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The word SPIRITUAL, foisted in here in capital letters, is as foul an interpolation and dishonest violation of the text of God's word, in order to support an hypothesis, as ever was ventured upon by the most hardened Neologian. The promise uttered in the hearing of Adam was, that a descendant of Eve's should destroy the power of that spirit who had injured him. But that spirit had injured Adam's body, as well as Adam's soul; and had marred Adam's possession, this earth : Adam's body, therefore, and Adam's property, were to be recovered out of the hands of Adam's enemy, as well as Adam's soul. The promise to Abraham was of a particular, and defined, and specified portion of this globe. The promise to David was of a descendant who should call God his Father, and sit upon David's throne. The promise reiterated from David to Malachi was to be fulfilled in mount Zion. And not one particle of these promises would be accomplished by the universal spread of Christianity from pole to pole. It was not the day of Christ's humiliation which rejoiced Abraham, for the prior view of that caused him a horror of darkness; but the day of glory which was to follow, and which has not yet commenced. If Dr. Smith would apply his own rule, in order to understand what David's “ desire” was, by comparing the passage where the words occur (2 Sam. xxiii. 5) with 2 Sam. vij., he will find that David is mindful of God's declaration, “I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more: neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime....I will set up thy seed (Christ) after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels (Mary being of the house and lineage of David); and I will establish his kingdom : He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever,” &c. Dr. Smith himself will not deny that this promise has a double sense, primarily relating to Solomon, and secondarily to Christ; but then he will say, The throne of Solomon was literal, and that of Christ was to be spiritual. We defy him to the proof; and confidently assert, that he cannot prove the word “spiritual,” nor any synonimous expression, to occur anywhere. However, the promise to the people cannot be severed from the promise of the throne to David's seed, because they are but parts of the same whole : the promise to the people is, that “they shall be planted” somewhere, whence“they shall move no more.” They were then planted in Judea: out of that they have been moved: the future planting, then, has reference to the future throne, inasmuch as the term ruler implies persons ruled; yet this prophecy Dr. Smith thinks is to be accomplished by missionaries and books ! If the throne of David at Jerusalem may mean the throne of God in heaven, then may this paper be black and the ink white; then
may words mean any thing and nothing; then have we no revelation of God in book at all.
“ Even in our own day, much use ought to be made of both this great prediction, the SHEET-ANCHOR OF THE WORLD, and of subordinate prophecies which remain yet to be fulfilled. We are assured that the reign of antichristian ignorance and tyranny shall have an end. • The Lord Jesus will consume that wicked one, with the spirit of his mouth and the brightness of his coming.' All false religions shall be overthrown, not by human violence or teinporal allurements, which may make hypocrites, but cannot form believers ; but by the moral force of truth, the efficacy of the pure and simple Gospel in the hand of the Almighty Spirit. The remnant of Israel will turn to the Lord, whom they have so long rejected and crucified afresh. Idolatry and superstition, in all their forms of infamy and cruelty, shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.' What encouragement is hence afforded to Christians missions, and every Scriptural effort, to diffuse the pure word and the religion of Jesus among all the nations of men !"
We are assured that the reign of “antichristian ignorance” shall never have an end, any more than that of sectarian ignorance, until Christ come himself. How can Dr. Smith write that this is to be performed by the moral force of truth” and the preaching of the Gospel, in the same paragraph in which he says it is to be effected by “the brightness of the coming” of Jesus?
“v. The chief design of prophecy was to bear testimony to the great Redeemer and Saviour of our fallen world."
Granted. But our author adds in illustration, “ The entire scheme of Old Testament prophecy began with him, and with him it closed ; or rather it was absorbed in his brightness, who was about to arise as the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his beams.”” Never did perversion go beyond this. To declare, and to publish in print, and to demand the assent of men who can read to the assertion, that the entire scheme of Old-Testament prophecy closed with the first advent of Messiah, is calculating upon the ignorance of this generation in a manner that has never been surpassed by the most hardy sceptic. We will pass by the temple of Ezekiel, and all those passages which relate to the wolf lying down with the lamb, and examine that one only which Dr. Smith (see p. 54) refers to, in Malachi iv., and which is as follows: "For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven ; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Here it is declared, in the plainest language, that in the identical day in which the Sun of Righteousness arises they who fear the name of Jehovah of hosts shall tread down the wicked under
the soles of their feet, and in that day the wicked shall be burnt up : and how Dr. Smith is able to furnish an interpretation, plausible even to himself, that this was fulfilled at the first advent of Christ, is beyond our powers of conception.
