only by many similar particulars, but also by the same terms in the original, clearly identifying them as one and the same apostasy. They are distinctly said "to have known the way of righteousness," but to have renounced it, or, at least refused to walk in it; and the ground of their perversion of the doctrine is said to be the liberty of the Gospel, which they made use of to such extent as to justify themselves in what are called, in modern times, Antinomian practices. Here, too, they are said to deny the Lord (@cotons), or Master, that had bought them (ayopagavra, as slaves are bought in a market); and, this apostasy being consummated," swift destruction" comes upon it. This “swift destruction,” which is said in ver. 3 no longer to “ linger," and "slumber,” corresponds with the “ Lord coming with his saints to destroy” in Jude ; and points out that the period of its consummation is the period of the Lord's rising up in judgment to destroy it. Here, too, we are referred to the example of the sinning angels, and the judgment on Sodom ; but, instead of Cain and Korah, we have the additional and similar example of the Deluge. Here, also, they are said to despise government (kupiornta), and to “ blaspheme dignities;” and again Balaam is brought forward as a parallel character. This period is also the time alluded to in Psal. ii., lxxxii., and many others. .

As in Jude the judgment was said to have been written about in ancient times (παλαι προγεγραμμενοι εις τετο το κριμα), so here the judgment is said to have been from ancient times prepared (οις το κριμα εκπαλαι ουκ αργει). In both Epistles the apostates are said došas Braopnuelv: and they are compared to aloya Swa, puoixa, natural, or soulish, beasts. In both Epistles they are said to "speak great swelling words” (umepoyka); which does not, however, prevent their obsequiousness and fawning servility to any whose good-will they wish to court; and which also induces many to believe them in the liberty of the Gospel, although they are all the while the slaves of corruption and of worldly pollutions.

Thus far the subject is sufficiently clear; and there seems to be good reason to believe that these passages both describe one and the same apostasy; and that apostasy the last, and that which is to be destroyed by the coming of the Lord. But a difficulty arises, from the vices described being far greater than those which we perceive practised by any persons in these days who confess the doctrine of the grace of God. In order to arrive at a just conclusion upon this point, we must observe, that the principle of lawlessness and insubordination to the mastership of Christ is the crime laid to the charge of all alike;' while the forms of rebellion which are manifested may vary in each member of the apostasy, and will be dependent on divers collateral circumstances. The community of the tie is the refusal

to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ now and ever over this earth; and all who are united within this band ought to be included in the apostasy, however much they may differ from each other in various personal and private particulars. That this is the Divine method of describing classes we know by several instances. The whole Jewish nation is called

'Sodom by Isaiah, chap. i., although it is not therefore to be inferred that every individual of the people deserved to be so stigmatized. The apostasy of “the latter times” is marked by the characteristic feature of " forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats ;" but it does not therefore follow that no Papist married or ate meat. The prophetic warnings give certain marks as leading characteristics, without necessarily implying thereby that every individual member was guilty of all the practices laid to the charge of the system. In like manner, the apostasy predicted by Jude and Peter of these our Protestant days, which despises the sovereignty of Christ, laughs at his coming, or denies his humanity, may contain many individuals who are guiltless of the crimes which brought down God's judgment on the cities of the plain.

Again : the manifestations of evil principle vary, by reason of many external and collateral causes, so that the things which are considered criminal in one age are accounted harmless in another. The Puritanical rigidity with which the Lord's-day was observed in the time of Cromwell, and and is still observed by some persons in Scotland, was unknown to the first Christians; and if any one in the days of the Covenanters had lived in exact imitation of the fathers and martyrs, he would have been counted a profaner of the Sabbath, and little, if at all, better than a heathen man and a publican. It is very common to find the most strict punctiliousness upon some points, co-existing with the most willul violation of some others. Slander, malevolence, detraction ; convicted, acknowledged, confessed, but unrepentant, and persevered in, personal defamation; mark the lawless spirit of man as completely as the vices of Sodom, or the murderous rancour of Cain. The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity : so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James iï. 6).

Having been remonstrated with by friends, and censured by foes, for our application of the characteristics of “the perilous times” which were to arise in the last days” to the actual state of the Religious World amongst ourselves, we have examined the subject repeatedly, to try the justice of our conclusions. The result is, that in our deliberate conviction the passage in 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c., as set forth and illustrated by Mr. Irving in his volume of sermons; the parallels which have appeared in this journal

between the Pharisees in the days of our Lord and the professors of Evangelical Religion now; and the above apostasies of Jude and Peter, do pourtray to the life the times in which we live. In so saying, however, we neither allude to, nor point at, individuals ; but we speak of the system of false theology which prevails; the false views of ecclesiastical and political duty; the false views of the ordinances of God; the false views of benevolence; false pretence to love; and false manner of performance, under the name of expediency-all which things engender falsehood, duplicity, and insincerity of various kinds, in the men who are implicated in the system. In like manner Protestants speak of the system of Popery, without meaning to deny that there are many children of God in the Popish Church, who are saved, notwithstanding the wickedness of the system of which they are outward members. When we expose the erroneous systems of Popery or of Socinianism, or the perversions of Arminianism or Calvinism, it is not for the purpose of exulting over the victims of error; nor is such a motive assigned when Evangelical writers do the same. It is done, in all cases, with the view of contrasting falsehood with truth only that the latter may appear more clear; or with the intention of delivering those who have been ensnared by false doctrines. There is no justice, therefore, in imputing different motives to us, when pointing out the delusions now prevalent in the religious world; or in accusing us of personal hostility towards individuals, when we neither name nor designate any one. No: our charges are true, and cannot be confuted; and therefore an attempt must be made to write down the individuals who have made them.

