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bodies, or with the component elements which form the visible universe, must see at once the absurdity of a literal interpretation. It is true, such a one may compel reason to bow before what he calls faith ; but he never can make such a faith either consistent or reasonable ; because consistence is the agreement of one thing with another; and the character which such a man assigns to God, as a loving, wise, and powerful being, is completely at variance with the words and actions which, in the confidence of his faith, he attributes to him. And having thrown reason out of his creed, it must to all intents and purposes
be an unreasonable belief, or, in other words, a faith opposed to knowledge and common sense. The same may be said of “ the great white throne,” and of “ the trumpet.” Either these are material objects, or they are not. If they are material, then He who sits on the one, and they who use the other, must be material beings; and thus, “ with one fell swoop,” we materialize both God and his angels. If, however,
« God is a spirit,” and if “his angels are spirits," then both the throne and the trumpet must be spiritual. But if they are spiritual they cannot exist in a material universe, nor can they appear in space; and, consequently, the literal meaning is gone for
Besides, what motive can induce the Creator of all to destroy that world which was created for his glory? We have every reason to believe that in the latter days the moral condition of man will be materially changed, and the influence of pure religion extended to every part of the earth. In such case, the world will indeed become a theatre on which the glory of God will be seen, and his divine power acknowledged. It cannot be therefore the increase of evil which will lead to its destruction, for according to the sacred records, evil will diminish instead of increasing. It cannot be love, for love seeks not to destroy, but to beautify and make happy. It cannot be wisdom, for when earth is renewed, and its inhabitants are restored to piety and peace, it will become a school for glory, a nursery in which the infant soul will be prepared to fill higher and more exalted stations in the maturity of heaven. It cannot be to shew his power, for the power of the Most High is always regulated by love and wisdom: He never operates capriciously, unwisely, or in opposition to love. It cannot be to increase the splendor of the judgment; for we have already shewn, that as the bodies of the risen are spiritual, that judgment must take place in the world of spirits, and not on earth. It cannot be to add to his glory, for the glory of God is the extension of human happiness; and when man is restored to piety, and earth is a preparation for heaven, the destruction of this earth would limit instead of extending the glory of God. There is no motive which can possibly lead to a literal destruction; and without a motive God never acts. Once more.
Let it be noticed that the same descriptions which are given of the second coming of the Lord, were also given of his first advent. The heavens were to pass away; the stars were to fall; the sun was to be darkened ; the moon was to be as blood; and the powers of heaven were to be shaken. Yet at the Lord's appearance no such events occurred literally. It is true, the sun, moon, and stars of the Jewish heaven-its love, faith, and doctrines, were darkened and defaced. It is true, that that heaven and earth did pass away, and a new heaven and a new earth were established; a new church, new doctrines, and new principles of thought and action : but the material universe was unchanged. And why shonld these descriptions be literally fulfilled at the second coming of the Lord, when they bore a spiritual signification on his first appearance ?*
The greater part of those passages which have been referred to a literal destruction of all things, are now, even by the advocates of the doctrine, applied to very different subjects. The passing away of the heavens, under the sixth seal, is said by Bishop Newton to describe the downfall of paganism, and the full establishment of Christianity. The descent of the new Jerusalem, Dr. Hammond observes, is descriptive of some great benefit received by men on this earth, and not in the state of glory. The prophecy of our Lord is referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the “consummation” not of the visible world but of the “
age or period of the church.” All have seen the absurdity of the commonly received meaning; though their creed forbade them to reject the doctrine.
* See “the Improbability of the Destruction of the Earth, a Lecture, by the Author of these Notes-published by Simpkin and Marshall, Stationers' court. London,
In conclusion :-Since the literal meaning is unreasonable : -since there is no motive which can lead to the destruction of this earth ;-since the same descriptions referred to spiritual things at our Saviour's first coming; and since the principal passages are allowed even by the believers in the doctrineto refer to other subjects; we have reason to conclude, 1st, that the expected destruction, is not a destruction of the visible earth, but of the state of the church; and, 2d, that“ the new heaven and the new earth,” together with the descent of the new Jerusalem, point out a restoration of Christianity, to its former purity and glory.
ON THE MERCIES OF GOD.-AIMING AT HEAVEN WITH IMPERFECT MIND.-GUIDANCE TO TRUTH.-SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH OF THE LORD THY GOD.
How strong are the declarations of the sacred Scriptures, and how evidently calculated to encourage hope, and inspire confidence and joy.Such, we have seen, was the proclamation of the name of JEHOVAH to Moses: and similar assurances are given throughout the Old Testament.“The Lord is plenteous in mercy, his miercy is everlasting.”—“ As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear him.”_" Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”—“ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto THE LORD, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will multiply pardons.”—“ TO THE LORD our God belong mercy and forgiveness though we have rebelled against him.”_-“ Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.”
But in the New Testament, more especially, the mercies of God are displayed, and the strong foundation on which our confidence is built is placed in a clearer light. There he appears as the Father of our Lord JESUS CHRIST; and in him, “ the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort,” we are assured that there is remission of sins, through the tender mercies of God, “ whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;" “ that in the
that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through CHRIST Jesus.” The Gospel is throughout, a system of grace and mercy. Its grand object is to represent God in Christ“ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them :" and to encourage us through the atonement of our High Priest, to come boldly unto a throne of grace,
that we may
grace to help.in time of need.
Yet for all the mercies we receive froni God from day to day, what vague ideas are entertained of futurity, if we may judge from the descriptions which are generally given of future blessedness. Some even entertain strong and gross ideas of heaven, as if it were a Mahomedan paradise, abounding in sen