« PreviousContinue »
rection of a part of the dead, leaving another part unraised. The only method by which resurrection from the dead can be understood to mean the resurrection of all the dead, is by supposing that “the dead” is put for “ the state of the dead." But in that case the expression in the original would have been different: avaotuOIS EK TWV vekpwv, or ek vekpwy, is literally, a "resurrection from dead bodies," and cannot by any ingenuity be rendered a resurrection from the state of the dead.
Thus, then, we find ample testimony for the doctrine of two resurrections, without having recourse to the passage in the Apocalypse. We do not indeed discover, in the preceding inquiry, what period of time is to intervene between the two; but as the life-resurrection is set before the children of God as the great object of attainment, and as a blessing belonging exclusively to them, we may at least infer, that it is in itself separated by great distinctions, and probably by long distance of time, from that of the wicked. On the contrary, the general resurrection, according to the common view of it, is an event in which all mankind are equally implicated, and of no special or peculiar interest to the people of God.
Having gained thus much, then, from other Scriptures, we come to the examination of the Apocalypse; and there we find the two resurrections revealed in the most explicit terms. Rev. xx. 4,5: "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”---Now, we appeal to the candour and honesty of every sincere inquirer into Divine truth, whether there is any reason for our resorting to a figurative interpretation of this passage ? Our best and most judi, cious divines have always held, that the literal interpretation of Scripture is never to be departed from, except where absolute necessity requires. “I hold it,” says Hooker, “ for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the letter is commonly the worst.” (Ecc. Pol. b. v. §. 59.) “No trope or metaphor in Scripture," says Luther, “save where the figureless interpretation involves a palpable contradiction.” Following the safe and wise counsel of these divines, what ground have we in this case for figurative interpretation ? So far from there being any difficulty in reconciling its literal meaning with other Scriptures, we find it most consistent with all the passages in which the subject is mentioned : so far from its involving a." palpable contradiction," in no one instance does it involve the slightest discrepaney. Is it not, then, the most unjustifiable tampering with God's holy word, to alter its plain literal sense, because it is above our reason to conceive the mode of its accomplishment, and because it appears inconsistent with some of our preconceived notions? On the same ground many of the most indubitable facts in sacred history, facts upon which all our hopes and dependence are built, might be explained away. There are insuperable difficulties to reason in the birth of Jesus of a pure virgin; in the crucifixion of the person of the Godman; in his resurrection ; in the descent of the Holy Ghost; and many other events, on which the whole scheme of salvation depends.
We fear that many of our spiritualizers are altogether unconscious of the tendency of their own system of interpretation. When once we admit this licence of trope or figure wherever the seeming difficulties of the passage to our comprehension may appear to require it, we relinquish the only strong-hold in which we can maintain ourselves against the sceptic and the infidel. We cannot, in fairness, refuse to an adversary the licence which we freely use ourselves; and the unbeliever will not fail to avail himself of it, in order to fritter away by some figurative application all those doctrines on which we build our faith and hope for eternity. It is a most wise remark of Bishop Newton on the passage in question, “ If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense, then the rest of the dead rise only in a spiritual sense; but if the rest of the dead really rise, the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them; and we should be cautious and tender of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too : like those whom St. Paul mentions, 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18; Hymeneus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying, The resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.'”—Mede also has a passage to the same effect : “ I cannot be persuaded to forsake the proper and usual import of Scripture language, where neither the insinuation of the text itself, nor manifest tokens of allegory, nor the necessity and nature of the things spoken of (which will bear no other sense), do warrant it. Por to do so were to lose all footing of Divine testimony, and, instead of Scripture, to believe mine own imaginations. Now, the xxth of the Apocalypse, of all the narrations of that book, seems to be the most plain and simple; most free of allegory, and of the involution of prophetical figures ; only here and there sprinkled with such metaphors as the use of speech makes equipollent to vulgar expressions ; or the former narrations in that book had made to be as words personal, or proper names are in the plainest histories; as old serpent, beast, &c. How can a man, then, in so plain and simple a narration, take a passage of so plain and ordinarily expresed words (as those about the first resurrection are), in any other sense than the usual and literal ?”
To this wise and sober sentiment of Mr. Mede it will not avail to reply, That, the book in general being symbolical, this passage should be interpreted symbolically also. A symbol is one thing, a figure is another. A passage which must be literally interpreted may have in it a figurative expression—than which nothing is more common, without any confusion being the result of it; but it is otherwise with a symbol : if a passage is symbolical, then consistency of interpretation requires that every part of it should be a symbol; if not, the whole passage will be involved in inexplicable confusion. In the passage before us, therefore, if the resurrection be a symbol, Jesus must also be a symbol. Of what, or of whom, is He the symbol ?
Before we close this article we will notice an objection which has been raised against the doctrine of the first resurrection from the judgment recorded in Matt. xxv. 32–46. It has been supposed that this emblem of the sheep and goats represents all mankind, the dead as well as the living, brought up before thejudgment-seat of Christ, at one and the same time, to receive their final award of happiness or of misery ; which, of course, precludes the idea of a separate resurrection to the just and the unjust. In reply to this objection we observe, that the passage has no reference whatever to the judgment of the dead and the general resurrection. This is evident from the rule upon which the judgment here spoken of proceeds, which is incompatible with the view of its being a judgment of all mankind. The ground of condemnation to the wicked is, that they have not ministered to Christ, by ministering to his members upon earth : “ Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me.” (ver. 45.) Will the heathen be called to account for not ministering to the disciples of Christ, who have had no opportunity of doing so ? Can the Judge say to them, “I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat ?" &c. Unless we are prepared to maintain that Christ will send men into everlasting fire for not doing that which it is physically impossible that they should do, for rejecting that which was never offered to them, and for not obtaining that which was beyond their reach ; then we must admit that this judgment is not the universal judgment, but a partial one, confined to those nations which have been blessed with the light of the Gospel, and in which the church of Christ has been planted.
