« AnteriorContinuar »
their Messiah, the prince of life; and after remaining in the land a few years longer, the Lord sent against them the Romans, who destroyed their place and nation, and burnt up their Temple and city, and dispersed the remnant of Judah to the four winds of heaven, where they began that long dispersion that their brethren, the ten tribes, had entered upon long before; and although a great many centuries have now already lapsed since it commenced, yet the full term of their dispersion is yet hardly begun.
Therefore when they were brought up from their Babylonian captivity, they were not allowed to fall upon the inhabitants of the country, as they did upon the inhabitants of Canaan, when they came up out of the land of Egypt, but had to bear and endure the contentions of the enemy; and under these circumstances, Michael durst not bring a railing accusation against the dignitaries of the land, but said, "The Lord rebuke thee."
THE BODY OF MOSES But the controversy between Michael, the God of Israel, and the Devil, was about the "body of Moses.” The body of Moses, as we have already shown, consisted of the people of Israel, who were baptized into Moses in the cloud, and in the sea, when they came up out of Egypt, as Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians (10: 1-2), by which they became the body of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, even as we are baptized into Christ, the mediator of the new covenant, and become the mystical body of Christ.
It was about this Mosaic body, that the contention occurred between Michael the Archangel, on the one hand, and the combined adversaries of Judah, on the other, who were determined to resist the rebuilding of the Temple, and the city of Jerusalem; but the Lord we are told kept his eye continually upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease till the matter came to Darius.
Here again we find no use for the sectarian Devil, whereby to interpret this Scripture. The adversaries of Judah in the days of Zechariah whose doings Ezra so fully records fill the requirements and leave nothing wanting.
We have thus far called attention to some of the most difficult portions of Scripture relating to this important question; to aid honest inquiry in pursuit of the truth, and that we may avoid the wiles of the Devil, for the Devil never accomplished a greater victory over the children of men than when he led them to believe that he was a party outside of themselves, so that when they are led away by their own lusts and enticed they might charge it against an imaginary Devil. Paul says in one place, “ The Devil has the power of death "; again in another place he says the same thing, but in different words, namely, “ The sting of death is sin " (1 Cor. 15:56). Sin has the power of death and so has the Devil; therefore sin and the Devil are one and the same thing.
With reference to the Great Red Dragon," with seven heads and ten horns, called "that old serpent, the Devil and Satan," brought to view in the prophecy of Christ, the book of the Revelation, we will endeavor to interpret this when we come to speak particularly of the great things contained in that book.
We consider that we have advanced sufficiently far now in our subject so
that we may with advantage and success come to discuss the Gospel which John the Baptist, and Jesus, who is called Christ, preached, and afterwards the Gospel as preached by the apostles, which comprehends the great question of What a man must do to be saved.
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD
Ministry of John - Ministry of Christ — The Gospel — Reason for parables — Kingdom of God, What is it? — Reason for miracles — “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given ”- Christian characteristics — Infant salration — "My kingdom is not of this world”— Gifts of the Spirit — Invisibility of kingdom of God — Heavens and earth as symbolic terms — Relation of kingdom of God to earthly authority.
THE MINISTRY OF JOHN
Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Therefore the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God began with John, who came in the way of righteousness, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Mark introduces this matter in these words: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the son of God, as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee; the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” “ John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins."
Now to such as are of opinion that baptism is simply a means of grace which may be complied with or not, as suits the pleasure of the individual — to all such we commend the consideration of the following: first, Christ himself was baptized of John, and when John protested, saying, “ I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” Jesus replied, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Now if it was necessary for Jesus himself to be baptized, to fulfil all righteousness, how are other men to be excused from that ordinance ?
Second, Luke says, “ And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees, and lawyers, rejected the council of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." We learn from the Scripture that God hath concluded all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all. That is God's judgment, and he instituted means by which he offers to forgive men their sins; and for any man to treat these means with indifference or neglect, is to treat the author of them likewise; and hath not God said, “ They that honor me, I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed "? Third, Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, "John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not, but the publicans and harlots be
lieved him, and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matt. 21:32).
This is the estimation in which men are held by Christ and God, who treat lightly and with indifference and neglect, the ordinances, the statutes and laws which God has appointed for men to observe; and therefore Jesus said to that same class, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God.” They were highly esteemed by men, and among men, yet they were an abomination in the sight of God. The masses of mankind are no judges of good men. When one reads Christ's description of these
. pious hypocrites, and what he called them to their faces, for he gave them their true character, that shows what bad judges of good men mankind are.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, therefore the world knoweth us not.” The world by reason of their own wisdom cannot distinguish between a saint and a sinner. They put the one for the other. The saints they kill, and keep the sinners like themselves alive, and the ministers of Satan who are transformed as ministers of righteousness are commonly on good terms with sinners, and study to preach smooth things to them, to be popular among them, so as to fill up their congregations, that the revenues be not endangered, but strengthened thereby.
It is testified by Matthew concerning John, saying, “ Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” This very general movement of the people was too much for the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and so, like Satan who came in Job's day with the sons of God to present himself also before the Lord, some of these Pharisees and Sadducees came with the multitudes to be baptized of John, also, as Matthew says, " But when John
“ saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, that we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not able to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire; whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” This was very severe language that John employed. He feared not the face of man, he warned transgressors of their evil ways, and preached repentance and reformation, and counselled them to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
CHRIST COMETH FROM ABOVE' John said of Christ, when he began his ministry, " He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above, is above all, He that is of the earth is earthy and speaketh of the earth, He that cometh from above is above all.” This saying of John shows how thoroughly he was instructed in the way of the Lord, and understood the things concerning the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for John here speaks of himself as being of the earth, and the things that he taught as being earthly things, whereas he says that his successor, whose way he was preparing in order that he might be manifested to Israel, was from heaven; and therefore what he had seen and heard with his Father, that he testifieth. And then, as a rule, he says that “no man receiveth his testimony,” that is, “He came to his own (people) and his own received him not. He was in the world, the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” Paul says, “None of the princes of this world knew him, nor yet the voices of the prophets, or they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
Nevertheless he says, “He that has received his testimony, hath set to his seal, that God is true. And why? He adds again, "For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him.” This doctrine which John here asserts is very important. The spirit was given by measure to all others, but to Christ, the Son of God, it was given without measure, so that the full power of the spirit of the Almighty God, he enjoyed, or as Paul said to the Colossians (2:9), “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," and again as Jesus himself said to his apostles, just before he ascended into heaven to sit on the right hand of God, as Matthew records it (28: 18), “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”; and by reason of that he commanded them saying, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (the Mosaic, or Hebrew world). Now because the Father gave the Son the spirit without measure, or limit, so that the Son really possessed the same measure of power that the Father himself possessed, therefore to see and look upon the Son, clothed with such majesty, was equivalent to seeing the august personage of the Father himself; and it was because of this that Isaiah the prophet says that among the many great titles that he should bear, he should be called “The everlasting Father." Therefore on one occasion, Jesus said to his disciples, “ If ye had known me, Ye should have known my Father also.” But Philip, speaking after the flesh, said unto him, "Lord show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.”
This is a great mystery to the natural man, and so when Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," and again, “ Except a man is born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," Nicodemus understood not, and was amazed at such doctrine. Jesus said to him, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly