit will certainly (as experience testifies) use them in impressing the truth, provided the chief reliance is placed on the Scriptures themselves as given by Him and the moral enlightenment resulting from their reception. This distinguishes a mere student from a believer, for a man may be learned and able, and yet utterly fail to receive the truth as intended (thus failing in his apprehension), while an unlearned believer, cordially accepting and appropriating personally the Scriptures, experiences their power in his own heart and life. (“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God,” John 7:17); but both combined, learning and religious experience, elevates the man to the highest plane.

    Whatever principle of interpretation is adopted, without appropriating practical faith and the resultant fruits, we cannot get the understanding that God commends. Unless the Scriptures make us “wise to salvation” (II Timothy 3:15), all our theoretical knowledge is vain (e.g. Matthew 7:21–23; I Corinthians 13:1–3, etc.), and only increases our condemnation (e.g. John 3:18–19, and 12:47–48, etc.). The grand truths contained in the plain grammatical sense must—as God intended—lead to a heart-felt obedience, with a coexistent moral, religious, spiritual influence, and then its preciousness will be self-evident. It is certain that the Christian consciousness possesses the Witness of the Spirit, but this witness is not given independently of the truth, but always connected therewith, and hence is evidenced in the ordinary religious experience—not by a direct but indirect, not by an immediate but mediate testimony—by the work it performs, the fruits it bestows, the experience it gives, the controlling love that it imparts. Any other view opens—as history sadly shows—the door to fanaticism and ten thousand visionary interpretations. Let us remember, that the Witness of the Spirit, the Sealing of the Spirit, the Mind which was in Christ, are all the same (comp. President Edwards’ On the Affections), and it materially aids us in estimating the effect that the Scriptures should have upon ourselves by the Spirit’s help, and in ridding ourselves of that vast body of interpretation presented to us under the claim of a special, supernatural, inward teaching of the Spirit. An observance of the rules common to language, practical sense, a due regard to the analogy of Scripture and Faith, an observance of the historical application in reference to opinions and views held, an unprejudiced mind and a heart willing, irrespective of preconceived ideas, to bring forth the real meaning and intent of the writer—these, in connection with a personal experience of the truth, are requisites to constitute a good interpreter. 

Prop. 5. The doctrine of the kingdom is based on the inspiration of the Word of God.

The authenticity and credibility of the Scriptures has been ably defended in special treatises, so that, in order to define our position, it is only necessary to give a few observations on the connection that this kingdom sustains to inspiration. At the conclusion of this work, the subject will be resumed (e.g. Prop. 182), and, as a result, the credibility and inspiration of the Scriptures be evidenced by the continuous Divine purpose as shown in the kingdom.

    Inspiration, while including, is not based on the genuineness and authenticity of the Bible, as Froude (Short Studies) has noticed; it is not established even fully by miracle and prophecy, although essential to the supernatural, for all religions claim these; but it is to be found (satisfactory to reason) in a revealed Divine purpose or plan, clearly announced, carried on for ages in the form and manner previously stated, the same being recognizable at any period in the existing history of the world, etc. Hence, e.g., Froude makes little of Colenso’s attack on the Pentateuch and of the replies to him, asserting that the genuineness and authenticity in ascription of human authorship has no relevancy to the deeper one of inspiration. He takes the position of a writer in the Westminster Review that any proof (as that derived from the discoveries of Rawlinson) of the truthfulness or knowledge of the Bible record, is no proof of Divine inspiration. It must be admitted that the orthodox party have sometimes too hastily concluded the inspiration of the Word from such isolated cases (seeing that a historical fact announced in the Bible may also be one in possession of fallible man); but, on the other hand, Froude and others forget that they themselves would employ historical inaccuracy as evidence against inspiration. The latter embraces the former. The truth is, that nothing will satisfy a class of critics; prove the genuineness and authenticity, and the reply is, that such may be the case, but it still is the sole work of man; prove the inspiration from doctrine, unity, design, etc., and the answer is, that the genuineness and authenticity is not yet proven, thus refusing, what they concede to be, the greater to include the lesser. Ebrard (Gospel Hist., p. 600) aptly says: “We are far from denying that there are men to whom no one could demonstrate the genuineness of the New Testament writings. He who will not believe in the Risen One will seek with unwearied diligence for loopholes by which he may escape from the positive proofs of the genuineness of the Gospel writings and the truth of Gospel history. The Gospel still remains to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness; and conversion and regeneration still form the porch of the understanding, even to the literary understanding, of the Scriptures. The Gospel, as Lange has well said, is so inexorably a critic to everything that springs from the flesh, that the flesh is stimulated to bring its negative criticism to bear against the Gospel in return.”

Obs. 1. All that we know of the covenanted kingdom was spoken by holy men of old as they were professedly moved by the Holy Spirit. The Bible, which contains the doctrine of the kingdom, asserts this as a fact. How is this fact to be fully recognized? When the man of science looks at the long-protracted labors of nature, how, in periods far distant, in countries far apart, in century after century, she has been uniform in her work, indicating continued unity of design and purpose amid the existing diversity, he reasonably concludes that the unseen but felt (in results) laws, by which she operates and controls all things, truly exist. The invisibility of them forms no objection to believing in them, because their effects are visible and commend themselves to him as satisfactory and conclusive evidence. The uniformity of their operation, especially, forces upon him the irresistible conviction of their reality. The Bible claims the same treatment. It is the product of what we call “inspiration;” and it asserts that the same invisible force or power that produced this “inspiration” is constantly exerted in its verification. Now, if we test this Biblical claim as we do the invisible laws of nature, it will also be found to possess a majestic reality. But how is this test to be applied? Surely not to the invisible law itself, for that cannot be handled, but to the effects that it produces, or to the results which it accomplishes. This can be done in two ways: either to have the effects or results personally appropriated, as in nature to see, touch, taste, and feel the same, and in religion to experience its force and power by reception of the truth; or else to imitate the man of science as above indicated. Taking the latter mode: as the scientist looks at nature, so let him survey the Word, and see how men, separated by ages, countries, languages, customs, habits, education, intelligence, position and rank, have continuously unfolded a redemptive plan; how they have stated and predicted the same things with a remarkable unity amid a diversity of style, language, etc.; how, when comparison is instituted, and the additions of one are attached to the other, a unity of Divine purpose is exhibited; how this unity was preserved in the events that occurred, in the religion that was established, in the Christianity that was founded, in the personal experience of believers, in the hostility of the enemies of the truth, in the progress of the Gospel, in the internal and external aspect of the Word itself: and then let him give an adequate cause for all these results. It has become prevalent in some quarters to leave the prophetical portion of the Word out of the question, on the ground that it would be difficult to show, either that the events were not antecedent to prediction, or that man had not shaped their course influenced by previous prophecy. Without yielding the solid and unanswerable arguments based on the past fulfillment of prophecy (to which God appeals), uttered as it was hundreds of years previously and fulfilled in persons and nations unconscious of their anterior defined destiny, we ask the reader to consider the present results of professedly inspired prophecy. Does not prophecy find its mate today? Look at prophecy what it foretells, and is it not verified in the continued present removal of the Jews from their land, in their scattering among the nations, in the existing times of the Gentiles, in Jerusalem and Palestine remaining under Gentile control, down-trodden and sadly cursed, in the Arabs continuing in their semi-civilized condition, in the existing Turkish rule, in the divided state and headless condition of the Roman Empire, in the Church with its institutions and ordinances, the gathering of an elect, the Antichrists or characters and powers portrayed in their antagonism. Compare these and similar fulfillments with the Record, and are they not described as things that shall occur; delineated too by writers, some of whom lived thousands of years and others at least eighteen hundred years ago; and realized in persons and nations who either know nothing of the predictions, or care nothing about them, or deny their credibility. If these things exist, and stand thus related to the Word, is it unreasonable to admit the claim of that Word—viz., that they were foretold by God through men who were inspired by God, and thus enabled to give them through the medium of language. Man himself has no power to foresee the distant future; God alone possesses it, and in aiding man respecting the unknown, He gives play to what is called “inspiration”—which is, an employing of powers and language, already existing, in stating Divine things, or things known only to God. Such a line of argument, briefly indicated, alone convinces us that the Bible is an inspired book, confirmed, as it is, by its reasonableness, necessity, historical and moral unity, worthiness of the Divine character, tendency and perfection.

    These are given in Horne’s Introduction, Birk’s Bible and Modern Thought, Stowe’s Books of the Bible, Christlieb’s Modern Doubt, Elliott’s Treatise, Alexander’s Evidences, Spring’s Bible Not of Man, Butler’s Analogy, etc. We are old-fashioned enough to believe, with the primitive Church and a long line of revered names, that inspiration was confined to a few chosen individuals (II Timothy 3:16; Acts 1:16; 2:30; Hebrews 3:7; 9:8; 10:15; I Peter 1:11; II Peter 1:21, etc.), that instead of being general it was exceptional, confined to a limited number. And, moreover, so wedded are we to “the old ways,” that we believe that the highest possible proof of inspiration is that found in a personal appropriation of the truth, so that self-consciousness impressed by happy experience testifies in its favor. And in addition, we believe, on the one hand, that if the heart is indisposed to obedience all the reasoning in the world cannot change it to receive the Word as inspired; and, on the other, that a heart can be unaffected even when reason accepts of the Word as given by God. In reference to the latter unhappy class, it may be well said, in the expressive language of Bernard (Bampton Lec., The Progress of Doctrine, closing of Lee. 3d): “Does it wound our hearts to see this wondrous record misapprehended, its unity denied, its glory darkened? Perhaps it is a sadder sight in the eye of Heaven, when its inspiration is vindicated, its perfection appreciated, its majesty asserted by one who at the same time neglects the great salvation. Such a case is not impossible, perhaps is not uncommon. The day will declare it. At least, let it be remembered, that the study of the testimony is one thing, and the enjoyment of the salvation is another, and that the record of the things which Jesus did and said has attained its end with those only who believing have life through His name.”

Obs. 2. The doctrine of the kingdom is based on inspiration, because it is a doctrine which, as delineated, we ourselves, unaided, could never have produced and developed. It embraces (Prop. 2.) a Divine purpose or plan, extending from creation into the eternal ages. The things pertaining to the kingdom contain facts, preparatory stages, historical connections, relations to the future, ideas above human capacity, that could not possibly have been known if God had not revealed them. The kingdom is simply that which the Almighty designs to have accomplished as the grand result of the Divine economy. From the nature of it, its dependence upon God, its being the work of God and not of man, its having a theocratic king, we must go to God Himself to learn what it is, and how it shall be manifested. Man can only throw light on it as he gives us the ideas of Him who designed its establishment. The thoughts, purposes, and works of the Creator are not ours, and can only be known and appreciated to the extent in which He has deemed it proper to disclose them. Realizing this, we cannot do otherwise than consider an appeal, if well grounded, to the Scriptures on the subject, or a statement given by the Bible respecting the kingdom, as the essential proof required. Our belief has thus something to rest upon that does not come from fallible man, but from Him who overrules all things. An authoritative argument is, therefore, only founded on the express language of Scripture; and to it, consequently, application will be made, claiming that only in so far as the words of God are produced in substantiation of our doctrine, is assent also to be given. The ground of such a position and claim lies in the fact that “the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God “(I Corinthians 2:11), and that hence man can only know them as that Spirit has divulged them. Believing that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God “(II Timothy 3:16), that “holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21), our doctrine is exclusively derived from such inspired Scriptures. Through our entire argument this will be our posture, and finally in the concluding propositions, after having passed over the record, there will be submitted to the reader, as one of the strongest proofs of inspiration, the harmony and intimate connection existing in the historical progression relating to, and the doctrinal unity of, the kingdom.

    There is no half-way house on the inspiration of the prophets, the utterances pertaining to doctrine and the Will of God. It is a dimming of the gold, a mere praising of the counterfeit, for persons to profess to accept of the utterances of Jesus and the sayings of the prophets under the color of a universal human or intellectual inspiration, to eulogize the same most highly, and yet deny a Divine inspiration. This, too, is done for purposes that are dishonorable; it proving an insidious and expert way to undermine Christianity. Simple honesty and integrity demand that such utterances and sayings should be received under the claim assumed of being divinely inspired, or else they should be rejected with the already declined belief in such inspiration. Alas, many are critical only to find fault, friendly only to stab more severely, lauding only to lower and demoralize; these are prevalent characteristics of the present day. Transformations into religious forms of thought, but meaning naturalistic things; professed worship of the divine but denoting nature; reverence for law and redemption but referring to the inexorable, immutable laws of the universe and human progress—these and similar phases are exhibited in those who magnify inspiration, but mean by it intellectual power or the force of genius. A careful perusal of the books of such writers leaves the decided impression that all such would greatly rejoice in the downfall of Christianity. The laudation of such authors by the Church is a weakness; for while disinclined to treat them with scorn or abuse, yet those who dishonor Christ in this way deserve—however they may praise Christ as a mighty genius, Reformer, etc.—no eulogy from believers. If the Scriptures are to be received at all, they must, in consistency, be received as the Word of God. This, and this reiterated, is their foundation, and it cannot be ignored or transformed. And this too should not be applied to any other book; hence those theories which extend inspiration to eminent men are antagonistic to the truth. Recently, in an edition of Bunyan’s works, we are gravely told: “Bunyan’s thoughts are inspiration of God,” an idea which Bunyan would have rejected as abhorrent. The Christian Union (May 21st, 1877) makes inspiration to be in all things created, and it “runs through all ages, all climes, all nations.” It scouts the idea of inspiration being exceptional, and says: “The Bible is more than a work of genius; it is the work of God, but of God speaking in the experiences of the devoutest and best instructed souls; of a God who is not merely here and there, in special men and places, but is All in all.” This Pio-pantheistic theory is very prevalent. The looseness with which “inspiration” is attributed to all believers—the same in kind, but probably not in degree, that was given to holy men of old—is well illustrated in Beecher’s sermon (Christian Union, April 10th, 1878), “Inspiration Immanent and Universal.” We reproduce but a sentence: “So then, when you ask me if the inspiration which men receive from God nowadays is the same which men received from Him in olden times, I say that it is the same in kind. If you ask me, whether it is the same in authority, I say yes, so far as their own conduct is concerned,” etc. Compare a criticism of Morell’s Philosophy of Religion (North Brit. Review, August, 1849), who, while rejecting the extreme of Gerhard, Buxtorf, and others (who made even the vowel points inspired), falls into the opposite one of making inspiration to consist, not in the communication of God’s will but in reception. What distinction can be drawn between such utterances, and those of confirmed unbelief, as expressed e.g. in F.W. Newman’s History of the Hebrew Monarchy, or Greg’s Greed of Christendom, which make inspiration to be a sort of “divine afflatus” peculiar to all men, specially believers and men of genius. Thus Greg (p. 226 and 235) remarks: “When it is His will that mankind should make some great step forward, should achieve some pregnant discovery, He calls into being some cerebral organization of more than ordinary magnitude, as that of David, Isaiah, Plato, Shakespeare, Bacon, Newton, Luther, Pascal, which gives birth to new ideas and grander conceptions of the truths vital to humanity.” “In a true and simple, but not orthodox sense, we believe all the pure, wise, and mighty in soul to be inspired, and to be inspired, for the instruction and elevation of mankind.” As illustrated in Greg himself. This is but a reproduction of Parker, who affirmed: “It (inspiration) is coextensive with the faithful use of man’s natural powers. Now this inspiration is limited to no sect, age, or nation. It is wide as the world, and common as God. It is not given to a few men in the infancy of the world to monopolize inspiration and bar God out of the soul.”

Obs. 3. Deny the inspiration of the Word, and then it becomes merely the word or conjecture of man. The kingdom predicted in its pages may then fail, because man is liable to mistake. It also will not answer to save inspiration by the principle of accommodation (Farmer), or by arbitrary exegesis(Storr), or by moral interpretation (Kant), or by allegorical interpretation (Steir), or by pan-harmonic exposition (German), or by confining it to essentials (Herder), or by embracing mere belief and elevation of soul (De Wette), or by making it talent developed by speculation (Schelling), or by constituting it a rational spirit which receives more and more its due form in succeeding works (Billroth), or by contending for a verbal inspiration (Dick), or by restricting it to intuitional truths (Morell), or by identifying it with genius under the influence of truth (Parker)—because none of these find a support either in the grammatical sense, or in the declarations respecting inspiration in the record itself, or in the contents of the Scripture taken as a whole. Formerly, too, inspiration was utterly denied and derided by infidels; at present, under the assumed leverage of comparative religion, they have shifted their ground, and in numerous works admit that it is inspired, but with the same kind of inspiration that accompanies all truth and all human efforts; some even adding, that men have existed and now exist who possess this inspiration to a greater degree than the prophets and apostles. Some, through a refined pantheistic theorizing, make it to proceed from God and loudly boast of their God-given, Spirit-derived inspiration. While all this profession and misuse of old terms cannot affect the intelligent believer, it is eminently calculated to deceive and mislead the multitude. What makes the rebutting of such claims the more difficult is the unfortunate and ill-considered position occupied by otherwise able leaders of Christianity. On the one hand, the extreme so strenuously contended for by some, that even the words themselves were inspired, is evidently burdening inspiration with a load that is unnecessary. Indeed, in the light of the modest introduction of Luke (1:1–3), the request of Paul for his MSS. and cloak, the personal references of Paul and John, the salutations, the special (I Timothy 5:23) recommendation to Timothy, the unimportant variations in the gospels, the differences in MSS., no two being exactly alike, the retention of a distinctive personal style, the difference of relation of the same event—these things, dispassionately considered, go far to show that we must not necessarily assume that every word or sentence is inspired. On the other hand, the concessions made by many intrude doubt and undermine confidence in the credibility and inspiration of the Old and New Testaments. Some e.g. maintain that only a small portion is directly inspired, the rest being of human origin; others, that the record that we now have is given from recollection of a previous inspired one; some, that the main truths were given by revelation but are incorporated with much that is human appended to it, including even error; others, that the inspiration only consisted in a restraining influence from error in general, or a guidance into truth without removing the possibility of falling into error; some that the moral portion is alone inspired (which some contend is an inspiration common to all religions); others, that it only consists in the Divine approval and adoption of writings composed by men, because of the important truths contained. The most fanciful conjectures, without proof, are submitted as theories to satisfy the demands of inspiration. The only safe conclusion to which a believer in the Word can come, amid the variety of conflicting opinions and on a subject which certainly has its difficulties, is to adhere to the utterances of the Word itself concerning it, and to frame a definition which neither exceeds nor lessens the extent given to it by Scripture. There is no reason why the definition given (e.g. by Horne, vol. 1, Introd. p. 92) long ago should be discarded—viz., that it is “the imparting such a degree of Divine assistance, influence, or guidance, as should enable the authors of the Scriptures to communicate religious knowledge to others, without error or mistake, whether the subjects of such communications were things then immediately revealed to those who declared them, or things with which they were before acquainted.” A definition which embraces the ideas taught, freedom from error, an essential unity in teaching, sufficiently covers the ground. Taking the Scriptures as they teach, we must, if believers in the same, receive them as given, even under the peculiar style, learning, disposition, etc., of the writers, through a Divine guidance and aid, so that they contain revelations imparted, through human mediums, by the Holy Spirit; and that the ideas or truths are portrayed in words familiar to the writers, and sufficiently precise in expression to give a correct meaning to what God intended. Taking such a view, it is not necessary to insist that every specific word or phrase or sentence is directly inspired; that God gave no freedom to the writer in choice of language, and no latitude in the manner of conveying ideas. There may even here be an exception. In covenants, promises, distinctive prophecies, etc., asserted to come directly from God in messages to individuals, we may reasonably affirm, that being of special importance and significance, and coming thus from God, the ideas themselves would be clad in language suggested by the Spirit. The longer a student compares Scripture with Scripture, the more will he become impressed that even in the very language of the more important and essential portions of the Word a peculiar care has been exercised in their choice, resulting in a harmony that cannot otherwise be explained.38 

Obs. 4. Occupying this position at the outset, we insist upon it that the apostles were fully and accurately acquainted with the doctrine of the kingdom, i.e., as to its nature, and hence were qualified to teach it. Aside from their being specially called to preach the kingdom, this inspiration influence bestowed upon them (e.g., Luke 12:12, John 16:13, 14, 15, Luke 24:49, I Corinthians 2:12–13, Ephesians 3:4, I Peter 1:12, etc.) would most certainly preserve them from error on this great, leading subject of the Bible. This becomes the more important, seeing that unbelievers, on all sides, declare that they were mistaken, pointing to the history of the Church as proof; and that many of the greatest Christian Apologists (Neander, etc.) admit that they misconceived the subject, misapprehended the doctrine, and refer us to the same history as evidence, but endeavor to save the credit of the apostles by a philosophical development theory. The express declarations of the apostles themselves that they were guided by the Spirit, the positive promises given to them to guide them into the truth, forbid our receiving such estimates of the apostles’ knowledge. While they undoubtedly could receive additional revelation from time to time as circumstances demanded, yet this has nothing to do with their knowledge of the nature of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom was preached by them before and after the death of Jesus; it was a familiar subject, leading and fundamental, and therefore one that they must have known sufficiently to describe it without mistake or decided error. The object of this work of ours is to show this, by an appeal to Scripture, receiving the plain grammatical sense as our guide, and thus vindicate the inspired teaching of the apostles both against the charges of infidels and the unwarranted concessions of Apologists. The reader, after passing over the entire proof presented, can see for himself whether this is successfully done or not. It would be premature to decide on the amount of knowledge possessed by the apostles respecting the nature of the kingdom, without first allowing the testimony contained in the Bible to be duly considered and weighed. 

    There is a large and growing class of works (like e.g. Draper’s, Leckey’s, etc.) which endeavors to break the force of Scriptural inspiration by caricaturing Religion and Christianity. The latter are made synonymous with bigotry, intolerance, superstition, ignorance, and persecution, and this caricature—which is not Christianity—is attacked and in their own way satisfactorily demolished. The unreflecting—who never consider that inspiration itself long before foretold these things and warned us against them—are impressed by the illogical reasoning and deductions. It is sufficient to say that all the painful evidences of human infirmity and passion, so learnedly paraded by these men, are most pointedly condemned by inspiration. (In view of this, Cook—Lects. on Biology, p. 183—calls Draper’s “His. of Conflict,” etc., “a most painfully unfair volume.” Fiske in the Unseen World—himself an unbeliever—severely criticizes Draper’s method, saying: “the word ‘religion’ is to him a symbol which stands for unenlightened bigotry or narrow-minded unwillingness to look facts in the face,” adding: “it is nevertheless a very superficial conception, and no book which is vitiated by it can have much philosophical value.”) The perversions and misinterpretations of Christianity are not Christianity; the tares mixed with the wheat do not change the latter; religion because abused and distorted is not the less a reality; the multitude (Matthew 7:2, 23, etc.) who simply profess to do God’s will and do it not, only stand in contrast (Matthew 7:24–27, etc.) with “the few” (Matthew 7:14; 20:16, etc.) that are truly obedient and faithful.

Obs. 5. The reader, also, is urged to suspend his judgment until he comes to the majestic end designed by the kingdom of God, received in its strict grammatical sense. Unbelief is not willing to wait until the mystery of God is finished; it is not desirous of contemplating the grand end designed; it is afraid to study the Divine plan as unfolded in this doctrine of the kingdom to its consummation, but (as Strauss, Bauer, Renan, Fronde, etc) criticizes details without noticing their connection with the end contemplated, and rejects the whole without due examination because of alleged flaws in the individual parts. The design intended is kept out of view, and the Divine plan which binds all together is sedulously ignored. The building which God determines to erect is not observed, but attention is directed exclusively to the material gathered, the preparations made, etc., without observing the architectural plan and the connection that such gathering and preparation sustain to the end. Is this wise or prudent? Is it doing justice to the Word of God? Perfection, completeness, is not found in transmissions, transcriptions, translations, human language, details, etc., but only when the whole plan, entire design, is received. It has been justly observed by Martensen (Ch. Dog., p. 77), that “the teleological is the fundamental category of thought in its developed state,” and “in its deepest significance it is the category of Christianity itself.” The deepest thinkers take this ground, that immediate causes or present agencies must be considered as moved “by the eternal rational ends” which God purposed, and that we cannot even properly appreciate present realities without looking into the future to see what results are to be gained by them. This gives prophecy—which points to the end to be attained—and eschatology—which portrays the end—a deep significance and prominency.

    Apologists (e.g. Row, Ch. Evid., p. 92, etc.) have well stated that Christianity differs from all other religions in that it is based on the personal life of its Founder, and not, as others, on mere dogmatic teaching. The founders of other religions (over whom unbelief professes to go into ecstasies, provided they can be employed to disparage the life of Jesus) may be left out of their respective systems without affecting them, but Jesus, “the Christ,” cannot possibly be removed without destroying Christianity. Upon this fact, valuable proof corroborating Divine inspiration is based. But we assert that the doctrine of the Theocratic Kingdom, in which Jesus is the central figure, brings forth equally forcible evidence in behalf of the same, seeing that in this kingdom exists the realization of that for which He came, labored, died, etc., and for which He shall return again. The apologetic argument limits itself too much to the past and present, and overlooks the life of David’s Son in His own inheritance as predicted; whereas we extend our view to the future life as portrayed to us in this kingdom, and, from the perfected Redemption and the consummated Glory revealed, draw forth additional reasons favoring the special inspiration of God’s Word. We admire the admirable spirit of Ellicott (Aids to Faith, Ep. 9—Comp. Ep. 8), who makes inspiration to embrace such an influence of the Spirit that the will and counsels of God are made a matter of knowledge, so that through the human media the truth is made recognizable, and that, while the individuality of the writer is conserved, the subject matter is presented in the fittest manner consistent with its commendation and reception. But to show—as in the doctrine of the kingdom—the Will and Counsel of God as fitted in all respects to commend itself to our reception, because most wonderfully adapted to man’s necessities, to society’s need, to a nation’s want, to the Church’s help and exaltation, to the saint’s happiness, and to God’s honor and glory—is forcibly extending such a definition in the line indicated by it. This we propose to perform. 

Prop. 6. The kingdom of heaven is intimately connected with the supernatural.

The whole Bible, whose leading theme is the kingdom, is grounded on the supernatural. Remove this, and you destroy, if not the book itself, the chief characteristic, the distinguishing excellency of the Scriptures.
    By “the Supernatural” we include both the existence of God as the great First Cause of all things, and that He is able to, and does, work above, in and through what are known as “the laws of Nature.” It is more than “the Superhuman,” since the latter is found in Nature itself (i.e., in exerting powers, introducing forces, and bringing forth results beyond man’s ability and comprehension), while the former exists independent of Nature (i.e., the seen and experienced in Creation) and yet sustains to the Natural a most intimate relationship as its framer and upholder.

Obs. 1. The Word begins with the supernatural (the presence of God) and the natural in harmony. It shows how an antagonism was produced, causing the withdrawal of the supernatural from the sight of man, and yet how in mercy it at times exhibited itself to man, in and through and for man, especially in giving revelations of its will. It even condescends, in order to secure redemption, to veil itself in humanity and manifest the fact by suitable demonstrations. It indicates its presence by fulfillment of predictions and promises, by the conversion of men, by the existence of the Church, by the consciousness of man excited in contact with truth and providence. It will, in a still more striking and direct way, exhibit itself in the future, after all the preliminary preparations are made, in order to fulfill the remainder of Holy Writ. Now the kingdom being designed to restore and manifest the original concord once existing between the natural and supernatural, the Bible closes with that kingdom in such accordance. Without the supernatural the kingdom cannot be produced, for it requires, as predicted, a supernatural king, who has been provided in a supernatural manner, and rulers who have experienced a supernatural transforming power. Even in its conception and the preparatory measures, as well as in its final manifestation, is it indissolubly bound with the Divine. Death, which is to be destroyed in it, tears, which are to be wiped away in it, nature which is to be fashioned anew in it, these, as well as a multitude of other promises, can never be realized without the attending supernatural. The kingdom and the supernatural cannot possibly be dissevered. The inception of it arises from the supernatural, and under the guidance of the same, consistently with human freedom, not only revelations are given, manifestations of its reality are vouchsafed, exhibitions of its power are foreshown, but that all these are mere shadowings, foretastes of a living, vital relationship, now invisibly maintained, which shall ultimately be visibly shown in the kingdom itself by affinity no longer concealed, owing to the mediumship of a glorified humanity, which serves as the connecting link between the visible and invisible. The supernatural is held in abeyance as to its outward manifestation until the time arrives for the restoration of the forfeited blessing, the personal dwelling of God with man, which will be experienced in this kingdom. When Jesus, of supernatural origin and glorified by supernatural power, shall come the second time unto salvation, His supernatural might shall be exerted in behalf of this kingdom in the most astounding manner. Holy Writ constantly appeals to this union, and no scriptural conception of it can be obtained without conceding this fact.

    When science confines itself to the material universe, making law or force the result of nature and not of intelligent will; when it rests satisfied with the material and ignores a higher sphere indicative of conscious relationship to the Infinite—then it can and must (in logical consistency) deny the Supernatural. (Comp. Dr. Sprecher’s Groundwork of Theol. Div. 2, ch. 6.) But we are not thus bound, preferring “the old paths,” which alone impart comfort, hope, strength, and blessing. It is still true, as Theirs (Pressense’s Relig. and Reign of Terror, p. 326) remarked: “It is the privilege of intelligence to recognize marks of intelligence in the Universe; and a great mind is more capable than a narrow one of seeing God in His works.” The host of intelligent men, who in the past have substantiated this declaration, are witnesses that such a reverent recognition is in accord with the highest mental development. Nature, Religion, Christianity, man’s moral nature, Personal experience, all unite in calling for a Higher Will, Higher Reason, a God, whom we gratefully acknowledge as our dependence—our All in All. Prof. Bowen (Modern Philosophy), reviewing the phases of philosophy from Descartes down to Hartman, informs us: “I accept with unhesitating conviction and belief the doctrine of the being of one personal God, the creator and governor of the world, and of one Lord Jesus Christ in whom ‘dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’; and I have found nothing whatever in the literature of modern infidelity which, to my mind, casts even the slightest doubt about that belief.” Just as in Nature, nature herself is sustained and interpenetrated by forces which come from vast distances beyond the earth, and to which she gives conscious evidence in light, growth, etc., so in moral and spiritual things influences come from heaven itself which sustain light, life, growth, etc., and to which man—if receptive—consciously responds. To this self-consciousness the Bible confidently appeals (Comp. e.g. Williamson’s Rud. Theol. and Mor. Science, ch. 9), as teaching the Supernatural.

Obs. 2. Men may call this foolishness, incredible, etc., and we admit that it is a “strange work” (Isaiah 28:21), “a marvellous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” because “their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13–14). Moreover, such a “strange work” is required if the heart-felt longings of suffering humanity, and the exceeding precious promises, the only consolation we possess in the darkest hours of trial, are to be realized. It is admitted, that outside of Revelation, we have no decided promises that the groanings of creation can ever be removed, and that, if this is ever performed (e.g. death abolished), it must be done by a higher power than is now manifested in and through nature. The necessity for such a power is allowed by all; the desirableness of securing information and knowledge on the subject is granted by all; why not then tolerate the reasonableness of the Bible on these points until a clearer, brighter light is found? In looking over the extended field of controversy between faith and unbelief—while admitting that faith, in its eagerness to vindicate God’s Word, has sometimes, urged on by the consciousness of personal experience, employed arguments that are logically inadmissible, yet we can apologize for the same on the ground that it evinced “zeal without knowledge” in an ill-directed effort to sustain truth. On the other hand, unbelief has too often shown a swiftness and unnatural avidity to bring discredit upon the same Word; resorting to a most unscholarly criticism, employing arguments often refuted, without the least notice of attempted refutations, ignoring what is alleged in vindication, etc., for which we can make no apology, seeing that the effort itself, and the peculiar spirit in which it is made, is indicative of a bitter hostility to the Gospel. We might the more readily excuse them if, in place of the faith and hope so rudely and remorselessly destroyed, they could bring us light to dispel the darkness which otherwise overshadows man’s destiny. But instead of light they only give us increased darkness.
    It has become quite fashionable to designate the old method of proving the existence of God and of the supernatural by an appeal to design, contrivance, the adaptation of means to an end, etc., as “the production of a clock-making Divinity.” While it is true that the moral nature of man affords us the most decisive proof of a higher agency and of the moral nature of the Being who has called us into existence, yet man is not yet so far advanced in knowledge that he can do without the argument that God in His wisdom appeals to, and which has commanded the reason and strengthened the hearts of multitudes. If the argument in proof of the Divine Existence drawn from design in Nature commends itself even to such men as John Stuart Mill (Cook’s Lect. Huxley and Tyndall on Evolution, p. 30), then surely the far more comprehensive argument that can be founded on evidences of design in the Divine Purpose (as e.g. seen in the redemptive arrangements, the Theocratic ordering, etc.) ought specially to be of force. Besides this: when the much lauded criticism of unbelief plants itself upon the broad platform “that the Great First Cause never breaks through the chain of finite causes by an immediate exertion of power,” it is certainly right to wait for the proof of such a position. If the boasted intellectual groundwork of unbelief can produce nothing better than mere assumption to sustain such a position, men of reflection may well ask, Who informed the creature that God never interferes, over against the testimony of the past and the general conviction, impressed by moral consciousness, that He can do so? Suppose this to be a fact, and that unbelievers are gifted with superior wisdom, it then follows: (1) that man is firmly bound in an eternal chain of necessity and fatalism; (2) that the motives presented by religion and morality are all vain, being under the power of irreversible destiny; (3) that the First Cause elevates His work to an equality with Himself, or, at least, subordinates Himself to a constituted necessity; (4) that a power inherent in a Creator (the will or pleasure to do as He pleases) is thus lost and bound up in that which is created; (5) and that we attribute to God less control over His work than man exerts over the labor of his hands. Strauss lays it down as an axiom, “that, according to sound philosophy, as well as experience, the regular chain of conditional causes is never interrupted by the absolute Causality through special acts.” The question, however, is whether sound philosophy or common-sense requires that the great Cause must thus be rigorously bound by His own creation? Does such a limitation of “the Absolute” really constitute Him or “it” the Absolute? Does it require, admitting the existence of evil and the desirableness of its removal, that this Cause should feel no interest in the removal of evil existing in creation? Does it insist upon a God, stern, inflexible, cold and distant, binding humanity by unalterable law to a sad, dreary, consecutive fate, or can it bring this Cause into vital relationship with intelligence, morality, religion, the noblest feelings, impulses, aspirations and hopes of man?

Obs. 3. If we had a Revelation and a kingdom proposed by it, without a supernatural element claimed and exerted, then the objection would be urged, without the possibility of contradiction, that it was merely of human origin. God knew this, and hence stamps the one given with something above nature and the power of man. Some charge us with superstition and a low, degrading belief when, acquiescing in the supernatural, we look beyond the natural law to its Creator or Institutor. But justly the charge cannot be preferred against us, seeing that it is not we who, stopping short at the natural laws, regarding them as the real causation of all things, and utterly unalterable in their workings, tender to the laws what reverence and worship we are capable of, so that the laws virtually become our gods, our eternal divinities, and in their sum, totality, constitute the high-sounding “Absolute.” Who is the most superstitious or who has faith the lowest in the scale, the one who bows down to physical law, or the other who looks beyond such laws to the Lawgiver Himself? Can it be shown, without mere assertion, that the supernatural never exerted its power in creation—that these laws were self-producing, eternal—that man never comes under its influence—that it is not needed—that its manifestations are physically impossible—that they are morally impracticable—that it is unworthy of God or man, etc.? These and similar questions must be fairly answered before we can give up a precious faith and hope, affording the richest of consolations and blessings needed in our pilgrimage here.

    Unbelief makes much of Natural Religion, but as Christian apologists (e.g. Bp. Butler’s Analogy) have abundantly shown, it is insufficient (as unbelief sadly confesses) to solve the most essential problems concerning the present and the future in reference to man’s happiness. Now when Christianity does not destroy Natural Religion, but confirms it, adding to it that which it was impossible for it to produce, is it not strange that men devote themselves to a persistent, life-long exertion to demolish the labors of intelligent, pious men, without the least effort—owing to, sometimes confessed, inability—to substitute something better? Is it not remarkable that such will deliberately deny the fundamental ideas underlying our subjection to moral government, simply because such are constantly appealed to in Scripture—no matter how destructive their repeal would be to society? The Realism, Utilitarianism, Naturalism of the day does not stop to consider how necessary to man’s welfare the Supernatural is, in order to insure deliverance, complete and continued, from evil. A Religion that proposes such a Supernaturalism connected with redemption (which unbelief acknowledges, in view of the permanency of natural law, is not to be found in Nature) surely should be met with respect and not with unrelenting bitterness.

Obs. 4. The objection that a supernatural interference would argue imperfection in creation and Providence, is purely one-sided. It has its limits, and when pressed too far is at once forged into a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. Imperfection is found in nature, but this is overlooked; it is found in man, but this is ignored, in order to find it in the plan of redemption, and not in the creature and creation which it is designed to save. Is this wise? If the theory is correct, then those eternal laws, so magnified, should have avoided imperfection—those complete and perfect forces of nature should have removed the ills and woes and sufferings and antagonisms now so abundantly prevalent—those unchangeable and eternal laws should, long before this, from the beginning have elevated man to knowledge, truth and happiness, removing from him ignorance, error, and misery. But not satisfied with this objection, another is brought from the opposite extreme (showing how easily objections are formed when the heart desires them) viz., that fixed and invariable law without intervention indicates the absolute sovereignty of God, His wisdom, goodness (so Dr. Draper and others), etc. In the one case, intervention indicates imperfection in the work performed by God; in the other it shows the same in the Creator Himself. Law unchangeable, etc., certainly gives us a high opinion of God, of His absolute power, sovereignty, wisdom, etc., that was able thus to constitute them. But we have still a higher and more majestic view of God, if we regard (as the Bible) the same power, sovereignty, etc., equal to adding to, or controlling, or reversing, or altering, or staying for a brief period any of the laws or forces which He has constituted. In the general invariableness is a fact established to enforce His government, to provide for and contribute to the happiness of His creatures, but in every particular instance it is not true; for if that were the case it would limit His own power, and make the laws equal to if not superior to the Lawgiver. If we could place Christianity and the kingdom which is to result from it under such law without Divine interposition or aid, the foundation of all hope would not only be overturned, but men would justly say, you can expect nothing more than what these laws can give; God’s sovereignty is only in them, He can do no more for you, and therefore it is idle to pray, to expect a resurrection, to hope for freedom from evil, etc. (This many do say at the present time.) In brief, such a theory, put into its mildest form, places God in the posture of a cruel Being, giving us unchangeable law from which we can see no escape from misery, and this law being eternal, we dare not comfort ourselves with the idea that evil is temporary, that God will ultimately remove and destroy it. From such hope-crushing reasoning, we turn with relief and joy to the comforting doctrine of the Word, that while God has created this world and man, placed them under laws which in the general are unchangeable, yet when the time arrives that the necessity of man or the Divine purpose requires it, He can exert a higher law still—His Omnipotent Will—and control or bend or reverse, in short, do what He pleases with His own creation. Man cannot describe a greater, more perfect, more absolute sovereign than the Bible in its simplicity does, when it makes Him so all-powerful that He is able, and does, at any time He chooses, intervene in His own workmanship. To deny this is to degrade and not ennoble God. Believers in the Bible are warned against just such reasoning. Thus e.g. II Peter 3:3–4, unmistakably foretells that “scoffers” will arise who shall claim that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (most probably with the plea that otherwise imperfection exists either in the works or in the Creator). The same apostle traces its origin to willingly are ignorant of—i.e.—willful ignorance—desiring, wishing, willing it; and charges us that it is worthy of marked, special attention (“knowing this first,” etc,) being a distinguishing characteristic of the last days. 

Obs. 5. Before entering upon the consideration of the miraculous, it is necessary, first of all, to come to a decision respecting the supernatural; whether indeed a Higher Power exists in addition to nature which can introduce the miraculous. The Bible takes this for granted as something indirectly taught by nature itself (in works, design, etc.), but more directly by our mental and moral constitution (in moral and religious impulses, a consciousness of being under moral law, etc.). The simplicity of the Bible teaching, corroborated by the religious feeling, prayer tendency, and experience of ages, has not been invalidated by the recent prevailing attacks of unbelief, because reason itself, unbiased, must, in the contest now raging, determine in favor of the Scriptures. Which, e.g., is the most reasonable, to believe in a Creator who takes a continued interest in His creatures, and can at pleasure exert His power in their behalf; or to believe that nature has no intelligent personal Producer, or if it has such an One, that He keeps aloof from His own workmanship? Which is the most reasonable, to affirm that the world is produced by God, who can order and control it according to His will; or to say that it is somehow unexplained, the result of natural laws (also unexplained), and that such laws are alone causative and operative? Which is the most reasonable, to declare that an intelligent Designer, with an ultimate glorious end in view, created all things, and, to indicate and vindicate the intended end, gives intimations of His power and goodness; or to say that atoms (necessarily endued with intelligence) come together by forces (also intelligent), and combine to form an intelligent, related design (as seen), and this goes on eternally? Which is the most reasonable, to announce that reason existed before the creation of the world, designed it, and evidences itself in the varied works thereof, and that the same reason has access to its work, and can, in accordance with an announced plan, manifest its presence in new acts and new performances; or to assert that reason is only (Büchner) in nature? (Zollman in The Bible and Natural Science justly observes, that such a theory virtually makes the atoms individually possess the greatest reasoning power because of their forming combinations which man is incapable of wholly searching out and understanding.) Which is the most in accord with reason, to acknowledge that the world has a personal Sovereign Ruler, or that impersonal, unexplained forces and laws form such a Ruler? Reason, as evidenced in the gifted intellects which have bowed in reverence to revelation and in the studious sons of science who have made nature subservient to the Word, can cordially receive, as the highest reason, the biblical idea of a God, the biblical conception of the power and freedom of intelligence, the biblical will as manifested in a divine purpose unfolding toward redemption. It is assuming too much to suppose, that the reasoning in favor of the supernatural from the earliest days down to more recent writers (as Butler, Argyle, McCosh, Cook, etc.), and that the concessions even of the ablest opponents of the miraculous, of a great first cause, existing prior to, and forming, nature, should be but folly. The assumption, by its absurdity and antagonism to reason, defeats itself. Independent of the Scriptures, relying simply upon the constitution of nature and man, our deepest thinkers of all classes and ages, even those unprepared to receive the entire biblical conception, have still taught a theism. The acknowledgment of the supernatural prepares us for the next proposition. Admit the supernatural, of a higher power of existence and intelligence over and above nature, and then the way is prepared for reason to accept of this power manifesting itself in that sphere relating to the highest interests of man. Reason finds a sufficient cause in the God of the Bible to explain not only the existence and continued operation of law, but how the Creator of law can exhibit His all-pervading power and presence, at any desired moment, through the electric flashes of a Divine Providence, thus visibly manifesting that the creative spirit is a God, not afar off but nigh at hand. 

Prop. 7. The kingdom being a manifestation of the supernatural, miracles are connected with it.

Miracles are not to be regarded simply as evidences of the truth—this it indeed subserves—but as necessary parts of revelation itself, evincing with a fulness, stronger than language can impress, that the supernatural is indispensable for the establishment of the kingdom, and that it will be exerted in miraculous power whenever required. It is plainly declared in numerous passages, that before this kingdom is set up, events of an astounding miraculous nature, far exceeding the ordinary power of nature, directly occurring through Divine agency, shall be witnessed. In a book recording such anticipated occurrences, there would be an evident lack, a sad deficiency—which infidelity would eagerly seize if it existed—if it contained, no statements of miracles. Especially would this be the case, when He who is the King of the promised kingdom appears. The grave question then, if no miracles were given, would inevitably arise: What assurance have you that those miraculous events predicted to take place in the future—so intimately connected with the highest welfare and happiness of man—shall ever be realized, when we have none heretofore displayed and described, and none combined with the previous personal coming of the King? The cry would be triumphantly raised: Your King once came, and as He performed no miracles, although they are so intimately blended with His kingdom, none can be reasonably expected.

    The correct position in reference to miracles is that taken by some recent writers. Thus e.g. Fuchs (Bremen Lectures, L. 3) says that “the world’s course requires miracles” owing to the introduction of sin and evil, and to indicate and enforce the Plan devised for the removal of the same; and that hence “into the world’s history of sin and death the golden threads of Salvation have been interwoven, a continued chain of divine acts of revelation for the saving of the world, which form a living organism of miracles.” Christ Himself, in this connected series, is the greatest miracle. Such an attitude, sustained by a personal experience of the preciousness of the greatest miracle, Christ, is impregnable. Our line of argument is designed to uphold the miraculous as a necessity in the world’s Redemption through the Theocratic Kingdom; and therefore only presses the relationship that the one sustains to the other. When Prof. Powell (Essays and Reviews) tells us that “miracles were, in the estimation of a former age, among the chief supports of Christianity; they are at present among the main difficulties and hindrances to its acceptance,” the reply is, that they still remain chief supports, and that the latter arises from overlooking the indispensable connection that they sustain to the whole Divine Plan. Considering miracles isolated from the intent they subserve, is but a narrow view; and if they did not exist in a Book relating to the Supernatural, this would be speedily claimed as a main difficulty to its acceptance. It will not answer to simply contend, as Rohr (so Castellar), that we need not give the miraculous to Christ, it being sufficient to follow Him, for this utterly destroys the distinctive Biblical Christ. It is the miraculous, miracle-working Christ, or none; there is no half-way reception possible with consistency. Hence the position of some Christian writers is fatal to the integrity of Scripture. Thus e.g. The Ch. Union (July 11th, 1877) regards miracles as unessential; so that Jonah’s account (referred to and indorsed by Jesus) may be rejected without detriment, and so Elisha’s miracle of the axe-head, etc. Such laxity invalidates Scripture, engendering grave doubt, etc. (Comp. Art. Recent Rationalism in the Church of England, in the North Brit. Review, 1860); and the antagonism resulting is not lessened when it is said that “the miracles are historic fact, but they are not proofs of Christianity” (so J. Freeman Clarke in The Ch. Union, Sept. 12th, 1877). Unbelief and doubt is, as predicted (see Prop. 180), extending itself. Leathes (The Religion of Christ, Pref. p. 49, etc.), in reply to the author of Supern. Religion, who declares “the Revelation rests upon miracles, which have nothing to rest upon but the Revelation,” shows how the establishment of Christianity, before and since the Hew Test, literature was given, in and through Jesus Christ, is corroborative of the miraculous, and that the miraculous must, as an antecedent, have preceded in order to account for the literature and the results. Various writers (e.g. Row, Ev. Chris, p. 137) have remarked that those unbelievers who attribute, owing to the introduction of miracles, so much credulity, superstition, and ignorance to the Jews and primitive Christians, only “increase the difficulty of accounting for the moral teaching of the New Testament as the natural product of the soil.” The greater the abuse heaped upon the inspired writers, the greater the embarrassments of unbelief to explain how such could possibly give us the doctrines produced. This obstacle to consistency is evidently felt by unbelievers, and, therefore, some of them (as Renan and others) highly eulogize before condemning, praise in eloquent terms while undermining the miraculous. Dr. Sprecher (Groundw. Theol. Div. 2) points out the contradictions, concessions, etc., in which unbelieving Theists involve themselves in trying to invalidate the historical evidence of miracles, and to explain Evangelical history without their admission. In this able Apology in behalf of Divine Revelation and the Supernatural, he contrasts the vast revolution produced by the same in human life and society with the teachings and results of the great philosophers, and asks how we are to account for the great difference, whether through Naturalism or through Christian ideas given by special revelation and supported by the miraculous.

Obs. 1. God in kindness accommodates Himself to human weakness; for telling us that the supernatural is closely allied with the natural in the kingdom; that the kingdom itself shall be pervaded with a power above nature in order to control, recreate, and make nature subserve the Divine purpose; He, knowing that if direct testimony is not given a serious flaw will remain, bestows us evidences, through miracles, of the all-pervading supernatural. These are so related to the kingdom that they cannot be separated from it without mutual defacement. Thus it is represented by Jesus Himself (Matthew 12:28), “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto (or as some, upon) you.” Here we have, 1. The relationship existing between the kingdom and miracles; that without the latter the former cannot be revealed. 2. That miracles are a manifestation of possessed power, which Jesus will exert when He establishes His kingdom. 3. That the miraculous casting out of devils, or Satan, is an event connected with the kingdom, and its accomplishment through Jesus is thus verified as predicted, e.g., Revelation 20:1–6. 4. That the miraculous casting out of devils by Jesus is a premonition, anticipating, foreshowing, or foreshadowing (Greek, Lange, Com. vol. 1, p. 223, conveys idea of anticipating, etc.), like the transfiguration, of the kingdom itself. The miracles then are assurances vouchsafed that the kingdom will come as it is predicted. The miracles of Jesus are so varied and significant in the light of the kingdom that it can be readily perceived how they give us the needed confidence in its several requirements and aspects. The resurrection of dead ones is connected with the kingdom; that the keys of death hang at Christ’s girdle is shown in the miracles of the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the widow’s son, and of Lazarus, when just dead, carried out to burial, and already in the corrupting embrace of the tomb. Sickness and death are banished from the inheritors of the kingdom; the numerous miracles of healing various sicknesses and of restoring the dying, establish the power existing that can perform it. The utmost perfection of body is to be enjoyed in the kingdom; this is foreshadowed by the removal of blindness, lameness, deafness, and dumbness. Hunger, thirst, famine, etc., give place to plenty in the kingdom; the miracles of feeding thousands attest to the predicted power that will accomplish it. The natural world is to be completely under the Messiah’s control in that kingdom; the miracles of the draught of fishes, the tempest stilled, the ship at its destination, the walking on the sea, the fish bringing the tribute money, the barren fig-tree destroyed, and the much-ridiculed one of water changed into wine, indicate that He who sets up this kingdom has indeed power over nature. The spiritual, unseen, invisible world is to be, as foretold, in contact and communication with this kingdom; and this Jesus verifies by the miracles of the transfiguration, the demoniac cured, the legion of devils cast out, passing unseen through the multitude, and by those of His own death, resurrection and ascension. Indeed there is scarcely a feature of this kingdom foretold which is to be formed by the special work of the Divine, that is not also confirmed to us by some glimpses of the Power that shall bring them forth. The kingdom—the end—is designed to remove the curse from man and nature, and to impart the most extraordinary blessings to renewed man and nature, but all this is to be done through One who, it is said, shall exert supernatural power to perform it. It is therefore reasonable to expect that as part of the developing of the plan itself, that when He first comes, through whom man and nature are to be regenerated, a manifestation of power—more abundant and superior to everything preceding—over man and nature should be exhibited, to confirm our faith in Him and in His kingdom. This is done, and an appeal is made to it. We are confident that the best, most logical defence of the miracles of Christ and of the Bible is in the line here stated, viz., regarding them as indicative and corroborative of God’s promises relating to the future destiny of the Church and world. The miracles are thus found to be essential, to answer a divine purpose, to supply a requisite evidence; and hence in the Scriptures they are called “signs” (σημεὶα) of something else intended; signs that the Word shall be fulfilled in the exertion of power.

    We do not hold with Paley and others that the miracles were only indispensable as the credentials of the divine mission of Jesus. At the same time we have no sympathy with those who assert (Essays and Reviews) that miracles cannot prove that men are divinely sent as messengers or teachers. As to the former, they subserve much more; and as to the latter, it is sufficient to oppose Christ’s sayings, Matthew 11:5, 20; John 5:36; Matthew 10:1–8; John 20:30–31, and 10:25, 37–38; Acts 2:22, etc. They possess this tendency to a certain extent (for, after all, He was rejected as unbelievers have remarked, Duke of Somerset’s Ch. Theol. p. 48., but they retain a higher significancy which includes that of His coming from the Father and the Father being in Him, viz., that He truly possessed the power to establish the kingdom as foretold; and therefore these credentials are operative, for believers, to the time when this same power will again in large measure be manifested. Wardlaw (On Miracles) takes the position that the miracle proves the doctrine, while French (On Miracles) makes the doctrine prove the miracle. Our view combines the two, seeing that they are inseparably related (Comp. Art. Miracles and their Counterfeits, Princeton Review, 1856). Doctrine, as contained in prophecy and promise, brought forth the miracle, and the latter confirms the truthfulness of the former. The doctrine developed the “signs,” and the “signs” are a testimony of the verification of the doctrine. The miracle-working power of Jesus was the more necessarily exerted in view, as we shall show hereafter, of the postponement of the kingdom. For, the Power not being exerted in erecting the kingdom as predicted by the prophets,—a kingdom free from all suffering and evil—a sufficiency (John 14:11) is shown to convince the thoughtful and reflecting that it will yet be accomplished; that the teaching of the Bible leads us to expect miracles, and that their occurrence shows that we do not misapprehend the things taught. They consequently have force only with those who are willing to receive the Bible in its connected teaching. They are not, in themselves, primary truths, but are given to attest to and enlarge truth previously given, and which still remains to be fulfilled. Such is their position in Revelation itself, that they attest to its truthfulness, not only to the past (e.g. that creation is a miracle, that prophecy is a miracle, etc.), but to the future (e.g. the kingdom), and become part of the truth itself, revealing and manifesting the agency through which the promises of God are to be realized. Fred. Den. Maurice, in his works, has well observed that the signs of the kingdom are identical with the miracles of the kingdom, but he misapprehends the nature of the kingdom and makes the signs emblematical of the coming of a spiritual power. They, of course, include a spiritual power through which they are exerted, but the work itself, as all prophecy and promise insists, will be externally manifested. The miracles, therefore, are not types of something else, but signs, real earnests, inchoate foretastes, of something in the same line, greater, in the future. Thus, e.g., the much sneered at miracle of Cana, which some writers, in the West. Review, assert cannot have any moral teaching, most strikingly shows Christ’s power over nature, its subjection to His control, and one too which is necessary to be wielded if the Millennial predictions are ever to be realized (Comp. Farrar, Life of Christ, vol. 1, ch. 11). Therefore the attack against miracles is also one of primary importance; if those attacks are successful and miracles are to be discarded, then the truths which lead to the miracles, and to which the miracles attest, suffer; Christ’s power is lessened and no assurance is given of His ability to fulfil the prophets. The miraculous, however some semi-believers may close their eyes to the fact, is a vital one. But to make the attack complete and the defence perfect, the real point for both is too much overlooked, viz., Does the kingdom which the Bible predicts as the Divine Purpose, really require miraculous intervention, and is such a kingdom, in its Plan and adaptation to the wants of humanity, worthy of credence? If it can be shown that the kingdom does not demand them, that they are not desirable to be pressed into the service for man and nature, that there is some other way to secure the blessings contemplated by them instead of a resort, to the Supernatural, then the miraculous may be discarded as a superfluity, an excrescence; otherwise, until this can be alleged, prudence and wisdom dictate that they be regarded as an indispensable portion of a connected Divine Plan, an integral part of Revelation, the main purpose of which is to instruct us concerning the kingdom, giving us confidence in its ultimate establishment. If man and nature can form such a kingdom, free from existing evils, without miraculous power, or if such a kingdom manifested by miraculous power is not desirable, not what man craves, not worthy of man and God, let this be established by adducing proof, and it will at once destroy, what other arguments fail to do, the credibility of miracles. Until this is done it would be folly to yield up that which is founded on the very nature and manifestation of the kingdom of God. The deliverance and entrance of the Jews into the promised land, Canaan, was preceded by miraculous events of the most astounding nature; these are only “signs” of those of a still more extraordinary character, under the One greater than Moses, at the future deliverance and entrance of the people of God into the promised inheritance of the kingdom. The Head of a Theocracy is a Supernatural Being, and when such a Theocracy is established, the Supernatural will, more or less, exhibit itself in behalf of the same, and as indicative of the existing Rulership. But however much we may advance this reasoning in favor of the miraculous, it must ever be remembered that an appeal to reason can never overcome prejudice excited against the supernatural, through aversion to moral and religious truth, so intimately blended with it. Jesus, who knew man, teaches us, in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the impotency of miracles to benefit those who wilfully turn away from the truth already given. The fact is, that to appreciate miracles properly, there must first be some knowledge of other and preceding truths.

Obs. 2. The number and variety of definitions given to miracles indicate the limited nature of human knowledge; we are not greatly concerned in the adoption of any one specially, seeing that from our standpoint we could accept of nearly all, even of some of those given by infidels. Strauss’s might be received, viz., that a miracle is “an event which, inexplicable from the operation of finite causalities, appears to be an immediate interference of the Supreme, Infinite Cause, or of God Himself.” Renan’s might be adopted, saving the word “deranging” (which unbelief suggests), viz., that it is “the special interposition of Deity in the physical and psychological order of the world, deranging the course of events.” To oppose the attacks of unbelieving scientists, some writers (as e.g. Birks in The Bible and Modern Thought) oppose the old idea that miracles are a reversal or suspension of nature, contending for a higher law operating in union and harmony with nature, and that it is not requisite to insist in any case upon “a direct act of God in contrast to all agency of second causes, and by an exercise of power strictly and exclusively divine,” on the ground that it would otherwise require too great knowledge both of nature and God to tell when a miracle is performed. Hence miracles are divided into immediate, mediate, and improper, and a definition, sufficiently comprehensive, to include them is given: that they are “unusual events not within the ordinary power of man, nor capable of being foreseen by man’s actual knowledge of second causes, and wrought or announced by professed messengers of God to confirm the reality of the message,” The explanations of the older theologians (excepting Augustine’s and a few others) are discarded as not covering objections. The interesting and valuable writings of the Duke of Argyle (The Reign of Law), Dr. McCosh (The Supernatural in Relation to the Natural), Thompson (Ch. Theism), etc., take the position, undoubtedly correct, that laws exist outside of those known, and that the Divine Will can employ such laws whenever it is desirable. Others (e.g. Proctor, Other Worlds than Ours) make miracles a resultant of physical law, being included in the predetermined scheme. The miraculous is therefore made a resultant of the exercise of other unknown laws superior to those known in nature. Whatever truth there is in such a position, and however admirably adapted to meet the objections of unbelieving philosophy, the biblical statement (e.g. Acts 2:22, John 3:2, Romans 15:19, etc.) does not require it. The following reasons urge us to discard the commendable and suggestive efforts in this direction: 1. It too much limits the power of God, exalting law in place of God. For the Bible, on its face, assumes (Exodus 10:2, Ephesians 3:20) that God is able both to work with existing, seen and unseen, means, agencies, and laws, and to create and perform through His will alone (Hebrews 2:4, I Corinthians 12:11, Daniel 4:35) all things, even, if necessary, to introduce new laws (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:25, Luke 1:37, and 18:27), etc. We are expressly told not to limit the ability of God and not to place the Creator in an attitude which binds Him subserviently to His own creation, even if the latter be law. 2. It in a great measure destroys the personality (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, Exodus 15:11, Deuteronomy 3:24) of Divine interference, attributing that to law which the Bible represents as the result of personal Divine attributes (e.g. Daniel 2:19–23, Exodus 7:5, and 15:1). 3. It diminishes the force of scripture language that expressly asserts the immediate agency of God (e.g. Exodus 3:20 and 6:6–7, Philippians 3:21, Genesis 18:19). 4. It is to some extent contradictory, since it in some cases allows immediate miracles. 5. It lowers the validity of miracles by making them the results of causes now beyond our knowledge, but which as knowledge increases may, after all, be found natural. 6. With all the concessions that it makes, it is unable to point out the laws through which the miracles are performed, and asks us to take them for granted. 7. But the main reason which leads us to a rejection of prevailing theories is the following: miracles are designed to throw light upon, and confirm the predictions of God relating to the final result, the glorious, miraculous establishment of the kingdom. Now in the prophecies pertaining to this kingdom we have the most explicit declarations that Jesus Christ Himself will change, renew, re-create all things; that laws of nature now existing shall be reversed, or modified, or suspended; that new laws and new forces shall be introduced; that the present order of things shall give place to a renewed order; and that the power which produces all this is not found in nature or in laws outside of nature, but only in God. Jesus is represented as personally coming (just as God personally came at the establishment of the theocracy at Mt. Sinai), and directly intervening in the performance of this mighty work of restoring forfeited blessings and adding new ones, and this is claimed as a peculiar, distinctive personal prerogative. Looking thus at the contemplated end, and seeing how the miraculous power then exerted is so far removed from such definitions, it is impossible to receive entirely explanations which attribute to law what the Word applies to Christ personally—thus introducing a defect, which, if logically carried onward, forbids our receiving the predictions relating to the future as presented. The final manifestation of the miraculous, which includes a re-creation, a removal of law under which a sin-cursed earth groans, determines for us that the miraculous proofs given to show that it will be realized are precisely in the same category, and thus confirmatory of it. The unity of Scripture is thus preserved. By this attitude it is not denied that God may and does also work through higher laws already established and beyond our present domain of knowledge (which Birks, Dr. McCosh, etc., have eloquently portrayed), but with this it is insisted that He may and does, independently of established law, exercise His power in the suspension, reversal, or removal of existing law, or, in other words, that His power as Creator, in the domain of the miraculous, is not limited by what He has done or has established, but is exercised according to His own pleasure. It seems to us, according to the biblical idea, a low estimate of God, which would make, either in nature or in that beyond it, all things under fixed, invariable, unchangeable laws, through which alone the Divine Institutor of them can work.

    This position of the author may be regarded as “ultra” or “old-fashioned” after so many recent writers making miracle no violation or suspension of the laws of Nature, but simply “the intervention of some higher law, superseding the action of some lower one.” This definition may indeed (Woollaston, Butler, Babbage, Arnold) apply to some cases, but it is too sweeping to embrace all; it is opposed to the notion of miracle as entertained by the ordinary Bible reader, and to the conception of Omnipotence as given in the Word. No one, unless urged to it by a theory, can fail to see that the power to work a miracle is ascribed to direct Divine power, for with God, it is alleged, all things are possible, nothing is too hard, and He is placed above all existing laws, able to suspend, control, etc., them at Will. The appeal only to a higher law, however true in some instances, is not sustained by the spirit of the narratives. Thus, e.g., Jesus is represented as possessing the power of working wonders in Himself, and not as using and applying some existing but hitherto unknown law. The resurrection of the dead, the miraculous conception of Jesus, etc., are not claimed as the exertion of some higher law making miracles “parts of some more comprehensive system,” but as the result of direct Divine power, introducing a new arrangement according with a previous plan. The primitive and ordinary Church view (e.g. Bacon, Boyle, Newton, Locke) of miracles, ascribing them to God’s power, making all laws subservient to His will, gives a more exailed and ennobling conception of God, superior to all law, etc., than more modernized ideas. All concessions, away from the Biblical notion, will never make a single convert of unbelievers, since such are wise enough to see the departure from the Scripture, and they feel that the laws, so much insisted upon, are to be received as an inference. The Word, if it possesses any force whatever, does teach that miracles are the evidence or result of Divine interposition, of the direct interference of a Power which, notwithstanding the ordinary laws of nature in existence, is able to do all things. The opposition to this Biblical conception is varied, extending from gross unbelief to concessions to unbelief. Thus, e.g., we have miracles (1) denounced as imposition or juggling tricks; (2) denied as impossible and incredible, owing to the fixed laws of nature; (3) rejected on the ground, not of impossibility but of weakness, imperfection in the Creator; (4) resulting from the intelligence of the parties performing them taking advantage of laws of Nature, etc, unknown to their fellows; (5) mythical, being introduced to exalt certain characters; (6) the product of a superior knowledge of the laws of nature and of spirit, being wrought in harmony with both; (7) the work of mesmerism, spiritualism, etc; (8) phenomena (Proctor) that occurred in a fixed series through laws which are above our comprehension but act in unison with those of which we have cognizance; (9) a preformation (Bonnet) “according to which God has a priori included the miracles in the course of nature;” (10) a “quickening of the processes of nature”—what Olshausen applies to some are made by others to suit all; (11) left undecided (Kant), “it being neither possible absolutely to prove the reality of miracles, nor can their possibility be absolutely denied;” (12) deviating (so Augustine, Hagenbach’s His. of Dog. vol. 1, s. 118, and adopted by Schleiermacher) not so much from the order of nature in general as from that particular order of nature known to us; (13) the results of higher and unknown laws either in nature or in the spiritual world. These and others (Comp. e.g. Lange’s Com. vol. 1, pp. 266 and 271) are all opposed to the Biblical idea. This is seen (a) in the Scripture language; (b) in the definitions so generally and at one time universally held as the teaching of the Bible, and which were only modified to suit modern thought; and (c) in the fact that the most determined attacks upon the miracles, from the days of Spinoza and Hume, proceed on the assumption that if they can be discredited, it goes far to prove that there is no overruling Supernatural Power which can and does control all things. Miracles too are invariably represented as dependent upon God, and not as the result of a fortuitous or happy coincidence. Hence such definitions as given by the Spiritualist Convention, held at Rochester, N.Y., 1868, must be discarded, viz., that they “have been produced in harmony with Universal laws, and hence may be repeated at any time under suitable conditions.” A number of miracles are in direct opposition to the harmonious working of existing natural law, as, e.g., in the resurrection of dead ones, etc., so that to make miracles “nature transfigured by the spirit,” “nature controlled by the will,” or “nature determined by the Spirit,” is mere fancy, so long as it excludes the direct power of God. Therefore those definitions which include a reference to the Divine power are alone in accord with the Scriptures. One of the best is given by Van Oosterzee (Ch. Log. vol. 1, p. 127): “A miracle is an entirely extraordinary phenomenon in the domain of natural or spiritual life, which cannot be explained from the course of nature as it is known to us, and must therefore have been brought about by a direct operation of God’s Almighty Will, in order to attain unto a definite object.” Oosterzee justly remarks that the definition must be to some extent defective from our inability to see one side of the miracle, viz., its operating cause. This defect, however, is supplied to the believer by the Word, viz., that it is the exertion of God’s power either directly or as communicated to others. Fuchs’ definition (Bremen Lectures, Lec. 3) opposes the defectiveness of the current view that “a miracle is an event which cannot be explained from the known laws of nature” on the ground that (1) it draws no firm line between the miraculous and the natural, leaving the way open of having, as knowledge progresses, all the former resolved into the latter; and (2) that it is only a negative definition, telling us what a miracle is not, and leaving the nature of the miracle untouched. Hence he gives the following: “A miracle is the entrance of the Supernatural into the connection of the natural, the intervention of a higher order of things into the lower, the immediate interposition of a God above the world in the course of the world and nature.” Looking at the kingdom, which is ultimately to be inaugurated by the special intervention of the Supernatural in the Person of the Theocratic King, it is easy to see that the “signs” proceed from the same Supernatural source. Christlieb’s (Mod. Doubt) definition is excellent with the exception of the last clause. He says: “Miracles are unique and extraordinary manifestations of divine power, which influence nature in a manner incomprehensible to our empirical knowledge, but always in accordance with some moral or spiritual end. Or, more exactly, they are creative acts of God, i.e., supernatural exertions of power upon certain points of Nature’s domain, through which, by virtue of His own might already working in the course of nature, God, for the furtherance of His kingdom, brings forth some new thing which natural substances or causalities could not have produced by themselves, but which—and this must not be overlooked—as soon as they have taken place, range themselves in the natural course of things, without any disturbance arising on their account.” He correctly argues them to be “the effects of God’s power,” “supernatural phenomena,” “isolated manifestations of a higher order of things,” “a pledge of His truth and faithfulness; an earnest of the future consummation of His kingdom,” etc., but the last clause, “range themselves in the natural course of things,” is liable to misinterpretation. If he means that they still retain, while thus connected with the natural, their specific miraculous character, he is correct; but if he conveys the idea that they must necessarily, when performed, thus range themselves with the natural, be in harmony with it, he is evidently wrong, as seen, e.g. in the Sun’s standing still (a temporary miracle), in the transfiguration (a prefiguration miracle), etc. We are not concerned in attempting to show that a miracle does not disturb or violate natural law; indeed when we look at the End, and see that under the mighty power of the wonder-working Messiah natural law, which is now so conducive to disease, death, and corruption, shall be disturbed, violated, and rooted out, it is not difficult to believe that many of the miraculous “signs” were a disturbing of natural law, showing how by such a disturbance the cause could be removed, and the kingdom with its inestimable blessings be introduced. The truth seems to be, that believers themselves do not fully catch the spirit and intent of those miracles, and are too much disposed to have them shorn of some of their strength in order to conciliate unbelievers. Let such place themselves at the proper stand-point from which to view the miraculous, and this will be noticed: Briefly, this world is under a curse—evil abounds with the good—it forms one vast cemetery with its crushed hopes, blasted life, dust-returned bodies, etc., and all this goes on under natural law instituted by God. The world needs restoration, and the Bible starts with this idea, a fallen world needing Redemption, and it ends with a fallen world Redeemed. The kingdom of God is designed to secure this deliverance, but to do this it must necessarily embrace a Supernatural interference as predicted. It was God that entailed the curse, set its limits, enforced it by natural law, and it must be God again who removes the same; but when He does this we are told that He breaks down the barriers set up by Himself through natural law. Hence Supernatural interference (i.e., miracles), in the nature of the case, given as “signs” of that which is promised, and is to come, is really and truly an interference, a suspension, or controlling, for the time being, of natural law. They are “signs” of redemption from the power of natural law which now enchains us, and not, as many suppose, “signs” which are only to co-operate with natural law. Surveying the entire Redemptive Plan, and seeing that the miraculous is the assurance given to us of an ultimate freedom from laws under which the millions upon millions, including the saints, of earth’s inhabitants have groaned for ages, it is a lack of faith to say that miracles do not come in direct conflict with natural law and by the force of the Supernatural in them overcome in the blessed examples given, leaving the natural law, after these isolated checks, to run on its allotted course until the Supernatural comes in the Person of Jesus, at the Second Advent, to “make all things new.” Therefore it is that we can so cordially receive nearly all definitions, because a miracle is to be regarded as an act of Divine power (so Nast, Introd. Com. Matt.), an event which the material laws of nature, without the Divine agency, could not possibly effect, which event is a “sign” or indication what the Divine power will do hereafter when natural law shall be modified, changed, etc., in “the world to come.” Hence we can receive Dr. Schmucker’s (Pop. Theol., p. 29) definition: “A miracle is a superhuman effect, an event transcending the power of man, produced or occurring contrary to the well-known and ordinary course of nature;” or Home’s (Introd. vol. 1, p. 93), that “A miracle is an effect or event contrary to the established constitution or course of things, or a sensible suspension, or controlment of, or deviation from, the known laws of nature, wrought either, by the immediate act, or by the assistance, or by the permission of God, and accompanied with a previous notice or declaration that it is performed according to the purpose and by the power of God, for the proof or evidence of some particular doctrine, or in attestation of the authority or divine mission of some particular person (Comp. definitions, Dr. Wardlaw On Miracles, Ency. Relig. Knowl, Smith’s Bib. Dic., Alexander’s Evidences, Glieg’s His. Bible, etc.). Those writers (as e.g. Knapp, Theol. p. 59, M‘Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop. Art. “Miracles”) who are anxious to conciliate objections, and therefore make the miracles to be accomplished “by means of nature” without altering, disturbing, or counteracting natural law, constantly overlook not only of what really the miracles are “signs,” but that many of the miracles are the direct opposite of that which would result from natural law. The continued force of natural law and the existence of a miracle are in antagonism, as seen, e.g., in natural law producing death and retaining the victim in corruption and dissolution, while a life-giving miracle for the time, breaks this law, suspends it, etc. The older definitions of theologians are consequently nearer the truth than many (e.g. Princeton Review, Oct., 1853; Row’s “Ch. Evidences;” 1877, “The Unseen Universe,”) of the modern ones. And finally may we add, that the use made (e.g. by Rob. Dale Owen and others) of this concession to natural law not now recognized, is bearing its logical fruit in the denial of any miraculous power to Christ, and in the assertion that the powers exercised by Him were all “natural, as occurring strictly under law.” Our position closes the door against all such deductions, exalting the immediate agency and Will of God. For miracles are designated “powers” (dunameis), evidencing the potency of the Messianic King to introduce the Mill. era; they are called “works” (erga), “the works of God,” illustrating the divine ability to accomplish all the promises of God, and, therefore, instead of shrinking from the Biblical idea of a miracle, we accept of it with hope and joy, as indicative of glorious deliverance. The miracles of the Old Testament, the subject of special ridicule (such as “the speaking ass,” Samson’s exploits, the destruction of the cities of the plain, etc.), are to be regarded in this light, viz., showing how God’s power will be exerted in the future.

Obs. 3. Miracles are necessary to a revelation pertaining to the kingdom, a kingdom which is to be set up by an astounding miraculous display. They become parts, essential parts of the revelation, exhibiting the earnests of power that is ultimately to accomplish it. If they were missing, an important link would be gone. God engages to establish a kingdom and one too in which the supernatural shall introduce mighty changes; He promises a Messiah who is to perform this work, and who, consequently, must possess miraculous power; the forces now at work in nature, instead of tending toward it, cannot possibly accomplish what is foretold of the future, and so long as they remain unchanged the promises of God continue unrealized; when Jesus comes in accordance with Divine purpose He must necessarily, not only in person, life, etc., but in actual exerted power exhibit His ability to be the fulfiller of prophecy; His attestations of the possession of such power are sustained by their connection with the Divine plan, past and future prediction, moral aim, lack of self-contradiction, public performance, etc.; the power displayed is of a character corresponding with that required by the predictions, power over nature, over evil, over all things; the unity of the Word, promising restoration from evil now suffered under natural law, makes these miraculous representations essential, so that we can have faith and hope in the promised kingdom, in His being the promised Messiah, who shall set it up, and in the certainty of a future miraculous demonstration in our behalf in that kingdom—all which is again corroborated by the fallen condition of man requiring Divine interposition, by the necessity of its possession to constitute a perfect Redeemer, by the personal experience of believers in receiving a moral and providential “earnest” (comp. remarks by Eaton, Perm. of Christianity, “On General and Special Providence”), and by reason conceding that a Divine purpose, extending from creation into the eternal ages and embracing restitution as its glorious end, cannot possibly do without them. The general sentiment of mankind has always expressed itself as favorable to the idea of the miraculous, because deliverance from evil, now entailed by natural law, has ever been felt as the special work of the supernatural. Hence the miraculous incorporated, more or less, with all religions.

    Designing simply to direct attention to the relation that the miraculous sustains to the kingdom, several features of the subject are left for other Propositions, as, e.g. the Patristic miracles (Prop. 168), the miracles of the Old Testament (Prop. 182). Some additional reflections may be presented respecting the methods employed to depreciate miracles. We are told by Renan and others that the miraculous occurred to persons who believed in the same, whose faith and credulity made them incapable of a proper judgment. Such, however, overlook (1) that “ignorant “men should be able to incorporate them as essentials in a developed plan of Redemption; (2) that they do this without eulogy, only stating the simple facts without enlarging; (3) that they do this against their strongest Jewish and national prejudices, as, e.g., in ascribing these to a dead, crucified Jesus, in the miraculous conversion of Paul, in showing how little effect they had upon the nation, etc.; (4) that this was done when it had the tendency to crush the fond expectations of a present kingdom as anticipated, to turn them from the prejudiced nation to the Gentiles, to yield up all and proclaim ruin, etc., to the chosen nation; (5) that only after the crowning miracle of the resurrection of Jesus showed them that the Divine Procedure as covenanted made these miracles indispensable links to a comprehension of the Redemptive Plan in the Messiah, did they unhesitatingly receive and indorse them as the highest proofs of the Christship of Jesus. Froude (Short Studies, p. 187) informs us that the question about miracles is simply “one of evidence,” and demands more evidence because “antecedently improbable.” By this evidence he means, as his Essay indicates, “human testimony,” which he proceeds to undermine and render worthless by saying: “Human testimony, we repeat, under the most favorable circumstances imaginable knows nothing of absolute certainty.” Hence no testimony, no number of witnesses can have any weight with this class, for they tell us, as Renan, that the crucial test of “conditions which science can accept” (i.e., a repeated scientific examination or investigation by unbelievers) has not been complied with, and therefore they cannot be accepted. (It is a wonder that such do not propose to subject the Plan of Redemption to a scientific investigation.) The old argument of Hume’s is revived and steadily urged without considering the arguments of Butler, Campbell, Vince, Adam, Douglass, Alexander, Home, and others, while Froude, Renan, etc., in their published works contradict themselves in the acceptance of testimony on all subjects outside of the miraculous. It is true that the main reason alleged for such a rejection of testimony arises from its supposed disagreement to the uniform, unchangeable laws of nature. But are those laws so unalterably fixed as these men tell us? If so, then “the unchangeable laws of nature” that produced the naturalistic origin of man, beasts, etc. (now such a favorite with this class) ought to have remained “unchangeable,” and they ought today under our own observation to originate such men, beasts, etc. At least we ought to behold some of the radical transformations, new modifications, etc., going on; for (Comp. Martensen, Ch. Dog. S. 77) eternal laws ought certainly to work as favorably and effectively now as in ages past. Here then at the very outset something is taken for granted as a false premise. Again, it certainly requires great assurance in any man who is utterly unable to explain the nature, extent, source of power, etc., of natural laws to arrogate to himself the ability of deciding that those in part known to himself by experience are the only source of power; that nothing higher, able to modify, shape, or suspend these laws, is in existence. It is arguing in a small circle: the testimony of a limited, personal experience is employed to upset the testimony of others’ experience; for it is Hume’s, Froude’s, Renan’s experience over against Paul’s, Peter’s, and John’s. The circle of the former, like the Asiatic who refused to believe that water is changed to ice, refuse all that is opposed to their experience or notion of experience, and in the act deliberately shut out avenues of knowledge, seeing how largely man is dependent upon testimony. If general experience is appealed to, that is simply a begging of the question, seeing that the question at issue is that the experience of some has made them conversant with miracles. Leaving this question of testimony and experience for Treatises specially devoted to its discussion, let the reader observe two things: (1) That the uniformity of nature’s operations through established law is one of the essentials to enable us to discriminate a miracle, i.e., the latter is based on and confirmed by the former. A uniformity suddenly arrested, and in isolated instances broken, and then again resumed, is requisite. Uniformity then is one of the conditions required in order that a true miracle may appear. (2) That to say, as Science does through some of its representatives, that this uniformity is forever unchangeably the same, that it cannot be intermitted, is to pass from the domain of facts (as evidenced in the naturalistic theory of the origin of things when, it is asserted, law produced what it does not now) observed, into that of mere inference and deduction, which may or may not be true. It is only gross materialism that assumes this to be true, and against materialism other arguments indicative of Divine Reason, Will, etc., are requisite before that of miracles is touched. A writer in Blackwood’s Mag. (1873) on “The Issues raised” by the Prot. Synod of France, briefly, but well expresses these last features. But, after all, the miracles of the Bible are not dependent on witnesses, for there is evidence immeasurably more satisfactory in their behalf than that derived from mere human testimony. Passing by that which satisfies the believer (viz., an experimental knowledge of the truth that it has power, etc.—for that truth and the miraculous are united) it may be remarked: (1) That if the Divine Purpose is carried on for ages in accordance with the Word given, then the Supernatural element which brings forth and carries on the said Purpose amply covers the subordinate ground of the miraculous, as the greater includes the lesser. (2) That miracles in virtue of such a Divine Purpose being carried out are not “antecedently improbable,” but the most reasonable, being in full accord with the purposed Plan. (3) That the Divine Purpose being not intended for a scientific test, the adjuncts, as, e.g., miracles, were not designed for the same, but that they are to be regarded as necessary developments to insure faith and hope in the Redemptive scheme. (4) Hence, they can only, in the nature of the case, be confirmatory of the faith and hope of those who receive the Redemptive Plan. (5) And that such adjuncts are sustained (a) by a Plan that we now see progressing toward completion just as predicted, and (6) by individual features pertaining to the Divine Purpose, as, e.g., in the condition of the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, the Church, etc. It is unscholarly when dealing with miracles to refuse to look at that Divine Plan which develops them, at the intent ascribed to them, and at the events connected with them and still perpetuated. It is uncritical to overlook that miracles are addressed to an already exercised faith in the Redemptive Purpose. It is uncandid to separate the miracles from the Being and the Mission of Jesus Christ as represented in a continuous Divine Work.

    The efforts to undermine miracles are suggested by the most opposite inferences. The objection that a miracle is beyond our comprehension and therefore contrary to reason (which Scientists waive when they propose a scientific test), is now in many quarters superseded in the attempt to lessen their value by approvingly quoting Augustine as saying that they are not suited to every age and mind, being designed as proof only for the ignorant and not for the wise. In the one objection reason cannot grasp them, and in the other they are only suitable for the lowest reason. And we have been pained in noticing semi-believers and believers so influenced by this leaven that they disparage the use of the miraculous. Thus even Farrar (in his excellent Life of Christ, Pref. p. 16) says that “to us such evidence is needless. To the Apostles they were the credentials of Christ’s mission; to us they are but fresh revelations of His Will. To us they are works rather than signs, revelations rather than portents.” (In the body of the work, however, Farrar makes them both, and neutralizes his concession, as, e.g., p. 170, when making “the miracles of Christ as resulting from the fact of His Being and mission no less naturally and inevitably than the rays of light stream outward from the sun.”) Regarding them as essential parts of a consistent Revelation, and as earnests of the fulfillment of God’s Word, such lowering concessions of the miraculous, and such a questioning of the adaptability of the same must be discarded. They are just as necessary for “the wise” as for the ignorant; and if they were missing certain “wise” ones would speedily detect their essential nature, and would be the first to raise a cry at their absence, and learnedly show that a revelation claiming to come from a Supernatural source and a kingdom proposed to be set up by Supernatural power must have, as necessary proof or adjuncts, some indications of the miraculous. No man is so wise or learned that he can possibly dispense with miracles. Reason, common-sense, tell us that if lacking it would prove a grave defect. Thus, e.g. what assurance could we have respecting the fulfillment of the Redemptive Plan, as given, if the miracles of Christ’s birth, person, and resurrection were wanting? How could the Scriptures be fulfilled without them? Suppose prophecy and miracle were stricken out of the Record, what would be the hope that the future could inspire? Let men bring forth all the reasons that hostile ingenuity can frame to lower and degrade the miracles from their prominent position; let them, like Strauss, Bauer, and Renan, declare that the Absolute Cause “never disturbs the chain of secondary causes by single arbitrary acts of intervention,” that God never interposes by “any particular intervention,” but that all things fall under eternal unchangeable laws; we fail to see how wisdom is justified in a course of reasoning (which coming from a creature indicates “arbitrary freedom”) that removes by one stroke the most positive knowledge that we have of an existing God (for if God never intervenes, our knowledge of Him must be solely inferential), and that if logically carried out, destroys the connection existing between the Creator and creation, God and man, crushes the fondest hopes of humanity in the giant arms of irresistible Fate. The truth is, that in a subject connected, as it must be (for no one can explain how the miracles were performed) with difficulty, no explanation, or reasoning, or argument can be so complete but objections can be urged against it if the heart desires it to be done. If this is true of the simplest propositions, how much more is this so in a subject which in some of its aspects exceeds human comprehension—the latter a feature, too, that is requisite in order to be indicative of a Supernatural element and not of mere human origin. Hence the part of wisdom is, while candidly weighing objections, not to allow a destructive process, which removes from man the most cherished hopes—sustained by moral law—unless they can be replaced by more substantial ones. To deride the faith or belief of any one, without being able to point out a better one, more solidly based, is certainly not characteristic either of wisdom or prudence. To sit as Judge over God and decide what is proper and what improper for Him to do in reference to His Creation or Purpose, is, to say the least, to arrogate to ourselves a lofty, giddy position.

