Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

to the first coming of our Lord in the flesh, and in relation to his second coming, in the following texts : (1 Tim. vi. 14.) “ Until THE APPEARING of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. iv. 1.) “Who shall judge the quick and the dead at his APPEARING and his kingdom.” (ver. 3.) “Unto all them that love his APPEARING.(Tit. ii. 13.) “Looking for that blessed hope and THE GLORIOUS APPEARING.”

The third word, Mageuoia, occurs four times in the 24th chapter of Matthew : (ver. 3.) “What shall be the sign of THE COMING, and of the end of the world [age]?” (ver. 27.) “As the lightning, &c. so shall THE COMING of the Son of Man be." (ver. 37.) “ As were the days of Noah, so shall THE COMING of the Son of Man be.” Also (ver. 39.) (1 Cor. xv. 23.) “They that are Christ's at his coming.” (1 Thess. ii. 19.) “ Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his COMING."

The same word is used, in reference to the same event, in seven additional instances in the epistles; and in reference to other comings in the following texts: For the coming or presence of Paul with the churches, 2 Cor. x. 10. Phil. i. 26. ii. 12. For the coming of Antichrist, 2 Thess. ii. 9. For the coming of Stephanas and others, 1 Cor. xvi. 17. and for that of Titus, 2 Cor. vii. 6, 7.

The result of the comparison of the foregoing passages is maintained to be, that these three terms are indiscriminately used to signify the second personal advent of our Lord to judge the world, and that to interpret them simply of a figurative or spiritual coming, is to take such liberties with the plain letter of Scripture as to render it impossible to settle the sense of a single prophecy in the whole book. But if they signify a real personal advent, when is it to be? On what data does the prevailing creed of Christendom determine it to the end of the millennium, instead of its beginning? In opposition to this, let it be noted, that the coming of our Lord to destroy the man of sin (2 Thess. ii. 8.) is expressed by the union of two of the above words, tñ triedreią tñs ragousias auto, "by the brightness of his coming.” We are therefore driven to the conclusion, that the glorious coming of Christ takes place at the destruction of Antichrist; and since this destruction occurs, by the unanimous consent of the church of God in all ages, before the millennium, it follows that Christ comes in glory to judge the world before the millennium.

But here, the conclusion deduced from the alleged import of the words in question is entirely acquiesced in, inasmuch as in two or three other passages, étoxdxuntos especially, or the verb from which it comes, appears to imply a spiritual revelation : “ Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will REVEAL (amoxánufa) him." (Gal. i. 12.)" For I neither reseived it from man, neither was I taught it, but by the REVELATION of Jesus Christ.” (Ver. 16.) “But when it pleased God to REVEAL his Son in me, that I might preach bim among the heathen.” In neither, of these instances, it is said, is it clear that a personal appearing or revelation is intended, and therefore the argument founded upon the word in the other case amounts to very little. As to other terms, they are not replied to directly, but the doctrine is made to rest upon other passages already considered, and these are brought in to confirm the scheme of a post-millennial advent, otherwise established.

The reflection of our readers will have been beforehand with us in the suggestion, that the subject, imperfectly presented in the foregoing pages, is one of radical importance to the church of God; and that the principles of interpretation on which either view of the second advent is established, deserve, demand, and will probably ere long receive, a thorough investigation. For the whole matter of controversy finally results in this: By what canons are those scriptures to be interpreted which speak of the second coming of Christ ? And in the decision of this question, the whole res prophetica of revelation is deeply involved. If this advent is to be indeed personal, and is to precede the millennium; then, just in proportion to the apprehended nearness of this blissful age, swells the interest of these august predictions. If the unerring oracles of God do in fact furnish this mighty stay to christian hope and exertion, this solemn sanction to the appeals of the pulpit, this luminous clue to the signs of the times, this tremendous presage to the wicked, the worldly, and the slothful,-it ought to be known. And our object will be answered, if the present essay shall be made to contribute at all to that result.

An Essay on the Invalidity of Presbyterian Ordination.

By John Esten Cooke, M.D. Lexington. 8vo. Pp. . 244. 1829.

Here is a new advocate of high-church principles, who has started up in Kentucky; and an advocate certainly not at all deficient either in zeal or confidence. Of “ John Esten Cooke, M.D.” we never heard before the appearance of this volume; and now we know nothing concerning him but what he discloses of himself in the first pages of his book. From these we learn, that for more than eighteen years he was a zealous member of the methodist church, actively and publicly engaged in promoting the interests of that denomination; that, by the perusal of a volume of sermons by a reverend gentleman of the name of Chapman, resident in Kentucky, a few months since, he was led to doubt of the validity of presbyterian ordination; that this induced him to peruse some other works on the same subject; that his inquiries terminated in a full conviction that ordination by presbyters is wholly invalid; and that this investigation was conducted with so much haste and urgency, that only eight weeks elapsed between the time in which he was a zealous, devoted, unwavering methodist, and that at which he sat down to write the book before us; in which he feels confident he has proved that the ordinations of the methodist and presbyterian churches are alike worthless, and prelatical episcopacy the only scriptural and valid form of ecclesiastical order.

That any man of sound and sober mind should act thus, and should be willing to publish such a story of himself, is indeed wonderful. It is true, a man's confidence in opinions which he has long and zealously maintained may be shaken, and even abandoned, in “eight weeks,” or in a much shorter time. This no one will doubt. But that any one, in relation to a subject so extensive and so essentially involving a knowledge of early christian antiquity, should imagine that he was fully competent, in so short a time, not only to pronounce positively, but to turn author, and undertake the task of instructing the public in his new opinions, is one of those rare examples of weakness and presumption which must equally surprise and revolt all reflecting minds.

It cannot be denied, indeed, that Dr Cooke manifests

some talent in the work before us. He evidently thinks with a considerable degree of clearness and vigour, and expresses himself, for the most part, in a neat, perspicuous and sprightly style. Yet he writes like a man who has just acquired some smattering of the subject which he treats, but is confident that he has explored it to the bottom. He is flippant, audacious, and hardly. willing to treat with respect the opinions of those, even on his own side, who happen not entirely to coincide with him. In short, in perusing the volume, we have twenty times thought of a remark of Dr Johnson, which we have somewhere met with, and which we quote from vague recollection. When it was observed to him that a certain lady had written very commendably on a particular subject,—“Why, yes, sir,” replied the caustic and unsparing critic, “the book is well enough; but she reminds me of a certain domestic quadruped, who is exhibited as standing and walking on his hind legs: the wonder is, not that he does it pretty well, but that he does it at all."

Dr Cooke in this work thinks proper to select, as the principal object of his animadversion, the reverend Dr Miller, who, about twenty years ago, published two volumes of “ Letters on the Constitution and Order of the Christian Ministry, addressed to the members of the Presbyterian Churches in the city of New York.” This gentleman he considers as the representative of presbyterianism; and seems to be very desirous of fastening upon him some heavy charges of misrepresentation, want of fairness, &c. With what success, the impartial reader must judge. In the mean time, he takes as his own guide the reverend Dr Bowden, who undertook, many years ago, to answer Dr Miller; implicitly follows his allegations; copies his mistakes; apes his confidence; and, under the cover of his erudition, with a little additional patch-work, endeavours to pass himself off as a profound ecclesiastical antiquary. Truly, it is not a little amusing to see how plausibly a convert of eight weeks, with the aid of a little modest assurance, can contrive to appear. We cannot undertake to predict how far Dr Miller may consider this redoubtable western assailant as demanding public notice. We should imagine, however, that he would hardly think it worth his while to enter the lists with so humble a retailer of what has been much better said by others, and quite as often refuted by the advocates of presbyterian parity, long before Dr Cooke,

or his file-leader, Dr Bowden, had an existence. It is very certain that we should never have thought of giving the present article a place in our miscellany, if we had not been informed that some humble admirers of our author, with as little acquaintance with the merits of the controversy as himself, have indulged themselves in uttering many a premature boast, that his work could not fail of proving fatal at least to Dr Miller's reputation, if not to presbyterianism.

Our author, like most of the body to which he has recently become an adherent, is evidently shy of making his primary or principal appeals to the Bible. He says not a little, indeed, of bishop Timothy, bishop Titus, bishop Barnabas, bishop Epaphroditus, &c.: but in no instance, so far as we recollect, does he find it convenient to bolster up the claims of these fancied prelates, without having recourse to uninspired aid to help out the scanty, and to his purpose, insufficient intimations of scripture. This mode of conducting his defence, we should think, cannot fail of making its appropriate impression on every candid mind. If prelacy had been an apostolical institution; and, above all, if the inspired apostles, like modern high-churchmen, had considered it as essential to the very existence of the church, or even to its perfection, it would, no doubt, have held a prominent place in every part of the New Testament. Whatever else was left in the shade, the bishop's character and claims would have been placed in a full and strong light. Now that this is acknowledged on all hands, by the most zealous prelatists, not to be the case, we may assume as proof sufficient that their view of the subject is erroneous. No rational man, we are very sure, can admit the idea, that a God of infinite wisdom and goodness, in giving to men a revelation for their instruction in divine things, would either pass in silence, or leave in obscurity, that which was essential to all the privileges and hopes of redeemed men; that without which there could be no church, no valid ordinances, no covenanted hope of mercy. To suppose that such a matter would be left in doubt, or liable to misapprehension, would, indeed, ill accord with the great purpose for which the Bible was given to men. Yet the learned high-churchman Dodwell, and his followers, grant that prelacy is not taught in the New Testament, because it did not exist until after the commencement of the second century. And if we are not deceived, the great mass of high-church writers, even those

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »