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and do still apply to the true disciples of the Lord Jesus. On the supposition that we have rightly interpreted the language of James at the council of Jerusalem, and that the design of this dispensation is to take a people out of the Gentiles; these scriptures will continue to apply till the end of this dispensation: but on the supposition that the dispensation is to enlarge itself, by degrees, into the universal blessedness predicted by the prophets; then these scriptures will not continue to apply; and who is to determine at what point of the progress they cease to be applicable? If the world become Christian, the world will no longer persecute Christians. If all the families of the earth be, blessed with eternal life, the way of life will be no longer narrow. If the world become Christian, then Christians cannot separate from the world. It is obvious that in the passage from our present state to a state of universal holiness; these characteristic sayings of the New Testament must cease to have any application, and become obsolete, not to say false: and again, I ask, who is to determine at what point of the progress they cease to apply? If it be answered, when the more favourable circumstances of the church cease to require them: the question recurs, who is to judge of those circumstances? Some persons in this country think that already true religion is not thus exposed to hatred and enmity, but only extravagance and enthusiasm, provoking a cross for themselves: while
others consider such an opinion as a proof that those who hold it are themselves ignorant of what true religion is. We maintain, therefore, that as the statutes of the book of Leviticus continued binding until another plain and dir«ot communication from the God who gave them, showed that they were superseded, and a better order of things introduced; so these scriptures, describing the experience, the number, and the character of the Lord's people under this dispensation, must continue applicable", till another plain and direct communication from him who gave them, shall show that they are superseded, and a still better order of things introduced. This communication we expect at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, consequently, we conclude, that we have no reason to expect, until the coming of the Lord, any such change in the aspect of the church, as would falsify or neutralize these statements of the New Testament.
But then, let us not be misunderstood. While we thus declare our conviction that the present dispensation is for an elect church only; we do not for a moment imagine that God's final purposes of mercy towards the world are to be limited to this election. Far otherwise. To suppose that because this dispensation is for the salvation of a remnant, therefore there will be no subsequent and wider salvation, would be as absurd as it would have been for an ancient Jew to suppose, that because his dis
pensation was for a particular people, therefore no other people could have true religion extended to them. No, my brethren, we joyfully maintain, that the saving mercy of God in Christ Jesus will eventually extend over the length and breadth of the whole world; and be experienced in the circle of every family then on the earth. We maintain, that the death of Christ is a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and that eventually salvation will prove co-extensive with redemption, that is, so far as respects the then population of the whole world. We say the then population of the world: for we utterly reject the ensnaring heresy of the universalists, which seems to be Satan's gilded bait to allure and destroy by unsanctified benevolence. This throws light upon the controverted question of the extent of redemption. Redemption is not salvation to any: neither is it unto salvation to all who are redeemed. It is done, not to human persons or sins, whether few or many, but to the character and government of God. Does God take account of sin, by relative quantity, as we do? Surely not. Whosoever shall keep the whole law, saith the Lord, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. To redeem a transgressor against one point, therefore, demands a price as rich, as to redeem a transgressor against all. And by parity of reasoning, if all mankind have transgressed against the whole law; to redeem one transgressor demands a price as rich as to redeem all mankind: and the redemption of all men demands no more than would be indispensable for the redemption of one man. There is no place in this branch of the subject, for the consideration of relative quantities of sin, or relative numbers of sinners.
Salvation is quite a different subject, and is, for the present, confined to a specific number of persons elected out of mankind in Christ. Thus the doctrine of this dispensation corresponds with the history of the church: while, at the same time, a redemption is prepared, of sufficient value, to meet the demands of the "dispensation of the fulness of times." (Eph. i. 10.)
Our judgment, therefore, is, (and, we think, not without evidence, yea, not without proof,) that the design of the present dispensation is not the conversion of the Gentile world, but the calling of an elect people out of the Gentiles to the knowledge of God and salvation by Jesus Christ. la confirmation of this view, I revert to what has been already stated, and observe, that if this be the design of the dispensation, then we see the progressive accomplishment of that design in the history of the church.
Another design of this dispensation is revealed to us, by comparing Deut. xxxii. 21, with Rom. x. 19, and xi. 11. "They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God, they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and
I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." "But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you." "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them (the Jews) to jealousy." From hence, we learn, not only that extending the blessings of the gospel to the Gentiles, would, in the first instance, excite the anger, and jealousy, and enmity of the Jews; but, also, that eventually the Jews, being recovered from their judicial stupidity and carelessness about the things of God, and perceiving the Gentiles to be in possession of the riches of the Messiah; would be moved to a holy emulation, that they might not be surpassed in the service of Jehovah by any people.
To this agree the words of our Lord: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" by which it is clearly implied, that when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jerusalem shall not be trodden down any longer. And it is equally clear, that until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, all attempts to raise up Jerusalem as a nation must fail. We say, as a nation, because individuals may be converted, and Christians may be, as they have