Obs. 4. The solution of miracles is found then in their connection with God and His expressed Will. This Will is especially noticeable in the doctrine of the kingdom. The kingdom, as the product of the supernatural, demands miracles; so that faith and hope in the kingdom, as covenanted and predicted, requires belief in the miraculous. Faith in miracles is embraced in an intelligent utterance of the prayer, “let Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and the assurance that the same will ultimately be realized is expressed in “Thine is the power.” The believer gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to miracles; for proceeding from the Divine Will, they teach us in the most forcible manner that in this Will all forces, all life, all things exist; that in this Will is found an overruling, all-pervading Providence capable of general and special energy and supervision; and that in it will be found the most ample resources to meet the requirements as predicted and promised, of the blessed kingdom itself. The miracles strengthen faith, enliven hope, and, amid the pressure of natural laws which entail evil, cheer the heart of the pilgrim with joy at a coming miraculous restitution. The Scriptures can never, never be fulfilled without miracle; the earth can never, never be freed from its curse without miracle; man can never, never be delivered without miracle; and, therefore, the Redeemer in whom we trust for redemption is, as history today attests in the minute and wondrous fulfillment of His miraculous words, a miracle-working Saviour. Let infidelity separate God and the world from each other (and even deny that the latter had a Creator), so that the one is not directly interested in the other, it may content itself with the unreasonable, cold, cheerless, dark prospect that this view imparts, its darkness only deepened by the loudly sung deceptive praises of “cosmic force” and a death-devoted humanity; faith in preference takes the soul-inspiring Biblical conception of a creation that has its origin and continuance in a personal, intelligent, loving, all-powerful God; that this is sufficiently indicated in the Word, in miracles of knowledge and work, in history indicating a progressive plan, in the personal experience of the believer, in the person, doctrine, and works of the Messiah; and that this will ultimately be visibly manifested in the kingdom of God, when God again dwells with man, man is rescued from his ruined condition, and placed in a renewed creation where no (unalterable) natural law shall exist to burden him with evil.

    Such is the importance of this subject that some additional remarks are in place. With the author of “Supernatural Religion,” we have no sympathy with the argument of Dr. Irons and others, that the miraculous is to be received on the authority of the Church. Nor do we rest, as shown, the miraculous upon mere human evidence; for while the latter is a necessary adjunct, yet testimony, as Hume assumed, may be false. Nor do we propose simply to exalt the credibility of the miracle by the doctrine that it sustains, however important the union between them. Miracles are placed on higher ground, viz., as reasonable, requisite features or parts of a developing and progressing Divine Plan (fully announced) which is now in actual course of unfolding and in a certain stage of advancement, so that the ultimate End intended by the Plan is insured by the progress already made. The test to be applied to the miracles, therefore, is the following: (1) Observe the nature of the Redemptive Plan, especially as revealed in its consummation as contemplated; (2) notice the fact that its completion demands the miraculous, seeing that it proposes to do what natural law in itself can never accomplish; (3) hence, the importance and necessity of sustaining faith and hope in the Divine Purpose by indications, especially in the Person of the King, of the miraculous. In this way reason appreciates their pertinency and force, for their reality is evidenced by the just relationship that they sustain to a proposed perfected Redemption—teaching us, more strongly than words that (being “signs” or appendages) the Supernatural will not be lacking in power at the culminating period or time of manifestation. Locke in the Commonplace Book (pub. by Lord King) gives this aphorism: “The doctrine proves the miracles, rather than the miracles the doctrine.” Our view is this: The doctrine of the kingdom (the contemplated Theocratic ordering) demands the miracles, and the miracles are added to enforce our faith in the doctrine. Hence the twofold appeal in the Scriptures, viz., to believe the miraculous because of the doctrine associated with it, and to believe in the doctrine because of its being justified by the miraculous connected with it. Taylor has even in the title of: his work (The Miracles: Helps to Faith, not Hindrances) expressed an important truth, for it is pre-eminently true that our faith in the doctrine delivered is sustained by the miracle of knowledge evidenced in the prophecies, in the Person and Life of Jesus, in the signs or earnests given of a glorious future. These form the basis of a firm hope of ultimate deliverance, making the promises of a Sec. Advent, resurrection, renewed earth, etc., realities. To all this is added the corroborative personal experience of every one who receives and obeys the truth, which is amply conclusive evidence to every one, even the most ignorant, unable to see how the miraculous is an essential part of a related consecutive Divine Plan in actual course of development and fulfillment. (Comp. Experimental evidence as presented, e.g., in Rogers’ Eclipse of Faith, Mozley’s Bampton Lects., Chalmers’ “Evidences,” etc.) The self-appropriation of the truth (inseparably united with the miraculous), and the resultant experience in the heart and life, amid the trials and sorrows of earth, is in itself so satisfactory that the child and the philosopher, the unlettered and the learned, alike feel and admit its force. The lapse of time instead of weakening (as some assert), really adds power to the testimony favorable to miracles, seeing that the personal experience of many has verified, century after century, the truth of revelation. Reason and Faith both confirm the miraculous. As Walker (Philos. of the Plan of Salvation, ch. 3) has well enforced by interesting considerations, “Man cannot, in the present constitution of his mind, believe that religion has a divine origin, unless it be accompanied by miracles.” Bushnell (Nature and Supernatural) has well placed, as a conclusive proof in behalf of the miraculous, faith (experimentally realized in its transforming power) in the Superhuman character and work of Christ. These two united—reason appreciating the Divine Plan and its relations, and faith realizing the earnest bestowed—are irresistible,—soul-satisfying. 

Prop. 8. The doctrine of the kingdom presupposes that of sin, the apostasy of man.

The prophets with one voice proclaim, that this kingdom is to be established in order that in it man may find complete, perfect deliverance from sin and evil. The kingdom is to be set up, so that man and nature may be happily rescued from the curse entailed by sin under which both labor and groan.

Obs. 1. It is needless to discuss the difficult problem of sin; the fact of its presence and power is amply sufficient. It is a fundamental fact, and the superstructure of the Bible is in a measure reared upon it; for the Bible is a revelation of God’s plan to save man from his fallen condition. The kingdom in its conception, preparation, and ultimate establishment implies, and constantly keeps in view, a recovery from sin and its resultant evil. The kingdom originates in God’s merciful desire to deliver us from the reign and power of sin; to bring us back into a state of entire restitution and perfect salvation. It is the manifestation of such salvation, in which man’s will shall be in accord with God’s, and in which unspeakable blessedness, flowing from such a restoration, shall be realized. It has for its chief ruler a Saviour who saves from sin, and for its associated rulers and subjects those who are redeemed from sin. It is a kingdom which in its preparatory measures calls for repentance of sin (Matthew 3:1–2), conversion from sin (Matthew 18:3), self-denial of sin (Mark 9:47), perseverance against sin (Luke 9:62), and most emphatically refuses admittance into the kingdom of those who indulge in sin (I Corinthians 6:9–10). The scheme of redemption is founded upon the principle annunciated by Jesus: “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” The disease, as well as the physician and remedy, must be kept in view in order to appreciate the provision made for us. 

Obs. 2. The introduction of sin and its continued existence is a deep mystery. The strongest intellects have endeavored to solve it, but in vain. The most subtle theories respecting its eternity, its necessity, its naturalism, its fatalism, its relation to a moral system, its “creational imperfection,” its phenomenal nature, its tendency as a trial of faith, etc., are presented, but none of them entirely remove the difficulties connected with the subject. It still remains an unexplained mystery, so much so that Mill, rejecting the Biblical conception of the mighty God, explains (Dogma and Literature) the introduction of evil by limiting the power of the God he reverences, and thus leaves the dreary, hopeless prospect of no future deliverance. The Bible makes no effort to explain it; only speaking of it as a painful fact, allowed by the permission of an Omnipotent God, and which shall be by His power ultimately crushed. No labored effort in the way of proof is given by inspiration, but a constant appeal is made to our own consciousness of the necessity and truthfulness of Divine interposition in view of the sense of moral guilt, the evils to which we are subject, the helplessness and limited duration of man, the otherwise inexorable embrace of nature, etc. A fundamental teaching on almost every page is this: that man unaided cannot deliver himself from sin and its sad consequences, but imperatively requires Divine help in his need. This is most unmistakably presented in the Word; in the conditions and limitations surrounding us; and in the experience and life of every person who will but take time for reflection and self-appropriation of the truth. If sin, its results, and the need of a Redeemer are ignored or denied after the dreadful and merciful language of the Bible; after the costly provision made for us through Jesus Christ; after the testimony given by conscience and the world’s history; after the universal distinction observed between natural and moral evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, merit and demerit, praise and blame; after the propitiatory sacrifices of the ancients and heathen; after the manifested antagonism to that which is good and holy exhibited in the strife between duty and passion, love and selfishness, moral obligation and a violated conscience; after the confessions of the most devoted and pious of mankind; after the ten thousand warnings, threats, appeals, and invitations pressed home to a respondent consciousness by the Supreme Ruler Himself, then nothing that we can add will influence the heart and mind of the unbeliever. 

Obs. 3. The wisdom of the Bible is justified by its silence respecting the origin of evil. Had it condescended to such explanations us are given in various theodicies, it would have indicated a mere human opinion, and not a divine inspiration. A painful defect would then be visible, which infidelity would eagerly seize, and urge against its authority.
    The Bible, therefore, in its reticence shows itself superior to the vain, limited efforts of man in this direction; it simply states the fact, explains the nature of sin (as the transgression of the law, the perverse act of the free-will, etc.), tells us that it was permitted by God, and that He has graciously made provision against it. The Scriptures teach that sin and its results are hateful to God; that they exist only through divine sufferance; that forbearance and mercy now allow their manifestation; that enduring long-suffering will at an appointed time end; and both shall be rooted out of this world. Pascal (quoted by Dr. M’Cosh in reply to Huxley), after showing that man has both greatness and misery, and that his condition is not one of absolute grandeur or of hopeless degradation, adds: “So manifest is it that we were once in a state of perfection from which we are now unhappily fallen. It is astonishing that the mystery which is the farthest removed from our knowledge—I mean the transmission of original sin—should be that without which we can have no true knowledge of ourselves. It is in this abyss that the clue to our condition takes its turnings and windings, insomuch that man is more incomprehensible without this mystery than this mystery is incomprehensible to man.” The painful, sad fact is one of general conviction, however explained by ancients and moderns (Leathes’ Relig. of Christ, sec. 1). Williamson (Theol. and Moral Science, p. 118, etc.), a Universalist writer, fully admits a natural conflict, into which every man falls, between the law of love and the law of animal nature, from which personal sin arises, and declares, “that conflict exists as a constitutional fact in every human being;” hence, as all men, more or less, violate the law of love in this conflict, all men are sinners. However we may attempt to expound this subject, the Biblical conception that we are sinners needing Redemption is one enforced by moral consciousness, provided the truth as given by God is allowed to exert its designed influence by self-appropriation. Rogers (Superhuman Origin of the Bible, sec. 2) assigns as one of the reasons that the Bible is given by God, that the moral portrait of man as presented in it is one utterly opposed to the natural man. The indictment that all have gone astray, that all are sinners, that all are worthy of condemnation, is too sweeping for man—owing to pride, etc.—alone to have generated. To this we add, that if man had produced this portrait within his own knowledge, he would, as multitudes in their efforts attest, have entered into explanations, definitions, interpretations, opening out endless metaphysical and philosophical discussions. The admirable simplicity and silence of the Bible upon a subject, which, in the nature of the case, demands the highest intellectual development, is a collateral and decided proof of its divine origin. Man, unsupported and unguided, would have overstepped the limits assigned, and introduced confusion and difficulties.

Obs. 4. The problem of evil, which has so greatly exercised and perplexed the wisest of men, is connected with the mystery that will be finished (Revelation 10:7). Until that predicted period arrives, unsatisfactory conjectures must suffice. God has not yet seen fit to give us the reasons for its origin and continued existence, excepting in broken hints respecting free agency, trial, mercy, long-suffering, etc., preferring to deal with it as a constantly experienced fact. With this we must rest content, assured of one thing, that in some way it will be found promotive of His own glory. Reason can already gather and assign (as various writers, Müller, Tholuck, Oosterzee, etc., have done) considerations and arguments indicative of the same, but as our object is merely to direct attention to those derived from the kingdom, such may be passed by without remark. The kingdom being designed to restore the harmony existing before the fall between God and man, and man and nature, it also deals with the fact of evil without entering into its origin. Looking at the final result, the end as attained in the kingdom, it may well be allowed that God permitted the entrance of evil and its continuance because He could overrule it gloriously. Sin is opposed to the theocratic idea, it is hostile to it, but God seeing that He could still, with honor to Himself, restore the designed theocracy even in a most splendid manner, permitted sin, only restraining it within certain limits by entailed evils. Sin brought forth, as a counteracting potent agency through extended love and mercy, the humanity of Jesus, the Christ, i.e. it created the necessity, in order to produce a successful and powerful theocratic kingdom, of God identifying Himself with man in the Son of David, thus bringing Him into a nearer and most intimate relationship with humanity, and preparing the way for a manifested theocratic rule over the world. In brief, it led to the bringing forth a God-man as the theocratic King who should, in virtue of His distinguished position, be able to deliver us from all evil. God’s forbearance and love is justified in this wonderful union of the divine and human, and the correspondent restoration of His theocratic rule in the form best adapted and most honorable to humanity. 

Obs. 5. Taking the Bible account of sin and its results, it is important to notice what are the forfeited blessings, and then to see whether the kingdom, which embraces the practical realization of the plan of redemption, restores all that the race lost. The enumeration of the most weighty are the following: 1. The loss of moral purity; 2. The entailment of physical degeneracy; 3. Subjection to toil, disease, death, and corruption; 4. The withdrawal of the personal presence of God; 5. Divine intercommunication with angelic beings removed; 6. The infliction of a curse upon creation; 7. A struggle for life and its blessings under uniform natural law, i.e. the special provision of Eden under the supernatural no longer afforded; 8. The loss of Eden itself; 9. The non-perpetuation of the race in a state of innocency and purity; 10. The non-erection of a perfect government because of resultant depravity. These are the sad fruits of sin, impressed by the consciousness of guilt. Now the primitive Church doctrine of the kingdom, fully sustained by the plain teaching of the Scriptures, affirms a complete restoration of all these blessings. The reader’s indulgence is asked until we pass over the doctrine as given in the Word, and by the early Church. This much, however, may be said, 1. That such blessings forfeited can only be restored through Divine interference; 2. That such a restitution indicates the completeness of the Divine plan; 3. That such a removal of evil shows forth the might and perfection of the Saviour; 4. That such a Divine purpose contained in the Bible and established by the inestimable gift of a Redeemer, ever keeping in view this completeness, never contradicting itself, extending through every book of the Scriptures, and given in successive ages and by men in varied circumstances and conditions of life, must be, as claimed, an inspired one.

    In addition: Observing the ultimate end contemplated by the Divine Purpose, and noticing the remarkable provision made already for the removal of sin and evil, several things, resulting from a consideration of the dealings of God in preparing for the consummation, must be impressed upon our minds. (1.) The remedial measures introduced and enforced by Divine Sovereignty, finding their climax in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, show that man must have fallen from his former estate, thus making them necessary. (2.) The call to repentance and faith to conform to the remedial provisions, indicates in the trial given to man that sin is voluntary. (3.) A Plan of Redemption culminating in the blessings of the Kingdom, and flowing from God’s wisdom, love, and mercy, is eminently worthy of man’s consideration and acceptance. (4.) This Plan to be properly appreciated ought to be contemplated as a whole, and not merely in some of its particulars. (5.) That if the Plan, as a whole, is adapted to secure the end designed, and if carried out will inevitably produce the result (Redemption perfected) aimed at, then the subsidiary parts (including the fall, etc.) are also worthy of reception as being related to it—the greater including the lesser. (6.) The manifestation of a visible Theocratic ordering is alone capable of crushing sin and removing it from the world. (7.) That evil under which man and the world labors—however subservient as a punishment, as testing faith, character, etc.—is the result of God’s disapprobation of sin, and is only tolerated in view of the ultimate result that God brings forth from its existence.
    The favorite theory of many (Lubbock, and others), to invalidate the Biblical account of a fall from a higher to a lower position, is to advocate a constant and invariable rise and progression from a lower to a higher state, i.e., from the lowest savageism to the highest civilization. But this is only recognizing one factor in the past, viz., that such a rise and progress can be the result of favorable circumstances and proper moral and religious appliances. But another factor, that vitiates the universality of the theory, is purposely overlooked, viz., that man has also degenerated into savage life, dwindled from power into weakness, from vast numbers into a small number and even into extinction,—as exemplified in the works of past ages, the labors of extinct races, the remains of past nations, Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Roman, Mound-workers, etc. Man (as e.g. Frothingham, Art. in North Amer. Review, 1878, p. 46, “Is man a depraved creature?”) may deny the natural depravity of man, and designate the first Adam “a fiction” and “myth,” a “creature of speculation, and as a creature of speculation his existence dates back no farther than a century or so (!) before Christ.” Our line of argument will amply meet such heart-wrought objections; for the present it is sufficient to observe that upon this “myth” is based by “ignorant and designing men” a most wonderful plan of restitution, with such a unity, so astounding in its manifestations through many centuries, and so well attested by a continued and existing fulfillment of prophecy and of personal experience, that such writers are utterly unable to account for “the fiction” that so many esteem the precious truth.

Obs. 6. Latterly it has become fashionable in the works of Naturalists, Free Religionists, etc., to ignore evil and enter into a laudation of nature, its harmony, its goodness, uniform beneficence, etc. This is purposely done, so that Christianity, which holds forth, in connection with the good, the dark side of nature, may suffer by the comparison. The contrast, however, is imperfect; and the spirit suggesting it, if not dislike to the Bible, at least does injustice to its teachings. The ostrich is said to deem itself out of danger when its head is thrust into the sand and its pursuer for the time is unseen; so these, by simply closing their eyes to the inevitable of nature, consider themselves the highly favored sons and daughters of natural law and development. The suffering, misery, sorrow, destructive agencies, voracious grave entailed by and experienced through nature, are sedulously kept out of view, and nature or the absolute is nothing but manifested, realized love, while in Christianity the God, who is represented as making provision for deliverance from such evil, is nothing but a tyrant, a gloomy despot! Is this fair or candid? Without pausing to inquire how far theology with its deductions and inferences added to the Word is responsible for driving men into such a state of antagonism, it is sufficient to say: if nature, or the absolute, is all that they claim, although evil and death are allowed, why not apply the same criticism to the God of Revelation, who also has permitted the same, that they do to nature? And the more so, because the God of the Bible proposes a recovery from evil which the other, in no shape or form, suggests? Evidently, because it does not suit their purpose; and because it would inevitably weaken and destroy their own argument. Before applying their destructive criticism to Revelation, let them first reconcile with their own theory of love, etc., the evil that is in nature, its destroying forces, diseases, pestilences, agony, and devouring death. If they cannot reconcile this with their own notion of a loving nature or absolute, let them frankly confess it; if they can explain and reconcile all this with their theory of goodness, thousands would gladly welcome the solution. Until such a solution is given, they of all others, because relying upon reason, should not object to the mystery of evil as related to Divine revelation. If a reconciliation were attempted, avoiding ultra naturalism and admitting an intelligent first cause, it would evidently fall in the line of those attempted in behalf of the God of the Bible. We are content to receive the Biblical account that evil is the resultant of a rejection of the theocratic idea (i.e., a violation of God’s rule), that it continues until God has, by a course of testing, gathered out all the material requisite to establish the theocracy in a most glorious and triumphant manner, and that when all things are prepared, the postponement caused by sin will close by the complete overthrow of evil through the appointed King and His co-rulers.

    It is true that those who advocate the Nihilism of the individual man, his perishing, admit the evil in Nature, and from it, owing to unchangeable law, are forced into their theory of gloom. But even such are again divided into two classes. One party, as some German writers, present no hope of the future, being logically driven to it by the fact that the evils are so inexorably related to eternal natural law that they are beyond man’s power of removal. Another party, however (as e.g. Winwood Reade in Martyrdom of Man), while giving no hope to the individual man (mere “animated jelly’’), somehow, in a Pantheistic idealism, dream of a glorious future for Humanity. How illogical this is, needs no explanation, seeing that inevitable natural law which promises no deliverance from evil for the individual, presents none for humanity in the future. Rather than humbly to receive the Word of God, men will seek out and trust in the most extravagant theories.

    It is worthy of notice that some unbelieving philosophers give as dark a portraiture of human nature as the most ultra theologian. Passing by the Nihilists, we select e.g. Mill, who, in one of his Essays, remarks: “Man, viewed as a simple production of nature, has in him but one good thing, the capacity of improvement; he is naturally devoid of a sense of truth, a coward, cruel, selfish, and even a lover of dirt. The truth is, there is hardly a point of excellence belonging to human character which is not decidedly repugnant to the untutored feelings of human nature.” “Whatever good thing man now possesses, either in himself or in his outward surroundings, he has attained not from the gift of nature but from his having conquered and subdued her.” Then contrast the laments of Nihilism, and the shading of the picture is immensely darker than that given by the Word; and yet men accuse the Bible of gloom, etc. Now which class of our opponents are we to credit? The one, that eulogizes, or the other, that depreciates human nature? Or, is it the safest to take the medium and explanation given in the Word, viz., that man, although fallen, possesses noble characteristics worthy of being redeemed and employed in his Creator’s service; that fallen, he is unable to deliver himself from the sinfulness and evil entailed without Divine Help; and that accepting such aid, tendered in love and mercy, it restores him to a position of moral worthiness and excellence by directing his capacities and powers in the way of holiness and love.
    A word of caution in conclusion: The attacks of unbelief come from all sides, and one of the most despicable that has fallen under our observation is that which endeavors to. charge the Word of God with advocating sin or rather fleshly lusts. Whatever may have been the sinful practices of professors or of the church in the past, the Bible pointedly condemns all such, warns us that they shall be witnessed, and urges us to purity and holiness. This is so plain, that he who denies it does deliberate violence to a distinguishing characteristic of the Scriptures. The Word, which provides so costly a provision for sin, cannot and does not indulge it. Now it happens that recently some writers (as e.g. the author of Ancient Sex Worship) endeavor to show that the fleshly tendency in human nature to worship the sexual organs as emblematic, etc., is, more or less endorsed by Christianity. This offensive manner of bringing discredit upon the Word by linking with it the excesses of sex worship, defeats itself in the estimation of every reflecting and sensible mind, because the Bible so pointedly condemns all fleshly lusts and positively declares that those entertaining them shall never inherit the Kingdom of God.

Prop. 9. The nature of, and the things pertaining to the kingdom, can only be ascertained within the limits of Scripture.

This kingdom is God’s kingdom; it is one that He proposes to establish, and being the outgrowth of His Divine purpose, we must apply to Him for information respecting it. This He extends to us in His Word, and what He has said, being the only One capable of imparting knowledge on the subject, is to be received in preference to human opinions. The kingdom itself, the subject of a thousand prophecies pertaining to the future, is, as delineated by God, a prediction of that which is to come, and hence beyond human ability to portray, unless God’s description of it is carefully studied and copied. Outside of the Scriptures, nothing reliable is to be found, only excepting in so far as it may be in accord with Holy Writ. Scripture, and that alone, contains the reliable, authoritative information; and therefore, instead of going to second sources, application should be made to the fountain-head itself to appreciate and enjoy the issuing pure stream of covenant and prophecy. God’s words in describing what He intends to perform, are most certainly to be preferred to man’s. We are justified in thus placing confidence alone in the Word of God, seeing that, when this kingdom is to be manifested in all its glory, the King Himself has the significant name (Revelation 19:13), in addition to the one upon His vesture and thigh, “The Word, of God,” for it is in Him, by Him, and through Him that the Word is fulfilled and realized.

    One of the distinguishing results of the Reformation was “the resurrection of the Bible,” making it, as in the Apostolic era, the object of constant citation and appeal. In view of this Chillingworth (Works, c. 4) said: “The Bible only is the Religion of Protestants,” and Dorner (His. Prot. Theol. 1, 2) remarks: “Protestantism seeks, indeed, its ultimate foundation in the nature of Christianity, as it is handed down to us in a documentary form in the Scriptures.” With this may be compared the utterances of Protestant Confessions and Symbolical books, as e.g. Westminster Conf., Art. of Church of Eng., Conf. Hel., Book of Concord, Neth. Confess., Heidelberg Cat., etc. For the opinions of Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, etc., see Hagenbach’s His. of Doctrines, Vol. 2, sec. 240, who also informs us (Vol. 1, sec. 212) that “the formal principle of the Reformation, of Protestantism is subjection to the authority of Scripture.” Dr. Schaff (The Principle of Protestantism, p. 70, etc.) discusses this “formal or knowledge principle” in an interesting manner, asserting: “If there be then any unerring fountain of truth, needed to satisfy religious want, it can be found only in the Word of God, who is himself the truth; and this becomes thus consequently the highest norm and rule, by which to measure all human truth, all ecclesiastical tradition, and all synodical decrees.” (Comp. Art. “The Apostles’ Creed,” Princeton Review, 1852.) Dr. Schaff justly shows how this was a revival of the position occupied by the early church, by some of the later Fathers, and even, however obscured and fettered by subsequent tradition, by some of the Roman Catholic divines, forcibly quoting Moehler, etc. The usual Romish view is expressed by Bellarmine, making the Church superior to the Bible, its judge; and this is exemplified e.g. in Heefert (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc. Vol. 1, p. 424) pronouncing the doctrinal position of Wycliffe and Huss at their trials (viz., as solely founded on the Scriptures), “the Alpha and Omega of error.” Hippolytus (Bunsen’s Hippolytus, Vol. 2, p. 144), says: “There is one God, my brethren, and Him we know only by the Holy Scriptures. For in a like manner as he who wishes to learn the wisdom of this world cannot accomplish it without studying the doctrines of the philosophers, thus all who wish to practise divine wisdom will not learn it from any other source than from the Word of God. Let us therefore see what the Holy Scriptures pronounce; let us understand what they teach; and let us believe what the Father wishes to be believed, and praise the Son as He wishes to be praised, and accept the Holy Spirit as He wishes to be given. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own reason, nor forcing what God has given, but let us see all this as He has willed to shew it by the Holy Scriptures.”

Obs. 1. The doctrine of the kingdom being one of the greatest in the Bible (Props. 1 and 2), it must, like all pure Christian doctrine, be found within its pages. No true or scripturally founded doctrine of the kingdom can possibly be at variance with the express language of Holy Writ. This is self-evident, and important use will be made of this principle, clearly showing as we proceed that no doctrine on this subject excepting that of the primitive Christian Church is in full sympathy with the Word. This correspondence, so far as one sense, the literal, is concerned, our most decided opponents frankly admit.
    This work being largely composed of doctrine, it is proper, briefly, to notice the notion extensively held and strenuously advocated (e.g. Dr. Arnold in Literature and Dogma), that it makes no material difference what we believe only so that the conduct is right, for “religion is conduct,” etc. This is a crusade renewed against the presentation of truth in a dogmatical or doctrinal form, and finds a champion in Prof. Seely, who raises the standard, “Christian morality without dogmas.” This cry is raised in many quarters, being duly appreciated by the skeptical as a blow at a vital part of Christianity. (Thus e.g. D’Aubigne, in his Address to Ch. Alliance at N. York, informs us that “at an important assembly held lately in German Switzerland, at which were present many men of position, both in Church and State, the basis of the new religion was laid down: ‘No doctrines,’ was the watchword on that occasion, ‘No new doctrines, whatever they may be, in place of the old; Liberty alone.’”) Freely conceding the difference between doctrine and conduct, doctrine and practical religion, doctrine and Christian life; cheerfully willing to attest to the exceeding value of the latter, and that it may even exist without the entertainment of a great amount of doctrinal knowledge, yet it is folly to disconnect doctrine from religion, seeing that the latter is a natural outgrowth from the former, that they sustain a mutual relationship, and that to produce a symmetrical whole they must be united. Doctrine has been aptly compared to the root, and morality or conduct to the growth; for every believer must accept of some truths giving motives for conduct, which are either doctrinally stated in the Word, or dogmatically presented in the formulas of the church. Faith must, in some form, have an outward, intellectual expression in connection with its heart work. Mind and heart are both enlisted. Truth to be apprehended must be formally stated. Reason demands, intellectual culture requires, as its concomitant, a distinctive statement in language of those ideas which are given either as worthy of credence, or as inducements to action. Doctrine may indeed, exist without corresponding conduct (which may be the fault of the man and not of the doctrine), but true Christian conduct cannot be produced without doctrine, as e.g. the doctrine of God, of Jesus Christ, of repentance, of faith, etc., influencing us to a certain determined course of life. To destroy this vital union, is to sever the tree from its roots, to remove the building from its foundation, and thus give us a sickly, dying tree and a ruined, unsafe building. The fact is, that the very men who strive to disconnect what God has joined together by inseparable laws; who sneer at the declaration of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford for saying that “religion is no more to be severed from dogmas than light from the sun”—these men are actually engaged in laying down doctrines, dogmatically expressed, for our acceptance. This feature alone, the resultant of a law that they cannot avoid, indicates the connection between the two, which, in the very act of an attempted destruction, they only confirm. Graybeard (Lay Sermons, Nos. 75 and 76) urges “the importance of maintaining sound doctrine,” asserting truthfully that “the great fundamental framework of the Scriptures is its doctrines,” and comparing them to the bones of the body, imparting consistency and form. He concludes: “All sound doctrine centres in Christ, and is founded on Christ. Not to know its power and value is to be a weakling, and to deny the importance of it is to dishonor God. ‘Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any man unto you, and bringeth not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds’ (II John 9–11).” The Bible commends “continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), and persevering in “sound doctrine” (I Timothy 1:3, 10), as pro-motive of strength and salvation (e.g. I Timothy 4:13–16).

Obs. 2. To comprehend fully any doctrine, especially that of the kingdom, there must be a diligent comparing of Scripture with Scripture. Dr. Neander (His. of Dog., vol. 2, p. 623) says of Melanchthon that on occasion of the Leipzig disputation he stated, “that it is the duty to abide by the pure and simple meaning of the Holy Writ, as, indeed, heavenly truths are always the simplest; this meaning is to be found by comparing Holy Writ with itself.” Dr. Dorner (His. Prot., vol. 2, p. 429) justly remarks: “The work of theological criticism, especially in so far as it touches upon doctrinal matters, must always at last become a criticism, or a measuring, of Scripture by Scripture—in other words, the self-criticism of the canon through the instrumentality of believers.” The hermeneutical canon of the Reformers (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc, vol. 2, sec. 240), “to interpret and illustrate Scripture by Scripture,” is ours, imitating “The Noble Lesson” of the Waldensians: “The Scriptures speak, and we must believe. Look at the Scriptures from beginning to end.”

Obs. 3. The doctrine of the kingdom being thus exclusively derived from the Word for reasons already assigned (others will be given hereafter), an earnest protest must be presented against a spirit, widely prevalent among eminent divines, manifested in the adoption of a theory by which a doctrinal growth in the Church is made to cover up alleged weaknesses and misapprehensions of the truth in the founders of Christianity. Reference is made to “the development theory” as applied to doctrine, by which the idea of the kingdom is represented as “a seed” or “a germ” surrounded by “a husk,” or “a rind” (i.e., literal sense), out of which, however, was produced or developed the perfect tree or fruit (so e.g. Neander, Nevin, and others). The reasons, evidently, which actuated pious and able men to accept of this theory and employ it, were, first, their inability otherwise to meet the tremendous shafts of infidelity leveled at the early Christianity (showing that doctrinally it was different from the faith entertained at present); and second, the desire through it to secure some unity in their conception of the nature, constitution, etc., of the kingdom of God. Admitting that truth can be obtained by a study of nature, science, race, etc.—by observing the development of mind, experience, the Church, etc., yet all this progress, this attestation to and amplification of truth, is not to be placed in comparison with the truth given by God Himself. The Scriptures are supreme authority to the believer, and no change, no variation, no substitution, under the pretence of growth, is allowable unless we have the same indicated by God Himself. Increase of doctrinal knowledge does not consist in altering the form of doctrine, but in obtaining a clearer, more enlarged apprehension of the unaltered doctrine. Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 70) justly grounds progress upon “amplification” and not in “alteration.” Rev. Bernard (Bampton Lectures, “The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament”) forcibly argues (Lec. 1) that the Divine teaching coincides in extent with the present canon, and that the progress of doctrine in the Church since such communication is a progress of apprehension by man. He clearly shows that no advance in Divine teaching after the apostolic age was ever admitted by the Church, and that all elucidations, renewed definitions, etc., indicative of a clearer apprehension of the truth, are invariably based upon, and derived from, the original truth in the Old and New Testaments. He also effectively points out that innovations (as in Dr. Newman’s theory of development including new doctrines) even are sustained by their upholders under the plea of a tradition enforced by extending it back to apostolic days, thus implying, or inferring, apostolic sanction.
The kingdom is something described by God for us to believe; and hence is not one thing today and another tomorrow, one thing under the former dispensation and another under this ordering. The description of it is unchangeably the same, for it is a simple declaration of the Divine purpose to which it is impossible, without detriment, to add anything. It is a positive revelation, portraying that when realized certain great events are to transpire, certain promises are to be joyfully experienced, etc., and therefore, in the very nature of the case, it cannot be a mere “germ” which is to sprout forth into something else. The theory of development, especially when applied to the doctrine of the kingdom, must be regarded as an important concession to infidelity. 

Obs. 4. Allowing a development of doctrine in the Bible itself (i.e., given in respective dispensations, and by different writers), made under the auspices of the Spirit, the same, by the principle of interpretation adopted (Prop. 4), shows, by its completeness and manner of presentation, that the Bible is designed to be a book for the people, for all men, both learned and unlearned. It is addressed to the masses, to the ignorant, to all classes, and, therefore, is not merely designed for the educated. It assumes upon the very face of it, that its important doctrines can be easily comprehended, and that to realize their force and value it is unnecessary to make additions or alterations. It takes it for granted that it contains all that is requisite for us to know concerning the kingdom, and that every person can obtain this knowledge by its perusal and study. It assumes, that it is correct in its claim of being an infallible guide (Psalm 119:105, II Peter 1:19, Galatians 1:8, Isaiah 8:20, II Timothy 3:17, etc.), as endorsed by the early Christians, Reformers, etc., in the things pertaining to God and the everlasting happiness of man. It distinctly teaches that without a due acceptance of its doctrines, we are regarded by the Almighty as those, however learned in other respects, who lack understanding. It urges upon us, in view of its Divine origin, purity, veracity, power, duration, etc., the obligation that we are under to know God’s Word. It professes to enlighten every one who receives it respecting God and our personal relationship to Him, the Messiah and our need of Him, the kingdom and the manner in which to gain it, the duties pertaining to God and man, the future destiny of ourselves and the world, etc., and that to obtain this enlightenment we do not absolutely require, valuable as they may be in many respects, those cumbersome systems of interpretation, those diversified and ponderous exegetical commentaries, etc., which are given as helps to the student.
    The Bible assumes, then, that it can be understood, so far as its essential, important doctrines are concerned, by all men. If so, then instead of a recondite meaning being intended, the plain grammatical sense, common to all men, must undoubtedly be received. The infallibility it places in its own utterances expressed according to the usual laws of language, and not in a superadded sense bestowed at the pleasure of the interpreter. It does not allow it to exist outside of itself in an authoritative declaration of the church (excepting only as it corresponds with the Word), or in what is called “the infallible consciousness.” If we were to accept of the latter, in what confession or writing is it incorporated? The interpretation of the Word must not be hampered by a philosophical generality, glittering in conception and well adapted to lead us away from Holy Writ, and to cause us to put our faith in mere human opinion, thus also covering up deficiencies, difficulties, antagonisms suggested by the Word. Such a consciousness does not exist, as is proven by the opposite confessions and theological writings of past centuries, and which differences continue down to the present day, even on points the most important, as e.g. the sacrificial death of Christ, the sacraments, the order of salvation, etc. Amid this diversity, the sad result of human infirmity, one consoling feature alone remains, that, notwithstanding the differences of opinion, so much of the truth of Scripture, in its plain sense, is cordially received, that faith in, and obedience to, Christ is characteristic of all believers. The failure to show where this “consciousness” is lodged, in order to make it available for direct reference and appeal, should guard us against a theory well intended but really derogatory to Scripture. Scripture must ever retain its position as paramount, sole authority, and care must be exercised lest the helps intended to facilitate Scriptural investigation become hindrances instead of valuable aids, by being too much relied on without a personal searching of the Word of God. Any substitution in place of Holy Writ, is, in so far, lowering the supreme standard. Compare some excellent remarks on the supremacy of Scripture in Bridges’ Chris. Ministry, Saurin’s Sermon on The Sufficiency of Revelation, Graybeard’s (Graff) Lay Sermons, etc. We reproduce one sentence from Graff (No. 62, “Search the Scriptures”): “A man may become a theological tinker by studying theological books; but in order to become ‘a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth,’ there can be no substitute for the habitual, personal study of God’s Word.” How true this is, when we look at the history of godly men and women, of the past. How many with vast stores of learning have been eclipsed in advancement of true knowledge and usefulness, by those who have constantly drawn divine things from a persevering perusal and study of God’s Word.

Obs. 5. All believers admit that in the study of the Scriptures there must be, to secure success, a reverent, prayerful spirit maintained, a reliance upon Divine guidance into truth. There must be a moral preparation (John 8:47) to appreciate their force and beauty (Psalm 119:12, 18). Such a direction, although given by God Himself (James 1:5, Luke 11:13, etc.), loses some of its weight in the estimation of unbelief, since parties the most antagonistic in doctrine and practice profusely profess to have poured forth earnest prayer, and to have been guided by the Spirit in their expositions. A modest student, and one too who really prays and is morally aided, will scarcely set up such a standard, or refer to Him in such a connection. Prayerful study of the Scriptures will evidence itself, not in profession, but in fruits. It, too, will be found that error may be conjoined with even fervent prayer, if the Bible is neglected, if the simplest rules are rejected for ascertaining its meaning, if the grammatical sense is violated, if reason is not properly used, if intellectual activity is not combined with faith, and if the formulas of men are substituted for the Word. Prayer is a help, but not so directly that we need not search for the truth. So also mistake may be connected with the assumed guidance of the Spirit; for if a man expects “direct spiritual illumination” or an “intellectual light” by which he can know the truth without an acceptance and patient study of that which the Spirit has already given, he only shows that he is self-deceived. Prayer and the Spirit indeed are of great avail in their moral bearing, in preparing us for the perception and reception of the truth, but they are not given to supersede the searching of the Scriptures (John 5:39), the reasoning out of the Scriptures (Acts 17:2; 18:4, etc.), the using of our faculties in noting the oracles of God (Hebrews 5:14), the taking heed unto the Word given (II Peter 1:19), the daily receiving and study of Holy Writ (Acts 17:11). Indeed the fact of our dependence upon the Spirit to enlighten us and enable us to savingly appropriate truth, to trust and to rejoice in it, does not allow us to neglect the means of enlightenment which He has already furnished in the presented Word. It forbids a passivity of our mental faculties, and enjoins upon the man of God, in order “to be perfect, thoroughly furnished,” to let both mind and heart receive “all scripture,” (II Timothy 3:16–17).

    The Spirit reveals Himself, and the truth He is commissioned to impart through the Word already given, and in proportion as that Word is pondered, studied, and received, just in that proportion will true enlightenment follow; and even love will be excited (II Timothy 3:15, Luke 24:32, Philippians 1:9), and growth promoted (I Peter 2:2, ). For, if man is in a reverent, prayerful, teachable attitude, desirous for the truth, the Spirit will impress that same truth given by Him, not by directly revealing it (for that He has already done), but by morally qualifying him for its reception and retention. (See this illustrated in the Controversy—Tyerman’s “Oxford Methodists,” p. 95—between the Moravian Molther and Wesley, on the question whether penitent inquirers should search the Scriptures—Wesley affirming, and Molther denying, the necessity and importance of the same.) Bible truth, inasmuch as it relates to our moral constitution, demands both mind and heart to receive it. Three things are requisite to make truth practically effective. Lord Bacon says: “The inquiry of Truth, which is the love-making or wooing it; the knowledge of Truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of Truth, which is the enjoying of it;—is the Sovereign Good of human nature.” The Spirit aids us only in the line of revealed truth, never in contradistinction to the recorded things of the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and there can be no revelation given, however plausible and advocated, which runs in opposition to Holy Writ. There is no proof whatever, amid the multitude of claims proposed, saving that afforded by the personal assertion of the interested parties themselves, that a single person since the days of the apostles has received a new or modified doctrine, not found in the Bible, directly from the Spirit. A very suspicious fact in those who claim it, is, that every such doctrine advanced they still desire, in some way or other, to fasten to Scriptures given, thus unconsciously (e.g. Mormons, German Inspirationists in Iowa, etc. Comp. Prop. 4) testifying to its supremacy over their own utterances.

    This subject is the more worthy of attention, since advantage is taken of this supposed additional bestowment of doctrinal truth outside of the Bible to lower the supremacy of the Scriptures. This is done by receiving the concessions, intentional or not, of various parties, opening a wide door for endless additions, because of the introduction of a Divine authority outside of the Bible. Those who undermine the authoritative position of the Scriptures, are the following: (1.) It is claimed by good men (as e.g. Dr. Bushnell, Sermons on the New Life, p. 46) that every man is also inspired, not indeed having the same inspiration as the writers of the Bible, but still a continued inspiration, imparted by the Spirit, by which we interpret the Scriptures, etc. (2.) Another class (Essays and Reviews) assert that “inspiration is a permanent power in the church” which by a constant “illumination,” kindred to that of the Bible, develops confessions, doctrines, liturgies, etc. (3.) The Roman Catholic Church affirms that the Holy Spirit is so given to it, that the Pope in his official or doctrinal utterances cannot err., The same is asserted by many respecting General Councils. Tradition is thus elevated to inspired truth. (4.) Infidels adopt the language of Scripture, and declare that all men are inspired equal to and even superior to the apostles, as e.g. the Parker school. (5.) Men of a mystical tendency in various centuries and denominations, who, professing a special guidance and enlightenment of the Spirit, ask for their utterances a corresponding faith. The history of Mysticism, separate and combined with scholasticism, presents numerous painful instances, of “an inner light” exalted to Scriptural authority. (6.) The Mormons, and other sects, who give us long pretended revelations of divine truth. (7.) Swedenborg, who constituted himself the first and sole interpreter of the Word, whom the angels could not instruct (Div. Prov., pub. 1764, p. 135), and who, by an inner sense and revelations professedly received, inaugurated a new Gospel. The grammatical sense is but a worthless husk, containing the highest mysteries which were revealed to him. (8.) The Society of Friends, who, with many excellencies, frankly acknowledge the superior light granted by the Spirit. (9.) The Spiritualists, who elevate the revelations of the spirits, supposed to be given for special enlightenment, above the Bible. All these, whether they design it or not, bring to us an authority equal to or superior to that of the Scriptures. Advantage is quickly taken of this opening, by arguing (as e.g. Essays and Reviews) that as inspiration, the imparting of the Spirit is now accompanied with error, so it was also in the days of the apostles, and, therefore, only so much authority is to be allowed to the Scriptures as good men can approve of as credible, thus really allowing no unity of doctrine, etc. Advantage is also taken of it, by pointing to all these contradictory professions, all under professed spiritual guidance, as evidence of the uncertainty of any Spirit-derived truths. Advantage is taken of the wide gap thus opened for pretended revelations and new doctrines, for greater sanctity, holiness, and exclusiveness, until the heart saddens at the fearful sight. The simple truth of God has been outrageously perverted, mutilated, and abused by these processes. No! No!! our only safety is in strictly adhering to the Word, as containing all the doctrines in their true teaching grammatically expressed, and that prayer and all other things, including the moral aid of the Spirit, are subsidiary to the eternal Word itself, acting only favorably and efficiently in connection with it.

    But while avoiding one extreme, we must not fall into another, and deny that the Holy Spirit may, if He chooses, impart mental aid, or perception, or knowledge, He did this to others, to prophets, apostles, and others, and it would limit His freedom and power to say that He cannot do it now if He so pleases; especially He has not told us that He will not do it, and many passages (Ephesians 1:16–17, I Corinthians 12:7–11, James 1:5, 1 Kings 3:9–13) seem to indicate that, not however without seeking, prayer, searching, that God can and will at times directly aid in the attainment of the truth. But let it never be forgotten that even such aid and moral law, enforced by the Spirit, is placed within restrictions, viz.: it is subsidiary to the Word itself; it embraces no new revelations or new doctrines, but only leads to a fuller comprehension and appreciation of the Revelation already given; it retains and enforces the supremacy of Holy Writ. Dunn in his excellent treatise (The Study of the Bible) takes the position that there is no mental enlightenment, no “direct spiritual illumination” to be expected at the present day, and brings in the analogy that we obtain truth as we do bread, “that as God now showers not bread from heaven as He did in the wilderness, so He showers not truth upon our minds as He did upon the apostles,” that we must labor for it, etc. This ordinarily and generally is true, but universally the analogy drawn from the bread does not hold good, for God did, after the manna was given, provide bread for Elijah, the widow, and others, and in answer to prayer He can yet do it, quite out of the ordinary way, in cases of necessity, without man laboring for it. Take e.g. Luther, as he painfully toiled up the steps on his knees, suddenly impressed with “the just shall live by faith,” or the extraordinary preparedness of the Sandwich Islanders for the Gospel, or the remarkable conversions of some of the heathen and others—these and other examples can only be fully explained by accepting of a direct mental aid afforded by the Spirit, but, in every case, subordinate to, and in support of, the Scriptures given. Admitting, therefore, that when necessity requires it, or the pertinacity of faith secures it, or the pleasure of God bestows it, that such may be the case, yet we have one decisive test to which even these must bow, viz., all enlightenment must be in the direct line of the Scriptures, not in opposition to, or in conflict with them, because they are given by the same Spirit, and cannot be antagonistic. This e.g. was Luther’s position when he encountered the fanatics who pretended to new revelations by the Spirit, that they were contradictory to the utterances already bestowed by the Spirit and hence unreliable, and that being different, a variation from the Bible, they were not proven authoritative by the mighty works of the Spirit and therefore could not supersede the truth presented (D’Aubigne’s His. Ref. Vol. 3. B. 9). The apostles themselves appeal to the Scriptures given as bearing testimony that they speak in the Spirit, in unison with Him, and that the same are abundantly able to afford us all the light, direction, etc., that we need. Any effort which professes to be from God, directly or indirectly, mediately or immediately, if it lowers the standard, or places in a subordinate position any of the teaching, of Holy Writ, is open to the gravest suspicion, and should at once be rejected. True enlightenment advocates the supreme authority of the Bible; false revelations either endeavor to supplant it, or wrest it from its meaning, or attach to it irrelevant, contradictory, and extravagant matter. Fortunately for the truth, most pretended revelations and additions are borne down by the weight of their own palpable ignorance, foolishness, and error. Calvin (Institutes, *) characterizes the pretensions of immediate revelations as “subversive of every principle of piety;” while we dare not, in charity, give so sweeping a criticism, yet it may be held that they are subversive of the Scriptures, of all hope of possessing, what man needs, an intelligent, reliable, infallible doctrinal guide, leading often, as illustrated in Ochino and others, to a sad shipwreck. Infallibility in doctrinal utterances, whether claimed as a divine right, or as proceeding from an imparted Spirit, or as coming in any other way, is something that belongs exclusively to Holy Writ, which not merely asserts its possession but proves it in a variety of ways (comp. e.g. Props. 179–183). The subject matter of the Bible, its entire tenor of teaching, its decided authoritative statements, its injunction not to add or take from it, its continuous Divine Purpose, its unity of Plan in Redemption, its provisional portion amply realized in personal experience and the world’s history—all clearly show that it is not to be supplanted by any other authority. We are therefore abundantly satisfied with the position occupied by the church for the first three hundred years (so Mosheim, Neander, Killen, Giesler, etc.), by the Reformers, and a host of able men, viz., that the Bible is the sole, supreme authority, and that every Christian doctrine, including that of the kingdom, must find its true basis within its limits.

Obs. 6. It has been sufficiently intimated that in the elucidation of the Scriptures, man’s agency is also required. It is needed in a variety of ways: in the criticism of the text to indicate its purity and meaning, in securing the evidences pertaining to it, in comparing one portion with another, etc. The Word is indeed given by God, but to comprehend and ensure its blessings, we must, like with His gift of nature, bestow upon it thought, meditation, labor, and research. It contains deep things requiring careful study, and even mysteries beyond our limits; it discusses the most profoundly interesting questions within our mental power; it gives us plain statements, which are to be contrasted with others, lest we fail to realize their full significancy; it deals with the sublime, the beautiful, the emotional, the moral, the spiritual, the eternal, the seen and the unseen, the past, present, and future, and hence calls for both mind and heart in its interpretation. Reliance upon the Word does not forbid progress, advancement, but ensures it; for our entire argument indicates, that just in proportion as man accepts of Holy Writ, and his writings or expositions are based on it, in that proportion will he be in the way of real progress, obtaining a clearer, more comprehensive view of the truth. The doctrines of the Bible, too, are corroborated not only by comparison, study, etc., but by the additional knowledge bestowed by personal experience and the history of the Church and world, i.e. they are truths confirmed by a degree of realization.

    Those who object to the Scriptures being an infallible standard bring in (as Owen, Deb. Land, p. 146) this comparison: “Science sets up no infallible standard; if she did, there would be an end of all scientific progress.” The fact is, that this is both an unjust comparison and conclusion. Science cannot do so, since all its knowledge is derived through human instrumentality; it deals with Nature, and yet amid the diversity of scientific teaching respecting Nature, in view of the many unknown problems suggested by Nature, it would be glad to avail itself of the teaching of an infallible standard, if it were possessed. On the other hand, the Bible, which professes not to be a teacher of science, deals with another and higher sphere—the moral, spiritual, and eternal interests of man, the most essential for happiness, and in which man needs assistance and guidance. God condescends, in compassion to our necessities, to reveal Himself authoritatively in this direction, especially in view of our being under moral law to Him. But this does not forbid progress in man, in knowledge, etc., as is seen in the results of comparison, deduction, inference, experience, etc. Even an infallible standard in science would not prevent progress in the same way. No! the truth is, that men wish to introduce and enforce novelties, etc., that are contradictory to the Word, and, therefore, they are desirous to get rid of its authority in order that their own opinions may be the more readily received. Dr. Schaff (Principle of Protest, p. 80) justly observes: “The more any one enters into the contents of the Bible, the more he learns to say with Luther, that it resembles an herb that by every rubbing becomes only the more odoriferous, a tree that by every shaking throws down only a richer supply of golden apples. Every valuable exegetical work discloses to us new treasures, and our Church (Reformation), having lived upon it already three hundred years, must still with Paul exclaim in amazement, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.’” 

Prop. 10. This kingdom should be studied in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and not merely in that of creeds, confessions, formulas of doctrine, etc.

This legitimately follows from the preceding Proposition, and reminds us, (1) that to learn what the kingdom is, recourse must be had to the original source of information, and (2) that, however much the Scriptural idea of the kingdom may differ from that given, honestly and conscientiously, by men, the former must be received in preference to the latter.

    Cornelius Agrippa (On the Vanity of Sciences, ch. 100) quaintly says: “Wherefore it behoveth us to trie by the Worde of God all the disciplines and opinions of sciences, as gold is tried by the touchestone, and in all things to flee thither as to a most stiffe rocke, and out of that alone to seeke for the truth of all thinges, and to judge of all doctrine, of the opinions and expositions of all men, and that we reade not by the doctrines, by the gloses, by the expositions, or by other sayings of men, although they be most holy and beste learned, them I meane which speake either without or against the authoritee of God’s Worde…. So great is the majestie, so great is the power of this Scripture, that it alloweth no strounge exposition, no gloses of men nor Angels: neither suffereth it selfe to be bowed to mens wittes as if it were of waxe, nor after the manier of mens fables suffereth it selfe to be transformed or changed into divers senses as it were some Poetical Proteus, but sufficiente of it selfe, doth expounde and interprets it selfe, and judging all men of none is judged. For the authoritee thereof is greater (as Augustine saith) then all the insight of mans wit: for it hath one constant, plaine, and holy meaninge, in which alone the truth doth consiste, and in which it fighteth and vanquisheth. But other Moral, Mystical, Cosmological, Typical, Anagogical, Tropological, and Allegorical meaninges which are without this, with which many do depainte it with sundrie and straunge coloures, can rightly, and truly teache us some things, and perswade also to the edification of the people, but they cannot prove any thing, or repugne, or reprove to establishe the authoritee of the Worde of God. For let one bringe in controversie of these senses, let him also cite what substancial authour soever he liste thereupon, let him alleage an interpretoure, let him cite a glosse, let him alledge the exposition of all the holy Fathers, all these thinges doth not so binde us, but that we maye saye the contrarie. But of the letter of the Scripture: of the draught and order thereof, bondes are made, which no man can breake, no man can escape: but that dashinge and dissolvinge all the force of argumentes, dothe enforce him to saye and confesse, that it is the finger of God, that man never spake in this manner, that He speaketh not as the Scribes and Pharisees do, but as one that hathe power.”

    Harper’s Weekly, Nov. 3, 1877, says that Dr. Bellows at the “Ministerial Institute” held by the Unitarians, Oct. 8 and 9, at Springfield, said: “The weakness of so-called Liberalism is its boast that it will have no dogmatic system, and that faith requires none. Any man who truly formulates the truth and principles which are now floating in a sentimental mist, will be a re-creator of the religious life of the age.”

    Creeds must more or less exist. The Luth. Observer, Aug. 31, 1877, after pointing out how the Unitarian Church thirty years ago raised the cry, “Down with the creeds and confessions,” and the experience of the past, points to the utterance of the “Christian Register,” a leading Unitarian paper, as follows: “Let it be said, in all clearness and resoluteness: Those who will not formulate, will not convey religious truth in essential statements—finalities for the time—are the real impeders of progress, are the genuine obstructionists of the onward march of a stalwart and intelligent liberalism. Let it be pointed out that these cries and deliverances as to more liberty, no doctrinal teaching, etc., are from chaotic minds desiring, in their blindness, to spread more chaos, and, blind ones as they are, to lead others into the blind-catching ditches.” 

Obs. 1. This Proposition in its definite statement is the more needed, since at the present day multitudes find themselves so fettered by an undue reverence for human authority, as presented in and through the church, that it is scarcely possible to get them to consider any subject in its true scriptural aspect. We have no sympathy with the men who would, if they were able, destroy the memorials of the church’s views and struggles. The creeds, confessions, formulas of doctrine, systems of divinity, theological writings of the past, however some may be one-sided, prolix, etc., are precious heirlooms, giving us in a dogmatical or systematic form the opinions of noble men, in different epochs, entertained respecting the truth. They, too, subserved a great and glorious purpose in holding up Christ and the essentials in Him, in opposing gross error, and in resisting the torrent of unbelief. Admitting that the necessities of our spiritual nature, the thirst after truth, the deep feeling caused by the realities of Revelation, the impressive ideas evolved and suggested by contact with the truth, the earnest desire to extend and defend the same, have caused fallible men to erect these writings as bulwarks and barriers;—while receiving them with gratitude, and acknowledging our indebtedness to them, yet we cannot, for a moment, give them the authority of God’s Word. They, too, the workmanship of man, must bow to the supremacy of Holy Writ, as, in nearly every instance, the framers thereof intended and declared by appeals to the Bible, indicating it to be the sole, paramount rule of faith.

    A few examples must suffice. Thus, in the epilogue of the Augsburg Confession it is distinctly announced that no “dogma” “contrary to the Holy Scriptures” can be admitted. The Confession is based upon the Reformation principle: “There is for articles of faith no other foundation than the Word of God.” The Form of Concord, p. 152, says: “But all human writings and symbols are not authorities like the Holy Scriptures; but they are only a testimony and explanation of our faith, showing the manner in which at any time the Holy Scriptures were understood and explained by those who then lived, in respect to articles that had been controverted in the Church of God, and also the grounds on which doctrines, that were opposed to the Holy Scriptures, had been rejected and condemned.” This is characteristic of the leading Protestant Confessions (Comp. Fisher’s His. Ref., p. 462; Schaffs Principle of Prot., p. 70; Schmucker’s Luth. Symbols, chs. 1 and 2; Standard Ch. Histories) over against the ultra position of the Romish Church that tradition is an equal source of knowledge and the product of the Holy Spirit. Hagenbach (His. of Doc, vol. 2, s. 240) remarks: “That the same importance should afterward be assigned to the symbolical writings of the Protestant churches, which was formerly ascribed to tradition, was not the intention of their original authors;” find he refers (s. 244) e.g. to Luther’s protestation “against any prominence being given to his name and all appeal to his authority,” and that it was against “the spirit of the Confession of Faith to impose it as a yoke upon the conscience.” Melanchthon himself (Niemeyer’s Life of, p. 14) said: “In Articles of Faith, some change must be made, from time to lime, and they must be adapted to the occasions.” Hence the idea of making them equal to Scripture, or unalterably authoritative, never entered his mind. Van Oosterzee (Dogr., vol. 1, p. 20) pertinently says of the Symbolical books: “They were never intended to confine within bonds the spirit of investigation, still less to fill the hated part of ‘a paper pope.’” The austere John Knox (Stanley’s Lec. on His. Ch. of Scotland, p. 113) made the following profession: “We protest, that if any one will note in this our Confession any article or sentence impugning God’s Holy Word, that it would please him of his goodness, and for Christian charity’s sake, to admonish us of the same in writing; and we, upon our honor and fidelity, do promise unto him satisfaction from the mouth of God (that is, from His Holy Scriptures), or else reformation of that which he shall prove to be amiss.” Comp. Wycliffe (Kurtz’s Ch. His., vol. 1, p. 501, and Dr. Vaughen’s “Monograph”), the Fathers, and others, as presented in Goode’s Div. Rule of Faith and Practice (3 vols., London, 1853), the Waldenses according to the Centuriators of Magdeburg (so Jones’s Ch. His., p. 249); Dr. Schaff in Com. Review, 1876, on Creeds; Prof. Blaike on the proper limits of Creeds in “The Brit, and For. Evang. Review, 1873” (an Epitome of same in Evang. Review, 1873); Dr. Mcllvaine’s Christ and Paul in Bib. Sacra, 1878; Dr. Hagenbach’s Ency. of Theol.; Zwingle’s views in Hess’s and Christoffel’s Lives of; and numerous others. Lord Bacon (quoted “Lit. of Apologetics,” North Brit. Review, 1851, p. 184) remarks: “that the Church has no power over the Scriptures, to teach or command anything contrary to the written Word, but is as the ark wherein the tables of the first Testament were kept and preserved; that is to say, the Church hath only the custody and delivery over of the Scriptures committed unto the same; together with the interpretation of them, but such only as is conceived from themselves.” Milton (Treatise of Civil Power in Eccl. Cases) says: “It is the general consent of all sound Protestant writers that neither traditions, councils, nor canons of any visible Church, much less edicts of any magistrate or civil session, but the Scriptures only, can be the final judge or rule in matters of religion, and that only in the conscience of every Christian to himself…. With the name of Protestant hath ever been received this doctrine, which prefers the Scriptures before the Church, and acknowledges none but the Scripture sole interpreter of itself to the conscience.” The Westminster Conf., ch. 31, 3, says: “All Synods or Councils since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred, therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.” The “Standards” of the Presbyterian Church make the only infallible rule to be the Word of God (as in Conf., ch. 1:2, 8, 10, Form of Gov. ch. 1:3, 7, etc., Book of Dis. ch. 1:3, 4). Out of numerous citations of a Confessional nature, another illustration of the general spirit manifested, is given as follows: The Dec. of Faith of the Congreg. Churches, A.D. 1658, declares: “The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other than the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit; into which Scripture, so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.” The simple fact is, that only writers and bodies who endeavor either through a hierarchical or a mystical tendency, to elevate the Church beyond its just proportions, take the opposite view. Pre-Millenarians, as a class, adopt the opinion expressed in this work, and the Convention held in Dr. Tyng’s Church (New York, 1878) declared: “We affirm our belief in the supreme and absolute authority of the written Word of God on all questions of doctrine and duty.” It is strange that believers in the Word should occupy any other position, when it is expressly asserted in it, that we are to be judged at the last day, not by any earthly creeds, or decisions of councils, or opinions of men, but by this Word of God. Hence, while not discarding the careful study of human Confessions, it is of vast more importance to ‘search the Scriptures.’” Compare Spener’s views as given by Krauth in Pictures from the Life of Philip Jacob Spener (p. 140), Sprecher’s Groundwork of Theol. (e.g. pp. 30, 100, etc.), Art. in Princeton Review (July, 1860) on The Bible its own Witness and Interpreter, the Address to the Reader prefixed to King James’ Version (with quotations from Tertullian, Justin, Basil, etc., on the Sufficiency of Scripture), Wycliffe’s Truth and Meaning of Scripture, Whately’s Errors of Romanism.

Obs. 2. Creeds, etc., valuable as they are in many respects, can only, at best, give their testimony as witnesses to the truth; and they can only testify to as much of it as the framers themselves have seen and experienced. Professing to give evidence in favor of the Bible, or to state what the Bible teaches, that evidence or statement is only proper, consistent, and available in so far as it coincides with the Holy Scriptures. Knowledge, therefore, of the satisfactory character of the confessional statements, is only attainable by bringing them to the crucial test, the Word of God. It is a bad indication when, in any period, men will so exalt their confessions that they force the Scriptures to a secondary importance, illustrated in one era, when, as Tulloch (Leaders of the Refor., p. 87) remarks: “Scripture as a witness, disappeared behind the Augsburg Confession.”

    The reader will be reminded of Luther’s reply to Henry VIII: “As to myself, to the words of the Fathers, of men, of angels, of devils, I oppose, not old customs, nor the multitude of men, but the Word of Eternal Majesty, that Gospel which my adversaries themselves are compelled to recognize. There I take my stand,” etc. “I heed very little the words of men, whatever their sanctity may have been, and as little do I heed tradition or custom, fallacious custom. The Word of God is superior to all else. If I have the Divine Majesty on my side, what care I even though a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, a thousand churchfuls of Henrys, rise up against me. God cannot err or deceive; Augustine and Cyprian, in common with the rest of the elect, may err, and have erred,” etc. So also against “the Celestial Prophets”: “The spirit of the new prophet flies very high indeed; it is an audacious spirit that would have eaten up the Holy Ghost, feathers and all. Bible! sneer these fellows, Bibel! Bubal! Babel! And not only do they reject the Bible thus contemptuously, but they say that they would reject God too, if He were not to visit them as He did the prophets,” etc. (D’Aubigne’s His. Ref., Michelet’s Life of Luther, etc.) Luther thus manifested against all sides the supremacy of the Bible (comp., Introd. to West’s “Analysis of Bible”), and opposed (Michelet, p. 337) “the papists’ cry, ‘The Church, the Church, against and above the Bible.’” In his letter to Jerome Dungersheim on the importance and authority of the fathers of the church (Michelet’s Ap., p. 419), alluding to several of the fathers, the Council of Nice, he asserts that “whilst I respect the various authorities, I ascend the stream till I reach the great fountain whence they all take their rise.” Zwingle repeatedly uttered similar sentiments expressive of the authority of Scripture, and when in the Conference with Melanchthon at Marburg, he referred to the Council of Nice and the Athanasian creed, he stated (D’Aubigne’s His. Ref., vol. 4, p. 85): “We have never rejected the councils, when they are based on the authority of the Word of God.” All the Reformers, without exception, entertained similar views, and received the statements of previous creeds, councils, fathers, etc., only as they thought them correspondent with the Word. How this was afterward perverted and the Reformer’s writings elevated to the authority of Scripture, or creeds exalted, as if inspired, to an infallibility, is illustrated in the fierce controversies (Dorner’s His. Prot. Theol., vol. 2, p. 211, etc.) waged during the history of “Pietism.” How soon was the spirit of Luther lost, as evidenced in his reply (drawn from Augustine to Jerome) to Prierias (D’Aubigne’s His., vol. 1, p. 282): “I have learned to render to the inspired Scriptures alone the homage of a firm belief, that they have never erred; as to others, I do not believe in the things they teach simply because it is they who teach them,” or his more decided utterance in the “Smalcald Articles” (afterward used and perverted to bind men’s consciences!): “We ought not to form articles of faith out of the words or works of the Fathers; otherwise their diet, their kinds of dress, their houses, etc., would have to be made articles of faith, as men have sported with the relics of saints. But we have another rule, namely, that the Word of God forms articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel (Galatians 1:8).” Such a complete subordination of Creeds to Scripture is self-evident—(1) from the authors of such declaring that they derived them from Scripture as then understood by them; (2) from distinguishing between the infallibility of Scripture and the fallibility of human productions; (3) from their speaking of Confessions as only witnessing for, or testifying from, the Scriptures; (4) from their subjecting the testimony of creeds to the test of the Bible; (5) from their urging others who should subscribe the formulated faith to the study of the Bible as the best teacher; (6) from the revisions, changes, enlargements, etc., made; (7) from many of them depreciating a confessional standard in order that they might exalt Scripture. Let us conclude with the apt appeal (illustrating both this subject and Prop. 4) of Melanchthon in his “Apology” to the Parisian University: “Here is, as I think, the sum of the controversy. And now I ask you, my masters, has the Scripture been given in such a form that its undoubted meaning may be gathered without exposition of Councils, Fathers, and Schools, or not? If you deny that the meaning of Scripture is certain by itself, without glosses, I see not why the Scripture was given at all, if the Holy Spirit was unwilling to define with certainty what he would have us to believe. Why do the apostles invite us at all to the study of the Scripture, if its meaning is uncertain? Wherefore do the fathers desire us to believe them no farther than they fortify their statements by the testimonies of Scripture? Why, too, did the ancient councils decree nothing without Scripture, and in this way we distinguish between true and false councils, that the former agree with plain Scripture, the latter are contrary to Scripture?… Since the Word of God must be the rock on which the soul reposes, what, I pray, shall the soul apprehend from it, if it be not certain what is the mind of the Spirit, of God?”

Obs. 3. The Bible, then, is our only infallible rule of faith and practice, as many of the Confessions of Faith distinctly declare. This is also recognized in Catechisms, or elementary books of instruction, all of which profess to be based directly on the Word. Every man feels that a doctrinal I position is only strongly fortified by Scripture testimony; that the injunction, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God,” I Peter 4:11, is to be observed in teaching divine things; that it is proper and necessary to appeal “to the law and the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). This feeling is aroused by the conviction that we (Ephesians 2:20) “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” Upon these, what they have declared and done, must our doctrines be erected, and to them appeal must be made in their support. It is desirable to know how others understood the doctrines of the Bible, how they derived them, what proof sustains them, etc, and it is proper to acknowledge our indebtedness to all such for information and knowledge imparted, but when these human compositions are to become the leading medium through which to view and interpret Scripture, and that Holy Writ must only be accepted as understood and explained by fallible man, without any appeal therefrom on the ground that they are given in the consciousness of the church as a legitimate spiritual outgrowth through pious and enlightened believers, we must decline such a darkening of authority, such a substitution for the Popish system.

    It is amazing how the contrary is asserted in various quarters, overlooking how the best of men, with the purest of intentions, may, under the influence of prior education, ecclesiastical bias, an adopted principle of interpretation, etc, misinterpret Scripture. It is gratifying, therefore, to see that men of the greatest ability and eminence, without desiring to destroy the landmarks of the past or to dishonor the noble legacies left by the church, insist upon it as honorable to the expressions and expositions of faith that they should not be subscribed to without a declaration attached to them of the superior authority of the Word itself. Thus e.g. Dr. Schmucker (Luth. Symbols, p. 59) quotes Koellner as saying that the body of able theologians, “champions for the doctrines of the church,” have “departed from the rigid doctrinal system of the symbols,” instancing “such as Doederlein, Morus, Michaelis, Reinhard, Knapp, Storr, Schott, Schwartz, Augusti, Marheinecke, Hahn, Olshausen, Tholuck, and Hengstenberg.” Koellner then adds: “In like manner has the public pledge to the symbols been greatly relaxed, and is nowhere unconditional; but infidelity to the principles of Protestantism, and guarding it, the obligation is always expressed with the explicit reservation of the supreme authority of the Scriptures, as is evident from an inspection of the pledges prescribed in the different Protestant countries.” A mass of evidence and a host of names might be appended, as seen, e.g. in Schmucker’s “The Lutheran Church in America” (especially noticing Dr. Endress’ testimony and quotations from Melanchthon and Luther, p. 205, etc.), Stuckenberg’s His. Augsb. Confession, Müller’s Pref. to Symbol Books, Walch’s Introd. to Symb. Books, Buddeus in Isagoge, recent utterances of Löhe, the Theol. Faculty of Dorpat, Guericke, Dietrich, etc. Compare also Dorner’s His. of Prot., 1, 12; Leibnitz’s Theodicy Pref.; Neander’s Church His., 1, 420; Newman’s Arians, 1, 2, and ch. 2, 1; Waterland’s Works, 3, 254; Burnet’s His. Ref, vol. 2, p. 268, as well as the writings of Fuller, Sherlock, Hodge, Kurtz, Auberlen, etc.

    Mackay (Prog. of Intellect., 1, 17) says: “Forms (i.e. creeds, etc.) are in their nature transitory; for being destitute of flexibility and power of self-accommodation to altered circumstances, they become in time unconformable to realities, and stand only as idle landmarks of the past, or like deserted channels requiring to be filled up.” This is altogether too disparaging, for, truth being eternal, true doctrine being ever the same, those creeds and confessions that most purely embrace it, as e.g. Apostles’ Creed, are far from being transitory. This will only apply to lengthy Confessions, embracing numerous details, etc. Dr. Wiliams (Rational Godliness, p. 69), although liberal in thinking, expresses himself more reasonably and justly when he says: “No greater subject can in our own day employ any man’s noblest energies, than preservation or renewal of the truth of God, not fettered overmuch by the human accidents of our ancestors in the faith, yet with reverential tenderness even for these.” The truth is, that an extreme position is to be avoided on this point. The history of the church indicates that Confessions have subserved high purposes; it is the abuse and perversion of them that has done mischief. To oppose creeds and denounce them as “schismatical” is plainly contradicted by fact. Those who so persistently decry formulas of faith on this ground, are as much divided and in as great disagreement as the bodies who receive and adhere to Confessions. Thus e.g. Unitarians embrace Arians, Humanitarians, Rationalists, Liberalists, etc.; or the Universalists, Quakers, Christians, Campbellites, Christadelphians, and others, who mutually reject each other, are divided among themselves in view, and only agree in the denunciation of creeds. Yet all these, without exception, have a written, dogmatical form of faith—not called a creed, but still virtually such—penned by some prominent leader or leaders, which is followed, slavishly, by the mass. It is prefer for the church in certain stages, for the sake of uniformity, of restraining error, of bringing forth truth, etc., to define its position in brief formulas, couched as much as possible in Scripture language, but to leave all such open to improvement or change if truth demands it. There is something anti-scriptural in the position of Romanism, Symbolic Lutheranism, Anglican High Churchism, Ultra Calvinism, Reformed Confessionalism—in brief, in all attempts to bring in the work of man as an authoritative interpreter of Scripture. However well intentioned the design, it is a virtual lowering of Scripture to a human level, and an abridgment of true Christian liberty. Thus e.g. the spirit of inquiry would be completely fettered if the direction of Dr. Goulbourn (The Holy Cath. Church, 1874) were followed: “The Prayer-Book is for us the authorized guide into the teaching of the Bible,” assuring us that “there would be an end of controversy, and a good prospect of quiet growth in grace if we could acquiesce in the Bible as interpreted by the Prayer-Book.” Alas! a multitude of Symbolical books desire and claim this position, and their respective adherents invite us with similar hopes. Bigotry and unchristian zeal are found in both extremes—viz., in an overdue reverence for, and exaltation of, Confessions, and in the total rejection of creeds as if unworthy, in so far as based on Scripture, of our acceptance. Van Oosterzee (Ch. Dog. vol. 1, p. 223) justly says: “One may esteem it a personal happiness if one can with an honest theological conscience stand on the ground of the Confession; but the honor of sound Orthodoxy, as measured by the standard of the Church is—regarded from a Christian standpoint—by no means the highest. It may well be that one feels himself, on the ground of Scripture itself, and by virtue of the Protestant principle, bound in conscience to differ on a certain point from the doctrine of the Church. Heterodoxy, in such a case, is not to be regarded at once as heresy. The rectification of the traditional creed, which is in this way tested by the Word, may even lead to its further development, provided that it is tested only by means of Holy Scripture. Precisely he truly holds to his Confession of Faith, in the Evang. Protestant sense of the term, who recognizes in the Confession not the absolutely perfect form of his religious conviction, but that which may be constituted an ever more perfect form of it; and who seeks to attain to this higher perfection by an ever closer attachment, and an ever deeper subjection of himself, to God’s Word in Holy Scripture. There yet lie treasures in the gold mine, which await only the well-directed spade of the digger,” etc. Thus also Martensen (Ch. Dog. s. 242) remarks in the same strain, after stating that tradition is an important ally in the interpretation of Scripture: “But though she (church) thus makes use of the guidance of tradition in order to the understanding of Scripture, this by no means violates her principle, that tradition must in turn be tested, purified, and more perfectly developed by Holy Scripture. It is true even of the Apostles’ Creed, that being a work in its present form clearly apostolic, it cannot possess the same critical authority as Holy Scripture,” etc.

Obs. 4. Having thus determined to occupy the only position consistent with that of a biblical student, viz.: that while duly reverencing the symbolical books and theological efforts of the past, yet they should not become the infallible directories of the conscience and the restrainers of a true Christian freedom to search into and receive what God has revealed, even if opposed to them; it is time to notice what bearing this has upon the subject of the kingdom. The doctrine of the kingdom, although prominently in the Bible, is not specially treated in the earlier Confessions, as e.g. the Apostles’, Niceno-Constantinopolitan, and Athanasian. General expressions, without entering into details, are employed, which both Millenarians and Anti-Millenarians could subscribe. The doctrine as upheld by us is contained in very few Confessions, is ignored by others, and is misapprehended and opposed in others. The result is, that many persons are prejudiced or biased by a confessional standard, and are thus poorly prepared for a dispassionate investigation. Preparatively it may be said, that when a doctrine like ours has been almost universally held by the Christian Church for several centuries, and that church points out that it is contained in the grammatical sense of the Word; that it is a doctrine plainly revealed, often repeated, incorporated with covenant and promise, and the subject of enlarged remark and prediction, it should certainly commend itself as eminently worthy of calm consideration and careful comparison with Scripture testimony. It is strange that but few Confessions make the kingdom a distinctive article of faith, and from this, no doubt, results in a measure the great variety and latitude of meanings given to it. The reasons why our doctrine has not received a confessional prominency, will be presented under following propositions.

    While all our Introductory Treatises to the Bible caution us to avoid approaching the Scriptures, in order to ascertain its sense, under the bias of a previously constructed system of doctrine, yet it is a rule almost constantly violated, as is too painfully evident in commentaries, expositions, and theological treatises. So much is this the case, that very few indeed escape entirely from its influence, manifested in anticipating the meaning, inferring it, etc., in accord with a belief conscientiously and sincerely entertained. Man, with the purest of motives, is still addicted to infirmity, and his weakness is presented in more than one confessional utterance. Taylor (Ep. Ded. Liberty of Prophesying) has observed: “Such is the iniquity” (we would soften this by substituting misguided zeal) “of men, that they suck in opinions as wild apes do the wind, without distinguishing the wholesome from the corrupted air, and then live upon it at a venture; and when all their confidence is built upon zeal and mistake, yet therefore because they are zealous and mistaken, they are impatient of contradiction.” Confessional exclusiveness is the most intolerant, and at the same time the most destructive to true progress. It virtually closes the Bible to advancement in knowledge, being the self-constituted measurer of it. We, therefore, appropriate Martensen’s (Ch. Dog., p. 44) language: “We maintain, further, that no reformation can ever be effected in spirit and in truth, unless the principle is accepted, that nothing shall pass for truth which cannot stand the final test of the Word of God and the mind of man, freely investigating, in the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free.” The inroads of infidelity and the respondent defence, the destructive criticism of both Scripture and Ecclesiastical matters and the corresponding vindication, have made it requisite that the largest liberty, compatible with the supremacy of Holy Writ, should be allowed in investigation, in order that truth, and truth alone, may be upheld and consistently defended.

    Briefly, it may be proper to consider the main reasons assigned for exalting Confessions or traditions to an equality with Scripture. Those under the plea of the continued inspiration, the special enlightenment of the Spirit, the constant impartation of Revelations, have been previously noticed. Those of the Romish Church are (1) that the church is older than the Scriptures, and that they proceed from her. The Divine Record, however, teaches us that the Church itself sprang from God’s Word, and that she is only the custodian of that Word, bound to disseminate it without additions, etc. (2) That it is only through tradition that we receive the Scriptures themselves. But this is no reason why tradition as a medium should be exalted to an equality with Scripture, for the former does not make the latter, and the latter only recognizes and forwards that which is bestowed. (3) Rejecting tradition, the door is opened to endless and conflicting interpretations. To this it can be said that tradition, as attested by the facts of history, only increases the evil. The abuse of liberty, the violation of Scripture, the principle of interpretation adopted, etc., are not so controlled by tradition but, as seen in the Romish Church itself, the most divergent opinions obtain. (4) The most plausible objection is, that Scripture itself is reproduced by the authority, and under the Christian consciousness of, the Church. To this it is sufficient to reply: that in so far as there is an actual reproduction of Scripture the church’s utterances ought to be received, but a comparison must first be instituted with Holy Writ in order to decide that it is really and truly such. In the controversy between the Papists and the Reformers, the grand characteristic was noticed that the former appealed to the Church and the latter to the Scriptures. Illustrative of this are the anecdotes given by Michelet and D’Aubigne (Life of Luther Ap., p. 395 and 421, Hazlett’s ed., and His. of Ref., vol. 4, p. 198): “At the Diet of Augsburg, Duke William of Bavaria, who was strongly opposed to the Evang. doctrine, asked Dr. Eck, ‘Cannot we overthrow these opinions by the Holy Scriptures?’ ‘No,’ said Eck, ‘only by the Fathers.’ Whereupon the Bishop of Mayence observed, ‘Truly, our divines are making a pretty defence for us. The Lutherans show us their opinions in the Scripture, chapter and verse; we are fain to go elsewhere.’” The advice of the Pope’s court fool to the Cardinals—who were consulting how the Protestants could be suppressed notwithstanding their appeal to Scripture, especially to the writings of Paul—that the Pope, by virtue of his authority, should take Paul out of the number of the apostles, etc., so that his dicta “shall be no more held for apostolical.” It is well, in this day, to recall and impress the true Protestant principle of authority, for the time is coming when, amidst the bitter and overwhelming persecution of the church, sole reliance upon the Word will be sorely needed.

    It is a sad fact, that cannot be denied, that millions of professed Christians are bound in the cast-iron fetters of creeds; not merely the Greek Church (see e.g. Dr. Thompson’s statements in the Chris. Union of Jan. 17, 1877, of Russian “intolerance and persecution, against which religious deputations protested in vain”), or the Romish Church (see e.g. recent Encyclicals, etc.), but a large portion of Protestant bodies. The old proverb of some Jews, “the Bible is water; the Mishna is wine,” is not dead; for we have plenty of men with the same spirit, who practically, when a Biblical question comes up for decision, evidence that “The Bible is water, the Mishna is wine”—seeing that the question is decided by human writings and not by the Bible. While some entertain proper views, feelings, and practice, yet of others it may be said, that they retain the mind which made Cromwell exclaim despairingly: “Every sect saith, Give me liberty; but give it to him, and to his power he will not yield it to anybody else.” Some are so confessional that they will reject a doctrine if not found in their creed, and virtually the instructions of the Bible are changed, so that they seem to read “Search the Confessions” (not the Scriptures)—“Earnestly desiring the sincere milk of the Confession (not Word) that ye may grow thereby,” etc. It is true in theory as the Ch. Intelligencer (Aug. 4, 1877, in reply to an attack upon Creeds in Scribner’s Monthly, Aug. 1877) declares, that “all Protestant bodies proclaim and hold their creeds as entirely subordinate to the Word of God,” but practically many do more than this—viz., constituting the creed the standard or rule of faith. This has been noticed by numerous writers in the Church; this called forth the noble protest of Macleod against the same in his speech made to the Assembly of 1872 (comp. remarks of representatives on Confession in the Presbyterian Alliance in Edinburgh, 1877). Outside of the church many also notice it, as e.g. Spencer in his Study of Sociology on the Theological Bias, Froude in his Plea for the Free Discussion of Theological Difficulties (where the sentence occurs: “It may be that the true teaching of our Lord was overlaid with doctrines; and theology, when insisting on the reception of its huge catena of formulas, may be binding a yoke upon our necks, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear”), and others. The student in this direction will be pleased to notice the ultra position assumed by a Dr. Stahl, and the deserved strictures received in The North Brit. Review, Feb. 1856, in Art. “Bunsen’s Signs of the Times.” A proper medium is thus enforced by Dr. Sprecher (Groundwork of Theol., ch. 2, “Proper Estimate of Creeds”): “Creeds should not, therefore, be neglected or despised, on the one hand, nor should they, on the other, be allowed to have undue weight, or be unconditionally enforced. Only the substance of the faith, the great system of doctrine, and not the individual clauses and details of the creed, should be made unconditionally binding. When they are enforced beyond this, they drive out many of the best men, and hinder many of the most conscientious from coming in, and thus fill the Church, at last, with bigots on the one hand, who will repress all spiritual life and freedom, and on the other hand, with careless men who are as really indifferent to truth as they are to godliness—men who can subscribe to any creed, caring only for the form of religion, while they deny its power.” Hence, from our position, we have admired the farewell Address of Pastor Robison to the Pilgrims at Delft Haven, advising them to receive any and every truth that the Bible holds as it may be preached to them by his successors, complaining that others will only receive what the Reformers have taught and nothing more, and thus expresses his faith: “For I am verily persuaded the Lord has more truth yet to break forth out of the Holy Word;” and concludes with “an article of Church covenant,” as follows: “That you shall be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written Word.”

Obs. 5. In this age of destructive criticism, it is proper to additionally define our position. The exceeding multitude of interpretations, with their variegated hues, has led persons to fix some limit, thus attempting to perform what God has not prescribed outside of the Scriptures, for God holds us only responsible for the plain, naked, grammatical sense of the Word, and not for recondite, hidden senses that the ingenuity or imagination of man may concoct. One party will take refuge in the infallibility of the Pope, another in the decisions of Councils, and a third in the agreement of these two. One class cleaves to the oft-repeated maxim of Vicentius, and will allow no interpretation saving that given by the Church in “a unanimous consent of the Fathers,” which consent (retained in Romish profession of faith, see e.g. “The Path to Paradise,” authorized by Archb. Hughes, New York, 1856, p. 34), on inspection, is found to be a foregone conclusion. Another declares that the only security is found in private judgment, by which they mean the casting aside as a hindrance the interpretation of the past, and a studying of the Word for ourselves utterly independent of outside help. The fruits of this last attitude have been manifested in those who have professed it, either by a many-sided or a one-sided interpretation, just as it happened to be suggested by the temperament, education, bias, intentions, etc., of the interpreter. Experience seems to teach us that safety lies in our avoiding all these extremes. While the Bible is the chief object of study, and its truths authoritative; while private judgment is inalienable and should be exercised; while it is reasonable to anticipate that others beside ourselves should see and believe in the truth, it is folly, on the one hand, to look, owing to human imperfection, for a general consent to the truth (especially after the intimations of the Word itself that it will not exist), and, on the other hand, to give ourselves such license and self-importance as not to avail ourselves of the labors, faith, experience, etc., of our fellow-believers. This we can do, without yielding the supremacy of the Word, or sacrificing our freedom in Christ. In our argument for the kingdom, tradition shall also be brought to view, enforcing the same.

    We may be accused of laying too great stress on the Apostolic Fathers and Primitive Church in our argument. Tradition is indeed of secondary importance, but still it is valuable as confirmatory evidence. For if a doctrine—important and directly appertaining to the Plan of Redemption—is produced which has never been entertained in any other age of the church, it would be, to say the very least, a very suspicious one. The Fathers are not to be received as “arbiters of our faith,” but yet the testimony of the earliest, before so many errors arose, is valuable simply because of their having been in immediate contact with the apostles, elders, and their disciples, and thus would be likely to know something, even if imperfectly expressed, of the doctrines received and the belief entertained. A recent writer (Killen, The Old Oath. Church, p. 98) says: “It has often been asserted that those Fathers who lived nearest the times of the apostles must, therefore, be the best expositors of Scripture. It might with equal propriety be affirmed, that the most ancient philosophers are the most enlightened interpreters of the works of creation.” While the latter clause utterly fails as an argument—being irrelevant for the simple reason that those philosophers did not immediately follow an inspired and harmonious teaching of philosophy, and hence the cases are not analogous—it would be unwise and imprudent to assert the former, as presented by Dr. Killen, viz.: that they are “the best expositors.” They too are to be measured by Scripture; they were fallible, and human weakness exhibits itself in their writings; but notwithstanding this we hold that following so closely after perfectly reliable teachers, to whom they constantly appeal, it is reasonable to expect that the truth concerning so significant and prominent doctrine as that of the kingdom would also appear. Admitting fully their infirmities, and liability to error, that their words are to be carefully weighed in the Scripture balance, it is right to suppose, in virtue of their nearness to the Christ and apostles, that so important a subject as that of the Messianic Kingdom should enter largely into their doctrinal expositions. It could not be otherwise. The tradition, therefore, which really possesses most weight in deciding questions pertaining to the Kingdom, is that of the first and second centuries. The reason is apparent: if Holy Writ is the real authority in matters of doctrine, then it follows, in view of the standing of the apostles, that it is important for us to direct our attention to the first churches who were favored with their instruction, conversed with them, enjoyed their supervision, to ascertain how they understood the apostles, how they explained the Kingdom, and what views they entertained—and if there is a correspondence between the Bible and themselves, we justly claim that their utterances thus far are worthy of credence. This matter is not to be discarded because it happens, as we shall show hereafter, that the Primitive teaching corresponded with and is confirmatory of our doctrinal position. The reader must, if acquainted with early history, know that at the introduction of Christianity the great, leading subject with the Jews was that of the Messianic Kingdom. This could not be ignored or set aside. Hence, before we proceed to their examination it is just to anticipate, from their proximity to inspired men, that they heard and embraced the doctrine of the Kingdom as given by the witnesses appointed by Jesus. The desire to have our views confirmed by the faith of the Primitive Church is so common with theologians that every one seems solicitous to confirm, if possible, his doctrine by theirs, thus indicating the desirableness of such subsidiary proof. After the third century tradition, owing to the varied and contradictory opinions introduced, is not so reliable or significant. Knapp (Theol, Introd. s. 7) remarks: “Augustine established the maxim, that tradition could not be relied upon in the ever-increasing distance from the age of the apostles, except when it was universal and perfectly consistent with itself. And long before him, Irenaeus (Ag. Her. 4. 36) had remarked, that no tradition should be received as apostolical unless founded in the Holy Scriptures and conformable to them.” With the evidences of the fallibility of the Fathers, something to be expected, we are not concerned, but notwithstanding their sudden emergence from heathenism, former habits of thought, etc., it is the most reasonable to look for some truth mingled with it, and that which is the most worthy of our acceptance is that truth in which there was a general, union of belief, and which strictly conforms to Bible teaching. It is but a low device to decry any Father, unless palpably in error, as weak-minded, etc., because he happens to disagree from us; and it is equally absurd to elevate any one as so superior in attainments that his statements are to be received without the direct endorsement of Scripture. We use the Fathers, as e.g. Œcolampadius (D’Aubigne’s His. Refor., vol. 4, p. 98): “If we quote the Fathers, it is only to free our doctrine from the reproach of novelty, and not to support our cause by their authority.” (Comp. an Art. on Patristic Theology and its Apologists in the North Brit. Review, May, 1858.)

    It is well to notice a mistake into which some excellent writers have fallen. Overlooking the fact that the opinions of even great and good men are only doctrinally valuable in so far as they are based on Scripture, they pick out the weaknesses and failings and errors of eminent Christians and parade them as if the Scriptures were responsible for such views. Thus, e.g., even Leckey in his His. of Rationalism refers to Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Baxter, etc., and thus indirectly attempts to weaken Christianity by contrasts. The weakness of believers is only too apparent, and is frankly acknowledged by themselves; their strength, Scripturally derived, is, however, not to be overlooked. Again, a large and respectable class, not only in the Romish Church, but in the Puseyite, Ritualistic movement, and in others, have much to affirm of the reproduction of Scripture in the church, and that we are bound to receive, as “the life blood,” the faith of the church. But not one of these advocates of tradition that we have read, is prepared to receive the general tradition of the early church respecting the Kingdom. Tradition is all well enough so long as it does not run counter to their own views; and as the latter agree with a later period in the history of the church, they are utterly unwilling to ascend the stream of tradition and receive it as it comes from the Primitive church. How they reconcile this with their own avowed reverence for tradition, it is impossible to see. Even that early portion received, is itself often interpreted differently from the understanding of it by the early church. Thus, e.g., take the Apostles’ Creed as given to us by Irenaeus, held by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others, and the coming of Jesus to judge and the resurrection were explained (as will hereafter be shown) very differently from the opinions now fastened by many to the creed. If tradition is receivable at all, if it possesses any weight in argument, the stream should be ascended to its fountain head. Again, some writers defend the doctrines of Christianity too much from an outside position, that is, in a philosophical manner. Cheerfully admitting that philosophically many things can be alleged in favor of Christianity, and that its truths can be enforced, yet distinctive Christian doctrine must always find its chief and true support in the Word which is the foundation of Christianity. Philosophy being the love of wisdom, and manifesting itself in the search after wisdom, cannot be discarded (hence in using the term in this work the historical sense implying the various systems that have successively arisen, is alone meant) without positive injury, yet it should ever be borne in mind that philosophy is not itself wisdom or its judge, but only its useful servant, its attractive handmaiden. The highest philosophy takes this position, and therefore it is that our greatest philosophers have been most humble men, feeling and acknowledging that wisdom has been imperfectly apprehended by them. In Scripture doctrine we need something more conclusive than the mere deductions, however valuable or suggestive, of reason. We require facts announced by Revelation, related to man, and interwoven, recognizable, with past and present history. Taking up the works, theological, of many eminent writers in this country and Europe, it will be found that, although representing different tendencies, there is an endeavor to place the Christian system of faith upon a philosophical basis. The result of this treatment is a great diversity, arising from the philosophical system adopted. A grave mistake is made just so soon as the Bible method of presenting doctrine is lost sight of; for, instead of philosophy being the introductory to, and the interpreter of, the Scriptures, there should be, first of all, a historical statement of doctrine as presented in the Word, and then, after God has spoken, philosophy, if so minded, may explain and confirm. A clear perception of the Divine Purpose, historically presented, must precede all our own efforts.

Obs. 6. One of the fruits of the Reformation is the recovery and firm re-establishment of the principle that all have the privilege of judging for themselves in matters of religion. Roscoe (Life of Leo X., p. 235, vol. 2) declares: “The most important point which he (Luther) incessantly labored to establish was the right of private judgment in matters of faith. To the defence of this proposition he was at all times ready to devote his learning, his talents, his repose, his character, and his life; and the great and imperishable merit of this Reformer consists in his having demonstrated it by such arguments as neither the efforts of his adversaries, nor his own subsequent conduct, have been able either to refute or invalidate.” Count Bossi (whom Roscoe answers), and others, have endeavored to deny this privilege as opposed to their views of tradition, church authority, etc., but only in reliance upon the declarations of hierarchical teaching outside of the Bible. The Scriptures, while enjoining obedience to the church teaching, does this only in so far as such instruction is in correspondence with itself. God’s Word is supreme. A comparison of passages clearly indicates this, as e.g. obedience to the Scriptures 13 the test of fellowship, II Thessalonians 3:14; II John 10, etc.; ministers are only to proclaim the truth as given to them, Matthew 18:19, II Corinthians 5:19–20, I Timothy 1:3–4, and 6:3–4, etc.; believers themselves are strengthened, etc., by the Word in faith, John 20:31; in growth, II Timothy 3:16–17, etc.; believers are to exercise and obtain wisdom, etc., Philippians 1:9–11, Colossians 1:9–11, etc.; wicked ministers, etc., shall exist and teach, Matthew 7:22–23, II Timothy 3:5, etc.; men shall proclaim as binding the commandments of men, Matthew 15:9, Acts 20:32, Galatians 2:4–5, Colossians 2:8, etc.; men shall reject the words of Christ and substitute their own, I Timothy 4:1–3 and 6:3, II Peter 2:1–2, etc.; hence, the appeal is made to us individually to test or try the doctrine proclaimed, I John 4:1; I Thessalonians 5:21, etc., and that we can know the truth by receiving the things of God, I Corinthians 2:12–13, being urged to it by the fact that some professors, forsaking the Word, have not the knowledge of God, I Corinthians 15:34, and that we shall finally be judged by the Word, John 8:48. The entire framework of the Scriptures is erected on the idea of personal responsibility enhanced by the ability to discern the truth for ourselves.
    A vast array of Scripture might be presented bearing on this point, but it is needless, since the whole question really depends upon that of the supremacy of Scripture or the supremacy of the church. Let this be decided in favor of Holy Writ, and the right of private judgment follows. It is for this reason that Confessions of Faith ought to be simple, and couched as much as possible in Scripture language. It is a matter of congratulation that this principle is a leading one among Protestants, and is fully recognized and stated in various confessions. But to make these Confessions in turn the interpreters of Scripture, and absolutely binding upon the conscience so as to allow no progress excepting in their direction and under their control, is a palpable violation of the principle itself; it is inconsistent both with Scripture and the Confessional spirit. Protestantism, which is a Protest to such a fettering of the believer, never could have arisen if the shackles upon freedom of investigation forged by centuries of traditional belief had not been broken.

    A caution is requisite: in advocating, like Luther and a host of others, the right of private judgment, we do not mean unrestricted license, for private judgment is itself controlled by the contents of Scripture plainly, grammatically expressed. It gives us the liberty of going ourselves to the Bible, but it does not allow us the freedom of rejecting anything that is clearly taught in it. It is used only to ascertain by reading, searching, comparison, etc., what is revealed, and when this is known it acquiesces in the same. It has not the liberty, being merely a servant of God’s and held accountable to Him, of inferring and deducing from the “Word what it pleases; it must itself be led by a consistent interpretation of Scripture, based on sound rules. Such a caution is the more necessary, since the principle is seized by many and grossly perverted from its true meaning and intent. It is made the medium through which a flood of destructive criticism and misleading doctrine is conveyed to cover the plain truth. Some even abuse it to mean “that a man has a right to be in the wrong,” just as if man’s accountability to the great Lawgiver was abrogated, and as if the Scriptures could not be properly apprehended. Many, arraying themselves in its silken folds, place themselves on the Judge’s bench and undertake to decide what the Supreme Being ought, and what He ought not, to have revealed. The principle is pushed from its legitimate position to a half-way accommodation, and to an unbelieving extreme. Whilst the right is a necessary, inalienable one, making us personally responsible for the reception or rejection of the truth, we must reader an account for its proper use or abuse. The same is true of those who deny it to others, so that Luther once remarked: “The Papists must bear with us, and we with them. If they will not follow us, we have no right to force them. Wherever they can, they will hang, burn, behead, and strangle us. I shall be persecuted as long as I live, and most likely be killed. But it must come to this at last: every man must be allowed to believe according to his conscience, and answer for his belief to his Maker.” The spirit of Tetzel, Wimpina, or Prierius (D’Aubigne’s His. Ref., vol. 1, pp. 269, 279), that would take such a judgment away and give it to a Pope only, or that of those who make it synonymous with liberty to judge of the propriety of God’s commands, etc. (and not whether they are to be found in Holy Scripture in order to be received), are alike opposed to the simple attitude represented by the child Samuel: “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” The Evang. Alliance adopted as one of its important and fundamental principles: “The right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.” Indeed, so widespread and essential is this that even such an exclusive Church as the Greek (so Pinkerton’s Russia, p. 41, taken from Philaret’s statement—the Metropolitan of Moscow) affirms the Bible as sufficient for a rule of faith, and the right of private judgment, in interpreting the same.

Obs. 7. It is also a perversion to make (as in Essays and Reviews) conscience the supreme Judge to decide upon the meaning, merits, authority, etc., of Scripture, and that the latter must bend to the decisions of the former. The person who exercises private judgment ought to come to Revelation, realizing (as conscience itself teaches) that his moral obligations are not dependent upon his conscience, but upon the relation that he sustains to God and man; and that, after ascertaining by the use of his judgment what the truths of God really are, conscience may aid in showing their adaptation in the response given to them, help in impressing them and in urging obedience to them. Moral law exists independently of the conscience, and is made for conscience to respond to; the former is unchangeable and binding alike upon all; the latter may refuse to perform its function in impressing that law, as is evidenced in the power of choice influencing the action of conscience. Hence the right of private judgment does not, as some fancy, release a man from moral obligation, or lessen the authority of the Bible, or place him as a judge over the things of the Spirit, or give him power to substitute his own thoughts and vagaries in place of what is written. It increases, instead of diminishing, our responsibility, by placing us under greater obligations to pursue the truth in the way God Himself has indicated. Those who are to “try the spirits whether they be of God,” who “need not that any man teach you,” are those who have “searched the Scriptures,” acknowledging its claims and bowing their judgments to its divine superiority. God appeals to every man to come personally to His Revelation, to read, study, and meditate upon it, and this appeal is based on its sacred origin, its adaptedness to the condition of all, the possibility of its superhuman element being appreciated by all, and that its truth can be found by all, and will commend itself to every one.

    It is important to notice this, since efforts are made in various directions to exalt conscience above Scripture. Two illustrations, out of a multitude, are here presented. The Spiritualists in Convention (Boston, May, 1864) adopted the following: “Resolved, That individual conscience, under the quickening and illumining influences of angel intelligence, is the only reliable guide of faith and life.” It is significant that this resolution followed another commending “the works of Colenso, Renan, and other theological agitators.” This specimen only proves the correctness of Scripture, that the conscience of men is not so all-powerful but that it can be made subservient to passion, self-interest, and abuse; that its corrective and restraining power can be materially lessened by turning away from the truth, refusing to allow its moral influence to be exerted, and desiring the substitution of things not demanding so high a standard of self-denial, morality, and piety. The Bible assures us what experience corroborates, that conscience cannot only be overridden but become so seared that it will no longer respond to the truth as originally designed (I Timothy 4:1–2; Titus 1:15). The conscience, even of a believer, if not properly exercised may prove to be a “weak” one, I Corinthians 8:12, and 10:28–29. Leckey (His. Rationalism, p. 181), speaking of “Protestant Rationalism,” says: “Its central conception is the elevation of conscience into a position of supreme authority as the religious organ, a verifying faculty discriminating between truth and error.” We are not told, however, how this holds good in the conscience of a Hindu, Mohammedan, Roman Catholic, Protestant, etc., which receives error instead of truth; or how it happens that a Rationalistic conscience diverges so widely in ideality, materialism, spiritualism, nihilism, etc.; or how oven any unbelieving conscience is not united in the view what constitutes the “supreme authority,” etc. If there were some semblance of unity, and an array of facts, to substantiate such an opinion, then it might deserve consideration, but finding the guidance of conscience leading to the utmost diversity in the Rationalistic ranks, it may be dismissed with the single remark: that whilst conscience has, as the Bible teaches, a discriminating power, yet this may be perverted and abused until man possesses “an evil conscience.” Conscience is appealed to (Romans 1 and 2) in the Scriptures as something needing aid (Romans 9:1 and 13:5), as developed by the truth (John 8:9; Hebrews 9:14), and, therefore, is only presented to us as that faculty, or arrangement of our mental and moral constitution, which intuitively responds to revelation when brought into contact with it, but which can be repressed or overcome by the will, passion, self-interest, etc. In the nature of the case, it only becomes a witness of the truth and not its judge, thus corroborating the fact that both Creation and Revelation proceed from the same God. We reproduce two admirable statements: Dr. Schenkel (quoted by Frothing-ham in The Soul of Protestantism) says: “The contents of religion are in God Himself; and since man is conscious of God only as God reveals Himself, for man the contents of religion are in the written revelation. Most gloriously and completely has God manifested Himself in the person of Christ; and the Holy Scriptures give the history of that manifestation. The Holy Scripture, as the word or revelation of God, contains the divine substance. Conscience is free; but true freedom consists in obedience to the truth. Caprice is no freedom. That only is genuinely free which is bound to God. Hence the Protestant position, while appealing to conscience, at the same time insists that conscience is bound to God’s Word, and can attain outside of that to nothing. It is therefore the special characteristic of Protestantism to be the religion of the Bible.” Thus this liberal theologian endorses what Chillingworth (The Relig. of Protestantism) said long ago: “The Bible, I say, the Bible only is the religion of Protestants. Whatsoever else they believe beside it and the plain, irrefragable, indubitable consequences of it, well may they hold it as matter of opinion. I, for my part, after a long and, as I readily believe and hope, impartial search of the true way to eternal happiness, do profess plainly that I cannot find any true test for the sole of my foot but upon this rock only. Propose me anything out of this book, and require whether I believe it or no, and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe to it with hand and heart, as knowing that no demonstration can be stronger than this: God hath said so, and therefore it must be true. In other things I will take no man’s liberty of judgment from him, neither shall any man take mine from me. I will think no man the worse man, nor the worse Christian. I will love no man the less for differing in opinion from me. I am fully assured that God does not, and that, therefore, men ought not to require any more of any man than this: to believe that the Scriptures are God’s Word, to endeavor to find the true sense of it, and to live according to it.”

Obs. 8. The exaltation of reason to the supreme authority is characteristic of numerous works. Eulogies on the excellence of reason as the sole and final arbiter abound; and such might be deserving, and reason be elevated above Revelation, provided it had, apart from the Scriptures, given to us that which alone can satisfy the moral and religious sense of man, viz.: a religion equal in merit to that contained in the Bible, or one better adapted to the wants and necessities of humanity. If such persons as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, and a host of others, could have produced a more noble portrayal of the nature and attributes of God, a more perfect character than Christ, and a more glorious salvation than that presented in the “Word, then there might be some force and propriety in urging the claims of reason to its arrogated position. Until this is done, it is the wisest course to receive the manifest superiority of the Bible over all mere human productions; a superiority attested not only by a multiplicity of fact and experience (Comp. Prop. 182), but by comparative ignorant: and unlettered men giving us a complete Plan of Redemption, which, while: constantly dealing with the loftiest subjects that can be entertained by; mind, preserves an unbroken unity amid detail. In the study of Scripture and in its reception it is well to keep in mind what Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. p. 159), after Pascal, says: “Two extremes must be avoided; the exclusion of reason, and the admission of nothing but reason.”

    Some additional remarks are proper, seeing that so much is said respecting the superiority of Reason. The Bible constantly appeals to man’s reason; Revelation is made to Reason, and is designed to be apprehended by it. Not a step can be taken without its aid, and therefore it is folly to ignore its importance and value. But whilst acknowledging the same, it is foolishness to elevate it into an infallible guide and director, yea into a Judge of Scripture itself. (1) Reason is imperfect, needing culture, training, discipline, constant exercise, etc.; it is subject to growth, retrogression, variations, etc.; it is limited in its ability to fathom things, much being utterly unknown to it. Hence the impropriety of making it a supreme tribunal. Let any one take a glance at the different and successive forms of Philosophy that Reason has constructed, and these features of imperfection, variation, inability, are painfully exhibited. The boasted rule of Reason is manifested in a bewildering diversity, scarcely two of them agreeing in the fundamentals. The ruins of the past, and the numerous claimants for the present afford us the best answer to such a claim. (2) The Bible represents Reason as swayed and controlled by wicked impulses, as yielding to the influence of passion, self-interest, and evil, and as needing correction and wholesome restraint. Experience, sad and boundless, corroborates this statement. Men of the highest intellect, whose works are the admiration of the world, have been the slaves of degrading vice, and have prostituted their minds to represent it in attractive forms. Reason subject to the degrading authority of passion; which even has undertaken in an alluring manner to prove that there is no distinction between vice and virtue, which has overriden conscience and the nobler feelings of man in its efforts to secure the ascendency of unbelief—is no infallible standard. (3) The Bible again represents Reason as needing Revelation. Holy Writ is based upon this necessity. Many facts indicate this truth. Thus, e.g., outside of the Scriptures what light has Reason thrown into the dark grave, the nature and attributes of God, the deliverance of man and creation from an all-pervading and constantly experienced evil, etc. How these problems are met—problems pertaining to God, man, and the world—let the discordant and antagonistic theories, from materialism through Pantheism, Idealism, etc., down to the baldest Nihilism, testify. When the greatest philosophers are contradictory and cannot agree, when one system after another follows, surely there is need of help. When the most gifted minds are utterly unable to fathom the things of Nature, how a grain of sand is held together, why crystallizing is invariable, how instinct is perpetuated, how mind and body mutually affect each other, with a multitude of questions unanswered, or if answered only under some glittering generality, surely in the higher region of morals and religion, it is most reasonable to anticipate, just as we find it, less ability to explain, less power to penetrate the deep things relating to God and man. (4) The Bible represents Reason as often unreliable, even in believers, unless controlled by the higher Reason pervading Revelation. That is, when left to itself, it. may lead us to error and folly. Unbelievers themselves point out this peculiarity, so unhappily displayed in too many instances in the church, forgetting that the Bible expressly warns us that such exhibitions of weakness in reason are to be expected. But, if this is so with believers, how does it stand with unbelievers? Let the multitude of philosophers reply; let the multiplicity of systems of error testify. The truthfulness of God’s Word is abundantly confirmed both in the church and outside of it. (5) The Bible cautions us against the pride of Reason, its self-exaltation, and urges us to humility. How this has been exemplified, both in the church and out of it, forms one of the most humiliating features of imperfect humanity. Overbearance, intolerance, abuse of opponents, lack of charity, and even persecution, have been some of its fruits. It has never lacked in bold presumption, (6) The Bible assures us that if Revelation is received as God has designed, Reason itself will most fully acquiesce in its superiority. The declaration of the Saviour, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine,” has been tested by such a host of gifted minds, that it is unnecessary to press the matter. In the case of apostates, etc., I John 2:4, is verified, whilst all others have not even entertained the essential preliminaries to a proper apprehension of Scripture. (7) Reason, with its loftiest efforts, can only give us the Possible, the Probable; and this is unsatisfactory to man because it presents no Plan of Deliverance adapted to the common and universal wants of humanity, it develops no practical relief; Revelation bestows the Real, and this is manifested both in its perfect adaptability to man’s necessities and in the blessed earnests of experience. The former only finds its corroboration—if truth—in the latter. (8) God warns us that as we shall approach the ending of this dispensation, Reason shall so pervert a due veneration and knowledge of God, shall so array itself against the Revealed Will, that it shall succeed in mustering the nations and kings of the earth against the Truth. Hence the efforts to exalt reason, the advance that such a theory has made in practically alienating a multitude from the Scriptures, is only in the line of previously given prediction. It is something to be expected, and therefore its extensive existence should give us the stronger faith in Scripture, which so accurately foretells it. (8) Reason ought not to complain if there are things beyond its comprehension, things impossible for it to explain, in the Word, for this is precisely what ought to be anticipated in a Supernatural Revelation. Besides this, it does not reject Nature because of its inability to apprehend it fully. Its proper attitude, therefore, is that of a learner receiving truth from all sources, even if unable to understand “how and wherefore” such and such things exist, take place, etc. (10) The acknowledgments of men of Reason indicate its utter unfitness to be the final and supreme arbiter. Passing by the desponding, hopeless, despairing admissions by those sunken to Nihilism, it is sufficient to select a single example, illustrative of many others. Thus e.g. Hume (quoted by Christlieb, Mod. Doubt., p. 127) pointedly and significantly says: “The ultimate fruit of all philosophy is the observation of human ignorance and weakness. On the other hand, men of undoubted mental power, distinguished for the use of reason subservient to religion (as Bacon, etc.), have informed us that the portions of philosophy really valuable are those which recognize and enforce truths already given to us in Revelation. (11) Finally, Reason has never succeeded in improving the lessons inculcated by Scripture. It can suggest no virtue, no duty, no obligations, nothing promotive of individual, social, and national happiness, nothing essential to the welfare of man, that is not already presented and enforced by the most powerful of motives in God’s Word.
    Dr. Crosby (On Preaching, before the Pan-Presbyterian Council, 1877) correctly affirms that “men’s affections, not their intellects, are the hindrances to God’s truth, and accordingly if the contest can be brought into the intellectual field, and so relieve the heart from the pressure of spiritual truth, men are satisfied.” The Bible, as he forcibly urges, appeals to the heart, to our moral nature, more than it does to reason, without, however, discarding the latter. It has often been noticed that men in error, both in doctrine and practice, love controversy—something that may engage reason and stifle the demands of the heart. Such are inclined to eulogize “Practical Reason,” “Moral Reason,” and “The Transcendent Sphere of Reason.” An insidious and half-true method—eloquently expressed (as e.g. by Coleridge in “Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit”)—is to allow a partial inspiration to the Scriptures and a high degree of ordinary grace to the rest, so that they rather present themselves as the supply of the deepest wants of man than as an authoritative and infallible standard. But how the soul can rest upon a supply, lacking those essentials, we are not informed. Comp. the necessity of reason, etc., as given by Row in the Bampton Lects. 1877, “Ch. Evidences,” p. 19, etc.; Butler’s Analogy, P. II., ch. 3, etc.

Obs. 9. In this study of Scripture, reason and faith must be joined together in order to make it effective. The two cannot be separated without serious injury; this is God’s own arrangement, and, to insure success, it must be followed. They are inseparable, for there can be no faith without reason first perceiving the truth and its adaptability to man, so that faith may then appropriate it. Reason may refuse faith, can exist without it, but faith cannot live without reason. Christlieb, in view of this intimate and mutual relationship, well says that faith is “the highest form of reason,” seeing that it establishes and confirms reason by giving us a more certain knowledge of the supernatural in its appropriating effects of the truth upon ourselves. One part of faith sees the truth, the other, the crowning part which constitutes it faith, accepts and applies it, thus giving a practical, and not a mere theoretical knowledge of the same. The head and the heart are combined in this work, thus affording a realizing, abiding acquaintance with the truth. Faith must have knowledge, for we must first know the things that we are to believe, and hence it is also represented as “seeing” (John 6:40, Hebrews 11:27). Cremer (Bremen Lectures, Lec. 2) remarks: “All faith rests upon knowledge, and when it is not produced by deduction or logical demonstration, it must ground itself upon spiritual perception and contact. Knowledge and faith are distinguished from each other like cognition and recognition; so faith is an exercise of obedience, of recognition, and hence of trust, of surrender,” etc. Evangelical faith includes more than mere knowledge, viz.: the hearty self-appropriation of such knowledge, leading necessarily, as the truth received demands it, to an obedience of the same. Such faith is sustained by three things: (1) by the sense of truth, i.e. by reason, the ability to discern and know it; (2) by the sense of right, i.e. by conscience, the power of testifying to the truth and enjoining responsibility of its acceptance; (3) and by the practical experience wrought by faith, i.e. in the agreement of faith with our mental and moral constitution and the results that it produces.

    Faith is indeed “the gift of God,” Christ is “the author of faith,” the Spirit produces faith, etc., but only in the higher Evangelical, Biblical sense in those who voluntarily receive the truth as given by the Father, Son, and Spirit. No man is forced into faith, as appears from the Scriptures being designed for faith (John 20:31), the ministry being a means of faith (Romans 10:14–17), the Gospel itself being called faith (Galatians 1:23), the promises given to faith (John 5:24), and the want of faith is reproved (Mark 16:14), warned against (Hebrews 3:12), threatened (John 3:18, 36), and described as voluntary (John 5:44, 46–47). Enlightened by the truth as given by the Father in His Son and through the Spirit, that faith, which God commends and that rejoices the heart, is possible; without accepting the aid thus tendered, it cannot be produced. Hence no man, unless he has experienced the power of this faith, is able to judge correctly of its merits and its true relationship to knowledge. To make man passive in the reception of faith, is to ignore the Scriptures to the contrary and also experience; to make man himself the chief and sole instrumentality in believing, is to overlook the truth given to excite and sustain it; to make faith the barrier to knowledge, is to forget that faith’s foundation is the knowledge of the truth; and to make faith fatal to progress, is to trample under foot the declarations of Holy Writ and the realization of believers that faith only opens the way to increased knowledge. Indeed, it is a matter of doubt whether in any of the spheres and pursuits of life there can be knowledge without the addition of some faith, and whether any great achievement can be accomplished without suitable faith. Zöckler (Bremen Lectures, Sec. 1, p. 16) refers in such a connection to the faith of Columbus, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, etc., and remarks: “True faith and actual knowledge, so far from being contradictory, always demand and supplement each other. For faith, as the immediate apprehension of the truth by the divinely illuminated reason, is related to knowledge, regarded as the acquired apprehension of the same truth by the reason struggling toward such knowledge, as the necessary condition, the starting point and support of all its operations. All faith is undeveloped knowledge, and all knowledge is faith unfolded and applied to the different realms of reason and experience.” All Evangelical writers, however they may differ in details, unite in. the common opinion that faith is not to be separated from knowledge, seeing that the Bible, in unison with experience, includes in believing a previous knowledge of certain facts, as e.g. the Coming of Christ, His work of grace in man’s behalf, etc. They also unite in the view that the certainty of this knowledge, derived from reason, is made evident by faith in its vital force of acceptance, because through the latter we experience its actuality in the effects—as promised—produced upon us personally. Thus, to illustrate: a medicine is presented to us in whose nature and efficacy we may believe on the testimony of others; here is knowledge and faith in its lowest form. But let this medicine be taken, and its efficacy be established by personal use, then previous knowledge and faith of a theoretical cast gives place to a practical knowledge and faith, derived from personal acceptance and experience, that elevates the former into real facts connected with our own personality, which, like existence, thinking, feeling, etc., it is impossible any longer to doubt. This is the secret of the believer’s strength, so that all the arguments of unbelief can never shake the simple faith of the unlearned but sincere Christian. He knows, and he believes, the attestation of self-consciousness.

    Undoubtedly, taking Scripture as a guide, unbelief itself will finally accept of this union of reason or knowledge and faith. The controversy thus far has clearly established this fact. Delitzsch, Fabri, Christlieb, and many others have shown that (as Fabri states it, quoted by Christlieb in Mod. Doubt), “As its ultimate basis, even the most radical unbelief has one and the same principle of knowledge with Christianity and every other positive religion—the principle of belief in given matter of fact, on the ground of the original and direct testimony of the human mind.” Unbelief, however much it may decry faith, lives largely upon it, calls loudly for others to exercise it, and denounces those who refuse to entertain it. Unbelief has sufficient intelligence to perceive that, while demanding faith, it is utterly inconsistent to run a crusade against faith on the grounds heretofore alleged. The result will be a change. Knowing that faith influences the masses, that it is the most potent of powers, it will, as the Bible predicts, so shape its future course that a connection, will be allowed to exist between Revelation and Reason, between Faith and Reason, as evidenced in the coming worship of Antichrist—the worship of Deified Man. For this worship of the last times, we are assured, is to rely largely upon pretended revelations and lying wonders to aid Reason and inspire Faith. Denying the faith and reason that God requires, their punishment will come through their own deluded, self-exalted reason and faith.

    Finally, all Christians, too, are agreed that faith in its appropriating form, is such a trust in God, that it receives His Word and relies upon it, bringing under subjection free will, so that it chooses the moral, the religious, the obedience required in preference to pleasure, sin, and selfishness. To attain such faith demands self-abnegation, and this is the stone of stumbling to multitudes. Hence faith is not the power of choice, though it leads to it; faith is not conscience, though it quickens it; faith is not reason, though it is led by it; faith is not the mere knowledge of the truth, though it receives; faith is not goodness, though provocative of it;—it is that act which brings reason, the will, conscience, knowledge, goodness, all into humble submission to the Infinite, and relies upon the provision made by God for man. It is appropriating trust. Such faith brings forth its own evidences of the Divine Truth, in its sustaining reason (where it only finds mysteries), in satisfying the moral nature of man (e.g. the dictates of conscience), in bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit (i.e. in experiencing the sanctifying nature of the truth received), in its adaptability to all his circumstances (in strengthening, comforting, etc.), in transmuting evil into good (making it disciplinary, provocative of good to others, etc.), and in quickening the whole man into newness of life (implanting supreme love to God and love to man). It is a powerful instrumentality; it is transforming, corrective, and elevating. It is the purest and strongest where it is joined to the least error; but even with error it is all powerful when based on the essentials of Christianity. The Bible takes it for granted that strong faith—faith testifying in the most satisfactory manner to self-consciousness—may be allied with a lack of knowledge respecting things not absolutely necessary to salvation. A few simple truths respecting God, the Redeemer, the relation that man sustains to God and his fellow-men, the moral obligation and responsibility of man—truths to which the moral nature of man is respondent—are all sufficient to create this faith. It is a faith that all the learning in the world cannot alone produce, seeing that its vital power lies not in the head, but in the heart. It is a faith common to the intelligent and the illiterate, and cannot be circumscribed or produced through mere knowledge. Therefore it is that unbelief and bigotry so gravely misjudge the weakness, error, etc., of believers—just as if faith was dependent upon uniformity in all things, thus totally mistaking its foundation and intent. Faith indeed increases by knowledge, knowledge derived from the Word and experience, but only as truth is appropriated and obeyed. This feature of obedience to the truth known, the evidence of appropriating faith, often, often gives the unlearned man a power and charm that the greatest philosopher, neglecting it, cannot attain. Alas! that men so persistently overlook this plain fact.

    Attention has already been called (Prop. 9) to the misapprehension that faith is not connected with doctrine, that as M. Colani (in the Prot. Synod of France, 1872) said: “You place Christianity in certain beliefs; we place it in the heart.” The Bible, the experience of Christians, unite the two; the denial of one or the other leads to an extreme, for the simplest act of Christianity, as, e.g., prayer, cannot be performed without some distinctive belief in doctrine—the doctrine respecting God and the power of Christ. It is true that faith itself may be hampered by the excesses of Confessional zeal and dogma, curtailing access to God’s truth or veiling it by tradition, but this is not the fault of doctrine per se, but of doctrine imperfectly or erroneously presented. Hence the importance of presenting doctrine, in a Confessional standard, as much as possible in Scripture language, and of making even such subordinate to Scripture. One reason for the persistent attack against doctrine, is owing to its vital connection with Christianity, with enlightened faith; for as Kurtz (Ch. His., vol. 2, p. 130) has well remarked: “The Doctrine of the Gospel is the life blood of the Church, the pulsations of which throb through her entire organization.” How faith is wrought by the Spirit through the truth given by Him, has been sufficiently noticed under Prop. 9. Faith being largely a heart work, it is impossible for the sensual, haughty, self-confident, worldly man to exercise it, because it demands as its concomitant, in order to receive the things revealed by the Spirit, obedience, which pride, love for sin, etc., rejects. Even an Aristotle appreciated the relation existing between the indulgence of evil and the rejection of truth, when he says (quoted by Bloomfield, see Barnes, 1 Corinthians 2:14): “For wickedness perverts the judgment, and makes men err with respect to practical principles; so that no one can be wise and judicious who is not good.”

    A few words may be added respecting the charge that faith—Evang. faith—is destructive to Science. “We are unjustly charged by Scientists and others with disparaging learning and philosophy under the Scriptural phrases “the wisdom of this world,” “oppositions of Science falsely so called,” “to the Greeks foolishness,” etc., just as if reason was not to be employed (when constantly appealed to in Scripture), as if true science (implied by “falsely so called”) could not exist, and as if true philosophy (by which we understand the love for, and search after, wisdom) was not commended by God. This charge is so sweeping that it defeats itself; for, however individual men or organizations may have acted in this matter under bigotry and mistaken zeal, neither Revelation, nor a believer who receives all that God enjoins, is responsible for the same. The learning, worldly wisdom, and Science that the Bible condemns, is only that perverted form that caters to depravity, making men despisers of virtue and holiness, and leading them to deny their obligations and responsibility to God. Simple consistency requires of us that, the moment we accept of the Word of God as a divine Revelation, Holy Writ be allowed a precedency (accorded by reason and faith) without interfering with or destroying the existence and relationship of truth wherever elsewhere found. This precedency, indeed, leads to caution, to comparison, and to the rejection of positive error, but it does not depreciate learning, scientific knowledge, etc., as evidenced in believers having been among the most learned, wise, and scientific. It is not too much to say, that the foundation of this objection lies in the estimate formed of the relative value of Revealed Truth and Scientific Truth. Believers, of course, finding the former dealing with the higher interests of man (his moral, religious, and eternal), place it highest in the scale of truth; the unbeliever, rejecting the former, elevates nature or the facts of humanity in that scale. Some Scientists, having no such preponderating plea as the believers, despise learning and philosophy (e.g., Art. “Nat. Religion,” Macmillan’s Mag., 1875, repub. Pop. Science Monthly May, 1875) outside of their peculiar sphere of study. Scientists have too often been as bigoted and one-sided as overzealous believers. The truth is, that both parties, belief and unbelief, are opposed to that form and manifestation of learning and philosophy which is hostile and antagonistic to their respective views; and the correctness of such opposition is to be determined by the nature of the things believed. Hence the relative value of Revelation and of mere Science must first be determined before the question is decided one way or the other. The fact also that some truth is essential and other truth non-essential to personal happiness and salvation, ought to be considered in such a discussion. This does not discourage investigations in all domains of truth, but welcomes them with the hope and faith, inspired by Revelation, that all truth, higher or lower, essential or non-essential, will in the end be found in fraternal relationship—supplementing each other. 

Prop. 11. The mysteries of the kingdom were given to the apostles.

This is plainly asserted by Jesus Himself (Mark 4:11, Matthew 13:11), “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” which the apostles, including Paul, claimed to have been imparted, Ephesians 1:9, and 3:3, etc. The entire tenor of the New Testament impresses us, that their superior qualifications as teachers arises from their acquaintance with the doctrine of the kingdom, resulting from the personal instructions received from Christ, and the subsequent special guidance of the Spirit.

Obs. 1. We are not concerned, in this stage of the argument, to know how much truth respecting the kingdom they obtained from Jesus, and how much, afterward, from the specially delegated Spirit; this will forcibly appear as we proceed. It may, however, be properly stated here, that there might be mysteries pertaining to the kingdom, while the kingdom itself—what it denoted—may be fully known. The reader will carefully notice, that in the early period of their discipleship, the mysteries relating to the kingdom were already given to them. It is incredible, utterly impossible, that the kingdom itself—what it meant—should, therefore, have been a mystery to them. The express language of Jesus forbids it. Hence, that large class of eminent writers, which teach that during the life of Jesus the apostles misapprehended the kingdom, are mistaken, and it is the most reasonable, and the most consistent with Christ’s words, to conclude that the apostles, even then, had more than the mere “husk,” or the unrecognized “germ.”
    Neander, and a host of writers, say, by way of apologizing in behalf of the apostles (because they did not hold the modernized view of the Kingdom), that they only held “the shell,” or “husk.” But Jesus declares expressly, Matthew 13:16: “But your eyes see, and your earn understand.” Comp. Mark 4:11, etc. Such knowledge is proper for preachers of the Kingdom.

Obs. 2. The word “mystery” ordinarily denotes something secret, hidden, or beyond our comprehension, and is frequently employed in Scripture to denote truth formerly concealed but now revealed. The name “mystery” is retained in view of its having been previously hidden. Mysteries when disclosed may be perfectly intelligible, and when not divulged, but simply pointed out, may exist without our reason being able to understand their nature, meaning, etc. That the latter is not opposed to reason, although above reason, is apparent from the ten thousand unsolved mysteries of nature. (Comp. Elliot’s “Christian Errors, Infidel Arguments,” Horne, vol. 1, p. 158, etc.) Then, too, as in the most simple things, there may be something inexplicable, so in the doctrines of Revelation—plainly stated and easily comprehended—there may be great depths unsounded. To this Luther referred, when he said that he could not fully comprehend even the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, etc.

Obs. 3. While some mystery, some unexplained or unrevealed things pertaining to the kingdom, may have existed in the days of the apostles and now remain such, not given by Jesus or the Spirit, yet the assurance is abundantly ours, that the kingdom itself, its nature, our relation to it, all things necessary for a correct understanding of its meaning, was made known. This is evident, e.g. from its having been predicted, taught to the disciples and preached by them to the people; the apostles and their immediate followers professing themselves called to proclaim it so that men might be induced to enter, receive, and inherit it. All this, in the nature of the case, presupposes a correct understanding of it. The kingdom is the great prize, reward, etc., held up before them, and it is most reasonable and conformable to fact to believe that they would have such an adequate knowledge of its real import as to be able to tell us what it denotes. Admitting mystery even now attached to things relating to the kingdom, we can know these so far as declared, for while “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God; those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Obs. 4. Carefully looking over the entire records of discipleship and apostleship, nothing is to be found to indicate that those mysteries given to them related to the kingdom so far as its meaning or signification is concerned. The contrary indeed is largely inferred, and upon this un-proven inference a massive superstructure is built. (This will be noticed hereafter.) The reader can soon verify our position by a reference to passages which either directly or indirectly refer to mysteries (i.e. things of which they were ignorant, that had been hidden, etc.), and he will see that they allude to the death of Christ, or to the intimate and unending union of the divine and human in His Person, or to the ascension and exaltation of the man Christ Jesus to heaven, or to the blending in the Scriptures of two Advents, the First and Second separated by an unknown interval of time, or to the rejection of the Jews and the call of the Gentiles, or to the period of the Times of the Gentiles and their subsequent overthrow, or to the future restoration of the Jews and their blessing to the Gentiles, or to the redemption of the race progressing when, under Christ’s dominion, both Jews and Gentiles are exalted in the favor of God, etc., but never is the kingdom introduced as a mystery, i.e. as something unknown. The reason for this will appear, when we come to the disciples’ preaching the kingdom. In the mean time, the very outskirts of the subject already force the conclusion that those mysteries refer not to the nature of the kingdom, but to the manner of its establishment, the means employed, the preparation for it, the time for its manifestation, and such related subjects.

Obs. 5. The mysteries of the kingdom were not all given at once; they were gradually revealed, and some of them were postponed and others are still withheld; this again leads us to the decided opinion that the kingdom, to which they stand related, was well known to the disciples and apostles. Take away the mysteries, such as the necessity of Christ’s death, the call of the Gentiles, etc., made more fully known after the resurrection of Jesus, and what is left of mystery communicated to them? Surely it is not the kingdom; for the least dispassionate reflection will lead us soon to see that they could not have been ignorant of the main, leading subject with which the others stand connected. To suppose, as many do, that they were, would be contradictory to the revelation of the mysteries, their gradual bestowal, and the indefinite postponement of some. For, if Jesus preached the kingdom to them and proclaimed its mysteries, He certainly must have said something directly respecting the kingdom, either confirmatory or contradictory to the opinion already formed concerning it, so that they could form a correct idea of it. Before the kingdom could be appreciated, with its mysterious preparatory stages, etc., the kingdom itself must be understood, for that was the subject matter distinctly announced and illustrated.

Obs. 6. The mysteries, therefore, imply: (1) a previous acquaintance with the doctrine of the kingdom, and (2) that the mysteries imparted bestow a fuller knowledge of the subject in view of the additions made. In teaching science, art, etc., the primary fact is either first taught, or it is taken for granted that it is well known. So Jesus, in teaching the mysteries of the kingdom, must base the same on a knowledge previously attained of the kingdom. If the apostles were to be “stewards of the mysteries of God” under the teaching of Jesus, it was necessary for them, being constituted such, to know first of all what the kingdom itself was; otherwise it was impossible for them to comprehend the accessories belonging to it. Multitudes now believe that the mysteries were first proclaimed, and afterward the kingdom was made plain; some go a step beyond this and tell us that the mysteries and kingdom were both so profound and hid under a veil that the apostles themselves had a very imperfect notion respecting the kingdom. In following propositions, such will be largely quoted. We do not, cannot believe that such a mode of teaching, reversing all ideas of propriety, was adopted by the most perfect Teacher, and which is flatly contradicted by the disciples themselves preaching the kingdom, thus implying knowledge concerning its nature, and by the belief of the churches planted by them, thus evincing a unity in that preaching. 

Prop. 12. There is some mystery yet connected with the things of the kingdom.

This is seen, e.g. in Revelation 10:7, where it is declared that under the last period of time in this age, “the mystery of God should be finished” which commentators generally apply to the fulfillment of the Divine Purpose in the setting up of the kingdom in a manner that shall be universally acknowledged, in vindicating through its establishment the Divine plan, etc. It indicates that some things hitherto kept concealed or partially known, should now be revealed or openly manifested. Whatever meaning is attached to the passage, it leaves the impression that not everything pertaining to the kingdom is yet fully known.

Obs. 1. Men who have given the subject much thought, have the idea that the mystery here stated mainly refers to the period, not definitely known, for the outward manifestation of the kingdom, but it may, for aught we know, include much more. While the mystery docs not allude to the nature of the kingdom (for this, as will be shown hereafter, is explained), it suggests the comparative unknown time for its glorious establishment, the events connected with it of which only broken hints are given, the occurrence of things not revealed, and the manner in which things revealed shall be accomplished.

    The chief mystery seems to be this: how in the person of Jesus, and those associated with Him in regal power, there Will be a consolidation, or a most intimate blending of the purest Theocracy with the restored throne and Kingdom of David. This union is stated, and the inestimable blessings and honor flowing from it are described, but just how it will be performed, what changes and evolutions result from its organization, what extraordinary dignity and glory will be imparted to the engrafted, providentially reared, and elevated Davidic Kingdom in its manifested Divine relationship, we cannot fully tell, having, for the present, to rest satisfied with general descriptions. Glimpses are vouchsafed, promises are given, intimations of things inexpressibly great, which indicate that, however done and whatever the results, it will be a most desirable exhibition of power and rule, a most wonderful revealment of mercy, judgment, and love, a most unparalleled outgrowth of Redemption in a visible, indisputable form. The design of previous dispensations, the orderings of Providence, the probation of saints, the longsuffering and patience of God, the permission of evil—in brief, all that has preceded, will find their solution in the incoming Kingdom.

Obs. 2. The word “mystery,” according to Fairbairn (On Proph., p. 372), “in the quite uniform usage of Scripture, denotes something which lies beyond the ken of the natural apprehension, and is revealed only to such as have the mind and spirit of God. So it is used frequently by the Apostle Paul, Romans 16:25, I Corinthians 2:7, 10, etc.” Whilst the Scriptures and a devout mind are requisite to grasp the truth thus revealed, it still remains true that some things that are mysterious remain; for some things are only hinted at, others stated without explanation, others again so allied with the Supernatural, so far beyond present experience that we are utterly unable to tell how, or in what manner and time, they will be accomplished. Hence down to the end of this age there is still some mystery attached to things pertaining to the kingdom. The question of Nicodemus, “How can these things be?” may be often repeated, without the spirit of unbelief, in the way of inquiry.

    Comp., e.g., Bh. Sanderson’s Works, vol. 1, p. 233, on the text, “The mystery of godliness,” etc., Kirk’s Lec. on Parables, on word “Mystery,” the Baird Lecture for 1874, by Dr. Crawford, The Mysteries of Christianity, etc. It may be added, that Rev. Hall in his Review of Gregory’s Letters, sustaining the latter’s “Fourth Letter on Mysteries in Religion,” adverts to the sophism, ascribed to Dr. Foster—“that where mystery begins, religion ends,” and then forcibly says: “The fact is, that religion and mystery both begin and end together—a portion of what is inscrutable to our faculties being intimately and inseparably blended with its most vital and operative truths. A religion without mysteries is a temple without God.” The least reflection will indicate the truthfulness of such a position, seeing that Religion deals so largely with the Supernatural and the future destiny of man. As the doctrine of the Kingdom embraces these as vital points, mystery is necessarily connected with it. Thus, e.g., mystery will attach itself to revealed things (as the resurrection), the relation that one thing sustains to another (as in the Oneness of the Father and Son), the statement of a fact (as the translation), the transcendent nature of the subject treated (as the glorification), the limited extent of disclosure (as in the Antichrist and doom), the inadequacy of language to convey a proper conception of certain things (as in the Person of the King, and His rule, and the blessings resulting), the seeming inconsistency from our being incapable (owing to finiteness) to place ourselves in the largeness of the Spirit in its infinite conceptions (as in time, dispensational orderings, etc.).

Obs. 3. A multitude of writers attest to the existence of mysteries, their necessity, their value, and usefulness; and correctly affirm, that without them a decided proof of the Divine origin of the Bible would be lacking, a sublime display of Divine perfection would be wanting, and that the scope for faith, hope, reverence, humility, etc., would be seriously narrowed. This is especially true of the kingdom, in view of the Theocratic King and His glorified co-rulers, and the realization of Redemption through their power and rule. If there is mystery connected with the operations of nature, contained even in the growth of the smallest plant and in the structure of a grain of sand, most certainly they will be found in a subject so vast and comprehensive (Props. 1 and 2) as that of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” Bogue (Essay on Div. Author of the N. Test., p. 249) has well said, when comparing the mysteries of nature with those of Revelation: “Without mysteries, the Gospel would not be like the works of God.” Bish. Butler (Anal., 1. c. 1), speaking of mysteries necessarily connected with Religion, calls them “clouds on the mercy seat,” capable of only an imperfect explanation, owing to our limited capacities and experience. Eaton (Permanence of Christianity) asserts: “Mysteries are the properties of all genuine religions, in regard to which the believer walks by faith and not by sight.”
    Comp. Campbell’s Prel. Diss. to Gospels, vol. 1, p. 383, Burr’s Pater Mundi, sec. 6, South’s Sermons, ser. 6. vol. 3, Bh. Newton’s Works, vol. 4, Diss. 35, Mansel’s “Limits of Relig. Thought Examined,” in Bampton Lects., 1858, as well as the writings of Hall, Stillingfleet, Claude, McCosh, etc., and works specially devoted to presenting the Evidences of Christianity. It may be remarked that a few writers (as, e.g., Knapp, Ch. Theol., p. 36) say that the Scriptures, although containing mysteries, must not “necessarily contain” them, and that their existence is “a question of fact.” But this is taking a low estimate of the subjects which a Revelation—to be adequate—must contain (pertaining to the Infinite), and it also ignores that their very existence in the Word indicates that in God’s wisdom they were requisite for His purposes. Comp. Rogers’ Superhuman Origin of the Bible, p. 403, commencing: “A Revelation without mystery is not even conceivable. A revelation, if it deserves the name, must make known some new truths,” etc.

Obs. 4. The doctrine of the Kingdom thus containing mysteries, confirms the position taken, that to its proper understanding, we must apply to the Scriptures, and seek within its limits for the things appertaining to it, Props. 9, and 10.

Obs. 5. It is difficult to satisfy the cavils of unbelief on this point, seeing that the most opposite objections are urged against mysteries. The manner in which they are presented, indicate that they come more from the heart (i.e. are desired) than from the head (i.e. intelligently based).

    Some object to the Scriptures because they contain mysteries. This has been shown (as, e.g., Vinet, Miscel. Art., “The Mysteries of Christianity,” and many others) to be both unjust and unreasonable; and it has been conclusively proven (Eaton, Perm. of Chris., Horne’s Introd., etc.) that “mysteries are not contradictions to reason or to fact.” Those who discard them take the same ground occupied by Toland, the English Deist, who in his work “Christianity not Mysterious,” charges the mysteries to the craft and ambition of priests and philosophers. So also Annet, in Judging for Ourselves, pronounces “mysteries a fraud.” This is a one-sided statement, violating all analogy and the reasoning and facts of common life. It is scarcely worthy of the attention that it has received. Toland, Annet, and others like them, if mysteries were lacking, would quickly and eagerly have built a really forcible argument upon such an absence, by pressing into their service the abundant analogies found in nature. But then we have the objection in another form, brought from the opposite extreme, viz.: that there is no mystery in the Bible, and consequently it cannot be accepted. After admitting that there is mystery, and hence the Scriptures cannot be received, because it is unreasonable, the work of men, etc., the information is gravely imparted, that there is none, and that, in consequence, the Word is unreliable. This feature is mainly based on the idea that we cannot believe in a mystery, and is founded thus: “A proposition to be believed, must be expressed in intelligible terms, and that if the terms are intelligible, the thing signified cannot be mysterious.” This is a Thesis that very well answers their purpose to apply to Holy Writ, but which they do not refer to nature, to themselves, or to a Supreme Cause. It is palpably absurd. The key-note of a prevailing opinion, that all things relating to Christianity are so readily understood that a child can comprehend them, is found in this direction. This unscriptural view first originated in unbelief, was seized by philosophy (see Locke. Mansel on Free Thinking), and urged as an objection to Christianity, without distinguishing between essentials to Salvation and Knowledge in general. Hence two objections are to be met: (1) That there is mystery; (2) that there is none. Extremes are to be avoided; thus, e.g., the adage used by some, “that that only is truth which we can fully understand “(for this limits our knowledge), and the other “omnia exeunt in mysterium” (which would make all knowledge end in mystery).

Obs. 6. It is a strange fact, that unbelievers of the past and present, who reject the mysteries of the Bible, call upon us to accept of the incomprehensible, the mysterious, the hypothetical in their several theories. Thus e.g. their readers are invited to believe in some unexplained “living principle,” or “substance,” or “forces,” or “chance,” or “laws;” they are urged to receive as the highest wisdom a mysterious “self-creative world matter,” “origin of things by self-development,” “self-developing man,” “hypotheses of science,” etc. Mystery, the inexplicable, the unexplained, the impenetrable, gives them no trouble, and is not opposed to reason or facts, but when found in the Bible, is to be rejected as incompatible with reason and fact. 

    It is to be remarked, that such men as Spencer, Tyndall, etc., recognize an “insoluble mystery,” “the Unknowable,” “the inscrutable,” something beyond the power of man fully to grasp—something which is, “in all probability,” the Great Cause of all the manifestations seen and experienced. This acknowledgment even of “a mystery” by such talented men, does not suit a wing of the Rationalistic Progress party. The latter party takes the former to task (as, e.g., in Abbott’s Index) for thus erecting “a quasi-God,” a something that must be received “on faith,” alleging that Science virtually “cuts her own throat” by the confession or concession that “the manifestation of anything under heaven is ‘inscrutable’ to her.” They contend, over against Tyndall, etc., that “mystery” is to be abolished, that “the knowable” is to be the grand solvent of progress, and that such concessions, pronounced to be “empty gibberish” and “meaningless jargon,” are to be utterly discarded. Surely the wise man, in such an exposition of arrogance, has food for reflection over the vanity and pride of the creature.
    As an example how men will flatly contradict themselves on this point, when not directly arguing against the Bible or Christianity, the reader is referred to Strauss (The Old Faith and the New, p. 306), who, when speaking of the forms of government, advocating adhesion to the monarchy, remarks: “There is something enigmatic—nay, seemingly absurd—in a monarchy. But just in this consists the mystery of its superiority. Every mystery appears absurd; and yet nothing profound, either in life, in the arts, or in the State, is devoid of mystery.” A Reviewer, in the Edinburgh Review, justly says, that Strauss never thought of this in his Life of Jesus—for then, it seems, the reverse of this was truth with him. Figuier, in his World before the Deluge, is not opposed to “mystery,” for he closes the same by “suggesting, without hoping to solve, this formidable problem,” viz.: whether after the four preceding Kingdoms (as in the Primary epoch the vegetable, in the Secondary and Tertiary epochs the vegetable and animal, and in the Quaternary epoch the human kingdom) another and “new kingdom” is to appear. He pronounces this “an impenetrable mystery,” and adds: “It is a great mystery, which, according to the fine expression of Pliny, ‘lies hid in the majesty of nature’; or, to speak more in the spirit of Christian Philosophy, it is known only to the Almighty Creator of the Universe.” Alas! that men are unwilling to receive “the mystery” as revealed by this Creator.

Obs. 7. Some writers (as e.g. Reuss, His. Ch. Theol. of Apos. Age, p. 149) connect the mystery with a change of the nature of the Kingdom, so that a new meaning is to be attached to it; it includes, at least, such new characteristics added, such modifications or alterations, that it is completely transformed. Admitting additions and changes to it as predicted, yet it remains unproven that there is a change in its nature or meaning. This already appears, but will be more conclusively shown by the preaching of Jesus and His disciples, etc. The Church-Kingdom theory suggested such an opinion byway of apology for its lacking the characteristics of the Kingdom as given in the grammatical sense of the prophets. The mysteries, however, were those respecting the gathering out of the elect who should inherit the Kingdom, the death of the King, the postponement of the Kingdom, the continued desolation of the Davidic house until the Times of the Gentiles were fulfilled, the ultimate re-establishment of the Kingdom after the rise, progress, and conflict with the Antichrist, etc., and they do not refer to a change of the nature of the Kingdom. It is, and ever remains the unchangeable Theocratic Kingdom, manifested in a covenanted line and through a covenanted nation. If such a change was intended or made in the most important of matters, there certainly would be something direct on the subject, and it would not be left to mere inference to deduce it. 

Prop. 13. Some things pertaining to the kingdom, intentionally revealed somewhat obscurely.

Admitting the Scriptures to be the Word of God, and that, as many writers have noticed, some indistinctness, a degree of obscurity, relating to time, explanations, etc., is manifested in the things of the kingdom, these facts are indicative of design in the same.

Obs. 1. In answer to the question, frequently asked, why the revelations respecting the Messiah’s Kingdom were at first so obscure, were so gradually unfolded, and that some things, to be fully understood, require additional light, it has been said, that God makes long and secret preparations for important events; that He adapts His revelations to the necessities and circumstances of particular times, etc. Reflection will teach us an additional reason, viz.: that the depravity of man, exhibited in the pursuit of selfishness, would, hitherto, have rejected a plainer revelation, or else would have made it the basis of a continuous cruel persecution. If everything relating to the Kingdom would have been clearly revealed, in a systematic order, we are confident that such would have been the hatred of earthly kingdoms toward it, that no believer in it would have been safe, and, in consequence, the work of gathering out the elect would have been seriously impeded. The existence of Gentile domination, especially the hostile and jealous Roman power, prevented (as we shall show in the proper place) a plainer statement of various particulars, lest it should unnecessarily excite unremitting persecution. This Kingdom will be better understood as the Primitive view is revived; its nature and the things pertaining to it will be better comprehended as the Scriptures are compared; and the result will be, as prophecy teaches us (e.g. Revelation 19, etc.), that the kings and mighty of the earth will be arrayed against its re-establishment. God, foreseeing this antagonism as directed by “the god of this world,” does not unnecessarily excite it by a premature disclosure of all things, but gives us the truth in detached portions, some of it veiled under prophecy, others under symbolical language, etc., so that His preparations, patiently conducted, may go on to a successful completion, and the Kingdom be suddenly—unexpectedly to many—manifested. The history of the world in its rejection of the truth, is evidence to justify such a conclusion.

Obs. 2. Again, another reason for the same may be found in human freedom. Omnipotence inspired by mercy has given continued moral freedom, and it will do nothing, even by way of revelation, to exert an undue force upon the will. Preiswerk (quoted by Auberlen Danl. and Rev., p. 84) says: “The Lord has always represented the events He announced by the prophets in such a manner, that they were sufficiently clear for him who approached with reverence and careful thought, and yet sufficiently dark and veiled not to limit the freedom of human action. For if the unchangeable decrees of the Eternal were presented to our eyes in unveiled features, what would become of the responsibility of man, of the free movements of human life, what of courage, and hope, and joy?” Hence it is, e.g. that prophecies which particularly describe the time of the re-establishment of the Kingdom are given somewhat obscurely, as in Daniel and the Apocalypse. This, and other reasons, will become more apparent, when considering certain things pertaining to the Kingdom, especially the postponement, the ordering of the future Kingdom, the restoration of the Jews, the Antichrist, etc.

Obs. 3. The blending of the two Advents, the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, the call of the Gentiles, etc., these indicate the feature alluded to so far as the past is concerned. As to the future, among a variety, time may be selected, the time of the Kingdom’s manifestation, as an illustration. The exact period when it will be set up, is not known to us, although approximately revealed. It is only fully known to God, and an indefiniteness is purposely thrown around it to keep us in the posture of constant expectation and watching. Chronology has purposely its chasms, the general signs of the Advent of the King are those nearly always prevalent, although at the time of fulfillment more intensive, and prophecy, in its guarded language and in its accomplishment, is so conducted that almost at any time may be witnessed the ushering in of the glorious Kingdom.

Obs. 4. The restoration of the Jews being intimately connected with the Kingdom, an essential accessory to its re-establishment, a degree of obscurity is thrown around the subject (as e.g. to the exact manner of occurrence, the time, etc.), in order that it may prove “a snare” and “a net” for the nations, who, at the consummation, shall be arrayed against it and the saints and God, saying, “Come and let us cut them off from being a nation j that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalm 83:4).

Obs. 5. Care, however, must be taken to avoid the extreme of concluding some things to be obscure which the Spirit intended to be plainly understood. This is illustrated by the predictions referring to the humiliation, sufferings, and death of Jesus, which, although plainly given, were not comprehended by even the disciples until fulfilled. “When the grammatical sense is observed to teach a thing clearly and unequivocally, that meaning must be retained, as the history of the past proclaims. Brookes (El. of Proph. Inter., p. 113) presents some admirable cautions on this point, which are the more needed, since multitudes make that obscure, mystical, or spiritual, that is to be comprehended in its literal import, as the analogy of Scripture and Faith proves.

    The student will add the reason assigned under the previous Proposition, viz.: that a revelation, as a matter of self-confirmation, must contain some mystery. We must quote the admirable language of Row (Bampton Lectures, 1877, “Christian Evidences,” Lec. 1, p. 5): “Can we wonder that the Christian revelation should contain truths, of which the fulness, like the great works of creation and providence, can only be fully recognized after the lapse of time, and as the result of careful investigation? That great reasoner, Bh. Butler, clearly perceived that it is only in conformity with the analogy of nature, that a book which has been so long in. the possession of mankind as the Bible, if it contains a Revelation from God, should contain truths as yet undiscovered; and that events, as they come to pass, should open and ascertain the meaning of Scripture; and that such discoveries should be made ‘in the same way as all other knowledge is ascertained, by particular persons attending to, comparing, and pursuing intimations, scattered up and down in it, which are overlooked and disregarded by the generality of the world.’” 

Prop. 14. Some things pertaining to the kingdom not so easily comprehended as many suppose.

This is already seen by the greatness of the subject (Props. 1 and 2), by the differences of opinion (Prop. 3) entertained, the connection it sustains to the supernatural (Props. 6 and 7) and to mysteries (Props. 11, 12, and 13).

Obs. 1. Taking the word “mystery” to denote, as theologians state, something revealed that was before unknown, Revelation itself must be carefully scanned and compared to appreciate these. At the same time, whilst a fact is disclosed, or an ordering is divulged, yet the reason why it will, or the manner in which it may, be accomplished is either not explained or merely hinted at, thus leaving large room for attentive study and reflection. Besides this, many things—the great burden—relating to the Kingdom are still in the shape of unfulfilled prophecy and promise, requiring discrimination to distinguish what belongs to different dispensations, to the two Advents, to the past, present, and future, so that we may form a correct estimate of the preparatory stages and of the Kingdom itself. The Apocalypse, with its varied and discordant interpretations, alone proves our proposition.

    Van Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 105) correctly observes: “Now, indeed, we see from the nature of the case, that even a revealed mystery may have its dark sides; the sun come forth from behind the clouds nevertheless still dazzles our eyes. But Holy Scripture nowhere teaches that mystery as such lies, and must necessarily lie, entirely beyond the reach of all human ken; the contrary is evident from I Corinthians 13:2; Ephesians 3:4. Mystery, too, though never wholly penetrated, may still be known, but only by means of Revelation.” This corroborates our position, viz.: that the things of the Kingdom can only be found within the limits of Scripture, and can only be understood to the extent that God has been pleased to reveal and explain them.

Obs. 2. Some persons confidently tell us that “the Gospel of the Kingdom” is readily understood by all men, forgetting how variously it is interpreted and preached. This assertion is contradicted by the remark of Jesus, that the revelations concerning the Kingdom were only given to believers and not to those without (Mark 4:11, etc.), and by the declaration (John 3:13), that the things relating to it must be received exclusively on the testimony of Him who declared them. All men are not believers, and even multitudes, who profess to believe, do not receive this testimony, (as e.g. witness the rejection of much of His Word, and of His last revelation as given in the Apocalypse). Even among believers, the apostle distinguishes between the weak and the strong (Hebrews 5:12), between the unlearned and the understanding (II Peter 3:16), and many exhortations are based on a growth of knowledge and the avoidance of ignorance. We are exhorted that there “are some things hard to be understood” (II Peter 3:16), some things exceeding the measure of the wisest, some things beyond our experience, some things so grand in conception and associated with the Infinite, that they can only be apprehended by faith. No one, therefore, excepting a believer, who receives the word as spoken, the testimony as delivered, can duly appreciate the whole Gospel—good news—pertaining to it. Those who make the above assertion, are led to it by mistaking repentance, faith, obedience, etc., the adjuncts or preparatives of the Kingdom, for the Kingdom itself. We must discriminate between the means employed by which the Kingdom can be obtained—which is also Gospel or glad tidings—and the Kingdom itself—which proclaimed is the Gospel in its fullest sense.

Obs. 3. There is no systematic statement of the doctrine of the Kingdom in the Bible. It is given in brief covenants, in separate prophecies, in detached portions, in fragments, in hints, in promises, in concise outlines, and to bring all these together in their regular order much labor is requisite. Without diligent comparison, no progress can be made. A devout recognition of much that is now regarded trivial, or of little practical value, is demanded. Unless there is a deep conviction that the Bible is a Divine Record, and that, in consequence, everything that it contains should be duly weighed and placed in its connection with the Divine Purpose, it is impossible to harmonize the Word: some discordant elements will inevitably appear to prevent unity.

    This is illustrated by supposing that we had lived just previous to, and during, the First Advent. Had we then taken up the Old Testament to search after the Messiah, and passed by the lesser, even minute, particulars, and the detached, isolated hints, referring to the birth, life, betrayal, scourging, crucifixion, etc., and confined ourselves to the moral enlarged Messianic descriptions (as, e.g., those representing His glory), we, too, like the Jews, would have failed to comprehend the matter as it was to be realized. So now, unless there is a careful collation of all passages that legitimately refer to the Kingdom, error may, more or less, be advanced. If, as claimed, the Scriptures are the Word of God, then every word—conceding that the truth is given through the language and style most familiar to the writer—is of importance. Being engaged in examining witnesses for the truth, in weighing testimony, to do justice both to the writers and ourselves—yea, to God Himself—this cannot be omitted with safety. This caution becomes the more imperative, since it is pointedly predicted, that many shall, by a neglect of the truth, reject the things pertaining to the Kingdom, and have no faith even in the coming of the King.

Obs. 4. Avoiding, on the one hand, the opinion of the Romish Church that the Scriptures are so unintelligible, so obscure that they need the interpretation of the Church, of Councils, of the Fathers, or of the Pope; and, on the other hand, the view of some Protestant divines, and others, that all things are clear and intelligible to him who is in the Spirit—it is best to preserve the due medium, that whilst many things are plainly stated, yet others, for the reasons given, can only be ascertained by laborious research, or, as some old writers have quaintly observed, by “digging for hid treasures.” The Kingdom, forming the subject-matter of a large portion of the Bible, cannot be correctly apprehended in its totality without the student passing over all that the different sacred writers have to say concerning it.

Obs. 5. “The Gospel of the Kingdom,” as intimated, includes “the mystery of God,” i.e. the final, closing act as presented Revelation 10:7, embracing the ultimate realization of the previously ordained provisionary institutions. This is seen in the language employed, for the word in our version “declared” is used to denote the declaration of good tidings, glad news, so that some (as e.g. Editor of Proph. Times, vol. 10, p. 190) render the phrase: “The mystery of God is (to be) fulfilled, even as he preached glad tidings to his servants the prophets.” However translated, the Gospel undoubtedly comprehends the grand consummation, the perfected Redemption realized only in the Kingdom. 

Prop. 15. The doctrine of the kingdom can become better understood and appreciated.

This follows from the previous Propositions. For, while it is a doctrine exclusively found in Scripture, and which cannot be modified or changed to suit the theories of men without doing violence to the “Word, yet, as has been shown, it is not so clearly apprehended in all its details, in all its depth and vastness, but that additional light may be thrown upon it—a light, too, borrowed from the same Word.

Obs. 1. Some think that religious truth is stationary, and this is a favorite charge of the enemies of Christianity, upon which is founded the expressions “antiquated,” “stale,” “worn out,” etc. Admitting that any doctrinal matter contained in Holy Writ is final in authority, and that the things of the Spirit are only to be found in their purity in the Revelation given by that Spirit, yet these same truths may become more and more clear and distinctive by careful study, comparison, analogy, induction, deduction, by considering their relationship to history, the constant development of God’s purposes, the continued fulfillment of prophecy, the experience of mankind, and the gathering of the elect. It is the universal testimony of believers that a searching of the Scriptures has always added to our religious knowledge, and every Christian student must gratefully acknowledge his indebtedness to this feature. The Bible is a wonderful book in this respect.

    The most reliable writers on the side of Religion declare (e.g., Bh. Butler, Analogy, 2, c. 3) that “truths yet undiscerned” are contained in the Scriptures; that (Rogers’ Essays, vol. 2, p. 335) “fragments of new truth, or more exact adjustments of old truths may be perpetually expected;” that (Eaton, Perm. of Ch., p. 219) “the scheme of Revelation admits of endless advance and indefinite augmentation.” Comp. Dorner’s His. Prot. Theol., vol. 2, p. 4, Bh. Law’s Theory of Relig., p. 145, Dean Stanley’s Sermons on the Bible, p. 112, Dunn’s Study of the Bible, and the writings of Birks, Bickersteth, Bh. Newton, Schaff, etc. Works specially designed for the Christian ministry, such as Bridge’s On the Ch. Ministry, Herbert’s Parson, Mather’s Student and Parson, etc., and the Memoirs and Lives of eminent Christians unmistakably indicate how advance in knowledge is increased by renewed and unremitting study of God’s Word; which many truthfully compare to a precious mine revealing its treasures by “digging” for them, or to a constant flowing stream whose placid depths and extent can only be appreciated by passing over its course and sounding its clear waters.

Obs. 2. If it is true, in the general, that knowledge can be increased, it certainly must apply to the doctrine of the Kingdom, so largely the subject of prediction and promise; so extensive in its aims, preparations, and end; so complicated in its numerous details, hints, and obscure allusions; so described under literal, figurative, and symbolical language; and so varied in its relationship to God and man, to the Divine Will and human imperfection. A doctrine which embraces the King, the inheritors, and the subjects, the provisionary dispensations and the final consummation, the loftiest topics and the most precious promises that can enter the mind or encourage the hope of man, is, in the nature of the case, susceptible of being better apprehended in proportion as attention and meditation is given to it. Here, if anywhere, there is plenty of room for the deepest study, the most guarded discrimination, the keenest perception, the most patient comparison, and the most childlike faith. Then an increase of knowledge—as the rich experience of many testifies—will also come.

    It is a matter of regret, that good men, who insist in their writings upon our deriving doctrine from the study of the Bible, who lament that others give a greater prominency to man’s writings and systems than to the Word, while theoretically right, in practice largely ignore this very feature. A doctrine that does not suit the religious system already adopted, no matter how strongly presented, is at once ignored or rejected. This, too, is evidence of human infirmity—a weakness predicted in God’s Word.

Obs. 3. Divine Truth, surely, cannot be circumscribed, when even, as Chalmers (Bridg. Treatise, p. 1) has said in relation to natural science: “Each science, though definite in its commencement, has its outgoings in the Infinite and the Eternal.” We will allow, although subject to perversion, the claims of scientists in reference to the extension of truth in all departments of science, but they, must also grant to us that theological truth, having a higher, nobler origin and design, is not to be restrained in its advancement. Nature, and not mere speculation or fancy, is the abundant source from whence true and increased knowledge is drawn for the natural sciences, so also the Bible forms “the inexhaustible storehouse” from whence biblical theology derives its solid foundation and growing superstructure—the latter strengthened by the results manifested in historical connection, etc.

Obs. 4. In the Proposition it is purposely said, “can become better understood,” for several reasons: (1) There is no subject like this so covered with human additions, speculations, and prejudice. Hence it is so difficult to approach, divested of all bias and preconceived opinions. The greatest care is necessary, owing to the extent and influence of prevailing views, and no step should be taken without substantial scriptural proof to sustain it. (2) Conclusions respecting the Kingdom should only be drawn after having traced the subject from the earliest point of its introduction down, through the prophets, to the final testimony of Jesus given by John the Revelator. Multitudes, including most eminent men (as will be shown hereafter), take an isolated passage and, without caring for its connection, build an exclusive theory upon it. (3) Covenants, in view of their special importance and fundamental bearing, should have the preference in determining the nature of the Kingdom. This, however, is too much overlooked. (4) Some things are underrated, owing to their simplicity (i.e. “too Jewish”): others are rejected because utterly opposed to human expectations (i.e. “How can these things be?”); and others again are declined as utterly unreasonable, not realizing that faith should apprehend them simply because they are recorded in the truthful Word of God (i.e. with all the laudation of faith, there is very little Abrahamic faith in the world). (5) The difficulties already enumerated in previous Propositions are not sufficiently considered; difficulties, not relating to the nature of the Kingdom, but to the provisions made for it, the time of its manifestation, the events connected with its exhibition, the symbolical portraiture of its realization, the manner of its divine administration (the divine and human being united), and the remarkable and astounding interpositions of the Supernatural introducing and carrying it forward into the eternal ages—all of which ought to be duly considered in order that increased light may be thrown upon the subject. With such a spirit, and such a posture of recognition and appreciation of the matter before us, there is a prospect before the student of a better understanding of the doctrine. 

Prop. 16. This kingdom cannot be properly comprehended without acknowledging an intimate and internal connection existing between the Old and New Testaments.

The doctrine of the kingdom is first taught by covenant, theocratic ordering, and prophecy in the Old Testament, and it is taken for granted in the New Testament as a subject derived from the Old Testament and well understood; for the kingdom is preached without any appended explanation.

Obs. 1. This Proposition is the more needed, since some recent works (as e.g. Fairbairn On Proph., p. 164, etc.) have made efforts to depreciate the value of the Old Testament as an instructor, telling us that it is far inferior to the New Testament, that its light is dim and its utterances indistinct in comparison with the New, etc. This, in view of our so largely relying upon the Old Testament, is done with such evident satisfaction that a canon of interpretation is adopted which reads: “Everything which affects the constitution and destiny of the New Testament Church has its clearest determination in the New Testament Scriptures.” While we cheerfully admit that on many points (as e.g. the birth, life, sufferings, death, etc., of Jesus, the present ordering during the Times of the Gentiles, etc.) the New Testament, gives additional and clearer light, yet such a canon is exceedingly unjust to the Old Testament, which so largely deals, e.g. in the consummation of the Church’s glory.

    It is gratifying to find that in many recent works, especially in the department of Bib. Theology, the Old Testament is restored to its proper position, thus corroborating the declarations found in various Commentaries, Introductions to the Bible, etc., respecting the fundamental station of the Old Testament in Scripture. Such writers as Hengstenberg, Havernick, Tholuck, Auberlen, Hofmann, Kurtz, Delitzsch, Stanley, Bonar, Baumgarten, etc., have done much in this direction, and even Fairbairn, in other places, enforces this relationship. The old Marcionitic notion (comp. Lardner’s Works, vol. 9, p. 256-288, giving also the alterations of the New Testament by Marcion) of separating the Old Testament from the New, while not carried to the absurd extent (as, under the plea that the God of the Old Testament was different from that of the New) of ancient times, yet is still felt and expressed in modern times in various ways, especially in a species of exalting the New to a wrongful disparagement of the Old. Thus the Spiritualists, Free Religionists, etc., boldly proclaim (as, e.g., Oliver Porter, in Religio-Philosoph. Journal for 1874) that the Old and New Tests, should be separated, and not even bound together in the same book, because of their being hostile, antagonistic to each other; adding, that to join them “is like putting new cloth into old garments, to be rent asunder. A divorce, doubtless, will sometime be made.” A writer in the Edinb. Review, Oct., 1873, reviewing Strauss’ work, recommends that “Gentile Christianity” should not make itself responsible for the Old Testament, saying: “We are not Jews,” etc., and that “the Jewish Scriptures do not belong to us, and that we are in no way responsible for them.” Comp. Prof. Norton, Genuineness of the Gospels, vol. 2, p. 402, Carpenter “On Mind and Will in Nature,” Contemp. Review, 1872. It is not difficult to see that all such fail to view the Redemptive Purpose as a grand whole, the portrayal of which alike demands the Old and New Testaments. 

Obs. 2. Our entire argument, as we proceed, is a refutation of this lowering of the Old Testament A few reasons now stated, will indicate the one-sidedness of those who resist the claims of the Old Testament to the same rank and dignity of the New. (1) The Old foretells the New, and the New confirms the Old—both are indispensably necessary. (2) The Covenants out of which, and in which, the New stands, are only contained in the Old. (3) The prophecies and promises descriptive of the New, are found in the Old. (4) Both are the Word of God, and should, therefore, be received on equal footing, and possess equal value. (5) The New, taking a familiar acquaintance of the Old for granted, and proceeding on this supposition, does not supersede the Old. (6) The continued quotation from the Old in the New, the constant references to the covenanted promises of the Old, the general appeal to the predictions of the Old, the example of Jesus and of the apostles in estimating the value of the Old—all this proves its vital importance. (7) The express injunction to search and study the Old Testament Scriptures. (8) The declaration of Jesus that He came to fulfill and not to destroy it, and that every jot and tittle of it was precious. (9) A large portion of the Old, embracing entire chapters and continuous prophecies, has not yet been fulfilled, owing to the postponement of the Kingdom and the designs of mercy, and hence—as will be shown hereafter—the period of the Christian Church is an intercalary one, extending through the Times of the Gentiles, and if we desire to know its destiny, its ultimate condition in the consummation, the Old must be compared with the New. (10) Many things contained in the Old yet to be fulfilled, are only slightly hinted at or taken for granted in the New: others of magnitude and vast importance, are not even mentioned, it being supposed that every believer, as enjoined, would find them in the Old and incorporate them. (11) The New only professes to be a continuation of the Divine Plan of Salvation; it is a necessary supplement to the Old, but not a superseding of the Old, excepting only in the ordaining of certain provisionary and typical measures. (12) The destiny of all the elect, both under the Old and New, is the same, showing that the same truth leading to the same end, is virtually contained in both Testaments, however one may add to the other. (13) The unity of Divine Purpose can only be ascertained by their combination; without the Old many of the allusions in the New could not be understood, and without the New much that is in the Old could not be properly appreciated. (14) The New, as evidenced by our remarks, is built on the Old as on a foundation, and if separated from the latter, its strength and stability is diminished, if not destroyed. By this removal, as seen in too many works, its light is dimmed and its testimony to the truth is fearfully weakened. Hence no rule or interpretation should be endured which arbitrarily distinguishes between, virtually severs, the same Word of God, but we must regard the Scriptures as one whole, all significant, important, and weighty, giving only when in combination, in firm union, the steady, brilliant light that we need.

    Comp. Dorner’s His, Prot. Theol, vol. 2, p. 435, etc., and Oosterzee’s, Schmid’s, and Reuss’ Bib. Theols. of the New Testament Dorner has also remarked (p. 404, vol. 2), that a Bib. Theol. of the Old Testament is still lacking, and until this want is skilfully supplied, many will fail to see the vast stores of treasures contained within it, essential to a correct apprehension of many doctrinal points and of the Plan of Salvation. In this respect a lesson can be learned from the early church (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc, vol. 1, p. 87): “They frequently appeal to the connection existing between the Old and New Testaments, (e.g., Irenaeus, Against Heresies, *, etc.), consequently implying that the two parts of Scripture belong together.” They do more than this, they so employ the Old Testament as to indicate in its covenants and prophecies that it contains stronger proof and clearer light in reference to some things that are yet to be fulfilled than the New Testament While this is so, the extreme (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., vol. 2, sec. 292, note) must be avoided of preferring the Old to the New as illustrated, so stated by Hagenbach, in the writings of Herder, De Wette, and Umbreit. The truth is, that each gives a strong light that must be combined; that the one illustrates, enforces, and confirms the other.

Obs. 3. The criticism, then, of Ernesti and others, that the Old Testament might indeed have been of some use to the Jews, but certainly was not intended for all mankind, is sadly defective and demoralizing, seeing that on the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises depends our completed Salvation, our hope of perfected Redemption, the expectation of the final restitution of all things. The Old Testament is full of anticipated, covenanted, prophesied Salvation; the New is full of the inestimable provision made for the same; both unite in showing how and when it will be fully accomplished.
    The writer has been pained to find excellent writers express themselves incautiously, when, e.g., referring to the Old Testament as preparative to the New (which is also true), they inform (as Pressense, The Redeemer, p. 38) us “that the Old Testament speaks to us of the preparation for Salvation, whilst the New Testament speaks of its realization.” This is only a half truth; in point of fact both speak the same language; and the Old Testament, as comparison abundantly shows, has more to say of the final realization than the New. Row (Bampton Lectures, 1877, p. 22) presents an injurious limitation, as follows: “So likewise I accept Paley’s general positions, that the Christian advocate is only concerned with the Old Testament so far as portions of it have received the direct sanction of our Lord.” The other portions he thinks important only in the “elaboration of a true Christian theology.” But this is too restrictive, and at once trammels the study of the Christ, the Kingdom, etc. Some recent writers might learn a lesson from even De Wette (quoted by Bähr and requoted by Fairbairn Typology, p. 34), who, with all his liberalism, could say: “Christianity sprang out of Judaism. Long before Christ appeared, the world was prepared for His appearance; the entire Old Testament is a great prophecy, a great type of Him who was to come and has come. Who can deny that the holy seers of the Old Testament saw in spirit the Advent of Christ long before He came, and, in prophetic anticipations, sometimes more, sometimes less clear, descried the new doctrine? The typological comparison, also, of the Old Testament with the New, was by no means a mere play of fancy, nor can it be regarded as altogether the result of accident, that the evangelical history, in the most important particulars, runs parallel with the Mosaic. Christianity lay in Judaism as leaves and fruits do in the seed, though certainly it needed the divine sun to bring them forth.”

Obs. 4. Unbelievers, wise in perceiving the intimate and abiding connection existing between the Old and New Tests., attack the Old with the correct opinion, that just in proportion as they can show that the Old is “antiquated, unreliable, uncertain” in its utterances, etc., to the same extent will they lessen the authority and force of the New. Knowing full well, as the majority of writers on Inspiration hold, that both are equally inspired and of equal authority, and that both are to be interpreted as the continuous Word of God, they believe that if one falls the other must also suffer. This teaches us, therefore, how guarded we should be in lowering the standard of the Old, lest by so doing, in so far the efforts of destructive tendencies are countenanced.

    Here, as our argument will develop more fully hereafter, is the fatal defect in the system of the Socinians (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., vol. 2, sec. 242), who receive only the New Testament as canonical; the Old Testament having only a historical value, useful but not necessary to be read, etc. Its importance and exceeding value as a doctrinal basis, is by them, and others, too much ignored; and the inevitable result is, the utter impossibility of recognizing the Theocratic Personage in Jesus as covenanted. It is well to notice, that at the very time God is raising up eminent men to defend the necessary intimate relationship of the Old and New Testaments, and that both must be conjoined to give us a true conception of the Divine Purpose in Redemption—both being indispensable—prominent persons also arise (even in the pale of, and enjoying the emoluments of the church), who persistently attack the authenticity, credibility, and inspiration of the Old Testament, especially of the Pentateuch. The recent efforts of Colenso in this direction are fresh in the reader’s mind. The attack, if successful, would invalidate the truth of Christianity itself; for such is the connection existing between Moses and Christ that both stand or fall together. An eminent Jewish Rabbi in the Jewish Chronicle, quoted in The Israelite Indeed for Oct., 1863, argues, justly, that if the Pentateuch is not in the main the product of Moses, or at least worthy of reception as divine, then it must be an “impudent forgery,” and the prophets, Jesus, and the Evangelists, who all received it “in its present shape” as genuine, etc., are all equally guilty of gross deception. The Rabbi presses this, quoting Luke 16:31, etc., and shows the inconsistency of Colenso’s position (still retaining the New Testament as inspired) by stating that if Jesus was not inspired when He assumed the truth of the Pentateuch and applied it in teaching, “neither can He be regarded as infallible with respect to His application of passages from the prophets of Judah and the Psalms.” There is no logical escape from this dilemma; any lowering of the Old Testament inevitably recoils upon the New. Conway, in correspondence with Cin. Com., May 31, 1879, says: “The learned Prof. Sepp, of Munich University, is writing a remarkable series of articles in the Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he advocates the discarding of the Old Testament altogether as the basis of Christianity.” “Dr. David Asher, a learned Jew, answers: ‘If he (Sepp) should carry his point, he would, indeed, widen the breach between Judaism and Christianity. But the question is, Who would be the greater loser by the process?’” Draper (His. Conflict, p. 225) very coolly advises the Christian Church not to burden itself with the Pentateuch, but to relegate it book to the Jews; and if this gratuitous counsel (so sagely proffered) were adopted, he would be the first to show how destructive, in its logical sequence, it would be to Christianity. Others, observing the disintegrating efforts of professed believers which destroy the unity, sarcastically (as Mill) refer to those who believe the Bible to be one book; some sneeringly assert that the only union to be found existing is that in the line of “Jewish ideas and prejudices.” Rogers (Superh. Orig. of the Bible, Ap. p. 441) refers to Alexander’s Connection and Harmony of the Old and New Tests., Lord Hatherley’s Continuity of the Bible, and to a work entitled Divine Footprints in the Bible, as enforcing this intimate connection, and then adds: “Many in our day, as well as some informer times, would endeavor to extricate Christianity from certain difficulties by cutting the ligaments between it and Judaism. They would displace it from what they regard its precarious foundations in the Old Testament I am profoundly convinced that this cannot be done without leaving both in ruins.” He then quotes Herder (Pref. to Spirit of Heb. Poetry), who, notwithstanding his free spirit of criticism, writes: “Der Grund der Theologie ist die Bibel, und der Grund des N. T. ist das alte. Unmöglich verstehen wir jenes recht, wenn wir dieses nicht verstehen; denn Christenthum ist aus dem Judenthum hervorgegangen, der Genius der Sprache ist in beiderlei Büchern derselbe,” etc.

Obs. 5. Martensen, a most estimable writer, gives the keynote to a prevailing treatment of the Old Testament. He, whilst recognizing the importance and value of the Old, makes it too subsidiary to the New, opening a wide gap for varied interpretation, in declaring, that “the contents (of the Old) cannot be received by the Christian mind as present truths without being regenerated by the new Spirit of Christianity, and in various respects reconstructed.” Alas! to this specious “regeneration” and to this subtle “spirit of reconstruction,” which is only another mode of expressing a spiritualizing and accommodating interpretation, we are indebted for an ignoring of the plain oath-bound covenants of God the covenanted and predicted Messianic Kingdom.
    This position, so unjust to the Old Testament, is based on the idea that the Old Testament is superseded by the New, and that the interpretation of the Old, as once held by the Jews, is antagonistic to the New, and that, consequently, the literal, grammatical sense must give place to another, additional one grafted upon the Old. This whole theory is a violation of the laws of language, of the Revelation of God’s Purposes as given to ancient believers and trusted in by them, and it places the Israelites, before the Advent, in the posture of an ignorant, self-deceived people who trusted in a grammatical sense which is a lie—in plainly expressed covenants and promises which, as understood by them, they never comprehended. In brief, it makes God teaching what they could not understand, prophesying what they could not apprehend, and developing a faith and hope that can never be realized. Besides this, the reader will observe that Martensen’s notion takes it for granted that the New Testament is well understood. This idea forms one of the rules that Waldegrave presents in his Lectures on New Testament Millenarianism; but unfortunately for its successful application, those who employ it—owing to the various engrafted senses—are not agreed among themselves respecting large portions of the New Testament, because of their adopted system of interpretation. Briefly, no student can afford to occupy such an exclusive position; the true scholarly method, commended by common sense and due respect for God’s whole Word, is to interpret both by the same laws of language, and to observe, on any given subject, which part, the Old or the New, advances the most revelation or information, receiving the same as of equal authority.

Obs. 6. The Kingdom being a leading subject of many portions of the Old Testament, a subject specially mentioned in covenant and prophecy, it is utterly impossible to understand it properly without passing over the same. This is realized the more, if it is considered that the doctrine originates in the Old Testament; that the New Testament in its opening takes a knowledge of the Old for granted; that in view of such a previous obtained information important details given in the Old are either slightly presented or omitted in the New; and that, aside from the Apocalypse, the most glowing and extended descriptions pertaining to the Kingdom, as God’s predictions relating to it receive an ample verification, are still found in the Old. It is not uncharitable to suspect, that one reason why so many meanings and contradictory definitions are given to the Kingdom, arises from the neglect—conscious or unconscious, designed or undesigned—of the Old Testament Scriptures, or, from an artful, misleading, but well-intended exaltation of the New over the Old, as if some great and vital difference existed between them instead of their being inseparably one.

    Many have the mistaken notion that the instruction of the Old Testament is solely elementary, being supplemented by that of the New Testament This is taught in many of our Systematic Theologies (e.g., Knapp, etc.); but this is evidently an error, seeing that much of the Old Testament remains yet to be fulfilled; that Peter (II Peter 1:19) tells believers to take heed of the sure word of prophecy as to a light until the day of Christ appears; that Paul (II Timothy 3:14–17) exhorts a minister to apply himself to the Old Testament Scriptures, not to obtain elementary knowledge but to perfect himself; that Christians are directed by the apostles to find the hope of Salvation, the promises of completed Redemption in the Scriptures previously given; and that constant reference is made to the Old Testament as the storehouse of promised deliverance given in covenant and prophecy. It is true that some things in the Old Testament are elementary, such as typical and provisionary institutions, but to make all fall into the same category is doing the grossest violence to its contents and the example of the first believers. It appears that the main passage of Scripture, which led to such an unjust inference and discrimination, is the one in Matthew 11:11. How this verse is to be understood will appear hereafter, as we shall examine it in detail, on account of the varied use to which it is put. It is to be regretted that able advocates of Christianity fall into this notion. Thus, e.g., Van Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 17) says, that “the writings of the New Testament must be placed before those of the Old,” and approvingly quotes J. Müller: “It is to the writings of the New Testament that the dogmatic proof must return to found its dogmas securely on Christ Himself.” This is simply, as already shown, a one-sided discrimination. Now whilst the New Testament is exceedingly precious, cannot be neglected without vital defect, gives us the desired proof in and through Jesus Christ how the Old Testament and New Testament promises can be fulfilled, and teaches us in the plainest manner how to attain Salvation through Jesus, etc., yet much, very much doctrinally expressed in the New finds its true basis back in the Old. This the apostles, the Evangelists, yea, Jesus, teach us when appealing to the Old as fulfilled, e.g., in the Person, character, life, sufferings, etc., of Jesus. The Messiahship of the promised David’s Son is delineated in the Old Testament, and in deciding the doctrinal question of the Messiahship of Jesus, the question must be answered, whether the Christ of the New Testament corresponds in all respects with the Christ covenanted and promised in the Old. This simple illustration shows that we are not at liberty to exalt the one portion above the other, but that both are indispensable and mutually confirm each other. Admitting fully that the New contains in a large measure the sufficient provisionary for Salvation, yet the grand theme of both is Salvation, and the Old, in view of its unfulfilled portions, etc., is far more than a “preliminary training.” If the rule given by Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 169) be admitted, it will, if logically applied, give the preference to the Old instead of the New. The rule is: “A part of Scripture has so much the higher value in proportion as it is of greater importance for our knowledge of the Kingdom of God.” For, as will be shown, the covenants and prophecies (which the New Testament takes so largely for granted as well known) relating to the Kingdom, and fundamental to its comprehension, are in the Old Testament—yea, our chief knowledge is derived therefrom, and, therefore, the Old cannot be inferior to the New. Oosterzee and Müller forget where the dogmatical ground was in the quite early church, before the New Testament was written, or formed into a canon. 

Prop. 17. Without study of the prophecies, no adequate idea can be obtained of the kingdom.

The doctrine of the kingdom is a revelation from God, and “God spake by the Prophets,” for “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:70, II Peter 1:21, II Timothy 3:16, etc.). The descriptions of it come to us mainly through prediction, embracing a Divine Purpose pertaining to the future beyond the power of human sagacity and knowledge to discern and portray.

    Fairbairn (On Proph.) has the correct idea, when, as the Amer. editor remarks, “We find as the result that prophecy is a sublime portraiture of the Kingdom of God.” How faithfully he followed the prophetic portraiture is another question.

Obs. 1. Hence arises the necessity, if accurate knowledge of the Kingdom is desired, of receiving what God, through the prophets, has revealed concerning it. Jesus was the subject of prophecy, and we know that He truly came because in Him the prophecies pertaining to His First Advent were strictly fulfilled. Jesus and the apostles constantly appeal to this: that the Scriptures testified concerning Him, and that their testimony was true, being verified. Precisely so with this Kingdom; for it is the great theme of the prophets, and we can only know that it has really come when the predictions relating to it are realized.
    Prophecy has been compared (Wilson’s Three Sermons, p. 6, quoted by Stanley) “to a golden thread” stretching to the end of the web. But in our estimation it is more than this: it is the warp, the golden chain into which time fills and weaves its threads, the latter interlinked and supported by the former. It contains the substance of Revelation and History. Strike out of the Scriptures Prophecy, fulfilled and unfulfilled, and the very essence of them the most precious portion—is also removed. The early Fathers, when they designated the Prophets “Theologians,” were evidently impressed by the profound relationship that their utterances sustained to our knowledge of divine things. The church, if it desires an increase of knowledge, must return to this Scriptural attitude. Some writers in their haste and eagerness to oppose the study of Prophecy (because we lay much stress on it), tell us that its doctrinal aspect is of little account, and dare to assert, that “the folly of basing a tenet upon unfulfilled prophecy has grown to be an axiom in theology.” Such an axiom was unknown to ancient worthies before and immediately after the First Advent, and is discarded by a sound theology since the establishment of the Christian Church, seeing that quite a number of doctrines are dependent upon unfulfilled prophecy, as, e.g., the Second Advent, the Antichrist, the restoration of the Jews, the Millennial age, the consummation, the judgment day, the resurrection, the realization of eternal life in the final restitution, the New Heavens and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, etc. The promises of the New Testament relating to the future are based on unfulfilled predictions of the Old, are repetitions of the same, and thus renewed predictions. Surely if angelic beings take a deep interest in the divine predictions—if the redeemed are represented as rejoicing in their bestowal and realization, we, who need their light, ought to receive the bright assurances with gratitude and joy.

Obs. 2. Prophecy takes higher ground than that of merely being a prediction of the future, or a witness to the truth, or a message of hope. Whilst all this, it is above all a Revelation of God’s Will and Purpose; and, therefore, while the preceding flow from it, a still grander result is attained when combining and linking together the predictions of God. Then we find, from first to last, that they publish a predetermined counsel of God, a great Redemptive Process, all centering in the predestined King and Kingdom.

    Negative criticism endeavors here and there to break this connected chain; unavailingly, however, seeing that “all the prophets witness,” and their united testimony, separated by centuries and ages, form an unbroken unity. God has given us numerous prophecies, some in detached portions, others in brief fragments, which require special attention to systematize, but when once brought together and compared evince a most blessed design, a most glorious Plan, such as man and creation needs to secure permanent, everlasting happiness. Together they form “a sure word,” something “where-unto ye do well that ye take heed,” being eminently worthy of the most careful investigation. Together they give “a light” (comp. Barnes’ admirable remarks on II Peter 1:19), which is the only safe guide until the greater illumination of the coming day. It is a matter of amazement that so many professed Theologies either ignore or slightly touch this God-given “light.” Within the limits and design of this work it is impossible to give the rules for interpreting Prophecy; and, indeed, they are not needed, seeing that we have various works on the subject. The principle of Interpretation adopted (Prop. 4) by us sufficiently explains our position, showing that the ordinary rules for interpreting literal, figurative, symbolic, and typical language are to be observed. The reader will find these presented in Bickersteth’s Guide, Brooke’s El. of Proph. Liter., Lord’s Lit. and Theol. Journal, and Introd. to the Apoc., Home’s Introd., Winthrop’s Premium Essay on Proph. Symbols, Stuart’s El. of Interp., etc. Davison’s Dis. on Proph. fixes a “Criterion of Prophecy,” and ably shows its application to Jesus at the First Advent, to the Church, Jewish Nation, etc.

    In reference to the definitions, a few words are in place. Horne (Intro., vol. 1, p. 119) says: “Prophecy is a miracle of knowledge, a declaration, or description, or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to discern or to calculate, and it is the highest evidence that can be given of supernatural communion with the Deity, and of the truth of a revelation from God.” M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop. defines it: “God’s communication to the Church, to be her light and comfort in time of trouble and perplexity,” and adds the following, from Vitringa: “A prediction of some contingent circumstance or event in the future, received by immediate or direct revelation”; Dr. Pye Smith: “A declaration made by a creature under the inspiration and commission of the omniscient God relating to an event or series of events which have not taken place at the time the prophecy is uttered, and which could not have been certainly foreknown by any science or wisdom of man;” other writers: “Prophecy is nothing but the history of events before they come to pass.” It refers also to Dean Magee as dissenting “from this popular but erroneous view,” and making the prophet to be “the religious teacher of his age, whose aim is the religious education of those whom he addresses.” This is a fair specimen of numerous similar definitions, and there is an element of truth in all of them. But, after all, they only give a partial view, for while neither ignoring the predictive character, nor its evidential nature, nor the moral element (the religious instruction of the age in which delivered and of successive ages), it is self-evident that prophecy is largely intended to reveal the Divine Purpose relating to the Plan of Redemption. To illustrate our meaning by a single prophecy: take Deuteronomy 32, and we have not merely a prediction of a series of events and valuable religious instruction, but we have a divine explanation of the manner in which ultimately—after a terrible trial, etc.—covenanted promises are to be realized. Hence prophecy is an essential part of the system of revelation, revealing, incorporating, and systematizing truths, which could in no other way be obtained. Therefore in Theology proper, in order to comprehend God’s purpose in Redemption and present a systematic statement of the Plan of Salvation, it should be brought forth prominently, and subjected to careful study. The lack of this presents us with serious defects in the various systems of Theology, especially in the part pertaining to Eschatology.

    Williamson (Letters to a Millenarian, p. 177) informs us that the restoration of the Kingdom and Christ’s future reign (i.e., its proper conception) is not dependent on “the meaning of certain predictions of the prophets, for I am no student of the prophets, but on the question, Who are the lawful heirs of the bequests made to the seed of Abraham? This seems to be a question totally distinct from the question, What are the contents of the will? and should surely be definitely settled before we look at the contents of the will; for before I know whether I am an heir, the contents of the will are of little consequence to me.” This author, an amiable writer, and free from the usual reproaches against us, in striving to wrest from us our vantage ground on prophecy, makes a confession that vitiates his own labor. If no student of the prophets, how can he even undertake the expounding of his prior question, seeing that the prophets enter largely in both questions, respecting the will (to use his figure) and the heirship—they being the expounders of the Divine Purpose concerning both. This lack is seen throughout his “Letters,” reversing a logical consideration of the whole subject. He overlooks two essential points: (1) That before we are heirs, we are invited by prophets and apostles to consider and study this “Will,” in order that we may be induced to become heirs through the acceptance of the Christ, and (2) that the contents of the will are of primary importance, because unless we first “look at the contents” it is impossible to determine the heirship. It certainly needs no discussion, that the contents of the will precede the heirship, and that, therefore, the first question to be decided is that referring to the will itself. When it is found that a will is really made, and that we are noticed in it, being assured of an heirship under certain conditions imposed by the testator, a deepened interest arises to make ourselves acquainted with all the details, and worthy of its provisions, and this will correspondingly—inevitably—make us students of prophecy. (In ref. to his view of the heirship, see Prop. 64.)

Obs. 3. Conceding that Prophecy has thus a higher province than that of merely foretelling future events, yet every believer in the “Word ought to insist, that such a foretelling is a most important, essential feature and proof of the Prophet’s mission. That spirit of compromising with Rationalism, by which, under the shallow pretence that the Prophets had nobler duties to perform than that of predicting, the predictions themselves are lowered or set aside, is to be avoided as derogatory to the prophetical office.

    As we shall largely use their predictive authority in our argument, placing it in the front rank where the Bible and the early Fathers set it, some additional remarks may be needed. Infidels, next to miracles, have most violently assaulted prophecy (also a miracle). Seeing how largely the Word of God is dependent upon it, how believers have appealed to it as evidence of its credibility and inspiration, how the very life of Christianity is bound up with it, they directed their attack with the cry that it was either disparaging to God, or a tender to fatalism, or incredible to reason, or mere foolishness, or the natural suggestions, shrewd foresight and guesses of man; some predictions were given after the events, others were never fulfilled, some were so obscure that they are utterly unreliable, others were interpolations of a succeeding age to subserve political or religious purposes, etc. With such men it is, of course, vain to reason, for the case is prejudged; and any move to get rid of, or weaken, its testimony, is deemed honorable. To appeal to prophecies fulfilled, such as related to Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, Jerusalem, etc. (showing also that the writers lived long before the events transpired), is to exhibit our ignorance; to show that prophecies are now fulfilling in the dispersion of the Jews, in the continued down-treading of Jerusalem under Gentile feet, in Mohammedanism and the Turkish Empire, in Gentile domination, in the Papacy, in the condition of the church and the world, etc., is to manifest our credulity; to indicate the relationship that individual prophecy sustains to the whole, and to point to the future as the period when those, claimed by them as unfulfilled, shall be realized, is to display an unreasonable faith. So be it then, if men desire to elevate themselves to the judgment seat, deeming themselves perfectly adequate to decide what is proper and what improper for the Almighty to perform; what is worthy and what unworthy of credence in His Word. The opposite reasons, influencing them in their rejection, are aptly delineated by Isaiah (29:11–12): “The vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed; and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.” It is impossible to conciliate such a class, for the objections come more from the heart than from the mind, rather from indisposition, lack of moral sympathy than from careful study, and every effort in the way of concession to their demands, is only hailed as an evidence of weakness. 

    There has been a tendency, especially in German Theology, arising from the contest between Rationalism and Orthodoxy, to settle down in the conviction that Christianity cannot be demonstrated by historical proofs, as many authors and apologists have attempted; and that as Twesten (quoted by Dorner, His. Prot., vol. 2, p. 428) remarks: “It is not possible to prove, independent of Christian faith, that there is a Divine Revelation, and that this is deposited in Holy Scripture, nor can such proof be the foundation of faith,” etc. While freely admitting the higher and more satisfactory testimony of Evangelical faith, which produces a personal, practical knowledge of the truth and. thus impresses its divine origin, yet such a statement is far too sweeping, removing the responsibility laid upon all men to receive God’s Revelation, rejecting the evidence afforded by the experience of men that many have been led by the reading and study of the Word to acknowledge, without and before such faith, that God’s Word is truth; and discarding the labors of Apologists and others whose works, as the conversion of many testifies, have not been in vain. Indeed, the very men who insist upon such a theory constantly violate their own rule by appealing to historical proofs, or by bringing an array of evidence obtained through the fulfillment of prophecy to substantiate revelation against unbelief. In their writings there is a constant appeal to reason in behalf of the positions taken by them. It is one thing to lay down a one-sided rule, but it is quite another to apply it. The Bible speaks of two kinds of evidence; one, the most gratifying, comes from faith, but this, in many aspects, must be sustained by the other; the other is derived from historical evidence, including the fulfillment of prophecy, the dealings of God, the works performed, etc. God Himself appeals to the latter evidence as desirable, as introductory to the other, and also as condemnatory if not received. The first preaching of the apostles is based on it; Stephen’s address is full of it; Christ refers the Jews to it; the Jews themselves received the Old Testament in view of it; the New Testament is a record of its value; believers have been first led to faith by it; even the devils themselves are under its influence, and unbelief has often, in the dying hour, confessed its claims. We cannot do without such an attestation to existing Revelation, for even the way of Evangelical faith (which simply appropriates to self what the other brings) is prepared by due reference to historical facts, as, e.g., the fall, the sinfulness of man, the foretelling and coming of the Messiah, etc., so that every Christian writer, whatever his theory in the study, will practically, more or less, endeavor to secure the approval of reason by the use of such testimony, a process favored by our mental and moral constitution.

    It is, therefore, with deep regret that we see eminent and devoted men, for the sake of gaining the good-will of unbelievers, forsake a principle of prophetic interpretation and application, that God Himself has laid down, viz.: the strict grammatical interpretation of prophecy and a literal fulfillment of the same. Thus, e.g., Dr. Dorner (His. Prot. Theol., p. 445) in view of Rationalism in some quarters declaring “that a transference of Old Testament occurrences, images, and Messianic features to the person of Jesus of Nazareth, is the source of the Gospel,” asserts: “the more literal the fulfillment of Old Testament sayings found in the New, the more difficult will it be to dispel the suspicion that the former is the source of the latter.” To rid ourselves of so unjust a “suspicion,” it is requisite to accommodate ourselves to unbelief, and yield up everything that may be too “Jewish.” This theory is opposed (1) to the facts in the case; for (a) if this literal fulfillment were missing, the unbelievers would be the first to take advantage of it; (b) it can be proven that the prophecies preceded, and hence the fulfillment the more obvious; (c) it can be shown, as an essential element in the Divine Plan, that both the prediction and the literal fulfillment are a necessity to constitute Jesus the Messiah; (d) it can be pointed out, that the fulfillment, in most cases, is one adverse to the anticipations of Jewish opinion based on Jewish Scriptures, and yet necessary in the Divine Purpose; (e) it can be boldly assumed, that without such a correspondence we can have no assurance that the Christ came; (f) it can be affirmed, that such concessions do no good to the class for whom they are intended, but that they rather confirm them in unbelief. Then, again, the theory is opposed (2) to the criterion established by God; for (a) the plainest and most triumphant exhibition of veracity and union with the Divine is a literal fulfillment of prediction, and hence the failure of such is the test of a false prophet; (b) a literal fulfillment is adapted to all classes of minds, for which the Bible is designed; (c) the literal fulfillment manifests the Divine Will, and is a part of the Divine Purpose, and as such is appealed to in order to indicate it; (d) Jesus and the apostles represent it as a decided proof and reality of the Divine, thus flatly controverting the far-fetched “suspicions” of early and later opposers of Christianity; (e) if it were desirable to avoid such an objection, the Bible, the product of Divine wisdom, knowing how to reach men’s minds and hearts, would not lay stress upon it; (f) it is not a literal fulfillment that leads to such “suspicions,” but the heart desires them to silence the sense of responsibility; (g) it forms, then, a substantial reason—for if missing the chain would be broken—in behalf of Christianity; adapted to all minds; preserving the unity of the Record; attesting to the Divine Plan; giving a proper insight into Redemption; revealing the future history of the race and the ultimate triumph of truth and holiness over error and evil; and practically illustrating the power of an all-pervading Providence in the most forcible manner. Let it be repeated: it is impossible to satisfy (he demands of opposing parties. Objection is made that there is too literal a fulfillment, which is adduced as evidence of collusion, etc. Frazer (Key to the Prophecies) informs us of some infidels, who object to Revelation because there is no accurate, literal fulfillment of its own predictions. So Renan also objects, and claims that Jesus was disappointed in His fond anticipations. The Jews also objected to Christ that all the prophecies pertaining to the Messiah were not literally fulfilled at the First Advent. Here, then, are two objections, the exact opposite of each other: the one rejecting Scripture because of a too literal fulfillment, the other doing the same on the ground that a sufficiently literal aspect is wanting. This should teach us to accept of God’s wisdom in the matter, receiving His testimony as superior to man’s, and not weaken its force in the vain attempt of conciliating unbelievers.

    It is comparatively easy to endure the reproaches of unbelievers, but not so readily those of excellent men, believers, who, by their sweeping statements, are justly charge able with molding the minds of multitudes to a rejection of a true, consistent interpretation of Scripture, preparing the masses of the church to have no faith when the Saviour comes. Unable to reconcile with their views of Scripture and of the future, a literal fulfillment of prophecy, such Prophecy must submit its grammatical sense to another that is more accommodating. But this is not all: the most ultra positions are taken to sustain such a departure. Thus, e.g., Pressense (The Redeemer, p. 100) asserts: “Literal interpretation of prophecy is, therefore, nonsense,” etc., declaring that all prophecy is in its “form essentially symbolical,” and adduces the Psalms relating to Christ as first applicable to David (?), then to Solomon (?), and finally to Christ. Yet he is inconsistent with himself, for in other places and works he repeatedly presents this same “nonsense,” i.e., literal fulfillment of prophecy, as evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus. Adopt his rule, and it plunges us at once into the most varied and contradictory interpretation, and makes it impossible to meet the arguments of infidels against prophecy without a pitiful retreat into mystical subterfuges and the plainest violation of the laws of language. Alas! otherwise able works abound in this species of damaging statement, and set themselves in direct antagonism to Jesus (John 14:29): “And now I have told you before it come too pass, that when it come to pass, ye might believe.”

Obs. 4. The prophecies referring to the Kingdom of God, as now interpreted by the large majority of Christians, afford the strongest leverage employed by unbelievers against Christianity. Unfortunately, unbelief is often logically correct. Thus e.g. it eagerly points to the predictions pertaining to David’s Son, showing that, if language has any legitimate meaning, and words are adequate to express an idea, they unmistakably predict the restoration of David’s throne and kingdom, etc., and then triumphantly declare that it was not realized (so Strauss, Baur, Renan, Parker, etc.). They mock the expectation of the Jews, of Simeon, the preaching of John, Jesus, and the disciples, the anticipations of the early Church, and hastily conclude, sustained by the present faith of the Church (excepting only a few), that they will never be fulfilled; and that, therefore, the prophecies, the foundation upon which the superstructure rests, are false, and of human concoction. The manner of meeting such objections is humiliating to the Word and Reason; for it discards the plain grammatical sense as unreliable, and, to save the credit of the Word, insists upon interpreting all such prophecies by adding to them, under the claim of spiritual, a sense which is not contained in the language, but suits the religious system adopted. Unbelief is not slow in seizing the advantage thus given, gleefully pointing out how this introduced change makes the ancient faith an ignorant one, the early Church occupying a false position, and the Bible a book to which man adds any sense, under the plea of spiritual, that may be deemed necessary for its defence.

    Some unbelievers even go to the length of denouncing the Saviour and the apostles as being “deceivers,” “Indian jugglers,” etc., who endeavored, without success, to appropriate the predictions to themselves. Others inform us that the prophecies inflamed the imagination of Jesus, and that under their influence His ministry started, but that He discarded much as unable to be realized in the condition of things then existing. This is a favorite topic of Renan’s, the result of his own unreliable imaginings. Parker and his followers, of course, tell us that there are “prophecies which have not been, and never will be fulfilled,” referring especially to those relating to the Kingdom promised to David’s Son. The Liberalist, M. Grotz, and others, advise us to keep prophecy in the background as a very minor question, and not worthy of serious consideration—i.e. it is only worthy the contempt of the enlightened. Even Schleiermacher (Sys. of Doctrines) objects to nearly all the prophecies, especially the more prominent, as proceeding from a material spirit of the people, and hence places the Old Testament containing them far below the New. As we proceed, there will be found abundant and painful evidence of this spirit and lack of faith in the Word of God, extending from the most virulent of unbelievers down to semi-unbelievers and even believers. It is a lamentable fact that prophecies, en masse, which have no relation to the church as organized at present, are appropriated and applied to the church as now existing, that cannot and do not thus apply, and that this has necessarily caused unbelief in many who detect, easily, the utter discrepancy. We only now say, that there must be a sad defect somewhere in human systems, which causes prophecies to promise, plainly too, one thing and yet mean quite another; this, we affirm, is an imperfection existing, not in the language of the prophets, but only in the interpretation of them, and in the limiting of their fulfillment to the past and present, as if God was unable to carry out His purposes in the future. A renewed study, a thorough examination of them, and a return to the grammatical sense, will alone enable us to close the wide gap left open for opposers to enter.

    The student will observe also that the evidence in behalf of the predictive nature of prophecy is not dependent—as in alleged human—upon single or isolated predictions, but brings to its support a grand series of predictions, one hinging upon the other. In this work we shall frequently avail ourselves of this connected succession. The destructive theories respecting prophecy (e.g. in Davidson’s Introduction, with which comp. the “Reply” in The Princeton Review, Jan., 1864), which bring it down to something like human sagacity, are fully met by the simple fact of this divine order, and their forming integral parts of a divine system, imparting to us a knowledge of the Divine Purpose. The fulfillment of prediction is evidence of the truth (Archb. Sumner’s Essay on Proph., etc.), and in the preparatory measures relating to the Kingdom, confirms the office of prophecy (Kurtz’s Sac. His., p. 32).

Obs. 5. Multitudes are found, who deliberately and persistently refuse to study the Prophecies. To such, at least in part, applies the language of Bengel (Gnomon, Apoc. c. 1:1), who, after directing attention to the fact that Revelation is given “to shew unto his servants,” etc., says: “He who does not permit the things which must come to pass to be shewn to him, is wanting in the duty of a servant.” There is propriety and force in the remark, which those who object to our making these things a special subject of study, would do well to ponder. A servant cannot, without injury to himself, neglect a large portion of Scripture, which God, with a merciful object in view, kindly presents to him. He will rather imitate the Prophets themselves, who “inquired and searched diligently”—not a mere cursory examination, but a profound and extended inquiry—into the revelations made to them (I Peter 1:10–11). God’s wisdom and power (Isaiah 43:9, 13) is found in prophecy; to many, however, it is foolishness. Blessedness is attached to it (Apoc. 1:3, comp. Bengel, Barnes, etc.), but to many it is evil and drudgery.

    Instead of a careful investigation, some refuse to receive it; others quote isolated passages to support some doctrine or opinion, without the least idea of the context or real prophetical meaning. Popes, e.g., have applied prophetic announcements pertaining to the Messiah to themselves; Papists and Protestants have appropriated what exclusively belongs to the Jewish nation; sects and individuals have presumptuously claimed as belonging to themselves what really is predicted of “the age to come.” Prophecy has been made a plastic mortar to daub over the crudest and most mystical conceptions. Rejection or misconception has triumphed, and thus it will continue down to the harvest itself. Pious and able men, such as Bh. Newton, Meade, Bengel, etc, are ridiculed for having studied and written on the subject. Voltaire’s sneer at Sir I. Newton, that he wrote on the Apocalypse to console mankind for his superiority in other matters, has been reproduced in another form by Renan (Life of Jesus, p. 138): “Newton thought his crazy exposition of the Apoc. as certain as his system of the world.” (Which clearly show’s that Renan never read Newton’s book, which claims no such certainty, but represents itself as a humble attempt to approximately elucidate, if possible, a difficult subject, containing both modesty and valuable suggestions. The remark reveals the animus of Renan.) Valuable information and suggestions imparted by such a class of writers is studiously ignored, and mistakes, to which the best of men are liable, are joyfully paraded as evidence of the sad results of prophetical study. How true it is that to the mass of mankind and to many believers, it is a matter of the utmost indifference whether Jesus opened the seals of the book or not, whether He gave a farewell testimony or not, whether He enjoined special attention to it or not, whether John was deeply affected, even to tears, or not. John wept because the things fastened by the seals could not be revealed, and he rejoiced when Christ opened them; but now, although those things are plainly recorded, it is deemed foolishness to be in sympathy with John, or to search into them with an interest becoming the subject. Let a man enter this field of investigation with sobriety, honesty, and humility, and epithets the most derogatory are heaped upon him indicative of “folly,” “weak-mindedness,” visionary,” “fanatical,” etc., so that it requires some degree of courage to face the obloquy, to endure the loss of sympathy, to suffer the reproaches of withdrawn confidence, and to receive the imputations of mental and moral weakness. Rashness, however, consists not only in attempting to interpret in a trifling way, without due comparison, reflection, moderation, etc., but is equally to be found in neglecting or despising prophetical truth; indeed, the latter exceeds the former in one respect since it lacks even the respect shown to prophecy by the most injudicious of interpreters. Alas! how comparatively few have, at present, the spirit of Daniel (2:19–23), who manifested his reverence and gratitude for and interest in the prophecies given. Indeed, such as ancient believers received with faith and praise, are now regarded either with unbelief, or indifference, or scorn and reproach, and “the testimony of Jesus (which) is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10) is not only rejected, pronounced unworthy of special study, but rebukes are heaped upon those who devote time and labor to its elucidation and enforcement. It is true of prophecy, as of all God’s works: “The works of the Lord are great (vast in magnitude), sought out (investigated) of all them that have pleasure therein” (Psalm 111:2).

Obs. 6. It is the united testimony of all who have devoted much time to the study of prophecy, that it is exceedingly profitable in many respects; and they exhort others, in view of personal benefit derived therefrom, to devote special attention to the same. This testimony is the more worthy of consideration, since it comes from the most talented, scholarly, devoted men that the Church has produced, and fully accords with the promises of the Word. Fully acknowledging the correctness of Stanley (His. of Jewish Church), Payne Smith (Mess. Inter. of Isa., Introd.), Fairbairn (On Proph.), and others, that the teaching of the Future or simple prediction was only one part of the Prophetic office or duty, we firmly hold that, viewed correctly, this is far from being “subordinate.” Reflection shows that its distinguishing peculiarity consists in this: under the form of Prophecy, the Divine Purpose, not merely in particular cases, but as a grand whole, is developed. Therefore it is, that he who studies and compares Prophecy (teaching respecting the future), keeping in view that it is far more than mere prediction (in the sense of foretelling to convince men of the truth, etc.), that it is designed to teach a system of truth (one part adjusting itself to another in the thus revealed Plan), will obtain a deeper and more satisfactory insight into Redemption, as carried on and finally realized. We cannot call that “subordinate” which materially aids—is essential—to such knowledge.

    It may be well, in the briefest terms, to enumerate the reasons why the study of Prophecy is important. (1) It evinces due respect for “all” Scripture. (2) It shows that we believe that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (3) That it is “a sure word.” (4) It affords the satisfaction of performing a duty. (5) It is fruitful in bringing forth treasure. (6) It increases faith, hope, and Jove. (7) It exalts our conceptions of the attributes of God, His knowledge and power. (8) It reveals the results of depravity. (9) It teaches forbearance and patience under the trials to which the church and believer are subject. (10) It gives the Second Advent its due prominency. (11a) It enforces the motives, hopes, etc., grounded on the Second Advent. (11b) It enlightens us respecting the mission of the First Advent, and shows how it is preparatory. (12) It imparts accurate information concerning the Kingdom of God, its nature and re-establishment. (13) It explains the intercalary period, the Times of the Gentiles. (14) It teaches us more clearly upon what the engrafting of the Gentiles depends. (15) It presents us with the career of the church and anti-Christian powers. (16) It gives us distinctive knowledge of God’s Redemptive Purpose. (17) It secures the blessedness of obedience to the truth, if received, hereafter. (18) It increases the range of prayer, and stimulates to its employment. (19) It is a preservative from sin. (20) It leads to separation from the world, but to labor for its warning and welfare. (21) It preserves us from the rebuke given to the non-discerning Pharisees. (22) It alone will prepare believers for the terrible trials of the still future great tribulation. (23) Being received by faith and appropriated, we may, according to Promise, escape from the sad scenes to be ushered in (this will be explained under the Translation). (24) Its tendency is to produce love toward the brethren, sinking the present into the future. (25) Its revelations may, when presented to others, warn, instruct, and guide to the knowledge, service, and obedience of God. (26) It prominently holds forth the Theocratic relationship of Jesus. (27) It specifically instructs us concerning the Jewish nation, the true people of God, and the enemies of Christ. (28) The design of the present dispensation, its introductory character, etc., are delineated by it. (29) It enforces and confirms the covenants. (30) It tells us when we are to be rewarded, when we shall inherit. (31) It makes the promises of God consistent and more precious. (32) It materially aids to explain Scripture. (33) It shows us how Redemption is complete—a recovery from all the effects of the fall. (34) It gives us a clearer idea of the resurrection, translation, judgment day, etc. (35) It enables us to understand and appreciate the reign of the saints. (36) It indicates the ending of Gentile domination and the supremacy of the Theocratic ordering. (37) It presents us with a more enlarged view of the future agency and power of the Holy Spirit. (38) It vindicates the glory of God in the Salvation portrayed in its sublime language. (39) It makes the Bible a harmonious whole. (40) It prevents us from predicting falsely. (41) It helps us to meet the objections urged by infidels, Jews, etc. (42) It serves to explain, more satisfactorily, the world’s history. (43) It honors, exalts the mighty King, giving us the most enlarged views of His majesty and power. Considering the value of such study, it is inexcusable to neglect it. The remarks of Dr. Schmucker (Proph. His. of the Ch. Relig., p. 44, on Apoc. 1:3) are but too applicable: “Oh! the guilty backwardness of many in our days, to read and study this invaluable treasure of the Christian, for fear of incurring the ridicule of infidels, or the piteous smile of the wise men of the world. Some in our days neglect this kind of study even from hypocrisy. They assume a superior air of sanctity, as if their minds were employed in matters of far greater moment than this, and therefore pray to be excused. Should a mortal presume to know better, what he ought to read than God? However the study of the prophecies should not be our first care; for what will all this knowledge avail, if we die in our sins at last. Our first duty is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We must be experimentally acquainted with the ways of God in Christ Jesus, to derive real benefit from knowledge of this kind. He whose eternal interest is truly settled will study the prophecies to the advantage of his soul’s concerns, when the unconverted speculation only satisfies vain curiosity.” This rebuke and caution is well deserved; for neglect, on the one hand is criminal, whilst, on the other, without an appropriating of Christ, the sum of all prophecy, by the elementary principles of repentance and faith, its study only increases our condemnation. (Comp. Commentators, generally, on Apoc. 1:3.) In view of the general neglect of prophecy, even by ministers eminent for ability, it is to be feared that Daniel’s prayer is applicable (Daniel 9:6): “Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants, the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.” For if Daniel could include this in a confession of sin and unworthiness, how much more pertinent is it, when regarding the additions made to prophecy since Daniel’s time, some even given under the direct auspices of Jesus Himself and called His “testimony”? Jesus (Matthew 24:15) refers to Daniel’s prophecy, saying, “Whoso readeth, let him understand,” and both He and the apostles allude to unfulfilled prophecy, calling attention to it, and assuming that it was imparted to secure knowledge of God’s ways. Indeed, we have intimations that in the private and unrecorded instructions much stress was laid on the study of prophecy (e.g. as to Jesus, Luke 24:25–27; as to the apostles, 2 Thessalonians 2:5). Comp. “On the Importance of Prophecy,” Brookes’s Maranatha, Seiss’s Last Times, and kindred works.

Obs. 7. The nature, characteristics, etc., of the Kingdom, should not be determined by one, two, or even more, predictions, unless very specific, but by a comparison of all, or at least a large number of, the predictions relating to it. One or more, taken separately, may give us but slight evidence, whilst the whole, or a large proportion, will present such abundant proof that the correctness of view will be fortified against assault. The neglect of this caution has been fruitful in mistake; a passage or two is selected and a plausible theory is erected upon it, which, however, cannot bear the test of accumulated light. Inferential or one-sided testimony must give place to the direct and abounding.

Bh. Horsley (Sermons, vol. 2, p. 13), showing that the prophecies were parts of a system which pointed to the establishment of the Messiah’s Kingdom, takes II Peter 1:20 to express: “Not any prophecy of Scripture is of self-interpretation” (i.e. isolated from others), but must be interpreted in its unity with others or the whole (so also Faber, etc.). However the passage is rendered, the rule of comparison is essential to preserve from error. Horne (Introd.) adopts this as the first rule for ascertaining the sense of prophetic writers. (Many authors indorse Horsley’s rendering, whilst others make it to denote “that what they communicated was not of their own disclosure;” “that the prophecy cannot be understood until compared with the event,” etc. (Barnes’ Com. loci.). Fairbairn (On Proph. Ap. G. p. 496) interprets it to mean: “No Scripture comes of one’s own solution;” and he refers it not, as others, “how the meaning of prophecy is made out, or interpreted, but how prophecy itself came into existence, whence it drew its origin,” etc. The Roman Catholic application of the passage is refuted by Barnes and others. Bh. Van Mildert says: “That the sense of no prophecy is to be determined by an abstract consideration of the passage itself; but by taking it in conjunction with other portions of Scripture relating to the subject.” Comp. Bloomfield, loci, who quotes Van Mildert, but agrees with Horsley, who, in addition, includes more than mere comparison, viz.: that in virtue of its divine origin, it sustains a necessary relation to a system of truth and must find its true interpretation in that relationship, and in the history (fulfillment of the world). In reference to the double fulfillment of prophecy, while we would not entirely reject it, yet great caution is required in its application, being convinced that in many instances it is faulty and erroneously applied. Our argument makes it unnecessary to be employed by us, and therefore we refer the reader to works that adopt it, as Bh. Newton’s Diss. on Proph., vol. 1, p. 70; and vol. 2, p. 92; Horne’s lntrod., vol. 1, p. 390; Bacon’s Adv. of Learning, B. 2; Bickersteth’s Guide; Brookes’s El Proph. Inter., etc.

    It may be added that the very cautions given respecting the study of prophecy, indicate that no man can make himself conversant with the same without considerable labor and time. The Bible implies this in the manner in which it is given, and clearly teaches us that God exercises the talent and wisdom of His people in the searching of His Word; and that in condescending to such revelations He leaves us to investigate in order that the wise only may understand. The labor necessarily bestowed causes the laborer to appreciate the treasures dug out, and, at the same time, prevents those who are the special subjects of prophetic judgments—owing to sin—to see and understand the impending doom. The range of prophecy, dealing with the deepest and most vital theological questions, with the highest and noblest things pertaining to man and his destiny, demands, to insure successful prosecution, a cultivated mind as well as a heart of faith. In its relationship to history it calls for an acquaintance with ancient and modern, sacred and profane history. For, as Bh. Newton remarks: “Prophecy is history anticipated and contracted; history is prophecy accomplished and dilated.” Von Döllinger (Essay on Proph. Spirit) calls the historian “a prophet looking behind.” In addition to this, its relationship to, as an essential part of, a great redemptive system, calls for a comprehensive view of the numerous details, fitting them into their several designed places, and bringing forth the unity of design exhibited. While all men can derive benefit from its study, yet few men are really qualified to perform the amount of labor required to bring together prophecy connectedly and systematically. And among the few, nearly all, possessing the requisite talent and ability, are so occupied with other labors that they cannot bestow the time that the subject demands.

Obs. 8. In almost every work written against the doctrine of the Kingdom as held by us, great stress is laid on the obscurity of prophetic announcements arising from their figurative or symbolic language. Some even go so far as to say, that prophecy can only be understood after its fulfillment. Admitting a degree of obscurity in some details, in the order of some events, in the manner in which some things are to be fulfilled, etc., it is sufficient to reply, that the objection only has force when applied to our method of interpretation, but is forgotten and overridden when the substitution of a spiritualistic interpretation is attempted.

    This requires some additional remarks. It has already been shown under several Propositions that there is mystery attached to some things, that a degree of obscurity is intentionally given, that laborious study and diligent comparison is required, etc., but have also stated (which will hereafter clearly appear) that this mystery and obscurity does not refer to the nature of the Kingdom, but to events connected therewith, the exact order to be observed, the time of accomplishment, the brevity of expression, the figurative language used, etc. Bh. Newton, who gave much thought and attention to the subject, justly says (On Proph., vol. 2, p. 911: “Though some parts are obscure enough to exercise the church, yet others are sufficiently clear to illuminate it; and the obscure parts, the more they are fulfilled, the better they can be understood. In this respect, as the world groweth older, it groweth wiser.” The present and past fulfillment of prophecy gives us a clue to its language and the expressions peculiar to itself, and thus constantly enlarges the facilities for comprehending the same. Without diligent study of the more obscure allusions, it would be impossible to predicate a fulfillment of them when accomplished, unless proper comparison were instituted. It was, probably, in view of this, that Sir I. Newton, Obs. Apoc, ch. 1, p. 253) said: “Amongst the interpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note who has not made some discovery worth knowing.”

    The objection grounded on alleged obscurity is urged to evince that we can know but little concerning it, and that, therefore, our explanations are worthless. For the present, it is only necessary to reply: (1) How comes it, then, that if they are necessarily so obscure that nothing certain can be gained respecting the Kingdom and its manifestation, they themselves so confidently appeal to and interpret them concerning the same? Thus e.g. every one of them brings forward a favorite theory of the Kingdom and Millennium, and to sustain his position largely quotes the figurative and even the symbolical prophecies, and these, when thus applied by themselves, are no longer obscure; nay, more, are become so decidedly clear that they are used in preaching, prayer, and singing. Singular change! In sermons, prayers, and hymns, when confidently used by themselves, prophecy is easily apprehended, but when Millenarians refer to it and endeavor to show its relationship to the future, then, all at once, it is considered too dark and incomprehensible! Alas! men of ability resort to so pitiful a subterfuge, and actually influence the ignorant by it. (2) They themselves, being the judges, decide after all that if desirous to become acquainted with what God has revealed concerning the Kingdom and its glory, we must turn to the prophecies abounding in figure. Hence censure in this direction is scarcely compatible with their own course, they themselves affirming that “vagueness” gives place, by comparison and study, to certainty. (3) That when not directly writing against us, they overlook this obscurity, making all the concessions that are needed. (Comp. e.g. Barnes, Com, on II Peter 1:20–21; Revelation 1:1; The Presbyterian Quarterly Review for 1853, quoted by Lord in Theol. and Lit. Journal for 1853, p. 258; Stuart’s Com. on Apocalypse 1:1–5; in brief, compare their expositions of such passages and all others urging us to the study of prophecy.) (4) That really there exists but little difference—if any—between us so far as the grammatical and rhetorical meaning is concerned; and the same is true even in many cases of the symbols employed; we both are agreed how the tropical language is to be interpreted, viz.: by the ordinary rules governing all language. The difference between us lies in the fact that after the plain, unobscure sense is presented, then, in opposition to us who hold to the sense thus conveyed, another ungrammatical and unrhetorical operation must be performed, viz.: this sense thus obtained must have engrafted upon it (as e.g. David’s throne and kingdom) a different and very spiritual or mystical meaning; must be tortured by the Origenistic process until it evolves something that suits the taste or option of the interpreter; must, in brief, be explained by a mode that has never been applied to any other written document in existence, and which is utterly unknown to the laws of language. Here is where the obscurity obtains—certainly not on the side which limits itself by regular, well-known law, but on that which passes beyond those ascertained rules, and allows in addition a sense which is unconfined and unlimited in variety at the discretion of spiritualistic assumption, making the plainest of passages inflated, involved, and transcendental. The writer does not exaggerate on so important a point, for the proof of its being unconfined and unlimited consists in this: that no work, addicted to spiritualizing, is in existence (within the knowledge of the author) that gives the laws regulating the obtaining and applying of such an added sense, thus leaving it unconfined at the pleasure of the expositor; the unlimited variety can be readily seen in e.g. the meanings attached to the Kingdom, in various commentaries, in Swedenborg’s works, in the writings of the mystics, etc., numerous examples of which will be quoted as we proceed.

    In reference to the old and oft-refuted objection, making a total obscurity—“that prophecy is so arranged that it is not to be understood until its fulfillment”—this too is already answered by the course of our opponents, who against this alleged axiom profess themselves able to express a confident opinion as to fulfillment. Some professed Christians almost seem to have adopted, with reference to unfulfilled prophecy, the inscription (“nil scire tutissima fides”) over the gateway of the famous mansion of Claas van Olden Barneveld, expressive of the faith that to know nothing is the safest belief. Let those who urge such objections answer questions like the following: What propriety and force is there in Amos 4:7–8, Hosea 14:9, Daniel 12:4, Apocolypse 1:3, and kindred passages? Where is the Scripture that contains such a rule for our guidance? Why are we so expressly exhorted to read and study it, and why is the non-discerning and neglect of it so rebuked, if we can know nothing about it until fulfilled? How can prophecy be a light, if it is dark? What encouragement, profit, hope, etc., is to be derived from it previous to fulfillment? Why do some of these very men rashly attempt to elucidate prophecy, as in commentaries, sermons, books on prophecy, etc.? Why confidently declare that we are certainly wrong, if they know nothing about it; for might we not even happily guess at the true meaning? Why, in contending with unbelievers, quote prophecy against them, if it has no more weight than this? Why refer to it in encouraging the faith and hope of the church? The reader must not censure because so much space is occupied with such objections, for the writer has been often pained to find good and learned men urge them against us, and then turn around and, in the same book, plead the usefulness and benefit of prophecy in throwing light upon the, what would be otherwise a dark, future. Some are like Sir Thorn. Browne (Christian Morals, s. 13), who said: “Study prophecies when they are become histories, and past hovering in their causes;” but they do not assign as a reason one given by him: “The greatest part of time being already wrapt up in things behind us, it’s now somewhat lute to bait after things before us; for futurity still shortens, and time present sucks in time to come.” … “If the expected Elias should appear, he might say much of what is past, not much of what’s to come.” On the other hand, Moody (How to Study the Bible) remarks: “If God did not wish us to understand the Revelation, He would not have given it us at all. A good many say that it is so dark and mysterious common readers cannot understand it. Let us only keep digging away at it, and it will unfold itself by and by. Some one says it is the only book in the whole Bible that tells about the devil being chained; and as the devil knows that, he goes up and down Christendom, and says: ‘It is no use, you reading the Revelation; you cannot understand the book; it’s too hard for you.’ The fact is, he doesn’t want you to understand about his own defeat.”

    Another and favorite mode of discrediting prophecy as employed by Millenarians must, in justice to ourselves, be briefly noticed. It is charged that its study has led to foolish interpretations and rash expositions. This, alas, is true, and one of the results of human infirmity. But the abuse, the perversion does not discredit a proper use of the truth, for otherwise no truth—for what has escaped—would be left to us. After many years of careful study and reading, embracing the writings of all classes, it is correct to assert as a well-weighed opinion, that if we were to measure the extravagance of Anti-and Post-Millenarians—our opponents—with that of Millenarian writers, the former would greatly exceed in the scale of folly and rashness. Thus e.g. Pres. Edwards (His. of Redemp.) employing prophecy to make this earth (to which prophecy offers redemption) the future, eternal hell; Prof. Stuart’s Neroic theory; Dr. Berg making the Fifth Kingdom of Daniel the United States; Swedenborg’s appropriation of the New Jerusalem prophecies; “the Apoc. Unveiled,” making the angel of Revelation 10 the symbol of “the present age of steam-power and the magnetic telegraph,” etc., etc.

Obs. 9. Millenarians, in order to secure the belief of others, constantly appeal to a literal fulfillment of prophecy. They endorse the language of Tertullian (Apol. *): “The daily fulfilment of prophecy is, surely, a full proof of revelation. Hence, then, we have a well-founded belief in many things which are yet to come, namely, the confidence arising from oar knowledge of the past, because some events, still future, were foretold at the same time with others which are past. The voice of prophecy speaks alike of each; the Scriptures record them equally; the same Spirit taught the prophets both. In the predictions there is no distinction of time; if there be any such distinction, it is made by men; while the gradual course of time makes that present which was future, and that past which was present. How can we, then, be blamed for believing also what is predicted respecting the future, when our confidence is founded upon the fulfilment of prophecies relating to the present and the past” (quoted by Cumming’s Lect. on Dan., p. 425, from Chevallier’s Trans.). We lay much stress on this feature in the present work.

    In view of this fact, something more may be said to impress its value. No one can fail to see that prophecy in the past and present has been minutely fulfilled—i.e. fulfilled according to the plain grammatical sense contained in it. Analogy, logically applied, demands, as Tertullian asserts, a confident belief that that portion relating to the future will be fulfilled in the same manner. The same God gave both, and the same power will be exerted in fulfillment. The value of prophecy in this direction arises from the fulfillment according with the grammatical sense—the one that the language obviously conveys, for then only can it be legitimately employed as an argument against unbelief. Thus e.g. in the prophecies pertaining to Tyre, Babylon, Nineveh, Jerusalem, the Jewish nation, the church, Rome, etc., all writers lay great stress upon history accurately corresponding with the predictions in their grammatical sense. No one doubts the propriety and force of this so far as it relates to the past and present, but just so soon as we undertake to insist upon the same grammatical sense pertaining to prophecies describing the future, then a multitude arises and derides our system of interpretation as crude, unreasonable, Jewish, etc. The experience of the past and present is set aside, the appeal of Scripture to such a fulfillment is ignored, in order that a favorite system of Eschatology, inconsistent with a continued application of this sound principle, may be saved. Our adherence to such a literal interpretation is pronounced extravagant, enthusiastic, and even fanatical, because, forsooth, in every case we may be unable to explain just how the things predicted are to be accomplished. Our faith in God taking care that His Word shall be fulfilled when the time arrives is decided as childish and unworthy of intelligent piety. Soberness, intelligence, and piety, they inform us, call for a figurative, spiritual, or mystical interpretation of these prophecies. Alas! what exhibition of faith in God’s Word! Learning, ability, piety, are joined in resisting one of the plainest and safest rules of interpretation given in Scripture and corroborated by history, and no sarcasm or ridicule is spared to make our position odious. Let it be so; nothing that we can say or do will alter the Word or retard its fulfillment. Wisdom will be justified by her children. But may we appeal to such by making a supposition: Suppose that we and our opponents lived just before the First Advent of Jesus, with our respective systems of interpretation. Suppose these systems be applied by us to the prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah, what would be the inevitable result? Our literal system would, of course, bring out the birth, life, sufferings, death, burial, etc., of Jesus as they took place. The other system, spiritualizing on account of supposed difficulties, would necessarily make figurative or symbolic the facts as predicted. The supposition shows how contradictory the one system would be to fulfillment. But to neutralize this supposed case, it will, perhaps, be said, that we are under another dispensation, and that the history of the church indicates that much is also to be spiritually understood to make it harmonize with the Scriptures. As this matter will hereafter be fully answered in our line of argument, it is sufficient now to say that the change of dispensation does not affect the interpretation of the Word, no change of the latter being anywhere intimated; and that the reason why so much is spiritualized respecting the church, etc., is simply owing to the sad fact that predictions solely relating to the future, to another dispensation, to the Jewish nation, to the period after the Sec. Advent, men apply to the present time, to this dispensation, to the Gentiles, and to the church, and the result unavoidably is, that an immense amount of spiritualizing and accommodation must take place to cause these things to fit into their system of belief. A system of interpreting prophecy that cannot be equally available in any period of history, in any dispensation, is open, at once, to the gravest suspicion of unsoundness. We, at least, with the early church, reject it as entirely untrustworthy, and in the following pages assign our reasons for the same. 

Prop. 18. The prophecies relating to the establishment of the Kingdom of God are both conditioned and unconditioned.

By this paradox is simply meant that they are conditioned in their fulfillment by the antecedent gathering of the elect, and hence susceptible of postponement (as will be shown, e.g., Props. 58–68); and that they are unconditioned so far as their ultimate fulfillment is concerned, which the conduct or action of man cannot turn aside (as is seen, e.g., at the very time of the kingdom’s manifestation, the nations, Revelation 19, will be arrayed against it). The kingdom itself pertains to the Divine Purpose, is the subject of sacred covenants, is confirmed by solemn oath, is to be the result or end designed, in the redemptive process, and therefore cannot, will not, fail. The inheritors of the kingdom, however, are conditioned—a certain number known only to God—and the kingdom itself, although predetermined (Prop. 2), is dependent (for this also is God’s purpose) as to its manifestation upon their being obtained (the time when this will be accomplished being also known to God).

Obs. 1. Some writers (e.g. Hengstenberg, Art. Prophecy, Kitto’s Ency., referred to by Fairbairn, On Proph., p. 72) hold that all prophecy is unconditional; others (e.g. Olshausen, Com. Matthew 24, vol. 2, p. 255) make it conditional; others again (e.g. Fairbairn, On Proph., p. 72) argue that some are conditional and some are unconditional. There is truth in all these positions, and by combining them the whole truth will appear.

    Let the reader notice: (1) To make all prophecy unconditional is to contradict the case of Jonah and Nineveh, Hezekiah, the offer of the Kingdom to the Jews, the temple service of Ezekiel, etc. Take e.g. that of Nineveh: the language was absolute, “yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah understood it as absolute. But Jonah did not understand what Jeremiah (18:7–9) afterward declared, that underneath predictions which related to the moral condition of man there is involved a moral principle of government which God, in justice to His own character and attributes, and also in behalf of the good of man, necessarily cherishes, viz.: that the good or evil predicted of any person or people is dependent upon their moral action. The language of Jeremiah, as Fairbairn justly observes, cannot be otherwise explained: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it,” etc. (2) It does not follow from this that all prediction is limited by such a restriction, and hence in its fulfillment is conditioned by the action of man. This would be to narrow it down to mere contingency. If dependent on the repentance and faith of man, then there could be no certainty of its truthfulness, for it may fail, or it may not, according to the use made of moral freedom. Whilst this conditionality is evidently true so far as man is personally or individually concerned, to apply this to those predictions referring to the Divine Plan of Redemption is at once to limit the foreknowledge of God, making it impossible to prove that He foreknew the end from the beginning. Such a process would lower prophecy to a very indecisive proof of God’s Omniscience and Power. But if God, on the other hand, evinces His foreknowledge by showing in His predictions (as many do) what this freedom of man’s will accomplish (without interfering with, or curtailing it), and that He can, and often does, overrule it so that it shall not interfere with a set purpose (as e.g. Revelation 17:17), then there is a most decisive proof of God’s Omniscience and Power, of a fixed design which will ultimately be realized; and then, too, His appeals to predictions possess a validity and force which, if altogether conditioned, they otherwise could not possess. (3) While both facts are found to be true, conditioned as to personal freedom and unconditioned as to God’s ultimate purpose, some take advantage of this feature, and under its shelter make more of the prophecies conditional (e.g. in reference to Jewish nation, kingdom, etc.) than is allowable by the positive declarations concerning the Divine Purpose in the Redemption of man and the world. The student, then, must be guarded in the application of the principles which underlie the prophecies.

Obs. 2. The passages (Numbers 23:19, I Samuel 15:29, etc.) which speak of predictions as unconditional, and those (Jeremiah 18:7–10, etc.) which intimate their conditionally, are easily reconcilable from the simple fact, that the purposes of God run in connection with moral freedom, and that whilst the former is not set aside by the action of the latter, yet in the cases of individuals and even nations sufficient latitude is given so that there shall be no violation of that freedom. It may be proper to give some marks by which we may distinguish predictions that will finally be fulfilled from those that are merely conditional. They are the following: 1. Predictions that are bound up with the Divine Plan of Redemption, as e.g. those referring to Christ’s birth, life, death, etc. 2. Those which are confirmed by solemn affirmations or by an oath, as e.g. Numbers 14:20, 28, Hebrews 6:17, etc. 3. Those that are incorporated in the Covenants, as e.g. the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. 4. Predictions which expressly declare that they will take place irrespective of what man will do, as e.g. Daniel 2 and 7, the Apocalypse, Psalm 89:33–34, etc. 5. Predictions that form the basis of succeeding ones and of promises, as e.g. Nathan to David, II Samuel 7:5–17 (this at first sight might seem an exception, but in another place its due fulfillment will be proven). 6. Those that are illustrated by a parable, as e.g. parable of the tares, net, nobleman, etc. (the parable enforces, or takes the fulfillment for granted). 7. Predictions relating to the destiny of the good, whoever they may be. 8. Those referring to the destiny of the wicked, whoever they are. 9. Prophecies given to the Jews respecting other nations, and not to those nations themselves for purposes of repentance, as e.g., Babylon, Tyre, etc. 10. Those that relate to the establishment of the Kingdom of God, being a revelation of God’s will and pleasure respecting redemptive ordering. 11. Those that describe the final restoration or the Jewish nation, this being (as will be fully shown hereafter) essential to secure the manifestation of the Kingdom and the Salvation of the Gentiles.

    Stillingfleet gives (Orig. Sac., quoted by Fairbairn, On Proph., App. D.) four marks for prophecies of an absolute character, viz.: 1. A prediction accompanied by a miracle, by which authenticated as God’s fixed purpose, I Kings 13:3. 2. A prediction, when the things foretold exceed all the probabilities of second causes, as deliverance from Egypt, Babylon, etc. 3. A prediction confirmed by an oath, Numbers 14:28; Psalm 89:31–36; Hebrews 6:17. 4. Predictions concerning blessings merely spiritual, because such blessings flow from grace and not merit.

    A number of writers, in opposition to us, make prophecy conditional. This arises from (1) applying nearly all predictions (pertaining to the future) to the present dispensation, and not seeing them verified as given, claim that they are conditional. (2) From not noticing that God has a fixed Purpose, and that the unbelief of individuals and of nations cannot defeat that Purpose. (3) In not distinguishing between what relates to the individual and what to the Divine Purpose, as e.g. God purposes to make a certain number of Kings and Priests, which number will be made up notwithstanding the unbelief of many. (4) In not observing that the postponement of fulfillment, occasioned by the unbelief of man, does not warrant the belief that there will be no fulfillment. (5) In not perceiving that if God’s promises relating to the future are conditional, then His Word becomes unreliable to such an extent that fulfillment cannot be predicated of it, and hence history fails to become the witness that God claims. (6) In not noticing that they lower the foreknowledge of God; for if He promises in explicit form a certain event that is to take place and it does not, owing to man’s action, then if prophecy is to be a confirmatory witness as intended, the failure, or the reason for the same, ought also to be stated. (7) In not seeing that they reverse the test given by God Himself (Deuteronomy 18:21–22), in answer to the question, “If thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously.” (8) In not considering how they themselves constantly violate such a rule when referring to Christ, their view of the Kingdom, etc., claiming that the things believed by them were predicted and thus realized. A writer in the Princeton Review, Jan., 1861, on “The Fulfilment of Prophecy,” opposes the notion of conditionally on the ground that (1) it is opposed to the inspired criterion, Deuteronomy 18:22; (2) Jeremiah 18:7–10 did not nullify this test, as appears Jeremiah 28:9; (3) the specific nature of prophecy demands it; (4) Nineveh no objection, for, as Hengstenberg observes, we have only the general statement of the preaching, and not the preaching itself. Comp. p. 12, Lange’s Com. on Hosea.

Obs. 3. In view of the important bearing that this point has upon several subjects connected with the Kingdom, it may prove desirable to answer, briefly, a few of the more generally used objections urged against our position. Fairbairn (avoiding the extremes of many writers, and more or less favoring a due medium) says (p. 60, On Proph.): “The announcements, consisting of direct promises of good things to come, can only be expected to meet with fulfilment in so far as the church is true to her calling.” This is only a half-truth; the promises of future good will be fulfilled, notwithstanding the church’s failings, for this God expressly declares (Leviticus 26:44–45, Leviticus 5:42, Isaiah 62, Ezekiel 14:22–23, and in numerous passages), not indeed in the unfaithful, but only (and here is the condition) in the faithful. The objection stops short at this half truth, forgetting to add (which makes it unconditional, i.e. not dependent on man) that God will secure the faithful in whom the promise, to its fullest extent, will be realized.

    To indicate the correctness of our position, reference is made to Fairbairn’s concession (On Proph., p. 62), when he tells us that the rule applied to good things does not hold good when evil is threatened, for the latter is unconditional. But this is a distinction without any difference; for if the blessing can be forfeited by evil doing, then also the punishment can be averted by repentance and well doing. The truth appears to be this: they are conditional as to individuals, who, according to their action, will be blessed or punished; and they are at the same time unconditional so far as the purpose of God is concerned, which is to fulfill His promises to the good and His threats to the evil, i.e. the promises and threats both will inevitably be verified in actual realization. This also covers the leading objection urged by Olshausen (Com. Matthew 24): “Everything future, as far as it concerns man, can only be regarded as conditional upon the use of this freedom.” This is most certainly true, but only to a certain extent, so far as the individual personally is concerned, and does not affect the prediction or promise itself which is based on two things: (1) God’s purpose, and (2) those will be raised up in whom it will be carried out. So far as we are personally concerned it is conditional, for we can choose, etc., but in reference to man even it is unconditional on the ground that it is based on the foreknown fact that some men would experience it. This really is, after all, both Olshausen’s and Fairbairn’s view, although advantage is taken by others to press their language beyond their intention. Thus, to illustrate, an inheritance is predicted and promised to the saints. The saints are conditioned (i.e. they must possess the required characteristics conditioned), but not the predicted inheritance, which will most assuredly be given to those (others, if necessary) for whom it is intended. The future things, therefore, in themselves are not conditioned, only our personal relationship to the same. The promise and the threat both remain on the same footing, seeing that both will be experienced by some. Even when the individual is specifically mentioned or hinted at (as e.g. Paul, Judas, Peter, John the Baptist), the foreknowledge of God embraces the fact that the person designated will, with use of freedom, perform or experience what is predicted. Matthew 19:28 is no exception, seeing that Judas (who proved unfaithful) is carefully excluded by the expression: “Ye which have followed me.”

Obs. 4. The Kingdom itself is not dependent on the acceptance or rejection of its doctrine by man. Man’s entrance into and enjoyment of it is conditioned on his character, but the Kingdom itself will most certainly, at the appointed time, appear. It belongs to Jesus the Christ; it is His inheritance, the result and product of Eternal Wisdom in behalf of man and the world. Jews may reject it (some Jews also, Knapp’s Theol., p. 324, reject Jesus as the Christ, and account for the non-appearance of the Messiah and Kingdom on the ground of the conditionally of the promises—sinfulness preventing their realization), Gentiles may pass it by as unworthy of credence, men may even ridicule it as fantastical, etc., but its establishment is so certain, that if absolute necessity required it, God would, rather than failure should intervene, raise up children for it by an immediate (Matthew 3:9), supernatural creation. We hold that (Romans 11:29) “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” i.e. God changes not; man may change, but God’s purposes to bestow gifts upon man through Jesus Christ and His Kingdom shall never fail, for (Numbers 23:19) “God is not a man that He should lie; neither the Son of man that He should repent; hath He not said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Comp. Zechariah 1:5–6; Isaiah 14:24, 27; Ezekiel 24:14; I Samuel 15:29; Isaiah 46:9–10; Psalm 89:35–36; Isaiah 48:3–6; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:17, etc.) Hence two extremes are to be avoided: one is to press the conditional side so far as to involve no settled purpose in God concerning Redemption; the other, to urge the unconditional aspect until it gives hope where none exists.

    Let the reader carefully observe this fact, that the Kingdom of God itself is not conditioned, because the promises pertain, in inheriting it, to the seed of Abraham; for if the natural seed at any time makes itself unworthy of it, a seed, engrafted, will be raised up unto Abraham. The promises of God fail not because of the unworthiness of any to whom they are tendered. He will provide, as will be abundantly shown hereafter, the requisite regal body by which the Kingdom shall be powerfully and triumphantly manifested. The inheriting, and not the Kingdom, is conditioned. In this connection, to avoid mistake, another feature must be constantly kept in view, viz.: that the Kingdom is intimately and essentially connected with the Jewish Commonwealth, that it is the Theocratic Davidic throne and Kingdom restored under the mighty Theocratic Personage Jesus Christ, and that hence (1) all inheritors must be engrafted, and (2) the Jewish nation itself must inevitably be restored to its land. This at once indicates the logical and scriptural position of the early church, which insisted that the prophecies pertaining to the Jewish nation, whilst conditional as to individuals, and to the nation for a certain determined period, would finally be realized as given. Therefore, one of the essential elements of prophetical interpretation is this: to observe that the prophecies relating to the future glory of the Jewish nation—indeed postponed on account of sinfulness—are not conditional, but present us an ultimate purpose, which shall be verified in its actual history.

    Attention is thus early in the argument called to this feature, that the student may keep it before him as we proceed in the development of scriptural facts and statements. The importance of this is not overestimated, seeing that neglect of these cautions has embarrassed and vitiated the interpretation of much Scripture. Two illustrations may suffice: Dr. Alexander, Com. on Isa., following others in elucidating the predictions pertaining to the Jewish nation, is very careful to show how the curses were fulfilled in the history of that nation, but with equal care bestows the blessings promised to the identical nation—to the church. The Christian church is substituted for the Jewish nation, and prophecy is lavishly accommodated to the substitution. Thus e.g. one of the strongest efforts in this direction is found in the comments of Isaiah 63, but he overlooks the entire connection—who is pleading, whose cities are wasted, who is to be restored to the land, the reference to the Sec. Advent, the day of vengeance and year of Jubilee, in which deliverance to a down-trodden people is given. As this passage will be considered at length hereafter, it is passed by with the remark that all such interpretations assume as their foundation that the promises to the Jewish nation are conditional, and the nation failing in meeting the conditions, it will never be restored, and it will never realize the fulfillment. But strange, it is still supposed that the promises themselves remain intact when appropriated to the church, provided some incongruities are let alone, such as the promises of the return of material prosperity to a down-trodden land, etc., which is to be spiritualized. Waggoner (Ref. of the Age to Come, p. 74) plainly says under the heading, “The conditional nature of the promises made to the Jews:” “It may be remarked that all of God’s promises to man are conditional. To deny this is to advocate Universalism, and even to deny Free Agency,” etc., quoting in proof of such conditionality Exodus 19:5–8, and then argues that the Jews being disobedient, not complying with imposed conditions, the promises of God will ever remain unfulfilled. This is taking a one-sided view of the case; it is true to a certain extent and within a given time, but utterly untrue in so far as it implicates the non-fulfillment of the promises ultimately to the nation. For the promises of God, given with the foreknown knowledge of the defection of the nation and its resultant rejection during “the Times of the Gentiles,” are based on and confirmed by the oath of God (Psalm 89, etc.). As already shown, the Divine Purposes are not limited by what man does. Thus e.g. in reference to the Kingdom, with which the Jewish nation is allied, and in which the nation is promised a pre-eminent commanding position, the promise is most specific; and hence, no matter how many reject the conditions, or how the nation must suffer a prolonged punishment for sin, a sufficient number will be gathered out of the obedient who will form its ruling force, and the nation itself will, as also promised, be brought to repentance and faith, resulting in its glory as predicted. We must leave the discussion of the restoration to Props. 122, 123, and 124. It may, however, be added: if the Kingdom and the promises pertaining thereto depend merely upon the reception or rejection of the truth by the Jewish nation, how are God’s promises to be verified to the believing portion of the nation and to that engrafted line? If the fulfillment is conditioned by the disobedience of the unfaithful portion, are the pious Jews to miss the promises of the Kingdom on account of the wickedness of others? Are the promises given to David made null and void? This opens an abyss for our opponents. At present, it may only be said that such a course would neither be just to man nor honorable to the oath-bound promises of God. Therefore, the Bible teaches us that God, foreseeing this defection of the large portion of the nation, postpones this Kingdom, both as a punishment to the nation and as a merciful provision, that He may gather out from among the Jews and Gentiles the people necessary for its re-establishment upon a glorious and triumphant basis. The truth is, that this whole matter rests on the question whether the covenants which declare this Kingdom to pertain to the Jewish nation are temporary or not. This will be discussed in its proper place, and then the reader will be prepared to decide whether the Jewish nation is entitled to any special privileges in virtue of its covenant relationship. Some writers cannot, and do not, distinguish between the Mosaic covenant and the Abrahamic and Davidic, placing all in the same category. Hence a confusion, and worse, a corresponding restricted interpretation, which quotes prophecy just as it can accommodate it to the church. 

Prop. 19. The New Testament begins the announcement of the kingdom in terms expressive of its being previously well known.

This is an important feature. Any theory at variance with this fact is, to say the least, open to the suspicion of being defective. The statement in the Proposition is one that has been noticed and duly acknowledged by numerous writers of almost every shade of opinion. The preaching of the kingdom, its simple announcement, without the least attempt to explain its meaning or nature, the very language in which it was conveyed to the Jews—all presupposed that it was a subject familiar to them. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Seventy, all proclaimed the kingdom in a way, without definition or explanation, that indicated that their hearers were acquainted with its meaning.

Obs. 1. On the face of the opening pages of the New Testament it is taken for granted that the Kingdom was something well known, already the object of faith and hope. Theologians generally, either unable to reconcile this with their church theories, or deeming it unimportant while acknowledging the fact, pass it by in silence, or give us some apologetics to account for it, which are derogatory to the age, to the believers then living, and to the Word. The destructive critics, seeing here a point of leverage, insist upon it that this was evidence of the prevalence of “Jewish forms,” and scoff at it as a decided indication of weakness and failure. By us—for we make no apology, needing none—it is regarded as prerequisite and essential to the truthfulness and unity of our doctrine.

Obs. 2. The feature in the Prop, is an indispensable accessory. Without it, there would be a flaw, a missing link in the chain; with it there is completeness;—for if the Kingdom is to be understood in its literal covenanted aspects as predicted by the prophets, then it is easy to see that the New Testament consistently announces the same. If the Kingdom, however, is what the multitude now believe and teach, then the announcement is singular, strained, and even inconsistent with the circumstances of the age, the true meaning of the Kingdom, the preaching presented, and the alleged substitution. Nothing, if the latter is correct, in the shape of apologetics can save it from the condemnation and jeers of unbelievers, for, at the most, it would be a mere humiliating accommodation to Jewish prejudice and ignorance. There is no escape from this dilemma.
    We are willing to accept of the strictures passed on this feature of the New Testament (viz.: its accommodation to the grammatical sense of the Old Testament) by Strauss, Baur, Eenan, etc., and instead of seeking out some way of escape which in itself lowers the truth and the character of God in giving such a sense, find in them (avoiding their unjust conclusions) renewed strength and power. As the objections of unbelief will hereafter be met in detail, it is sufficient, for the present, to say that Von Ammon (Bib. Theol.), and after him many others, throw doubt on the credibility of the Scriptures on the ground that the New Testament in the very outset indicates that John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples were susceptible to the errors and prejudices of their Jewish forerunners and hearers, and that consequently, instead of there being one great design relating to the future as attributed to them, we have, in view of the subsequent change in the meaning of the Kingdom (i.e. in the discarding of the strictly grammatical sense and the substitution of a spiritual sense), only detached, isolated positions, lacking cohesion and unity. Sherer (Mis. of Relig. Crit.) takes the same view, objecting to the authority of the New Testament, because it thus evinces the influence of Jewish traditions, Rabbinical arguments, Messianic hopes and expectations not in accordance with external facts. Numerous testimonies of a similar nature might be adduced from recent writers; these, avoiding their deductions, we will accept, and show, step by step, in a logical, scriptural manner, (1) how they take the unreal nature of the expected and preached Messianic Kingdom for granted, and (2) how every writer unjustly overlooks the expressly predicted postponement of the realization of those Messianic hopes, and from such a deliberate ignoring of a scriptural fact draws inferences to suit his own fancy and theory.

Obs. 3. To impress this point, let us place ourselves in the position occupied by the first hearers of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” Consider that the Old Testament is alone in our hands, and that the plain grammatical sense is the one in which we receive the predictions of the Kingdom. Suppose, under such circumstances, we would have heard John, Jesus, and the disciples preach the Kingdom of God in the manner indicated, what would have been the impressions made upon our minds? Certainly, among other things, that we already knew what the Kingdom was, viz.: the Theocracy as it existed previously, permanently united with the Davidic throne and kingdom. The preaching, let us not forget, directly appeals to a well-known kingdom, and surely we, too, would have, under its influence, imbibed the very views of the Kingdom, which the mass of the church now regards as a Jewish weakness, a lack of discernment, in the early history of this subject. But the question, which but few ever consider, is, whether, after all, this was an error. The answer will follow, in detail, with proof attached.

Obs. 4. If the Kingdom, as multitudes maintain, was not thus known; if it is correct to assert that the Jews and the disciples at first utterly misapprehended its meaning; if the announcement denoted one thing to the hearers and yet contained in itself a spiritual idea which the future was to develop—how comes it, then, that Christ could send out disciples to preach the Kingdom without previous instruction as to its real meaning; and even invite strangers (Luke 9:56–57, 60) to “Go and preach the Kingdom of God.” Why does not John and the disciples first receive preliminary counsel, so that, themselves freed from alleged error, they may properly teach others respecting the Kingdom? It can be safely asserted (the proof following, as the argument is continued) that it is a well-grounded belief that the Kingdom was something that they were acquainted with, and concerning which, as to its nature or meaning, they needed not, owing to its plain portrayal in the Old Testament, any special instruction. No other explanation will cover the facts in the case, or sustain the character and position of the first preachers of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” 

Prop. 20. To comprehend the subject of the kingdom, it is necessary to notice the belief and the expectations of the more pious portion of the Jews.

This is a rule, covering doctrine, laid down by the ablest of writers; it is found in works introductory to the Bible or in defence of the Scriptures (e.g., Horne’s Introduction, vol. i., p. 393, Birk’s Bible and Modern Thought, ch. 12, Dunn’s How to Study the Bible, etc.), as a leading one in the doctrinal interpretation of the Word; its importance and value are urged by various considerations as the only possible way to attain to a consistent sense of a doctrine. If the rule applies to doctrine in general, especially ought it to be observed in that of the kingdom.
    Modern systems of theology are erected in such an elaborate and systematic mode, a scientific and philosophical manner, that they are widely different from the simple and unscientific—yet purposely designed—treatment of doctrine in the Bible. The effect sometimes is, that the student, attracted by the elegance and magnitude of the superstructure of such systems, underrates the more rugged but firmer stones of the foundation in the Scriptures. Impressed by modern modes of thinking and the results of modern thought, he forgets to transport himself back to the ancient manner of thinking and expression. He lives in a world very different from that which existed when prophets predicted and disciples preached. This naturally leads to misconception and misinterpretation of the Scriptures. Hence it is, that the rule (which Horne, in Introd., justly remarks, is constantly violated by commentators and others) appropriately commends itself: “We must endeavor to carry ourselves back to the very times and places in which they (the Scriptures) were written, and realize the ideas and modes of thinking of the sacred writers.”

Obs. 1. It is universally admitted by writers of prominence (e.g. Neander, Hagenbnch, Schaff, Kurtz, etc.), whatever their respective views concerning the Kingdom itself, that the Jews, including the pious, held to a personal coming of the Messiah, the literal restoration of the Davidic throne and kingdom, the personal reign of Messiah on David’s throne, the resultant exaltation of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, and the fulfillment of the Millennial descriptions in that reign. It is also acknowledged that the utterances of Luke 1:71; Acts 1:6; Luke 2:26, 30, etc., include the above belief, and that down, at least to the day of Pentecost, the Jews, the disciples, and even the apostles held to such a view. It is not denied, by able Protestant or Romanist, Christian or Unbeliever, that they regarded the prophecies and covenanted promises as literal (i.e. in their naked grammatical sense); and, believing in their fulfillment, looked for such a restoration of the Davidic Kingdom under the Messiah, with an increased power and glory befitting the majesty of the predicted King; and also that the pious of former ages would be raised up from the dead to enjoy the same. 

