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dead in a natural sense, both classes would include all mankind, according as other scriptures state that Christ is the Judge of all. But if we consider them in a spiritual point of view, they would be considered to embrace those in this life only. St. Paul's words in Rom. xiv. 8, 9, seem to add light to this subject. "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."
An opinion has lately appeared in public, by one who appears not satisfied with the common opinion, nor the literal construction of the words of St. Peter, that the preaching said to be to the spirits in prison, who were disobedient in the days of Noah, was in reality by Christ, after he arose from the dead, to the Gentiles, whose character was like the character of the antediluvians. But to this ingenious author we are altogether indebted for the sentiment. St. Peter who undertook to tell us who those spirits in prison were, makes no mention of the Gentiles in his description. He says, Acts x. 40, 41, "God raised up Jesus the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." By this it does not appear.
"he went" and preached to the Gentiles at all, and at the most to but very few, but sent his disciples, saying, "Go, and preach the gospel to every creature."
The ideas which St. Peter expresses on the subject, that we are now considering, though indited in clear and expressive language, are opposed by the ingenuity of those, whose sentiments do not accord with what he has expressed, in various and singular ways. To consider all these would exceed the limits of the present discourse. A few, however, we will notice. It is asked, if the meaning be according to the ideas expressed in this Lecture, held by Mr. Winchester and others, why Jesus Christ never mentioned the subject in any of his discourses? why is it not men tioned by any other of the Apostles? It is further observed, that the prophets no where predict any such event; and yet no event which is made the subject of prophecy, is of more interest and importance than this. In reply to such remarks it is asked, if we admit the ideas contained in these questions, whether the questions should be considered of force to do away the plain testimony of an inspired Apostle? Do they contain any evidence against him? No. Is the testimony of a man of truth to be denied or turned into a figure, because a number of others, acquainted with the same facts, bear no testimony against him? but are silent when he speaks in their presence, or writes to their know
Jedge? Let every one judge for himself. If we admit the intended force of such questions, it would afford a very unfavorable precedent for many other cases. The resurrection of Lazarus, after he had been dead four days, is related only by St. John, and not so much as mentioned by three others who wrote histories of Christ. I think no one will contend, that either Matthew, Mark, or Luke, who wrote before John, has related a miracle more striking and important than this. But who ever thought of considering this account merely an allegory, because the only authority we have of the event is the testimony of St. John?
Who is prepared to say, Christ never informed his disciples, before or after his resur rection, of his preaching to the spirits in prison? St. John gives us to understand, he did many other things besides those that were written. But it is said, St. Peter barely throws an allusion to the subject.-The more in our favor; for it makes it evident the brethren generally understood it by previous information, though the account was not transmitted to us; it was consequently no new thing to the ancient churches, although St. Peter be our principal informer,
Respecting the prophets and other Apos-tles, is it certain they alluded not to the subject under consideration? What shall we think of the following passages? "Now, that he ascended, what is it but that he also de
scended first into the lower parts of the earth ?" "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens that he might fill all things," Ephe. iv. 9, 10. "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen, and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river, even to the ends of the earth." What can this be but complete universality of dominion over all living upon the earth? The next words, "As for thee also (something else it seems) by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope," Zach. ix. 10, 11, 12. A number of passages of a similar nature to these might be added, of which I see no propriety in saying, they have no allusion to our subject.
Another question sometimes suggested to weaken the literal import of St. Peter's account, is, why should Christ preach to the spirits of the antediluvians and not to those that followed from Noah to Christ? Answer, who knows but he did? Does an account of a man's preaching, at a certain time, to a people described, prove that he never preached to any other people, at another time? No more does St. Peter's account prove that Christ never preached to other spirits, after their de-parture from this life. There is certainly a
beauty in this account, as it embraces most of the oldest sinners of our race. But should we admit, Christ preached to no other spirits but those, as this is all the particular account we have, ought we to consider this of sufficient force to hold St. Peter's account an allegory in whole, or in part? Christ tells us of a truth, "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow." Now we will introduce some theologian, who says he does not believe this to be a literal account. Why not? He gives hisreason in this question; Why was not Elias sent to help other widows at the time of this great famine? Now if we cannot solve the difficulty this question presents, must we deny our Savior's account to be literal? None but one strongly attached to some opposing system would think of the idea. We have ano-. ther similar instance. "And many lepers were in Israel in the days of Eliseus (or Elisha) the prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian," Lukeiv. 27. Is this to be disputed, because the lepers in Israel were not cleansed? Is it to be disputed that St. Paul was converted because many other cruel persecutors among the Jews were not? But it will be said he was a chosen vessel of the Lord to bear his name among the