“Rule XI. It is necessary that, in all instances, we should have safe criteria for the application of prophecy.
“ Rule XII. We must not expect to derive from the study of prophecy an ability to predict future events."
This rule requires more accurate definition. Dr. Smith repudiates the idea of “ anticipating any thing from the prophetic futurity beyond general conceptions of Holiness triumphing and sin vanquished, mankind improved in all that constitutes true happiness,” &c. If this be all that Dr. Smith has attained to the knowledge of by the study of the Scriptures with the help of his twelve rules, it is not to be denied that he, at least,“ is evidently destitute of the requisite qualifications” for such pursuits. We contend that God has most clearly revealed that Christ will come in person to inflict judgment upon Christendom; and that Christendom is described as being at the time of his coming exactly in the state in which no one denies that it now is. This then, is not a “general conception,” but a particular and definite idea, which Dr. Smith has not attempted to touch ; and has escaped by raising a cloud and mist of generalities, behind which he might secure his retreat.
The following is another specimen of Dr. Smith's attention to the third rule, “ for securing the just interpretation of the words and sentences of prophecy :"
“The sufferings of the Messiah were described by the pencil of prophecy, with few strokes, indeed, but those clear and bold to a most remarkable degree; yet, till the facts really occurred, who could have formed a coherent idea of their precise nature and manner? What human or angelic mind could have separated those minute features of the predictions which were to be accomplished in a visible and palpable manner, from those which would receive an internal, moral, and analogical fulfilment? The Jewish prophets foretold that the throne of David should be re-established, in splendour and power incomparably superior to all that it had possessed before ; and that its dominion should be extended over the whole earth : yet, were there any among those who were waiting for the consolation of Israel, that entertained an idea of the mode in which this copious body of predictions would appear in the actual existence destined for them? Our Lord's own disciples looked for a human, visible, and political reign; an earthly King with earthly riches and honours. Are we vain enough to think that we should have had more just expectations ? Yet the facts which, in the proper time, fulfilled the prophecies, correspond to their elevated tone, their pure and heavenly spirit, in a way which no worldly empire could possibly have done. The throne of David is established for ever, and the religion of Abraham and Isaiah will be the religion of the world : yet it could not have been understood, before the moral triumphs of the Gospel gave the explanation, what the precise nature of the fulfilment would be, and in what sense the original expressions must be understood.”.
We are certainly vain enough to think that not one jot or tittle of the prophecies shall pass away till all are literally fulfilled. The throne of David is not established for ever, any more than
the reign of the saints ; nor does the Gospel give the explanation that David's throne means moral triumph.
“This long discussion shall be closed with three short observations.
“ 1. How much is it to be lamented that any persons should undertake to interpret the records of prophecy, who are evidently destitute of the requisite qualifications, and who have taken no pains to supply their own deficiencies !"
To this every one must subscribe: and there is probably no one, that has ever thought upon the subject, who is not satisfied that among the most " destitute " is the author of this long discussion" himself.
“ 2. I must express the conviction of my mind, that it is not the immediate duty of all Christians to engage in this branch of Scriptural inquiry : and this conviction rests upon the plain reason, that God has not made that the duty of any persons for which he has not furnished them with the necessary means. But the larger part of sincere and devout believers cannot command the time which those long and laborious disquisitions require, in order to pursue them advantageously : and, if they had sufficient leisure without neglecting plainly incumbent duties, they are not possessed of that acquaintance with philology and history which is manifestly indispensable to investigations of this nature. Let not such excellent persons regret their disability. They have other and more profitable objects to engage their attention and to fill their hearts. They need not occupy themselves with the light shining in a dark place,' when they can walk under the brightness of the Sun of Righteousness; the clearly revealed doctrines and promises, the precepts, examples, warnings, devotional compositions, and historical illustrations of the Divine word. Yet I am far from supposing that it is not incumbent upon those to whom Providence nas given the means and opportunities, to engage in this class of sacred studies ; provided they do not allow it to infringe upon the more obvious and universally necessary duties of faith and obedience. But it should not be forgotten, that these pursuits are not a little ensparing; and that, without sanctified wisdom and watchfulness, they are very liable to usurp an immoderate measure of attention and feeling. Such ill-proportioned knowledge puffeth up.'”