Obs. 2. It is noticeable, that in all the rebukes given to the Jews by John the Baptist, by Jesus and the apostles, not one refers to their belief and expectations concerning the Kingdom. The rebukes pertain to their superstition, traditions, bigotry, hypocrisy, pride, ostentation, violation of duty, etc., but nothing is alleged that they misapprehended the Kingdom of the prophets in its fundamental aspects. This is indeed abundantly taken for granted by theologians, but without the least proof to sustain it. The student will see, as the argument proceeds, that such supposed ignorance would reflect severely upon the covenants, prophecies, and preaching of the first preachers of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.”

Obs. 3. A few brief testimonies are annexed: Van Oosterzee (Theol. New Testament, p. 53–55), alluding to the belief of the Jews, informs us that they held to Messiah’s coming in a time of tribulation (which the New Testament confirms at the Sec. Advent), when Antichrist was reigning, and which would result in a great battle (so also Revelation 19, etc.) with hostile world powers. The Christ will be a descendant of David’s, will be anointed with the Holy Spirit, will set up his Kingdom in Israel, will remove evil and suffering, will introduce peace and blessedness, perform great miracles, awake first the pious dead Israelites, triumph over the heathen, and allow also non-Israelite nations to enjoy salvation. He then adds: “Of this Salvation, Jerusalem will be the centre; the purified earth, the theatre; and the restoration of all things, the crown.” Reuss (His. Ch. Theol., p. 115), under the title “Messianic hopes,” says: “The object of Christ’s coming may be stated in general terms to be the foundation of the Kingdom of God.” “There was needed, first, a political, moral, and religious restoration of Israel, such as the ancient prophets had foretold,” including “the recall of the dispersed Jews,” and “the re-establishment of the throne of David.” Schmid (Bib. Theol. N. Test.) declares that the Jewish faith embraced the idea of “a Kingdom of kings and priests; indeed of a Theocracy under a monarchical form,”—“an ideally real Theocratic Kingdom of the Messiah.”
    Knapp (Ch. Theol., p. 323) has a singular statement. First, he acknowledges that “the ancient opinion” of the Jews was that “He (Christ) would be a temporal deliverer and a king of the Jews, and indeed a universal monarch, who would reign over all nations. Thus they interpreted Psalm 2:2, 6, 8; Jeremiah 23:5–6; Zechariah 9:4, seq.” Secondly, he confesses: “The apostles themselves held this opinion until after the resurrection of Christ, Matthew 20:20–21; Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6.” Thirdly, he endeavors, as a support to his own theory of the Kingdom, to make out that a small number, instancing Simeon and the malefactor on the cross, did not so much expect an earthly kingdom as spiritual blessings. Fourthly, he makes out that many united the idea of an earthly kingdom and spiritual blessings. His concessions are all that we need; the effort to introduce the modern spiritualistic view in the case of Simeon and the malefactor fails—(1) because all Jews believed in the plain grammatical sense of covenant and prophecy; and (2) because otherwise he makes these two to take a higher rank in the true knowledge of the Kingdom than the apostles (comp. above his concession), who were specially instructed in and preached the Kingdom.

Obs. 4. Some writers (as e.g. Thompson, Theol. of Christ, p. 33) take the unwarranted liberty of assuming, that at the First Advent the Jews (Nicodemus is instanced) believed themselves to be “already in the Kingdom of God by virtue of their birth in the lineage of Abraham,” and therefore only “looked to the coming of the Messiah for a higher assertion of that Kingdom.” This is misleading. Where is the slightest proof for so sweeping an assertion? All testimony is opposed to it. Instead of the Jews believing themselves to be in the Kingdom, they were looking for it to come. In the very nature of the case, it could not be otherwise, since all the prophets foretold its downfall, and its re-establishment under the Messiah. While holding that their relationship to Abraham would give them admittance therein when it arrived, there is no reason to think that a single Jew believed himself to be “already in” the Kingdom. On the other hand, we have the most abundant testimony to the contrary in Jewish faith, Jewish tradition, and the intimations of their belief in the New Testament Nicodemus, thus singled out and a foreign faith thrust upon him, was a Pharisee, and the Pharisees (Luke 17:20), instead of holding that the Kingdom was already here and that they were in it, demanded of Christ “when the Kingdom of God should come.”
    As intimated under Obs. 3, some writers endeavor to smooth over this Jewish faith as much as possible. Knapp has been instanced. Another specimen in the same direction is to be found under Sec. 99, 1 (4), in his Ch. Theol., where he tells us that some of the Jews gave to the Kingdom “a moral and spiritual sense, denoting and comprehending all the divine appointments for the spiritual welfare of men, for their happiness in this and the future life,” etc. The truth is, that this is taking a modern spiritualistic conception of the Kingdom and fastening it upon the Jews, who never thus entertained it. Knapp gives no proof for his assertions, and they are not susceptible of any. All Jews held to the Messiah’s Kingdom in the same way, viz.: as the re-establishment of the Theocracy, allied with the Davidic throne and kingdom, and whilst some laid more stress on the temporal advantages and blessings resulting therefrom, others united with those the highest spiritual and moral happiness. The student, at the vestibule of our argument, cannot be too cautious in receiving such statements unguardedly made by good men. Attention is thus called to them, since they have an important bearing in shaping the interpretation of Scripture. Farrar (Life of Christ, vol. 1, p. 105), admitting that the phrases “Kingdom of heaven” and “coming time” “were frequent at this time on pious lips,” adds: “It seems clear that Ewald, Hilgenfeld, Keim (as against Volkmar, etc.), are right in believing that there was at this time (at the First Advent) a fully developed Messianic tradition.” Aside from the direct arguments adduced in favor of such a view, the manner in which the New Testament begins (Prop. 19) is amply sufficient to prove it. Hence we deprecate such misleading statements as the following. Walker (Philos. of the Plan of Salv., p. 128), after referring to the views of the Jews at the time of Christ’s appearance (viz.: that they believed that the Messiah “would deliver them from subjection to Gentile nations and place the Jewish power in the ascendant among the nations of the earth,” etc.), says: “Although some of the common people may have had some understanding of the true nature of the Messiah’s Kingdom, yet the prominent men of the nation, and the great body of the people of all classes, were not expecting that the Kingdom of Christ would be purely spiritual, but that it would be mainly temporal.” Now where is a particle of evidence that any Jew—much less “some”—had the slightest idea of a “purely spiritual” Kingdom. If it existed, the favorers of such a spiritual ideal would only be too happy to produce it as favoring their own view. They, by such efforts to link their modern conceptions of the Kingdom with some unknown Jews, only increase the difficulties of their view, for they make these unknown persons far superior to the twelve, who, although enjoying special teaching and revelation, and actual preachers of the Kingdom, entertained (e.g. Acts 1:6) the Jewish view down to the ascension of Jesus.

Obs. 5. If, in support of our Prop., Jews were selected, who are not approvingly mentioned in the New Testament, it might be alleged that they misconceived the truth. It is proper, therefore, to confine ourselves to such as are evidently spoken of with divine approbation; who were under the divine guidance, and whose statements remain uncontradicted. Being pious, accredited believers, their testimony, whatever it may be, should nave considerable weight, and be received as reliable. In confirmation of our position, we appeal to the expressed views of Elizabeth and Zacharias, of Mary and Joseph. 
    Let this be amplified. Take Elizabeth and Zacharias, who were “righteous” and “blameless,” and the phraseology of both fully accords with the idea of the literal Kingdom believed in by the Jews. When e.g. appealing to the prophets as predicting a horn of salvation in the house of David to save the nation from its enemies, to perform the covenant made with Abraham, etc., what was their understanding of this matter? Certainly an implicit trust through the Spirit, that all that the prophets predicted would be verified—not something else, but the real predicted subject matter conveyed by their expressions, received in strict usage with the common laws of language. That is, they understood the prophecies in their plain grammatical sense, and thus trusted in a literal, earthly kingdom to be erected. The proof that they did so is very evident in the history of their son John the Baptist. The son could not receive, being instructed by them, any other idea of the Kingdom than they themselves possessed. Now it happens that the very writers who so significantly laud and magnify “the enlightened piety” of Elizabeth and Zacharias, and endeavor to engraft upon their language modernized notions respecting the Kingdom, all, without exception, estimate John’s knowledge of the Kingdom as very “limited and Jewish.” Well may we ask, How comes it, if the parents were so enlightened that the son, specially consecrated, etc., failed in obtaining the same views? The simple fact is, that the knowledge of the Kingdom in both parents and son did not materially differ from that entertained by Nathanael, Nicodemus, or the Jews generally. Next, take Mary and Joseph, and from the announcement of the angel down to the very last—just like the apostles Acts 1:6—they believed literally (what has since become so unfashionable, and is stigmatized even by pious men as a mere “Jewish form” or “husk”) that “the Lord God will give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever,” etc. Why they thus believed, and whether they were correct in it, will be apparent when we come to consider the covenants and promises. The comments of men that these Jews were miserably mistaken and self-deceived are far-fetched and derogatory to the Word; and if they only came from unbelievers it might be safely passed by; but coming also, as they do, from able advocates and defenders of Christianity, it is depressing to the truth. It gives a deplorable cast to the age and to the Scriptures, which, on their face, encouraged such faith and expectations. It ignores the express declarations that some of these Jews (as e.g. John the Baptist) were filled with the Holy Ghost when they held to this faith, and boastingly asserts the modern supremacy over these “ignorant” Jews. We, on the other hand, deeply feel that respect for the Messiah-announcing angel, due regard for the utterances of the Spirit, a proper estimation of the character of those ancients, require us to insist that these Jews well knew what their own language indicated, and that they were not deceived in its application. Consequently we object to the statements made by the writer of the Art. “Kingdom of God” (M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop.): “In these (prophetic) passages the reign of the Messiah is figuratively described as a golden age, when the true religion, and with it the Jewish Theocracy, should be re-established in more than pristine purity, and universal peace and happiness prevail. All this was doubtless to be understood in a spiritual sense; and so the devout Jews of our Saviour’s time appear to have understood it, as Zacharias, Simeon, Anna, and Joseph.” Afterward he confesses that “this Jewish temporal sense appears to have been also held by the apostles before the day of Pentecost.” Observe: (1) The confusing of “figurative” with “spiritual;” (2) that the apostles not holding to this spiritual conception before the day of Pentecost were not “devout Jews;” (3) that it is admitted that the language predicts a Jewish Theocracy, true religion, peace, and happiness, but this, grammatically taught, is to be spiritualized; (4) that the four persons named thus spiritualized it (5), having higher spiritual attainments than the Twelve—at least, being more “devout.”

Obs. 6. A large class, to make the ancient Jewish faith unreliable and inapplicable, fully admit the same, but then gravely misjudge the belief by pointing to the result, i.e. the non-realization of their faith, as evidence that the Jews were mistaken and wholly ignorant of the true idea of the Kingdom. No such Kingdom as they anticipated was raised up under the Messiah, and, therefore, this evidences either the human origin of their faith, or else that the language must in some way be susceptible of a meaning different from that contained in its legitimate grammatical sense, which they, in their ignorance, could not understand. But the question is, were they mistaken? This is too much taken for granted, and upon its assumption a huge superstructure arises. Briefly and anticipatingly: the non-fulfillment thus far is no evidence against the faith, for there are valid and satisfactory reasons given in the New Testament why it should not down to the present time be realized. This is far from saying that it never will be attained. “The Word of the Lord abideth forever,” and every “jot and tittle” will be fulfilled in God’s own time and way. This is simply prejudging the case from unreliable data—a jumping to conclusions from false premises. The reader may, prematurely in our argument, endeavor to decide how it comes then that this Jewish faith, if so erroneous and shown to be void by what actually occurred under the Messiah, still continued generally, almost universally, in the Primitive Church for three centuries.

Obs. 7. Another large class, agreeing with the former in the result, inform us that the non-fulfillment of the Jewish Messianic Kingdom expectations, indicates a Jewish misapprehension of Scripture language; and that hence, however the grammatical construction may demand it, the language, covenant and prophetical, expressive of such a faith must be interpreted to correspond with the result thus far attained. The non-fulfillment becomes both the rejecter of the ancient faith and the apologist for applying a spiritualistic interpretation. It is assumed that the prophecies relied on by the Jews to sustain their faith must mean something very different from its natural meaning—in brief, words, phrases, and sentences that had a definite meaning for centuries are, under the impulse of this misconception of the actual facts in the case, transmuted into something else to suit existing circumstances. This, too, is represented as faith in the Word—a reception of its divine teachings with implicit confidence. Need we be surprised at infidelity exulting in the gross confusion thus occasioned, and the more gross by implicating as utterly unreliable representative men, men of faith in the ancient church.
    The question returns, Were the Jews really mistaken and is any one authorized to engraft another and diverse meaning upon the prophecies which excited their faith, in order that the language may be reconciled with a certain supposed result? The simple, sad fact is this: in this whole matter the Word of God is unfairly handled by the multitude. According to their notion of the church as the covenanted Messianic Kingdom, both the primitive and Jewish faith must be discarded, and the predictions of the Word must be made to accommodate themselves to this Church-Kingdom theory. The true and honorable method is the following: If the events did not take place, and have not yet occurred as predicted and believed in by these ancient worthies (i.e., as far as relates to the Kingdom), it ought to suggest the inquiry, Why have they not been realized? and thin receiving the plain reasons presented in the Word why they have been withholden, deeply ponder them, and allow them the weight that divine teaching possesses. It is premature to assume, without mature examination, the foregone conclusion that they will never be verified in the believed-in grammatical sense, and thus bring reproach on the Scriptures containing and leading to such a sense; thus heap discredit on the belief of those ancient saints, making them misguided and ignorant Jews; thus hold up to scorn the faith of the Primitive Church, regarding it as mistaken in the leading doctrine of the Kingdom; and then, as a resort against infidelity, search for some accommodation theory to shelter those believers and the Scriptures. How can it be shown, with the reasons before us of the postponement of the Kingdom to the Second Advent, that God will not, as predicted, ultimately perform this glorious work? Instead of spiritualizing the language of the Word away into vagueness; instead of decrying the hopes of the pious of former ages (with well-intentioned motives and feelings), would it not be better to look at the most solemnly given assurances, coming from the Christ Himself, that these things are purposely postponed? Some preliminaries must first be logically passed over before we are fully prepared to discuss this postponement; if the student will patiently follow our steps he will be enabled to appreciate the irresistible force of the reasons assigned—reasons which for several centuries influenced and pervaded the Christian Church.

Obs. 8. The Apologetics of the Church makes too many concessions to unbelievers respecting the Jewish and Primitive faith, and, alas, too many sneers—according well with the ridicule of infidelity—are cast at their “low,” “groveling,” “carnal” views of the Kingdom. Gentiles, in their self-approbation of position and favor, forget the caution given by Paul in Romans 11:20.
    Would it not be well to reflect over that which Peter tells us (I Peter 1:10–12), and not hastily accuse those to whom things were revealed, and to whom the proclamation of the Kingdom was entrusted, as knowing nothing of the true nature of the Kingdom and its resultant salvation. We, having the advantage of additional revelations and fulfillment, know indeed more respecting the method of God’s procedure, the duration of the postponement, the manner in which the Kingdom is to be manifested, the events which are to precede and accompany it; but they, as well as we now can, knew the main, leading predictions concerning the Kingdom, correctly apprehended the great outlines, perfectly comprehended its nature and relationship to Christ—for all these were plainly given in the Scriptures, connected with covenanted promises and confirmed by oath. The difficulties of distinguishing between the First and Sec. Advents (which many eminent men now experience in appropriating prophecies to the First that only pertain to the Second), a smitten and triumphant Saviour, a crucified and exalted King, etc., did not, by any means, efface a scriptural view of the Kingdom itself. This is already shown by the preceding Proposition; for, if otherwise, then no satisfactory reason can be assigned for the extraordinary manner in which the New Testament opens, taking, as it does, a previous knowledge of the Kingdom for granted. If they did make a mistake in their absorbing contemplation of the glorious Kingdom of the Messiah so as to overlook the antecedent humiliation, suffering, and death of the King, let not the man accuse them of ignorance concerning the Kingdom, which led to such a re-strainment of prediction, when he today reverses their conduct by confining himself so much to the sacrifice that he overlooks the Kingdom.

Obs. 9. The force of Prop. 16, begins to appear. The knowledge that we have of this Kingdom is invariably attributed to the Old Testament Jewish and Primitive belief—over against the modern notion which would only find it in the New Testament and then by inference—based itself upon what the Old Testament declared concerning it. This fact meets us at the very beginning of the Gospels, and comes to us directly in the early preaching of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” What Kingdom is taken for granted as known? Evidently the one predicted in the older Scriptures, and hence, without an investigation of the Old Testament, from whence the Jews and the first Christians obtained their views and expectations, it is simply impossible to obtain a correct idea of the Kingdom. The New Testament begins with the conviction that the source of all true knowledge concerning it is to be found in the Word of God previously given. And this information imparted is not merely elementary in the sense that it is to be superseded by something else, for, as we shall show, it is so encompassed by covenant and prophecy, so imbedded in the Divine Purpose as unfolded and attested to by oath, that it becomes and ever remains unchangeably essential and fundamental in its nature. God will not, cannot produce a faith by the unvarnished grammatical sense of His Word, existing for many centuries, and then supersede it by another through men engrafting a different meaning upon the identical Scriptures which led to the former. Multitudes, indeed, dream that this actually takes place, but it is a vain, idle vision, productive of vast injury to the truth. 
Obs. 10. The belief in this Kingdom had a preservative influence upon the Jewish nation. For, inspired by the hopes set forth in prophecy, it preserved even under the most adverse circumstances a tenacious trust which largely contributed in keeping them from the enervating influences and the idolatry of Asiatic nations. It kept them also, as Mill observes (Rep. Gov., p. 41), from “being stationary like other Asiatics.” The hope of the future, as prophetically allied with the nation, served as a bond of union, imparted patience under trial, and kept them separate and distinct among other nations. 

Prop. 21. The Prophecies of the Kingdom, interpreted literally, sustain the expectations and hopes of the pious Jews.

This is universally admitted, even by those who contend that the same prophecies are susceptible of a different interpretation. The plain literal sense expressly teaches what the Jews anticipated; and no author has yet arisen who has dared to assert that the grammatical construction of the Old Testament language, received according to the usual laws, does not convey the meaning found therein of a literal restoration of the Theocratic-Davidic throne and kingdom as expected by the believing Israelites. Even after the attempted undue advantage taken of this circumstance by unbelieving writers, and after Apologists have informed us that this naked sense is only “the husk” to be discarded, no one has attempted to call the fact of such an existing sense into question.
    Believers, infidels, and semi-infidels teach this fact; every author and commentator consulted, every Life of Christ, every Introd. to the Bible, etc, fully admits it. With infidels it is a standing joke that the prophets predicted such a Kingdom. Thus e.g. Renan (Life of Jesus, p. 86) calls it “a gigantic dream for centuries,” and “they dreamed of the restoration of the house of David, the reconciliation of the two fragments of the people, and the triumph of the Theocracy,” etc. “They dreamed of the Messiah as judge and avenger of the nations,” of “a renewal of all things.” In view of this, he informs us (p. 266) that “the first Christian generation lived entirely upon expectations and dreams,” and that it required “more than a century” for the church to disengage itself from such “dreams,” which, however (p. 251), were more or less held, although but “a fantastic Kingdom of God,” etc. All that our argument at present requires is simply to direct attention to the concession, however scornfully put, or however attempted to be weakened by accommodation, that the Jewish and Primitive faith is based on an acknowledged grammatical sense. We are not concerned at the protest, that if the covenant and prophecies are thus understood, then there is presented “an ideal Jewish King,” “languid dreams,” “impracticable pedantries,” “carnality,” etc. The concession is all that is required at this stage of the argument, forming a necessary and important link, for it evinces a correspondence existing between the Word and the early belief.

Obs. 1. Here, then, is something that all, both Jew and Gentile, frankly admit, however some may afterward attempt to break its force and continued application. Let the reader keep this point in view: here is a sense (let it be despised and rejected) that all acknowledge does exist; and this sense, thus contained in the Word and for many centuries received by the pious, is the one that we receive, until it is proven that there is a command or revelation from God to set it aside, or until it is shown that it is in direct conflict with Revelation itself. We have by its adoption (Prop. 4) a sure foundation for interpretation, based on a sense which all are forced, willingly or unwillingly, to concede is found in the Scriptures; and one, too, which, with a proper theory of the divine and inspired, cannot be easily discarded without doing violence to the Word and to the wisdom of God in bestowing it. This sense obviously contained in the Scriptures formed the scripturally derived basis of the Jewish hopes.
    Having this allowed sense—i.e. the grammatical—one that the words naturally contain, the student is placed on ground, acknowledged to pertain to Scripture, by which he can test other alleged senses, varied in form, that others engraft upon it. If the careful reader finds that this literal sense produces a harmonious whole, an unbroken unity in the Divine Purpose (the great test after all), he surely is authorized, in confirmation of faith, to receive and treasure it as a most precious guide.

Obs. 2. Two classes array themselves against this obvious, admitted sense entertained for centuries. The one party, enemies of the revealed truth, honestly accept of it as existing, but discard it on the ground of its conveying human, not divine, notions and expectations. The other class, friends of the truth, also find and admit this sense, but believing it to be “gross and carnal,” endeavor to adapt its language to their own ideas of the fitness of things, and hence attach to it another, distinct, separate sense (some even adding two or more), which, rejecting the grammatical, we are to receive as the true intended one.
    May it be allowed, without reflecting upon any writer, to say, that such an Origenistic appliance of language which casts us loose from a sense actually contained in the inspired Record, is taking dangerous and undue liberty with the Word of God. Look at its sad results in the overwhelming mass of mystical interpretation which a taxed ingenuity and an apparently profound learning have heaped upon the Scriptures, rejecting the visible, outward Kingdom taught by the prophecies and substituting for it the vaguest of explanations, and making it appear that God said one thing but meant quite another; the Jews, John the Baptist, the disciples, being deceived by what was said, not being able to comprehend the spiritual and mystical interpretation that afterward such men as Origen, Jerome, Augustine, and others bestowed upon the grammatical sense. If we reject this one fully acknowledged sense, who can prove to us that any other of the conflicting senses, added by men afterward, is inspired, is truly the Word of God? What guide have we then—man’s added sense, or the one given by God? Thus e.g. if David’s throne and kingdom is not David’s throne and kingdom as the words indicate, and as fondly believed in for centuries, but is, as men in their wisdom afterward developed, the Father’s throne in heaven and the Father’s Kingdom on earth and in heaven, how then can we reconcile it with God’s own assurances of veracity, desire to instruct, undeviating truthfulness, etc., that He would clothe His own gracious and merciful words in a dress calculated to deceive, and which did beguile the Jews and Primitive Christians, His children, into a false faith and hope. No! never, never can we receive any theory, however plausibly and learnedly presented, which thus reflects on God’s goodness, makes Him virtually a party to gross deception, and which degrades the intelligence and piety of former saints. Who can censure us for believing in a sense so generally admitted as given by God Himself, placing ourselves where prophets, pious Jews, and the early Christians stood? Having thus in the outset a vantage ground, needing not to prove what multitudes already concede, let us lay aside our “worldly wisdom,” and in a childlike disposition for instruction, follow this grammatical interpretation, carefully gathering up the detached portions, and see where it will lead us. It will reveal a strangeness most surprising, a sublimity most inspiring, and a beauty most delightful, in God’s work.

Obs. 3. In view of the faith of the Jews, and from whence derived, it may well be asked: Is it reasonable to suppose that God would give utterances by His prophets respecting a Kingdom, which, taken in their usual literal sense (making due allowance for the usage of figures common to all languages), positively denote the re-establishment, in a most glorious form under a Son of David’s, of David’s cast-down throne and kingdom, etc., and yet that all these assurances must be taken in a different sense? Men, eminent for ability and piety, tell us that such a transformation is demanded. They may, under the specious garb of “a higher sense” honestly think to elevate our notions of the predictions, but in reality it is a lowering of the sense actually contained in the Word; for attributing to it (through human authority) another sense, it virtually assumes the position that Holy Writ contains language and ideas that cannot be maintained; that God, foreknowing the result, intentionally conveyed one meaning whilst (like the Delphic oracle) another was intended.
    Let the careful student, at the threshold of our subject, reflect whether such a discrepancy is not sufficient of itself to cause a thorough reinvestigation of this matter. If the Kingdom is not such as these Jews held it to be, who is justly chargeable with their error, if it be not the great Author of those prophecies? Every reflection cast upon the Jewish faith in this direction in fact recoils back upon the Giver of the predictions, seeing that on their surface is the meaning which led to the universal belief. Now in all honesty, every believer, desirous to vindicate both the Scriptures and the Author of them, must turn away from theories which necessarily reflect upon the Bible, its Author, and the hopes excited by its plain grammatical sense. In the following pages it will be shown at length, every step supported by Scripture, that God gave the prophecies as truth, couched in truthful language in their grammatical sense; that all, as written, will yet be fulfilled; and that the hopes of His people, excited and fostered by the express language, will not, as multitudes hold, be disappointed. We may hesitate to adopt, under all circumstances, the bold expression of Pascal: “God owes it to mankind not to lead them into error;” for God, in the provisions made and in the truth given, does not encroach upon an element of liberty, freedom of choice, in human destiny from which may arise error and even crime (by perversion, etc.), as the painful history of Christianity and the world attests. While this may be viewed as permissive and in accord with moral freedom, yet Pascal is correct if the language is applied to a revelation given by God. His language, or the ideas conveyed by the same, involve the God directly, personally, and, therefore we cannot, dare not, believe that He will give a revelation that will, if the grammatical sense is received, lead into error.

Obs. 4. As intimated under previous Props, and above (Obs. 2), this grammatical sense thus received and introduced into the New Testament without any declaration of a change, is seized by unbelief as evidence of the non-inspiration of the Scriptures. Thus e.g. Morgan (Moral Philosopher) finds, what Baur and others have developed, decided indications that portions of the New Testament contain a deposit of Jewish-Messianic ideas, obtained through adhesion to the plain sense of the Old Testament The Swiss Rationalists (Hurst’s His. Rational., p. 436) declare on this ground that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah foretold by the Prophets and preached by the Apostles, simply because He did not establish the Kingdom as plainly predicted, etc. They, and others, insist that a fatal discrepancy exists which is not removed by the Christ and the spiritual Kingdom created by theologians. We acknowledge, as essential, this “Jewish-Messianic” deposit; we admit that under a misapprehension of the actual postponement of the Kingdom and the still future realization of those “Jewish-Messianic” predictions, theologians have too readily spiritualized the prophecies to make them applicable to Christ, and to the Church at present (and thus make the Messiah and Kingdom assume characteristics very different to those assigned in prophecy); but we beg all such to consider, what they on both sides carefully ignore, the express promises that all such Messianic expectations are only to be realized at the Sec. Advent. The verification of them, owing to sinfulness, was postponed, and the object of following Propositions is to bring forth this truth prominently as given by Jesus Himself.

Obs. 5. Men, in their eagerness to rid themselves of the grammatical sense of the Old Testament prophecies and the consequent Jewish belief, resort to the most desperate arguments and reasoning. Some of these have already been given; others will be presented hereafter; one may be appropriately mentioned in this connection. It is said (and even Martensen, Ch. Dog., p. 235, falls in with the notion) that “the prophecies themselves are typical.” This conveniently enables the student to reject the literal sense, and engraft upon it whatever he may consider a suitable fulfillment of the type. It is a dangerous procedure, opening a wide door to arbitrary interpretation, and it is pointedly condemned by the rules (comp. Introds. to the Bible) specifying and controlling types.
    This assumption is a modern philosophical conceit that admirably answers to cover up deficiencies in making out the Church-Kingdom theory—i.e. it attempts to reconcile prophecy with an alleged fulfillment in the church. But it is unscriptural and destructive to prophecy; it removes the veracity of God’s Word in its grammatical sense by leaving the fulfillment at the option of the interpreter; it weakens an appeal to prophecy, undermining its strength as proof. While there are a few prophetical types (e.g. Isaiah 22:2; Jeremiah 13:1–7; Jeremiah 16:2, etc.), these are but rare, exceptional cases; the immense mass of prophecy, in no shape or sense, is typical, but real descriptions or representations in language of things to come. Prophecy is a delineation of the future, and not an adumbration of a thing typified, not something that in itself represents an antitype, excepting only in so far as language ordinarily may by use of figure or symbol represent the future. Strictly speaking, however, Prophecy when employing symbols or figures of speech is not typical (Comp. Sec. 3, Part 2, Book 2, Horne’s Introd.), and to make it such gives place to endless mystical exegesis. Martensen himself affords an illustration of the latter, when, in support of the typical nature of Prophecy, he quotes I Corinthians 13:9, prophecy being also “in part,” overlooking its plain meaning that our present limited knowledge is only compared by the apostle with what it will be hereafter, there being no allusion to the characteristics of Prophecy. Having previously shown the nature and intent of Prophecy (Prop. 17, etc.) as the grand guide into the Divine Purpose, it is unnecessary to repeat.

Obs. 6. It is only when we retain the expressed sense of prophecy as held by the Jews and Primitive Church, and as admitted to be contained in it, that one of the offices of Prophecy is fully maintained. Thus e.g. Kurtz (Sac. His., p. 32) justly observes that “it is the pre-eminent design of prophecy both to furnish the age to which it is given with a knowledge of itself, that is, of its position and obligations, and also to render the same service to every succeeding age, in so far as its condition, wants, and obligations are similar to those of the former.” He explains this by adding that “Prophecy designs, by means of its divine knowledge, to inform the generation of men to whom it is given, respecting both their present acquisitions and also their actual wants, for the purpose of guiding alike in the right employment of the former, and in an earnest search after all that must yet be acquired, before their wants are supplied.” Take, now, for granted the supposition of the multitude that for many centuries the Jews miserably misunderstood the prophecies, that they had no correct ideas of the Messiah or of His Kingdom, etc., and what becomes of the instruction of prophecy to the generations of men who held to the grammatical sense? And if the office of prophecy really was to impart information, to give certain knowledge, to clearly indicate the present and future state, how could such an office be compatible with the unjust inference now made by theologians, viz.: that this information and knowledge was concealed in an inner, hidden sense, which would require the raising up of such men as Origen, Jerome, etc., to bring it forth out of its “husk,” and that for ages men, eminent for piety, must be content with “the outward shell.” Never can we receive any theory which thus degrades “the light” that God has given; and, briefly, it would be well for us to be guarded, lest by rejecting what all are agreed the prophecies really contain, we place ourselves in the posture of, and ultimately receive the rebuke given to, the disciples: “fools and slow of heart to believe what the prophets had spoken” (Luke 24:25). 

Prop. 22. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples, employed the phrases “Kingdom of heaven” “Kingdom of God,” etc., in accordance with the usage of the Jews.

It is admitted by all authorities that this phraseology was current among the Jews, and was adopted by the first preachers of the Kingdom.
    Compare e.g. Knapp’s Ch. Theol., p. 323 and 353; Pres. Edwards’s His. Redemp., p. 395; Neander’s Life of Christ, also, His. Chr. Ch., His. of Dogmas, etc. Commentaries, Apologetical works, Dogmatics, etc., distinctly announce this fact. Parkhurst’s Gr. Lex. refers, as all do, the phrases to a derivation from Daniel 2:44 and 7:13–14. Meyer (Com. Matthew 3:2) says that the Rabbins often used it (referring to Targ. Mich. 4:8, Wetstein, p. 256, with which comp. the Mishna) to designate the Kingdom of David’s Son. But we allow an opponent (already criticized, Prop. 20, Obs. 5, note) to testify. Art. “Kingd. of God” (M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop.), which spiritualizes these phrases, makes this frank confession: “There is reason to believe not only that the expression ‘Kingdom of heaven,’ as used in the N. T., was employed as synonymous with ‘Kingdom of God,’ as referred to in the Old Testament, but that the former expression had become common among the Jews of our Lord’s time for denoting the state of things expected to be brought in by the Messiah. The mere use of the expression as it first occurs in Matthew, uttered apparently by John the Baptist and our Lord Himself, without a note of explanation, as if all perfectly understood what was meant by it, seems alone conclusive evidence of this.”

Obs. 1. The Prop. needs no proof, for the fact is self-evident. First is to be found the well-known expectations of the Jews based on a literal interpretation of the prophecies; next, these are summed up in the expressive phrases “Kingdom of heaven,” etc., taken, as numerous writers inform us, from Daniel 7:13–14; finally, John, Jesus, and others take the very phraseology adopted by the Jews to designate a certain definite Kingdom, and use it without the slightest intimation or explanation of a change in its meaning; and this employment of the phrases, with a correspondent Jewish meaning attached, continued (as admitted by our opponents, e.g. Prop. 20, Obs. 3, note 1) at least down (Acts 1:6) to the ascension of Christ.
    Some, indeed, tell us that Christ had a different conception of it; but they give us no direct proof, but only the most remote inferences of their own. The Scripture relied upon for such a view will be examined hereafter in detail. At present it is sufficient to say, that even those addicted to the theory that Jesus gradually engrafted a new meaning, i.e. spiritual, upon the notion of the Kingdom, still frankly admit that Jesus employed the Jewish mode of expression (Neander calls them “Jewish forms,” as e.g. in “Ser. on the Mt.”). Additional proof and illustrations will be given, to save repetition, under the Props, relating to the first preaching of the Kingdom. Our argument and doctrinal position demands that the language of the Jews by which their anticipations were expressed and the language of John and Jesus should happily correspond. Explain it as we may, this certainly is the case, and thus far decidedly in our favor.

Obs. 2. Here, at the very fountain head, in the presence and under the sanction of the Master Himself, there must be no discrepancy. The fond hopes and the ardent anticipations, aroused by the speech of the prophets, are too dear to be trifled with, or to be confirmed by a mere spirit of accommodation. It would, if the Jews were in error on so fundamental a point, be simply cruel to adopt their expressive language and thus confirm them in an alleged blunder, a vital mistake.
    With due respect and love toward the eminent men who differ from us, it can be unhesitatingly said, that an error here, and continued for several centuries in the churches established by the apostles, cannot but vitiate the entire succession. A rule in law, often quoted, holds good in this place: “Quod initio vitiosum est, tractu temporis convalescere non potest,” or the old adage is applicable: “As the fountain, so the stream.” Men tell us that the phraseology used, “the Jewish forms,” employed, was only “the husk;” let it be so, we claim it to be a God-given “husk,” amply sufficient to satisfy the longings of humanity. No! if these noble preachers of the Kingdom are to inspire unshaken confidence, we must not, with infidels, acknowledge that they believed in, and proclaimed, “Jewish error.” For, if this is done, the fountain head itself is corrupted, and all the sophistical glosses, philosophical conceits, additional senses developed, heaped upon it by way of explanation, extenuation, or apology, cannot hide from captious critics the ugly feature—one, too, so glaring and wide-reaching that no person, addicted to reflection, can pass it by without serious misgivings.

Obs. 3. When significantly pointing to the fact, that the idea of a Kingdom of God was familiar to every pious Jew, for which he longed, and prayed, and waited, and that the first preachers adopted the very language in familiar use by the Jew to signify his hope, Apologists inform us (Ecce Deus, p. 329) that “Christ came to give that conception a profounder interpretation, and a more intensely spiritual bearing,” that “the Jew had a carnal idea of a spiritual fact.” But where is the proof of this carnality and substitution? Neander, and others, in reply, tell us, that it is found in the higher spiritual conception being wrought out afterward in “the consciousness of the church.” When, where, and by what instrumentalities, was this accomplished? Was it done by Origen, or Jerome, or the Popes, or the Councils, or shall we allow the claims of Swedenborg and a host of fallible men in this direction? Admit this, and we plunge ourselves into an abyss of pretensions and demands, exalting uninspired men above those who were under the special guidance of the Spirit.
    It is impossible, with consistency and safety, to leave the original Record, and seek for a doctrinal position is so important a matter, derived from men who lived after the apostolic period. If the notion of a Kingdom, such as was afterward developed by the Alexandrian school, is not to be found in the Gospels, in the opening of the New Testament, as recent valuable works on the Life of Christ frankly confess, then surely it is not taking unwarranted liberty to reject it as unreliable, contradictory, and the mere added opinion of fallible men.

Obs. 4. In view of this alleged change in the meaning of the Kingdom, the Liberalists, etc. (as e.g. Johnson’s Orient. Religs., p. 794), assert, that Christ proclaimed a Kingdom to come, but “of the institutional meaning of the approaching change, and of the special ways in which his own name would be exalted therein, his record gives no sign that he had the least presentiment.” This indicates unfamiliarity with the covenants and the prophecies, the Jewish faith and that of the New Testament, for (1) it was not necessary to enter into any explanation concerning the nature of the Kingdom, it being something that was well understood, as seen by the adoption of Jewish language, etc.; (2) it is utterly unfair to pass by the Scripture given by Jesus illustrative of the reasons why the Kingdom was not then realized as anticipated by the Jews and disciples; and (3) it is uncandid to ignore the express declarations (which will be presented in their place hereafter) of a postponement of the Kingdom believed in until the allotted times of the Gentiles had expired, because of Christ’s rejection by the nation.
    The usual method of dealing with Johnson’s objection is to urge that the time for developing the true idea of the Kingdom had not yet arrived, and, therefore, but little is said respecting it, because the Jews and even the apostles themselves were (Acts 1:6) unprepared for it. Thus e.g. Schlegel (Philippians. of His., Lec. 10) fully admits the views of the Jews concerning the Kingdom and apologizes for their opinions by saying: that the portrait of the Deliverer was drawn by the prophets “in such vivid colors in those ancient prophecies, that the description might, in many passages at least, be easily mistaken for one of an earthly monarch;” and adds, that the Jews were the more excusable since “all the followers of our Saviour and His most trusty disciples, were at first under the same delusion,” etc., and finally explains these discrepancies by taking refuge in some generalities, especially that of “a higher spiritual signification” being ultimately attained. But what force has such reasoning with the unbeliever, which places the Divine Teacher, His forerunner, the disciples, and believing Jews in a most unenviable position—one opposed to all our notions of propriety and honor? Let the reader keep in view, as additional reasons are presented in the progress of our argument, the utter inability of the prevailing view to reconcile this early belief and usage of language with its modern transformations and substitutions.

Obs. 5. The student is directed to a proof that this subject affords in behalf of the early origin of the Gospels. In looking at the opening of the New Testament, the subject-matter of the Kingdom, how it was introduced and retained its “Jewish forms,” it shows how unfounded is the view of Edelman, etc., that the New Testament was written in the time of Constantine, or that of more recent writers who make the Gospels proceed from the Alexandrian school, or to be an offshoot of the latter part of the second, or the production of the third century. The Alexandrian school could not possibly, with their ideas of the Kingdom, have originated the Gospels, and this is true of all the later periods assigned.
    Thus e.g. the later origin of the Gospels is sufficiently disproven by the exclusive preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jewish nation (Comp. Prop. 54). Such an idea of exclusiveness could not, in the nature of the case, have originated at so late a period as that assigned by Strauss, Baur, etc., it being opposed to the actual condition of things then existing. Sentences confining the preaching of the Kingdom only to the Jewish nation, ascribing salvation to the Jews, etc., could not have been concocted at the times assigned; it is opposed to the habits and mode of thinking already introduced. Unbelievers themselves acknowledge this, as e.g. the Duke of Somerset (Ch. Theol. and Mod. Skep., ch. 4), who refers to “a Jewish kingdom under a national Sovereign,” as clearly taught, and then gives us some reasoning, based on this fact, in favor of the early production of the Gospels. (1) He tells us that the first generations of Christians had in many respects “the distinctive features of Judaism,” especially in their notion of the Kingdom. (2) That in “a subsequent generation” “the whole character of Christianity was already changed.’’ (3) Hence, “this chronological testimony appears to refute the theories which ascribe the Gospels to a later period.” 

Prop. 23. There must be some substantial reason why the phrases “Kingdom of God” etc., were thus adopted.

Amid the diverse and antagonistic theories, the only one that rescues the Word from unjust suspicions, that preserves the integrity of the New Testament from entangling concessions and alliances, that honors the faith and intelligent piety of ancient believers, is that which affirms that the truth itself was contained in the derivation of this phraseology, in the hopes excited by it, and in the subsequent adoption of it.

    One party (e.g. Apostolic Fathers, with whom we agree) holds, that the adoption of the Jewish phraseology precisely covered the truth, and that, although not realized at the time for certain good reasons, it will yet be verified. Another party (e.g. Rationalists, Freethinkers, etc.) asserts that no reasonable excuse can be given for the use of such language, and that all the parties employing it were under a delusion. Some (e.g. Semler, etc.) explain it by the accommodation theory: that John, Jesus, and the apostles accommodated themselves to the prejudices and ignorance of the Jews. Others again (e.g. Neander, etc.) find reason for its use in the development theory, that an outward envelopment of “husk” was well adapted for future growth, the requisite preliminary. Some (e.g. Thompson, etc.) suppose that a very spiritual conception was really taught while the old form was only held in phrase. Others (e.g. Barnes, etc.) admit the difficulty, but without attempting an explanation or removal of it, confine themselves to the new enlightenment given at the day of Pentecost, which they declare transmuted the meaning. Still others (e.g. Renan, etc.) declare that the language was used at first in good faith as the Jews themselves understood it, but that Jesus, finding His own hopes and expectations unrealized by the unbelief of the Jews, changed His plan and a new meaning was introduced. To indicate the extremity to which men are often pushed in the attempt to assign a reason, an extreme and far-fetched one—proven mistaken by the facts—is that of Fleck (De Regno Div., noticed by Lange, Com. Matthew 3:1–12), who says that Matthew chose this phrase “in order to distinguish the Christian Kingdom of God more fully from the Jewish theocracy.” Acts 1:6 is a sufficient answer.

Obs. 1. The attacks of Rationalistic criticism has induced the advocacy, by many, of the accommodation theory. This, however, is a virtual concession to the force of destructive criticism, and, as such, is hailed as a decided indication of weakness. It is reluctantly wrung from the advocates of Christianity, because, with their theories of the Kingdom of God, with their rejection of the Primitive view, they could not invent a better refuge from their assailants. It is but a sorry refuge in the end, seeing that it teaches, when stripped of its circumlocutory and apologetic dress, that the Jews held one notion of the Kingdom and Christ entertained another; and that for fear of the Jews, who were unprepared through prejudice to appreciate the Kingdom, Jesus adopted their language, saying one thing, but all the time meaning something else. Or, in other words, He taught, under a borrowed garb, what the language did not and could not indicate to the Jew, as evidenced in the history of His own disciples, Acts 1:6. But is such a hypothesis, for a moment, tenable? Can we entertain the idea that teachers of the character and profession like John, Jesus, and the disciples, “would directly or indirectly connive at that which is false? The moral and divine position of the persons makes the supposition inadmissible. If it were allowable to do so in reference to so vital a subject as the Kingdom, how can we be sure that other declarations are not also an accommodation? What criteria could be given to distinguish between the false and the true? No: such a theory, however well intentioned, is a virtual lowering of the divine teaching of Jesus, a rendering of the utterances of the first preachers an uncertainty, and a yielding of Revelation to the sneers of unbelief at its lack of coherence.

    It is the fashion of a large class of modern critics and historians (in otherwise estimable writings), unable to reconcile the preaching of John, etc., with their own notions of what the Kingdom should be, to inform us that the first preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom accommodated themselves in the doctrinal exposition of the Kingdom to the prevailing opinions and prejudices of the Jews, waiting for time and cautiously given lessons to enlighten them by degrees, etc. Many who censure Semler for pressing his theory beyond the bounds of propriety, and have even written against his more gross departures and denials of truth, do not mend the matter when they themselves, on the leading subject of the Kingdom, fully admit such an accommodation, on the ground that the Jews were not prepared for the real truth. For, receive this, and then it logically follows: (1) John, Jesus, and the disciples must have taught error, so far, at least, as the outward form and the Jews were concerned; how else, unless in their usual acceptation, could the Jews understand their words? (2) If the Jews misunderstood them, how could they be held accountable for it, when thus tempted to a misapprehension by the ambiguous use of current language? (3) The pure character of Jesus is presented to us in an invidious and disreputable light. So long as the theory is advanced, to long a dark flaw appears, and all the apologies annexed to it cannot sustain His spotless reputation. The only accommodation in Jesus, and from whence this theory is inferred, consisted in His concealing, or not avowing, certain truths pertaining to His Person and the Kingdom until His disciples were better prepared for them, but never did He speak without uttering the truth itself, both as to His Person and the Kingdom, sometimes plainly, sometimes in figure; never did He use language which was specially adapted to lead into and confirm error on account of the prejudices of others. It cannot be proven that He in any way sought refuge in words, that were outwardly compliant with “Jewish error.” If this were so, then Revelation itself would become involved in uncertainty, no one being able to discriminate between mere accommodation and its opposite. (Comp. Knapp, Home, Schmucker, Storr, Titman, Heringa, and others, who expose this fallacy.)

Obs. 2. In immediate connection with, the accommodation theory, not pressed however to the same extreme, is that of the development theory. While noticed under Prop. 4, yet its important bearing to our subject and its extended use, will allow additional remarks. To avoid misapprehension, let it be premised that we also believe in development, in the progress of Christianity, in the continuous gathering of the elect, of “them that believe.” We also hold to doctrinal progress in a certain sense, distinguishing between the primary and inferred truths; the former being solely contained in the Scriptures and obtained by comparison of them; the latter being the result of reasoning induced by such comparison, by observing the statements, history, analogy, etc., of doctrine. The former belongs more to the vision of faith, the latter to that of reason; for the one contains things beyond human knowledge, and the other is the outgrowth of the activity of man’s mind, arising from induction, deduction, inference, etc. Having already defined our position under Props. 9, 10, 15, it is sufficient to add, that we cordially accept of the truthful utterance of Dr. Schaff (quoted Hurst’s His. Rational.): “Christianity itself, the saving truth of God, is always the same and needs no change, yet this can by no means be affirmed of the apprehension of this truth by the human mind in the different ages of the church.” Two cautions are only to be observed: (1) never to elevate this apprehension of the truth by the human mind and expressed in books, writings, etc., to the same standard of excellency as that of the Scriptures themselves; and (2) never to allow such an apprehension to be rated as a legitimate progression of divine inspiration. On these two points, the development theory pushed to an extreme, offends. This will be presented, to save space, in the following note.

    It may be well, first of all, to notice that this notion of doctrinal growth, under the development theory, from the imperfect conception of the apostles to the full revealed truth in “church consciousness” (whatever this glittering generality may mean), is sought to be based on two passages of Scripture, viz.: Mark 4:26–29; Matthew 13:31–33. The Parables will be examined in detail hereafter; it is sufficient to remark on the first one, which is regarded (Neander, Introd. to Ch. His.) as the keystone of the arch, that the seed sown, the blade, the ear, the full corn in the ear, have no reference whatever to doctrinal progress or development, for if it had, then, logically, the harvest at the end would be a harvest of doctrines fully grown, an evident absurdity. What is here meant is clearly seen by the parallel passage in Matthew 13:24–30, when the tares and wheat are separated, etc. Truth, doctrinal truth, the same that Jesus and apostles taught, is the seed deposited in the heart, and its moral influence is delineated. The parable clearly, in its connection and design, shows that the seed has its effect on the man, its germ being holiness, producing piety in the individual, which enlarges and develops. The seed of truth is always the same—it changes not—being the same today that John, Jesus, and the apostles sowed; otherwise, taking the development for granted we would sow, not seed, but the blade or the ear, or even the full corn, which is an absurdity. The analogy that they seek to draw out of it, does not hold good; the growth is represented as continuous, but such a doctrinal growth is not to be found in the church, for as the history of the church attests, faith in some very important points was frequently shifted and became antagonistic.

    The development theory, virtually taking a low estimate of the contents of Scripture, and yet anxious in some way to honor them, has recourse to a divine outgrowth from them in man in order to obtain decisive truth; and this alleged result of outgrowth it elevates to an equality with, and even, in many instances, above the Scriptures. Take the most guarded and able expositor of this theory, as Dr. Neander, and the student becomes painfully conscious that something sadly defective must exist in a system which causes so good a man to teach that the mental and moral condition of the Jews, the disciples, and the apostles was such that Jesus had to give them the truth in a very diluted form—so fine indeed that it was only “the germ,” and this surrounded by “a materialistic husk.” Gravely, honestly, naively we are told, that this “husk” was the only thing that was perceived and appreciated until a process of growth removed it. Conceding that some things were not revealed until a later period, that other things were purposely given with obscurity (comp. Props. 11–15), it is an unfounded and damaging opinion that a leading doctrine, the prominent subject of preaching, the opening doctrine of the New Testament, was thus confined in “a husk,” and finally correctly apprehended. The tendency of such a theory is to disparage the early ministry to the Jews and to lower the apostolic times, showing that by growth the church has undergone material modifications in doctrine, and then defending such radical changes on the ground of progress, and appealing for proof, to sustain all this load, to the authority of “church consciousness.” While admitting the idea of progress and growth, but in a different way, it does not follow that such modifications, because they took place in the church, are indicative of true progress. Indeed in the Word itself we are warned against doctrinal and other changes as productive in error, fruitful of unbelief, and prolific of evil. Under the plastic hand of this theory, some venture even to take the relapses, divisions, weakness, etc., of the church, and turn them into signs of life and vigor, telling us that these things were necessary for the age as educators, forerunners, etc., in order that greater good might result therefrom. In a specious philosophical manner attempts are made, in violation of all order, to weave into the web of Christianity, as essential to progress, conflicting theologies, rival sects, the corruptions of man, etc., until finally, as Eaton (Perm. of Chris., p. 45) says: “It is like a tree drawing its growth from its own dead leaves.” Men of ability will, in this direction, sagely declare that what was once truth in one age must, in the march of progress, give place to other truth better adapted to the knowledge and wants of man—the successive shells give place to new-fledged outcomers. This nonsense—for it is nothing less—passes for wisdom with many who profess intelligence, not seeing that it strikes a vital blow at all established truth, and leaves us no firm scriptural foundation for our feet. Let us not credit such palpable absurdities, which, intended by amiable men as a defence of Christianity, strike deadly blows at the very heart of all scriptural truth, and ultimately find their resting place in a disguised formula that evil in growth is a necessary adjunct to produce the good, obtain the proper symmetry, etc.

    The last expressed thought is abundantly justified by the use to which this theory has been applied. Under the friendly manipulations of men like Dr. Neander, under the amiable, kindly handling of Dr. Nevin, under the pious touch of Rev. Miller, it might not result in great injury, however it prevented a reception of apostolic truth because of its supposed incipient state. But this fascinating favorite of so many of the Orthodox happens to be a double-edged sword, that cuts both ways. The Hegelian view that every development of life starts from its lowest, poorest form to rise to a higher and richer one by slow degrees, and which was deemed so appropriate to cover up supposed (not existing) deficiencies in doctrine, has been seized by the Tübingen Baur and others, and has been applied with tremendous force to the apostolic times, so that the multitude, misled by the caricature given of its beginning (the lowest form), and trammeled by its apparent contradictions, violently oppose the Bible itself. Christianity, too, is put down as a development in the history of universal religion, which in this onward growth, constant advancement, irresistible progress, must give place to “the full ear in the corn.” Leckey (His. Rational.) informs us that in the progress of the race, Christianity was indeed a necessary but still imperfect development, and that the highest will be found in reason accepting from all the past forms of belief that which best corresponds with the freedom of progressive reason. This is a favorite theory with Freethinkers (e.g. Essays and Reviews) of every class (as e.g. Büchner, etc.), and under its ample folds they find congenial shelter and warmth for their various systems. With united voice, aided and strengthened by honest and unsuspecting believers, they tell us that the early church did not clearly apprehend the truths of Christianity, especially not that pertaining to the Kingdom; that it was enveloped in Jewish forms and Jewish thought; and that it required centuries of natural progress from the lower to the higher before the truth could be fully presented; and which truth, finally in the shape of well grown “wheat,” is harvested by themselves. How large a number of books are issued today full of this plausible theory, in which unbelief characterizes doctrinal Christianity as “a stage of progression in the human mind,” and portrays “all religious truth as necessarily progressive,” so that we, by development, can improve upon the “germs” given by God and His Son. It acts out this spirit by changing, adding, striking away, and substituting, until it glories in producing a new religion, the much boasted one of humanity. Its humanity can be safely admitted.

    Let no firm believer of the Supremacy of the Word, even if in a Christianized form addicted to this theorizing, censure us for writing so plainly our convictions. It is a subject upon which we deeply feel, knowing full well that it is the great obstacle in the way of intelligent men to a return to the Primitive doctrine of the Kingdom, and that it is the grand source from whence issue the shafts poured against the teaching of the apostolic church. Its ramifications are found everywhere and its adherents form the immense majority. Leckey (His. Rational., p. 183) thus eulogizes its extent: “This idea of continued and uninterrupted development is one that seems absolutely to override the age. It is scarcely possible to open any really able book on any subject without encountering it in some form. It is stirring all science to its depths; it is revolutionizing all historical literature. Its prominence in theology is so great that there is scarcely any school that is altogether exempt from its influence. We have seen in our own day the Church of Rome itself defended in ‘An Essay on Development,’ and by a strange application of the laws of progress.” Every student knows the tremendous influence that this theory is now exerting in its modified or extreme, Christianized or rationalistic, forms. Rioting in its assumed intelligence, it starts out with the principle, often glossed over and refined with velvety language, that the writers of the New Testament were not infallible, for in some things (e.g. the preaching of the Kingdom) they were in error, encompassed by “Jewish forms;” then it advances the self-satisfying notion that in and through the church there is a progressive revelation of the truth, so that as the Gröningen school (re-endorsed by the Parker school, etc.) boldly proclaims, Augustine stands higher and knew more of the truth than John or Paul, Luther had far more than Augustine, more recent divines of eminence have more than Luther, and, to keep up the intended comparison, these Gröningens (Parkerites, etc.) have more truth than all the rest that preceded. Here, at least, is modesty in a modified, developed form! How prevalent today, under its influence, in organized bodies, sects, conventions, etc., is the spirit of the Leyden school (Hurst’s His. Rat.) that, owing to these “husks” found in the early mistaken preaching, we must distinguish between the Scriptures and the Word of God; that the former are human compositions, containing some truth, it is true, but that the latter, which God reveals in the human spirit and in the progress of man, is to be vastly preferred; thus opening the cry from ten thousand thousand throats, “We have the revealed Word of God in its advanced and latest form.” From whence mainly come those questionings of the Primitive view of the Kingdom of God; those assertions that the Jews, disciples, and early Christians grossly misapprehended the Kingdom; those affirmations that the Reformation showed its weakness and inconsistency by substituting the authority of the letter for that of the Spirit; those claims of the exclusive possession of the truth to the disparagement of “holy men of old;” those epithets of scorn and derision so liberally applied to the grammatical sense of the Scriptures? They spring chiefly from this development theory, forming “the Modern Theology,” “the Liberal Theology,” “the Free Religion,” “the New Church,” etc. The theory itself is abundantly developing fruit in the hands of infidelity, making men wiser than the Scriptures, far better preachers of the Kingdom of God than John the Baptist, disciples and apostles; and this is either elegantly or offensively maintained according to the culture of the adherent, thus calling upon us to put our trust in men as they successively arise. We desire, however, a more solid foundation than the shifting utterances of men, one superseding another in endless succession, and this we find only in the plain teaching of Revelation, embraced even in the first preaching of the first great teachers commissioned by heaven. For us, the development theory, as currently expounded and incorporated in theologies, is too latitudinarian either for doctrine, well-grounded conscious belief, logical connection of Scripture and history, and honorable, consistent defence of the truth. Pushed to its extreme, it constantly shifts its position, claims new and antagonistic doctrine (or none at all), casts aside faith and exalts reason, glories not in prophets and apostles, but in modern scientists, buries itself in hypotheses, mere speculations, and calls such divine revelations. In all its varied forms, one distinguishing feature appears, viz.: that it is destructive to the authority of the Scriptures by raising above it the utterances of fallible men. This is clearly seen in the history of the leading doctrine of the Kingdom.
    The development theory is also becoming patronized by Roman Catholic theologians (e.g. Dr. Newman), for it becomes the best medium through which to apologize for doctrines unknown to the first teachers of Christianity, and for the non-reception of doctrines (e.g. Millenarianism) once generally held in the church. It is admirably adapted to excuse and gloss over the. recent authoritative doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility. J.H. Newman (Essays, etc.) tells us that Christianity required time for its comprehension and perfection, and hence, to understand it, a growth is necessary, so that we in this age, availing ourselves of the teachings (growth) of the church, understand divine truth better than apostolic fathers, etc., because time enables it to free itself from all foreign elements, etc. This then is applied to the doctrinal statements of the Bible—e.g. the early preaching of this Kingdom—and we are justified in receiving “the traditions of men” in their place. “Liberal Christianity” desires no better basis than this to rest itself upon; and numerous recent works abundantly avail themselves of it. Even if the mildest form of its advocacy by Neander and others is carefully examined, it leads us precisely to this Roman exaltation of church authority. It, too, begins with a lower form and rises during the centuries to a higher; it also tells us that the noticeable deficiency of true knowledge of the Kingdom in John, the disciples, and apostles—this presentation of “the husk” containing the still unappreciated “germ”—is to be fully made up in the aftergrowth of the church, i.e. in its teaching and consciousness. If we ask, whose teaching or consciousness is to be followed as a guide, the Romanist’s response comes back to us: that of the church in the decisions of Popes or General Councils; the Protestant, wedded to this conceit, answers: that of the church as contained in Councils, Synods, Creeds, etc.; and both in the reception of a doctrine (e.g. of the Kingdom) afterward fastened upon the church, elevate this to an inspired position, making it of equal weight with the Scriptures, and if it happens to be opposed to Holy Writ, even placing it above the Word. Practically there is no difference between the two; both profess that their church decisions emanate from the Holy Spirit; both claim that the truth developed by growth is superior to the germinal doctrine of the Kingdom; both decide that the utterances of the prophets (i.e. the interpretation), the expectations of the Jews, the first preaching of the Kingdom, the faith of the disciples, must be tested, as to the amount of truthfulness, by what the church said and decreed long after; both attempt to correct the grammatical sense by an added one to make it a little more accordant to present views; and both, by such a judgment of doctrine under the plea of growth, degrade God’s own revelation to a secondary place. This may answer to prop up a tottering system, but we earnestly protest against this leavening process being introduced into—with the purest of motives—Protestantism—a process by which, under the plea of progress and development, the authority of Bible truth is certainly undermined. Let us be sure of this: that any professed increase of knowledge which conflicts with the plain meaning of the Bible is not in the direction of true development.
    Even men who are strongly inclined to our views, and in many places admirably sustain them, fall into this development theory. Thus e.g., to indicate how it influences even the minds of earnest thinkers, let the reader calmly consider Lange (Com., vol. 1, p. 236-7) where the parables, under this notion, are treated as representing a historical succession of periods or stages in the church. This can only be done by an arbitrary use of the parables, forcing them from their legitimate design, and making them inconsistent one with the other. They indeed represent or illustrate things pertaining to the church, individual and world, in relation to the Kingdom, but no such succession can be possibly obtained from them without violence. Many examples, where this theory is pressed into the aid of interpretation or application of Scripture, will suggest themselves to the reader. We may conclude, then, by saying, that a theory which can take a once universally entertained faith of the church (as in this doctrine of the Kingdom) and substitute another for it without the express warrant of God’s own Word, is certainly unreliable and defective. And any theory which, under the specious plea of progression and perfection, promises constantly increasing and advancing knowledge until the development brings forth the blaze of the noonday Sun, runs directly against the plainest teachings of the Holy Scriptures that inform us of the contrary. If there is a truth clearly taught it is this: instead of looking for such pleasing growth, we are exhorted to look for continued apostasy, rejection of the truth, etc., until it culminates in the oppression of the church, the martyrdom of saints, and such fearful woe that the Lord Christ Himself shall come in vengeance as the Deliverer. Alas! why will men allow some favorite theory to obscure the clearest announcements of heaven?

Obs. 3. Others arise who totally ignore any reason whatever for such phraseology. Advocates of progress, they do not even seek to employ the phrases as expressive of a higher or deeper meaning, gradually evolved in the advancement toward perfection of knowledge. Like the Parker school, they tell us that God is constantly issuing New Testaments, inspired by the same common, universal inspiration, and the later supersede the earlier. The Kingdom once preached is an idle dream, fit for ignorant Jews and disciples; for inspiration in others (as e.g. Renan) has announced it to be “a chimera.” Many, too, that would recoil, justly, from being classed with such men, adopt theories respecting the Kingdom and the early belief, which logically and consistently places them on a leading doctrine of the Bible in the same category. Allusion has been made to such under Prop. 5, and it is found that they all claim, under special enlightenment, the liberty of rejecting the meaning attached to the Kingdom before, and at, the First Advent, and for several centuries following. They assume the additional liberty of substituting a meaning, which to them seems correspondent with their ideas of things now existing.
    It is a sad fact, that it has become fashionable to place the fulfilling of the law and the prophets in a purely moral light, and the more spiritual it can be made to appear, the more satisfactory the explanation. The literal aspect of the subject is overlooked, passed by in silence, or obtains a subordinate toleration, both as it refers to the First and the Second Advent. The great boast of the age, coming from the most adverse directions, is the wonderful increase of spiritual knowledge—a spiritual illumination that smiles at and ridicules the simplicity and credulity that can believe what the plain grammatical language of the opening New Testament teaches. Men arise, and, under the seductive influences of mystical conceptions, gravely claim that they, like—yea, some even more than—the apostles, are led into all truth by the Spirit. For all such there is an unerring test: if any teaching is directly opposed to that which is recorded in Holy Writ, it is to be rejected at once, because the Spirit will not be in conflict with truth previously given. Truth is harmonious and not discordant; the Spirit is not antagonistic to itself. Admitting progressive knowledge in some things, it is derogatory to true knowledge to say, as do others (Ecce Deus., p. 39), that the men of today know everything concerning the Kingdom better than the original disciples and apostles; which, echoed from many a platform, is leveled at the foundation of scriptural authority in order to secure its overthrow. For, if we are better witnesses, more competent to state the truth than those specially selected for this purpose by Jesus, what force can their words possess? To avoid this destructive rock of unbelief, it is necessary to hold that true progressive knowledge must be in strict accordance and sympathy with the first preachers of the Kingdom of God. Cast down the position that the Holy Scriptures contain the doctrinal truth, and the wide door is opened either to boasting unbelief, or to the traditionalism of Roman Catholicism, or to the vagaries of mysticism, Swedenborgianism, Fox, Ann Lee, Joseph Smith, and a thousand others (including the latest, J.T. Curry of Georgia, the so-called “prophet and apostle of a new dispensation”), together with the speculations of Spiritualists, Liberals, Freethinkers, Friends of Light, etc. If we once cast loose from the anchor provided by heaven, there is no end to the claims made upon our belief—every one, too, assuring us that he has the truth. The simple fact is this: it requires an immense amount of assurance and pride (without questioning the honesty and motives of the parties) to think that we know far more than Peter, John, Paul, etc., when all our knowledge of divine things is based on that given by them, and when we really have but a small portion of that which they possessed under the special guidance of the Spirit. Hence, we repeat, that increase, growth in our knowledge must, so long as we receive the Scriptures as divine and authoritative, be in unison with them. Every enlargement of doctrinal apprehension, every conception of doctrinal truth, must find its affinity, its foundation in the Word of God. In the development of view, that which occurs outside and as a consequence of the Divine Record, the expression of human opinion, must be carefully distinguished from a doctrinal growth legitimately (i.e. by comparison, analogy, etc.) derived from Holy Writ (comp. Prop. 9, Obs. 3, on Doctrine). Any growth unnatural to the Word itself (i.e. not plainly contained in it) may be set down as a foreign growth, produced by grafting on the stock a branch taken from an outside source. Men in search of truth must return to the old-fashioned notion that God’s words are “pure words,” and that His doctrine does not require the devices of human wisdom either to be remodeled, or changed, or burnished. They speak for themselves.

Obs. 4. Others, again, under the plea of non-essential, pass by this early use of phraseology and its resultant effect on the church. In the reaction against formalism, infidelity, etc., they go to the extreme of asserting that a few elementary truths, sufficient to reach the masses, such as repentance and faith, are all that are requisite. Their theological sphere is the most narrow and contracted, and the great fundamental theological questions relating to the Divine Purpose in Redemption are totally ignored. This class finds no difficulty whatever in the early preaching; for whatever does not directly teach their view of the Kingdom is easily made to do so by spiritualizing the grammatical sense.

Obs. 5. One of the most skilful, but abortive, efforts to reconcile the utterances and expectations of the disciples and apostles with the notion of a present spiritual Kingdom, is given by Reuss (His. Ch. Theol. of Apos. Age). He frankly acknowledges, what he calls their Judaistic views, etc., but in the attempt to explain the matter, most amazingly sacrifices the character of the apostles. Their reputation and scriptural standing as inspired teachers, suffers in many a sentence, and a devout believer of the Word arises from the perusal of the work with a deep feeling, that if Christianity needs a defense so depressingly apologetic, and so shockingly degrading to the first teachers of it, then something is radically wrong in its fundamental source. It will not answer to find, with a Hegelian microscopic vision, a germ here and a germ there enveloped in a rude “husk.” Truth, when thus handled, must, and does, suffer in the house of its friends.
    Many writers of eminence fully admit what they call “Christianity circumscribed at first within the narrow limits of a people’s hopes,” but assert as Reuss, “The more conversion and faith were recognized as the essential elements of the Gospel, the more did mere hope become subsidiary.” Right here is one of the difficulties: hope, which is also one of the essentials (“we are saved by hope,” etc.) of the Gospel, is placed in the background because deemed “circumscribed,” and individual religious experience, mystical conceptions, etc., take its place. Illustrations drawn from various authors will follow in succeeding Propositions.

Obs. 6. We are indebted to Jerome, and others like him, for the peculiar style—now so familiar—in which the old views respecting the Kingdom of heaven are sought to be eradicated, as based on no solid reason, by using the epithet “Judaizers.” Thus e.g. in his note on Isaiah 11:10–16, he lays down the broad, erroneous canon (which Fairbairn, On Proph., p. 254, seems approvingly to quote): “Let the wise and Christian reader take this rule for prophetical promises, that those things which the Jews and ours, not ours (but) Judaizers, hold to be going to take place carnally, we should teach to have already taken place spiritually, lest by occasion of fables and inexplicable questions of that sort (as the apostle calls them), we should be compelled to Judaize.” What an admirable guide! Under the plea of carnality, which is made to cover the grammatical sense and literal fulfillment, the prophecies are to be spiritualized, no matter how, only so that they teach nothing which may be accounted “Jewish.” Need we wonder that the truth was overpowered by such tactics of interpretation.

Obs. 7. All these methods assume as fundamental, that the Jews and early believers were certainly mistaken and deluded. Not one attempts to give a valid reason for the belief entertained. Now the impression made to cover up a supposed deficiency in the Jews and first preachers, and also produced by the rejection of the doctrine of the Kingdom (held for several centuries), on the specious but treacherous ground of superior knowledge—no matter how obtained, by growth, spirit, reason, spiritualizing, etc.—is this: that if the Word of God is really founded on what it professes, viz.: the inspiration of holy men, it must not contain so glaring an inconsistency. We shall now proceed step by step, continually fortified by Scripture, to show that the inconsistency only exists in the imagination of men; that the grammatical and historical sense is fully sustained by a continuous Divine Purpose; that the first preachers of the Kingdom, although not acquainted with all the designs of God in relation to the Kingdom, were not in error on the nature of the Kingdom itself; and that neither they, nor Jesus, by the use of the literal sense, accommodated themselves to the prejudices, etc., of the Jews, depending on a future development or revelation for a purer doctrine. To do this, constant appeal shall be made “to the law and the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20); but while thus employed, it is hoped that the reader will not fail to imitate the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), who, instead of looking outside of the Scriptures for growth, etc., “received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Such a position is the more necessary, since many professing to make this appeal darken the simple testimony of Holy Writ to sustain an honestly entertained theory—a failing to which, through infirmity, we are all liable. Hence the greater need of caution, and of a personal reference to the Word. 

Prop. 24. The Kingdom is offered to an elect nation, viz.: the Jewish nation.

This election is so plainly stated in Scripture, and it is so currently admitted in our theological works, that it needs no proof. Such passages as Deuteronomy 7:6 and 14:2, Romans 11:28 and 9:11, etc., are decisive, that the sovereignty of God chose in the descendants of Abraham, the Jews, a people through whom should be manifested his Divine purpose in the salvation of man. Kurtz (Sac. His., p. 71) has aptly said, in view of children being raised up to Abraham against the course of nature: “He, therefore, chose in Abraham a people which was called into existence only by his almighty creative power.” This election is not to be regarded, as some tell us, an act of favoritism, but as founded in that wisdom which adopted it (as the end will manifest) as the best means, under the circumstances in which fallen humanity was placed, to reach, consistently with moral freedom, the largest portion of mankind, having in view the ultimate establishment and triumph—in opposition to depravity—of God’s Kingdom.
The Kingdom was offered to this chosen, elected nation, as is evinced, e.g., in Exodus 19:5–6, where it is declared that if faithful and obedient, it should be God’s “peculiar treasure above all people” and it should become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
    The reason for such election is given, e.g. Deuteronomy 7:7–11, and the assurance of its perpetuation is also presented in God’s love and oath. The reader ought not to overlook this, as it has an important bearing on the subject of the Kingdom, as developed more fully hereafter. Some infidels ridicule the smallness of the Jewish nation in this connection, as if it was unworthy of Deity to stoop so low and exhibit such interest to a few people; but the Spirit expressly asserts that the nation was not chosen “because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all the people.” God thus forestalls the wretched attempt at witticism so current in recent books. In reference to the passage Romans 9:11, Schmucker (Pop. Theol, p. 117) justly argues that it does not relate to personal salvation, but has a national aspect. But he, with many others, emasculates the force of the election when he only makes this nation God’s “external, visible people, whom He determined to separate from the rest of mankind and make the depositories of His religion.” This, as the reader will see, is only a small portion appertaining to their election.

Obs. 1. The Kingdom itself thus offered to them is a divine-political (church and state united) dominion, over which God Himself, as an earthly Ruler, presides or rules as the Supreme. Moses and the Prophets clearly show this by constantly uniting the divine and the political in their instructions; by making God’s commands, both civil and religious, the sovereign law; by stating that the object of the nation’s call, and the bestowment of peculiar privileges and power, was the overruling and superseding of all earthly governments, thus exalting their God and King over all; and by teaching that through the Kingdom thus established, all nations should ultimately be brought under the subjection and allegiance of the great King.
    As we proceed, the Scriptures teaching this will be abundantly adduced; for the present it is sufficient to direct attention to the beginning and end of God’s plan. Who doubts that this was the purpose (i.e. to make it a universal dominion over the earth) when God determined this kingdom from the foundation of the world? Theologians justly tell us that anything less would have been derogatory to the honor, the sovereignty of God. Why, then, gloss over Daniel 2:44 and 7:14, 18, 27, etc., and deny that God ever contemplated for this Kingdom such a union of church and state, a political dominion wholly under divine control? It is a refreshing omen to see men hostile to our views, still admit, as Neander, etc., that God’s purposes in relation to this Kingdom must inevitably—if Scripture is fulfilled—exhibit itself in a great, outward political world dominion, under divine rule and guidance. Hundreds of quotations (some will be given hereafter) from eminent men attest that such is the scriptural idea. Men, too, like Dr. Arnold, feel that the biblical idea of such a dominion has been kept in the background, and they strive to revive it, but mistake (he time and manner of its manifestation, attributing to this dispensation and to present means what Holy Writ ascribes to the following dispensation and to Jesus the Christ. Such deep thinkers as Rothe are nearer the truth, and coincide with prophecy, when they make the church, as now existing, but a temporary institution, making it to be united with the state in one great theocratic ordering, and the realization of such a permanent union depending on the future personal manifestation of the Saviour Jesus. Look at the end contemplated, as predicted by the prophets (e.g. Zechariah 14:9, etc.), and given in the last testimony of Jesus (Apocalypse 11:15, etc.), and this is the grand position that the Kingdom of God is to attain: absolute control over all the kingdoms of the earth—such a world-wide dominion that all nations shall bend in joyful, blessed obedience to its behests. This was the Kingdom offered to the Jewish nation.

Obs. 2. The attention is now directed to the fact that the Jewish nation is an elect nation to whom a Kingdom is offered—which election, although occupying an important place in the consideration of the Kingdom, is passed over or ignored in many theologies, even in recent Biblical Theologies, just as if it was not reconfirmed by the apostles. Explain it as we may, this election is a fundamental fact, which (as will be proven hereafter) has a deep and permanent significancy in relation to the Kingdom.
    The infidel, of course, rejects the claim, and makes it the subject of ridicule. The extreme Calvinist finds here a very tender place, in which (as e.g. Pres. Edwards, etc.) he manifests a glaring inconsistency. With his views of election in reference to the individual, viz.: that it is fixed and eternal, he cannot possibly explain this election of the Jewish nation, so long as he claims that it was transient, failed, etc., and takes the blessings promised to this elect nation and heaps them upon Gentiles. Hence it is that for the sake of theory he wisely (?) passes it by as a discordant element. The low Arminian, who makes all election to consist in foreknown belief, etc., finds in this subject some stubborn facts, indicating that God’s ultimate purposes are not invariably thus conditioned, and he, too, turns from it as unwelcome. The student willing to receive—whether Calvinist or Arminian, irrespective of previously formed opinions—the teachings of Scripture, will not turn away from this point.

Obs. 3. Briefly, let some of the reasons underlying the Prop. be presented. (1) The Jewish nation, as a nation, was thus chosen; for the Kingdom having in view, as intimated, a divine political world dominion, it is pre-eminently suitable that a nation—alone susceptible of kingly government, etc.—should be selected for its acceptance and final realization. God in His Sovereignty and mercy raised up this nation. It is customary with some writers to designate this election “a historical claim,” which, indeed, may be allowed, but has no particular signification. (2) Admitting cheerfully the historical connection as indispensable, we see in it a deeper design, out of which history itself arises. The election embraces a nationality, viz.: the natural descendants of Abraham in their associated capacity. It includes them all, so far as descent in a certain line is concerned (as well as those who may be adopted by the nation), which is clearly seen by what some term “exclusiveness” (but actually necessary, indispensably so, to preserve a unity in the intended dominion), or by “the middle wall of partition” which divided them from other nations, or by the declaration of Paul (Romans 9:4 and 11:28), that even to the unbelieving Jews pertained “the adoption,” i.e. this election in view of national connection, and that, although “enemies” yet, “as touching the election (i.e. this choice of the nation), they are beloved for the father’s sake.” In other words, none but a member of this nation, being a Jew, had this Kingdom offered to him until the election—unmistakably enlarged—embraced others by way of adoption as the seed of Abraham. (3) This election of the Jewish nation was an absolute, unconditional (i.e. relating to the Purpose of God) election so far as its national descent from Abraham is affected, i.e. the kingdom is solely promised to the descendants of Abraham in their national aspect (which is verified, as we shall see hereafter, by the covenants, confirmed by oath); and hence arises the necessity of Gentiles (as we shall show), who shall participate in this Kingdom, being grafted in, becoming members of, the commonwealth of Israel. (4) The unbelief and sinfulness of the nation may, indeed, for a while remove the mercy and favor of God, but it does not remove the election; for when the children of Abraham, composing this nation, are gathered out, both natural and engrafted, the election, never set aside, conditions the restoration of the nation in order that the promises to the nation, as such, and to the faithful Jews, as members of the nation, may be fulfilled. Hence the restoration of the nation is invariably linked with the setting up of the Kingdom. (5) The Scripture indicative of this continued election will be brought forth as our argument advances. It is amply sufficient at this stage to direct the earnest attention of the reader to the last, solemn, most intensely impressive words of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1–43, in which the elect condition of the nation is delineated, then a deep and long-continued apostasy is represented as pertaining to this favored nation, followed by prolonged punishment; but this does not vitiate the nation’s election, for God’s Purpose in reference to it still stands good, and the promise of the Eternal, Unchangeable is recorded, that the same elect nation, chastened and scourged, scattered and dispersed, shall be recalled and exalted in glory. (6) While the nation, comprising the natural descendants of Abraham, is thus chosen, it does not follow that every individual in it is thus personally elected. The election is twofold—in its reach after the nationality, and in its application to the individual member of the nation. It, in the latter case, only pertains to the believing, obedient portion of the nation. This Paul, in Romans 9 and 11, distinctly teaches. The nation in its corporate capacity may reject the truth, but God, when for a time punishing the nation, instead of raising up children to Abraham out of stones (Matthew 3:9) to keep up a seed unto Abraham, gathers them out from among the Gentiles, grafting them in, adopting them with preceding believers as the nation, restores the Jewish nationality as predicted, and gives to them the Kingdom—His Divine Purpose is carried out; His election fails not. But with the individual it is far otherwise: God chooses him conditioned to faith and obedience, and if these fail, if the conditions are unfulfilled, then God has no other purpose; the individual fails to become of the elect, the chosen, the predetermined number, to whom the Kingdom is given. In the case of the nation the ultimate Divine Purpose is unalterable; even if the nation for a time prove unfaithful, that Purpose is assumed by the Saviour (e.g. Matthew 19:28) as unchangeable; but this is not so with the individual, for in this particular the assumption is, that he may not receive the Kingdom—some other one (Revelation 3:11) may obtain the crown. (7) The election is made in view of this kingdom, so that it can be established and manifested. Through the elect Jewish nation, in its restored Davidic throne and Kingdom, under the personal rule of David’s Son in glorified humanity, and through the elect (natural and engrafted) Jews, who are “chosen in Him (Christ) from the foundation of the world” (i.e. they being predetermined associated rulers with Christ), shall this divinely constituted world dominion be exhibited. These particulars, thus epitomized, will be fully confirmed by the Propositions following, the Scripture proof being given and the various objections answered.

Obs. 4. Recent writers (e.g. Fairbairn, On Proph., p. 60) speak very disparagingly of reckoning the natural descent from Abraham as part of the election, stating that the election had sole reference to a higher, viz.: a spiritual distinction and significance. But this is antagonistic to the Word and the facts as given. How comes it, then, that the covenants are given to the Jewish race? That this election is confined to the Jewish race and those adopted into that race? That the election is traced directly through the descendants of Abraham and those incorporated as Abraham’s seed? That all the prophets, all the inspired teachers, Jesus and the apostles, are Jews? That the election of the nation is recognized by Jesus and the apostles, and that the Gentiles were only afterward admitted by special revelation, and then only as the acknowledged children of Abraham? These and similar questions must first be answered before we can possibly accept of such a theory. The misapprehension arises from not discriminating that the true seed are faithful Jews, or become such by faith, being the actual descendants of Abraham, or accounted such—part of the race to whom the covenants are given. It does not follow, because God designs to exalt and bless the nation, that a disobedient Jew will obtain the blessings of election; for while the race, as a race, is chosen, it is not said that every individual of the race is also ultimately chosen. The fact is, that very few, comparatively, may avail themselves of the opportunity afforded; but that does not vitiate the election of the portion of the race that is faithful, and it does not alter God’s final purpose in reference to the nation itself. If we reject this, then we surround the calling and separation of the Jewish race with insurmountable difficulties. The effort to spiritualize it away is not sustained by a single fact. Let the reader but consider: if the election only embraced the pious, irrespective of Jewish descent, why was the election hedged around by the restriction of descent? why was the calling of the Gentiles postponed to a definite time? why forbid the first preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom to go to the Gentiles, etc.?
    Theologians speak most depreciatingly of this election, and of the Jewish view based on it. It is true that some Jews perverted it to the extent, that personal salvation, no matter what the life, was deduced from it. But the perversion does not affect the doctrine. Dr. Knapp (Ch. Theology, p. 319), misapprehending the election in its reference to the Jewish nation, thus endeavors to rebuke Jewish belief: “The national pride of the Jews led them into the mistake that God had a special regard for them; that they were more agreeable to him than other nations; that they exclusively were his children; and that the Messiah was only designed for them,” etc. That God had “a special regard for them,” that He esteemed them beyond other nations, that they were specially under His fatherly care, that the Messiah was from them and for them, etc., is specifically asserted, and the Jewish covenant relationship conclusively proves it. Even Knapp himself, if ever saved with perfected Redemption, will be saved as an adopted son of Abraham’s. Knapp’s references to sustain his rebuke have no force argumentatively, for the one based on the rejection of the Kingdom by the Jews, and the other on the foreknown rejection of the nation and call of the Gentiles, overlook the predictions and promises that such a rejection is only temporary—the nation is punished for its unbelief and sinfulness. Gentiles, alas, forget the relationship that they sustain, as believers, to this very nation; and such rebukes fall, unjustly, upon the foundations of our hope. On he other hand, it is a matter of surprise that Jews are so unappreciative of their most honorable extraction, that some foolishly endeavor to conceal their Jewish origin, even to the changing of their names, as e.g. from Abraham to Braham, etc. The day will come (comp. Prop. 114) when such conduct will be reprobated.

Obs. 5. The saying of Augustine, quoted with such evident approbation by Fairbairn, “The faith of Abraham is the seed of Abraham,” has been received by multitudes as containing the whole sum of truth, when, in point of fact, it simply grazes the truth. If Augustine is correct, why confine the election to a certain period exclusively to the Jewish race, and why, when afterward the election embraced the Gentiles, have the believing Gentiles held as grafted in and adopted as one with that same Jewish race? This at once removes volumes of sophistical reasoning on this subject. The Jew, if faithful, was of the election; the Jew, if unfaithful, was reckoned as a heathen; but it was still the Jew, the actual descendant of Abraham, that was saved. Why the Jew? Because God made a covenant with their ancestor, and gave certain promises through that covenant pertaining to that ancestor’s seed. If any one says (as, alas, many do), perverting the language of Paul applicable to another feature, that the having the blood of Abraham in their veins amounted to nothing (which is true, when accompanied by unbelief, as Jesus taught), he simply fails to recognize the plain fact that Jews were called, and not Gentiles; a covenant was made with Jews, and not with Gentiles; the promises were given to Jews, and not to Gentiles; that salvation is of the Jews, and not of the Gentiles; that this salvation is yet to be openly manifested through the Jews, and not through the Gentiles; and that Gentiles receive and inherit with the natural descendants of Abraham only as they are incorporated. If some, or many, of the Jews made themselves unworthy to receive the promises, that does not alter the unchangeable fact, that the worthy descendants, and engrafted ones, of Abraham do obtain them. Hence we dare not say: “Their condition did not essentially differ from that of the heathen,” because facts are against it.

