« AnteriorContinuar »
or Children of perdition. Respecting which it would seem from the definite expression applied to the subject in one or two places of Scripture; as if it was not collective, but single ; not a class, but an individual, namely The Son of PERDITION : by which it has been the fashion to understand, with as much insolence as injustice, a certain Dignity; whereas the phrase is in strictness only a manner of speaking. And the proper way is, to consider the subject as an universal abstract, the Spirit of perdition ; in the same manner as THE EVIL SPIRIT may be an universal abstract of evil beings including the children of perdition.
In this acceptation the Son of Perdition may not mean any other character, any more than it means Judas; whom our Saviour alluded to by the same expression (John xvii. 12), and also as a Devil (Ib. vi. 70); but a certain class ; a brutish, sacrilegious class compounded between the three infernal derivatives, Lucifer, Belial and Mammon before mentioned, or their common parent: and that class it is that makes the Man of sin," the Son of perdition : who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” (Thess. II. ii. 3, 4); of which a few traces only may suffice for the present: as for example,
That men of this class will be in the Kingdom of God what outlaws are in the kingdoms of the earth, or what Cain was before the relation of kingdoms and outlaws began: they will be SUBJECTS FOR EVIL, BUT NOT FOR GOOD; subjects liable to every kind of suffering and disgrace, but not to protection or favour of any kind. For the law has two arms, protection and punishment; to both of which others are subject, but outlaws only to one, which is punishment. They will be first like Adam; not knowing what they suffer any more than what they do (Gen. iii. 6,7); and then like Cain, with a punishment greater than they can bear (Ib. iv. 13). They suffer a spiritual infliction of the most terrible kind, consisting in a regular depravation of body and soul; whereby the essential properties of both go on deteriorating continually or declining from bad to worse, “ falling from one wickedness to another” (Ps. lxix. 28); till the subjects are become at length more sensible of their burden like ill-fated Cain and inconceivably wretched and bad; all their sources of light and comfort dried up, the flow of their animal spirits impeded, the noblest of their intellectual powers bound as it were, hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness. Who can imagine a more lost condition ?
+ What a blessed escape for many-as many there have been, and among them some of the brightest ornaments of the church, or peculiar Kingdom, who happily stopped short of that wretched consummation of woe!— “ Among whom also (says St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians) we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others ” (Eph. ii. 3): and again, writing to his friend Titus, “For * we ourselves also were sometimes foolish,
* We ourselves. That is generally speaking-speaking in his corporate person or capacity, or as he says elsewhere, in the person of Christ; in which the communion of guilt will be as perfect as the communion of righteousness. For as in this communion the righteousness of One descends to all alike, so the sins of all are borne alike by One, consequently both righteousness and sin, by all in common," that there should be no schism in the body" (Cor. I. xii. 25),--also, that there may be no boasting,-nor any several and transferable merit, either. For the righteousness of Christ and the sin of the world are like two distinct elements meeting and uniting ; as air and water, we may suppose: and however one may be divided in its channels or repositories, it will not be divided in the other element. “For ye are all one in Christ” (
Gal. iii. 28), says he : that is,“ if Christ be in you” (Rom. viii. 10). And this ought also to be remembered, for fear of mistakes.
It would be unseasonable, to speak here of the forecited as an individual; or one should be glad of the opportunity, not only to shew, that these sayings are not applicable to him personally in such respect, but also to qualify anVOL. III.
disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Tit. iii. 3). What a happy distinction for each, as one of a thousand, to have his headlong fall so arrested ! And what a blessing, to be rescued by Christ from the dominion of those infamous propensities, if only in respect of the present: but what a misfortune, not to embrace the opportunity of his gracious offering and grace in respect of the future !--that “God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us in the ages to come might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. ii. 4:7)_“that being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. iii. 7).
Can the happy objects of such transcendent grace ever contemplate the same with indifference? Who can ever read or imagine without an extraordinary sensation and sympathy the corresponding Pæan that is to be sung hereafter of“ ten thousand times ten thousand *, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the LAMB that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour and glory, and blessing! and every creature which is in Heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and such as are in them t-saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power unto. Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the LAMB, for ever and ever!” (Rev. v. 11-13).
If creatures so exalted as the unfallen angels in Heaven may join hereafter with those of earthly mould, to celebrate the triumph of the Redeemer,—who of the redeemed will not concern himself in the cause that is still going on? Who would not be happy to mingle gratulations with as
other saying of his about “ earthen vessels” (Cor. II. iv. 7), by shewing, that some “ earthen vessels” are very beautiful.
* Not very many either out of all the earth. einem ,
+ The said creatures.
many as possible on the occasion of such a deliverance ? and the heartiest acknowledgment that they all were capable of paying to their universal Redeemer? “Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delivered from the hand of the enemy" (Ps. cvii. 2). Meanwhile; another word in * As Moses told the children of Israel in their way from Egypt towards the land of Canaan 25 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse” (Deut. xi. 26). “ Escape for thy life-Look not behind thee; neither stay thou in all the plain-ESCAPE TO THE MounTAIN; lest thou be consumed” (Gen. xix. 17).
And however this may be taken; such as have now been mentioned we find to be the principal or some of the principal classes that are objectively related to the Kingdom of God in Christ; being subject to the same, but not for their good, as just now observed. Let the distinctions be as many as they will among them, one general denomination however may still apply to all, which is that of Enemies; and the guilt of all these enemies will be the greater for the subjection they owe to the Great Object'of their hostility and aversion, as our Saviour remarked to one of them respecting another, “ Thou couldest have no power at all against nie, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin ” (Johni xix. 11). To distinguish between this and the Opposite or Subjective relation, which is not of the Kingdom but the Kingdom of it; also between the "same and the mediate relation, to which it is also opposed,
—and which may belong to this class or that, must be easy enough to One above, namely to the said Subjective,—both knowing himself, and being an observer, not only of actions by which a character is formed in the manner aforesaid, but also of the motives which give birth to these
actions; while of the parties themselves many, or most perhaps, can never know decidedly which class themselves may belong to; though they may guess a little of this matter.
Indeed people may go beyond guessing here, if they will; they may arrive almost at the point of demonstration for themselves by only comparing one morsel, one precious morsel of Scripture with common observation, or reading it, as one might say, with the eyes of experience: and that is the first epistle of St. John, the apostle, the evangelist, the beloved disciple of our Lord, and on all accounts justly surnamed The Divine. For in this epistle we read, first of the heavenly communion which was from the beginning, being cemented in eternity, but manifested in time, and visibly presented to this its blessed reporter. “That which was from the beginning : (says he) which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life” (John I. i. 1). And then he gives a particular specification of tests or criterions, whereby it may be known, who is of that heavenly communion, and who not, as decidedly if not as distinctly as could be known by the foregoing description; the apostle here choosing to follow the artificial method of analogy, instead of the natural by construction, namely, of essence and character, as above proposed.
His method however is not artificial in the vulgar sense, as of something forced and intricate; but in a more tech, nical, as of somewhat requiring Exceptions and Figures, to make it applicable: the method being thus; namely, to take, as a criterion of fellowship, certain characters which belonging to God on the one hand and to such as belong to him thereby on the other, may serve to indicate the same, or those who are one with God, or in communion with him ; being for example such characters as light, life and love chiefly : which he also punctually affirms by con trast; shewing who are not of God, or of neither of these