The Apostle tells his disciples, that they “ do well to take heed to the light shining in a dark place until the day dawn;” but Dr. Smith tells his disciples, that not only has their day dawned, but has arrived at its full meridian splendour. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the day to which Peter looked is not that to which Dr. Smith looks. Now, we are followers of Peter, and not of Dr. Smith. But, passing by the flagrant contradiction of Scripture, this is abominable pedantry, to say the least of it; for it is no less than to insinuate at the close, that which was broadly hinted at the beginning,—that theological tutors are the exclusive persons who may venture, without making shipwreck of their faith, to read the larger portion of God's word. “ Philology and history,” as well as all other knowledge, may be usefully applied as aids for the understanding of the Bible; but it is altogether untrue that these studies are one iota more important for Isaiah than for St. John's Gospel. Faith in the plain letter of God's word, is all that is requisite; and that faith Dr. Smith has not.
“ 3. If we, who are set apart to the ministry of the Gospel, should devote ourselves to those investigations, even with a command of the best means and aids, VOL. II.-NO, II,
with a competent knowledge of terms and events, and with a judicious application of principles and rules, (namely, Dr. Smith's xii.); yet should allow such speculations to supersede the humble, holy, fervid application of our faculties to the grand purposes of our ministry ; ah, what will it avail us ?-Admit that we succeed; that we elucidate dark places, that we bring forth wonderful discoveries, that we gratify the curiosity which we have excited, and that we attract the admiration of men ;-what benefits could accrue to ourselves or to the church of Christ, that would outweigh the injuries of a diminished regard to 'godly edifying-and the end of the commandment, charity, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned?'”
There is nothing like giving a thing a bad name; and, accordingly, any interpretation which is not according to Dr. Smith's fancy, is called a “speculation;" while whatever accords to that fancy, is a “ judicious application of principles.” Dr. Smith himself is nothing loth to indulge in the purest “speculations” of “prophetic futurity.” He informs us, in a passage already quoted, that “all false religions shall be overthrown, not by human violence or temporal allurements, which may make hypocrites, but cannot form believers; but by the moral force of truth,” &c.—all which is a pure “speculation,” without one shred of a text to support it. With respect, however, to his attempt to deter the ministers of the Gospel from opening to the people the largest portion of God's revelation, we joyfully quote, in opposition to it, the following passage from a Sermon of the Rev. Wm. Marsh, of Colchester, called “the Morning Star, or Millennial Day," p. 23.
“We learn also the duty of making these predictions known to others. These subjects (the ending of this dispensation, and the coming of Christ) are not like minor prophecies, which are of chief importance when fulfilled ; and by which fulfilment the faith of the church is confirmed and conviction produced in unbelievers. No: it will be too late, when they are actually accomplished, to refer to them, either for the comfort of the believer or the conviction of the infidel. Now it is they are to be declared, to raise the expectations of the church, and animate her in her labours and her sufferings; and to awaken the enemies of the Lord. It is while the latter are saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming?' that we are to point to past events which destroyed a professing world (2 Pet. iii. 4, 5), as typical of approaching judgments, which will again overtake the wicked suddenly and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night. Nor till the cry go forth,
Behold, the Bridegroom cometh,' will even the wise virgins arise and trim their lamps, and be diligent to be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless. When Christ crucified has laid the one foundation of our peace with God, I know of no subject that is so calculated to raise the superstructure of Christian holiness, as the second coming of our Blessed Master *. There
* It is mentioned about sixteen times in the two Epistles to the Thessalonians.