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regarding the treatment of “strangers," and their incorporation with Jewish privileges and exclusivenesses ;-all forcibly foreshadow the call of the Gentiles, and may possibly illustrate some hidden and ulterior mystery regarding the Church; but that the Church is openly set forth and exhibited in the prophetic writings I cannot admit.
Some writers opposed to this doctrine quote Acts, vii, 38, as a refutation of the view here laid down; but after mature consideration I am unable to perceive that the quotation refers to, much less demolishes, the statement advanced. The Authorised Version makes mention of the Church in the wilderness; but Dean Alford renders it by “congregation," which, according to Parkhurst, is in this instance the correct meaning of the word "ecclesia" (compare the passage in Acts with Heb. ii, 12); where Alford renders the word by “ assembly;" in Exod., xix, 17; xx, 18; Deu., iv, 10, it is rendered "people," and in Deu., xviii, 16, “ assembly,” from the Hebrew word possessing that signification; and again in Acts, xix, 39, 41,"ecclesia” is translated in the Authorised Version by "assembly''; and in Owen's Greek Acts of the Apostles we find "ecclesia" invariably represented in this portion of Scripture as possessing the signification of "convocation, assembly, congregation.”
I would not for a moment deny that the Israelites at Mount Sinai as the chosen race prefigured the Church of God, but a Jewish congregation under the theocratic government of Jehovah was a very different thing from the Church under covenant of grace in Christ; God has never been without a remnant or Church to testify to His name. We see it shadowed forth in Abel, in Enoch, and in Noah before the deluge; in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and many others in post-deluvian ages; and in the worst days of
Israel's sins God comforts Elijah by telling him that though all apparently had turned from the living God to worship idols He had still seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal; but this only declares that a remnant existed then, as I doubt not it does now (Rom. xi, 5), among His people who cleave to their God, and swear by His name (Deu. x, 20); but the Church as revealed to us in the New Testament could have no existence till Christ rose from the grave; it was announced as a future thing in Mat. xvi, 18; came into operation on the day of Pentecost, and the great mystery, adumbrated through the types and shadows of the past, was made known to Paul by a special revelation, “to the intent that now unto the principalities and to the powers in the heavenly places may be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. ii, 10); and that this mystery was absolutely unknown and unrevealed in previous ages is distinctly shown and recorded by Paul, who says (Eph. iii, 2—5), “ in other generations it was NOT made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the spirit;" a declaration which he repeats (Col. i, 24–27) when he says, that “the mystery which hath been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but hath now been manifested unto his saints."
If it should be asked in what consists the mystery, it is found in the 6th verse of Eph., iii, “ that the Gentiles are joint heirs, and joined in the same body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel ;" or in other words, the heavenly unity of the church with Christ by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost: and this constitutes the difference between the saints of the former and present dispensation. It is not a question of whether the Old Testament believers participate in the
salvation, life, and glory wrought out and perfected by the work of Christ on earth ; they doubtless were quickened by the spirit, by virtue of the foreseen sacrifice of the Redeemer, and partake through it, equally with all saints, of the blessed privileges of the first resurrection, and of the glory that follows. But these do not constitute the gospel meaning of the church-the bride of Christ, the regenerated Eve-who, though elected by grace through eternal ages, was only visibly and actually unfolded to the eyes of men and angels on the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, for it was not till Jesus had ascended up on high that the blessed comforter could be sent down (see John, xvi, 7; vii, 39; Acts, ii, 33, and other passages) : and it is by the indwelling of this spirit that we have living unity with Christ and with each other of those who arg partakers together of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven in virtue of Christ's resurrection.
One powerful feeling which militates against the reception of premillenarian views in the breasts of many arises from an imperfect acquaintance with prophecy, and God’s dispensational ways in His dealing with the chosen
They are unwilling, consequent perhaps on educational or preconceived notions, to admit that the gifts and calling of Jehovah must be textually and literally carried out. To the Israelites belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the services, and the promises; and to the exact fulfilment of these promises does the Christian believer look forward as a guarantee of the blessings pledged to him in Christ; for were it possible, which of course it is not, for one single promise of Jehovah to remain unaccomplished, the Christian would have cause to question the basis on which he founds
his hopes, fixed as they are, and must ever be, on the inde-
conscientious seeker after truth refer seriatim to the prophecies in the Old Testament connected with our blessed Lord's first advent, and compare them with their fulfilment in the New, and he will at once acknowledge the marvellous accuracy of their accomplishment, even to the minutest point. Take as a mere specimen of numerous instances that are narrated, the annunciation of the angel to the Virgin Mary (Mat. i, 20-23, compared with Isa. vii, 14); also the birth place of our Lord (Mat. ii, 6, compared with Micah, v, 2); but not to quote all instances, I confine myself to the entrance of our Lord riding into Jerusalem on an ass; the expulsion of the traders from the temple; the cry of anguish in the garden of Gethsemane; the thirty pieces of silver paid to His betrayér ; the purchase of the potter's field; His silence before Pilate; His being spit upon, and smitten with a reed ; His being offered vinegar mixed with gall; His garments divided ; His cruel mocking; and the bitterest of all His sufferings—the withdrawal of His Father's countenance (Mat. xxvii, 46).
A score of similar instances might be advanced in proof of the close and corresponding affinities on these points, but this is not the place to enter fully into the subject, and it is only advanced now for the purpose of enquiring whether, supposing it possible for mere argument's sake, if the first advent of our Lord had not yet taken place, men of the present day—I allude particularly to those who sit in Moses's seat-would be ready to acknowledge that the passages above quoted from the Old Testament were so clear and explicit as to preclude all doubt or scepticism regarding the actual facts which some eighteen centuries back attended our blessed Lord's assumption of humanity? I think not;
my firm conviction is that the professing Church of this day would have acted very similarly to what the Jews did in their day; not to the extent of condemnation and cruelty, times and circumstances having ameliorated; but in all probability to an utter negation that the passages referred to were applicable to the Messiah.
Some modern Origen or Vitringa would have risen up to allegorize or spiritualize away the real essence of the divine word, and out of the clear and obvious phraseology of the prophetic announcement, would have constructed some magniloquent but stilted theory wherewith unstable man might, as a silly moth, be entrapped ; and preachers would be found to demonstrate the impossibility of the God of heaven and earth being born of a virgin, and the improbability of such an event, even if it did miraculously occur, taking place in a stable; the extreme abnormity of the Son of God riding into Jerusalem on an ass; of His being spit upon; struck upon the cheek (Mic. v, 1); of the folly of imagining that the thirty pieces of silver, or that the purchase therewith of the potter's field (Zec. xi, 12, 13), could by any plausibility of reasoning, or internal evidence, apply to the Messiah.
Comparisons of this nature will I know be scouted and deprecated as bigoted and absurd, but when I see the far clearer, more voluminous, and more decisive prophecies of the restoration of the Jews to their own land of the rise and destruction of antichrist-not the Pope or any religious system, but of a real individual-of the rapture of the saints prior to the reign of this man of sin; of the first resurrection; of Christ's personal reign over this earth on Mount Zion; of the binding of Satan; of the apostacy of the nations at the close of the millennium, when Satan is again let loose ; and of the two judgments; when I see, I repeat,