Obs. 6. Therefore it is inconsistent to make (as e.g. Fairbairn, Whately and others) this elect people a type of others—the type of a future people—thus misapplying the word “Israel.” The reason is apparent: a type prefigures or foreshadows something that is to be accomplished or realized in the future, but the election made out an accomplished, constantly realized fact; for they themselves were chosen, and not typically chosen to represent some future choosing; and hence, as we shall show, the elect in the future, i.e. in this dispensation, are held up to us as a continuation of the elect nation—of the same divine purpose in selecting a people who, ancient and modern, are to be constituted members of the same covenanted people, and thus, by virtue of their relationship, the inheritors of God’s Kingdom. If they are such members and heirs, it is folly, destructive to a proper apprehension of much Scripture, to make them types.
    The typical arrangements (“the shadow of things to come”), which were designed to sustain the faith of these elect, are unnecessarily confounded with the elect themselves, and this introduces confusion, breaking the unity of the Word. If a Moses, or Aaron, or Joshua, in their official capacity sustained the relation of types, it does not follow that their election is also typical, for if it were, then the natural result of types would appear, viz.: that when the antetype is revealed the type itself must vanish, thus destroying the hopes, etc., of these ancient worthies. It is therefore misleading to say, as Martensen (Ch. Dog., p. 233), that the Jewish nation is “the typical people.” The nation is no type, for it composes the real Kingdom of God when the Theocracy is manifested within it; and, hence in view of this relationship, the necessity of incorporation with it. If it were merely typical of another people (viz.: Christian believers in the church), why must such a people also become Abraham’s seed? The only Scriptures adduced by Martensen in support of his opinion, say nothing of the typical character of the nation, but refer to certain acts (I Corinthians 10:11) that were typical, and (Hebrews 10) that even in the Theocratic ordering some incorporated religions rites were only a foreshadowing of “good things to come.” Nowhere is the nation itself made a type, for this, if done, would he fundamentally opposed to covenant and promise. This misapprehension of an important fact by so careful a writer as Martensen, and which necessarily colors the interpretation of much Scripture, only reminds us how careful man ought to be when dealing with the things of God. Even Macknight (Com. Romans 9:8) declares: “The natural seed (is) the type of the spiritual, and the temporal blessings the emblems of the eternal.” Our argument, as we proceed, will conclusively show that the Theocratic ordering alone, inseparably joined to the nation, proves the nation no type.

Obs. 7. Pressense (The Redeemer, p. 61) says: “The election of a family and of a people has not for its object to create a privileged race.” This against Deuteronomy 7:6; Romans 9:3–5 and ch. 11, and a host of passages, besides the important part this people is yet to play (Prop. 114) in the world’s history. He endeavors to show that the election is a ministry by which others are to be blessed. While most cheerfully and reverently acknowledging that the present and ultimate purpose of this election is to bless all the families of the earth, yet to effect this very design one object is to raise up a privileged class, through whom this shall be effectually and permanently accomplished. This will be seen under the Propositions relating to the Covenants, the Kingship and Priesthood of the saints, etc. Even Pressense contradicts himself when afterward he speaks of the Jews’ isolation, receiving revelations, promises, etc., above all other nations, which certainly indicates them to have been a highly privileged people. Failing to perceive that the election itself is bound up in and part—outwardly expressed—of the Divine Purpose, he boldly adds the following: “A transient (?) fact (viz.: election) having a special object is converted into a permanent fact. They (certain interpreters) make the church a satellite of Judaism, called to shine in the future only (?) with the brightness which it borrows from that system. That there are blessings reserved (why?) for this people, we cordially concede, but that their destiny shall forever be as if it were the axis of universal religious history, we deny, even in the name of Abraham’s election.” Alas! when the stock upon which we are grafted is thus slightingly treated! How largely it affects the interpretation of God’s Word and Purpose! Our reply to this—as well as to the expression: “Humanity exists only for the Jews, and not the Jews for humanity”—will be found under the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants and the calling of the Gentiles, for our reliance is upon Scriptural evidence.
    It is proper to refer to this matter in this connection, that the reader may clearly see the fundamental questions that must, preparatively, be discussed. Theology, departing from the Primitive Church view, has too often grossly misconceived and perverted the election of the Jews, because all the purposes contemplated by that election have not yet been made manifest. And some deny that it any longer exists, being, as Pressense asserts, “a transient” matter. Our faith in this national election must be like Paul’s (Romans 11), that, cut off from its realization for a period, it is still sure, and will be openly shown by their being re-engrafted, because God’s purposes are unchangeable, and cannot be defeated by man. If the election is “transient” and not continued in engrafting Gentiles, who are to inherit the promises given to the elect Jews; how do Pressense and others indulge the hope of inheriting the promises with the Patriarchs? It is still true today, if we properly apprehend the foundations of our hope, what God puts in the mouth of man, as a suitable, comprehensive petition in Psalm 104:4–5. It is vain to interpose our own systems, as if they were God’s arrangements.

Obs. 8. “The middle wall of partition” proves both the election and the elevation to a privileged class. But many writers (e.g. Hodge, Sys. Div., vol. 3, p. 810) boldly and self-confidently assert, without the least Scripture to sustain it (being sheer inference), that this “middle wall” was broken down between the Jewish nation and other nations. This is a grave mistake, as every one can readily see by a comparison of passages relating to it. The Scriptures simply declare, that the “wall” is broken down between natural Jewish and Gentile believers, so that all of every nationality, when exercising faith in Jesus, become one in Christ. Instead of being broken down between nations, the fact is asserted only respecting believers; and this is proven by the additional fact, that no other nation sustains the same relationship to God that the Jewish does, i.e. is a covenanted nation, etc. We are informed, however, by our opponents, that the expression means that all the restrictions between Jew and Gentile were removed. The Word teaches the exact reverse, that some still remain. Thus e.g. to the natural descendants of Abraham is exclusively given a covenant with certain promises; only those who are identified with the nation—this distinctive race—have any right to the covenanted blessings. The nation is chosen not merely as a depositary of the truth, but as the vehicle or medium through which the Savior is to come, and finally completed Redemption in a manifested Kingdom under the reign of that Redeemer; for, somehow, all the prophets link the glory of the Messianic Kingdom with the Jewish race. The individual Jew, on the principle of faith, can only justly claim the promises given by covenant to his people. But now an emergency arises to test the validity and perpetuity of covenant relationship. The nation proves unfaithful, and now God, to fulfill this same covenant and the identical promises given to this people to be realized through them, extends this principle of faith to the Gentiles, not by demolishing the covenant and promises and election, not by taking the same away from the race (for then the election, confirmed by oath, would prove a nullity, and God had undertaken what He could not accomplish), but, as Paul expressly informs us, by grafting the Gentile into the Jewish stock, by adopting him (in law) as a veritable child, legally constituted descendant of Abraham, and entitled by virtue of such adoption to the privileges and blessings promised, through Abraham, to his seed, the Jewish race. If there is no restriction, why is it necessary to become a child of Abraham’s, and thus inherit the promises with the faithful Jews? This very incorporation, so much insisted on and regarded as essential, proves that “the wall” is only broken down between believers; and to facilitate this incorporation or engrafting, the rampart itself, i.e. the Mosaic ritual, was removed, giving Gentiles better access wherever they are. The Mosaic economy—likened also to a wall or fortification—introduced to preserve intact the elect nation, owing to its separating and exclusive injunctions, is not the election; it is only a temporary outgrowth from it, and hence may be abolished without in the least affecting the foundations, which lie beyond it in the Abrahamic covenant. This will be seen as we proceed with the argument.
    This most effectually answers the objections urged by Hengstenberg in The Jews and the Christian Church, when he makes “the type of Jewish nationality stamped on all nations that entered into the Church of Christ,” so that, at the Christian, era, “their true nationality terminated.” The Church of Christ is not composed of nations, but of individuals out of the nations, and those very individual believers are incorporated into the commonwealth of Israel, i.e. they are by faith engrafted, and this, now accepted by faith as in God’s purpose, will be openly manifested at the restoration of the Davidic throne and kingdom. And then it will be seen, that instead of “their original nationality having become the common property of all Christians” in the sense of “Christian nations,” it belongs exclusively to believers. The objections urged against our view, and the resultant restoration of the Jewish nation, which inevitably must follow, are inferential, and are chiefly drawn from the present state of the nation, overlooking that this period is “the times of the Gentiles,” which are to end so that God’s purposes concerning the Jewish nation may be manifested. The simple fact is, that in this respect Hengstenberg, and others, look at the Record in the light of a preconceived idea of the Christian Church being the properly covenanted Kingdom of God, and this influences the interpretation of election, covenant, and prophecy.

Obs. 9. In this connection, most briefly we say, that the election of the Jewish nation, and the tender of the Kingdom to it, positively requires, if the purposes of that election are ever carried out, the perpetuation of the Jewish nation, even if it be in a very reduced form, comprising a mere remnant. The natural seed itself must be preserved, in order that God’s faithfulness in promise may be exhibited in and through the nation. Hence, this is most strikingly represented in Isaiah 6:9–13, where, after predicting the unbelief of the nation and the consequent devastation and removal for a time from the land, this giving up “to destruction (is) like the terebinth and like the oak, of which when they are cut down, only a root stump remains: such a root-stump is a holy seed.” That is, it is regarded sacred, and will ultimately become holy. Following Propositions will, at length, indicate why and how this is done. God will never utterly forsake them, but will remember what He has so often declared, as e.g. II Samuel 7:24. The punishment, the scattering and desolation, of the Jewish nation is itself proof of their election as, e.g. Amos (3:2), declares: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” This casting off is only temporary, as evidence e.g. Zechariah 10:6, etc. 

Prop. 25. The Theocracy was an earnest, introductory, or initiatory form of this Kingdom.

The Theocracy, which had typical and ceremonial observances, as Paul teaches, that were to be removed in Christ, had a form of government which, prophecy instructs us, is to be fully exhibited in all its beauty and excellency under the Messiah, the great Jewish king, David’s son. A host of able writers, as, e.g., Martensen (Ch. Dog., p. 230), call “the Theocracy the Kingdom of God.”
    Provisionary in some of its aspects, the Theocracy still possessed the essential elements of God’s Kingdom, and gave an earnest only of what God intends. It was a form of government under the sole, accessible Headship of God Himself (Deuteronomy 5, etc.). He was the Supreme Lawgiver in civil and religious affairs (Deuteronomy 4:12 and 12:32), and when difficult cases required it (Deuteronomy 17:8–13), the Divine Arbiter or Judge. In brief, the legislative, executive, and judicial power was vested in Him, and partially delegated to others, to be exercised under a restricted form (Deuteronomy 16:18, etc.). All the people (Deuteronomy 29:10–13), in their civil, religious, social, and family relations, were to acknowledge, and be obedient to His expressed will. He communicated His will according to an ordained manner, and when not declared, or where there was doubt, the princes or leaders could come for inquiry and receive specific directions. As an indication and reminder of this Supremacy, all the people were required at certain times in the year (Deuteronomy 16:16, etc.) to visit the place of special manifestation, and renew their vows of allegiance. The prophets (e.g. Isaiah 1:21–24) spoke for God to the highest and lowest, and their rebukes were in the name of the Supreme Head. M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop., Art. “Monarchy, Israelitish,” says: “According to the sense of the Mosaic constitution, the Hebrews were erected into a kind of republic under the immediate dominion of Jehovah, forming a strict theocracy.” Fairbairn (Typology, vol. 2, p. 391) gives as the true idea, and distinctive nature of a Theocracy, “the formal exhibition of God as King, or Supreme Head of the Commonwealth; so that all authority and law emanated from Him, and, by necessary consequence, there were not two societies in the ordinary sense, civil and religious, but a fusion of the two into one body” (comp. his able article on “The Jewish Theocracy” and Locke’s definition in. “Treat. on Toleration”).

Obs. 1. Kurtz (Sac. His., p. 113) has aptly defined: the “Theocracy is a government of the State by the immediate direction of God; Jehovah condescended to reign over Israel in the same direct manner in which an earthly king reigns over his people.” Gleig (His. Bible, vol. 1, p. 218) says: “With wisdom worthy of Himself, He assumed not merely a religious, but a political, superiority, over the descendants of Abraham; He constituted Himself, in the strictest sense of the phrase, King of Israel, and the government of Israel became, in consequence, strictly and literally, a Theocracy.”
    Comp. Horne’s Introd., vol. 2, p. 41, Art. “Theocracy” in Smith’s Dic; Kitto’s, Calmet’s, etc., Cyclops. Indeed, many, unaware how fundamental an accurate knowledge of the Theocracy is for a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God, and how largely it enters into the composition of the Millenarian argument, make all the concessions possible, viz.: that it is the Kingdom of God, a kingdom on earth, over which God rules in a special, direct manner as an earthly king, etc. References in abundance might be adduced, for good definitions are to be found in many able works. Josephus (Contra Apion *) appropriately called this government of God’s over their nation, so different from a simple monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, or any other form, “a Theocracy,” which expresses the leading fact, that of God Himself being the recognized King. Some definitions are defective, and lead to error on an important point. Thus e.g. Dixon (quoted by Stanley, His. Jewish Ch.) pronounces it to be “a government by priests, conducted in the name of God.” Stanley (Lec. 7) forcibly shows that this is opposed by the facts, and then correctly says: “The Theocracy of Moses was not a government by priests as opposed to kings; it was a government by God Himself, as opposed to the government by priests or kings. It was, indeed, in its highest sense, as appeared afterward in the time of David, compatible both with regal and sacerdotal rule.” Originally and primarily all civil and religious law proceeded from God, and others in the government were subordinates to carry into execution the supreme will of the King, i.e. God. The Theocracy is something then very different from the Divine Sovereignty, and must not be confounded with the same, as e.g. is done by the able lecturer Cook who (as quoted in. Cin. Gazette, March 27th, 1877) says: “We must assert, that the fact of the Divine Immanence in matter and mind makes the world and nations a Theocracy.” The word is abundantly perverted; Romanists apply it to their church; Protestants, to the Christian Church; Unbelievers, to priestly rule; writers, to Christian states, and even (as Milligen) to the Turkish state, etc., thus violating the fundamental and essential idea involved in its meaning. Baring-Gould (Orig. and Devel. of Relig. Belief, p. 134) correctly gives the meaning, when he says that “Jehovah, the Most High, was the Sovereign of the race, reigning directly by Himself, and indirectly through Prophet, Levites, Judges, Kings, and the Law;” but he fails in two points: (1) when he makes the Theocratic form to have already existed in the days of the Patriarchs, and (2) when he remarks: “the apostolic and sub-apostolic age was one of pure divine theocracy. To this succeeded the sacerdotal theocracy of the Middle Ages, gradually tending toward the regal theocracy, exhibiting itself in the consecration of kings and resignation to their hands of the appointment of prelates and the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline.” The simple fact is, that since the overthrow of the Hebrew Theocracy, God has not acted in the capacity of earthly Ruler, with a set form of government, for any nation or people on earth; and the application of the word to any nation or people, or organization since then, is a perversion and prostitution of its plain meaning. Rogers (Superh. Orig. of the Bible, p. 77) justly observes: “The Jewish system of government was a genuine Theocracy. God was presumed to have constituted Himself Monarch of the State, and hence its contrast with every other form of government in the ancient world. It was an anomaly. Politics were identified with religion, the sacred and civil codes were essentially one, and the priestly functions assumed a paramount importance. God was the invisible but real Sovereign. Moses himself was merely His servant and administrator; he did not affect to be, like the Grand Lama, or even the Pope, the visible representative and vicegerent of God.” As this Theocratic idea will form an important element in our argument as it advances, a few more references may be in place. The Ancient His. of the East, p. 99, says: “The fundamental principle of this legislation is the supreme authority of God over the people of Israel (I Samuel 8:7; 12:12). He was in the literal sense of the word their Sovereign; and all other authority, both in political and civil affairs, was subordinate to the continual acknowledgment of His own.” Wines (Com. Heb. Laics, p. 48–9) says that Jehovah was “the Civil Head of the State”; “God was, by the compact which we have been considering, constituted King of the Hebrews, a defection from Him was a defection from their rightful sovereign.” And (p. 268) “God was the temporal Sovereign of the Israelites;” (p. 456), “Jehovah was the Civil Head of the Hebrew state,” “the law-making power and the sovereignty of the state were vested in Him”; (p. 481), “God condescended to assume the title and relation to the Hebrew people of chief Civil Ruler. He established a Civil Sovereignty over them;” (p. 538), “The supreme authority of the Hebrew state was in Jehovah—God Himself was properly King of Israel.” But Wines makes it “a restricted Theocracy” and no “pure Theocracy,” because it had other “civil rulers, men who exercised authority over other men, and were acknowledged and obeyed as lawful magistrates.” But the institution of such subordinate rulers is an integral part of a pure Theocracy (as evidenced in the re-establishment), leaving the Supremacy untouched and fully acknowledged. The purest Theocracy, adapted to the government of nations, that reason can suggest, must necessarily, as a means of honoring the Supreme Ruler and advancing His authority, etc., have its subordinate rulers.

Obs. 2. The Theocracy, as once established, is only the earnest, or initiatory or introductory form, giving the grand outlines or fundamental principles, because it still lacked some features to perfect it, that God intended (as will be shown hereafter) to develop afterward. Typical observances were to give place to the antitype; religious ceremonials were to be superseded by others. The King, too, was invisible; His majesty could not be revealed because a perfect Mediator was lacking—a satisfactory atonement of sin was wanting. But when the Redeemer appointed has come, when the atonement is made, when the Mediator is God manifested in humanity, then provision is made to insure, when the time arrives, the visibility of the Theocratic King Himself. Briefly, turn to the Theocracy as it existed, and then read what the Prophets declare of this same Theocracy as it shall be manifested under the reign of the Messiah, and it will be seen that, while the fundamentals which constitute it a Theocracy remain intact, yet glorious additions productive of happiness and blessing are incorporated with it at its future re-establishment.

Obs. 3. Here is where eminent writers fall into a mistake, that greatly influences subsequent interpretation of Scripture. Thus, e.g. Lange (Com. Matthew 3:2) calls the Theocracy the Kingdom of God in its typical form. (So Fairbairn, Typology, vol. 2, ch. 4; Neander Pl. Ch. Church, vol. 1, p. 499.) What, perhaps, leads to such an error, is the fact that typical rites and temporary observances were connected with the Theocracy. But while this is so, the Theocratic ordering or government, which for the time adopted these rites and observances, is never represented as a type. This is utterly opposed by covenant, and prophecy, and fact. The Theocracy did not adumbrate something else, but was itself the Kingdom of God in its initiatory form—a commencement of that rule of God’s as earthly King, which, if the Jews had rendered the obedience required, would have extended and widened itself until all nations had been brought under its influence and subjection. This is seen in various promises to the Jews. The real existence of the Kingdom as something that existed and shall, although now set aside for a time on account of the sinfulness of nations, exist hereafter, is seen, e.g. (1) in the actual exercise of Sovereignty by God, which is no type, but a reality; (2) in its acceptance by the nation in its associated capacity (Deuteronomy 5, etc.), which was no type; (3) in the realization of such rule, and in God calling them (Deuteronomy 26:18) “His peculiar people,” etc., which was no type; (4) for when this Theocracy was overthrown, all the prophets, with one mind and voice, proclaim that the same identical Theocracy shall be restored again with increased splendor and glory; (5) it is covenanted to the Christ as David’s Son, and is, therefore, His real inheritance.
    Reuss (His. Ch. Theol, p. 29) forcibly says: “The fundamental and formative idea of the prophetic teaching was that of the Theocracy.” The restoration of the Theocracy is the key note of prophecy. Well may it be asked, why change all this by spiritualizing the prophecies to make them applicable to a Church-Kingdom theory, which, against the plainest predictions taken in their grammatical sense, is supposed to fill out the measure of the Theocracy under the Messiah. The reader is exhorted to notice that, as the nature of the case absolutely demands, every prophet unites the restoration of the Theocracy with the Jewish nation. It is assuming quite a responsibility to deny this, and thus pave the way for confusion and misconception of the Kingdom of God. But we let Reuss tell us: “The prophets set forth as the end or the law of that national life, a state of society in which all the citizens should be brought into a direct relation with Jehovah, accepting His will as the sole rule of their actions, whether collective or individual, and receiving in return for this unbounded obedience, the promise of peculiar divine protection. Israel, according to this ideal conception of it, was to be a people of saints and priests.” Precisely so; and this divine portraiture of the future will, most certainly, be realized in all its fulness and preciousness, for God’s words are faithful and true. It is indicative of great weakness that many professed treatises of Theology have much to say about the Universal Divine Sovereignty, the Attributes of God, but absolutely nothing respecting the only form of government in which He condescends to manifest Himself, unless it be in the way of typical application. In this connection the critical student is reminded that our position is fortified by the very account given by Moses; for the Theocratic ordering and its laws are contained in, and enveloped by, a regular historical narration, or as a writer (Bib. Repos., Jan., 1848) phrases it: “It is a code of laws in a frame of history.”

Obs. 4. The Theocracy has been a matter of ridicule to unbelievers, who, unable to see in it a far-reaching and most merciful Divine Purpose, reject it as utterly unworthy of the Almighty. It is impossible, in the very nature of the case, for any man to appreciate a Theocratic ordering, whose heart rebels against the demands of obedience necessitated by such a form of government. This is the source of the attempted witticisms in this direction, so dishonorable to the persons indulging in them, to the dearest feelings of believers, to the dignity of mere history, and to God. It is the beginning of just such an infallible rule as humanity needs; and in its permanent distinctive features is indicative of wisdom transcendently superior to that exhibited in all other forms of government. This has been noticed by various writers, and will be referred to hereafter.
    Thus e.g. Milman (His. Jews, Ap. vol. 3, p. 44) observes that “a great step in civil improvement was made in the Hebrew polity;” and adduces it as an evidence of the overruling goodness of God, that—in opposition to the Oriental despotism, the abuse of patriarchal rule, and the tyranny of aristocratical castes—the welfare of the whole community was assumed as the great end in view. This is true, for the lowest as well as the highest, the poorest as well as the richest, was protected in his rights, and oppression, tyranny, etc. was impossible (Deuteronomy 16:18–20, etc.) under its constitution. But it was far more than a mere “step” in the right direction—it was the form of government, given with broad outlines, which God—who knows best—regards as most desirable for man, indicated (1) by its first establishment, and (2) by its final re-establishment. To have God directly for a Ruler, is both an unspeakable honor and inestimable blessing.
    The “Oracular Response” is especially the subject of unbelieving ridicule, pretending it to be on a level with pagan oracles. For a discussion of the same see e.g. Wines’ Com. and the ch. entitled “The Hebrew Oracle,” and other works devoted to the Hebrew Commonwealth; Bib. Diets., Arts. “Urim and Thummim,” etc. For the student two remarks suggest themselves. 1. The “Urim and Thummim,” and the mode of oracular response is unknown, as also the manner of response in the Holy of Holies, by which the Theocratic orders and will were communicated. This lack of knowledge is providential and designed. These things foreshadowed the Theocratic ordering in the Person of the God-man—whose union is undescribed—and this total silence of description, as well as overruling any description to be given by participants, is purposely intended in order to prevent its being claimed, perverted, and abused, as it inevitably would have been in the history of the past. It is something so high, and personally related to God, that a judicious silence preserves it from blasphemous use and being made the engine of ecclesiastical tyranny. 2. The replies usually given to infidels by Apologists to defend these Oracular Responses from being classed with the Delphic Oracles, etc., are sufficiently ample to cover the ground, although the main, essential reason for distinguishing between the two is either ignored or indirectly touched. The King being, from the nature of the case, invisible, and yet, as the occasions of the state required, accessible, some mode of communication between the King and nation was demanded. The Divine Oracle is, therefore, a necessary part of a Theocratic government; its absence would at once, and justly too, lead the infidel to reject its Theocratic nature. Now the manner in which this oracle was presented in the magnificent and typical Holy of Holies and the breastplate of the High-Priest (accessible at all times as the exigencies required, and that without making it—as heathen oracles—a source of revenue to the priests), accords fully with the Theocratic idea, and without it a Theocracy could not possibly exist. It is customary for some writers to say that this form of communication was adapted to the infancy or childhood of the nation and race, calling it a “condescending method” of instruction and discipline, but the student will find that immensely higher considerations—which do not lower the intelligence and understanding of the ancients, in order to flatter our superiority—influenced its adoption, viz.: the Theocratic ordering.

Obs. 5. The blessings annexed to the Theocracy are numerous, and precisely such (e.g. Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, 30, etc.) as a people here on the earth earnestly desire to attain. They culminate in the expression (Leviticus 26:12): “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people,” which is again reiterated (Revelation 21:3) at the restoration of the Theocracy.
    It has been maintained that all the blessings were of a purely earthly nature, promises of abundance, peace, etc., but this is not correct, since spiritual blessings, such as the forgiveness of sin, the consciousness of faith, hope, love, adoption, etc., were pre-eminently enjoyed, as the experience of Moses and the ancient worthies testifies. Exception is taken by some because nothing is directly (as in the New Testament) said concerning the resurrection or the future life; and from this unbelief, unable to discern the consistent policy of God in such reticence, has charged the record with inconsistency. But an exact and beautiful consistency is strictly observed. The reason why these things, alluded to, could not be directly revealed is this: the Kingdom is established in its initiatory form, and under the blessings received through it, God wishes His people to attain unto Abrahamic faith (in the case of Isaac), and trust that the blessings of the future—for the resurrection and future life are included in them—shall, in God’s way and time, be realized. Faith in the King is to be developed. The test applied to Abraham is continued, viz.: to secure an unbounded confidence in God that His covenant promises to Abraham would be fulfilled, even if they required (as is the case) a resurrection from the dead. The resurrection and the future life (as will be shown under the covenant) is most strongly implied, and, indeed, without them it is impossible to see how the promises can be realized. But as this Kingdom was tendered to those then living, it would have been incongruous to have told them at that period, before the unbelief of the nation and the downfall of the kingdom made it necessary to particularize God’s purposes and to explain more in detail the manner of accomplishment, that they could only inherit the Kingdom at the period of the resurrection. It would have been inconsistent (for they, the future not known, could not have understood it), as they already enjoyed the earnest form of the Kingdom. This, however, did not prevent Moses from giving intimations in his last addresses, that the faithful of all ages—without entering into particulars how God will accomplish it, after great evils had befallen the nation, after the calling of others, after a period of terrible vengeance—would enjoy God’s special favor with the nation itself restored. After the Kingdom was overthrown, then circumstances, to encourage the believing, called for a more extended statement of the resurrection, which received its fullest need of being plainly taught when the Messiah came, tendered the Kingdom and was rejected. But these subjects were not ignored in the first place, as will be shown when we come to them in regular order. The objection that all the blessings, in some way, related to this earth, has no force, because the Kingdom of God is a Kingdom here on the earth, and in its final re-establishment is still on the earth, but an earth redeemed from the curse.

Obs. 6. Briefly, attention is directed to the fact that while this Theocracy was a Kingdom on or in the earth, it cannot be strictly called an earthly kingdom. Many writers (e.g. Barrow’s Works, vol. 2, p. 705) pronounce it an “earthly kingdom,” which is a mistake, made and indulged to exalt the church by way of comparison. The Theocracy is from God; it was not of earthly or human origin, for it was divine, directly instituted by God, and having God for its Ruler. The Bible, through the prophets, insists upon this point, which a believer in the Word, seeing its foundation and superstructure, must concede. Hence Jesus, who is the promised King of this re-established Theocracy, well says that His Kingdom is not of this world, etc. 
    It may be suitable to remark that some writers (e.g. Castelar, The Republican Movement in Europe, p. 98, Harper’s Mag., Dec. 1874) endeavor to make the Theocracy a Republic, but the Theocracy, in the nature of the case, is not a Republic. While it is not a monarchy in the sense adverted to by Samuel, viz.: of purely human origin, yet it is a monarchy in the highest sense. It is not a Republic, for the legislative, executive, and judicial power is not potentially lodged in the people, but in God the King; and yet it embraces in itself the elements both of a Monarchy and of a Republic;—a Monarchy in that the absolute Sovereignty is lodged in the person of the One great King, to which all the rest are subordinated, but Republican in this, that it embraces a Republican element in preserving the rights of every individual, from the lowest to the highest, and in bringing the people, in their individuality, to participate in the government by the nation, as such, originally choosing the form of government, showing themselves to be “a willing people,” and aiding in electing the subordinate rulers. In other words, by a happy combination, Monarchy under divine direction, hence infallible, brings in the blessings that would result from a well-directed ideally Republican form of government, but which the latter can never fully, of itself, realize, owing to the depravity and diversity of man. Baldwin (Armageddon, p. 47), to make out his parallel between the Hebrew Theocracy and American Republicanism, declares: “Church and State were disunited by the Hebrew Constitution, and placed in the relation of associates.” This is totally incorrect, as any work on the Theocracy shows by reference to the laws and their practical workings. Such a notion is directly opposed to the meaning of a Theocracy. 

Prop. 26. The Theocracy thus instituted would have been permanently established, if the people, in their national capacity, had been faithful in obedience.

By this is meant, not that the typical and provisionary adjuncts would have remained unchanged, but that the direct, personal rulership of God (i.e., the distinctive features which constituted it a theocracy) would never have been, for a time, set aside, and that the blessings promised under a Theocratic rule would have been amply realized. No humble believer of the Word, reading the covenant made at Horeb and pondering the blessings and curses announced by Moses, can doubt this supposition. It is true God foreknew the nation’s defection, which is already freely predicted by Moses in his last addresses, but this does not prevent him from offering this Kingdom for their continued acceptance and retention in accordance with moral freedom.
    What God would have done, in case the nation had ever proven faithful, in providing for the Salvation of man (i.e. by way of atonement), we are not concerned, for, while feeling that His wisdom would have been equal to the development of a plan to correspond with such faithfulness, we do know (and this confirms our faith) that this Theocracy itself is formed in an initiatory manner in view of the foreknown apostasy, and that out of it, in the royal line, might come the Saviour—thus vindicating the knowledge of God. We also are assured, that this same Theocracy—rejected by some—contains a divine plan for the accomplishment of great ends, reaching from and through the Jewish nation over the earth; and that the unfaithfulness of man, however it may delay the final result, cannot alter or reverse it. Objections based upon what might have been, or how, in certain contingencies, God would have ordered things, are always unsafe; seeing that we must take affairs as they have transpired and trace God’s overruling Providence in them. Taking this scriptural view, it is impossible to break the force, e.g. of Isaiah 58 or of Jeremiah 17:25, which sustain our Proposition. The expressive language e.g. of Psalm 81:13–16 is sufficient: “O that my people had hearkened unto Me, and Israel had walked in My ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned My hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto Him; but their time should have endured forever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.”

Obs. 1. The erection of the Theocracy, and the exceeding great promises annexed to it just before entering Canaan, where the matter was to be tested—promises, too, which, if experienced, would exalt the nation above all other nations in power, wealth, plenty, etc.—has been pronounced by unbelievers as exceedingly extravagant, full of Oriental hyperbole. Some late writers take the liberty of sneering at God’s “little Kingdom” as contrasted with the mighty empires of “the poor heathen,” and sarcastically compare the power and resources of the Jewish judges and kings to that of present Arab sheiks. This attempt at wit fails, because it does not allow the Record to speak. The comparison, unjust in several particulars, does not notice that the reason why such promises were not experienced and became history, lies in the non-performance of certain imposed conditions—in the recorded unfaithfulness of the Jews.
    When obedient, sufficient assurances are given in the history of the Jews to indicate that, if they had continued so, God also would have been faithful to His promises in elevating the nation. And in justice to God Himself, it must be kept in mind, that the measure of their success was proportioned to His foreknown knowledge of the coming hardness of their hearts. It would have been unwise to exalt the Jews to a degree for which nationally they were unprepared; and, therefore, in all His dealings with them, He keeps in view the final purpose, viz.: to bestow without stint all blessings when the time had fully come that this same Theocracy, under the Rulership of an immortal King and subordinate rulers, would be established on a basis of stability and perpetuity, in which it would be impossible ever to pervert them. He, who sees the end from the beginning could not, owing to the depravity of man, and the moral constitution of man under government, shower His rich blessings profusely until He had first a reliable, tried, redeemed, God-fearing and serving race gathered out of the Jews and other nations, who, by their station, power, influence, etc., would insure a complete and perfect fulfillment of God’s own idea of government associated with Redemption. When we come to the final restoration of the Theocracy, this fact (as we shall show) exhibits itself prominently, and vindicates the wisdom, mercy, and justice of God in the past.

Obs. 2. The institution of the Theocracy with the claims annexed to it, and the laudation put upon it by God Himself, marks not only its desirableness, but that it is the settled purpose of God ultimately to establish its supremacy. Its development, final attainment, is conditioned only by the gathering of a people, who will “be willing in the day of His power.” God, too, cannot and will not violate His own character, His moral government, and man’s free agency, by forcing this Kingdom with its blessings upon an unwilling people. He may employ persuasion and correction to a certain limit, but beyond that He never proceeds. However we may explain this—for some things in this connection are probably beyond human comprehension, and honest differences of opinion may arise—the fact itself is historical. 

Obs. 3. The reader will carefully observe (as use will be made of it hereafter) that this Theocracy is very different from God’s universal, general sovereignty exercised by virtue of His being the Creator. Kurtz (His. Old Cov., vol. 3, p. 104) says: “As the Creator and Governor of the world, He was the Lord and King of every nation, but He did not base His kingly relation to Israel upon this foundation; He founded it rather upon what He had done especially for Israel: it was not as Elohim, but as Jehovah, that He desired to reign over Israel,” etc.; He also distinguishes between a rule, the result of “unconditional necessity,” and one the “consequence of the free concurrence of the people”—one arising from Creation, the other from Redemption. Kurtz is right in thus discriminating; but to make it more accurate, it is proper to add, that God also founds this Theocratic rule upon His having produced this nation, as in Isaac’s birth, out of due course of nature, and He appeals to His Creatorship (e.g. Deuteronomy 32:8, 15, and 30:20), as a reason why this Theocratic rule should be accepted; but the main consideration urged is, that through the Theocracy, God’s rule thus specially manifested through one nation, and finally embracing all nations, the Redemptive Purpose shall be accomplished and God’s Sovereignty in all its fulness be recognized by every creature. Attention is directed to this now to show: (1) that a special, significant Kingdom was instituted; (2) this Kingdom was pre-eminently the Kingdom of God, to distinguish it from mere earthly kingdoms; (3) such a Kingdom, differing from all others in that it had God Himself acting as earthly Ruler, was given to the Jewish nation as a special favor and blessing, with the idea of extending it, eventually, over the earth; (4) that if rejected or withdrawn from the nation, for a time, on account of unworthiness, the nation is still under God’s general sovereignty; (5) that anything less than such a Theocratic rule, in which God is personally accessible and rules over the nation, is a lowering of condition, the non-bestowment of a most distinguishing privilege. The propriety and force of this, will be seen as we proceed in the argument.
    Suppose e.g. that the Jewish nation is again restored to God’s favor and their land without a restoration of the Theocracy, then no matter what church privileges are bestowed, the nation, as such, forfeits its highest, dearest, noblest privilege and blessing. And yet such is the position accorded to it by various writers, over against—as will be shown—the most express promises to the contrary.

Obs. 4. The mournful comments and sad rebukes of the Prophets over the unfaithfulness of the nation, its lack of appreciating Theocratic privileges, and the resultant withdrawal of the Ruler, are sorrowful evidences of the truth of our Proposition. Nearly every one, in this connection, points out two things: (1) that a return to God with full allegiance to Him in the Theocratic order, would secure a return of God’s blessing (thus showing God’s purpose to be a continuous one), and (2) that upon such a return at some period, indefinitely stated, in the future, this Theocratic rule—a special, distinguishing privilege—is invariably connected with the nation, where God chose to place it. (Thus e.g. comp. Malachi 3 and 4; Leviticus 26, noticing v. 42; Deuteronomy 30, 31, 32, and 33.)
    The Jews themselves, in e.g. “The Liturgy of the Jews” (Art. on, Littell’s Liv. Age, Oct. 7th, 1876), acknowledge their sinfulness: “We acknowledge that we have sinned; that we have acted wickedly. O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, we beseech Thee, let Thy anger and Thy wrath be turned away from Jerusalem, Thy City and Thy Holy Mountain; for it is on account of our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors that Jerusalem and Thy people are become objects of reproach to all around us,” etc. 

Prop. 27. The demand of the nation for an earthly king was a virtual abandonment of this Theocratic Kingdom by the nation.

This is explicitly stated; for when (I Samuel 8:4–9) the elders of Israel desired a king, God told Samuel, “they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them,” and entered against it a “solemn protest.” On the day of presentation (I Samuel 10:17–19), Samuel protested: “Ye have this day rejected your God,” in this matter of asking for a king. To show the nation “the great wickedness” it was guilty of “in the sight of the Lord in asking you a king,” to Samuel’s word was added (I Samuel 12:16–19), by way of attestation, a severe thunder-storm in harvest time. The sinfulness consisted (I Samuel 12:12) in saying that “a king shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your King.”
    This desire for a King, like other earthly kings, was expressed before, but regarded as sinful. Gideon (Judges 8:22–23) was offered the Kingship a hereditary monarchy, but he, appreciating the honor of the instituted Theocratic ordering, refused it, saying: “the Lord shall rule over you.” Kitto’s Bible His., M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop., make Abimelech the first King of Israel. The question was proposed to the Ch. Union, and it correctly replied (Aug. 22, 1877) that Abimelech exercised authority during the anarchic days described by Judges, but that in no proper sense could he be called King of Israel, being a mere chieftain, a Judge, and that Saul was the first of the Kings who exercised royal authority.

Obs. 1. No deeper insult could scarcely be offered to God than such a request indicated. This is seen by considering the Being who condescended to be their Ruler, the blessings that He promised, and the design He had in view in thus becoming, in a direct manner, King over the nation. The only extenuation for such “wickedness,” as Samuel intimates, is found in their distressed circumstances, also brought upon them by unbelief.
    Schlegel (Philos. of His., Lec. 6), speaking of the Jewish Theocracy, says: “This constitution has been called a Theocracy, and so it was in the right and old signification of that word, by which was meant a government under the special and immediate Providence of God.” This, excellent as it is, is only a half-truth, for the Providence of God is thus exerted in behalf of the nation because it is a government of which He Himself is the acknowledged Ruler. This is proven by our Propositions. This, too, seems to be Schlegel’s idea in the phrase quoted, for he correctly rejects the interpretation (now even used by many respectable writers) which gives such a latitude to the word as to make it a priestly dominion, or which confines it too much, or even exclusively, to the priesthood (saying that Moses was no priest, etc.). Then, justly, he regards the desire of the Hebrews to have a king like other nations, “a wish which, in the higher views of Holy Writ, was regarded as the culpable illusion of a carnal sense.” The student, therefore, will keep in view the fact that a Theocracy is far more than the exercise of a special and immediate providence; it is an earthly relationship of Kingship over a nation in which the honor and glory of the King is deeply concerned. 

Obs. 2. Some writers when adverting to this point are not sufficiently precise in their language. Burt (Redemp. Dawn, p. 242) says: “The idea of an earthly monarchy does not seem to have entered the Mosaic constitution,” and “the idea of a monarchy did not enter the Mosaic system, and cannot be regarded as a natural development of that system.” “Jahn and others declare that an “earthly monarchy was out of harmony with the Mosaic economy.” Such views are the result of stopping short at Samuel’s protest and not carefully noticing what followed. On the other hand, Hengstenberg and others maintain that the monarchy was a necessary development of that constitution or system. Such plainly ignore the protest of God, which, if it means anything, certainly denotes that God did not deem it necessary. Hence neither party are correct, although both have a portion of the truth. Notice: 1. The Theocracy was a monarchy, but God was the monarch. This is so clearly evidenced by the facts that it is now acknowledged by talented writers, as e.g. Wines (Com. on the Laws of the Anc. Heb.), who says that God was accepted by the nation as their “Civil Ruler, Monarch, and Political Head;” “the Sovereignty of the nation was vested in Him.” 2. It was a monarchy over a nation here on earth—the kingdom was here and not elsewhere, as the rule, decisions, etc., were administered here, so that while divinely constituted it also sustained an earthly relationship. 3. While the idea of a monarchy was bound up with the Theocracy (“the Lord your God was your King”), it was not requisite, nor was it a natural development of the Theocratic idea, that this style of monarchy should be yielded up for another merely human, or for one acting in conjunction with the other; this the express language and rebukes of Samuel forbid. 4. But while the yielding of God to the desire of the Jews does not evince a natural or legitimate outgrowth (His protest being sufficient to indicate this), yet we shall show, step by step, how, by not conceding His authority to another, etc., He could, in mercy and forgiveness, engraft even such a kingship into the Theocracy itself. 5. God, foreseeing this very sin of the nation, made provision for it already through Moses (thus evidencing both His foreknowledge and a Divine Purpose to be accomplished). To avert the evil, and overrule it for good, He gave express directions (Deuteronomy 17:14–20) that the choosing of such a King should be under His exclusive control, and that such a King must acknowledge the Theocracy as existing—i.e. God’s supremacy in the Kingdom—making his rule subordinate in all respects to that of the Chief Ruler. 6. God could do this the more consistently and engraft this Kingship into the Theocracy, because the Theocracy contemplated its latest and most glorious manifestations to be a Rider skip of God in the man Jesus. Thus, at some future time, in the line of the kingly race selected, the Theocratic idea would be openly exhibited, and the two elements be perfectly blended in one, enhancing the glory and majesty of the King. The contemplation of such a Plan ought to produce the most profoundly reverent and grateful feelings.
    Newman, in his His. of the Hebrew Monarchy, passes by the Theocracy, and begins, as the starting-point of connected history, at the election of Saul. He entirely overlooks the essential part of a Theocracy, viz.: God ruling over the nation as an earthly king, and that, as we shall show, this Theocratic idea was enforced over the kings. Hence his work is vitiated by a fundamental error, nullifying his destructive criticism. The same is true of numerous works, otherwise able, that have a molding influence over many. 

Prop. 28. God makes the Jewish King subordinate to His own Theocracy.

According to Samuel’s statement, God pardons the nation on the conditions that it still, with the king included, acknowledges him as the continuous Supreme Monarch, and that the king chosen shall enforce the laws given by his superior in authority. In this entire transaction God’s theocratic rule is preserved intact. The earthly king was under certain imposed restrictions, and was threatened, in case of disobedience, with the displeasure of, and punishment from, the still recognized Civil Head of the nation. This was felt and freely confessed by Saul (I Samuel 13:12, and 28:15), David (II Samuel 6:20, and 7:23–26, etc.), Solomon (I Kings 3:8–9, and 6:12–14, also ch. 8, etc.), and others.
    This submission is indicated, e.g. by building “a house unto the Lord,” in and through which the Will of the great Ruler might be obtained and confirmed. When the kings forgot their position and trust, or directly rebelled against their Head or Chief, the result was that the prosperity of the king and nation was checked, the original blessings were withdrawn, intended good was withheld, and the curses given through Moses were experienced. Solomon (II Chronicles 9:8) acknowledges this subordinate position, when he accepted of the Queen of Sheba’s expression (the knowledge of which had evidently been previously imparted), that he was, “set to be king for the Lord his God.” The reader will not fail to observe that the nation receiving Saul as king, then concurring in his rejection, and then accepting of David, clearly indicates that it realized its Theocratic position as a nation. The prompt acquiescence in Samuel’s appointments shows that it believed him to act under the divine direction of the Chief Ruler, and this was evidenced to them by the miraculous thunder-storm (a storm ridiculed by unbelief, but highly proper and Theocratic in the grave crisis). In addition to the references given under the previous Props., we add the following. M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop., Art. “Monarchy,” speaking of the change introduced, says: “The King, however, was only empowered to administer the Theocratic government as a Viceroy of Jehovah, the heavenly Sovereign, and was bound to this law as the highest authority, so as to exclude the idea of an independent and absolute monarch.” Wines (Com. on the Laws, p. 548, etc.) remarks on the foreseen provision of Deuteronomy 17:14–20, that “Monarchy was permitted to the Israelites;” that the choice of a king was limited, so that the nation “was not to appoint any one as king who was not chosen of God;” and that “the law, and not the king’s own will and pleasure, was to be the rule of his administration.” The student will find in Deuteronomy 17:14–20 express provision made by fundamental law, defining and limiting the power of future kings, obligating them to keep the law of God, thus, in the same vindicating both the supremacy of the Head of the nation as Chief Ruler, and His foreknowledge of the result when the nation was “come unto the land” which their Ruler gave it.

Obs. 1. It follows, therefore, that Josephus (Ant. 6:3 §§ *), and those who receive his view, are mistaken when they end the Theocracy with the Judges. The concession, made by the nation and earthly king, was such that God could, in equity, pardon the people and continue His august, special rule. 
    Fulton, in Government: Human and Divine, p. 20, makes this mistake, saying: “The very Kingdom of Israel was a professed Theocracy, with God as King and the man who filled the throne on earth only vice-king or deputy; we say professed Theocracy, because the real Theocracy of the Jews ceased when they chose a human king.” Now the reverse of this is the truth, as abundantly seen in God’s own words. This will be more clearly seen as we proceed. For the present, over against Fulton we quote Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 467), who well observes that the rise of royalty (i.e. the reign of the earthly kings) was not “the end of the Theocracy,” but “rather its modification, and at the same time its development;” and “that the King over this people must not be an autocrat, but rather a theocrat, par excellence, a viceroy and minister of God.” We may add, as a hint, that this very Theocratic feeling and submission, so characteristic of David, is what pre-eminently constituted him a man after God’s heart, notwithstanding his lapses.

Obs. 2. In addition to the priesthood, the given law, and the access to God on particular occasions, a safeguard was thrown around this subordinate kingship to prevent it, either in its hereditary character (in case of wicked successors), or in its State and Religious officials (in designing, ambitious men), from interfering with the rights, laws, truths, etc., of the Supreme Ruler. This was done by what Augustine (City of God, *) and Stanley (His. Jew. Ch., 1 Ser. S. 18) have called a “prophetical dispensation, which ran parallel with the monarchy from the first to the last King.” King and priest were to yield to the authority of the Prophet, simply because the latter directly revealed the will of the Supreme King.
    This has been noticed by numerous writers, as e.g. Kurtz (in Sac. His. and His. of Old Gov.), Delitzsch, Auberlen, Hengstenberg, etc. Hence, too, Stanley (Lec. 18, His. Jew. Ch.) calls it a “vulgar error” to represent “the conflict of Samuel with Saul as a conflict between the regal and sacerdotal power,” for, as he observes, Samuel was no priest, and it was doubtful whether he was of Levitical descent. It was as a prophet that Samuel spoke, as one directly commissioned by God. The priesthood, indeed, served as a check and as directors, but as they, too, were liable to forget their allegiance and duty, the prophet was the purest revealer of the King’s will and pleasure. J. Stuart Mill (Rep. Government, p. 41) curiously observes the practical effect of this safeguard in these words: “Under the protection, generally though not always effectual, of their sacred character, the Prophets were a power in the nation, often more than a match for kings and priests, and kept up, in that little corner of the earth, the antagonism of influences which is the only real security for continued progress.”
    Dean Graves (On the Pentateuch, Pt. 1. Lec. 1) has framed a strong argument (reproduced by Wines in Com., p. 180, etc.) on the ancient existence of the Pentateuch, derived from the fact that the regal form was subsequently introduced, and that it placed such restraints upon the kings, abridging prerogatives, curbing their power, so that the improbability of any king (as e.g. Josiah, etc.) forging it, or accepting it from others, with its imposed conditions, is self-evident. We may add that a form of government, such as delineated in the Pentateuch, with its peculiar code of laws, punishments, etc., is so patent a matter for a whole nation to consider, that a fabrication of the same, and its imposition upon a nation as something that had previously existed, when it is false, is simply an utter impossibility. Men are never willing to place themselves under such restraints (or to trace their disasters to a violation of them) unless they are authoritative, and they know the source and legitimacy of the same—thus confirming the testimony of Jewish quotations, commemorative rites, festivals, etc. 

Prop. 29. This Theocracy or Kingdom is exclusively given to the natural descendants of Abraham, in their corporate capacity.

This follows from the preceding Propositions, and cannot be denied by any one without doing violence to the Scriptures. For the entire tenor of the Word shows that the nation was selected and favored in this respect beyond all other nations. No others could enjoy the privileges and blessings which it conferred, and contemplated to confer, without being adopted into the nation, and provision for such a contingency was early (Exodus 12:48, Numbers 9:14) made.

Obs. 1. The Proposition simply repeats, in another form, an idea to which it is desirable to give some prominence, since it has an important bearing in tracing the proper conception of the Kingdom. It teaches that the Kingdom is solely given to the seed of Abraham, which embraced the Jews. For God condescended only to act as earthly Ruler in behalf of that one nation, the election being thus practically demonstrated in their nationality. If this Kingdom is to be given to any other than a believing Jew, we certainly, in view of the plain language confining it to such (Comp. Prop. 24), ought to have the matter stated in the most express manner. If Gentiles, as Gentiles, without adoption or engrafting, so that they shall be legally regarded as Abraham’s seed, can receive this kingdom, then, in view of the numerous counter statements to the contrary, the most precise and determinate instructions should be presented, affirming the same. Now the lack of these—our opponents relying on pure inference—is evidence of the correctness of our position, that the Kingdom belongs to the faithful Jews and to those who are received as such because of faith in the Messiah. Abraham’s seed, however produced, natural or engrafted, receive the Kingdom.

Obs. 2. So sure is this Kingdom to the seed of Abraham, by virtue of covenant and oath, that when the Lord was displeased with the nation at the establishment of the Theocracy and threatened its extermination, yet, to insure the fulfillment of His pledged word, He proposed that of Moses He would raise up such a nation. The same is intimated by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:9) when, the Jews refusing to repent, he told them that God could, if it was requisite, raise up children to Abraham by supernatural power. Such instances teach that, rather than fail, God can work to any extent demanded, but always in the Jewish line—i.e. all who are ever to enjoy His special Theocratic favor must, in some way, be regarded as the descendants, the children of Abraham. 

Obs. 3. This gives us one of the reasons why intermarriages with heathen were forbidden, why Ezra and Nehemiah manifested such zeal in purging the Jewish nation, why the amalgamation of the Jewish with other nations was prohibited. The introduction of others into the nation could only be lawfully preferred in accord with a proper confession of faith, and then could they participate in the Theocratic privileges and blessings.

Obs. 4. No reader of the Old Testament can fail to see that the Theocratic idea is the nation’s foundation principle, permeating all that pertains to it.
    Why is it that in the Scriptures God passes by (excepting in a few hostile predictions) the mighty monarchies and kingdoms of the earth, which are the boast and pride of profane history, and centers His interest alone in the small Jewish nation? Unbelievers consider this a great defect, and ridicule its occurrence. But the answer is a consistent and logical one: God, in virtue of covenant and relationship, could not consistently take any other position in honor to Himself, and the nation which forms the basis of His Theocratic rule and manifestation.

Obs. 5. This feature, the Theocracy alone pertaining to the Jews, was their proud boast, as seen e.g. Deuteronomy 4:32–40, Psalm 147:20.

Obs. 6. This is the Key to the significant superscription of the cross: “This is the King of the Jews.” But whilst we must not forestall coming phases in our argument, leaving them to arrive in their regular historical and logical order, yet it may be in place to urge the reader to consider why Jesus should be specifically designated on the cross only as “the King of the Jews,” and not of Jews and Gentiles or of nations generally. There must be some valid reason why, as the King of the Jews, He becomes the King over all nations. 

Prop. 30. The Prophets, however, without specifying the manner of introduction, predict that the Gentiles shall participate in the blessings of this Theocracy or Kingdom.

This needs no special proof, for the fact is satisfactorily evidenced that, although the prophets announced it and Jesus declared it, the apostles even did not understand how it could consistently (in view of our preceding Propositions) be done, until the principle and order under which it could be accomplished were revealed to Peter (Acts 10 and 11), and acknowledged in a council (Acts 15). Hence it is called a mystery revealed (Ephesians 3).

Obs. 1. If these predictions were not given, a strong proof of God’s foreknowledge and determination to carry on His Divine Purpose would be lacking. Even already by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:21, 43) it is foretold, and as the anticipated unbelief and perversion of the nation arises and its rejection for a time is insured, the announcement becomes more bold and frequent.

Obs. 2. If such prophecies were wanting, then the objection would arise that God had not revealed a definite Plan, or made provision in that Plan for the temporary failure of the Jewish nation. Therefore, aside from their relationship to us believing Gentiles, they are exceeding precious predictions, indicating completeness in the Divine Purpose.

Obs. 3. The very manner in which the predictions are given manifest the wisdom of God. One feature is carefully kept in the background until the time has arrived for fulfillment, viz.: how the Gentiles are to have part in the blessings of Abraham, seeing that the promises pertain to Abraham’s seed. While the kingdom belongs to the Jews, and the nation renders itself unworthy of it, and God’s Purpose is to turn to the Gentiles, yet the mode of incorporating these Gentiles is left for future revelation. The call of the Gentiles is given in a “way that implies that certain events connected with it must first be fulfilled and additional revelation be given before it can be properly comprehended. In the very nature of the case, it could not be otherwise, for if every event, link after link in the chain of Providence, had been revealed systematically and minutely, it would have interfered with the moral freedom of man, or it would have placed him in a position from which to consider himself the victim of unalterable predestinated circumstances. Thus e.g. had the Word predicted all the events respecting the First Advent and its result, the conduct of the Jews, Romans, etc., in such a form, as necessary preliminaries to the call, it would have been terribly depressing, and it would materially (II Corinthians 2:8) have interfered with the fulfillment of events. There is, consequently, a deep wisdom, such as man could not evince, in those isolated, broken predictions. A blessed sufficiency is given to vindicate God’s knowledge, to impress His mercy, and to invite trust in His Power, that the Messiah will be (as the Jews also held, Mac. 2:7, 14) “the King of the world.”

Obs. 4. The reader will notice, too, that this calling of the Gentiles, while in a few places spoken of as a result of Jewish unbelief and punishment (as e.g. Deuteronomy 32:21), is more generally, almost universally, predicted by the prophets to occur in connection with the Jewish nationality. It is a matter either taken for granted or directly mentioned in immediate combination with the Jewish nation. The reason for this is, that while the Gentiles enjoy special favor during the period of the nation’s dispersion, yet, as Paul (Romans 11:12, 15) asserts, they shall realize immeasurably greater blessings when God’s kindness and faithfulness shall restore the nation to its former Theocratic position. The privileges and rich results of the Theocracy restored are to be enjoyed by the Gentiles (thus e.g. Isaiah 11:10–16, chs. 60, 55, 62, etc.).

Obs. 5. The Kingdom being given to the nation, and this being based on covenants and promises confirmed by oath, (1) no other nation can obtain it without a recall of the covenant relationship; (2) such a recall is nowhere asserted, but the perpetuity of the same is most explicitly and repeatedly affirmed; (3) the nation, for a time suffering the withdrawal of God’s special Theocratic ordering, does not vitiate the covenant relationship; (4) hence, the participation of the Gentiles in the covenanted relationship (and through this, to an inheriting of the blessings of the Kingdom), must depend (as has been stated) upon their being, in some way, adopted as the seed of Abraham. Precisely here was the mystery, which baffled even the apostles until specially enlightened.

Obs. 6. The original bestowment of the Theocracy being in a most solemn, public manner, if ever the Jewish nation is to forfeit its relationship to that Theocracy, this must be done in as public manner, or, at least, the most explicit statement must come from God to this effect. This has not, cannot be done—although multitudes, misled by the temporary punishment of the nation, infer it—without violating God’s pledged word. Hence, the importance of closely tracing the call of the Gentiles, and noticing its connection with the Jewish nation.
Obs. 7. Infidelity has never yet attempted to explain by what mental process the prophets could predict this call of the Gentiles when so directly opposed to Jewish election and covenanted relationship. Unbelief cares not to study the delicate and most admirable traits of Divine Wisdom in the predictions, given in general terms, and leaving, for the best of reasons, the filling up of the web of events to the time of fulfillment. Unbelief cares not to contemplate prophecies given thousands of years ago, and most wonderfully fulfilling, without interfering with moral freedom, for this would lead to the supernatural. 

Prop. 31. This Theocracy or Kingdom was identified with the Davidic Kingdom.

Passing by the Davidic covenant (to be adduced hereafter), which distinctly exhibits this, it is sufficient, for the present, to remark that after the Theocratic Ruler deposed Saul, owing to disobedience, he chose David, and having made for wise reasons (e.g., in view of the prospective seed of David, Jesus, “the Christ”) the Kingdom hereditary in David’s family, he received that throne and Kingdom and adopted the same as His own throne and Kingdom. The Theocracy and Davidic kingdom, in virtue of a special and peculiar covenant relationship between the two, were regarded as one, and in the future so identical in destiny that they are inseparably linked together.
    Comp. Props. 27 and 28. This union, and the subordination of the kings, as well as the divine right running only in the line of God’s own choosing, shows how we are to estimate the unfounded assertions of those who make this Kingship a despotic or unlimited monarchy, with the notion of thereby enforcing “the divine right of kings” and “the passive obedience of subjects.” What terrible outrages on humanity have been committed, under the false claim that they were sanctioned by the governmental institutions of God! How tyrants have ruled and crushed their subjects, under the pretence of being a legitimate outgrowth of Theocratic ordering; and how crimes of the deepest dye have been condoned under the plea that “the anointing oil” of priestcraft made them per se “the Anointed of the Lord!” (Comp. Props. 164 and 163.)

Obs. 1. This is also evidenced by three things—(1) The Davidic throne and Kingdom is called the Lord’s. Thus, e.g. in I Chronicles 28:5, it is “the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord over Israel”; in II Chronicles 13:8, “the Kingdom of the Lord ”; and in II Chronicles 9:8, the King is placed by God “on His throne to be King for the Lord thy God.” (2) The King was expressly designated “the Lord’s Anointed” (I Samuel 24:6, II Samuel 19:21, etc.). (3) The Prophets, after the establishment of the Davidic throne and kingdom, invariably identify the glorious Kingdom of God, the blessed Theocratic rule, as manifested through the same, as e.g. Jeremiah, 33 and 36, Amos 9, etc. The reason for this lies in the firm and perpetual union.
    Wines (Com. on the Laws, p. 506–7), to carry out his theory of an election by the people, in order to make out a parallel with American Republicanism, makes David to have been “elected by the voice of the people to that high dignity” (II Samuel 3, 4, 5, and 12), and that the anointing of Samuel was a sort of “prophetic anointing,” which did not inaugurate him as king, or confer any authority upon him.” “It was rather a prophecy in action, foreshadowing his future elevation to the throne.” We contend from the historical account given, and the particular narrative of the choosing of David, that it was more than this: the anointing gave him a right, from the Chief Ruler, to the Kingdom and over the Kingdom, although the realization of the same was delayed for a time. God had thus designated His choice, and it was, in the nature of the case, infallible. The consent of the tribes, one after the other, was not merely a matter of prudence and policy to bind them cordially to David, but resulted, as the history shows, in view of God having given him this right, evidenced by his anointing. The anointing constituted him the King, however delayed, and this kingship, in the divine line, continued the recognized one, although afterward the majority of the tribes revolted from the Davidic house. The majority did not change God’s plan, etc.

Obs. 2. The King was under God’s special care, and treason against the King was treason against God; it was only when engaged in sin that God’s care was removed and the people were exhorted to resist wickedness even in the chief. The diminishing of the Kingdom (as in the days of Jeroboam, which was not to be forever, seeing that no promises of perpetuity were given as to David), and the final overthrow of the Kingdom—indeed all the great, leading, vital affairs pertaining to it, are always represented as occurring under the direction and control of the mighty Theocratic Ruler,—He being fully and legitimately identified with its successes and reverses, exaltation and debasement, union and divisions, etc.
    One reason why greater favor was shown to the tribes adhering to the kingly line chosen by God than to those tribes that revolted and sought out their own line, springs from the fact that the one party, with all their faults, kept closer to the Theocratic ordering than the other. Some works (as Baldwin’s Armageddon), in their opposition to all monarchy, and desire to make out the Theocracy a Republic (which it is not, excepting in a few details), speak of the Davidic monarchy as if it were “sinful,” and God hated it, etc. This is simply to ignore the historical statements, the covenant, the thousand promises, connected with it. God was only displeased with it, and punished it, whenever it forgot its Theocratical position and subordination. Any other view is a perversion of fact.

Obs. 3. This Theocratic union is shown also in the fact that not only all the Theocratic laws and arrangements, previously made, remained in full force, and the King obligated himself to see them enforced, but in important matters pertaining to the nation the King was to consult with, and obey the imparted instructions of, the Chief Ruler. The numbering of the people (II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21) by David without divine permission, being an infringement of Theocratic order, an act of insubordination to his Superior, was correspondingly severely punished.
    Celsus, Voltaire, and a host of unbelievers, with assumed righteous indignation, insist that David having alone sinned in numbering the people, it was unjust that the innocent people should have suffered the punishment due to him. So also it is said, that taking Uriah’s wife, the innocent husband perished, and David enjoyed his spoil. But let it be noticed: 1. The end is not yet: the future destiny of those innocent ones will, in the coming Kingdom, make ample amends for their misfortune. 2. How largely the future station, rank, kingship, and priesthood of David may be affected by it, we know not—a just balance will be struck. 3. David’s sins are specifically denounced, and he heartily repented of them. 4. He suffered severely in person because of them. 5. One of the sins—the former—was an insult to his Sovereign Ruler, and the punishment was designed to exhibit its magnitude. 6. David was preserved, notwithstanding his sins, because of his relation as Theocratic King and the destined forerunner of a future glorious Theocratic King in his line. 7. That the reasons for Theocratic clemency and severity are not given in detail, and that it ill becomes us to sit in judgment upon them. 8. The non-concealment of David’s guilt (so different from human biography) and its result, stamps the record with truthfulness, and gives hope and comfort to repenting sinners.

Obs. 4. The identity of the Theocratic Kingdom with the Davidic is taken for granted in the New Testament as an indisputable fact. This will appear, as our argument progresses; for some preliminaries must first be considered in their historical connection. The announcing angel states the fact (Luke 1:32–33), and Zacharias intimates it (Luke 1:68–74).
    The reader will observe two features connected with this subject. The Theocracy did not remain in Saul’s line, and it was not in the line of the kings over the revolted tribes, for the special union and the promises connected with it are found only in the Davidic line. This is a sufficient reply to Newman (His. of Heb. Monarchy, p. 50), who accuses Samuel of treason in deposing Saul and choosing David, totally overlooking the Theocratic form of government, and that Samuel was acting under the special orders of the Supreme Ruler of the nation. The question is sometimes asked, why was Saul thus chosen, when God foreknew his speedy fall and the selection of David in his place? The question is not answered by saying that’ Saul’s self-will caused him to forget his Theocratic position” when he presumed to sacrifice himself and disobey divine commands, the significance of which (The Anc. His. of the East, vol. 1, p. 132) was that “it aimed at establishing the monarchy of Israel on the same basis as heathen kingdoms,” making the Theocratic ordering subservient to the caprice of the subordinate ruler. All this is true, but God foreknew all this, and still selected Saul. Kurtz (Sac. His., p. 177) says: “Since they demand a king without a divine intimation, God gives them a king, even as they wish, not after His own heart (I Samuel 13:14), but after the heart of the people, not one that belonged to the tribe of Judah, but one who was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward (I Samuel 10:23).” But God did directly choose him, and not the people, and the proof is found in I Samuel 9:15–27 and 10:1–26; for Samuel expressly says: “See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen.” Newman (His. Heb. Monarchy) says: “It is highly doubtful whether Saul was chosen either by God or by Samuel,” for he thinks the Israelites chose him for his stature and beauty, and then Samuel reconciled himself to a necessity, and declared—a pious fraud—that God also chose him; thus perverting the history, and that Saul was not seen by the people until after the lot. Historical statements, however, must always bend before destructive criticism, which has the happy talent of knowing precisely how things ought to have been done. The reason, as given by various writers (e.g. Farbairn’s Typology, p. 96), seems to be this: the Kingship was of a derived and vicegerent nature to be perpetuated, “and to render the Divine Purpose in this respect manifest to all who had eyes to see and ears to hear, the Lord allowed the choice first to fall on one who—as the representative of the people’s earthly wisdom and prowess—was little disposed to rule in humble subordination to the will and authority of heaven, and was therefore supplanted by another, who should act as God’s representative, and bear distinctively the name of ‘His servant.’ “In other words, God designed to show in this first king, and impress it by a signal experience that He alone was the Supreme King, and the government, under the kings, should continue a Theocracy. The lesson was purposely chosen before the Davidic line was introduced, but practically it was too soon forgotten. It was illustrated, too, in the case of one whom men admired (owing to stature and beauty). 

Prop. 32. This Theocratic Kingdom, thus incorporated with the Davidic, is removed when the Davidic Kingdom is overthrown.

The spirit of prophecy, which expresses the opinion of God in this matter, is emphatic and clear. Thus e.g. take Psalm 89, and the Davidic throne, which it is asserted the Messiah, “the Holy One of Israel,” shall occupy, is represented as completely removed, the throne and crown cast down, God himself having withdrawn in his wrath at the nation’s sinfulness. Numerous predictions, to avoid repetition, will be given hereafter.

Obs. 1. The Proposition is evidenced, (1) by the continued overthrow of what God called His throne and Kingdom (Ezekiel 21:25–27, Hosea 3:4–5, etc.); (2) by the Prophets not recognizing any other Theocratic Kingdom than the one thus connected; (3) by the restoration from Babylon, building of the temple, etc., being never likened to this Kingdom, for although blessings were vouchsafed to the nation from God through His general divine Sovereignty, yet God did not act as their King, which is seen, e.g. in the Jews being still “servants” and others had “dominion over them” (Nehemiah 9:36–37), being placed under tribute, (Ezra 4:13 and 7:24); (4) by the simple fact that neither in the temple rebuilt nor in any subsequent political position of the Jews, was God directly accessible as Ruler, to be consulted, etc.; (5) by the Jews themselves, in their future political and religious status, never supposing, after the overthrow of the Davidic Kingdom, that it or the Theocracy connected with it was restored, but constantly and ardently looked for its re-establishment; (6) by the withdrawal of God, more and more decided, so that even for centuries the voice of prophecy was silent. In brief, all the circumstances indicated, that the distinctive features which manifested a Theocracy, were withdrawn, and the religious, the ceremonial, indispensably necessary for the moral preparation and culture of man, was alone continued. The nation was undergoing divine punishment for its non-appreciation of Theocratic privileges.
    Some writers, evidently through inadvertency, misuse the word “Theocracy,” when they speak of the “re-establishment of the Theocracy” at the return of Ezra to Jerusalem B.C. 457, distinguishing it from “a free and independent Theocracy” by designating it “a dependent” one. This is to make a partial restoration of the nation and religions rites a Theocracy, when Ezra and the nation were subjects to the sway of Babylon, etc. The least reflection shows the misuse of the term, and especially to make it “dependent,” without restoration (as we shall show) of David’s throne, etc.

Obs. 2. The highest position, politically, occupied by the nation afterward under the brilliant reign of the Maccabean Princes, was never regarded as a return to the Davidic or Theocratic rule. The Asmoneans were not in the Davidic line, and God was not the Theocratic King as once before.
    The Theocracy, the Kingdom of God, being withdrawn is the reason why (comp. Obs. 4 below) Daniel’s prophecies, which give an epitome of the world’s history down to the re-establishment of this Theocracy under the Messiah, make no mention (as they consistently could not) of a Kingdom of God on earth running contemporaneously (as many would have us to believe against fact) with the Gentile empires delineated by the Prophet. God’s Spirit does not contradict itself.

Obs. 3. The highest religious position afterward arrived at, when the Temple was restored with magnificence, did not meet the Theocratic features. The second Temple, among other deficiencies, possessed not the manifestation of the Divine Presence of the great King in the Holy of Holies, and gave not forth, as the first Temple, the responses of an earthly Ruler. With all the veneration attached to it by the Jews, they never regarded its erection and their worship there, as the enjoyment of a restored Theocratic government. They still lamented the loss of the once enjoyed precious boon.
    Warburton (Div. Leg., B. 5, S. 5) labors to show that the Theocracy existed down to the Coming of the Christ. A more recent writer (Wines, Com, on the Laws, p. 495, etc.) indorses this unhistorical view, and says: “It (Theocracy) was democratical till the time of Saul, monarchical from his accession to the throne till the captivity, and aristocratically after the restoration of the Jews to their own country; but through all these revolutions it retained the Theocratic feature.” This is a serious mistake, utterly opposed to his own definitions (which we have freely given, Props. 25, 26. etc.) of a Theocracy, which he leaves for a lower one of his own framing. It utterly ignores the Scripture testimony; it vitiates the predictions of a restoration; it makes it impossible to understand the covenant and prophecies; and it presents us a Theocracy with its life taken out, its essential meaning removed, its throne and Kingdom overthrown. Alas! that men of ability are so misleading.

Obs. 4. The reader, although perhaps premature in our line of argument, will notice that this feature has its decided influence in shaping the peculiar and striking manner in which the Bible is written and placed together. Unbelief has made itself merry at the early historical narrative of the Jewish nation when contrasted with the mighty empires of the world, at the sudden breaking off of the same, its non-resumption (in the Bible) to present the splendid achievements of the Maccabees, etc. But under all this lies a profound reason. The mighty empires of the world are as nothing to God when compared to His initiatory Theocratic ordering. Small as the latter is when contrasted with Kingdoms that embraced immense territories and a multitude of nations; weak as the subordinate Theocratic kings were when compared with an Alexander or Cyrus or Caesar, yet in the estimation of Deity, there was in this nucleus, this earnest of government, something that outweighed the grandeur of all earthly Kingdoms. This was the Theocracy. God shows due respect to His own ordering, and hence confines Himself almost exclusively to the history of the Jewish nation. Other Kingdoms are, indeed, mentioned, but only to show their relationship to the Jewish nation and to pronounce their doom, or the final result when the Theocracy shall be triumphantly reestablished. This gives the Bible its remarkable cast of expression and its historical connection. Thus e.g. there is a regular tracing of the rise of the nation, the establishment of the Theocracy, and then comes the regular history of the Theocracy to its downfall or rather withdrawal. Everything which led to it, that was connected with it, that led to its abandonment, is given as a matter of interest. Briefly, but boldly, the outlines, the essentials, for a correct apprehension, are presented down to the last King. Then follows the account of the Captivity; of a partial restoration; of the return not meeting the requirements of a restored Theocracy; of God’s fulfilling His Word in punishing; of prophets who predict the re-establishment of the Theocracy; of a long silence of centuries, a sufficiency of prediction having been given and the history of the nation being unworthy of record; of what occurred at the coming of the Messiah, and the mention of continued punishment, of a few predictions confirmatory of the Old Testament, but no attempt to verify them, for in the unbroken silence, the dignity of prophecy is enhanced by the fulfillment being taken for granted as something needing no proof, being ever present in history. 

Prop. 33. The Prophets, some even before the Captivity, foreseeing the overthrow of the Kingdom, both foretell its downfall and its final restoration

Thus, e.g., Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Micah deliberately predict the withdrawal of God’s protection as Ruler on account of the rebellious spirit of the nation, the abolishment of the Kingdom, and the destruction of the very place of the Ruler’s special manifestation. But they also announce, just as distinctly, that at some period in the future there shall be a complete restoration of the same Kingdom under David’s son, and a restoration, too, pre-eminently glorious.

Obs. 1. This, from what preceded and will follow, needs no special proof. Such passages as Amos 9:11, Luke 1:32–33, Ezekiel 37:21–22, Jeremiah 33:14, etc., it is admitted by all men, do in their plain grammatical sense distinctively teach such downfall and restoration. This is denied by no one; but we are informed by eminent and pious men, that this is not the sense (excepting only as it pertains to downfall) intended by God. Aside from the inconsistency of charging God with employing a sense—the one, too, in common usage between men—that fairly expresses this idea and fosters corresponding hopes, we hold with the Primitive Church, and shall prove as we proceed, that it is the only sense which consistently maintains God’s covenant, oath, promises, and election of the nation.

Obs. 2. Let the reader but pause and consider: God has had a veritable Kingdom here on earth; He was the earthly Ruler of the nation exhibited in and through this Kingdom; now is it conceivable that He, owing to unbelief and sin of the nation, will give up this Kingdom forever—that He will permit Himself to be defeated in the establishment of such an open, outward, manifested Theocracy? Men, the multitude, say such is the fact, but we do not read the Bible as asserting the same, for this would be dishonoring to God, making Him to undertake a work that He is unable to accomplish, and this would make the Prophets predict falsely, making them plainly to prophecy what shall never come to pass. (Comp. Prop. 201.)

Obs. 3. It has been generally acknowledged (no matter how afterward explained or spiritualized) that the basis of prophetical teaching is this Kingdom constantly and uniformly connected with the National and Religio-Political constitution of the people of Israel. Why, then, dare to reverse this, without the most explicit and direct command from God? The change that is made by the many in these prophetical utterances, as will be shown, is based purely on inference. Solemnly, sadly is the protest given: Should we not, in so weighty a matter, have far more than merely inferential proof? If the grammatical meaning of the Word is to be changed, should not God Himself plainly tell us of the change, and not leave it to uninspired men, centuries after the canon is completed, to inform us of it?
Obs. 4. When the elements of disunion, disruption, etc, appeared in the Davidic Kingdom, then also a change took place in the Prophetic voice. This has been noticed by Kurtz (Sac. His., p. 228, etc.) and others; it is only necessary to add, that in view of the now foreseen and determined withdrawal of the Kingdom, much more is said, by way of encouragement under coming trial, respecting the period, when, under the promised Messiah, the Kingdom should be restored never more to end. This was a token of mercy to stimulate the faith and hope of the repentant, pious portion of the nation; for while God withdrew the Kingdom and attendant blessings, He did not, as He promised even by Moses, utterly forsake the nation. 

Prop. 34. The Prophets describe this restored Kingdom, its extension, glory, etc., without distinguishing between the First and Second Advents.

This peculiar feature has often been noticed by writers; and attention is called to it in this connection, because it is of great moment to understand this distinctive, significant method of prophecy.

Obs. 1. Learned men, feeling the force of this uniformity, have supposed, correctly, that some good reason produced it, and to assign one, tell us how prophetic vision glances from the lower to the higher hills, passing over the intermediate valleys, etc., thus presenting a beautiful and glowing picture of ecstatic vision. While there is truth in this description, it utterly fails to assign any reason for it, only presenting the manner in which it is done. The leading motive for such a non-discrimination of First and Second Advent will be found in the offer of this same Kingdom to the Jewish nation at the First Advent (comp. Props. 55–57, etc.), and, upon its rejection by the nation, in its postponement to the Second Advent. The proof for this will be abundantly forthcoming; at the present it is desirable that this characteristic of the prophets be constantly kept in mind, because it evinces a predetermined offer of the Kingdom, in view of the election of the nation, at the First Advent; and the issue also being foreknown (amazing knowledge! a postponing to the Second Advent), it conditioned the necessity of only speaking of the Advent, without directly specifying a First or a Second. This intermingling and blending of Advents, or rather, this non-discrimination of Advents, is purposely done, (1) to allow full latitude to the freedom of the nation; (2) to evince the foreknowledge, truthfulness, and faithfulness of God; (3) to test the faith of His people; (4) to throw the responsibility of Christ’s rejection upon the nation; (5) to prepare the way for the engrafting of the Gentiles; (6) to avoid the despondency, etc., that must arise, if the long intervening period of time were presented.
    It was extremely difficult for a Jew to reconcile the glorious predictions relating to the Messianic Kingdom with those pertaining to a suffering Messiah. This was so greatly felt that we read of the idea of two Messiahs being broached—a suffering one, followed by a triumphant one; others united both in the same person, but without attempting a reconciliation. The question might well be asked of unbelief, whether it is credible that the Prophets, so devoted to their alleged “Jewish prejudices” and “Jewish forms,” could by their own wisdom have concocted such a humiliated, suffering Redeemer of the nation to bring it to glory by restoring its Theocratic relationship, when it seemed, to all human appearances, antagonistic and fatal to all such expectations?

Obs. 2. This peculiarity of the prophecies impresses the injunction given by numerous writers, viz.: to be careful in discriminating the Scriptures that belong to different dispensations, e.g. that which pertains to the First Advent and the time following, and that which relates to the Second Advent and the age following it.

Obs. 3. Living at this period, so long after the First Advent, we are the better prepared, owing to fulfillments, to discriminate between the Scriptures, and make a correct application of them. God’s sincerity in tendering the Kingdom to the Jewish nation is evidenced by the very manner in which the nation’s rejection of the Messiah at the First Advent is delineated; it is rather implied than directly taught, and in such a way, that while now we see the guilt of the nation unmistakably presented, yet before the fulfillment it was—to avoid interfering with freedom of choice—more or less a mystery. To us, it is a mystery fully revealed.
    It will be observed that, owing to the terrible period of punishment for the rejection of “the Christ,” etc., no distinction of First and Second Advent is made, and a little reflection will show the great wisdom and mercy of God in not making it. Had it been made, its revelation would have had crushing force, and would have interfered with moral freedom. We regard this very feature, so delicately handled, as a decisive proof of divine inspiration.

Obs. 4. The manner in which the prophecies were fulfilled at the First Advent teaches us how we may expect the prophecies pertaining to the Second to be realized, viz.: in the strict grammatical sense contained in them.

Obs. 5. Another reason why the Prophets simply announce the Advent without discriminating is, that both Advents are really necessary for perfected Redemption—the one, we can now see, is preparatory for the other. Hence Bh. Horsley (Works, vol. 1, p. 83) and others have pointed out the fact that we can not properly interpret the ancient prophecies without referring to the two Advents; they stand related to each other, and in several places are spoken of without any intimation of the long centuries that shall intervene between them. Fairbairn (On Proph., p. 183) justly observes: “It is only by the facts and revelations of the New Testament, that ancient prophecy has been found conclusively to require for its complete verification two disparate manifestations of the Godhead; the one in humiliation, the other in glory.” But we must never forget that the Prophets unite the two as essential to the Salvation of man, and the experience of that Salvation, in the Kingdom of God restored in splendor. The two Advents are the two main instrumentalities for accomplishing Redemption; each one has its appropriate sphere of action, and “the glory” of the Second is the reward subsequent to obedience and suffering at the First.

Obs. 6. The Kingdom being rejected by the Jews at the First Advent, an intercalary period intervenes, and “the times of the Gentiles” are continued on to the Second Advent. This is the reason why in some of the prophecies, when direct reference is made to the First Advent, the intervening period to the Second is passed by, and attention is directed to the Second with its results, as e.g. Psalm 69, Isaiah 53 connected with Isaiah 54, etc. The Divine Plan thus unites the two as incorporated with it, and teaches how, in the light of God’s Word, this intercalary period ought to be regarded, so far as God’s Purpose is concerned—i.e. while exceeding precious to us who believe and who are adopted as the seed of Abraham, yet it is still a time of “waiting,” and that it is, by no means, to be exalted into that disproportioned and exaggerated position that it holds in so many systems of Theology.

Obs. 7. The Kingdom is nowhere (although it is currently believed) directly asserted to be a resultant of the First Advent, but in the declarations of Christ and the apostles it is distinctly linked with the Second Advent, as e.g. Matthew 25:34, II Timothy 4:1, etc.

Obs. 8. This characteristic of not distinguishing between the two Advents, excepting as the events connected with one or the other now (in view of fulfillment) enables us to discriminate between them, has been often ridiculed by Unbelief as an evidence of weakness. We, on the other hand, find in it a profound meaning and an indication of the highest window and the greatest strength. Indeed, when properly comprehended in its true relationship to the Jewish nation and the Theocracy, it forms a strong proof of inspiration, being a phase beyond human conception and continuance. Foreknowing the facts, it carefully avoids contradiction in the least particular; aware of the result, it gives due latitude to moral freedom; and conscious of a postponement resulting from the conduct of the Jewish nation, it still proclaims that God’s Plan shall be ultimately accomplished. Divine Wisdom alone could devise such a wonderful way of predicting the future.

Obs. 9. Unbelief has not yet been able to explain the anomaly presented in these two Advents. The last (Second), which is spoken of in the most eulogistic terms, it may ascribe to human desire and consequent Oriental imagination, but it is completely at fault with the First Advent. For it cannot show how it is possible for Jews, with Jewish expectations and hopes (based on covenant promise), to describe a Messiah coming in humiliation, rejection, suffering, and death. 

Prop. 35. The Prophets describe but one Kingdom.

The language and whole tenor of the Word is so explicit that both Jews and Gentiles thus understand it. Whatever views may be entertained respecting the interpretation of the prophecies themselves, there is no writer, within our knowledge, who has ventured to suggest that two Kingdoms are denoted.

Obs. 1. There is one Kingdom under the Messiah, David’s Son and Lord, in some way linked with the election of the Jewish nationality, which is the great burden of prophecy.

Obs. 2. This Kingdom, too, according to the grammatical sense, is one here on the earth, not somewhere else, as e.g. in the third heaven or the Universe. Take the most vivid descriptions, such as are contained in Isaiah 60, or Daniel 7, etc., and they refer this Kingdom exclusively to this earth, which, of course, follows naturally from the relation that this Kingdom sustains to the Jewish nation and Davidic throne. Any other portraiture of it would be incongruous, and hostile to covenant and fact.

Obs. 3. If it is one Kingdom, and thus related, it must, of necessity, embrace the following features: (1) Notwithstanding the removal of the Kingdom and the severe tribulation of the nation, the preservation of the race must be announced, for otherwise the election would fail and the Kingdom, as predicted, could not be restored. This is done in the most positive manner, as e.g. Jeremiah 31:35–37, and 33:19–26, Isaiah 54:9–10, etc. (comp. Prop. 122). (2) The restoration of the Jews, notwithstanding their sinfulness and punishment, ought to be distinctively presented, because David’s Kingdom is based on it. This also is predicted, as e.g. Ezekiel 36:22, 24, and Ezekiel 37, Jeremiah 31, 32, and 33, etc. (comp. Props. 111, 112, 113, and 114). (3) And as David’s throne was in Jerusalem, and was adopted as God’s throne, when His Son shall reign, the city ought to be specially honored in such a revelation of the Kingdom, seeing that it stands intimately related to it. The Prophets thus distinguish it in the future, as e.g. Jeremiah 3:17, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 3:17, etc. (comp. Prop. 168, etc.). Indeed, all the particulars needed for a full identification of the identical Kingdom, once established but now overthrown, are thus given in the most simple language. Why, following the Origenistic method, change this language, and make David’s throne and kingdom, Jewish restoration, Jerusalem, etc., mean something else than the words plainly convey, without a direct revelation from God that such a change is intended?

Obs. 4. The Prophets describing one Kingdom, here on the earth, at some time in the future under the Messiah, and associated with the Jewish nation and the Davidic throne, it is a gross violation of all propriety to take these prophetic descriptions and arbitrarily apply them, as many do, by dividing them—one part to the earth, another to the third heaven; one portion to the present time, and another to the distant future. This separation and disintegration of things that belong together, and relate to the same period of time and to the same locality, being even exhibited in the same sentence, as e.g. Isaiah 25:8, where the abolishing of death is put in the future, and the rest is applied, without warrant, to the church as now constituted.
    The only ingenious defence that we have found for this impropriety is in Dr. Alexander’s Com. on Isaiah (p. 38, Pref. to vol. 2), which hides this defect, of dividing and locating in diverse places and times the Millennial descriptions, under a generalizing rule, by which such prophecies are to be applied to the condition of the church, and which condition is considered not in its elements, but as a whole; not in the way of chronological succession, but at one view; not so much in itself as in contrast with the temporary system that preceded it.” In some respects true, it is unsound to apply this indiscriminately and obtain a correct interpretation; for (1) particulars and elements are also predicted, and are to be considered in order to form a proper estimate of the whole—they cannot be safely omitted. (2) The predictions, with few exceptions, do refer to a chronological period and succession, and it is only in so far as we can locate these that the prophecies themselves can be properly appreciated. Thus e.g. to discriminate what belongs to the period preceding the First Advent, what to that Advent, what to the Second Advent, what to intervening time, etc., these are all important chronological data, and without some (at least approximative) knowledge of the position in time occupied by the prophecy in fulfillment, we are at once involved in confusion. There is no prophecy given, but it stands chronologically related. So that while in Prophecy there is only a general, indefinite appeal to chronology (excepting Daniel and the Apocalypse), as e.g. “in that day,” “in that time,” etc., yet this phraseology has a decided reference to time, a set time, to which we must give heed if desirous to understand. (3) The last clause of Alexander’s canon, overlooks some permanent things in the preceding system, held in abeyance until the time of restoration; and if true, lessens the force of the predictions themselves by directing attention to “the contrast” and not to the reality of the things portrayed. Some writers (as e.g. Alexander On Isaiah) have denounced as an “erroneous hypothesis” the rule laid down by Vitringa, “that every prophecy must be specific, and must have its fulfillment in a certain period of history.” Now without adopting some of Vitringa’s interpretations based on this rule, and without asserting that all prophecies are delivered in chronological order (which cannot be sustained), we still hold that such a canon has the strongest possible reasons for its support. The denial of the rule materially aids the spiritualizing of prophecy. But if we allow that the prophecies are to be generalized, and that they have no particular reference to certain eras in the history of the church and the world (as e.g. those pertaining to the First or Second Advent, etc.), then we are at once sent adrift in an ocean of vague, unsatisfactory interpretation. From the decided and specific fulfillment of prophecy in the past, it is proper to hold that the remainder will also thus be verified, and this in itself, aside from other and weighty reasons (such as making the Divine Plan indefinite, weakening the proof of God’s foreknowledge, frittering away the precise language of the prophets, etc.), is amply sufficient to cause us to reject so arbitrary a conclusion as the above.

Obs. 5. In the doctrine of the Kingdom we make much of the proper comparison and union of Prophecy, and especially lay stress on the sameness of language, ideas, etc., existing between Isaiah and the Apocalypse (as e.g. comp. Isaiah 60 with Revelation 21 and 22). Our opponents, feeling the force of this, endeavor to rid themselves of the identity of these predictions based upon their similarity—which strongly prove the one Kingdom to which we hold—by asserting that they are prophecies referring to dissimilar things and times. Let it be candidly said, that any system of interpretation which will drive good men to ignore one of the plainest and most valuable guides in the interpretation of prophecy, is most certainly defective. 
    Some commentators (e.g. Alexander On Isa., vol. 1, Pref, p. 56), object to the efforts of others in attempting to illustrate and interpret some of the predictions of the Prophets by the aid of the Apocalypse, and ground their objection on the alleged fact of the latter being “an independent prophecy.” But how it becomes “independent” they fail to tell us. The truth is, that it is not such, for it is given by the same Spirit of Truth that gave the rest, and it has reference to the same Redemption, same ultimate end and glory, described in numerous other prophecies. It is a continuation and amplification of some of the predictions of Isaiah and others, and hence it is eminently proper for an expositor to avail himself of later Revelations, if, on any points, they may throw light on preceding ones. Prophecy is designed to reveal the Divine Purpose, to indicate and vindicate its unity of design, and therefore, instead of being “independent,” one of another, all the predictions of God’s Word relating to the Redemptive process, and the history of His people, are mutually dependent upon each other. If an Interpreter neglects this connection, confining himself to one prophet or book without considering what others have to say, he at once makes himself unreliable and an unsafe guide. The excellence of Dr. Alexander consists in his having often violated his own theory.

Obs. 6. Even in David’s and Solomon’s time this Kingdom was, in view of the foreseen rebellion of the nation, predicted as a future restored one under one of David’s descendants; and this was based on the peculiar covenanted relationship of the nation and then existing Davidic dynasty, as e.g. Psalm 89:20–52, Psalm 132:11–18, etc. This, as previously intimated, was done intentionally, and, among other reasons, to show us convincingly that God foreknew the defection of the nation, and in His Plan provided for it. If these predictions had all been given after the overthrow of the Kingdom, we would not have as strong a proof of their inspiration as we now possess. Thus, e.g. would it be in accordance with human nature for David, when receiving a Theocratic favored Kingdom, to predict, during his lifetime, such an one as was destined to an overthrow, to a lengthy forsaking of God, etc.? No! men are disposed to laud and magnify their possessions, and predict perpetuity in their behalf. The predictions are in opposition to the prejudices and desires of human nature. 

Prop. 36. The Prophets, with one voice, describe this one Kingdom, thus restored, in terms expressive of the most glorious additions.

They predict, from the Psalmist down to Malachi, a restoration of the identical overthrown Kingdom, linked with the most astounding events, which shall produce a blessedness and glory unexampled in the history of the world. Thus, e.g., the resurrection is united with this restoration, as in Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8 (the latter located by Paul, I Corinthians 15: “then shall be fulfilled the saying written,” etc.), and the new creation is allied with it, as in Isaiah 65:17, and 66:22.

Obs. 1. It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose that such remarkable events (as, e.g., the resurrection of the saints, the restitution or recreation) must accompany and be identified with the re-establishment of this Kingdom. The Prophets unite them, and we are not at liberty to separate them; any theory that does this, is certainly unworthy of credence.
    Some feel the force of this sufficiently to try and evade it. Thus e.g. Pres. Edwards (His. of Redemp.) endeavors to make out a kind of “new heavens and new earth” now created, but fails in locating it properly, because the descriptions of the prophets are not now realized in the church or earth. The same is true of Swedenborgianism and others, which make the same kind of application to the present. So also with making out a present spiritual resurrection, etc. The only way in which such applications can possibly be made is to forsake the grammatical sense and impose a spiritual or mystical to suit the line of interpretation.

Obs. 2. Since the overthrow of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom, these predicted events have not taken place as delineated, and, therefore, the predicted, covenanted Kingdom has not yet appeared (although the multitude, by forsaking the grammatical, and cleaving to the mystical sense, hold to the contrary).

Obs. 3. It is the same Kingdom overthrown that receives those additions, and not another Kingdom that obtains them; hence, no professed Kingdom, however loudly proclaimed and learnedly presented, should, lacking these, be accepted by us.

Obs. 4. Those additions are so great in their nature, so striking in their characteristics, so manifesting the interference of the Supernatural, that no one can possibly mistake when this Kingdom is restored.

Obs. 5. After the downfall of the Davidic Kingdom, the Prophets predict this Kingdom as future. They employ general terms with an allusion to some definite, fixed time, as “in that day,” etc. The only direct allusions to its nearness are contained in the statements that certain events must intervene, and that certain periods of time, then enshrouded in mystery, must elapse previous to its restoration. The prophetical periods themselves were at first necessarily obscure, because many of the events from which they were to be dated were also in the future. But while thus careful in reference to time to conceal it for wise reasons, the same motives did not exist in reference to events, so that the latter are given in lengthy and detailed accounts.
    Some may think that the definitive seventy weeks of Daniel form an exception. But this prophecy says nothing (except by implication) of the setting up of the Kingdom; it therefore falls in with the rest, seeing that it only refers to the First Advent, the destruction of the city, and to the desolation which is to follow, even down to the consummation. From other prophecies, however, like Zechariah 14, etc., we learn that at the fearful consummation of the end, the Second Advent and Kingdom will come. A mystery is thrown around the exact period of desolation, even if (like Baxter, etc.) we divide the last week from the remainder and insert the Times of the Gentiles as intervening, we must, to ascertain explicit knowledge of the Kingdom, refer to other predictions and attach them.

Obs. 6. The Prophets, too, describe this Kingdom as erected, and these additions as made, not by a Savior coming in humiliation and suffering, but by a Redeemer coming in glory with all His saints, as e.g. Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19:11–16, etc.

Obs. 7. This causes then the singular prophetical procedure, viz.: only a few of the Prophets refer to the First Advent and its mournful particulars, as if conscious (which is strongly intimated) of the rejection of the Messiah and the long-continued downfall of the Kingdom; and, hence, enlarged and vivid descriptions of this restored Kingdom are confined to another and distinctive Advent (which from the New Testament account is designated the Second), which portraiture of the Kingdom has, to this time, not yet been realized. The Second Advent, with its glorious additions, its happiness and blessedness, was a more eminently desirable theme of the Spirit than the First, with its mournful consequences. Exceedingly precious as the First is, the Second exceeds it in glory, and, therefore, the latter is pre-eminently “the blessed hope.”
Obs. 8. The results of the First Advent, the accurate fulfillment down to the present day, the personal appropriation of the truths relating to it, impress us with a deep and abiding sense of the reality of that foreknowledge of the future which promises so much connected with a Second coming of the same Jesus. 

Prop. 37. The Kingdom, thus predicted and promised, was not in existence when the Forerunner of Jesus appeared.

Many books positively assert that the covenanted Kingdom of God continuously existed, subject only to some changes. Eminent men (whom we shall largely quote) declare the same, and make the church (after the overthrow of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom) its continuation. They, however, have not adduced a single direct passage of Scripture in support of their theory; and the facts, as already stated, all clearly prove the contrary. They have mistaken the original Divine Sovereignty lodged in the Creator for the Kingdom of promise, i.e., for the special reign of God over a nation, which alone is the covenanted Kingdom; or else, led by a preconceived development theory, they are forced to seek out and engraft such a Kingdom, and elevate the church into the same.

Obs. 1. The Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom is the Kingdom of God; this has been proven. Now this Kingdom was fallen, and it continued thus down to John the Baptist.

Obs. 2. The church, which was continued after the fall of the Davidic Kingdom, is nowhere directly designated the Kingdom of God. While under the care of the Divine Sovereignty, it is not, and, according to covenant, it cannot be, this Kingdom.

Obs. 3. The Prophets, in this church, instead of pointing out an existing Kingdom, invariably represent it as fallen, and its restoration as future.

Obs. 4. This same Kingdom was promised in its restored form to a certain descendant of David. He was to be its Restorer. Now it is folly to hold, that the Kingdom existed just before His appearance. His Advent and the Kingdom are inseparably linked together, so that the offspring of David, the long promised Son, must first appear, and then the Kingdom. This is the order laid down by all the Prophets. The Kingdom is promised to the Son of Man, and He must first come as man.

Obs. 5. The greatest looseness and latitude of opinion exist among able writers. In Prop. 20, Obs. 4, notice was taken how Thompson assumes the existence of a Kingdom, and that the Jews (against all historical fact) believed themselves to be in it. The Jews had no knowledge of a then existing Kingdom, for they looked, longed and prayed for the Davidic restored under the Messiah. Many writers imitate Thompson, and even exceed him, for they have a continuous Kingdom of God from Paradise down to the present day, making no distinction whatever. Others are a little more moderate, as e.g. Prof. Hengstenberg (The Jews and the Ch. Church), who locate “the very beginning of the Kingdom of God” in the times of Abraham, i.e. long before the Theocracy was established. Of course, such a writer continues it on regardless of the Kingdom’s distinctive features and the utterances of prophecy.
    The writer has often been pained at the recklessness of statement on this subject. Many excellent authors, not distinguishing what really constitutes a Theocracy (viz.: God’s condescending to act in the capacity of an earthly Ruler, etc.), make the Theocracy or Kingdom existing down to the fall of Jerusalem, and then coolly transfer it over to the Christian Church. No solid advancement can be made in Theology until such utterly unfounded positions are relinquished.

Obs. 6. Auberlen (The Proph. of Daniel) has presented no profounder thought for the proper conception of the prophecies of Daniel, than that which carefully discriminates in this matter, saying: “According to what the book (Daniel) says of itself, it intends to represent something infinitely deeper and more sublime, namely, the relation of the two fundamental powers of universal history, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, from the time when the Kingdom of God ceases to exist as a separate state, till the time when it shall be re-established as such in glory.” Daniel gives us an epitome of the time, chronologically, during which the Kingdom does not exist down to the period of its re-establishment, thus supplying important links in the prophetical delineation of the Divine Purpose. It is scarcely necessary to add that it includes, at least, the period down to John the Baptist.
    Even if we were to take the usual interpretation given, by our opponents, to Daniel (e.g. Daniel 2 and 7) respecting the setting up of Messiah’s Kingdom, viz.: at the First Advent, it would sustain the position of our Proposition. The prediction of establishing the Kingdom at a particular, specified era is sufficient evidence that for some time, at least, previously it must not have been in existence. The prophecies indicate the Divine Sovereignty controlling all things, even while the Kingdom of God did not exist on earth as promised.

Obs. 7. Let the reader consider, what is too much overlooked, that this Kingdom is one of promise and here on the earth, and hence does not refer to the divine nature of the Father or of Christ considered in itself, separate and apart from the expressed covenanted relationship (comp. Props. 80 and 81). For, as Dr. Storrs (Diss. on Kingdom) has well remarked, that government solely arising from, or inherent in, the Divine Nature “could not be the subject of promise or expectation.” God’s Sovereignty, necessarily and eternally inherent in Him and pervading all things, is never promised, only as connected and abiding with David’s seed in this Kingdom. This is confirmed by what is said in Hebrews respecting the human nature of Christ (comp. Props. 82–84).

Obs. 8. The only Kingdom of God, distinctively announced as such, is that one in which, as we have shown, God Himself condescends to act in the capacity of an earthly King, exhibiting directly the functions of such a King in legislative, executive, and judicial action. After the overthrow of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom, none such existed on earth, but a sad, mournful vacancy transpired. 

Obs. 9. This Kingdom was not preached to the people immediately before John the Baptist came. Luke (16:16) says that Jesus declared: “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached.” In whatever way this is explained (see Judge Jones’s Notes, p. 110, etc., and Com. on Matthew 11:12–13), it certainly implies a period of time preceding when the Kingdom was not directly offered for acceptance. The legitimate inference follows, that it was not in existence. It was, indeed, predicted, promised, believed in, and expected, but it was not authoritatively offered for present acceptance and realization, as was done by John and those following him.

Obs. 10. That the Kingdom did not thus exist, is very apparent from the language of John himself (Matthew 3:2): “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” implying, forcibly, that for some time it had not been near, seeing that it now drew nigh.

Obs. 11. This teaches us in what light to consider the notion entertained by numerous eminent writers (as e.g. Hengstenberg in The Jews and the Ch. Church), viz.: that the Christian Church, as the Kingdom of God, is simply a continuance of an existing Kingdom of God in the Jewish nation. It is fundamentally erroneous, and most seriously affects the interpretation of Scripture. (Comp. Props, on the Church.)

Obs. 12. Many able theologians folly indorse our Proposition as a self-evident fact. Thus e.g. Van Oosterzee (Theol. N. Test.) makes the Kingdom of God something “new,” not a mere uninterrupted continuation, “for it has first come nigh in the fulness of time (Matthew 4:17); it did not before exist on earth.” While guarding against one extreme (i.e. to make out the Ch. Church a continuation of the Kingdom), he falls, however, into another when he asserts that “it did not before exist on earth,” which is pointedly contradicted by the previous establishment of the Theocracy, that was, par excellence, the Kingdom of God, by its withdrawal and promised restoration. 

Prop. 38. John the Baptist preached that this Kingdom, predicted by the Prophets, was “nigh at hand”

This Kingdom was to be offered to the Jewish nation, and John’s mission was to prepare the nation for its acceptance. However men may explain the Kingdom itself, the fact stated is not disputed.

Obs. 1. But right here, at the very beginning of the New Testament narrative, pious and good men, under a mistaken view of the Kingdom to which John’s preaching does not correspond, endeavor to lessen the knowledge and the importance of John. This is done by misapplying a passage of Scripture, so that the idea is boldly advanced that John’s teaching, in comparison with what is now taught, is of comparative little value. One commentator even informs us that the lowest teacher in the church—a Sunday-school teacher is mentioned—stands higher than John. So long as men can degrade a heaven-appointed preacher of the Kingdom to so low a scale in knowledge and standing, it is vain to expect them to give us a consistent and scriptural view of the Kingdom of God.
    Before proceeding, it is necessary to vindicate the standing of the first New Testament preacher from the disparaging views announced by Barnes (the commentator alluded to), Scott, Clarke, Nast, and others, and found in almost every Life of Christ. It is a gross mistake to make (as Farrar, Life of Christ, vol. 1, p. 294) “the humblest child of the New Covenant more richly endowed than the greatest prophet of the Old.” Lange, Matthew 11:7–15, gives several interpretations, all more or less defective. Dr. Schaff, foot-note to Lange’s Com., Matthew 3:1, unable to follow the wild interpretations usually presented, justly makes the comparison one of “standpoint and official station,” but hampered by the idea of its being still in some way related to the present church weakens its force. Jones, Notes on Scripture (p. 65), gives the best comment and interpretation that we have seen consistent with fact and the analogy of Scripture. Hengstenberg (Christol., B. 3, S. 460) defends the higher character, etc., of John. The passage referred to, supposed to teach the low standard of John in comparison with believers of this dispensation, is found in Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28: “Verily, I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Our Saviour, undoubtedly, refers to the Kingdom of heaven as it will be established at His Second Advent, as our Propositions tend to show, for the church is only preparative to that still future, coming Kingdom, in which the least that inherits is greater in official standing, more highly honored, than John was in his official position. Leaving what follows to indicate the truthfulness of this application of a perverted passage, it may be only added: it certainly requires great assurance for any one, teacher or not, to assert, from the language of Jesus, that he is, or that his fellows are, superior to John, in view of John’s character, inspiration, and mission. Admitting fully the blessings, privileges, and increased knowledge of some things that we now enjoy, yet a little reflection over the constant attendance of the Holy Spirit, the sublimity of that authoritative preaching by which he commanded all to repent, the consciousness of His being a Forerunner of the Messiah, the spotless character maintained, the faithfulness unto death, should cause persons to suspect, at once, that reference is made to those who actually inherit the Kingdom; who have actually become, and realize their honor and glory as kings and priests; who will then be greater than John in every respect, while John, also, in that Kingdom will occupy a still higher position than the one sustained at the First Advent. (Comp, following Propositions.) Fairbairn (Typology, p. 48) accords with the present general view that “the most eminent in spiritual light and privilege before were still decidedly inferior even to the less distinguished members of the Messiah’s Kingdom” (i.e. according to his view of the Kingdom, the present Church). But feeling a certain incongruity in such an application (which so unjustly contrasts, an inspired man with uninspired), he gives us the following note which speaks for itself: “Matthew 11:11, where it is said respecting John the Baptist ‘notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven, is greater than he.’ The older English versions retain the comparative, and rendered ‘he that is less in the Kingdom of heaven’ (Wycliffe, Tyndale, Cranmer, the Geneva); and so also Winer, Greek Gr., § 36, 3, ‘he who occupies some lower place in the Kingdom of heaven.’ Lightfoot, Hengstenberg, and many others approve of this milder sense, as it may be called; but Alford in his recent Com. adheres still to the stronger ‘the least;’ and so does Steir in his ‘Reden Jesu,’ who in illustrating the thought, goes so far as to say, ‘a mere child that knows the catechism, and can say the Lord’s prayer, both knows and possesses more than the Old Testament can give, and so far stands higher and nearer to God than John the Baptist.’ One cannot but feel that this is putting something like a strain on our Lord’s declaration.” Fairbairn indeed relaxes “the strain.” somewhat, but continues it.

Obs. 2. Others, again, in the way of eulogizing John as a preacher of the coming Kingdom, exalt him beyond what the language and facts will bear. Thus e.g. Judge Jones (Notes) correctly rejecting the interpretation of Barnes, etc., adds: “None greater than he will ever appear till all things shall be restored, and the Kingdom of God shall come.” The language of Jesus, however, only says that none greater had arisen to that time, and we have no authority to continue the comparison down to the Second Advent. The apostles were also preachers of this Kingdom, also specially called, specially inspired, etc., and are specially honored as the founders of the Ch. Church. So also Oosterzee (Theol. N. Test., p. 37) informs us that in John “prophetism attains its point of culmination.” But this is opposed to fact: others prophesied after John, as e.g. Paul in Thessalonians, Jesus in lengthy and remarkable predictions, and John the Revelator giving us the words of Jesus in the Apocalypse. John predicted but little in comparison with those who followed him.

Obs. 3. John preached “the gospel of the Kingdom,” just as Jesus, the twelve, and the seventy afterward preached it. Attention is simply directed to this, because some assert that there is no preaching of the Gospel unless a crucified Redeemer is proclaimed. But we have here and previous to the death of Jesus the gospel of the Kingdom proclaimed to the nation.

Obs. 4. Some able writers (as e.g. Bernard, Bampton Lectures, “The Progress of Doctrine,” Lec. 2) take the position that “The Gospel, considered as fact, was begun at the Incarnation and completed at the Resurrection; but the Gospel, considered as Doctrine, began from the first preaching of Jesus, and was completed in the dispensation of the Spirit.” This is, however, too circumscriptive; for the Gospel was announced previously to the preaching of Jesus by John, and was contained in the Old Testament The facts pertaining to the Gospel extend beyond the resurrection, even to Christ’s present exaltation, through this intermediate period down to the Second Advent. To make the Gospel perfect, faith must accept as facts (owing to certainty and assurance of fulfillment) things that are future. The Gospel could be no Gospel to the Gentiles until their calling and adoption was divinely assumed and demonstrated, i.e. in an official manner. The Gospel, when employed as a general term to embrace all that relates to Salvation, cannot be thus circumscribed; in particulars (as e.g. relating to call of Gentiles, to the Person or Life of Jesus, etc.) it may be limited. 

Prop. 39. John the Baptist was not ignorant of the Kingdom that he preached.

The prevailing view, endorsed by a multitude of eminent theologians, is that John was ignorant of, i.e., did not understand the nature of, the Kingdom he proclaimed. Numerous works proceed to tell us how “low” and “carnal” John’s ideas were, without perceiving the fatal flaw introduced; without realizing that they are actually sapping the very foundations of inspiration, and giving to infidelity its strongest weapons against the divine origin of Christianity.
    The ablest writers, tinder the preconceived view that a subsequent change was substituted in the idea of the Kingdom, do gross injustice to John the Baptist. Thus e.g. Ebrard (Gospel History, p. 283) makes John totally ignorant of the Kingdom and of “the formation of a compact ‘Kingdom of Christ’”—and “he received no revelation from God on this matter, but was left to his own conclusions,”—also making John less “in insight” than any member of the present church. A multitude of quotations, expressing the same idea, could readily be gathered.

Obs. 1. Any theory of the Kingdom which makes the first great preacher of the Kingdom—a preacher specially prepared, sent, and inspired—ignorant of the leading subject that he was delegated, specifically commissioned to announce, is not only open to the gravest suspicion, but ought to be rejected as unworthy of God.

Obs. 2. What was John’s conception of the Messiah’s Kingdom? Let those who consider John to be mistaken inform us, and let the reader Judge for himself whether it is not the very idea of the Kingdom embraced in the grammatical sense of the prophets (Prop. 21), and in a restored Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom. Thus e.g. Neander (Life of Christ, ch. 2, s. 40) truthfully admits that “he expects this Kingdom to be visible,” “existing in communion with the divine life, with the Messiah as its visible King; so that, what had not been the case before, the idea of the Theocracy and its manifestation should precisely correspond to each other,” and “his expectations of a visible realization of the Theocracy shows him as yet upon Old Testament ground.” That is, John expected the restoration of the Theocracy in an exalted manner under the Messiah, just as the prophets plainly predicted. Was he mistaken in this conception? Many say that he was, simply because such a conception was not realized at the First Advent, and down to the present day no such Kingdom has existed, and, therefore, take it for granted, that he misapprehended the nature of the Kingdom; that the church must be the Kingdom intended; that the prophecies pertaining to the restored Theocracy must be spiritualized to suit the present church, etc., thus overlooking the fact, clearly given, that for certain reasons (which will hereafter be given in detail) the very Kingdom preached and anticipated by John was postponed. Instead of allowing God’s Word to speak, and having faith in it that it will yet be fulfilled as written, this lack of faith, based on a supposed never to be realized fulfillment, is made the measure of John’s preaching and of God’s Divine Purpose. Is it wise or prudent?
    So weak and insignificant is John’s preaching, so Jewish in its nature and intent, in the estimation of many, that it is passed by without comment, or even notice, in books where we naturally, from the subject discussed, seek to find it, as illustrated, e.g. in Pres. Edwards’s His. of Redemption. Books giving a history of Christ, and including that of John the Baptist, are very careful not to touch the preaching of the Kingdom, or to inform us what Kingdom he proclaimed, but waive the whole matter by telling us, in general phrases, that John endeavored to prepare the people for the coming Messiah, as exemplified, e.g. in Fleetwood’s Life of Christ. Commentators, with lack of fairness and candor, pass by the real facts (as they will be shown in following Propositions) of John’s preaching of the Kingdom, and present such a modernized version of the language, as if that accurately represented John’s belief, that they impose upon the ignorant and unwary reader, as shown, e.g. in Barnes’s Notes on Matthew 3:2. Thus the Baptist suffers from neglect, from the slights of believers, and from the inserting a meaning into his language that he never for a moment entertained.

Obs. 3. If John is specially called to preach this Kingdom, and yet labors under delusion, gross error respecting its nature, we ask, Whom, then, can we trust? Let the reader ponder these facts: that this John was consecrated to the ministerial office from the womb (Luke 1:15); that for this purpose he was brought forth beyond the ordinary course of nature (Luke 1:18); that he was under such Divine guidance as (Luke 1:15, etc.) to be “filled with the Holy Ghost”; constituted “the prophet of the Highest”; “to give knowledge of salvation”; and (John. 1:7) to be “a witness of the light”;—and then is it credible, even supposable, that such a Prophet and Witness, thus filled with the Spirit, should grossly blunder in declaring the leading subject of his preaching, the Kingdom of heaven? Yet such is the opinion of multitudes, learned and unlearned, while infidels laugh and sneer at this practically acknowledged lowering of a divinely commissioned preacher of the Kingdom. Surely, if this is so, viz., that he misapprehended the Kingdom, then upon what does his credibility as a prophet depend? If mistaken in the most vital part of his mission, why was he not in error concerning the rest? Now, against all such dishonoring theories, we take the ground, sustained both by Scripture and the Primitive Church view, that he was not mistaken in his preaching; that he knew full well what Kingdom he was to tender to the Jewish nation, far better than the multitude which denies its correctness; and that if such a Kingdom, as he believed in and proclaimed, was not realized, we must allow the Scriptures themselves to assign the reasons for such a delay. This, indeed, requires faith, but it is a faith abundantly sustained by facts.

Obs. 4. There is something inconsistent in Neander and others opposing the idea of the Kingdom embraced in the preaching of John and the disciples, as being an imperfect conception of its nature, etc., and yet in their development theory, when the world is renewed, they have, to all intents and purposes, virtually the same notion expressed. Thus e.g. Neander: “In fine, the end of this development appears to be (though not, indeed, simply as its natural result) a complete realization of the Divine Kingdom which Christ established in its outward manifestation, fully answering to its idea; a perfect world dominion of Christ and of His organs, a world purified and transformed, to become the seat of His universal Empire.” Why, then, so strenuously reject and oppose John’s idea of the Kingdom, an outward visible Kingdom, resulting in a world dominion, etc., if their own attached notion, in place of it, is ultimately at its consummation to bring this to pass?

Obs. 5. The reader will find, in looking over authors, interpreters, etc., that many of them, whilst having much to say about John’s preaching repentance, omit, as a tender subject beset with difficulties, all allusions to his preaching the Kingdom, although repentance is only described as a means for attaining to the Kingdom. The greater is sacrificed to the lesser, or else, with their church-kingdom theory prejudging the case, and not knowing how to reconcile John’s preaching with his special call, etc., they simply let it alone. But other expositors and writers approach the subject frankly, and candidly tell us what were the views of John, confirming Neander’s opinion (Obs. 2). Thus e.g. Meyer (Com. Matthew 3:2) acknowledges that he did, in his idea of the Messianic Kingdom, embrace “the political element.” The author of Ecce Homo admits that he “meant that the Theocracy was to be restored.” Reuss (His. Ch. Theol., p. 124) says, “After all, John the Baptist was still a Jew; he looked for the brilliant and august inauguration of the Kingdom which he had proclaimed with so much fervor and devotedness,” etc., i.e. a Jewish Kingdom, such as the grammatical sense of the prophecies conveyed. Such testimonies could be multiplied, but these are sufficient. Others refer to this matter in a half-apologetic tone, a lamely explanatory manner, that only makes the defect the more glaring. Thus e.g. Olshausen (Com. Matthew 2:3) says: “If now we ask in what sense John the Baptist may have understood the Kingdom, it is most probable that in his relation to the law, he conceived of it with the generality and indeterminateness of the Old Testament, but without incorporating with the idea anything false. We may concede a certain affinity between John’s notions of the Messiah’s Kingdom and those that prevailed among the people.” This extract speaks for itself and needs no comment, seeing that the “indeterminateness” is with Olshausen and not with John or the Old Testament Van Oosterzee, (Theol. N. Test., s. 7), while apparently avoiding the main point (i.e. the Kingdom preached by John), refers to his preaching in this way: “Nevertheless, compared with the teaching of the Lord and His apostles, is the testimony of John the Baptist relatively poor, and not essentially raised above the standpoint of the Old Testament” We gratefully and heartily accept of the standpoint assigned to John, and will prove from Scripture (not assertion or assumption) that John’s testimony and conception was the truth, confirmed by covenant and the oath of the Almighty, and therefore relatively and inexpressibly rich.

Obs. 6. Those, of course, who assume that the weakest believer who now attempts to preach the Kingdom of God is far greater than John (Prop. 38, Obs. 1) have no hesitancy in rejecting John’s views of the Kingdom. John, being less than the least in this dispensation (e.g. Fairbairn, On Proph., p. 163), it follows that every believer can tell us far better what the Kingdom is than John was able, although specially called to preach it. If this is so, how comes it that the great and learned theologians of this dispensation present us so many definitions and meanings, several kinds of kingdoms, etc., and that there is such a lack of uniformity of belief among them? If all are greater preachers than John, if they have more knowledge and clearer conceptions, why, then, do we not find them expressed? (comp. Prop. 3). Fairness to John requires that we should accept of his preaching until it is proven to be erroneous; simple assertion, however repeated by the learned, does not condemn him.
    As an illustration how recent Roman Catholic writers treat the subject, ignoring its difficulties pertaining to their Church-Kingdom view, we present the two following: Dr. Alzog (Univ. Ch. His., vol. 1, p. 147), speaking of John, says: “He, unlike them (i.e. other prophets), did not put off to an indefinite future the amelioration which he promised, but proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was already among men, and that the least in the Kingdom of heaven (i.e. the Church) was greater than he.” Dr. Rutter (Life of Jesus, p. 99), after telling us that John said, “Do penance, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” pronounces the Kingdom to be “that inward and spiritual reign which begins here on earth by faith showing its charity and good works, and which will attain its utmost completion in heaven by the perfection of charity; a reign which consists in this, that Almighty God, having, through Jesus Christ, destroyed the empire of the devil over the hearts of men, sovereignly reigns there in this life by knowledge and love, and in the next life by the sights and enjoyment of the divine essence, which constitutes our external happiness.” Comp. Props. 19, 20, 21, 22, 37, 41, etc., and also 90 to 109. The same view is held by a multitude of Protestants, although such a Kingdom has no resemblance whatever to the covenanted and oath-bound one. 

Prop. 40. The hearers of John believed that he preached to them the Kingdom predicted by the Prophets, and in the sense held by themselves.

This follows from the preceding Propositions, and is also admitted by many eminent writers.

Obs. 1. The Jewish belief in a restored Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom has been noticed (Prop. 20), as supported by the grammatical sense of the prophecies (Prop. 21), and the election of the nation (Prop. 24), etc. The preaching of John, giving no explanation of the Kingdom, indicative that the Kingdom is something well known (Prop. 19), and the employment of current phraseology without change of meaning (Props. 22 and 23), etc.—all proves the correctness of our position.

Obs. 2. The grammatical sense was the only one then used in relation to the Kingdom, producing unity of belief in a restored Davidic Kingdom.
    Even the Rabbins, who had already largely perverted Scripture by allegorical and mystical interpretations, still clung with unswerving faith to the plain grammatical sense when it related to the Kingdom. The testimony on this point is overwhelming; as much of it is presented under various Propositions, it need not be repeated.

Obs. 3. The unity of belief in the same restored Kingdom is evidenced by John’s preaching of the Kingdom raising up no disputation concerning it. Had he preached the modern view, it would inevitably have excited disputes and appeals to the prophets.

Obs. 4. The exclusiveness (Prop. 29) of the Jewish nation, the prophecies describing but one Kingdom (Prop. 35), etc., forbid the idea that there was an antagonism of belief between the preacher and the hearer. There might be a difference of opinion respecting the imposed condition of repentance, but there could be none concerning the Kingdom so far as related to its essential nature.

Obs. 5. This fact of a unison of view respecting the Kingdom alone satisfactorily accounts for the exceeding brevity with which it is mentioned. It is taken for granted that no difference of opinion existed.

Obs. 6. The unity of agreement also accounts for so little descriptive of the Kingdom being given in detail in the New Testament It was fully known and described in the prophets; now to have entered into a detailed statement and particularized the restored Davidic Kingdom, would unnecessarily have excited the open hostility of the jealous and persecuting Roman Empire. 
    Cimarus and others have made this feature an objection to John the Baptist and Jesus, viz.: that devoted to the Jewish ideal of a Kingdom, the restored Davidic, they virtually became conspirators against the authority of the Caesars. This is nothing new, for it was this accusation that influenced Pilate to give up Jesus to crucifixion, and led to the just superscription of the cross. The whole matter rests upon the priority of claims, the justness of conquest, the authority of God, the manner of introducing the Kingdom, etc. Foreseeing, as we shall show, the result, the greatest prudence was exercised in this matter to avoid unnecessary persecution, and when it was finally known that the Kingdom was postponed to the Second Advent, to be introduced by the power of Jesus Christ, then, in view of the prophecies which foretold their continued existence down to the Advent, believers were taught that the existing governments were ordained or appointed of God—not that they were sacred (as claimed), but allowed as a necessary requirement, etc.

Obs. 7. This unity of agreement is also seen in John doing his preaching in the wilderness—that is, east from Jerusalem in the open country, away from the large cities. He and his hearers, both believing in a restored Davidic Kingdom, and he endeavoring by repentance to prepare the nation for its coming, those large gatherings of Jews and the preaching of such a Kingdom would necessarily have excited inquiry and the pressure of Roman power. Hence (especially in view of the foreseen rejection) the utmost caution, consistent with John’s mission, is observed.
    If the modern prevailing view of the Kingdom is the correct one, no reason can be assigned for John’s avoidance of the centers of influence, as e.g. Jerusalem.

Obs. 8. The agreement of opinion is seen in the disciples of John, who, as far as known, held to the coming of the restored Davidic Kingdom under the Messiah.

Obs. 9. John and his hearers certainly had no other views than those entertained by following preachers of the Kingdom, as e.g. the apostles; see Acts 1:6.

Obs. 10. The agreement of opinion is frankly admitted by many of our opponents, whom we have quoted, and whom we shall hereafter quote, as e.g. Knapp (Ch. Theol.), Neander (Life of Christ, etc.), and others.

Obs. 11. It is in view of such agreement of opinion that Ecce Homo declares (p. 13, etc.) that John tried to renew the old Covenant by promising “the restoration of the ancient Theocracy,” adding, “he had renewed the old Theocratic Covenant with the nation. But not all the nation was fit to remain in such a covenant,” etc. 

Prop. 41. The Kingdom was not established under John’s ministry.

It could not be, because no restored Theocracy, such as the prophets predicted, the covenant demanded, and he preached, followed. This is seen by the failure of John’s mission, which was designed to prepare, if possible, consistently with moral freedom, the nation for the Kingdom.

Obs. 1. John was not conscious of a Kingdom being established, as is noticeable in the message that he sent, shortly before his death, from prison to Jesus.
    Consider the position of John in prison, and imagine the thoughts that must have arisen in his mind while confined for several months in the fortress. He had preached the coming of the Kingdom, conditioned on repentance; he had seen and announced the Messiah, through whom, as he fondly anticipated, the Kingdom was to be established. Just before his imprisonment he had expressed the hope that the Messiah would be received, and hence looked for a speedy visible Messianic Kingdom. Now it is supposed (e.g. Neander’s Life of Christ, S. 1351 that doubts arose in John’s mind respecting the Messiah on account of the delay. But this could not possibly be, owing to John’s specific mission, his testimony to Jesus, his having seen the attesting divine manifestation, and his having heard the confirming voice from heaven. John had no doubts concerning the Messiahship of Jesus. How, then, interpret the action of sending his disciples to Jesus? The explanation follows naturally from the hopes entertained by him, and the condition in which he was placed. Being imprisoned, the hope of a speedy establishment of the Kingdom (for had he not seen the Messiah?) implanted the hope of a speedy release from his prison; for then, under the reign of the Messiah as predicted by the prophets, he would necessarily experience deliverance from his enemies (as Zacharias believed, Luke 1:74). Such thoughts must, from the very nature of his belief, hope, and situation, have passed through his mind. To satisfy his mind respecting release, whether the Kingdom would be soon established, he sends two of his disciples (Matthew 11:2–3), with, in his estimation, a test question:” art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Now if we but reflect that (As Olshausen, Com. loci has well remarked, comp. Whitby loci.) “the Coming One” or “‘He that Cometh,’ has a fixed doctrinal signification, viz.: the Messiah” (denoting the One who should restore the Davidic Kingdom)—this was a most delicate way of asking why the Kingdom was not established, why there was a delay in its restoration. John proclaimed Him as “the Coming One,” and thus reminds Jesus of the fact by the question; but, in view of the non-appearance of the Kingdom and of his confinement in consequence, also in the latter clause indirectly urges Jesus to make no delay, invites Him to hasten and manifest His Messianic mission. There is no necessity to draw from the narrative the idea of John’s wavering in his Messianic faith (as unbelief has it), or of his being momentarily grievously tempted (as Olshausen), or that he misapprehended the nature of the Kingdom (as Ebrard, note to Olshausen), (comp. Whitby and Scott loci.) etc., but rather as Kendrick (note to Olshausen, loci) “that John stumbled rather at our Saviour’s slowness in assuming to Himself that temporal dominion which doubtless formed a part of his view of the function of the Messiah,” or as Lange (Com. loci), that he desired “himself to witness the manifestation of that Kingdom of heaven which he had announced,” and which, as a resultant, would bring deliverance. John thus expresses his hope in the Kingdom, virtually saying: If, as I believe, Thou art the Messiah, why not establish the Kingdom and impart freedom; it was an appeal. Now notice Christ’s admirable reply: Well knowing that the Kingdom would be postponed on account of the nation’s unworthiness, He does not reject John’s Messianic hopes, but simply confirms His Messianic character by an appeal to His works—thus confirming John’s faith in Himself as the Messiah without intimating when the Messianic expectations would be realized. Benan (Life of Christ, p. 189) says, that when John’s disciples returned to him from Jesus, “we are led to believe that, in spite of his consideration for Jesus, John did not consider that he was to realize the divine promises.” This is an utterly unfair and unjust influence. We have seen why Jesus could not be more specific in answering John—the postponement of the Kingdom is the reason—but this did not forbid Him from confirming John’s faith in Himself as the Messiah, and, by consequence, that John should himself realize (at some time) the Messianic promises. The language indicates it.

Obs. 2. That no Kingdom was established is evident from the continued style of preaching the Kingdom after John’s imprisonment and death, for Jesus, the disciples, and the seventy announced it, not as actually present, but as still future.

Obs. 3. The imprisonment and death of John itself is indicative of our position, for it shows that, instead of a Kingdom, suffering is allotted; the Forerunner is rejected, and the Kingdom cannot be obtained without blood shed in its behalf. A martyred Forerunner is an appropriate foreground to a crucified King, and reminds us how dearly this “very Kingdom is purchased.
    Leathes (The Religion of Christ, Bampton Lectures for 1874), while misapprehending and spiritualizing the Kingdom that John preached, yet fully admits: “He certainly died without seeing the Advent of that Kingdom which he had proclaimed as near.” We cannot see how any one who holds the Ch. Church that was established on the day of Pentecost to be this Kingdom, can logically hold any other view. Hence many writers occupy Leathes’ position, and concede our Proposition. Our opponents involve themselves in the most glaring inconsistencies and contradictions by not adhering in strictness to their own Church-Kingdom theory. Thus e.g. Barnes and others (even including such as Nast, etc.) make the Ch. Church to be the Kingdom established on the day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus, but then again and again they tell us that the Gospel with its resultant spiritual reign is this Kingdom, and that this Gospel was preached and result gained in John’s time (thus making this Kingdom not to exist and then again to exist); and then, without seeing the absurdity of the proceeding, when commenting on Matthew 11:11, they make out that John is not in the Kingdom of heaven, but that the least one in it (i.e. the Church) is superior to John, owing to privilege, etc., after having declared in other places that John was in it and caused his hearers to press into it. Alas! what confusion arises, when men forsake the plain sense of covenant and prophecy.

Obs. 4. This satisfactorily answers the question, why John continued his ministry after the public appearance of Christ. The solution is found in John baptizing not only in view of a Messiah to come, but of a Kingdom to come. The Kingdom, and meetness for it, was the burden of his preaching, and the foundation motive for urging repentance. Now if the Kingdom had appeared, as some writers contend, as soon as Jesus was baptized by John or even earlier, then John’s mission would have ended; but as the Kingdom was not manifested, John could continue his own ministry without change. Jesus only commenced (Matthew 4:17) His preaching when John was imprisoned.
    The testimony of Killen (The Ancient Church, p. 11), that the Jews “anxiously awaited the appearance of a Messiah,” is that of every historian. But with this and as a resultant, inseparably united, was the idea of the Messianic Kingdom. Hence the preaching was continued as preparatory to the Kingdom. This, also, throws light on the baptism of Jesus, a difficult subject, because Jesus needed not repentance. Some (Farrar) make it to “prefigure the laver of regeneration;” others (Shenkel), a vicarious or representative act; others (Bernard), an act of humility, or (Barnes) an example sanctioning divine institutions, or (Lange) to remove ceremonial uncleanness, etc. This baptism was designed to indicate that the person receiving it was prepared or qualified for the Kingdom, yielding himself to the supreme will of God, hence David’s Son could properly receive it.

Obs. 5. The non-establishment of the Kingdom is shown in the fact that the disciples of John, instructed by himself, and their adherents after John’s death, even after the death of Jesus, formed a sect who still waited for the coming of the Messiah (Gieseler, Ch. His. 1:69, Lange’s Com., p. 69, etc.). This can only be accounted for on the ground that, not seeing the Kingdom established as preached by John, and unacquainted with or failing to appreciate its postponement to the Second Advent of the crucified Jesus, they still looked for the manifestation of the Kingdom, and, of course, then for the Messiah to restore it.
Obs. 6. The brevity of John’s ministry is readily accounted for; brief as it was, it was sufficiently long to indicate the unfitness of the nation for the Kingdom (comp. Lange, Com., Matthew 3:1–12, p. 68, 3d col.). Different writers inform us that it was very successful and give us glowing accounts how the multitude “pressed into” the Kingdom; but we have the decided testimony of the Lord Himself that, whatever degree of success attended John’s efforts in the beginning, his mission to the nation was acceptable only to the few; the representative men of the nation were not gained, they did not repent (Matthew 11:16–18).
    As this is an important point, and misconception here will lead to misinterpretation, a few words may be added. The passage adduced to prove the success of John’s ministry is Matthew 11:12, and Luke 16:16. We refer, by way of illustration, to Barnes’ Com. loci, to show how comments are made. On this verse, he tells us of the multitudes who “rush” and “press” for the Kingdom, and this state of things “has continued,” etc., and yet, when commenting on Matthew 11:16–18 of the same chapter, forgetting what he had just penned, he then informs us that “this generation” “were not pleased with him,” etc. The reader is referred to the admirable comment of Judge Jones (Notes on the Scriptures, loci) on this passage, in which he consistently proves (take Luke 16:16 in connection as interpreter) that it teaches that men pressed against, resisted the Kingdom, treated it with violent opposition, although urged upon them. His criticism of the text corresponds with the context, and makes it to harmonize with the facts as they truly existed (so also Lightfoot, Schneckenburger, and others). Those, however, who retain a different rendering, to make it consistent with fact, interpret it (as H. Dana Ward, Proph. Times, Ap. 1874, p. 36), “every (wise) man presseth toward it,” or (as J. G. W., Proph. Times, vol. 11, No. 5, p. 72), “From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence” (permits a violation of ritualism), “and the violent” (the earnest penitents) “take it by force” (striving to enter into the strait gate, etc.). These, and others (comp. Lange’s Com. loci, Scott, etc.) are more or less forced, while Jones’s interpretation is natural and accordant with fact. That no national or wide extended repentance was produced is evident from the deputation (John 1:19–27) and subsequent events. The extravagant eulogies of “a holy violence,” and the making by some (Lange, etc.), John and Jesus to be “the violent,” are simply glosses; the violent—by conspiring to put the Messiah to death—took, as we shall show in detail, the Kingdom away from the nation.

Obs. 7. Some writers, in their eagerness to make out a preparation for the First Advent (which existed, and is temperately (e.g. Schaff, His. Apos. Church) described by others), tell us much of the preparation of the Jewish nation for the same. But this is shown to be utterly unworthy of credence, in view of the failure of John’s mission, the rejection and death of the Messiah, and the resultant judgments of God. (Comp. character of Jews as given by Jesus, Josephus, Harwood, Mosheim, Horne, etc.).
    Often have we been pained and surprised to find careful and able writers fall into extravagances in this direction. Thus e.g. Dr. Luthardt (Bremen Lectures, Lec. 8, p. 128) says: “John the Baptist’s mission was to be bridesman. He led the bride to the bridegroom, to be united with Him in marriage, to be made one with Him. This is the end of the history of Israel,” etc. All that we have to say of this perversion of the marriage figure, as used in Scripture, is this: John found a very unwilling bride, and in his efforts came to his death, and Jesus also died; instead of a marriage there was gloom and death; the marriage was postponed. Men may—this is their apology—think to honor Christ by showing a successful mission in John, but they do it at the expense of truth; and Jesus needs no fictitious praise. Many illustrations of this could be given, but this will suffice. However, in this connection it may be well to mention another mistake that is prevalent. Farrar (Life of Christ, vol. 1, p. 115) speaks of John’s baptism “as an initiation into the Kingdom.” This is nowhere asserted; and it is opposed by all the facts that we have already presented, and by others that will follow. It was a baptism of repentance to qualify for the Kingdom, and not to admit, or initiate into the Kingdom, as is seen e.g. by the force of Acts 1:6, (the apostles even not being cognizant of such a Kingdom). 

Prop. 42. Jesus Christ, in His early ministry, preached that the Kingdom of God was nigh at hand.

When John’s ministry ended by his imprisonment, it is said (Matthew 4:17): “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Comp. Mark 1:14–15, Luke 4:23 and Lk 8:1.)
    The design of this Proposition is simply to direct the attention of the reader to the fact that Jesus preached the Kingdom of God in the same manner that John the Baptist did, for there would be an inconsistency in the Forerunner preaching one Kingdom and the Principal quite another. Therefore, the meaning and intent of the nighness—also proclaimed by John, Jesus, the twelve, and the seventy—will be left for full consideration under Propositions 55 to 68 inclusive, when we shall be better prepared, by the preliminaries passed over, to appreciate its deep and intensely interesting signification.

Obs. 1. Jesus adopts the same style that John did, urges the same condition of repentance, uses the phraseology common with the Jews, and introduces the subject of the Kingdom, without any explanation, as one well known and understood. The efforts made by well-intentioned men to give this preaching of Jesus a “modern” aspect and coloring is not only a failure, being opposed by stubborn facts and the immediate results in His hearers, but it actually places the Messiah in a position irreconcilable with that of a perfect Divine Teacher. We therefore hold, with the Primitive Church, until decided scriptural proof is offered to the contrary, that Jesus offered to the Jews the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom in its Civil and Religious combination, just as predicted by the prophets.

Obs. 2. How Jesus was understood by His hearers, we leave one of our opponents—to whose interest it would be to conceal or cover it—to describe. Thus Knapp (Ch. Theol., p. 323): “At the time of Christ, and previously, the current opinion of the people in Palestine, and indeed of most of the Pharisees and lawyers, was, that He (the Messiah) would be a temporal Deliverer and a King of the Jews, and, indeed, a Universal Monarch, who would reign over all nations. Thus they interpreted the passages, Psalm 2:2, 6, 8, Jeremiah 23:5–6, Zechariah 9:4, seq. Hence those who, during the life-time of Jesus, acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, wished to pro-claim Him King, John 6:15, coll.; Matthew 21:8–9. The apostles themselves held this opinion until after the resurrection of Christ, Matthew 20:20–21, Luke 24:21, Acts 1:6. And Jesus Himself, during His life upon earth, proceeded very guardedly, in order to lead them gradually from this deep-rooted prejudice, and not to take it away at once.” Who can justly be regarded as the author of this “deep-rooted prejudice”? Certainly He who placed it in the plain grammatical sense of the Old Testament, who left the Jewish nation with it for many long centuries as their faith and their hope, and who, while having twelve men in training to be preachers of this Kingdom for over three years, did not remove it, as Knapp confesses. The question is, Was it a “prejudice” or the truth?
    Knapp himself falls into the accommodation theory, which (Sec. 90, 2) he justly condemns, and thus violates the very principle of interpretation (literal) adopted by Christ and the apostles in quoting from the Old Testament, and which (S. 90, 3) he approves; illustrating, that it is much more easy to lay down canons for interpretation than to follow them. We have merely the assertion of Knapp and others, that the hope of a Theocratic restoration—which they frankly acknowledge (not seeing how necessarily fatal it is to their own theory) was not removed by the public preaching and private instructions of Jesus—is a “deep-rooted prejudice.” It seems passing strange that without positive proof, eminent theologians, following the lead of the Alexandrian and monkish opinion afterward developed, should hastily, rashly rush to such a conclusion—a conclusion that violates covenant, oath, plain promises, the purity of John’s and Christ’s teaching. True, such lack of faith is predicted, but still it is strange that it should be found even in men who, in many other respects, are able defenders of God’s Word. Alas! that there should be an unwillingness to candidly examine whether, after all, such a “prejudice” is not clearly taught in the Old Testament, and as distinctively perpetuated under the preaching of the Messiah Himself, and whether there may not be valid reasons, found in the conduct of the nation itself, why this “prejudice” remained unrealized. When Fuller (Strictures on Robinson’s Sentiments, Let. 2) says of the disciples, “Their foolish minds were so dazzled with the false ideas of a temporal Kingdom that they were blinded to the true end of Christ’s coming and to all that the prophets declared concerning it,” we, on the other hand, think that it is Fuller’s mind that is “so dazzled with the false ideas of a” spiritual “kingdom” that it is “blinded,” etc.

Obs. 3. Presence has (in The Redeemer) a chapter entitled “The Plan of Jesus Christ,” which contains an inconsistent and misleading Plan, telling us, e.g. that it was part of the plan of Jesus to abolish the Theocracy (just as if it then existed, comp. Props. 32, 33), because a Theocracy is useless (!?), etc., and the proof alleged for such fundamentally sweeping assertions is the phrase “my Kingdom is not of this world “(just as if the Theocracy was not a Divine but a world appointment, comp. Prop. 25, Obs. 6). As we shall examine this proof (comp. Props. 109 and 110) in another connection, it is sufficient to ask now, Why were the preachers of the Kingdom down to the ascension (Acts 1:6) entirely unacquainted with Pressense’s plan? Why does Jesus then express regret at leaving “the house (Davidic) desolate,” and point to His future coming, when the desolation should be removed? Why does the entire tenor of His preaching evince that He never, for a moment, hesitated in identifying His Kingdom that He proclaimed with that of the Prophets, understood by the Jews in the Theocratic sense, as e.g. Matthew 16:27 and 25:34, comp with Daniel 7:18, 27; Luke 13:28–29, Matthew 8:11, comp. with Micah 7:20; Luke 22:29–30, Matthew 19:28, comp. with Micah 4:6–8, Ezekiel 37:21–22, etc.? When such talented writers misapprehend the precious nature of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom, and disparage its Divine appointment, what idea can the multitude form of the same?

Obs. 4. Dr. Auberlen (Div. Rev.) has boldly and truthfully declared that Jesus, the Prophets, and the apostles were express Chiliasts. They all, receiving the grammatical sense and expressing themselves in it, taught and looked for a restoration of the fallen down Davidic Kingdom under the Messiah. (The proof on this point is cumulative and irresistible, as will be shown in the course of our argument—the design at present being merely to introduce some preparatory matter before considering the covenants upon which all rests.) Hence Kenan (Life of Christ) frequently refers (so Strauss, Baur, etc.) to this Chiliastic feature, saying, e.g. (p. 140) that “Millenarianism gave the impulsion.”
    Renan, too, like many of the orthodox, overlooking the postponement of the Kingdom so plainly taught, ignoring the existence of the Scriptures that refer to it, and consequently not realizing the close relationship existing between the rejection of Jesus by the representative men of the Jewish nation and His corresponding change in addressing the Jews, makes sad work with the Kingdom preached. He makes it just as varied as the belief does which he is attacking, telling us that Jesus understood it “in different senses.” At one time it is “simply the reign of the poor and disinterested;” at another it is “the literal accomplishment of the apocalyptic visions of Daniel and Enoch;” sometimes it is “the Kingdom of souls,” etc. After saying, “the fundamental idea of Jesus was, from the first day, the establishment of the Kingdom of God,” we have from Kenan’s pen about as many definitions of “the Kingdom of God “as, on the other side, Barnes gives (Prop. 3) in his Notes. This is derogatory to Christ, and will be found, by a candid comparison of Scripture, to be utterly unfounded.

Obs. 5. Because the Kingdom (Theocratic) has not yet appeared as preached, we are not authorized to conclude (as Renan, etc.) that Christ changed His plan; because the Jews rejected Him, we are not at liberty to infer that their Davidic house will remain forever desolate. In this matter we must confine ourselves (Prop. 9) to the Record, and see why the Kingdom did not come, what influence this rejection had upon the Kingdom, and what Jesus Himself declared concerning it, and then, only then, frame our conclusions accordingly. The simple, unvarnished narrative, as firmly held by the Primitive churches, tells us that the Kingdom preached as nigh was postponed to the Second Advent.
    But this excites the scorn of Unbelievers, who, in virtue of this allusion to his Second Advent, charge Jesus with preaching “dreams.” Those extravagant upholders of Christ as a preacher of “the Religion of Humanity” still make (as Renan) Him proclaim (Life of Jesus, p. 248) “the expectation of an empty apocalypse,” “a false, cold, impossible idea of a pompous advent,” etc. The case is prejudged; the impossible steps in, and nothing is left to faith. This is precisely in the line of Bible prediction, that such “scoffers” shall be educated to such a standard of unbelief and irreverence for Christ’s preaching and Christ’s claims to the one Kingdom linked with, and postponed to, his Second Appearing (II Timothy 4:1, etc.), and that they shall, by the spread of their unbelieving sentiments, influence the multitude, so that at the Second Advent, kings, nobles, great and mighty men, a vast concourse of people shall be arrayed against Him (Apocalypse 19, Zechariah 14, Joel 3, etc.). But it is not merely the infidel who speaks disparagingly of Christ’s preaching; many a believer, who loves Christ and would shrink from being classed with unbelievers, so far coincides with infidelity in the fundamental part of preaching the Kingdom, that he lamely apologizes in behalf of Christ (when He needs none), and endeavors to conceal the alleged defects under a weak accommodation theory, saying that Christ accommodated Himself to the ignorance and prejudices of the Jews. A system that must resort to such an abject line of reasoning, making Jesus to say one thing while really meaning another, keeping others (as e.g. apostles down to the ascension, Acts 1:6) in “error and prejudice,” while all the time intending the reverse, is certainly—no matter who advocates it—sorely defective and entirely untrustworthy. It lacks the truth, or it would not place the blessed Messiah in such an unenviable attitude. How much more logical and consistent the Primitive Church.

Obs. 6. Neander and others misapprehend the intent of the Sermon on the Mount, when they make it designed to contradict the Messianic expectations of the Jews in a restored Davidic throne and Kingdom. For (1) it contains not a word or thought against such a hope; (2) it confirms the Jews in such expectations by using their phraseology without intimating the least change of meaning; (3) those very persons admit that it did not change the opinions of the disciples and apostles; (4) they mistake the preparatives of the Kingdom for the Kingdom itself; (5) the exact reverse is the truth, as seen in the allusions concerning the promise of inheriting the earth, of securing the Kingdom, of fulfilling the prophets, of Jerusalem being “the city of the great King,” of praying for the Kingdom to come, etc., all of which had the decided tendency—as shown by the result—of confirming the hearers in Jewish expectations. The foundation thought of the Kingdom is the keynote to its interpretation, and if this is misconceived the entire discourse suffers.

Obs. 7. Jesus preached “the gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:23 and 9:35, etc.), and for this, He tells us, He was sent (Luke 4:43). Therefore we cannot receive as well grounded a principle enunciated by Hagenbach (His. of Doc., vol. 1, p. 45), that “The office of the Saviour was not to propound doctrines, or to set forth doctrinal formulas, but to manifest Himself, and to reveal His unity with the Father. His person was a fact, and not an idea,” etc. Cheerfully admitting that Jesus was thus to manifest Himself as an essential part of His mission, He at the same time was commissioned to propound doctrine, and, above all, the doctrine of the Kingdom. Without such doctrine it would have been impossible to exhibit Himself as the Messiah, for doctrine and the Messiah-ship are inseparably connected.
    It is painful to notice how many works, which ought to contain it, omit this distinctive preaching, as e.g. Luther’s Smaller Catechism (Pub. for Gen. Synod, 1840) asks (p. 54) the question, “What were the chief subjects of Christ’s preaching to the people?” and answers by giving six things, but fails to mention the principal subject of all, the preaching of the Kingdom. The reader can readily find hundreds of similar illustrations.

Obs. 8. Even some who fully admit the re-establishment of the Theocratic-Davidic throne and Kingdom in the future under the Messiah, have Christ to preach, for the time being, another, viz.: a spiritual Kingdom. Thus e.g. J.L. Lord (Israel’s Judicial Blindness) informs us, “That Christ first offered to the Jewish nation, not the Davidic and temporal Kingdom which they had expected, but His spiritual Kingdom only, upon conditions which were as repugnant to their ceremonial self-righteousness as it was to their infatuated worldly hopes and expectations.” Strange that men cannot, at once, see the illogical and inconsistent position in which this places Jesus. As our argument will meet this view in detail under various following Propositions, it will only be necessary to say, Why does Jesus then employ the Jewish phraseology, and confirm the Jews and even His own disciples in their Jewish expectations? Why are the Jews condemned for not seeing and acknowledging a Kingdom, which is not, in any shape or form, contained in the Davidic Covenant? Why, if such a spiritual Kingdom was “first offered,” did not John the Baptist, the disciples, and the seventy, tender it to the people? Why, if this spiritual Kingdom is the superior and more exalted idea, make the consummation bring forth the realization of Jewish hopes in the final glorious restoration of the Davidic throne and Kingdom? Why, if the spiritual Kingdom is “the professing church,” preach that it was something to come, when the church has always existed? These, and similar questions that must be answered, indicate the untenableness of such a position.
    Leathes (The Relig. of the Christ, Bampton Lec. for 1874) spiritualizes the title Christ (comp. Prop. 205), and, therefore, also the Kingdom (thus vitiating much that is most admirable in his work), and (p. 192) says: “John had not ventured to define what he meant by the Kingdom of heaven” (simply because it needed no definition, Props. 19–22); “but no sooner does Jesus open His mouth than He says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’” And this, he claims, is a defining of the Kingdom different from what was previously understood, i.e. it spiritualizes and renders invisible what before was deemed temporal and visible here on the earth. But ponder the language of Jesus, and you will find no definition of the Kingdom in it, but simply a declaration and encouragement of worthiness—how attained—for the Kingdom. It only tells us who are fit for it, and who will ultimately receive it. The disciples, who were of these “poor in spirit,” had not the faintest idea (Acts 1:6) that such a definition was intended; and we certainly deem them, in view of special instruction and privileges, better qualified to know this than moderns are who interpret all Scripture by a Church-Kingdom theory.

Obs. 9. The indulgence of the reader is desired while, in this connection, a few points are forestalled. Three things must evidently have weighed upon the mind of Jesus, and thus shaped His style of preaching the Kingdom.

1. The fact of the existence of the Roman Government over the Jewish nation, and its jealousy of power. His mission was to the Jews, and He was commissioned to tender the Kingdom to the nation (e.g. Props. 55, 57, etc.), and the Kingdom, according to the Davidic covenant required a Son of David to restore the throne and Kingdom of David. This was taught by the Prophets, and believed by the Jews. It was the general, universal belief that when the Messiah came to establish the Kingdom, He would overthrow Gentile domination (as He will do at the Second Advent, Props. 163 and 164), and thus deliver the Jewish nation from its enemies. In addressing the Jews, it was unnecessary to proclaim this Kingdom boldly and freely in the emphatic words of the Prophets, because (1) the Kingdom denoted was already well known, as the subject-matter of covenant and promise, to every Jew; and (2) because, foreseeing His rejection by the Jews, advantage would inevitably be taken (comp. Prop. 40, Obs. 6, note 1) of it to accuse Him as a conspirator against the Roman Power. With all the wisdom and prudence exercised by Him, this, nevertheless, was done, and He was crucified under the charge of being “the King of the Jews,” thus implying opposition to Caesar.

2. Knowing, as Jesus did, that the offer of the Kingdom must be made (Prop. 55, etc.), that the tender would be rejected (Prop. 57, etc.), and that the Kingdom itself would be postponed (Props. 58–68), it would, in view of these foreknown circumstances, have been unwise and impolitic to have presented the subject of the Kingdom in any other way than that in which it was done. Sufficiently clear to test the repentance and faith of the nation; sufficiently distinct for those who receive the Word of God without human additions, and sufficiently precise to encourage the hope of His people in His Messiahship—more would have been inexpedient. What was needed in addition He gave to us through John (in Apocalypse), and this also in a form that it might not unnecessarily excite opposition. Christ’s preaching is influenced by foreknown results.

3. Foreknowing how the Kingdom would eventually, at His Second Advent (Props. 66, 74, 83, 87, etc.), be established, He could accordingly shape and adapt His language, introducing other matter that necessarily preceded the same. While a restoration of the Davidic throne and Kingdom (and as a result the restoration of the Jewish nation to eminence and power) is contemplated, yet, because of the defection of the nation and its long continued punishment, purposes of mercy toward the Gentiles were entertained and mentioned, promises to be realized ultimately in the Kingdom were given, encouragements and cautions were presented, etc. This introduced new details, which can only be properly apprehended when taken in their connection with the whole. 

Obs. 10. This preaching of the Kingdom by Jesus was, then, an appeal to faith; it is the same today. It then called for an acquaintance with the covenants and prophets; it demands the same at present. But in the preaching of Jesus and of His apostles some things pertaining to the Kingdom are brought out more distinctively and with stronger appeals to faith. The necessity of moral purity is impressed; the superiority of the coming Kingdom over all earthly Kingdoms is declared; its restoration, not by human but divine power, is carefully asserted; its postponement to the Second Advent is taught; its exaltation and extension, its power and blessings are portrayed; the wonderful things related to it, such as the resurrection of the saints, Kingship and priesthood, glorification, renewal of the earth and Theocratic glory, are presented—and all this, a reiteration and extension of Old Testament predictions, calls for continued faith. The whole matter is purposely so arranged and ordered that faith alone—sustained by the fulfillments and a comparison of the Record—can discern the surpassingly strange but pre-eminently wise Purpose of God.
    Another reason why Jesus Himself did not write (as the founders of other religious systems) is found in the preaching of this Kingdom. The subject-matter of His preaching is found in the Old Testament, its foundation is in the covenant, and His mission is not to found a new Kingdom, but to offer that which is already proponed, and of which He is the rightful Heir. He is not come to write, but to fulfil that which is written; hence a systematic arrangement of Divinity, a Theological system or summary of Doctrine, would have been out of place. While He necessarily taught doctrine as pertaining to Himself and the Kingdom, His specific mission has its dignity enhanced by the position that He occupied. It is true that, after the postponement was fully decided by His death, etc., then special provision had to be made for this period, but this we find in the instructions afterward imparted through the apostles in the establishment of the Christian Church. Christ honors the prophetic record, honors the oath-confirmed covenant, and, by the fulfillment of His own birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, words respecting the Jewish nation, Gentiles, Church etc., reconfirms in the most powerful manner—infinitely superior to mere writing—the testimony concerning Himself and the Kingdom.

Obs. 11. The fundamental idea, forming a bond of union between Jesus and the preceding Revealers of the Purpose of God, is the Kingdom of heaven. This He preached first; this He revealed last through John the Revelator; this was the special subject (Acts 1:3) between Him and the apostles after His resurrection; and hence by it He places Himself in contact with the Prophets, in unison with John the Baptist, in sympathy with His disciples, and stamps Himself as the great Preacher of the Kingdom. This suggests that perfect unity of Teaching must exist between all these; that no accommodation theory can interpose between His teaching and that of John’s or the Prophets; and that the subject of the Kingdom, being so prominently set forth, must be (Props. 1 and 2) a most interesting topic to every intelligent believer and student.

Obs. 12. What Kingdom Jesus preached can readily be ascertained by noticing what Kingdom His disciples preached. For, as an honest Teacher, He would not, He could not, send out men to preach a kingdom different from the one proclaimed by Himself.

Obs. 13. Men profess to be amazed that the Jews and disciples should be so ignorant as to expect in the Messiah “a temporal deliverer,” and regard those who retain this Jewish idea as “fanatical,” “unspiritual,” etc. But how, if we receive God’s express promises, the plain grammatical sense, can we believe otherwise? Temporal deliverance, in addition to great spiritual blessings, are linked together (e.g. Zechariah 14) in numerous prophecies, and it would indicate lack of faith in God’s honor and faithfulness to reject or ignore the same. We know that by the spiritualizing process Zechariah’s declarations (Luke 1:71, 74), “saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us,” “delivered out of the hand of our enemies,” are made to denote exclusively spiritual enemies. But this is not sustained by the predictions of the Word, seeing (as will be consecutively shown hereafter, e.g. Props. 111–115) that temporal deliverance is assigned to the restoration of the Jewish nation, and is to be in a special manner the work of the Messiah at His Second Coming. The prophets all uniformly predict the temporal depressed condition of the nation, and in the same connection a glorious temporal deliverance. Leaving the proof to come in its proper place, it is sufficient now to say that if the Theocracy is to be restored at all as covenanted and predicted, such a restoration must necessarily include temporal deliverance (how else can the throne and Kingdom be re-established), and hence the Messiah, in addition to other perfections, is also a temporal Deliverer. The sinfulness of the nation, the postponement of the Kingdom, etc., only throws the time of its manifestation to the period of the Second Advent. 

Prop. 43. The disciples sent forth by Jesus to preach this Kingdom were not ignorant of the meaning to be attached to the Kingdom.

To say that they were ignorant of that which they were specially to preach is an evident absurdity; and if true (which it is not) would severely reflect upon the Divine Teacher and Commissioner. Their mission necessarily implying a correct knowledge of the Kingdom, is confirmatory of Christ’s own preaching, for the preaching, of the Master and of those who are sent to preach must correspond.

Obs. 1. What Kingdom they all preached is so evident (e.g. from Acts 1:6, etc.), that our opponents save us the trouble of stating it by frankly admitting it (e.g. Prop. 42, Obs. 2). Jesus instructed them, Jesus sent them, Jesus never contradicted their views of the Kingdom, Jesus approved of their preaching and rejoiced over it. This is amply sufficient, seeing that the Kingdom accurately corresponded with the one contained in the grammatical sense of the covenant and prophecies.

Obs. 2. If Jesus did not tell the Jews and His disciples that they were in error respecting the Kingdom, and this already is presumptive evidence that they were correct in anticipating the Kingdom to be a restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, much more is this true, when He sends men, whom He knows to hold such a view, to preach it. The ablest writers (we have given some, others will be quoted as the argument advances), of all shades of opinion, fully admit that the disciples preached the Jewish Kingdom, and candidly inform us that such was their belief down to the period of the Ascension, Acts 1:6. (Those few, therefore, who try to ignore it, and pretend that a spiritual conception of the Kingdom, something like their own modernized notions of it, are dishonest to the Record, and the general testimony on the subject). We therefore contend that, after Jesus Himself preached this Kingdom, taught His disciples publicly and privately, considered them qualified to proclaim the Kingdom, and sent them forth also to preach it—after all this, it is sheer presumption to question their knowledge of it. It is folly to suppose that we know the nature of that Kingdom better than they did, who were expressly commissioned to hold it forth as an inducement to repentance. If they were in error on so important and fundamental a point, it is unreasonable to suppose that Jesus would leave them in error, send them forth to disseminate error, and thus allow them, commissioned by Himself, to deceive the people. It is incredible, and yet if we are to believe eminent and good men, Jesus actually sent forth His disciples to preach erroneous doctrine! No gloss, however artful, no apology however skilful, can cover up this ugly feature in this supposed case; there it stands, boldly and defiantly presented by infidels, and prominently held forth even by many believers. Any theory, however plausible, esteemed, fortified by great names, which makes the first preachers of the Kingdom proclaim what they did not understand, preach what was an untruth—such a theory is radically wrong, and virtually, with all its profuse apologies, makes Jesus Himself the sender forth of false preachers. If the Kingdom is not that which they taught, what must we think of the instruction of Him who commissioned them? Thank God, the Word itself is consistent, and it repels a charge which human wisdom has foisted upon it in its blindness, in order to make out of the church the predicted Kingdom of God. Here is the difficulty: men judge these preachers under a misconceived theory, and consequently with prejudice.
    Some keenly feel this difficulty in their Church-Kingdom theory, and thus—over against overwhelming proof—try to remove it. Gregory (Four Gospels, p. 120) declares that Jesus “corrected their (the twelve) false Jewish views of His priestly character, and of His Kingdom,” and appeals for evidence to Matthew 16:13–20, and 20:28! The passages being largely incorporated by us, need no comment. Ebrard (Gospel His.) constantly takes it for granted that the covenanted and predicted Kingdom is spiritual, and that the disciples comprehended it. Thus e.g. p. 267, referring to the Sermon on the Mount (comp. Prop. 42, Obs. 6 and 8, note), he says: “Jesus availed Himself of this opportunity, after the selection of His disciples, to explain, fully and distinctly, to them and to the people, what was the nature of the Kingdom.” He calls it “the inaugural discourse of the new Kingdom” (p. 273), in which Jesus says: “Such and such is the nature of my Kingdom; such its form; such the proper state of mind; and such are my demands,” in order “to afford the means of certainty” to the hearers. This is solely Ebrard’s imagining, for he utterly fails to show where the nature of the Kingdom is defined, and mistakes the means and accessories for obtaining the Kingdom for the Kingdom itself. It is painful and saddening when such men so seriously miss “the means of certainty.” The preconceived Church-Kingdom theory explains it all. Some writers even make the appointment of the twelve to be equivalent to the founding of a new Kingdom, although they preached it as future. On the other hand, that the disciples knew the nature of the Kingdom and located its future, is well stated by Dr. Imbrie in “The Regeneration” (Pre-Mill Essays, p. 153, etc.).

Obs. 3. It is freely admitted that there were many things that these disciples, when preaching the Kingdom, did not then know, but it was not requisite to know them for the simple reason that, before the decided postponement of the Kingdom, it was no part of their mission to preach them. Thus e.g. they did not know that the Jewish nation would refuse to repent, that the representative men would conspire to put Jesus to death, that the Messiah would be crucified, that the Kingdom would be postponed to the Second Advent, that the Gentiles would be called, etc., and, more, all these things had nothing to do with their commission. They were not to preach the death of Jesus, or things then unknown to them; they were commissioned to preach the Kingdom conditioned by repentance—to offer it to the Jewish nation—and thus far they were instructed and had knowledge of the truth. This preaching of the Kingdom was (Props. 54 and 55) necessary at that time, while a knowledge of the other things was not only unnecessary, but would have, if imparted, actually disqualified them for their important mission. This exquisite arrangement of truth in the mission of the first preachers is, to our mind, most forcible evidence of inspiration.

Obs. 4. Miracles (Matthew 10:1, 8, Luke 10:17, etc.) attend their preaching of the Kingdom, which is a most convincing attestation of both the truthfulness of their proclamation, freed from error, and the intimate relationship that the Kingdom sustained to the Supernatural. Would Christ give the power of working miracles to persons who confirmed themselves and others in erroneous doctrine? Even Judas, at that time, however much he fell afterward, must have, in virtue of the mission bestowed upon him, known and proclaimed the truth concerning the Kingdom. Designed as the miracles (wrought by some, perhaps all) were to foreshadow (Prop. 7) the power to be experienced in the Kingdom itself, they “were also, at the same time, a witness to the veracity of the preachers themselves. Such an attestation, Origen, Jerome, and all others, “who desire us to believe that they were in error, have never yet been able to give us.

Obs. 5. What little satisfaction many commentaries give us when commenting on the preaching of John and the disciples. Work after work will not make the slightest mention of difficulty in the matter, and artfully speak of it as a gradual developing from darkness into light, just as if the style of their preaching was but a little removed from that of “the moderns.” A host literally jump at the conclusion—proven to be false by the continued belief of these preachers to the ascension of Jesus—that they preached (without knowing it) the establishment of the church-kingdom. The large majority, without perceiving how fatally they sap the very foundations of confidence in the Truth, and invite unbelief to hold itself in merriment over the defect, pass the whole thing by with the comment—as if it amounted to nothing, or was scarcely worth noticing, or the most reasonable thing to expect—that these men were yet filled with “Jewish prejudices” and “Jewish forms,” and the time had not yet arrived for the notion of a pure, spiritual Kingdom. Indeed, if this is so, as learned men tell us, then the first preachers of the Kingdom were very unreliable guides, being “the blind leading the blind,” and, what is worse, divinely commissioned to do this! Infidelity exults in such teaching, which effectually cripples the first preaching of the Kingdom and introduces a discordance and antagonism fatal to the unity and integrity of the Word.

Obs. 6. How unfairly this subject is treated may be found illustrated in various Lives of Christ. Some of these (e.g. Fleetwood’s) make the preaching of the twelve and the seventy exactly correspondent with their own modern ideas of the Kingdom. The same unfairness is true of Histories of the Bible. Thus e.g. Gleig (His. of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 223), after stating the views of the Jews in a restored Davidic Kingdom under the personal reign of the Messiah, tells us that it should not surprise us that the disciples continued in such a belief because “prejudices are usually deeply seated in proportion to the absence of culture,” thus actually degrading the disciples to ignorance and uncouthness to make out a case, forgetting that by so doing he degrades the mission and instruction imparted by Jesus. If they were lacking “culture,” if they were under “deeply seated prejudices,” if they were under a “delusion” (as Gleig well-meaningly says), how was it possible for Jesus, honestly and consistently, to send them forth to proclaim their want of “culture,” their “prejudices,” and their “delusion” to others, and confirm the same by miraculous signs! The same lack of candor is found in Theologies. Thus e.g. Knapp (Ch. Theol., s. 89, 99, 154, etc.) frankly tells us the Jewish view, and that the disciples entertained it, but then endeavors to break its force by insinuating, without adducing the slightest historical or scriptural proof, that the Kingdom was also understood in a spiritual sense, and that a purer and higher meaning was gradually placed upon the phraseology pertaining to the Kingdom. But this does not clear the preachers of the Kingdom; it does not vindicate their official position, for, according to his statement, others—who were not specially appointed as preachers of the Kingdom—had better, purer ideas, which, we are to infer, came down to us. This mode of reasoning only makes the matter worse, for in one place all the concessions needed are made; and in another, they are virtually recalled under the unproved statement that in connection with this idea of the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom they also must have held (implied) the notion of a moral or spiritual Kingdom. Such an important point as this, must have more than mere inference and unsupported supposition; and Knapp forgets, that the very men who, above all others, should have this pure, spiritual conception of the Kingdom (if it is the one intended) are the disciples, the preachers, whom he confesses to be in ignorance of it down to the ascension. These illustrations will suffice; the reader can readily find a multitude.
    Neander (Ch. His., vol. 1, p. 37) makes Zechariah’s faith to express itself in a “worldly sense, or worldly turn, or shape,” because he expected deliverance from enemies, etc. But let the reader notice that Zechariah was under the direct influence of the Spirit, and it follows that his utterances are to be received in preference to Neander’s, especially seeing that they correspond with that of the prophets (who link with the Messianic Kingdom a deliverance of the Jewish nation from its enemies, as shown Props. 111–114). He delineates the disciples’ ignorance, etc., very much as Knapp, and seeks refuge in his germ or development theory.

Obs. 7. Misled by some favorite theory, the plain facts of the disciples’ preaching are unintentionally misstated, and, of coarse, others are improperly influenced. Thus e.g. Neander (Life of Christ, sec. 174) has taken the unwarranted liberty of saying, when referring to the mission of the disciples into Galilee, that they were to spread “the announcement that the Kingdom had appeared,” that “they were only to proclaim everywhere that the Kingdom of God, the object of all men’s desire, had come.” Now if we turn to the Record, it is impossible to find any such commission given to the disciples; for instead of preaching that the Kingdom “had appeared, and “had come,” they were expressly charged to say (Matthew 10:7): “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and (Luke 10:9): “the Kingdom of God is come nigh to you.” If language has any force, this phraseology cannot, by any means, be made to be the equivalent of Dr. Neander’s. So Olshausen even (Com. Matthew 3:2), hampered by his Church-Kingdom theory, makes the announcement “is at hand” to be an equivalent of “is already present.” Others, influenced in the same way, interpret the language in like manner. The difference to some may appear trivial, but as we proceed will be found exceedingly weighty and essential (Props. 55–61). How, in the nature of the case, could the first preachers of the Kingdom proclaim that a Kingdom “had come,” was “already present,” when they themselves (as both Neander and Olshausen admit in other places) were not conscious of it down to the ascension (Acts 1:6)? Forsaking the primitive view, the ablest men involve themselves in difficulties, and excite antagonism where none exists.

Obs. 8. It is a fact to be lamented, that while infidelity has made itself merry over the preaching of the disciples, calling it “mistaken,” “deceived,” “delusion,” etc., the Apologists, unable themselves to receive this preaching, or to satisfactorily account for it, have done nothing to remove this stumbling-block out of the way. Some unbelievers in a kind of ironical manner (Dean Mansell On Freethinking) suggest, as the result, that as the whole proof of Christianity rests on the Prophecies, it is necessary in order to make out such a proof to avoid the literal and proper meaning, and introduce a mystical or allegorical interpretation; for the past has proven that the apostles themselves misinterpreted the prophecies too literally or in a Jewish manner. This, of course, opens the flood gates to every conceivable fancy, and strikes a deep blow at the vital part of Christianity. Hence it is, that an oily class, smooth-tongued and eloquent over the virtues of Jesus and His devoted band, profess, all the time stabbing the reputation and character of these teachers, that they only desire to remove that blundering literal interpretation and plant religion more securely on a spiritual one, which will not recognize “the fables” of the early preaching. The grossest attacks and the most artful, centering on the early preaching, come from all sides, and a careful reader will sadly notice that in the replies of the defenders of Christianity, with but rare exceptions, there is found a willingness to receive these suggestions of unbelief, viz.: to discard the literal, grammatical sense of the prophecies, which it is wrongfully supposed led these disciples into their errors, and, therefore, to receive as an offset a spiritual one, which can transmute David’s throne into the Father’s throne, and change every other phrase to suit the situation. Alas! the influence of such a method upon the minds of men without sufficient independence to think for themselves!

Obs. 9. Those, too, who so candidly concede “the Jewish cast” of the disciples’ preaching are undecided as to the time when an entire change in their views of the Kingdom (as alleged) was wrought. While some place it even later (others asserting no change, but leaving it to development in the church) than the day of Pentecost, the majority of our opponents seem inclined to date it from the outpouring of the Spirit. For the credit of the Church-Kingdom theory, an effort must be made, in some way, to trace it back to inspired men. Now at this stage of the argument we only say this: if the change in the doctrine of the Kingdom took place, as multitudes hold, and as e.g. Bernard (Bampton Lectures, “The Progress of Doctrine”) infers, how comes it then that the early “consciousness” of the church does not portray this change in the writings of that period? Why does the church, founded by these disciples, assume the position that Jesus, the crucified one, is the Messiah (with a full understanding of the Jewish meaning of the name), so declared by His resurrection and exaltation, who remains in heaven during this intermediate period until the elect are gathered out and the time arrives, at the Second Advent, for the re-establishment of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom? Why is it that none of the Primitive churches indicate such a change of doctrine, and directly trace it to the apostles? Surely if the current notion on the subject is the correct one, this feature ought to be observed. Bernard and others do not meet the real objections against their view, for fully admitting that a change was introduced, this change was not one in the belief of the Kingdom, but only in the manner and time of its introduction, in the reception of preliminary measures, made now necessary by the postponement of the Kingdom and the organization of the Christian Church. This change does not affect covenant promise, confirmed by oath, while Bernard’s violates covenant and explicit promise.
    The student is reminded that persons cannot be too cautious in such wholesale deductions, made because of the introduction of certain changes which do not affect the nature of the Kingdom. Thus e.g. many stumble at the resurrection of Jesus, and cannot see how this is to be reconciled with the expectations of the restoration of the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom; but they overlook the predicted fact (God foreseeing all, and thus ordering) that this is implied in an immortal Son of David thus restoring and reigning, and that this resurrection was expressly foretold as a requisite to fulfil the promises pertaining to the Kingdom. This disregard to the Kingdom preached, etc., leads to many strange and unscriptural statements. Thus e.g. Bernard (in the excellent Lectures referred to) says: “Peter presents the Gospel as the fulfilment of prophecy, and completion of the covenant made with the fathers.” The truth is, that Peter only presents the Gospel to show how prophecy will be fulfilled (saving in the call of the Gentiles), and how the covenant was confirmed in Christ and shall yet be amply realized in the future. Again: “The Gospel has fought itself free, and severed itself from Judaism, not merely in its form but in its essence, proclaiming Salvation by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law.” Admitting freely the grace brought through Jesus, through whom alone we expect to inherit, the sentence as it stands is misleading. The Gospel did not cut itself free, etc., until the influence of the Alexandrian school prevailed, as seen in the first and second centuries. True Judaism looked forward, having the covenants and promises, even to the sacrificial death of the Messiah, and the death of Jesus is no separation from but a confirmation of the Judaic essence, for the Salvation promised through this Messiah is identical with that proclaimed by Judaism. This will be shown hereafter. 

Prop. 44. The preaching of the Kingdom, being in accordance with that of the predicted Kingdom, raised no controversy between the Jews and Jesus, or between the Jews and His disciples and apostles.

We find no hint, not the slightest, that there was the least disagreement between the preachers of the kingdom and their hearers on the subject of the kingdom itself. We know what the views of the Jews were, and if there had been any essential difference in the presentation of a subject so dear and vital to Jewish faith—fundamental to Messianic faith—most certainly there would be proof to show it. The absence of it, in the nature of the case, substantiates our position.

Obs. 1. Let the reader place himself in that period of early preaching. The converts were nearly all Jews, embracing hundreds, and finally thousands, including even a large number of priests, Acts 6:7. Consider how tenaciously all these held to the predicted restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, and that during the entire period of preaching, from John down to apostolic days, no question, no difficulty arose concerning the great subject of the Kingdom, i.e. concerning its nature, its lack of identity with the anticipated one. Why this? Simply because both parties understood the Kingdom as covenanted and prophesied; because the Kingdom preached corresponded with the views entertained by these Jews; otherwise it would have awakened discussion, led to explanations and opposition. There being agreement, discussion and controversy could not follow, and hence we do not find them.

Obs. 2. A mutual understanding existed between the parties, and this was not interrupted so long as these preachers lived, for after the ascension of Jesus, instead of a retraction of previous preaching and opinions, instead of telling the Jews that they had misapprehended the nature of the Kingdom, and that only a spiritual one was the one intended by the Messiah (which, if our opponents are correct, honesty ought to have done), there continued a perfect agreement between preachers and converts, the basis of which was, looking for this same Kingdom to be revealed at the Second Advent of the Messiah (comp. Props. 70–76).

Obs. 3. Therefore, it is an unjust reflection upon these Jews and Jewish preachers to accuse them of ignorance, carnality, etc. To assert as Storrs’ (Diss. on the Kingd. of Heaven), that these Jews “were shamefully ignorant” of the Messiah’s reign, recoils upon the preachers who made and left them thus “ignorant.” Yet this is the belief of many eminent men, forgetting that perhaps the “ignorance” may be in the gradually substituted change introduced after the death of these preachers. Even as late as Tertullian, when the proposed change had not as yet overwhelmed the Apostolic Theology, he pointedly says in his Apology (Sec. 21), in reference to this point: “Even now His Advent is expected by them (the Jews generally); nor is there any other contention between them and us, than that they believe the Advent has not yet occurred.” The Kingdom was not disputed, but the manner and time of occurrence under Jesus as the Messiah.

Obs. 4. The Jews did not find fault with the Kingdom, but in the King as believed in by believing Jews and Gentiles. In their blindness, they refused to acknowledge the purity and holiness essential to entrance into the Kingdom; they rejected the repentance requisite for its establishment; they were angered at the well-merited rebukes aimed at their hypocrisy and sinfulness; they were fearful of losing their own authority and power, and therefore they rejected the King, and urged his crucifixion. After His death, it was too humbling to their pride to confess a crucified Jesus as their Messiah; it was too mortifying and condemnatory to their past action to acknowledge a once dead and buried Jesus to be their King; the difficulty was not in the Kingdom, but in the King, and in the confession and obedience that was required. This influenced the nation, the great mass of the people, but nevertheless many Jews, seeing the Scriptures fulfilled in this Messiah, and the Messianic evidences in His birth, life, miracles, words, death, etc., still clung to Him as the promised Messiah, the Restorer of the Davidic Kingdom as predicted; and this was done under the assurance (as we shall show in its place) that He would come the Second Time for this very purpose. Such is the plain teaching of the Record, and its testimony on this point is decided and overwhelming, as the reader will see for himself as we proceed.
    It will not answer to cover this over under the plea of accommodation; for it only amounts to making numbers of persons preaching, in the most serious manner, to induce others to repentance and faith, a Kingdom of God in accordance with their own prejudices and that of their hearers, because Jesus saw that they were not prepared for the truth. And this farce (for it can be called nothing less) was designed and fostered by the pure Son of God! The statement needs no refutation; it contradicts itself. Therefore to plead that such an accommodation prevented a controversy arising, is simply to say that Christ sacrificed truth and kept men in error for the sake of a slight temporary gain, or that He sacrificed His own honor and dignity for the sake of conciliating erring men. No wonder that the Baur school and others are jubilant over the fatal concessions contained in the works of pious men, hailing and parading them as the self-evident indications of a shaky foundation. But, viewing the matter in its totality, the relation of this preaching to covenant, prophecy, the Jewish nation, God’s Purpose of Salvation, etc., we cordially accept of this preaching and agreement—these alleged evidences of weakness—as necessary and indispensable features in the structure. The reasons will appear more fully.

Obs. 5. It may be well to say here, that as long as this happy correspondence continued numerous Jews were converted to Christianity (as history attests), but just so soon as this disagreement arose respecting the Kingdom, and the Jewish faith in their Kingdom was derided and scorned, conversions became less and less until they almost ceased. 

Obs. 6. This agreement indicates, what has already been intimated, that no necessity existed to hold up the hope of a restored Davidic throne and Kingdom more prominently, because, as it all depended upon the coming again of Jesus the Christ, it was sufficient to direct attention to that Advent, linking the fulfillment of the prophecies with them, thus avoiding the jealousy, etc., of the Roman Power.

Obs. 7. This agreement has been noticed by numerous writers, and has called forth corresponding remarks, nearly always in disparaging expressions, so intended, but more or less connected with the truth. This will be seen by taking at random two writers. Thus e.g. Reuss (His. Ch. Theol, p. 246) tells us that the early churches formed under this preaching “might be regarded as, and virtually were, a Jewish party.” Morgan (in Moral Philosophy) charges early Christianity with a leaning toward Judaism, that the disciples corrupted the New Testament to effect this, that we have a Jewish Gospel, and the first Christians were “nothing else but a political faction among the Jews, some of them receiving Jesus as the Messiah or the Restorer of the Kingdom, and others rejecting him under that character.” Now, aside from the effort made to use this connection with Jewish views against Christianity, to make out a case of corruption, ignorance, etc., it is true that, while the ceremonial law of Judaism was rejected by many as non-essential, etc., there was a strong point of contact and continued agreement between Judaism and Christians in Messianic expectations respecting the Kingdom,—the difference being that the former located the fulfillment of their hopes at the First Advent of the Messiah (thus rejecting Jesus as the Messiah), and the latter, theirs at the Second Advent of this Jesus who had been crucified. To deny this, or to conceal it, is simply exhibiting gross ignorance of facts, or dishonesty in suppressing truth (comp. Prop. 69). 

Prop. 45. The phrases “Kingdom of heaven” “Kingdom of God” “Kingdom of Christ” etc., denote the same Kingdom.

It has already been shown (Props. 20–23, etc.) how the Jews understood and employed these phrases, and how the first preachers adopted them.

Obs. 1. Now attention is called to the fact that they are used as synonymous in the New Testament What Matthew pronounces “the Kingdom of heaven,” is said by Mark, Luke, and John to be “the Kingdom of God,” as e.g. comp. Matthew 5:3, with Luke 6:20, and Matthew 13:11 with Mark 4:11. So also “the Kingdom of God” is designated Christ’s Kingdom, as e.g. comp. Matthew 16:28 with Luke 9:27, Mark 9:1, etc.
    So also “the Father’s Kingdom” and Christ’s are represented as identical. Comp. e.g. Matthew 13:41–43 with Ephesians 5:5, and Matthew 26:29 with II Peter 1:11, etc., and Prop. 83. In reference to the usage of those phrases, comp. Props. 22 and 23, and the note by Dr. Craven in Lange’s Com. Revelation, p. 93.

Obs. 2. These phrases thus interchangeably employed to denote the one Kingdom (Prop. 35) were understood to mean the Davidic Kingdom restored, as e.g. Acts 1:6, Matthew 20:21, Acts 15:16, Luke 1:32, etc. (comp. Props. 19–23).
    This has been so frankly admitted by our opponents (as e.g. Dr. Campbell, Knapp, Neander, etc.) that more need not be added, leaving our argument to bring in the additional proof. On every side do we find this testimony, given, too, without any thought of its bearing on the subject. Thus e.g. Farrar (Life of Christ, vol. 1, p. 22) informs us that “waiting for the Consolation of Israel “is equivalent to Mark 15:43, “waiting for the Kingdom of God,” and that among the Jews a prayer for the coming of the Messiah was, “may I see the Consolation of Israel.” The Messiah and the Kingdom were united. We merely suggest that in addition to the meanings and derivation usually given to the phrase used by Matthew, “the Kingdom of heaven” (viz.: that the God of heaven gives it to the Christ, that through it the Father’s will is manifested, that heavenly principles, etc., are exhibited, etc.), may there not, in the employment of the plural form, “heavenlies,” be an allusion to the peculiar form of government (Theocratical) under chosen. heavenly rulers (comp. Prop. 154). Dr. Meyer (Com. on Matthew 3:2) says: “It is called the Messianic Kingdom, not because the words ‘of the heavens’ express God, but because this Kingdom is conceived as descending from heaven and entering the world, Galatians 4:26.” This idea may (comp. Revelation 19:11–16 and 21:2, etc.) indeed be included, but it does not exclude the old Jewish notion derived from Daniel, or the one just stated. It may include them all, making it the more expressive.

Obs. 3. In addition to the abundant testimony already adduced, that they were regarded as denoting the same Kingdom, and that the restored Theocracy, as existing under David, we add a few more. Nast (Com. on Matthew 11:1–6), allowing the Church-Kingdom theory as correct, frankly says: “Though John the Baptist, Zecharias, and those other Israelites who waited for ‘the Consolation of Israel,’ expected the Messiah to establish a spiritual Kingdom, a reign of righteousness, they connected, nevertheless, with it, the idea of a visible, terrestrial Kingdom, that he would literally sit on David’s throne, and extend His reign from the river to the ends of the earth.” Doddrige (Com. Matthew 3:2), cordially adopting the Church-Kingdom idea as intended by the phrase, says: “It is plain that the Jews understood it of a temporal monarchy, which God would erect; the Beat of which, they supposed, would be Jerusalem, which would become, instead of Rome, the capital of the world. And the expected Sovereign of this Kingdom they learned from Daniel to call ‘the Son of Man’” (Were the Jews mistaken? Comp. Props. 19–23 and 31–35). Fairbairn (Herm. Manual, p. 41–43) tells us that the phrase, “points back to those prophecies of the Old Testament, in which promise was made of a King and Kingdom, that should unite heaven and earth in another way than could be done by a merely human administration,” etc., which we cordially receive as true, remarking, however, that the plain Theocratical meaning contained in the grammatical sense (which he carefully avoids), as held by the Jews, by the disciples and apostles, introduces just such a union of heaven and earth (as e.g. God in Jesus condescending to reign as earthly Ruler, etc.) as he advocates. Our entire argument thus far conclusively proves that all these phrases do not denote separate things (as e.g. intimated by Lange, Com. Matthew, p. 73), or are given (so Fleck, quoted by Lange) “in order to distinguish the Christian Kingdom of God more fully from the Jewish Theocracy,” but the restored Theocracy, as covenanted and predicted under the Messiah. They were applied to a definite, well-known Kingdom, viz.: the Theocratic-Davidic.
    But able writers, wedded to the spiritual Church-Kingdom theory, can see nothing in the phrase but another and differing Kingdom, viz.: the Church regarded as militant and triumphant. Thus, to illustrate how confidently they appeal to its simplicity in their teaching, we refer to Gregory (Four Gospels, p. 146), who, speaking of “the Kingdom of heaven,” and that Matthew by its use intended to correct false Jewish views (when Acts 1:6, he still held them), confidently asserts: “The phrase clearly expresses the idea that it is a Kingdom distinct from all these kingdoms of this world after which the Jew had fashioned his idea of the Messiah’s dominion. Its origin is in the heavens, where God dwells; its throne, the seat of the King, is there; its highest present and prospective glories are there. This simple phrase taught that the Kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual and heavenly Kingdom, unlike the old Theocracy with its temple and throne in Jerusalem; unlike the magnificent empire patterned after Rome, which the worldly Jew was dreaming of; wholly unlike the temporal empire of the Papacy long after established.” Here is a tissue of assumptions: (1) It ignores the fact that it was a Jewish phrase, adopted without explanation by Matthew, and that it could not possibly convey the idea assumed, being definitely used to designate the restored Davidic Kingdom and its extent, etc., as given by Daniel; (2) it engrafts upon it a modern notion, which the Jews never entertained, being bound by the plain covenant and prophetical language which locates the Kingdom, not in heaven but on the earth; (3) he assumes that the phrase is so clearly full of his doctrine that it ought to have taught the Jew such a view, when the facts are just the reverse, viz.: that its usage fortified them and the disciples (including Matthew) in believing that it unmistakably taught the restoration of the downfallen Theocracy, which was—as we have shown—a Kingdom of God and of heaven; (4) its simplicity of teaching established and confirmed the almost universal Pre-Millenarianism of the early Church and its connected doctrine of the Kingdom—a position just directly opposite to that which Gregory finds in the “simple phrase,” and which Shedd (His. of Doc, p. 291) calls a peculiarity of the Jewish-Christian.” 

Prop. 46. The Kingdom anticipated by the Jews at the First Advent is based on the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.

This might be shown by numerous references, but it will be sufficiently conspicuous by adverting to the declarations found in only one chapter of the New Testament. Thus, e.g., Luke 1:32, 33, 55, 72, 73, where we have undoubted allusions to previously obtained covenants, in “the mercy promised to the fathers,” in “the holy covenant” confirmed by oath “to our father Abraham,” and in “the throne of his father David.”

Obs. 1. In turning back to the fountain head from whence this doctrine, this faith in a Messianic Kingdom proceeds, we only reiterate what others have most aptly stated when we invite for the covenants an absorbing interest in view of their living, fundamental connection with final Salvation in Christ’s Kingdom. Kurtz (His. Old Cov., p. 175) has well expressed this “a foundation on which the great Salvation is ultimately to appear.” Thorp (The Dest. of the Brit. Empire, Pref., p. 8) justly observes: “The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation of all the dispensations of heaven, both to Jews and Gentiles.”
    This has been noticed by Brooks (El. of Proph. Inter., ch. 2), Bickersteth (Guide to Proph.), Judge Jones (Notes to the Scriptures), besides a host of others, as Auberlen, Delitzsch, Lord, the Bonars, etc. Indeed, it is universally admitted, however explained afterward, that the covenants are the proper basis of future Revelation, and that they contain in an epitomized form the substance of God’s Purpose in reference to man’s Salvation, the Messiah’s Kingdom and glory, and the perfected Redemption from the curse. Hence, men of all shades of opinion agreeing in this matter, it is essential for any one who desires to become a real student of God’s Word to make himself familiar with these covenants, seeing, that, in the nature of the case, all things following must correspond fully with these previously given pledges and guides. While the covenants are necessarily primary in a proper conception of the Divine Plan relating to Redemption, presenting a central idea, the reader will observe that they are scripturally based and grammatically founded on direct oath-bound promises, and hence are to be distinguished from that vague, scholastic, mystical effort to make the covenants a central idea as given e.g. by John Cocceius (Hagenbach’s His. Doc., vol. 2, sec. 222 and 223), Pres. Edwards’s (His. Redempt.), and others. This grasping after the covenants as a foundation thought relating to the Kingdom of Christ is characteristic of the German Reformed Theology (see Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., sec. 223, Amer. Ed. added, and Heppe on Ger. Reform. Church in Mercersburg Review for 1853), and is found in theologians of ability in various denominations. Unfortunately, however, many have much to say about a covenant made between the Father and Son in eternity—of which we have no record, and which opens a door for conjecture and unproven inferences—while they ignore, more or less, those on record.

Obs. 2. Let it be observed that in approaching the covenants we are not at liberty to receive one and reject another, nor are we authorized to take just as much as may suit our Theological views out of one and refuse to believe in the rest. Here is where many Theological writings make the fatal mistake: they are willing to receive the Abrahamic covenant as a perpetual one, but not the Davidic, when the same perpetuity is asserted of both; they are agreed to receive part of the Abrahamic, or part of the Davidic covenant, but not all that is written. No wonder that a diversity is thus produced, and an antagonism to the Old Testament The Jews and the Primitive Church were far more logical and scriptural when they cordially received those covenants and believed in God’s statements concerning them. The trouble at present is, that the church, with all her professions, has too little faith.

Obs. 3. Approaching the covenants and seeing how they form great central points around which successive revelations cluster—yea, the foundation stones upon which the Christological structure is erected—we are not surprised at the efforts made to undermine their force, either by separating the Old from the New Testament as antiquated, or by elevating the New far above the Old as only worthy of reception, or by a rejection of the Old as not authentic, etc. De Wette and others may apply their mythical interpretation to Abraham, etc.; Ammon and others may reject the Old Testament as having no special divine worth; Colenso and others may endeavor to set aside reliance upon the writings of Moses; Schleiermacher and others may place the Old in a position far inferior to the New in dignity, value, etc.—all this, and more, may be done, and yet in the simple covenant words, in their gradually unfolded purpose, in their continuous progress in and toward fulfillment, in their fundamental relationship to Messianic hopes, etc., we have the most triumphant vindication (comp. Prop. 16 and 198) of the equality and truthfulness of all Divine Revelation, and of the significance and fundamental importance of the covenants, and also a rebuke given to the foolishness of a learned display of unbelief.
    If the reader follows the development of the covenant, he will be enabled to appreciate the value of the author’s allegation in the History of the Hebrew Monarchy, that Moses forged God’s covenant with Abraham for political purposes. The wish is father to the thought, for the very tenor of the covenants forbid such an idea, seeing that for fulfillment it implies a resurrection from the dead, etc.; in brief, such an intervention of the Supernatural, as is evidenced already by the past, that no man could incorporate for such a purpose. Hengstenberg, Marsh, Kurtz, Fritzsche, Havernick, Jahn, and others, in vindicating the credibility of the Old Testament Scriptures, etc., have performed an excellent preparatory work.

Obs. 4. The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants were very prominently held by the early church, as can be readily seen by the general use made of them, illustrated, e.g. in the Epistle of Barnabas, the writings of Irenaeus, Justin, Tertullian, etc. So that Renan (Apostles, p. 116) remarks in reference to the practice of the Primitive Church: “The perusal of the Old Testament, above all of the Psalms and the Prophets, was a constant habit of the sect”—a testimony most honorable to the church.
    At the present day they are largely ignored, just as if we had no personal interest in them, and so imperfect is the comprehension of Scripture, that we have plenty of works which present us, as the two great covenants, “the Law and the Gospel.” 

Prop. 47. The Jews had the strongest possible assurance given to them that the Kingdom based on these covenants would be realized.

Attention has already been directed (Prop. 18) to the fact that the prophecies pertaining to this Kingdom shall not, in their ultimate fulfillment, fail, i.e., they are unconditional. The reason for this is that they are evolved from covenants confirmed by oath; and hence, in view of their absolute certainty (no matter how postponed), God has given expression to language which affirms beyond all doubt that this Kingdom, sustaining a covenanted relationship, would at some time in the future be established; and this, too, as covenanted in connection with the national salvation of the Jewish nation. Thus, e.g., read Jeremiah 31:35–37, and Jer 33:19–26; Isaiah 54:9–10, etc.
    It has been remarked by various writers, that the covenant name of Jehovah or Jahveh, by which the unchangeableness of God is expressed, indicates the absolute certainty of ultimate fulfillment.

Obs. 1. Hence it follows: that the Jews were not so grossly ignorant as many Gentiles now think; that they were correct in their apprehensions concerning the Messiah’s Kingdom being identified with the restored Davidic. Language could not possibly make it any plainer or stronger. The sun may refuse to shine, the moon and the stars may depart, the sea may no longer war with its waves, day and night may not alternate in their season, the ordinances of heaven and earth may be repealed (comp. e.g. Jeremiah 33:17–26, Isaiah 54:9, Jeremiah 31:35–36, Psalm 89:36–37, etc.), but the promises of God shall not fail in restoring the overthrown Davidic Kingdom; God will perform the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the Prophets, respecting the Jewish nation. Men may foolishly ridicule and sneer at these things because still unrealized, calling them “Jewish notions, fables, and prejudices,” but God’s word stands pledged, as solemnly and sacredly as word can be substantiated, for their fulfillment. It is idle, it is folly—yea more, it is sinful to censure the Jews for a belief so clearly founded and so unmistakably encouraged.

Obs. 2. Let the reader place himself in the period before the First Advent, with the Old Testament in his hands. Now what would be his belief in the Kingdom, with those covenants and prophecies, confirmed by oath and most expressive assurances? Surely it would be identical with that of the Jews themselves; it could not be otherwise, if there was faith in God’s Word and God’s oath. Can we believe that the First Advent of the Messiah obliterated this belief, destroyed the nature of the Kingdom, erased the grammatical sense of covenant and prophecy, and cancelled the oath of the Unchangeable? Multitudes do this, but we cannot, dare not follow the multitude in this matter. God’s assurances are too weighty, His Word is too pure, to allow of such a destructive process.

Obs. 3. The attitude of a portion of the modern Jews is to be regretted. Leavened with infidelity, they have lost all faith in the most precise and determinate utterances that can indicate the determination of God to verify His promises to the nation, and yet they profess to believe in this same God, in His veracity, etc. This is utterly inconsistent, and simply faithless, when their own scattered condition and continued preservation among the nations (as predicted) confirms the assurances of this God. If the covenants, and the prophecies based upon them, are not worthy of credence to a Jew, what is there then in the Old Testament worthy of belief? Their unbelief may reject the proffered blessings, but it cannot change the Purpose of God, for (Psalm 33:11) “the counsel of the Lord standeth forever.” Although the Jews are dispersed, under punishment for unbelief, yet there is something so distinguishing in their national relationship to the Divine Purpose that God, foreseeing all that has occurred in the past, still most graciously declares (Leviticus 26:44), “Yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.” Whether they believe it or not, mercy follows them for the sake of the covenant, and mercy will yet verify that covenant in the history of the nation, for “their God” has sworn it.

Obs. 4. A class of writers has arisen, who, professing to be very critical, tell us that Abraham’s life, and indeed the whole Bible, must be subjected to “Historical Criticism.” To this there could be no objection, if honestly conducted; but in the hands of this class, this phrase, stripped of its applied generalities and pretentious adjuncts, simply means to receive just as much as any one pleases to accept. By this process, Clarke (Ten Religions, p. 403) informs us that “not a little will be gained for the Jewish Scriptures by this position. If they lose the authority which attaches to the Word of God, they will gain the interest which belongs to the utterance of Man.” These men, while professing admiration for Moses, the Prophets, etc., virtually convict them of false pretences, deception, etc. Judas-like, they kiss while in the act of betraying; Joab-like, they pretend friendship while stabbing. To this class, the solemnly covenanted promises of God and the assurances respecting the Kingdom are all idle dreams; men who believe and trust in them are self-deceived and fanatical; history that corroborates prophetic announcements is merely a coincidence; the faith of ages, sustained by personal experience and Providence, is nothing but a mistaken belief. 

Prop. 48. The Kingdom being based on the covenants, the covenants must be carefully examined, and (Prop. 4) the literal language of the same must be maintained.

The appointment, arrangement, disposition, or institution of a covenant relation, in whatever (as voluntary, a contract, etc.) light it may be regarded, presupposes two parties; the one who promises or imparts, and the other who will receive or attains. In all earthly transactions, when a promise, agreement, or contract is entered into by which one party gives a promise of value to another, it is universally the custom to explain such a relationship and its promises by the well-known laws of language contained in our grammars or in common usage. It would be regarded absurd and trilling to view them in any other light. (Comp. Prop. 4.)

Obs. 1. Why, then, should this universal rule be laid aside when coming to the covenants of the Bible? If it is important in any mere earthly relationship for the parties to understand each other, and such a comprehension is based on the plain grammatical sense of the language used, is it not equally, yea more, essential in so weighty a case as this; and to insure comprehension of the same is it not most reasonable to expect the same literal language? Indeed, when the covenants embrace the vital interests of a nation and the destiny of the race and the world, is it not requisite that they should be presented in such a form that the parties to whom they are given can readily perceive their meaning, without searching around for another and very different one to be engrafted upon them, or, without waiting for an Origen or Swedenborg to arise and spiritualize them into a proper conception?
    It is saddening (it would be crushing to the few believing ones, if this lack of faith—its universality—had not been also predicted) to see how extensively the latter is done by good and great men, thereby darkening knowledge and obscuring the revealed purposes of God. On the other hand, let us firmly hold that the very nature of a covenant demands, that it should be so worded, so plainly expressed, that it conveys a decisive meaning, and not a hidden or mystical one that requires many centuries to revolve in order to develop. Otherwise it becomes deceptive and misleading, fostering a faith that can never be attained, and leading to hopes that can never be realized—which, if unworthy in an earthly transaction between man and man, is more discreditable when the Divine Being becomes a party. No! God never gave the covenants to deceive in their plain, grammatical sense! Men, indeed, say so; learned men. declare it so; but this does not make it so—leaving the Word to speak for itself.

Obs. 2. This, however, does not imply, especially if the covenant is a voluntary one on the part of God and contains His merciful purposes of Salvation, that it may not be briefly expressed or concisely stated, and be afterward enlarged by way of additions, by explaining how it will be performed, etc. All this may, indeed, be attached to it for prudential and wise reasons, and yet, as far as given, we are not at liberty to reject the plain meaning presented. And the less so if the additions afterward appended accurately coincide with the express language of the covenants.

Obs. 3. Our Proposition is confirmed by the indisputable fact that God has stamped the grammatical sense as the correct one by literally fulfilling a portion of the covenants. Take e.g. the promised “seed.” He has come from Abraham, through the line of David, in a manner recognizable (implied by the terms) and indicative of His power to redeem and bless. A sufficiency is found in the history of the past to show that these covenants contain a real, substantial, verified grammatical meaning. Hence we are not allowed to change it for something else.
    If all the rest contained in these covenants has not yet been thus literally confirmed by fulfillment, we should not hastily limit the Almighty in His dispensational proceedings by rejecting the remainder, or by attaching another meaning to it to suit present circumstances. No! with Abrahamic faith clinging to His revealed intention, at some time, to fulfil them as He has done a part, let us calmly ask, Why has it not all been thus fulfilled? When this question is scripturally answered, and the reasons assigned, which God Himself gives, then, then we shall not only be satisfied to let its plain meaning stand, but rejoice in its precious significance.

Obs. 4. The promises in the covenants are not typical, as many argue (impelled to it by not seeing a present fulfillment, and by a disbelief in a future fulfillment), for a typical character is opposed to the very nature of a covenant. It would in a great measure make the real truth unrecognizable until the appearance of the antitype, and the result would be to enshroud the covenants themselves in conjecture and mystery, which is opposed to the simple fact that God appeals to the covenants as to promises well comprehended. The partial fulfillment of them clearly shows that they are not to be regarded as typical.
    As this is a point of great importance, having a marked influence upon the interpretation of much Scripture, a few remarks ought to be appended. Many excellent writers, as Fairbairn and others, make e.g. the inheritance promised to the Patriarchs a typical one, and the proof texts assigned for this are the passages which speak of the saints inheriting the earth, of Abraham being “heir of the world,” etc. But this is a begging of the question, for these passages in no shape or form intimate a typical nature of the inheritance but, on the contrary, the reality of the promise; for, as we shall show hereafter (Props. 142, 131, 137, 141, etc.) this Scripture teaches an exact fulfillment of covenant promise, unless they themselves are also made typical (as e.g. inheriting the earth to mean inheriting third heaven, etc.). That no type is intended may be briefly stated thus: Jesus Christ, according to the Prophets, as David’s Son and Theocratic King inherits not only David’s throne and kingdom but also the territory, but in connection with this, in virtue of His Divine-Human character and the original design contemplated, His dominion, based on His rightful inheritance, is to extend over the whole earth. To show the contrary, Fairbairn (On Proph., p. 266) introduces a very inapt and unfortunate inferential proof. For he tells us that the inheritance can only be explained “with what it typically represented, in the same way that Christ is called Abraham’s seed,” viz.: as “the ultimate child of promise.” Here comes in the fatal mistake that he and others make in supposing that covenant promises are typical, impelling them, as an illustration of the same, to infer the typical nature of “the seed.” We may well ask, in reply, Was not Christ Abraham’s natural seed, and if so, did “seed” stand for a type? Certainly not, for there is a literal fulfillment of promise. Precisely so, with the inheritance; it is better to wait and see what God yet intends to do, before we explain away His own words by a typical process. For if we adopt this modernized principle, so prevailing, where is then a promise in the covenants to which can be ascribed certainty of meaning? Rejecting the plain one that the letter contains, or more conveniently converting it into a type, the promise may then represent what the ingenuity of man ascribes to it, and conjecture follows. Men may derisively call our view, an adhering to the “husk,” “shell,” or “rind” and congratulate themselves in having “the developed germ” or “matured fruit,” but amid the unproven varieties of “fruit,” from Origen to Swedenborg, we are content to abide by the former, as certainly God-given. The truth is, that these writers all come to the Word with an unproven hypothesis, viz.: that the church, as now constituted, is the covenanted Messianic Kingdom, and hence all Scripture, including the precise and determinate language of the covenants, must be interpreted to correspond with a prejudged case. Learning and ability must champion a fundamental misconception. 

Prop. 49. The covenants being in Revelation, the foundation of the Kingdom, must first be received and appreciated.

Let us then briefly pass them under review, and notice their contents; this will clearly indicate their fundamental nature.
    God promised salvation to Adam and Eve. The Bible gives us the sad history, that, while some through faith sought for deliverance, gradually unbelief and sin enveloped and enshrouded the race. One man and his family were selected by the Almighty to escape the general destruction, that through him the race might be propagated, the promise might be extended and ultimately fulfilled. Again, corruption prevailed (Joshua 24:2, 14 etc.) to such an extent that a new development was necessary to prepare and perpetuate the way of salvation. A descendant of Shem and Noah, possessing peculiar characteristics, was selected as the preeminently chosen one to whom in a more special and particular manner was committed the assurances of a preparatory development and final attainment of Salvation. In him the Divine Purpose becomes more specific, detailed, contracted, definite, and certain. Specific, in distinguishing and separating him from others of the race; detailed, in indicating more of the particulars connected with the purpose of salvation; contracted, in making the Messiah to come directly in his line, to be his “seed;” definite, in entering into covenant relation with him, as his God; and certain, in confirming this covenant relationship by an oath. This, then, is the period, beyond all others, which, descending from the general to the particular, lays, as Kurtz (His. Old Cov., p. 175, comp. Prop. 46, Obs. 1) aptly remarks: “a foundation on which the great Salvation is ultimately to appear; or, as Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 2, p. 471) observes: “We have learned to recognize the covenant of God with Abraham as the foundation of the entire revelation of Salvation.” Abraham is this chosen instrument, and through his promised seed complete redemption is to be obtained. Certainly then the Abrahamic history becomes one of absorbing interest, in view of its fundamental and living connection with final Salvation. It deserves and demands our most earnest and closest attention, for to it all other things, in the development, must sustain a close and abiding relation. We cannot overestimate the importance of this, as Isaiah 51:1–2 teaches. Even the incarnation, life, etc., of Christ grow out of the deep significancy, and in behalf of the fulfillment, of the covenant made with Abraham.

  I. The Abrahamic Covenant.

Obs. 1. The covenant (see good remarks on the meaning of the word “covenant” by Barnes, Notes on Hebrews 8: 8, and 9:16) made with Abraham is found in Genesis 12:1–3, 7; 13:14–17; 15:4–21; 17:4–16; 22:15–18. The things promised by God are the following: 1. That Abraham’s name shall be great. 2. That a great nation should come from him. 3. He should be a blessing so great that in him shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4. To him personally (“to thee”) and to his seed should be given Palestine forever to inherit. 5. The multitude of his seed should be as the dust of the earth. 6. That whoever blessed him should be blessed, and whosoever cursed him should be cursed. 7. He should be the father of many nations. 8. Kings should proceed from him. 9. The covenant shall be perpetual, “an everlasting covenant.” 10. The land of Canaan, shall be “an everlasting possession.” 11. God will be a God to him and to his seed. 12. His seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. 13. In his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
    God added, in order to bring about these promises, predictions, dispensational and providential arrangements, and while in the course of time there has been a partial, inchoate fulfillment, sufficient to authenticate their divine origin and ultimate realization, yet a mere cursory glance at them, and then at history, shows that they have not, to this time, been verified as given. This partial and limited fulfillment has afforded a fund of amusement to unbelief, and it sneeringly points to it as evidence of failure, of Oriental exaggeration, etc. In view, however, of the dispositions already made, the continued progress of the Divine Purpose toward its realization, the constant preservation of Abraham’s descendants, to whom nationally the covenants were given, the raising up of a seed unto Abraham, etc., it would be foolishness to say that they, as recorded, never will be accomplished. To answer unbelief, by endeavoring to make out a fulfillment by spiritualizing the promises, by substituting something else in their place, is only another form of unbelief in the precise words of the covenants.

Obs. 2. Out of the blessings enumerated, several are selected, as illustrative, which have not yet been experienced. Thus e.g. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have Palestine “from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates” promised to them personally, and also to their seed. The repetition of the precise language admits of no other construction. “To thee and to thy seed will I give this land;” “To thee will I give it;” “to give thee this land to inherit;” “I will give it unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession;” “unto thee and to thy seed will I give all these countries;” “the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed;” “the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.” How the Patriarchs understood this is evident by referring to what Isaac said to Jacob when he sent him away to Laban (Genesis 28:1–4): “God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land, wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” Can language be more definite? Does God so carefully reiterate the personal inheriting (and as carefully discriminate from such inheriting a present temporary sojourn in the land), of the land by the Patriarchs, and yet mean something very different from what the words properly denote? Many, alas, tell us yes! but we respond, No! Never!

    (1) Whatever may be said respecting the temporary possession of Canaan (either as preparatory or initiatory or inchoate,) or whatever may be asserted respecting the descendants being meant “as yet in his loins,” etc., one thing is most positively stated in the Bible, viz.: that this promise was not fulfilled in the Patriarchs, in any of the forms alleged by unbelief. The Spirit, foreseeing this very objection, provided against it, lest our faith should stumble. Thus Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, tells us (Acts 7:5) that “He (God) gave him (Abraham) none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on, yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession and to his seed after him.” This (also because accordant with the well-known Jewish views) should be decisive, especially when confirmed by Paul (Hebrews 9:8–9, and 11:13–40), who expressly informs us that the Patriarchs sojourned in “the land of promise,” which they were to receive as “an inheritance,” “pilgrims and strangers,” and that “they died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth.” How, with such evidence before us, can we attribute to only their posterity what is directly asserted of themselves personally? Those modernized views were not known to Stephen and Paul (and others, as e.g. Luke 1:68–73; Micah 7:20, etc.). Hence it follows that in God’s own time this will be abundantly brought to pass, so that it only becomes us to observe how and when, as revealed in the Word. God will perform this for them, as the Jews held, as the Primitive Church believed, and as taught by every Millenarian writer down to the present day. The deep reasons which underlie this promise and its relationship to the Kingdom will appear in succeeding pages.
    Evidently that which misleads the multitude in this matter is the statement of the apostle (Hebrews 11:16), that “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly.” Commentators, as Barnes, Bloomfield, etc., overlooking entirely the Theocratic relationship that this country (i.e. Palestine) is to occupy in the Kingdom of God, at once conclude that this “heavenly” country is the third heaven. They forget that this phraseology would not mislead a Hebrew, who was accustomed to designate the restored Davidic Kingdom a heavenly Kingdom, and the country enjoying its restoration and Theocratic blessings, a heavenly country. The expression does not mean “the third heaven” (Prop. 103), but something that pertains to, or partakes of, the heavenly, as heavenly vision, body, calling, etc. (To avoid repetition, comp. Props. 142–154.)
    If no other means avail to destroy the express language of the Covenant, recourse is had to the typical theory (Prop. 48, Obs. 4). Thus, Pressense (The Redeemer, p. 74) says, respecting Genesis 17:8, “Without doubt it was designed to have an earthly fulfilment; in fact this it received” (against the testimony of Stephen and Paul), “but the earthly fulfilment was secondary.” That is, it was only “a symbol,” symbolizing heavenly things; and then he asks: “What interest attaches, speaking in a religious sense, to the fact that one family or one people should have in prospect a fair earthly heritage?” Alas! when good men can speak so disparagingly of covenant promise. Has it not a deep religious signification in the light of man’s being deprived by sin of “a fair earthly heritage?” The answer to Pressense is found in such Propositions as 120, 140, 142, 145, etc. Irving (Life of Ed. Irving, by Mrs. Oliphant, p. 338), in a letter to Dr. Chalmers, more comprehensively remarks: “I trust the Lord will give you time and leisure to consider the great hope of the church first given to Abraham; that she shall be ‘heir of the world.’ Certainly, it is the very substance of Theology.”

    (2) Next we are informed that such a procedure must necessitate the resurrection of the Patriarchs. Precisely so; and we feel assured from the faith manifested by Abraham in Isaac’s resurrection from the dead (Hebrews 11:17–19), had he sacrificed him, and in his looking forward to the day of Christ (John 8:56; Hebrews 11:10–11), for the fulfillment of these promises, that his hope was based on a resurrection from the dead. A resurrection is implied; it is taken for granted, for the Patriarchs die, the promise is unrealized, and yet God is faithful in His promises. Now to indicate this, and the power of the resurrection, God gives us His “Memorial,” which was to be “unto all generations” (Exodus 3:15), “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: The Lord God of your Fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob hath sent me unto you; this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” “What meaning was couched in this most sublime Memorial? This: I am the God who will remember and be faithful to my covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to fulfil it I will raise them from the dead. Now let the reader notice that this is not my interpretation of it, but that which is given by the greatest Teacher, Jesus Christ. For, when the Sadducees came to Him denying the resurrection, Jesus, well knowing how the Jews held that the Patriarchs would be raised from the dead to inherit the land, told them that Moses taught a resurrection when “he called the Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” This Memorial was then given as proof (Luke 20:37) “that the dead are raised,” and not, as many would teach us, of the immortality of the Patriarchs and their condition in the intermediate state. Neither immortality, nor the intermediate state, was the subject of dispute; the resurrection of the dead was denied, and the resurrection of the dead was defended. Whatever might be induced inferentially, the direct subject-matter between Christ and the Sadducees was that of the resurrection, and the memorial itself is adduced as proof, decisive, that such a resurrection will occur. Why thus adduced? Simply because the covenant necessitates a resurrection; without it the covenant cannot be fulfilled; and God, in thus calling Himself their God and that He ever shall remain their God, pledges Himself to a strict performance of His promise, that they themselves, personally, shall inherit the land. And in His glorious Majesty, to whom all time is present, in His omnipotence and wisdom, to indicate the fixity and certainty of His divine purpose, He speaks of them—foreseeing their position and regarding it settled as a fact—not as dead men but living. In other words, He speaks only as a God can speak, making things that are not yet fulfilled, owing to their certainty, present and real. God looks at the time when Abraham’s body will arise from the “marble covered with carpets embroidered in gold” (Stanley, His. Jew. Church, Ap. 2, 1 Ser.), when Isaac’s dust shall spring to life, when Jacob’s embalmed body, throwing aside its wrappings, shall be reanimated, and His faithful promise shall be realized, and with this before Him, as Omniscience alone can comprehend, He speaks. Let us reverently hear, and understand. 

Obs. 3. The reader, having carefully perused the preceding evidence, will understand the significance of Paul, before Agrippa (Acts 26:6–8), uniting “the promise to the Fathers” with the resurrection of the dead. The promise and the memorial were thus understood, as we explain, by the Jews, and it would be simply an outrage for Paul and others to use language—if another meaning was intended—which would confirm the Jews in their belief. A brief glance at Jewish belief may, in this connection, be serviceable. Mede (Works, B. 4, Ep. 43), Brooks (El. Proph. Interp., p. 33), and other tell us how Rabbi Gamaliel, the Preceptor of Paul, silenced the Sadducees by bringing against them Deuteronomy 11:21, “which land the Lord sware that He would give to your fathers,” arguing “that as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had it not, and God cannot lie, therefore they must be raised from the dead to inherit it.” Wetstein (on Matthew 22:32) cites a Rabbinical writer, who thus argues the resurrection from the memorial. So Mede adduces Rabbi Simai (some later), urging the same from Exodus 6:4, that “the law asserts in this place the resurrection from the dead—to wit, when it said, And also I have established my covenant with them, to give them Canaan,” etc., because the fathers were mentioned by name and the Jews then existing were not specified. The same is quoted by Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture), as contained in the Talmud in Gemara, who also gives Manasseh Ben Israel (referred to by Warburton, B. 6, S. 3) as arguing the resurrection from the covenant promise. Thus the Jewish view, entertained and continued, indicates to us unmistakably how the New Testament writers are to be understood, unless we condescend to adopt the miserable and degrading accommodation theory.

Obs. 4. To say that all this was fulfilled in the occupation of Palestine by the preparatory or initiatory possession of it by the descendants of Abraham, is not only contradicted by Scripture, but is a virtual limiting of the promise. Kurtz (His. of Old Cov., vol. 1, p. 131) observes, what history attests, that the descendants never possessed the land promised to Abraham from the Nile to the Euphrates (comp. geographical boundary given by Hengstenberg, from Genesis 15:18, Exodus 23:31, and Deuteronomy 11:22–24). It is only by a perversion of facts that a fulfillment can be made out, although it is attempted under the reigns of David and Solomon. In view of this non-fulfillment, and the land being assigned “for an everlasting or eternal possession,” some writers (e.g. Kurtz, His. Old Cov., vol. 1, p. 214) base an argument upon it in favor of a future restoration of the Jews, but the same reasoning precisely, with the addition of a promise to the Patriarchs personally, demands the fulfillment of the promise by a restoration of the Patriarchs to the land thus geographically bounded.
    Warner (In the Levant, p. 82) says: “The country the Hebrews occupied was small; they never conquered or occupied the whole of the Promised Land, which extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian plain, from Hamath to Sinai. Their territory in actual possession reached only from Dan to Beersheba. The coast they never subdued,” etc. He refers to the brief period in the reigns of David and Solomon, when Damascus and the cities of the Philistines paid tribute, “but the Kingdom of Tyre, still in the possession of Hiram, marked the limit of Jewish sway in that direction.” A large number of similar testimonies might be quoted (comp. e.g. Wines’ Com. on. Laws, B. 1, ch. 9, etc.), but the student does not require them in such a matter of fact. The past non-fulfillment insures the future fulfillment, as God is faithful in all His promises. God, foreseeing how the Jewish nation would relapse in idolatry, superstition, and extreme bigotry, permitted other nations, as the Phoenicians, etc., within the bounds of the promised land to survive and retain possession. In the recent Art. on “Palestine” in M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclop., the decided ground is taken that the land as promised to Abraham was never occupied, extending as it does from the Nile to the Euphrates, and this non-occupation is accounted for in view of the unfaithfulness of the nation. This is true as to the past, but the student must not be misled by this to a denial that it ever will be realized, because the promise to the Patriarchs is unconditional, and confirmed by oath and abundant reiterated promises; and the fulfillment is explained to take place under the promised “seed,” who is David’s Son, and will come again to bring in its realization. The unfaithfulness of some does not rob the faithful of their promised inheritance.

Obs. 5. In view of the Scriptural statements, eminent men, who are inclined to the prevailing modern doctrines, find themselves forced to make admissions corroborative of the correctness of our position. We append a few illustrations. Thus Thompson (Theol. of Christ, p. 186-7) justly takes the ground that (Matthew 22:30, etc.) the Sadducees denied a literal resurrection, that Jesus in His reply holds fast to the Jewish view of a literal resurrection, and that every utterance given is to confirm such a faith, but then leaves a loophole for escape in this sentence: “He went on to assert the Resurrection as set forth by Moses, in the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would ever have a recognized identity in the Kingdom of God.” Fairbairn (Typol. of Scripture) says much that is highly interesting and valuable—entire pages might be transcribed—but he vitiates the whole by making the promise of Canaan, etc., typical of something else. Barnes, Hody, Campbell, etc., that can only see the doctrine of a separate existence of the soul in the memorial, still assert that somehow it infers the resurrection, i.e. because the spirits are alive, the bodies will also be hereafter. Acknowledging the admission forced from them, we fail to see how the existence of spirit in any proves the resurrection of the body; and they have failed to show the connection.

Even McKnight, in that spiritualizing Essay (No. 5, p. 256, “On the Epistles”), which endeavors to make almost everything typical of something else, fully admits that “accordingly our Lord in reasoning with the Sadducees, affirmed, that the promise to give to Abraham and to his immediate descendants the everlasting possession of Canaan, was virtually a promise to raise them from the dead.” This reference to an implied resurrection he sustains by other Scripture, and by quoting the opinions of Jews, as e.g. 2 Mac. 7:9,  . But the concessions are weakened by making Canaan a type of another world, thus vitiating the promises (making them to denote something not contained in the language), rejecting Christ’s own inheritance, the faith of the Jews, etc. The points in the essay are fully met under various Propositions. It is now sufficient to say, that the express language, as e.g. “the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed,” precludes the typical theory. This itself answers Pressense (The Redeemer, p. 74), and others. We must refer again to the remarkable performance of Fairbairn (Typology, vol. 1, p. 293, etc.), who justly discriminates between the promise to the Patriarchs personally and the promise to their seed; shows by an appeal to the language, to Stephen, etc., that they had a personal interest in the land, which would be verified, although they died, by a resurrection; quotes Jewish authorities to indicate how they associated a resurrection with its fulfillment; goes even so far as to advance the coming of the seed, as fulfilled in “the most exact and literal sense,” thus indicating that the promise “thou shalt inherit the land” will likewise be thus realized; in brief, he is forced to the same conclusions precisely that we arrived at, viz.: that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be raised from the dead and inherit the renewed earth (which “renovated earth being the ultimate inheritance of the heirs of promise,” he, at length and forcibly, defends). But he vitiates it (in order to avoid our Pre-Millenarian position, and to save his spiritualizing of other particulars) by making Canaan a type of this renewed earth. But it is the literal Canaan which they saw, walked and reclined on, that is promised; renewed indeed, but the same Canaan; delivered from the curse, and beautified and adorned. The Theocratic Kingdom, that is to be restored under the Messiah, as numerous predictions (as we shall show) declare, has its central location in Palestine; and the restoration of the Jewish nation, identified with it, is inseparably associated with “the land,” “the city,” etc., although at that time (Isaiah 65 and 66) enjoying “new heavens and new earth.” The land promised specially to the Patriarchs has set geographical bounds, and we keep to these as announced; for, as Fairbairn himself asserts (which is all-sufficient to sustain our position), this inheritance is to be “recovered, not made,” being “the possession of this very earth, which we now inhabit, after it shall have been redeemed and glorified.”

Obs. 6. We turn with a sense of relief from the class of writers who constantly change the promises of God into something that the language does not convey (i.e. make it typical, symbolical, spiritual, mystical), to another class who, with faith, accept of them an they are written, in their plain grammatical sense, just as the Jews and Primitive believers. As many of these will be mentioned in connection with other topics, we select but a single illustration. Dr. Candlish (Lectures on Genesis, Lec. 13) takes the position “that the hope of an inheritance for himself, individually, did actually form a part of the faith of Abraham;” that “nowhere does Abraham receive any promise whatever of future good, or of a future inheritance, for himself, if it be not in the announcement, ‘I will give thee this land;’” that Paul in Hebrews makes no reference to Abraham’s posterity, but to himself as an individual, so far as inheriting the promise is concerned; that Abraham “sojourned in the land of promise,” and although a stranger and pilgrim in it, yet “it was the land of promise still;” that “the place to which he was called to go out, was the very place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance;” that the fulfillment of the promise is postponed until after his resurrection; that God is his God in respect to both soul and body as when living, and as the covenant relation entered into was when Abraham was living, it must always be regarded in the light of Abraham again living in the body; that the inheritance is not typical but real, evidenced by the renewed earth, the inheriting of the earth, etc.; that this renovated earth with its blessings brings heaven down with its holy influences. This epitome sufficiently indicates the line of reasoning, identical with that of the Primitive Church (as Irenaeus, Justin, etc.). 

Obs. 7. Multitudes allow themselves to be influenced in spiritualizing these promises because “a city” is promised to Abraham, which is taken for granted to be the third heaven, etc. But the churches established by the apostles had no such idea, for they clearly apprehended that this promise of the city, of God being their God, and of not being ashamed to be such, etc., had reference to the glorious Theocratic ordering in the future. For they saw that this city of the great King, in which Abraham shall rejoice, is plainly promised to be here on the earth and not in the third heaven, etc. As this will come up hereafter in detail (e.g. Props. 142, 146, 152, etc.), it may be passed by with the remark that it certainly is strange, if the modernized notions of eminent men respecting this city are correct, that we do not find them existing in the earliest writings of the Christian Church.
    If the reader who (like Barnes, etc.) applies this “city” to heaven, insists, at this stage of our argument, upon a reply, it is amply sufficient to point out the simple fact that the future city of God is represented (Revelation 21:2, 10) as coming out of heaven upon this earth and remaining here. This, of course, fully harmonizes with our view, and with Abraham’s promised inheritance. But we leave this for the present, asking the reader to compare Props. 169, 168, 148, 151, etc., for full particulars.

Obs. 8. God gave an oath for the faithful (Micah 7:20) performance of Covenant promises (Genesis 22:16, and 26:3), thus condescending to present the strongest possible assurance. Now God would not swear to an equivocal covenant, to a covenant which in its plain grammatical sense conveys the promises we have referred to, and yet means something very different. No one can deny this grammatical meaning, seeing that for many centuries it was the only one maintained, and that for several centuries in the Christian Church it was the one presented by the Fathers (Props. 76–78).
    Even the very name of God assures the fulfillment of the covenant. The reader will find an interesting “Excursus” on this name in Bengel’s Gnomon, Apoc. 1:8, in which it is contrasted with the names given in the Apoc. The name “He who is” was familiar to the Patriarchs, and this name, in view of the covenanted relationship, was changed into “I will be what I will be,” upon which Bengel remarks: “That is, ‘I will be’ to the Israelites the character which, by the very fact, ‘I will be’ in regard to their fathers, both what I said to them I would be, and what it behooves Me to be to them; namely, by now at length fulfilling the promise which I formerly gave.” There seems, too, aside from the reference to the coming one (comp. Prop. 127), an ascending scale in the name of God in reference to the Covenant, which writers have variously explained, but all have noticed. Thus, e.g. He is known as “the strong One,” inspiring confidence; then as “God Almighty,” confirming faith; then as “Jehovah,” indicating that being Eternal, all things were dependent upon Him and He could fulfil all promises; then Jehovah-Sabaoth, the Eternal leader of the armies of heaven and earth, dependent upon His will and self-existence. “Jehovah” is the personal, self-revealing name (McCaul, Essay 5, p. 226, Aids to Faith); it is the name indicative of His relationship to Israel, of revealing Himself in history, and as He acts in it (Kurtz, Sac. His., p. 26). Comp. Dr. Etheredge’s Targums, Stuart’s Apoc., Kurtz’s Old Cov.

Obs. 9. Some few writers, as Silliman in The World’s Jubilee, “declare that the Abrahamic covenant and the institution at Mt. Sinai made provision, had the Hebrews rendered to them a perfect obedience, for their exemption from death.” On the other hand, we find only provision made for a future resurrection; and in this we are confirmed by the announcement of Abraham’s death at the covenant sacrifice, by the general analogy of the Word, and by the fact that the covenant itself contemplated that it would only be through the seed Christ, at some future unannounced period, that it would be realized—that saints would be honored by a translation. The covenants, in their tenor, look to the future and not the present for realization; the latter being dependent upon the coming of the promised seed and a Theocratic ordering.
    Let it be observed, that not only Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob acknowledged themselves “pilgrims and strangers” while in Canaan, but the same is true of their descendants in the land, even while under the Theocratic arrangement. This feature is misleading to some, who draw conclusions of a spiritual and third heaven nature not warranted by the fact. Let it be noticed, that if we take Hebrews 11, 13, Psalm 39:12, and 119:19, I Chronicles 29:15, it will be found that, owing to the intervention of death, the temporary sojourn in the land is not recognized as the one that the covenant contemplates, for the latter presents it as “an everlasting possession.” Hence, as we have already shown (e.g. Prop. 25), the Theocracy even was only an earnest of the Theocracy reestablished in power and glory, with its promised perpetuity, etc.

Obs. 10. Infidelity has triumphantly asserted that in the Mosaic Record there is no reference to the resurrection and a future life, and this has been corroborated by the premature statements of some believers. But this is a grave mistake, and one unmistakably refuted by the Record itself. The central point in it—the foundation upon which the Mosaic superstructure rests—necessitates a belief in the resurrection and a future life. This we have shown, and this will more fully appear from what follows.
    Simple candor requires that we allow Scripture to interpret itself, and if this is done there can be no question in this matter. Clarke (Ten Religions, p. 250) only repeats what hundreds before him had asserted: “But it is perhaps more strange not to find any trace of the doctrine of a future life in Mosaism when this was so prominent among the Egyptians,” and adds, “That in Moses there is ‘nothing of the future life and judgment to come.’” Kant and others hence infer a lack of divinity. This can only be said by ignoring the covenants and the special promises based on them, which, in the nature of the case, positively demand a future life, seeing that death itself is announced to precede the fulfillment of these promises. It is simply folly to say that God promises certain things to the Patriarchs personally, and then tells them that they must experience death before they are realized, and leave the matter in this condition. God expects reason to assert itself, and faith in Himself as God to vindicate His truthfulness. Hence we are sorry to read such utterances as these: Stanley (His. Jew. Ch., 1 ser. Lec. 7) says: “The future life was not denied or contradicted, but it was overlooked, set aside, overshadowed by the consciousness of the living, actual presence of God Himself.” The truth is, that the consciousness of this presence of God inspired faith in the future life (John 8:56, Hebrews 11:8–16). This is seen in the promises given being of such a nature, that, if ever fulfilled, a resurrection from the dead is indispensable; they are purposely given in such a manner as to test faith (i.e. by not explaining how they are to be accomplished, leaving that to the Promiser to perform); and now the presence of God, His covenant relationship, the attributes claimed by Him, His oath, are calculated to inspire, bring forth implicit confidence in their fulfillment, notwithstanding the intervention of death (as illustrated in the case of Isaac). The careful student will see that the Mosaic attitude vindicates, and presents to us, in a most striking manner, the Majesty of a God (requiring simple confidence in Himself), and the reason and faith of the Patriarchs. It is a matter of surprise that believers in making concessions to unbelievers overlook three facts: (1) That many things illustrative of personal faith and doctrine are omitted in the rapid outline given in the Old Testament, and that, in view of this omission, to conclude ignorance in them, is to judge both harshly and unjustly; (2) that no passage is to be found which either directly teaches, or from which it can be legitimately inferred, e.g. that these ancient worthies had no hope of a future resurrection and life, i.e. the cry of despair, as found in books of unbelief, is not recognized in the Pentateuch; (3) that such omissions occur, is amply sustained by the statements of Jesus and the apostles concerning the personal faith and hope of ancient worthies; and the union of the Old and New Testaments, given by the same Spirit, ought to prevent our degrading the knowledge of those who sustained an intimate relationship to God. Even incidental narrative appears to imply this hope, as e.g. the anxiety of Jacob and Joseph to have their bones carried to Canaan. While this may be explained by the desire, common to human nature, to be buried with our relatives, yet in view of the great distance between Egypt and Canaan, and especially of the covenanted relationship of these persons to Canaan, it is not unreasonable to suppose that they were deeply impressed with the idea—derived from covenant promise—that they personally had an interest in that land, and that, some day, they would be raised from the dead to enjoy its possession; and that by such a removal they expressed both their interest in the land and faith and hope in an ultimate acquisition of it according to promise. It was virtually a silent but thrilling appeal to God, when dead, for Him to remember and verify His promise. A number of intelligent writers take the same view of this matter, and they certainly have strong reasons for thus concluding. Thus, e.g. over against the Ch. Union (Sep. 26th, 1877), which asserts that the doctrine of a future life is not in the Pentateuch, and that this “is absolutely indisputable” (against the direct testimony of Jesus, John, and Paul to the contrary), we refer the reader to Fairbairn’s Typology (vol. 1, Ap. C, pp. 369-390 on “The Doctrine of a Future State”), who gives the proof that such knowledge existed. The reader, of course, must allow that by the Advent of Jesus, His teaching and sacrifice, a clear light was thrown on subjects of this kind, because He, in whom their realization depends, was revealed. But this does not imply that a total ignorance existed before His coming; for when the Union says, “It is Christ, not Moses, or David, or Isaiah, who brought life and immortality to light; and if He brought it to light, it was in darkness before,” this is one-sided: (1) ignoring the Old Testament statements and expressed faith (far more than alleged “dreams”); and (2) that the light brought by Jesus refers to the undoubted assurance that we have in Him of its fulfillment through His power, etc.

Obs. 11. But let us return to another promise. It is said that “the Seed” shall inherit the land; and we are told by many that this was fulfilled in the history of the Jews under Joshua, the Judges, and the Kings (comp. Obs. 4). What, however, are the facts as given by the Holy Spirit? Certainly, in the interpretation of covenant promise, Holy Writ should be allowed to be its own interpreter, that we may ascertain the meaning intended by God. Let God, then, and not man, explain: “Now (Galatians 3:16) to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, ‘And to seeds’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to thy seed,’ which is Christ.” If language has any definite meaning, then, without doubt we have here the simple declaration that when God promised “Unto thy seed will I give this land,” He meant that the land of Canaan should be inherited by a single Person—pre-eminently the Seed—descended from Abraham, even Jesus the Christ. How this will be verified in David’s Son, inheriting the throne and Kingdom of David will appear as we proceed.
    This explanation of Paul’s is discarded by multitudes, on the ground that it has not been fulfilled, and infidels, and even some professed believers, make themselves merry over the foolishness and blind faith that can accept of the same. We know full well that it has not yet been verified, but we know, too, that it took a long, long time before “the seed” came, and we know, from Scripture, why it did not take place at His First Advent, and we also know, from exceedingly precious promises given, that it will occur when He comes the Second time unto Salvation. God’s ways are not our ways; and, therefore, instead of denying His faithfulness in performing, or His explanations of given promises, let us trust—Abraham-like—in a covenant-keeping God, who will yet completely fulfil them. In this connection: As the Seed, which is Christ, is to inherit the land, we only now point to the significancy with which this land is mentioned, and the relationship that it sustains to Christ. Thus e.g. proprietorship in the land of Canaan is expressly reserved to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23): “The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is mine; ye are strangers and sojourners with Me”—i.e. mere occupants, not real owners. Hence when Jesus, the Son of God, “came” (John 1:11—and is not His Divinity implied, in view of Leviticus 25:23?) “to His own” (land, so Barnes, etc., loci, or country, so Bloomfield, etc., or Judea, so Alford, Campbell, etc., or inheritance, so Lange and others), “and His own (people or nation) received Him not.” This land is called “His Land” (Joel 2:18), “My land “(Ezekiel 38:16), “Immanuel’s land ” (Isaiah 8:8); and being a covenanted inheritance of Abraham’s and David’s Seed, it is called “Thine inheritance.” Christ is designated “an inheritor of my mountains,” and represented as desiring it for a habitation, a rest, to dwell in (Psalm 132:13–14; Psalm 68:16, etc.). Surely, in the light of these, and numerous other references, we ought to be guarded lest, in our eagerness to vindicate God’s purposes, we interpose our own views and opinions in place of God’s. How often is the heart pained at the exceeding rashness of many, who either reject the language as “grossly carnal,” or make it typical of something else, or spiritualize it into another meaning to suit a theory.
    We add: In connection with the individual seed, reference is also made to the posterity of the Patriarchs, as in Genesis 17:7–8; “in their generations,” in the multiplication of the seed, Genesis 15:5, etc. But Christ is by way of pre-eminence “the Seed” through whom the remaining Seed obtain the promises, for “all the promises of God are in Him, yea, and in Him, Amen.” Why this is so will appear as we proceed. The promise specifically is to the one Seed, and through Him to others (comp. e.g. Fausset’s Com. on Galatians 3:16).
    Fairbairn (Typol. of Scripture) justly discards the views of Ainsworth and Bush (who make the promise read “to thee even to thy seed’) as making Abraham and his offspring one, when they are separated (mentioned even as “after thee”) into two parties. So also he rejects Gill’s opinion (who made Abraham receive the title and his posterity the possession; Abraham to sojourn in it and his posterity to dwell in it) as making the title no personal boon and his sojourning no inheritance. Again, he refutes Warburton’s theory (who makes “Abraham and his posterity, put collectively, to signify the race of Abraham”) as swallowing up the specific promises to the Patriarchs, by a generality, in the race, as a violation of the language which distinguishes the Seed from the Patriarchs, as opposed to Stephen’s reference to Abraham, etc. He correctly argues for a “promise personally given to the Patriarchs,” and for distinguishing the Seed from them. Whatever views may be engrafted by him afterward upon these admissions, or however any one may seek to explain them, these are plain facts that must, in consistency, underlie a scriptural statement, and we feel under obligations to him for presenting them so clearly and forcibly. He (p. 357, vol. 1), referring to Hengstenberg and others, makes the singular “seed” expressive of a distinct line of offspring, and His view is embraced by numerous Millenarian writers, who, making Jesus by way of pre-eminence “the Seed,” include in it all believers, being one with Him and inheriting with Him.

Obs. 12. The reader has seen where the line of argument is leading us, viz.: to our inheriting the land with Abraham and the Christ, being coheirs, co-inheritors of the same promises. Indeed, let a concordance be taken, and let the passages be sought out which promise to the saints an inheriting of the land and the earth, and the student will be surprised at their number, unity and richness of expression, forming a necessary sequence to this very covenant relationship (comp. Props. 142, 146–152).

Obs. 13. The stumbling-block in the way of multitudes against receiving such promises is, that Christ came and there was no fulfillment, and hence only spiritual blessings are to be anticipated, etc. Our argument will fully meet this objection as we advance; at present, attention is called to a singular prediction, deserving marked notice on account of the connection in which it stands. In Psalm 69, we have (1) the humiliation and affliction of Christ (for the Messianic character of the Ps. is indisputably settled by the New Testament writers); (2) direct reference to His betrayal and crucifixion; (3) His deliverance and that of the prisoners (an allusion to those held by death or the grave, Prop. 126); and then after this (for the prophetic spirit does not see failure in Christ’s death, but a means for accomplishment through the power of the resurrection) the result, not yet attained but covenanted and predicted, for which we should praise God, viz.: “For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and have it in possession. The seed also of His servants shall inherit it; and they that love His name shall dwell therein” (comp. Psalm 22, Psalm 72, and the Mess. Psalms in general). Well may it be asked, Has this followed the Messiah’s death? If not, since God is faithful to His promises, and the affliction, reproach, gall, vinegar, etc, mentioned was all literally fulfilled, we may confidently rest assured that in God’s own time the rest will likewise be accomplished. What little faith, after great professions of the same, men exercise in God’s Word! Let not man, with his limited ideas of fitness, judge God’s proceedings; we see how he failed at the First Advent, deeming it incredible that God should thus humble Himself and literally fulfill His Word, for already multitudes are prejudging, as unworthy of credence, that which is to take place at the Second Advent.

Obs. 14. Our faith in this matter is the faith of the Primitive Church, so that we reverently and cordially say with Justin Martyr (Dial. Trypho., ch. 119), “along with Abraham we shall inherit the holy land, when we shall receive the inheritance for an endless eternity, being the children of Abraham through the like faith.” Indeed, with Irenaeus (Ag. Her., ch. 32), we may add: “It is fitting that the just, rising at the appearing of God, should in the renewed state receive the promise of inheritance which God covenanted to the Fathers, and should reign in it;” then following the argument respecting the covenant promises made to Abraham and arguing, as we have done, that Abraham received them not, he continues: “Thus, therefore, as God promised to him the inheritance of the earth, and he received it not during the whole time he lived in it, it is necessary that he should receive it, together with his seed, that is, with such of them as fear God and believe in Him—in the resurrection of the just”—and then showing that Christ and the Church are of the true seed and partakers of the same promises, he concludes: “Thus, therefore, those who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham; and the same are the children of Abraham. For God repeatedly promised the inheritance of the land to Abraham and his seed; and as neither Abraham nor his seed, that is, those who are justified by faith, have enjoyed any inheritance in it, they will undoubtedly receive it at the resurrection of the just. For true and unchangeable is God; wherefore also He said: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’” Thus the early Church spoke in strict accordance with unbounded faith in covenant promise. The prevailing modern notions, which make the covenants mean something else, were then unknown; for all the churches established East and West, North and South, both Jewish and Gentile, held to this inheritance as we now receive it.
    Contrast the belief of the modern Church with the expressed faith of the early Church, and what a sad departure from covenanted promises is witnessed. Direct attention to this difference, and you meet with the most strenuous and bitter opposition. Advocate a return to the “old paths,” the primitive belief, so plainly pointed out in the grammatical sense, and multitudes are ready to deem you guilty of gross heresy. Present the scriptural reasons for the early faith, and many, many will absolutely refuse even to consider them. Nothing but the terrible persecution of the future following the translation of the first-fruits, awakening the Church from its false exegesis and application and dreams of prosperity, will cause a revulsion and a return to the scriptural ground, because the modern idea is too extensively advocated by eloquent, talented, pious men to be rooted out by other means.

Obs. 15. Having given an illustration of the Primitive faith, it may be interesting to the reader to contrast with it a specimen of the mode of interpretation by which these covenanted promises lost their literal aspect and had another sense engrafted upon them. We select one of the earliest. Origen, who opened the floodgates for fanciful interpretation, in his work against Celsus (B. 7, chs. *, *, *), contends that the land promised to the righteous does not refer to Judea or any portion of the earth, because the earth is cursed, quoting Genesis 3:17, and, therefore, not fit for an inheritance. He argues as if the redemption of the land did not embrace the removal of the curse (Props. 142–148). He forgets the admissions found in other portions of his writings respecting the taking away of the curse; and he admits that Psalm 76:2, Psalm 48:12, and Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34, refer to the saints’ inheritance, and this admission (in view of the statement and connection of these passages) is all that is necessary to overwhelm his entire theory. But the beauty and propriety of his hypothesis prominently appears, when he draws a concurrent and sympathetic argument from his infidel opponent Celsus. For the latter (B. 7, ch. *), quoting from Plato, describing the land of the blessed, says of it: “That land which is pure lies in the pure region of heaven.” Origen, not to be outdone, heartily indorses Celsus. Reader, reflect; what a contrast this later and heathen derived interpretation, now, alas, so popular, sustains to the earlier and apostolic.
    Origen may be called the father of the typical application, now such a general favorite with Protestant and Romish writers. Some, however, have applied it to this earth, and even to Palestine, but confined it to a possession by the present existing Church. We append an illustration of the latter. Thus (Mosheim’s Eccles. His., vol. 2, p. 144, note 19, Murdock’s Transl.), when the Cathari and Waldenses opposed the Crusades, undertaken to deliver Palestine from the Saracens, a Dominican, Fr. Moneta, employed this argument to refute thorn: “We read, Genesis 12:7, that God said to Abraham: To thy need will I give this land. But we (the Christians of Europe) are the seed of Abraham; as says the apostle to the Galatians 3:29: To us, therefore, has that land been given for a possession. Hence, it is the duty of the civil power to make efforts to put us in possession of that land; and it is the duty of the Church to exhort civil rulers to fulfil their duty.”

Obs. 16. Fairbairn (On Proph., p. 197), however he fails himself in logically carrying out the principle in several particulars (viz.: by converting them into types), is certainly correct in opposing Sherlock and Davison, who, both, divide the covenanted promises and prophecies based on them into two classes, one referring to temporal matters which do not concern us, and the other to spiritual things in which alone we are interested. Fairbairn justly remarks: “We take this to be a superficial view of the matter. The outward and the temporal did not exist by itself, but for the higher spiritual things connected with it, and as the necessary means for securing their attainment. To separate such things which God has bound so closely together, and draw a broad line of demarcation between them, is false in principle, and sure to lead to erroneous results.” Well may it be asked, why separate them finally in “the age to come,” where covenant and Theocratic ordering place them? Why not continue to leave them together as the Spirit has bound them, and not, under a mistaken apprehension of exalting them, typify and spiritualize them away? This is the rock upon which many a well-meaning system of interpretation has beaten itself into worthlessness.

Obs. 17. Some writers attempt to get rid of the phrase “everlasting possession,” as if it denoted temporary possession. Thus e.g. Augustine (City of God, B. 16, s. *) endeavors to cast a shade of suspicion on the word “everlasting,” which may denote “either no end, or to the very end of the world.” Suppose we even take the latter meaning (or that it denotes “possession in, or for, the ages”), it does not help the matter, for history shows that it has not been fulfilled either in the Patriarchs or in their descendants. Instead of such a possession, the Patriarchs and Jews had but a brief sojourn in it, the nation has long ago been driven away and the land has been in the possession (as predicted) of strangers for many centuries. It is the lament of the prophet (Isaiah 63:18) that the nation “possessed it but a little while.” It is folly to circumscribe the promise to the past; for then it compresses it into the feeblest of proportions, or makes it an Oriental exaggeration. If it be alleged that the promise was conditional, we grant it (comp. Prop. 18), so far as the individuals composing the nation, and even for a time the nation itself, is concerned, but not so far as the Purpose of God is concerned, which positively, and without any condition annexed, promises this land to the Patriarchs personally (although death shall intervene), and to a Seed by way of preeminence, and then to a seed identified with Abraham by descent or adoption (as explained and enlarged in succeeding revelations), and then to the nation itself (when fully prepared by its course of discipline and the additions made through the resurrecting Messiah)—all of which is yet to be accomplished as the Bible plainly asserts. Otherwise, what will we do with Abraham himself and a multitude of his descendants, who were obedient, who performed the conditions annexed to individuality, and never thus possessed it? What shall we do with the prophetic announcements, that they shall yet obtain it? Has God failed in His foreknowledge, wisdom, and power? To evade this, by making the land typical of heaven, is sheer faithlessness, seeing that the very land “laid waste” and “made desolate” (which the third heaven never was), is the land spoken of—the same land whereon Jacob reclined and which Abraham was requested to survey.
    Compare Kurtz’s remarks on “the everlasting Covenant” in the His. of the Old Cov., p. 128. In reference to the unconditionally of the covenant promise—its positive future fulfillment—the epitome of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 is amply sufficient evidence in its favor, even so far as the nation is concerned.

Obs. 18. This lack of faith in the exact fulfillment of God’s covenanted promises may well be left to infidels. Voltaire and others (recently reiterated) raise an objection to the inspiration of God’s Word, because the promise of inheriting the land, given to Abraham personally, was not realized. They fail, just like many believers, to see that the fact of his not inheriting is plainly stated in the Scriptures, and that “we are directed to the future, to the resurrection period, for its fulfillment. This feature is unjustly left out of the question, and the discussion carried on without reference to the time designated, the ability and faithfulness of God to perform His promises. It is ever thus with the Divine purposes; they must be received by faith, otherwise God’s designs will be enshrouded in darkness, and the crafty will be taken in a net. It is true today, that (Psalm 25:14) “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant”—now to faith—then in happy realization.
    Recent writers, like Clarke, etc., treat the faith and hopes of Abraham most unjustly, being utterly unable to look at the Bible as a whole, and observe the connection that one part sustains to the whole. Abraham’s history is regarded isolated and torn from its relations, and upon this detachment, assumptions are readily founded to mislead others. One of the most unfair chapters of the Duke of Somerset’s work (Ch. Theol. and Mod. Skeptic, ch. 20) is the one entitled “Stephen,” in which Stephen’s speech is characterized (a rehash from Paulus, Baur, etc.) as “rambling over the migration of Abraham,” as “lamentably feeble,” as an ignoring of the proof relied on to vindicate Christianity; and yet this was an “able disputant,” who had not received the aid promised to be given before tribunals, etc. The speech of Stephen certainly “is full of incomprehensible anomalies” to a person possessing the Duke’s love of ridiculing sacred things. Stephen’s speech was pre-eminently logical, and the very thing demanded (showing that he was aided) under the circumstances. His hearers believed in the covenants, as the foundation of their religious and national hopes, and hence Stephen begins with the covenant, traces it, and endeavors to show its connection with Jesus as the Messiah. We have only the opening, for when he came to Jesus he was interrupted, and the address remained unfinished. The Jews, posted as they were in the Old Testament, powerfully felt its force; if the Duke does not, it is simply because he fails to notice the self-evident connection running through the whole, and that Stephen’s aim was to show that this covenant in which the Jews trusted could only be fulfilled through this Jesus, whom they had crucified. The Duke might well have spared his sneers and attempted sarcasm, at the expense of a martyr!

Obs. 19. Unbelievers have expended their wit over the explanation of Paul (Galatians 3:16) respecting the use of the word “seed” in the singular number, pronouncing it a mere “quibble,” or “Rabbinical interpretation.” Those, too, who believe in the Word, but fail to recognize the distinctiveness of the promises, join, more or less, in the same. Jerome (Chandler, quoted by Barnes, loci) affirmed “that the apostle made use of a false argument, which, although it might appear well enough to the stupid Galatians, would not be approved by wise and learned men.” Le Clerc supposes it to be a trick of argumentation. Borger (Bloomfield, loci) pronounces it an accommodation to Jewish Rabbis. Doddridge even calls it “bad Greek.” Rosenmüller and others, against Paul’s express language, think that the body of the believers, and not the Messiah, is meant. Paul needs no apology from men, for the soundness of his interpretation is apparent from the general tenor of the Word, which indicates that the Divine Purpose contemplates one distinguished Personage, in the specified Abrahamic line, through whom the promises should be realized, and that the apostle properly directs attention to the fact that the very language of the covenant, using the singular number (let it be customary or not), is in accordance with, and significant of, God’s predetermined design. Hence, ridicule falls harmless, and apologetic explanations are of no force, coming from persons who would undertake to decide how God ought even to word His covenant language. We are. ready to receive the language as given, finding it precise, significant of an important fact, and in full accord with the analogy of Scripture.
    Luther (whom many follow), Com. on Galatians 3:16, remarks: “Now, the promises are made unto Him, not in all the Jews, or in many seeds, but in one seed, which is Christ. The Jews will not receive this interpretation of Paul; for they say that the singular number is here put for the plural, one for many. But we gladly receive this meaning and interpretation of Paul, who oftentimes repeateth this word ‘seed,’ and expoundeth this seed to be Christ; and this he doth with an apostolic spirit. Let the Jews deny it as much as they will; we, notwithstanding, have arguments strong enough, which Paul hath before rehearsed, which also confirm this thing, and they cannot deny them.” (The student will observe that Luther’s reference to the Jews denotes those who endeavor to break the reasoning which would apply it to Jesus, as the Messiah; various commentators and writers oppose Paul’s statement because, as they allege, “the interpretation is found in Rabbinical writers, and the mode of interpretation here adopted is quite Jewish.”) Fausset (Com. loci) makes this seed to be “the Christ,” “and that which is inseparable from Him, the literal Israel, and the spiritual, His body, the Church,” because the covenant promises can only be fulfilled to both through Him. This is correct, as a little reflection and comparison will show, for e.g. it is only through the power of the resurrection obtained through this Seed that His co-heirs obtain the inheritance with Him; and it is only at His Second Advent, and through His powerful interference in behalf of the Jewish nation, that it enters upon its glorious national existence. Hence, in view of the Divine Purpose through this Seed, there is eminent fitness and deep significancy in thus singling Him out and expressing it in the form given by Paul.

Obs. 20. The reader is reminded to keep in view how such promises, thus given and thus explained by the apostles, would strike the Jewish mind. The aim of the apostles was to show that “the Seed” was Jesus the Christ, and that through this Jesus the covenant promises given to Abraham would, in due time, be realized. There was no difference of opinion concerning the covenants, as to their actual meaning, but only in reference to Jesus being the Messiah, to the postponement of fulfillment to the Second Advent, etc. Hence, so long as the early Church received the covenants as the Jews themselves believed and taught (Obs. 3), they could the more easily find access to Jewish minds and hearts, but just so soon as the Church departed from this view of the covenants (making the land heaven, etc.), then the Jew was the more difficult to reach, seeing that the Old Testament language and promise, upon which he relied as plain and indisputable, was changed and transformed into something else. This substitution made it more troublesome to prove the Messiahship of Jesus, for he naturally and inevitably became more distrustful of a Messiah who was not to fulfil the covenant promises as they were written. The Origenistic interpretation, forced upon the covenants, made the Jew and his fathers virtually believers in “carnality and error,” “gross misconceptions,” which charges are applaudingly repeated by eminent men down to the present day. And then, these lament the unbelief and incredulity of the Jew, without seeing that, saving in the acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah, they are more in darkness than the Jew whom they pity or despise.

Obs. 21. It must not be overlooked that inexpressibly precious spiritual blessings are inseparably connected with those pertaining to this inheritance of the land, the earth. This will fully appear when we come to these same promises enlarged and explained by additional revelation. Already they are contained in the expressions indicative of God in a special manner (Theocratic) becoming their God, becoming an “exceeding great reward,” and becoming a source of enjoyment, honor, and glory. (Comp. e.g. Props. 197, 154–157, etc.)

Obs. 22. The remaining promises of the Abrahamic covenant, and the deep meaning conveyed in the few but precise words, will come up, more appropriately, under following Propositions. Briefly, let it be said, that the witticisms offered at our faith are premature, for the time allotted for fulfillment has, as Scripture itself testifies, not yet arrived. When so much that is preliminary and provisionary has, as predicted, taken place and is now transpiring, it would be foolishness in us to yield up our faith. Let men review these promises and ridicule them; we patiently wait for their fulfillment. Thus e.g. when it is said that Abraham’s name shall be great, men of intelligence and learning may exercise their wit in comparing him with an Arab sheik and extol in contrast the name of a Caesar and Plato; we, acknowledging the greatness of Abraham’s name already to the faithful, wait for the time when he shall arise from the tomb and inherit the promise—then, indeed, will it be great in honor, dignity, and power. When men ridicule the promise that a great nation shall proceed from him by contrasting the feebleness of the Jewish nation in the past with the powerful Gentile nations that have existed, we, with faith and hope, point to the time, still declared to be in the future, when this nation shall truly be great (comp. Props. 111–114). When the promise is that kings should proceed from him, unbelief laughs at the Kings of Judah and Israel compared with the conquerors of the earth; we wait patiently and hopefully for the Kings, the manifestation yet to come (comp. e.g. Prop. 154). Thus, with other promises that men deride, just as if the past was intended for their fulfillment; just as if the Word itself declared not that their realization was still in the future; just as if the Scriptures did not firmly unite their accomplishment with the Second Advent of the covenanted Seed”; just as if God were not now performing a preparatory work to insure its ultimate, triumphant fulfillment.

Obs. 23. If the question be asked whether Abraham had a knowledge of the manner through which he would inherit the land, the answer is decisively—leaving the entire Record to testify—in the affirmative. A believer must feel convinced from what Jesus declared, John 8:56 (comp. Hebrews 11:8–16), that Abraham had far greater knowledge of the future than the Bible records. Without receiving the view (so Tholuck, etc.) that Abraham saw Jesus in His heavenly existence; without indorsing the notion (Olshausen, etc.) that Jesus was specially manifested to Abraham by a vision unrecorded; without confining ourselves to the idea (Barnes, etc.) of simple faith anticipating and thus beholding the day of Christ, we might perhaps adopt the view (of Bloomfield, etc.) of part faith and part added revelation giving him this knowledge. For certainly it is most reasonable to think and believe that Abraham, the faithful, would not be less favored by special inspiration to behold the future day of Christ than Balaam (Numbers 24:17), especially when Paul teaches us in Hebrews that Abraham had views of the future which are not stated in his history. Being the one to whom the covenant is first given, there is propriety in imparting such added instruction, that he may foresee its final result and be thus confirmed in its meaning.
    That Abraham believed that God, who gave life, could after death restore life, is evident in the case of Isaac (Hebrews 11:19); that the Patriarchs held the promises respecting the land to relate to the future after death is seen in their regarding themselves merely as “sojourners and strangers,” and not as inheritors and possessors; that even their posterity entertained similar views is abundantly evident from the manner in which they regarded the promises, and themselves as still “sojourners and strangers” (e.g. I Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 39:12 etc.), i.e., expectants and heirs of something permanent and enduring in the future. Moses clearly foresaw the future, as we show in a number of places, and men, having a third heaven inheritance in mind, greatly prejudge many expressions which, in their estimation, have too earthly a cast, forgetting that this very feature (so objectionable and regarded as temporary in nature) is an essential element in the scheme of Redemption, which includes the sin-cursed earth. It is true, that while these promises relating to the future are sufficiently precise and clear to reason and to faith in God, yet they are purposely kept somewhat in the background, owing to the Theocratic ordering (for being already in the land and having God for their earthly Ruler, they could well trust to Him the manner of fulfillment, which the mode of revelation was calculated to develop), until the Theocracy was overthrown. Then the utterances, already given by Moses, David, etc., became more and more distinct under Daniel and the Prophets.

Obs. 24. Men under the influence of the Origenistic interpretation, or of the Platonic or heathen notion of the future, and thus rejecting the plainly Covenanted promises of an earthly inheritance, unnecessarily make an enigma where none exists, and find fault with Moses when the fault really is in themselves. Thus e.g. Clarke (Ten Religions, p. 417) says: “Concerning the future life, upon which the Egyptians had so much to say, Moses taug