In the illustrations which have been given, one point was still wanting to make the similitude perfect; and that was, to find the religious world itself adopting, with reference to those who brought forward these charges against it, the very same language and line of defence which the Pharisees adopted when accused by our Lord of similar delinquencies. On some occasions they resorted to the places where he was wont to teach the people, and "begun to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things; laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Luke xi. 53). How, and to what extent, this has been done towards Mr. Irving, they who have read some recent pamphlets and journals can best declare.

While the Pharisees perverted the meaning of our blessed Lord, charged him with blasphemy, and imputed sentiments to him which his righteous soul abhorred; his own countrymen attacked him upon a different ground: these taunted him with his birth, parentage, and education : “When he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogues, insomuch

that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works ? Is not this the carpenter's son ? is not his mother called Mary ? and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas ? and his sisters, are they not all with us? whence then hath this man all these things ? And they were offended in him ” (Matt. xiii. 54). The persons who have acted in the same manner now, have not been rejected for the same by the religious world, but are its selected leaders. These things have not been done now in a corner, by obscure individuals, or by journals of the lowest kind, but by great doctors in the church. Neither have they been done by these solely in their individual capacity, but in publications which are circulated, lent for perusal, and recommended as sound and nourishing spiritual food, by others of equal celebrity. We have therefore as perfect an index of the mind of that body called the Religious World as it is possible to be furnished with in the nature of the case.

The Record newspaper avows itself the organ of the religious world : large sums of money have been subscribed for its establishment, and its managers seek for support expressly on that ground. It puts forth its pretensions to be received into families, as a more pure vehicle of information than other periodical journals. Its assumed and acknowledged title, therefore, to be the organ of the religious world, is indisputable. Now it is to be remembered, that in the articles which Mr. Irving communicated, to be printed in the Morning Watch, as descriptive of the system and practices of this same religious world, there was not the most distant allusion to any individual; there was not a ves. tige of personality; and not the bitterest and the most virulent have ever ventured to impute such a charge. The Record newspaper took notice of these articles expressly on the ground of their application to the Religious World en gros, and justified two long leading articles, levelled against Mr. Irving, for that especial reason. And what was the nature of its reply? An entirely personal attack upon the birth, parentage, education, and private life, as well as ministerial duties, which are of a private nature towards his congregation, of Mr. Irving. This attack, indeed, was pronounced, by several of the supporters and admirers of that journal, who were no friends to Mr. Irving's sentiments, to be " perfectly infamous :” and had its patrons compelled it to make the smallest apology, retractation, or even palliation, no observations should have been made by us : but since nothing of the kind has appeared, and since its conduct has supplied that which was lacking to the accuracy of the likeness of Mr. Irving's portrait of modern Pharisaism, we deem it indispensable to point out to our readers the quarter in which the picture has been completed. These two articles were so strictly and exclu

[blocks in formation]

sively personal, that they would not have disgraced the columns of the ordinary worldly political newspapers; and no parallel can be found for them, except among the lowest dregs of the press : yet these were the elaborated sentiments of a religious newspaper !

Such is the" way of Cain "in moral murder; blasting of fame, and destroying reputation, under the pretence of doing God service. Well indeed was it said, “ If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, what shall they call those of his household ?” Such is the way of Balaam, who cursed in his heart the people of God, while with his mouth he was constrained to corroborate the purposes of God which they declared.

Such are the pollutions of the world” in which they indulge, while pretending to have escaped them “ through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” So that “it has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."



AND POWER. (From No. xiii. of Lectures on the Apocalypse" by the Rev. EDWARD IRVING,

not yet published, but forthcoming.) My idea of the church is derived from its name, “ The body of Christ ;" and of its endowment from the words following, “ The fulness of Him that filleth all in all " (Eph. i. 23). It is one as much as the Spirit is

“There is one body, and one Spirit" (Eph. iv. 4); and as the body without the spirit is not the complete work of God, so neither is the spirit without the body. When Christ went unto the Father, he entered into the promise of the Holy Ghost, and, being seated on the Father's throne, began to act the Father's part, of governing the world. Since that time he hath been known as the spirit, and not as the visible Christ. But a spirit is not that which God appointed this world to be governed by He made man to be his image and his king, and man is an embodied spirit. And when man became enslaved to Satan, God, keeping in his own hand the sovereignty, which had reverted to himself through the disobedience of his

vicegerent, did hold it, not in his character of a pure spirit, but did assume to himself, in the Word, the parts, affections, properties, and attributes of a man, because as a man he was to redeem all, and to govern all. And, now that as a man he hath redeemed all, and is governing all, it were inconsistent with the great idea of the man- and not the spirit-governor, that Christ should now rule from his invisible throne in the spirit without a body. This body is the church, of which he, Christ, is not only the Spirit, but likewise the Head. And the church is united to him, not only by having him inspiring her, but likewise by

« 上一页继续 »