• When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall be gathered together all nations" or rather, all the nations, mavra ta eovn : i. e. all the nations which are comprehended in that part of the world which has been the especial subject of prophecy (Dan. ii. vii. ; Zech. i.)—all the nations out of which the elecť church is gathered during the times of the Gentiles. This is perfectly distinct from the final judgment, Rev. xx. 11, 12; which is of the dead only—all the living having been previously judged "all the dead, both small and great, stand before God.”
The parables recorded in Matt. xxv. are descriptive of the judgment on persons in the church, or connected with the church ; yet they are not mere repetitions of the same event: each parable has its appropriate and peculiar design.
1. The parable of the Ten Virgins, represents that part of the church of Christ which, however ill administered, maintains soundness in doctrine, being uncontaminated by connection with the apostasy; and which professes to be waiting for the Lord. In this church, of virgin purity as to doctrine, shall be found many formalists and self-deceivers ; many who, having depended upon the orthodoxy of their professed creed, or upon their supposed reception of Divine truth, shall be found destitute of true grace; and when the Lord comes shall be shut out of his kingdom.
2. The parable of the Talents, represents the Lord calling to account all his professed servants for the use or abuse of the opportunities and advantages which they have enjoyed. These may be considered as including all the baptized (not excepting apostate churches); all of whom have enlisted under the banner of Christ, and are entitled to the privileges of the covenant. Of these, many shall be found who have hid the talent in the napkin, and who have not availed themselves of any of the privileges promised to them in the baptismal covenant.
3. The description of the Judgment, under the emblem of the Sheep and Goats, taking a still wider circle, represents the judgment on all the nations amongst which the church has been planted, including those which have cast away the outward badge of Christian profession-such as the Mahometan apostasy. All these might have known Christ, and have ministered to him ; for the neglect of which they shall be called to account, and those found guilty consigned to everlasting punishment.
Such we conceive to be the general design of these parables ; but even if this particular application of them should be questioned, we still contend that there is no scriptural ground whatever for applying any one of them to the period of the general resurrection and the final judgment at the end of the Millennium.
DODDRIDGE ON THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS.
From his Lectures : CCXXVIII. Proposition clxvi. “ 1. Though the Jews have for many ages been rejected by God, and driven out from their ancient inheritance; and though, during their dispersion, they have generally expressed an obstinate and implacable aversion to Christianity, and indeed a great disregard to all religion and true morality; it is foretold, that they will at length embrace their own Messiah, whom they now reject, and thereupon be taken into the Divine favour and covenant
Rom. xi. 11–36; Isai. xlv. 17, 23–25; liv. per tot.; 1x. lxii. Ixv. Ixvi.; Jer. xxxi. 31, 34; Hos. iii. 4,5; Zec. xii. 9; xiii. 1, &c.
“ 2. On their conversion. They shall, by a train of wonderful providences, be gathered together from the countries in which they are now scattered, and conducted to their own land, where they shall become a prosperous and honourable, as well as a religious nation. Isai. xxvii. 12, 13; Ezek. xi. 17, 21; xxxvi. 24, 28; xxxvii. 21, 28 ; xxxix. 25, 29; Hos. i. 10, 11 ; Amos ix. 14, 15; Zec. xiv. 10, 11.
“ 3. Whereas, on their settlement in their own land some enemies shall make an assault upon them, some celebrated victory over such enemies is foretold. Isai.lxvi. 16,24; Ez, xxxviji. 3,9; Joel iii. 9, 14; Zec. xiv. 1, 15; Rev. xx. 8, 10 : to which we may perhaps add Isai. lix. 19 ; Mic. iv. 11, 13; Zeph. iii. 8.
" 4. This interposition of God, in the methods of his providence and grace, for the recovery and defence of the Jews, shall make such impression on the Gentiles, as to be a mean of bringing in the fulness of them. Isai. xlix. 6; Rom. xi. 12, 15, 25, 26. See the passages quoted gr. 1. Burnet's App. ad. Stat. Mort. ; Whitby of the Millen. c. ii.; Scott's Christian Life, vol. iii. p. 1166—1172; Clark on the Promises, p. 243—285; Powell's Concord. Appen. ad fin.* ; Lardn. Circumst. of the Jews, p. 65, 72.
This Collection of texts is printed in the old editions of Powell's Concordance, but is omitted in all the new editions which we have seen : we therefore subjoin it.
« A Collection of Prophesies which concern the Calling of the Jews, and the Glory that
shall be in the latter Days; with a Preface, by John Owen, D.D. London: 1673. • Since the greatest part of Scripture Prophesies is about the calling of the Jews, and the glory of Christ, and of his church, in the latter dayes; there is therefore annexed a brief Collection of all the principal texts which relate unto that time, • which remain yet to be fulfilled ; and whích, from what we have already seen,
literally and exactly accomplished; we are to pray and wait in hope that these • also will have their full accurate completion.
* E. Bagshaw. J. Hardcastle.' " I. The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are now
scattered, and brought home into their own land.