페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

worth contesting is the subject of the vote. Henceforward, then, “ Obey them that have the rule over you” will bear an entirely new interpretation in the New Zealand Church, and will signify obedience to the popular will. The “powers that be" will be the People. We suppose, too, we shall then find the Synod adding a new Article to the Creed, “ Vox Populi, Vox Dei, et suprema lex !"

In conclusion, we commend all earnest advocates of the “ Lay Element” in this country, to study the first-fruits of its operation, with a fair field and with favour, under the Episcopate of Bishop Abraham in Wellington.

GALTON'S LECTURES ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION :

THE THOUSAND YEARS' REIGN.

(Concluded from page 70.) In proceeding to a brief examination of Mr. Galton's exposition of Rev. xx., we fully agree with him that the subject is beset with difficulty. We question, however, whether this difficulty arises so much from any real ambiguity in the language wherein the revelations are clothed, as from the mysterious nature of the revelations

themhe chapter teted range of but it t

The chapter tells us of things which, with our present limited view, our contracted range of experience and apprehension, we find it supremely hard to grasp: but it tells us these things in language tolerably plain and intelligible. Hence it appears to us that not a few of the difficulties here encountered by expositors, are of their own making; arising from the prepossessions with which the passage is studied—from a conviction that it cannot and must not mean what it plainly says, and from a consequent endeavour to force upon it a signification which it will not bear.

Of any conscious attempt on the part of the author of the present Lectures, to bring this chapter into conformity with his own preconceived opinions, we at once and entirely acquit him : his whole tone is that of one anxiously and sincerely searching for the truth : and he frankly confesses that during the “ thirty years through which his attention has been directed to this part of Holy Writ, he has been at different times inclined to different opinions." Still, the lecturer himself will, doubtless, be the first to admit how powerful an influence such preconceptions and prepossessions may unconsciously have exercised over the conclusions at which he has ultimately arrived.

We will first endeavour to state, as concisely as possible, what appears to be the general system of interpretation in reference to chapter xx., at present advocated by our author; and will then refer to some of the considerations which appear to ourselves to militate against his theory.

The “binding of Satan,” the lecturer regards as “ dating from the Ascension of our LORD.”.

His casting down and degradation, is the same as that described by our Lord in the words, “ I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.

The enthronization of the Saints, is a symbolical description of “ the condition which the Church acquired in virtue of our LORD's Ascension.” (p. 246.)

The “first Resurrection," is that to which Holy Scripture elsewhere constantly refers ; e.g., “If ye be risen with Christ :" God hath quickened us together with CHRIST, and made us sit together in heavenly places :” “God hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son:" &c. &c.

The loosing of Satan after the expiration of the thousand years, is contemporaneous with the manifestation of the personal Antichrist, and with the coming of those times of unprecedented trouble and tribulation which shall immediately precede the Second Advent of the SAVIOUR.

Now to this scheme of interpretation, which we have very imperfectly sketched, one insuperable objection at once seems to present itself.

What is the precise time of Antichrist's manifestation, according to this view ? It is, immediately on the expiration of the thousand years; in accordance (so it is assumed) with the following passage, “ When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed from his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations,” &c. But is this really the time of Antichrist's manifestation as revealed by S. John ? In describing these two great events, the reign of the Saints and the persecution under Antichrist, is this the relative order in which the Inspired Seer introduces them—first, the Christian reign; and afterwards, the Antichristian persecution ? Not so. The order is just the reverse. The prophetic narrative expressly signi. fies, that it is not till after the time of the “great tribulation not till after Antichrist and his host have been destroyed—that the peaceful reign of the Saints commences. Just as Isaiah predicts : It is when the extortioner is at an end, and the spoiler ceaseth, and the oppressors are consumed out of the land ” that then in mercy shall the Throne be established, and He shall sit upon it.” (Isa. xvi. 4, 5.)

For who are they whom S. John represents as reigning with CHRIst during the thousand years ? The only class specially mentioned, are they who have passed through the Church's last “ fiery trial.” “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." Yes : the Saints who receive the honour of signal and peculiar notice, as sharing the Dominion of their Lord during the thousand years, are they who have suffered under Antichrist. And yet, according to the system of interpretation advocated in the present Lectures, Antichrist is not manifested until the thousand years have terminated. This objection appears to us, of itself, fatal to the system.

What unprejudiced reader (we would ask) carefully and honestly perusing the Apocalyptic Record, can fail to see that the following is the revealed sequence of events :—The persecution of Antichrist (closing the present Day of Grace); the Parousia of our LORD, and the immediate destruction of Antichrist and his Host; the “ gathering together unto Him” of all the members of His Mystical Body, whether “ quick,” or “resting in their beds ;" the binding and incarceration of Satan ; the “Regeneration ;" the reign of CHRIST and His Saints over the untempted nations of the earth during the mystic period of a thousand years ; the loosing of Satan from his restraint, prior to his everlasting doom (the inexplicable mystery attaching to which event, and our utter inability rightly to conceive of it, must not interfere with our humble reception of it as a revealed fact, or drive us to a preposterous dislocation of the whole narrative in order to evade it); the Resurrection and the Judgment of 1Távta tè govn ;1 the Eternal State ?

That the whole sequence of events is replete with mystery, and opens out questions of which it is impossible at present to offer any adequate solution, we earnestly admit. Still we cannot the less feel persuaded that this is, on the whole, the real revealed order of occurrences, and that only by preserving it, can we make the passage consistent with itself, or in harmony with other parallel portions of the Inspired Word.

The vision of the thousand years' reign has doubtless a bearing upon all times, and is intended as an encouragement to all who at any season, or in any manner, suffer for CHRIST, or resist the seductions or tyranny of the World and its Prince; but it is no less assuredly designed, in some special and particular way, as a support and consolation to those who shall have personal experience of the terrible trials of the latter days.

But we must proceed to a further objection to the system of interpretation advocated in the present Lectures.

We are expressly told that, during the thousand years, Satan shall be so bound that " he shall deceive the nations no more till the thousand years be finished.” But can it possibly be said that this state of things is being realized at the present time? Has it been ever true, since the Ascension, that Satan has been so bound for any length of time as to be unable to deceive the nations ? Has he not been ever prowling about “ as a roaring lion seeking whom

i Cf. S. Matt. xxv. 31, 32. This must not be confounded with the terrible judgment on the visible Church (S. Matt. xxiv. 44–51 ; xxv. 1-30) which occurs at the close of this present Day of Grace, immediately upon the Parousia of our LORD. Judgment begins at the House of God.

he may devour ?” What are the Beast, the false Prophet, the Harlot, but Satan's various organs, whereby he carries on his work of destruction and deception on the bodies and souls of men ?

True, the Prince of the World received a terrible blow on Calvary. He was then potentially slain-just as our first parents died in the day they partook of the forbidden fruit. But the full effects of the enemy's death-blow are not yet realized. His power is curtailed; but his craft and deceptive influence are still upabated. What says the Angel with regard to the Harlot—Satan's organ of seduction inside the Church ? "By thy sorceries were all nations deceived."

It is indisputably true, as our Author maintains, that Satan was “cast down” at the Ascension, that his power was curtailed, that he was in a measure “ bound.” But this binding is only one stage in his gradual binding and degradation. It is plainly a second and further stage in his humiliation and confinement (though not the final one) which is recounted in the first verse of the 20th chapter.

The history of the Arch-Enemy presents an ever deepening downfall.

Up to the period of the first coming of our LORD, he is powerful, not in earth only, but also in Heaven. He has access (as we learn from the book of Job) even to the Throne of God.

At the Ascension, he is “ cast down” from Heaven to earth. This fall is referred to in such passages as the following. “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.” “Rejoice, ye Heavens and ye that dwell in them; for the Accuser of the brethren is cast down. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea, for the Devil is come down to you."

At the Second Advent he will be cast down from the earth into the Abyss. The earth and the happy inhabitants of the earth will be entirely freed from his malignant influence. He will be fast bound and “sealed” in Tartarus. This is the stage of his degradation referred to in the passage under review: and it is of the last importance to the right interpretation of the whole chapter, that these separate stages of the enemy's downfall should be kept distinct and unconfounded.

We are all experiencing the effects of the first “ binding" and fall. “The Accuser of the Brethren has been cast down." Entrance into Heaven has been everlastingly closed against him. And hence, all whose “conversation is in Heaven” are free from his assaults. He is powerless to hurt them. His temptations and persecutions merely “work together for their good.” He is ever, therefore, striving to allure them to “ cast themselves down” from Heaven to earth, and thus to place themselves in the sphere of his permitted power and influence. For the “ earth” is as yet, we repeat, bis peculiar domain. Here he still reigns. Satan is still the

the Devile Second Advenand the happy

recognized “Prince of the World.” It is most true that the World has been “wounded to death.” The Beast-the visible organ, representative, vicegerent of the unseen “Prince of the World” -seems to have failed and deserted his master. It has itself turned religious. Instead of openly fighting for Satan against “ the LORD and His CHRIST,” it has itself been overcome for a time by the Sword of the Spirit, and has become Christian. But (as Mr. Galton truly remarks) “ although the world has become religious, it is the world still.” The wounded Beast has not been transfigured, or become man. It is still the Beast. And by the joint instrumentality of this wounded Beast and the Harlot, i.e. of religious worldliness and worldly Religion, does the Old Serpent still terribly and successfully deceive the nations of the earth.

But are the nations to be always so deceived ? No: another stage of the Tempter's humiliation has shortly to ensue. “I saw an Angel come down from Heaven, having the key of the Abyss, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the Dragon, that old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years : and cast him into the Abyss, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled : and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

Here then, we have an entirely new order of things introduced.

The Adversary has encountered a new and more decisive defeat than any be bas heretofore experienced. He had put forth all his energies in the times of Antichrist. The “mystery of iniquity," silently working and preparing for centuries, has come to a head : the grand universal attack upon Christ and His Church has been made ; and its author has but secured for himself a lower and more hopeless depth of degradation. His trusty organ and vicegerent the “Beast” has now failed him for ever. The God-opposing Dominion of the World-mortally wounded on Calvary—is now at an end for evermore. There is a glorious return of the Theocracy. “ The kingdoms of the World have become the Kingdom of our LORD and His Christ." The rightful Heir and « Prince of the world” has taken to Himself the power and reigned. While His impotent Foe, once powerful in Heaven, then cast down to earth, is hurled still lower down, and fast chained in the abyss. Meanwhile the earth is at quiet. The Sabbath has come; that blessed seventh day of Rest—of rest on earth for the nations of the earth- that joyous time of “freedom from temptation” and “ deliverance from the Evil One.”

One further chapter in the history of the great Enemy of God and man yet remains, before he receives his eternal doom; and the Everlasting Octave of Blessedness dawns. For “a little season” he is to be again loosed ; and then, finally and for ever, consigned to the dismal “ lake of fire and brimstone” where the Beast and

"Prince our LORD kingdoms of there is a glorid on Calva

con of our í The kinermore. Fortally for ever.ergan and

« 이전계속 »