HotFreeBooks.com
The Destiny of the Soul - A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life
by William Rounseville Alger
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 27     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

7 Schoettgen, Hora Hebraica et Talmudica in 2 Cor. xii. 2.

"See thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount." They refined upon these words with many conceits. They compared the three divisions of the temple to the three heavens: the outer Court of the Gentiles corresponded with the first heaven, the Court of the Israelites with the second heaven, and the Holy of Holies represented the third heaven or the very abode of God. Josephus writes, "The temple has three compartments: the first two for men, the third for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men."8 Now, our author says, referring to this triple symbolic arrangement of the temple, "The priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service, but into the second went the high priest alone, once every year, not without blood; this, which was a figure for the time then present, signifying that the way into the holiest of all9 was not yet laid open; but Christ being come, an high priest of the future good things, by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal deliverance." The points of the comparison here instituted are these: On the great annual day of atonement, after the death of the victim, the Hebrew high priest went into the adytum of the earthly temple, but none could follow; Jesus, the Christian high priest, went after his own death into the adytum of the heavenly temple, and enabled the faithful to enter there after him. Imagery like the fore going, which implies a Sanctum Sanctorum above, the glorious prototype of that below, is frequent in the Talmud.10 To remove all uncertainty from the exposition thus presented, if any doubt linger, it is only necessary to cite one more passage from the epistle. "We have, therefore, brethren, by the blood of Jesus, leading into the holiest, a free road, a new and blessed road, which he hath inaugurated for us through the veil, that is to say, through his flesh." As there was no entrance for the priest into the holiest of the temple save by the removal of the veil, so Christ could not enter heaven except by the removal of his body. The blood of Jesus here, as in most cases in the New Testament, means the death of Jesus, involving his ascension. Chrysostom, commenting on these verses, says, in explanation of the word [non-ASCII characters], "Christ laid out the road and was the first to go over it. The first way was of death, leading [ad inferos] to the under world; the other is of life," leading to heaven.

The interpretation we have given of these passages reconciles and blends that part of the known contemporary opinions which applies to them, and explains and justifies the natural force of the imagery and words employed.

Its accuracy seems to us unquestionable by any candid person who is competently acquainted with the subject. The substance of it is, that Jesus came from God to the earth as a man, laid down his life that he might rise from the dead into heaven again, into the real Sanctum Sanctorum of the universe, thereby proving that faithful believers also shall rise thither, being thus delivered, after the pattern of his evident deliverance, from the imprisonment of the realm of death below.

We now proceed to quote and unfold five distinct passages, not yet brought forward, from the epistle, each of which proves that we are not mistaken in attributing to the writer

8 Antiq. lib. iii. cap. 6, sect. 4; ibid. cap. 7, sect. 7.

9 Philo declares, "The whole universe is one temple of God, in which the holiest of all is heaven." De Monarchia, p. 222, ed. Mangey.

10 Schoettgen, Dissertatio de Hierosolyma Coelesti, cap. 2, sect. 9.

of it the above stated general theory. In the first verse which we shall adduce it is certain that the word "death" includes the entrance of the soul into the subterranean kingdom of ghosts. It is written of Christ that, "in the days of his flesh, when he had earnestly prayed to Him that was able to do it, to save him from death, he was heard," and was advanced to be a high priest in the heavens, "was made higher than the heavens." Now, obviously, God did not rescue Christ from dying, but he raised him, [non-ASCII characters], from the world of the dead.

So Chrysostom declares, referring to this very text, "Not to be retained in the region of the dead, but to be delivered from it, is virtually not to die."11 Moreover, the phrase above translated "to save him from death" may be translated, with equal propriety, "to bring him back safe from death."

The Greek verb [non-ASCII characters], to save, is often so used to denote the safe restoration of a warrior from an incursion into an enemy's domain. The same use made here by our author of the term "death" we have also found made by Philo Judaus. "The wise," Philo says, "inherit the Olympic and heavenly region to dwell in, always studying to go above; the bad inherit the innermost parts of the under world, always laboring to die."12 The antithesis between going above and dying, and the mention of the under world in connection with the latter, prove that to die here means, or at least includes, going below after death.

The Septuagint version of the Old Testament twice translates Sheol by the word "death."13 The Hebrew word for death, maveth, is repeatedly used for the abode of the dead.14 And the nail of the interpretation we are urging is clenched by this sentence from Origen: "The under world, in which souls are detained by death, is called death."15 Bretschneider cites nearly a dozen passages from the New Testament where, in his judgment, death is used to denote Hades.

Again: we read that Christ took human nature upon him "in order that by means of [his own] death he might render him that has the power of death that is, the devil idle, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." It is apparent at once that the mere death of Christ, so far from ending the sway of Death, would be giving the grim monster a new victory, incomparably the most important he had ever achieved. Therefore, the only way to make adequate sense of the passage is to join with the Savior's death what followed it, namely, his resurrection and ascension. It was the Hebrew belief that sin, introduced by the fraud of the devil, was the cause of death, and the doomer of the disembodied spirits of men to the lower caverns of darkness and rest. They personified Death as king, tyrannizing over mankind; and, unless in severe affliction, they dreaded the hour when they must lie down under his sceptre and sink into his voiceless kingdom of shadows. Christ broke the power of Satan, closed his busy reign, rescued the captive souls, and relieved the timorous hearts of the faithful, by rising triumphantly from

11 Homil. Epist. ad Heb. in hoc loc.

12 Quod a Deo mitt. Somn., p. 643, ed. Mangey.

13 2 Sam. xxii. 6; Prov. xxiii. 14.

14 Ps. ix. 13. Prov. vii, 27.

15 Comm. in Epist. ad Rom., lib. vi. cap. 6, sect. 6.: "Inferni locus in quo anima detinebantur a morte mors appellatur."

the long bound dominion of the grave, and ascending in a new path of light, pioneering the saints to immortal glory.

In another part of the epistle, the writer, having previously explained that as the high priest after the death of the expiatory goat entered the typical holy place in the temple, so Christ after his own death entered the true holy place in the heavens, goes on to guard against the analogy being forced any further to deny the necessity of Christ's service being repeated, as the priest's was annually repeated, saying, "For then he must have died many times since the foundation of the world; but, on the contrary, [it suffices that] once, at the close of the ages, through the sacrifice of himself he hath appeared [in heaven] for the abrogation of sin."16 The rendering and explanation we give of this language are those adopted by the most distinguished commentators, and must be justified by any one who examines the proper punctuation of the clauses and studies the context. The simple idea is, that, by the sacrifice of his body through death, Christ rose and showed himself in the presence of God. The author adds that this was done "unto the annulling of sin." It is with reference to these last words principally that we have cited the passage. What do they mean? In what sense can the passing of Christ's soul into heaven after death be said to have done away with sin? In the first place, the open manifestation of Christ's disenthralled and risen soul in the supernal presence of God did not in any sense abrogate sin itself, literally considered, because all kinds of sin that ever were upon the earth among men before have been ever since, and are now. In the second place, that miraculous event did not annul and remove human guilt, the consciousness of sin and responsibility for it, because, in fact, men feel the sting and load of guilt now as badly as ever; and the very epistle before us, as well as the whole New Testament, addresses Christians as being exposed to constant and varied danger of incurring guilt and woe. But, in the third place, the ascension of Jesus did show very plainly to the apostles and first Christians that what they supposed to be the great outward penalty of sin was annulled; that it was no longer a necessity for the spirit to descend to the lower world after death; that fatal doom, entailed on the generations of humanity by sin, was now abrogated for all who were worthy. Such, we have not a doubt, is the true meaning of the declaration under review.

This exposition is powerfully confirmed by the two succeeding verses, which we will next pass to examine. "As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, without sin, for salvation unto those expecting him." Man dies once, and then passes into that state of separate existence in the under world which is the legal judgment for sin. Christ, taking upon himself, with the nature of man, the burden of man's lot and doom, died once, and then rose from the dead by the gracious power of the Father, bearing away the outward penalty of sin. He will come again into the world, uninvolved, the next time, with any of the accompaniments or consequences of sin, to save them that look for him, and victoriously lead them into heaven with him. In this instance, as all through the writings of the apostles,

16 Griesbach in loc.; and Rosenmuller.

sin, death, and the under world are three segments of a circle, each necessarily implying the others. The same remark is to be made of the contrasted terms righteousness, grace, immortal life above the sky; 17 the former being traced from the sinful and fallen Adam, the latter from the righteous and risen Christ.

The author says, "If the blood of bulls and goats sanctifies unto the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who having18 an eternal spirit offered himself faultless to God, cleanse your consciousness!" The argument, fully expressed, is, if the blood of perishable brutes cleanses the body, the blood of the immortal Christ cleanses the soul. The implied inference is, that as the former fitted the outward man for the ritual privileges of the temple, so the latter fitted the inward man for the spiritual privileges of heaven. This appears clearly from what follows in the next chapter, where the writer says, in effect, that "it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins, however often it is offered, but that Christ, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down at the right hand of God." The reason given for the efficacy of Christ's offering is that he sat down at the right hand of God. When the chosen animals were sacrificed for sins, they utterly perished, and there was an end. But when Christ was offered, his soul survived and rose into heaven, an evident sign that the penalty of sin, whereby men were doomed to the under world after death, was abolished. This perfectly explains the language; and nothing else, it seems to us, can perfectly explain it.

That Christ would speedily reappear from heaven in triumph, to judge his foes and save his disciples, was a fundamental article in the primitive Church scheme of the last things. There are unmistakable evidences of such a belief in our author. "For yet a little while, and the coming one will come, and will not delay." "Provoke one another unto love and good works, . . . so much the more as ye see the day drawing near." There is another reference to this approaching advent, which, though obscure, affords important testimony. Jesus, when he had ascended, "sat down at the right hand of God, henceforward waiting till his enemies be made his footstool." That is to say, he is tarrying in heaven for the appointed time to arrive when he shall come into the world again to consummate the full and final purposes of his mission. We may leave this division of the subject established beyond all question, by citing a text which explicitly states the idea in so many words: "Unto them that look for him he shall appear the second time." That expectation of the speedy second coming of the Messiah which haunted the early Christians, therefore, unquestionably occupied the mind of the composer of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

If the writer of this epistolary essay had a firm and detailed opinion as to the exact fate to be allotted to wicked and persistent unbelievers, his allusions to that opinion are too few and vague for us to determine precisely what it was. We will briefly quote the substance of what he says upon the subject, and add a word in regard to the inferences it does, or it does not, warrant. "If under the Mosaic dispensation every transgression received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, first proclaimed by the

17 Neander, Planting and Training of the Church, Ryland's trans. p. 298.

18 [Non-ASCII characters] is often used in the sense of with, or possessing. See Wahl's New Testament Lexicon.

Lord?" "As the Israelites that were led out of Egypt by Moses, on account of their unbelief and provocations, were not permitted to enter the promised land, but perished in the wilderness, so let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." Christ "became the cause of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." "He hath brought unto the end forever them that are sanctified." It will be observed that these last specifications are partial, and that nothing is said of the fate of those not included under them. "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, . . . if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. . . . But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, even things that accompany salvation." "We are not of them who draw back unto the destruction, but of them who believe unto the preservation, of the soul." "If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer left a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and of fiery indignation to devour the adversaries." "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "If they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, [Moses,] much more we shall not escape if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven," (Christ.) In view of the foregoing passages, which represent the entire teaching of the epistle in relation to the ultimate destination of sinners, we must assert as follows. First, the author gives no hint of the doctrine of literal torments in a local hell. Secondly, he is still further from favoring nay, he unequivocally denies the doctrine of unconditional, universal salvation. Thirdly, he either expected that the reprobate would be absolutely destroyed at the second coming of Christ, which does not seem to be declared; or that they would be exiled forever from the kingdom of glory into the sad and slumberous under world, which is not clearly implied; or that they would be punished according to their evil, and then, restored to Divine favor, be exalted into heaven with the original elect, which is not written in the record; or, lastly, that they would be disposed of in some way unknown to him, which he does not avow. He makes no allusion to such a terrific conception as is expressed by our modern use of the word hell: he emphatically predicates conditionality of salvation, he threatens sinners in general terms with severe judgment. Further than this he has neglected to state his faith. If it reached any further, he has preferred to leave the statement of it in vague and impressive gloom.

Let us stop a moment and epitomize the steps we have taken. Jesus, the Son of God, was a spirit in heaven. He came upon the earth in the guise of humanity to undergo its whole experience and to be its redeemer. He died, passed through the vanquished kingdom of the grave, and rose into heaven again, to exemplify to men that through the grace of God a way was opened to escape the under world, the great external penalty of sin, and reach a better country, even a heavenly. From his seat at God's right hand, he should ere long descend to complete God's designs in his mission, judge his enemies and lead his accepted followers to heaven. The all important thought running through the length and breadth of the treatise is the ascension of Christ from the midst of the dead [non-ASCII characters]into the celestial presence, as the pledge of our ascent. "Among the things of which we are speaking, this is the capital consideration, [non-ASCII characters] the most essential point, "that we have such a high priest, who hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." Neander says, though apparently without perceiving the extent of its ulterior significance, "The conception of the resurrection in relation to the whole Christian system lies at the basis of this epistle."

A brief sketch and exposition of the scope of the epistle in general will cast light and confirmation upon the interpretation we have given of its doctrine of a future life in particular. The one comprehensive design of the writer, it is perfectly clear, is to prove to the Christian converts from the Hebrews the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, and thus to arm them against apostasy from the new covenant to the ancient one. He begins by showing that Christ, the bringer of the gospel, is greater than the angels, by whom the law was given,19 and consequently that his word is to be reverenced still more than theirs.20 Next he argues that Jesus, the Christian Mediator, as the Son of God, is crowned with more authority and is worthy of more glory than Moses, the Jewish mediator, as the servant of God; and that as Moses led his people towards the rest of Canaan, so Christ leads his people towards the far better rest of heaven. He then advances to demonstrate the superiority of Christ to the Levitical priesthood. This he establishes by pointing out the facts that the Levitical priest had a transient honor, being after the law of a carnal commandment, his offerings referring to the flesh, while Christ has an unchangeable priesthood, being after the power of an endless life, his offering referring to the soul; that the Levitical priest once a year went into the symbolic holy place in the temple, unable to admit others, but Jesus rose into the real holy place itself above, opening a way for all faithful disciples to follow; and that the Hebrew temple and ceremonies were but the small type and shadow of the grand archetypal temple in heaven, where Christ is the immortal High Priest, fulfilling in the presence of God the completed reality of what Judaism merely miniatured, an emblematic pattern that could make nothing perfect. "By him therefore let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise." The author intersperses, and closes with, exhortations to steadfast faith, pure morals, and fervent piety.

There is one point in this epistle which deserves, in its essential connection with the doctrine of the future life, a separate treatment. It is the subject of the Atonement. The correspondence between the sacrifices in the Hebrew ritual and the sufferings and death of Christ would, from the nature of the case, irresistibly suggest the sacrificial terms and metaphors which our author uses in a large part of his argument. Moreover, his precise aim in writing compelled him to make these resemblances as prominent, as significant, and as effective as possible. Griesbach says well, in his learned and able essay, "When it was impossible for the Jews, lately brought to the Christian faith, to tear away the attractive associations of their ancestral religion, which were twined among the very roots of their minds, and they were consequently in danger of falling away from Christ, the most ingenious author of this epistle met the case by a masterly expedient. He instituted a careful comparison, showing the superiority of Christianity to Judaism even in regard to the very point where the latter seemed so much more glorious, namely, in priesthoods, temples,

19 Heb. i. 4 14, ii. 2; Acts vii. 53; Gal. iii.

20 Heb. ii. 1 3.

altars, victims, lustrations, and kindred things."21 That these comparisons are sometimes used by the writer analogically, figuratively, imaginatively, for the sake of practical illustration and impression, not literally as logical expressions and proofs of a dogmatic theory of atonement, is made sufficiently plain by the following quotations. "The bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest for sin are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Every one will at once perceive that these sentences are not critical statements of theological truths, but are imaginative expressions of practical lessons, spiritual exhortations. Again, we read, "It was necessary that the patterns of the heavenly things should be purified with sacrificed animals, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." Certainly it is only by an exercise of the imagination, for spiritual impression, not for philosophical argument, that heaven can be said to be defiled by the sins of men on earth so as to need cleansing by the lustral blood of Christ. The writer also appeals to his readers in these terms: "To do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." The purely practical aim and rhetorical method with which the sacrificial language is employed here are evident enough. We believe it is used in the same way wherever it occurs in the epistle.

The considerations which have convinced us, and which we think ought to convince every unprejudiced mind, that the Calvinistic scheme of a substitutional expiation for sin, a placation of Divine wrath by the offering of Divine blood, was not in the mind of the author, and does not inform his expressions when they are rightly understood, may be briefly presented. First, the notion that the suffering of Christ in itself ransomed lost souls, bought the withheld grace and pardon of God for us, is confessedly foreign and repulsive to the instinctive moral sense and to natural reason, but is supposed to rest on the authority of revelation. Secondly, that doctrine is nowhere specifically stated in the epistle, but is assumed, or inferred, to explain language which to a superficial look seems to imply it, perhaps even seems to be inexplicable without it;22 but in reality such a view is inconsistent with that language when it is accurately studied. For example, notice the following passage: "When Christ cometh into the world," he is represented as saying, "I come to do thy will, O God." "By the which will," the writer continues, "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus." That is, the death of Christ, involving his resurrection and ascension into heaven, fulfils and exemplifies the gracious purpose of God, not purchases for us an otherwise impossible benignity. The above cited explicit declaration is irreconcilable

21 Opuscula: De Imaginibus Judaicis in Epist. ad Hebraos.

22 That these texts were not originally understood as implying any vicarious efficacy in Christ's painful death, but as attributing a typical power to his triumphant resurrection, his glorious return from the world of the dead into heaven, appears very plainly in the following instance, Theodoret, one of the earliest explanatory writers on the New Testament, says, while expressly speaking of Christ's death, the sufferings through which he was perfected, "His resurrection certified a resurrection for us all." Comm. in Epist. ad Heb. cap. 2, v. 10.

with the thought that Christ came into the world to die that he might appease the flaming justice and anger of God, and by vicarious agony buy the remission of human sins: it conveys the idea, on the contrary, that God sent Christ to prove and illustrate to men the free fulness of his forgiving love. Thirdly, the idea, which we think was the idea of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that Christ, by his death, resurrection, and ascent, demonstrated to the faith of men God's merciful removal of the supposed outward penalty of sin, namely, the banishment of souls after death to the under world, and led the way, as their forerunner, into heaven, this idea, which is not shocking to the moral sense nor plainly absurd to the moral reason, as the Augustinian dogma is, not only yields a more sharply defined, consistent, and satisfactory explanation of all the related language of the epistle, but is also which cannot be said of the other doctrine in harmony with the contemporary opinions of the Hebrews, and would be the natural and almost inevitable development from them and complement of them in the mind of a Pharisee, who, convinced of the death and ascension of the sinless Jesus, the appointed Messiah, had become a Christian.

In support of the last assertion, which is the only one that needs further proof, we submit the following considerations. In the first place, every one familiar with the eschatology of the Hebrews knows that at the time of Christ the belief prevailed that the sin of Adam was the cause of death among men. In the second place, it is equally well known that they believed the destination of souls upon leaving the body to be the under world. Therefore does it not follow by all the necessities of logic? they believed that sin was the cause of the descent of disembodied spirits to the dreary lower realm. In the third place, it is notorious and undoubted that the Jews of that age expected that, when the Messiah should appear, the dead of their nation, or at least a portion of them, would be raised from the under world and be reclothed with bodies, and would reign with him for a period on earth and then ascend to heaven. Now, what could be more natural than that a person holding this creed, who should be brought to believe that Jesus was the true Messiah and after his death had risen from among the dead into heaven, should immediately conclude that this was a pledge or illustration of the abrogation of the gloomy penalty of sin, the deliverance of souls from the subterranean prison, and their admission to the presence of God beyond the sky? We deem this an impregnable position. Every relevant text that we consider in its light additionally fortifies it by the striking manner in which such a conception fits, fills, and explains the words. To justify these interpretations, and to sustain particular features of the doctrine which they express, almost any amount of evidence may be summoned from the writings both of the most authoritative and of the simplest Fathers of the Church, beginning with Justin Martyr,23 philosopher of Neapolis, at the close of the apostolic age, and ending with John Hobart,24 Bishop of New York, in the early part of the nineteenth century. We refrain from adducing the throng of such authorities here, because they will be more appropriately brought forward in future chapters.

23 Dial. cum Tryph. cap. v. et cap. lxxx.24 State of the Departed.

The intelligent reader will observe that the essential point of difference distinguishing our exposition of the fundamental doctrine of the composition in review, on the one hand, from the Calvinistic interpretation of it, and, on the other hand, from the Unitarian explanation of it, is this. Calvinism says that Christ, by his death, his vicarious pains, appeased the wrath of God, satisfied the claims of justice, and purchased the salvation of souls from an agonizing and endless hell. Unitarianism says that Christ, by his teachings, spirit, life, and miracles, revealed the character of the Father, set an example for man, gave certainty to great truths, and exerted moral influences to regenerate men, redeem them from sin, and fit them for the blessed kingdom of immortality. We understand the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews really to say in subtraction from what the Calvinist, in addition to what the Unitarian, says that Christ, by his resurrection from the tyrannous realm of death, and ascent into the unbarred heaven, demonstrated the fact that God, in his sovereign grace, in his free and wondrous love, would forgive mankind their sins, remove the ancient penalty of transgression, no more dooming their disembodied spirits to the noiseless and everlasting gloom of the under world, but admitting them to his own presence, above the firmamental floor, where the beams of his chambers are laid, and where he reigneth forever, covered with light as with a garment.

CHAPTER III.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE APOCALYPSE.

BEFORE attempting to exhibit the doctrine of a future life contained in the Apocalypse, we propose to give a brief account of what is contained, relating to this subject, in the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, and the (so called) Second Epistle of Peter.

The references made by James to the group of points included under the general theme of the Future Life are so few and indirect, or vague, that it is impossible to construct any thing like a complete doctrine from them, save by somewhat arbitrary and uncertain suppositions. His purpose in writing, evidently, was practical exhortation, not dogmatic instruction. His epistle contains no expository outline of a system; but it has allusions and hints which plainly imply some partial views belonging to a system, while the other parts of it are left obscure. He says that "evil desire brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death." But whether he intended this text as a moral metaphor to convey a spiritual meaning, or as a literal statement of a physical fact, or as a comprehensive enunciation including both these ideas, there is nothing in the context positively to determine. He offers not the faintest clew to his conception of the purpose of the death and resurrection of Christ. He uses the word for the Jewish hell but once, and then, undeniably, in a figurative sense, saying that a "curbless and defiling tongue is set on fire of Gehenna." He appears to adopt the common notion of his contemporary countrymen in regard to demoniacal existences, when he declares that "the devils believe there is one God, and tremble," and when he exclaims, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." He insists on the necessity of a faith that evinces itself in good works and in all the virtues, as the means of acceptance with God. He compares life to a vanishing vapor, denounces terribly the wicked and dissolute rich men who wanton in crimes and oppress the poor. Then he calls on the suffering brethren to be patient under their afflictions "until the coming of the Lord;" to abstain from oaths, be fervent in prayer, and establish their hearts, "for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." "Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door." Here the return of Christ, to finish his work, sit in judgment, accept some, and reject others, is clearly implied. And if James held this element of the general scheme of eschatology held by the other apostles as shown in their epistles, it is altogether probable that he also embraced the rest of that scheme. There are no means of definitely ascertaining whether he did or did not; though, according to a very learned and acute theologian, another fundamental part of that general system of doctrine is to be found in the last verse of the epistle, where James says that "he who converts a sinner from the error of his ways shall save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins." Bretschneider thinks that saving a soul from death here means rescuing it from a descent into the under world, the word death being often used in the New Testament as by the Rabbins to denote the subterranean abode of the dead.1 This

1 Bretschneider, Religiose Glaubenslehre, sect. 59.

interpretation may seem forced to an unlearned reader, who examines the text for personal profit, but will not seem at all improbable to one who, to learn its historic meaning, reads the text in the lighted foreground of a mind over whose background lies a fitly arranged knowledge of all the materials requisite for an adequate criticism. For such a man was Bretschneider himself.

The eschatological implications and references in the Epistle of Jude are of pretty much the same character and extent as those which we have just considered. A thorough study and analysis of this brief document will show that it may be fairly divided into three heads and be regarded as having three objects. First, the writer exhorts his readers "to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," "to remember the words of Christ's apostles," "to keep themselves in the love of God, looking for eternal life." He desires to stir them up to diligence in efforts to preserve their doctrinal purity and their personal virtue. Secondly, he warns them of the fearful danger of depravity, pride, and lasciviousness. This warning he enforces by several examples of the terrible judgments of God on the rebellious and wicked in other times. Among these instances is the case of the Cities of the Plain, eternally destroyed by a storm of fire for their uncleanness; also the example of the fallen angels, "who kept not their first estate, but left their proper habitation, and are reserved in everlasting chains and darkness unto the judgment of the great day." The writer here adopts the doctrine of fallen angels, and the connected views, as then commonly received among the Jews. This doctrine is not of Christian origin, but was drawn from Persian and other Oriental sources, as is abundantly shown, with details, in almost every history of Jewish opinions, in almost every Biblical commentary.2 In this connection Jude cites a legend from an apocryphal book, called the "Ascension of Moses," of which Origen gives an account.3 The substance of the tradition is, that, at the decease of Moses, Michael and Satan contended whether the body should be given over to death or be taken up to heaven. The appositeness of this allusion is, that, while in this strife the archangel dared not rail against Satan, yet the wicked men whom Jude is denouncing do not hesitate to blaspheme the angels and to speak evil of the things which they know not. "Woe unto such ungodly men: gluttonous spots, dewless clouds, fruitless trees plucked up and twice dead, they are ordained to condemnation." Thirdly, the epistle announces the second coming of Christ, in the last time, to establish his tribunal. The Prophecy of Enoch an apocryphal book, recovered during the present century is quoted as saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict the ungodly of their ungodly deeds."4 Jude, then, anticipated the return of the Lord, at "the judgment of the great day," to judge the world; considered the under world, or abode of the dead, not as a region of fire, but a place of imprisoning gloom, wherein "to defiled and blaspheming dreamers is reserved the blackness of darkness forever;"

2 E. g. Stuart's Dissertation on the Angelology of the Scriptures, published in vol. i. of the Bibliotheca Sacra.

3 De Principiis, lib. iii. cap 2. See, also, in Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, sect. 4 of the chapter on Jude.

4 Book of Enoch, translated by Dr. R. Laurence, cap. ii.

thought it imminently necessary for men to be diligent in striving to secure their salvation, because "all sensual mockers, not having the spirit, but walking after their own ungodly lusts," would be lost. He probably expected that, when all free contingencies were past and Christ had pronounced sentence, the condemned would be doomed eternally into the black abyss, and the accepted would rise into the immortal glory of heaven. He closes his letter with these significant words, which plainly imply much of what we have just been setting forth: "Everlasting honor and power, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be unto God, who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the face of his glory with exceeding joy."5

The first chapter of the so called Second Epistle of Peter is not occupied with theological propositions, but with historical, ethical, and practical statements and exhortations. These are, indeed, of such a character, and so expressed, that they clearly presuppose certain opinions in the mind of the writer. First, he evidently believed that a merciful and holy message had been sent from God to men by Jesus Christ, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises." The substance of these promises was "a call to escape the corruption of the world, and enter into glory and be partakers of the Divine nature." By partaking of the Divine nature, we understand the writer to mean entering the Divine abode and condition, ascending into the safe and eternal joy of the celestial prerogatives. That the author here denotes heaven by the term glory, as the other New Testament writers frequently do, appears distinctly from the seventeenth and eighteenth verses of the chapter, where, referring to the incident at the baptism of Jesus, he declares, "There came a voice from the excellent glory, saying, 'This is my beloved Son;' and this voice, which came from heaven, we heard." Secondly, our author regarded this glorious promise as contingent on the fulfilment of certain conditions. It was to be realized by means of "faith, courage, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love." "He that hath these things shall never fall," "but an entrance shall be ministered unto him abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." The writer furnishes us no clew to his idea of the particular part performed by Christ in our salvation. He says not a word concerning the sufferings or death of the Savior; and the extremely scanty and indefinite allusions made to the relation in which Christ was supposed to stand between God and men, and the redemption and reconciliation of men with God, do not enable us to draw any dogmatic conclusions. He speaks of "false teachers, who shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them." But whether by this last phrase he means to imply a ransom of imprisoned souls from the under world by Christ's descent thither and victory over its powers, or a purchased exemption of sinners from their merited doom by the vicarious sufferings of Christ's death, or a practical regenerative redemption of disciples from their sins by the moral influences of his mission, his teachings, example, and character, there is nothing in the epistle clearly to decide; though, forming our judgment by the aid of other sources of information, we should conclude in favor of the first of these three conceptions as most probably expressing the writer's thought.

5 Griesbuch's reading of the 25th verse of Jude.

The second chapter of the epistle is almost an exact parallel with the Epistle of Jude: in many verses it is the same, word for word. It threatens "unclean, self willed, unjust, and blaspheming men," that they shall "be reserved unto the day of judgment, to be punished." It warns such persons by citing the example of the rebellious "angels, who were thrust down into Tartarus, and fastened in chains of darkness until the judgment." It speaks of "cursed children, to whom is reserved the mist of darkness forever." Herein, plainly enough, is betrayed the common notion of the Jews of that time, the conception of a dismal under world, containing the evil angels of the Persian theology, and where the wicked were to be remanded after judgment and eternally imprisoned.

The third and last chapter is taken up with the doctrine of the second coming of Christ. "Be mindful of the words of the prophets and apostles, knowing this first, that in the last days there shall be scoffers, who will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as from the beginning.'" The writer meets this skeptical assertion with denial, and points to the Deluge, "whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." His argument is, the world was thus destroyed once, therefore it may be destroyed again. He then goes on to assert positively relying for authority on old traditions and current dogmas that "the heavens and the earth which are now are kept by the word of God in store to be destroyed by fire in the day of judgment, when the perdition of ungodly men shall be sealed." "The delay of the Lord to fulfil his promise is not from procrastination, but from his long suffering who is not willing that any should perish." He waits "that all may come to repentance." But his patience will end, and "the day of God come as a thief in the night, when the heavens, being on fire, shall pass away with a crash, and the elements melt with fervent heat." There are two ways in which these declarations may be explained, though in either case the events they refer to are to occur in connection with the physical reappearance of Christ. First, they may be taken in a highly figurative sense, as meaning the moral overthrow of evil and the establishment of righteousness in the world. Similar expressions were often used thus by the ancient Hebrew prophets, who describe the triumphs of Israel and the destruction of their enemies, the Edomites or the Assyrians, by the interposition of Jehovah's arm, in such phrases as these. "The mountains melt, the valleys cleave asunder like wax before a fire, like waters poured over a precipice." "The heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll, all their hosts shall melt away and fall down; for Jehovah holdeth a great slaughter in the land of Edom: her streams shall be turned into pitch, and her dust into brimstone, and her whole land shall become burning pitch." The suppression of Satan's power and the setting up of the Messiah's kingdom might, according to the prophetic idiom, be expressed in awful images of fire and woe, the destruction of the old, and the creation of a new, heaven and earth. But, secondly, this phraseology, as used by the writer of the epistle before us, may have a literal significance, may have been intended to predict strictly that the world shall be burned and purged by fire at the second coming of the Lord. That such a catastrophe would take place in the last day, or occurred periodically, was notoriously the doctrine of the Persians and of the Stoics.6 For our own part, we are convinced that the latter is the real meaning of the writer. This seems to be shown alike by the connection of his argument, by the prosaic literality of detail with which he speaks, and by the earnest exhortations he immediately bases on the declaration he has made. He reasons that, since the world was destroyed once by water, it may be again by fire. The deluge he certainly regarded as literal: was not, then, in his conception, the fire, too, literal? He says, with calm, prosaic precision, "The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holiness, looking for a new heaven and a new earth, and striving that ye may be found by him in peace, without spot, and blameless!" We do not suppose this writer expected the annihilation of the physical creation, but only that the fire would destroy all unransomed creatures from its surface, and thoroughly purify its frame, and make it clean and fit for a new race of sinless and immortal men.

"Tears shall not break from their full source, Nor Anguish stray from her Tartarean den, The golden years maintain a course Not undiversified, though smooth and even, We not be mock'd with glimpse and shadow then, Bright seraphs mix familiarly with men, And earth and sky compose a universal heaven."

We have now arrived at the threshold of the last book in the New Testament, that book which, in the words of Lucke, "lies like a Sphinx at the lofty outgate of the Bible." There are three modes of interpreting the Apocalypse, each of which has had numerous and distinguished advocates. First, it may be regarded as a congeries of inspired prophecies, a scenic unfolding, with infallible foresight, of the chief events of Christian history from the first century till now, and onwards. This view the combined effect of the facts in the case and of all the just considerations appropriate to the subject compels us to reject. There is no evidence to support it; the application of it is crowded with egregious follies and absurdities. We thus simply state the result of our best investigation and judgment, for there is no space here to discuss it in detail. Secondly, the book may be taken as a symbolic exhibition of the transitional crises, exposures, struggles, and triumphs of the individual soul, a description of personal experience, a picture of the inner life of the Christian in a hostile world. The contents of it can be made to answer to such a characterization only by the determined exercise of an unrestrained fancy, or by the theory of a double sense, as the Swedenborgians expound it. This method of interpreting the Revelation is adopted, not by scholarly thinkers, who, by the light of learning and common sense, seek to discern what the writer meant to express, but by those persons who go to the obscure document, with traditional superstition and lawless imaginations, to see what lessons they can find there for their experimental guidance and edification. We suppose that every intelligent and informed student who has

6 Cicero de Nat. Deorum, lib. ii. cap. 46. Also Ovid, Minucius Felix, Seneca, and other authorities, as quoted by Rosenmuller on 2 Peter iii. 7.

examined the subject with candid independence holds it as an exegetical axiom that the Apocalypse is neither a pure prophecy, blazing full illumination from Patmos along the track of the coming centuries, nor an exhaustive vision of the experience of the faithful Christian disciple. We are thus brought to the third and, as we think, the correct mode of considering this remarkable work. It is an outburst from the commingled and seething mass of opinions, persecutions, hopes, general experience, and expectation of the time when it was written. This is the view which would naturally arise in the mind of an impartial student from the nature of the case, and from contemplating the fervid faith, suffering, lowering elements, and thick coming events of the apostolic age. It also strikingly corresponds with numerous express statements and with the whole obvious spirit and plan of the work; for its descriptions and appeals have the vivid colors, the thrilling tones, the significantly detailed allusions to experiences and opinions and anticipations notoriously existing at the time, which belong to present or immediately impending scenes. This way of considering the Apocalypse likewise enables one who is acquainted with the early Jewish Christian doctrines, legends, and hopes, to explain clearly a large number of passages in it whose obscurity has puzzled many a commentator. We should be glad to give various illustrations of this, if our limits did not confine us strictly to the one class of texts belonging to the doctrine of a future life. Furthermore, nearly all the most gifted critics, such as Ewald, Bleek, Lucke, De Wette, those whose words on such matters as these are weightiest, now agree in concluding that the Revelation of John was a product springing out of the intense Jewish Christian belief and experience of the age, and referring, in its dramatic scenery and predictions, to occurrences supposed to be then transpiring or very close at hand. Finally, this view in regard to the Apocalypse is strongly confirmed by a comparison of that production with the several other works similar to it in character and nearly contemporaneous in origin. These apocryphal productions were written or compiled according to the pretty general agreement of the great scholars who have criticized them somewhere between the beginning of the first century before, and the middle of the second century after, Christ. We merely propose here, in the briefest manner, to indicate the doctrine of a future life contained in them, as an introduction to an exposition of that contained in the New Testament Apocalypse.

In the TESTAMENT OF THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS it is written that "the under world shall be spoiled through the death of the Most Exalted."7 Again, we read, "The Lord shall make battle against the devil, and conquer him, and rescue from him the captive souls of the righteous. The just shall rejoice in Jerusalem, where the Lord shall reign himself, and every one that believes in him shall reign in truth in the heavens."8 Farther on the writer says of the Lord, after giving an account of his crucifixion, "He shall rise up from the under world and ascend into heaven."9 These extracts seem to imply the common doctrine of that time, that Christ descended into the under world, freed the captive saints, and rose into heaven, and would soon return to establish his throne in Jerusalem, to reign there for a time with his accepted followers.

7 See this book in Fabricii Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti, Test. Lev. sect. iv.

8 Ibid. Test. Dan. sect. v.

9 Ibid. Test. Benj. sect. ix.

The FOURTH BOOK OF EZRA contains scattered declarations and hints of the same nature.10 It describes a vision of the Messiah, on Mount Zion, distributing crowns to those confessors of his name who had died in their fidelity.11 The world is said to be full of sorrows and oppressions; and as the souls of the just ask when the harvest shall come,12 for the good to be rewarded and the wicked to be punished, they are told that the day of liberation is not far distant, though terrible trials and scourges must yet precede it. "My Son Jesus shall be revealed." "My Son the Christ shall die; and then a new age shall come, the earth shall give up the dead, sinners shall be plunged into the bottomless abyss, and Paradise shall appear in all its glory."13 The "Son of God will come and consume his enemies with fire; but the elect will be protected and made happy."14

The ASCENSION OF ISAIAH is principally occupied with an account of the rapture of the soul of that prophet through the seven heavens, and of what he there saw and learned. It describes the descent of Christ, the beloved Son of God, through all the heavens, to the earth; his death; his resurrection after three days; his victory over Satan and his angels, who dwell in the welkin or higher region of the air; and his return to the right hand of God.15 It predicts great apostasy and sin among the disciples of the apostles, and much dissension respecting the nearness of the second advent of Christ.16 It emphatically declares that "Christ shall come with his angels, and shall drag Satan and his powers into Gehenna. Then all the saints shall descend from heaven in their heavenly clothing, and dwell in this world; while the saints who had not died shall be similarly clothed, and after a time leave their bodies here, that they may assume their station in heaven. The general resurrection and judgment will follow, when the ungodly will be devoured by fire."17 The author as Gesenius, with almost all the rest of the critics, says was unquestionably a Jewish Christian, and his principal design was to set forth the speedy second coming of Christ, and the glorious triumph of the saints that would follow with the condign punishment of the wicked.

The first book of the SIBYLLINE ORACLES contains a statement that in the golden age the souls of all men passed peacefully into the under world, to tarry there until the judgment; a prediction of a future Messiah; and an account of his death, resurrection, and ascension. The second book begins with a description of the horrors that will precede the last time, threats against the persecuting tyrants, and promises to the faithful, especially to the martyrs, and closes with an account of the general judgment, when Elijah shall come from heaven, consuming flames break out, all souls be summoned to the tribunal of God at whose right hand Christ will sit, the bodies of the dead be raised, the righteous be purified, and the wicked be plunged into final ruin.

The fundamental thought and aim of the apocryphal BOOK OF ENOCH are the second coming of Christ to judge the world, the encouragement of the Christians, and the warning

10 See the abstract of it given in section vi. of Stuart's Commentary on the Apocalypse.

11 Cap. ii. 12 Cap. iv. 13 Cap. v., vii. 14 Cap. xiii., xvi.

15 Ascensio Isaia Vatis, a Ricardo Laurence, cap. ix., x., xi.

16 Ibid. cap. ii., iii.

17 Ibid. cap. iv. 13-18.

of their oppressors by declarations of approaching deliverance to those and vengeance to these. This is transparent at frequent intervals through the whole book.18 "Ye righteous, wait with patient hope: your cries have cried for judgment, and it shall come, and the gates of heaven shall be opened to you." "Woe to you, powerful oppressors, false witnesses! for you shall suddenly perish." "The voices of slain saints accusing their murderers, the oppressors of their brethren, reach to heaven with interceding cries for swift justice."19 When that justice comes, "the horse shall wade up to his breast, and the chariot shall sink to its axle, in the blood of sinners."20 The author teaches that the souls of men at death go into the under world, "a place deep and dark, where all souls shall be collected;" "where they shall remain in darkness till the day of judgment," the spirits of the righteous being in peace and joy, separated from the tormented spirits of the wicked, who have spurned the Messiah and persecuted his disciples.21 A day of judgment is at hand. "Behold, he cometh, with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment." Then the righteous shall rise from the under world, be approved, become as angels, and ascend to heaven. But the wicked shall not rise: they remain imprisoned below forever.22 The angels descend to earth to dwell with men, and the saints ascend to heaven to dwell with angels.23 "From beginning to end, like the Apocalypse, the book is filled," says Professor Stuart, (and the most careless reader must remark it,) "with threats for the wicked persecutors and consolations for the suffering pious." A great number of remarkable correspondences between passages in this book and passages in the Apocalypse solicit a notice which our present single object will not allow us to give them here. An under world divided into two parts, a happy for the good, a wretched for the bad; temporary woes prevailing on the earth; the speedy advent of Christ for a vindication of his power and his servants; the resurrection of the dead; the final translation of the accepted into heaven, and the hopeless dooming of the rejected into the abyss, these are the features in the book before us which we are now to remember.

There is one other extant apocryphal book whose contents are strictly appropriate to the subject we have in hand, namely, the APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.24 It claims to be the work of the Apostle John himself. It represents John as going to Mount Tabor after the ascension of Christ, and there praying that it may be revealed to him when the second coming of Christ will occur, and what will be the consequences of it. In answer to his request, a long and minute disclosure is made. The substance of it is, that, after famines and woes, Antichrist will appear and reign three years. Then Enoch and Elijah will come to expose him; but they will die, and all men with them. The earth will be purified with fire, the dead will rise, Christ

18 Book of Enoch, translated into English by Dr. R. Laurence. See particularly the following places: i. 1 5; lii. 7; liv. 12; lxi. 15; lxii. 14, 15; xciv.; xcv.; civ.

19 Ibid. cap. ix. 9 11; xxii. 5 8; xlvii. 1-4.

20 Ibid. cap. xcviii. 3.

21 Ibid. cap. x. 6 9, 15, 16; xxii. 2 5, 11 13; cii. 6; ciii. 5.

22 Ibid. cap. xxii. 14, 15; xlv. 2; xlvi. 4; 1. 1-4.

23 cap. xxxviii. xl.

24 See the abstract of it given in Lucke's Einleit. in die Offenbar. Joh., cap. 2, sect. 17.

will descend in pomp, with myriads of angels, and the judgment will follow. The spirits of Antichrist will be hurled into a gulf of outer darkness, so deep that a heavy stone would not plunge to the bottom in three years. Unbelievers, sinners, hypocrites, will be cast into the under world; while true Christians are placed at the right hand of Christ, all radiant with glory. The good and accepted will then dwell in an earthly paradise, with angels, and be free from all evils.

In addition to these still extant Apocalypses, we have references in the works of the Fathers to a great many others long since perished; especially the Apocalypses of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Hystaspes, Paul, Peter, Thomas, Cerinthus, and Stephen. So far as we have any clew, by preserved quotations or otherwise, to the contents of these lost productions, they seem to have been much occupied with the topics of the avenging and redeeming advent of the Messiah, the final judgment of mankind, the supernal and subterranean localities, the resurrection of the dead, the inauguration of an earthly paradise, the condemnation of the reprobate to the abyss beneath, the translation of the elect to the Angelic realm on high. These works, all taken together, were plainly the offspring of the mingled mass of glowing faiths, sufferings, fears, and hopes, of the age they belonged to. An acquaintance with them will help us to appreciate and explain many things in our somewhat kindred New Testament Apocalypse, by placing us partially in the circumstances and mental attitude of the writer and of those for whom it was written.

The Persian Jewish and Jewish Christian notions and characteristics of the Book of Revelation are marked and prevailing, as every prepared reader must perceive. The threefold division of the universe into the upper world of the angels, the middle world of men, and the under world of the dead; the keys of the bottomless pit; the abode of Satan, the accuser, in heaven; his revolt; the war in the sky between his seduced host and the angelic army under Michael, and the thrusting down of the former; the banquet of birds on the flesh of kings, mighty men, and horses; the battle of Gog and Magog; the tarrying of souls under the altar of God; the temple in heaven containing the ark of the covenant, and the scene of a various ritual service; the twelve gates of the celestial city bearing the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and the twelve foundations of the walls having the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb; the bodily resurrection and general judgment, and the details of its sequel, all these doctrines and specimens of imagery, with a hundred others, carry us at once into the Zend Avesta, the Talmud, and the Ebionitish documents of the earliest Christians, who mixed their interpretations of the mission and teaching of Christ with the poetic visions of Zoroaster and the cabalistic dogmatics of the Pharisees. 25

It is astonishing that any intelligent person can peruse the Apocalypse and still suppose that it is occupied with prophecies of remote events, events to transpire successively in distant ages and various lands. Immediateness, imminency, hazardous urgency, swiftness, alarms, are written all over the book. A suspense, frightfully thrilling, fills it, as if the world were holding its breath in view of the universal crash that was coming with electric velocity.

25 See, e. g., Corrodi, Kritische Geschichte des Chiliasmus, band ii. th. 3 7; Gfrorer, Geschichte Urchristenthums, abth. ii. kap. 8 10; Schottgen in Apoc. xii. 6 9; ibid. in 2 Cor. v. 2.

Four words compose the key to the Apocalypse: Rescue, Reward, Overthrow, Vengeance. The followers of Christ are now persecuted and slain by the tyrannical rulers of the earth. Let them be of good cheer: they shall speedily be delivered. Their tyrants shall be trampled down in "blood flowing up to the horse bridles," and they shall reign in glory. "Here is the faith and the patience of the saints," trusting that, if "true unto death, they shall have a crown of life," and "shall not be hurt of the second death," but shall soon rejoice over the triumphant establishment of the Messiah's kingdom and the condign punishment of his enemies who are now "making themselves drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." The Beast, described in the thirteenth chapter, is unquestionably Nero; and this fact shows the expected immediateness of the events pictured in connection with the rise and destruction of that monstrous despot.26 The truth of this representation is sealed by the very first verses of the book, indicating the nature of its contents and the period to which they refer: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass: Blessed are they who hear the words of this prophecy and keep them; for the time is at hand."

This rescue and reward of the faithful, this overthrow and punishment of the wicked, were to be effected by the agency of a unique and sublime personage, who was expected very soon to appear, with an army of angels from heaven, for this purpose. The conception of the nature, rank, and offices of Jesus Christ which existed in the mind of the writer of the Apocalypse is in some respects but obscurely hinted in the words he employs; yet the relationship of those words to other and fuller sources of information in the contemporaneous notions of his countrymen is such as to give us great help in arriving at his ideas. He represents Christ as distinct from and subordinate to God. He makes Christ say, "To him that overcometh I will give power over the nations, even as I received of my Father." He characterizes him as "the beginning of the creation of God," and describes him as "mounted on a white horse, leading the heavenly armies to war, and his name is called the Logos of God." These terms evidently correspond to the phrases in the introduction to the Gospel of John, and in the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, where are unfolded some portions of that great doctrine, so prevalent among the early Fathers, which was borrowed and adapted by them from the Persian Honover, the Hebrew Wisdom, and the Platonic Logos.27 "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and all things were made by him;... and the Logos was made flesh and dwelt among us."28 "God of our fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things by thy Logos."29 "Thine almighty Logos leaped down from heaven from his royal throne, a fierce warrior, into the midst of a land of destruction."30 "Plainly enough, the Apocalyptic view of Christ is based on that profound Logos doctrine so copiously

26 See the excursus by Stuart in his Commentary on the Apoc. xiii. 18, which conclusively shows that the Beast could be no other than Nero.

27 Lucke, Einleitung in das Evang. Joh.

28 Evang. Joh. i. 1, 3, 14.

29 Wisdom of Solomon, ix. 1, 2.

30 Ibid. xviii. 15.

developed in the writings of Philo Judaus and so distinctly endorsed in numerous passages of the New Testament. First, there is the absolute God. Next, there is the Logos, the first begotten Son and representative image of God, the instrumental cause of the creation, the head of all created beings. This Logos, born into our world as a man, is Christ. Around him are clustered all the features and actions that compose the doctrine of the last things. The vast work of redemption and judgment laid upon him has in part been already executed, and in part remains yet to be done.

We are first to inquire, then, into the significance of what the writer of the Apocalypse supposes has already been effected by Christ in his official relations between God and men, so far as regards the general subject of a life beyond the grave. A few brief and vague but comprehensive expressions include all that he has written which furnishes us a guide to his thoughts on this particular. He describes Jesus, when advanced to his native supereminent dignity in heaven, as the "Logos, clothed in a vesture dipped in blood," and also as "the Lamb that was slain," to whom the celestial throng sing a new song, saying, "Thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood." Christ, he says, "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." He represents the risen Savior as declaring, "I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of the under world and of death." "Jesus Christ," again he writes, "is the faithful witness, the first begotten from the dead." What, now, is the real meaning of these pregnant phrases? What is the complete doctrine to which fragmentary references are here made? We are confident that it is this. Mankind, in consequence of sin, were alienated from God, and banished, after death, to Hades, the subterranean empire of shadows. Christ, leaving his exalted state in heaven, was born into the world as a messenger, or "faithful witness," of surprising grace to them from God, and died that he might fulfil his mission as the agent of their redemption, by descending into the great prison realm of the dead, and, exerting his irresistible power, return thence to light and life, and ascend into heaven as the forerunner and pledge of the deliverance and ascension of others. Moses Stuart, commenting on the clause "first begotten from the dead," says, "Christ was in fact the first who enjoyed the privilege of a resurrection to eternal glory and he was constituted the leader of all who should afterwards be thus raised from the dead."31 All who had died, with the sole exception of Christ, were yet in the under world. He, since his triumphant subdual of its power and return to heaven, possessed authority over it, and would ere long summon its hosts to resurrection, as he declares: "I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for ever more, and have the keys of the under world." The figure is that of a conqueror, who, returning from a captured and subdued city, bears the key of it with him, a trophy of his triumph and a pledge of its submission. The text "Thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood" is not received in an absolutely literal sense by any theological sect whatever. The severest Calvinist does not suppose that the physical blood shed on the cross is meant; but he explains it as denoting the atoning efficacy of the vicarious sufferings of Christ. But this interpretation is as forced and constructive an exposition as the one we have given, and is not

31 Stuart, Comm. in Apoc. i. 5.

warranted by the theological opinions of the apostolic age, which do, on the contrary, support and necessitate the other. The direct statement is, that men were redeemed unto God by the blood of Christ. All agree that in the word "blood" is wrapped up a figurative meaning. The Calvinistic dogma makes it denote the satisfaction of the law of retributive justice by a substitutional anguish. We maintain that a true historical exegesis, with far less violence to the use of language, and consistently with known contemporaneous ideas, makes it denote the death of Christ, and the events which were supposed to have followed his death, namely, his appearance among the dead, and his ascent to heaven, preparatory to their ascent, when they should no longer be exiled in Hades, but should dwell with God. Out of an abundance of illustrative authorities we will cite a few.

Augustine describes "the ancient saints" as being "in the under world, in places most remote from the tortures of the impious, waiting for Christ's blood and descent to deliver them."32 Epiphanius says, "Christ was the first that rose from the under world to heaven from the time of the creation."33 Lactantius affirms, "Christ's descent into the under world and ascent into heaven were necessary to give man the hope of a heavenly immortality."34 Hilary of Poictiers says, "Christ went down into Hades for two reasons: first, to fulfil the law imposed on mankind that every soul on leaving the body shall descend into the under world, and, secondly, to preach the Christian religion to the dead."35 Chrysostom writes, "When the Son of God cometh, the earth shall burst open, and all the men that ever were born, from Adam's birth up to that day, shall rise up out of the earth."36 Irenaus testifies, "I have heard from a certain presbyter, who heard it from those who had seen the apostles and received their instructions, that Christ descended into the under world, and preached the gospel and his own advent to the souls there, and remitted the sins of those who believed on him."37 Eusebius records that, "after the ascension of Jesus, Thomas sent Thaddeus, one of the Seventy, to Abgarus, King of Edessa. This disciple told the king how that Jesus, having been crucified, descended into the under world, and burst the bars which had never before been broken, and rose again, and also raised with himself the dead that had slept for ages; and how he descended alone, but ascended with a great multitude to his Father; and how he was about to come again to judge the living and the dead."38 Finally, we cite the following undeniable statement from Daille's famous work on the "Right Use of the Fathers:" "That heaven shall not be opened till the second coming of Christ and the day of judgment, that during this time the souls of all men, with a few exceptions, are shut up in the under world, was held by Justin Martyr, Irenaus, Tertullian, Augustine, Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Theodoret, OEcumenius, Aretas, Prudentius, Theophylact, Bernard,

32 De Civitate Dei, lib. xx. cap. 15.

33 In Resurrectionem Christi.

34 Divin. Instit. lib. iv. cap. 19, 20.

35 Hilary in Ps. cxviii. et cxix.

36 Homil. in Rom. viii. 25.

37 Adv. Hares. lib. iv. sect. 45.

38 Ecc. Hist. lib. i. cap. 13.

and many others, as is confessed by all. This doctrine is literally held by the whole Greek Church at the present day. Nor did any of the Latins expressly deny any part of it until the Council of Florence, in the year of our Lord 1439."39

In view of these quotations, and of volumes of similar ones which might be adduced, we submit to the candid reader that the meaning most probably in the mind of the writer of the Apocalypse when he wrote the words "redemption by the Blood of Christ" was this, the rescue certified to men by the commissioned power and devoted self sacrifice of Christ in dying, going down to the mighty congregation of the dead, proclaiming good tidings, breaking the hopeless bondage of death and Hades, and ascending as the pioneer of a new way to God. If before his death all men were supposed to go down to helpless confinement in the under world on account of sin, but after his resurrection the promise of an ascension to heaven was made to them through his gospel and exemplification, then well might the grateful believers, fixing their hearts on his willing martyrdom in their behalf, exclaim, "He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God." It is certainly far more natural, far more reasonable, to suppose that the scriptural phrase "the blood of Christ" means "the death of Christ," with its historical consequences, than to imagine that it signifies a complicated and mysterious scheme of sacerdotal or ethical expiation, especially when that scheme is unrelated to contemporaneous opinion, irreconcilable withmorality,and confessedly nowhere plainly stated in Scripture, but a matter of late and laborious construction and inference. We have not spoken of the strictly moral and subjective mission and work of Christ, as conceived by the author of the Apocalypse, his influences to cleanse the springs of character, purify and inspire the heart, rectify and elevate the motives, regenerate and sanctify the soul and the life, because all this is plain and unquestioned. But he also believed in something additional to this, an objective function: and what that was we think is correctly explained above.

We are next to inquire more immediately into the closing parts of the doctrine of the last things. Christ has appeared, declared the tidings of grace, died, visited the dead, risen victoriously, and gone back to heaven, where he now tarries. But there remain many things for him, as the eschatological King, yet to do. What are they? and what details are connected with them? First of all, he is soon to return from heaven, visiting the earth a second time. The first chapter of the book begins by declaring that it is "a revelation of things which must shortly come to pass," and "blessed is he that readeth; for the time is at hand." The last chapter is full of such repetitions as these: "things which must shortly be done;" "Behold, I come quickly;" "The time is at hand;" "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is holy, let him be holy still;" "Surely I come quickly;" "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Herder says, in his acute and eloquent work on the Apocalypse, "There is but one voice in it, through all its epistles, seals, trumpets, signs, and plagues, namely, THE LORD IS COMING!" The souls of the martyrs, impatiently waiting, under the altar, the completion of the great drama, cry, "How long, O Lord, dost thou delay to avenge our blood?" and they are told that "they shall

39 Lib. ii. cap. 4, pp. 272, 273 of the English translation.

rest only for a little season." Tertullian writes, without a trace of doubt, "Is not Christ quickly to come from heaven with a quaking of the whole universe, with a shuddering of the world, amidst the wailings of all men save the Christians?" The Apocalyptic seer makes Christ say, "Behold, I come as a thief in the night: blessed is he that watcheth." Accordingly, "a sentinel gazed wherever a Christian prayed, and, though all the watchmen died without the sight," the expectation lingered for centuries. The Christians of the New Testament time to borrow the words of one of the most competent of living scholars "carried forward to the account of Christ in years to come the visions which his stay, as they supposed, was too short to realize, and assigned to him a quick return to finish what was yet unfulfilled. The suffering, the scorn, the rejection of men, the crown of thorns, were over and gone; the diadem, the clarion, the flash of glory, the troop of angels, were ready to burst upon the world, and might be looked for at midnight or at noon."40

Secondly, when Christ returned, he was to avenge the sufferings and reward the fidelity of his followers, tread the heathen tyrants in the wine press of his wrath, and crown the persecuted saints with a participation in his glory. When "the time of his wrath is come, he shall give reward to the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear his name, and shall destroy them that destroy the earth." "The kings, captains, mighty men, rich men, bondmen, and freemen, shall cry to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb." "To him that overcometh, and doeth my works, I will give power over the Gentiles;" "I will give him the morning star;" "I will grant him to sit with me on my throne." Independently, moreover, of these distinct texts, the whole book is pervaded with the thought that, at the speedy second advent of the Messiah, all his enemies shall be fearfully punished, his servants eminently compensated and glorified.41

Thirdly, the writer of the Apocalypse expected in accordance with that Jewish anticipation of an earthly Messianic kingdom which was adopted with some modifications by the earliest Christians that Jesus, on his return, having subdued his foes, would reign for a season, in great glory, on the earth, surrounded by the saints. "A door was opened in heaven," and the seer looked in, and saw a vision of the redeemed around the throne, and heard them "singing a new song unto the Lamb that was slain," in the course of which, particularizing the favors obtained for them by him, they say, "We shall reign upon the earth." Again, the writer says that "the worshippers of the beast and of his image shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb." Now, the lake of sulphurous fire into which the reprobate were to be thrust was located, not in the sky, but under the surface of the earth. The foregoing statement, therefore, implies that Christ and his angels would be tarrying on the earth when the final woe of the condemned was inflicted. But we need not rely on indirect arguments. The writer explicitly declares

40 Martineau, Sermon, "The God of Revelation his own Interpreter."

41 It seems to have been a Jewish expectation that when the Messiah should appear he would thrust his enemies into Hades. In a passage of the Talmud Satan is represented as seeing the Messiah under the Throne of Glory: he falls on his face at the sight, exclaiming, "This is the Messiah, who will precipitate me and all the Gentiles into the under world." Bertholdt, Christologia, sect. 36.

that, in his vision of what was to take place, the Christian martyrs, "those who were slain for the witness of Jesus, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, while the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Then Satan was loosed out of his prison, and gathered the hosts of Gog and Magog to battle, and went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them." It seems impossible to avoid seeing in this passage a plain statement of the millennial reign of Christ on the earth with his risen martyrs.

Fourthly, at the termination of the period just referred to, the author of the Apocalypse thought all the dead would be raised and the tribunal of the general judgment held. As Lactantius says, "All souls are detained in custody in the under world until the last day; then the just shall rise and reign; afterwards there will be another resurrection of the wicked."42 "The time of the dead is come, that they should be judged." "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and the under world delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged, every man according to his works." "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a thousand years." This text, with its dark and tacit reference by contrast to those who have no lot in the millennial kingdom, brings us to the next step in our exposition.

For, fifthly, after the general resurrection and judgment at the close of the thousand years, the sentence of a hopeless doom to hell is to be executed on the condemned. "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." The "second death" is a term used by Onkelos in his Targum,43 and sometimes in the Talmud, and by the Rabbins generally. It denotes, as employed by them, the return of the wicked into hell after their summons thence for judgment.44 In the Apocalypse, its relative meaning is this. The martyrs, who were slain for their allegiance to the gospel, died once, and descended into the under world, the common realm of death. At the coming of Christ they were to rise and join him, and to die no more. This was the first resurrection. At the close of the millennium, all the rest of the dead were to rise and be judged, and the rejected portion of them were to be thrust back again below. This was a second death for them, a fate from which the righteous were exempt. There was a difference, greatly for the worse in the latter, between their condition in the two deaths. In the former they descended to the dark under world, the silent and temporary abode of the universal dead; but in the latter they went down "into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the devil and the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for

42 Divin. Instit. lib. vii. cap. 20, 21, 26.

43 on Deut. xxxiii. 6.

44 Gfrorer, Geschichte des Urchristenthums, kap. 10. s. 289.

ever and ever." For "Death and Hades, having delivered up the dead which were in them, were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." It is plain that here the common locality of departed souls is personified as two demons, Death and Hades, and the real thought meant to be conveyed is, that this region is to be sunk beneath a "Tartarean drench," which shall henceforth roll in burning billows over its victims there, "the smoke of their torment ascending up for ever and ever." This awful imagery of a lake of flaming sulphur, in which the damned were plunged, was of comparatively late origin or adoption among the Jews, from whom the Christians received it. The native Hebrew conception of the state of the dead was that of the voiceless gloom and dismal slumber of Sheol, whither all alike went. The notion of fiery tortures inflicted there on the wicked was either conceived by the Pharisees from the loathed horrors of the filth fire kept in the vale of Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem, (which is the opinion of most commentators,) or was imagined from the sea of burning brimstone that showered from heaven and submerged Sodom and Gomorrah in a vast fire pool, (which is maintained by Bretschneider and others,) or was derived from the Egyptians, or the Persians, or the Hindus, or the Greeks, all of whom had lakes and rivers of fire in their theological hells, long before history reveals the existence of such a belief among the Jews, (which is the conclusion of many learned authors and critics.)

We have now reached the last feature in the scheme of eschatology shadowed forth in the Apocalypse, the most obscure and difficult point of all, namely, the locality and the principal elements of the final felicity of the saved. The difficulty of clearly settling this question is twofold, arising, first, from the swift and partial glimpses which are all that the writer yields us on the subject, and, secondly, from the impossibility of deciding with precision how much of his language is to be regarded as figurative and how much as literal, where the poetic presentation of symbol ends and where the direct statement of fact begins. A large part of the book is certainly written in prophetic figures and images, spiritual visions, never meant to be accepted in a prosaic sense with severe detail. And yet, at the same time, all these imaginative emblems were, unquestionably, intended to foreshadow, in various kinds and degrees, doctrinal conceptions, hopes, fears, threats, promises, historical realities, past, present, or future. But to separate sharply the dress and the substance, the superimposed symbols and the underlying realities, is always an arduous, often an impossible, achievement. The writer of the Apocalypse plainly believed that the souls of all, except the martyrs, at death descended to the under world, and would remain there till after the second coming of Christ. But whether he thought that the martyrs were excepted, and would at death immediately rise into heaven and there await the fulfilment of time, is a disputed point. For our own part, we think it extremely doubtful, and should rather decide in the negative. In the first place, his expressions on this subject seem essentially figurative. He describes the prayers of the saints as being poured out from golden vials and burned as incense on a golden altar in heaven before the throne of God. "Under that altar," he says, "I saw the souls of them that were slain for the word of God." If the souls of the martyrs, in his belief, were really admitted into heaven, would he have conceived of them as huddled under the altar and not walking at liberty? Does not the whole idea appear rather like a rhetorical image than like a sober theological doctrine? True, the scene is pictured in heaven; but then it is a picture, and not a conclusion. With De Wette, we regard it, not as a dogmatic, but as a poetical and prophetic, representation. And in regard to the seer's vision of the innumerable company of the redeemed in heaven, surrounding the throne and celebrating the praises of God and the Lamb, surely it is obvious enough that this, like the other affiliated visions, is a vision, by inspired insight, in the present tense, of what is yet to occur in the successive unfolding of the rapid scenes in the great drama of Christ's redemptive work, a prophetic vision of the future, not of what already is. We know that in Tertullian's time the idea was entertained by some that Christian martyrs, as a special allotment, should pass at once from their sufferings to heaven, without going, as all others must, into the under world; but the evidence preponderates with us, upon the whole, that no such doctrine is really implied in the Apocalypse. In the fourteenth chapter, the author describes the hundred and forty four thousand who were redeemed from among men, as standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion and hearing a voice from heaven singing a new song, which no man, save the hundred and forty four thousand, could learn. The probabilities are certainly strongest that this great company of the selected "first fruits unto God and the Lamb," now standing on the earth, had not yet been in heaven; for they only learn the heavenly song which is sung before the throne by hearing it chanted down from heaven in a voice like multitudinous thunders.

Finally, the most convincing proof that the writer did not suppose that the martyrs entered heaven before the second advent of Christ a proof which, taken by itself, would seem to leave no doubt on the subject is this. In the famous scene detailed in the twentieth chapter usually called by commentators the martyr scene it is said that "the souls of them that were beheaded for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. This is the first resurrection." Now, is it not certain that if the writer supposed these souls had never been in the under world, but in heaven, he could not have designated their preliminary descent from above as "the first resurrection," the first rising up? That phrase implies, we think, that all the dead were below: the faithful and chosen ones were to rise first to reign a while with Jesus, and after that the rest should rise to be judged. After that judgment, which was expected to be on earth in presence of the descended Lamb and his angels, the lost were to be plunged, as we have already seen, into the subterranean pit of torture, the unquenchable lake of fire. But what was to become of the righteous and redeemed? Whether, by the Apocalyptic representation, they were to remain forever on earth, or to ascend into heaven, is a question which has been zealously debated for over sixteen hundred years, and in some theological circles is still warmly discussed. Were the angels who came down to the earth with Christ to the judgment never to return to their native seats? Were they permanently to transfer their deathless citizenship from the sky to Judea? Were the constitution of human nature and the essence of human society to be abrogated, and the members of the human family to cease enlarging, lest they should overflow the borders of the world? Was God himself literally to desert his ancient abode, and, with the celestial city and all its angelic hierarchy, float from the desolated firmament to Mount Zion, there to set up the central eternity of his throne. We cannot believe that such is the meaning, which the seer of the Apocalypse wished to convey by his symbolic visions and pictures, any more than we can believe that he means literally to say that he saw "a woman in heaven clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars," or that there were actually "armies in heaven, seated on white horses and clothed in fine linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of saints." Our conviction is that he expected the Savior would ascend with his angels and the redeemed into heaven, the glorious habitation of God above the sky. He speaks in one place of the "temple of God in heaven, into which no man could enter until the seven plagues were fulfilled," and in another place says that the "great multitude of the redeemed are before the throne of God in heaven, and serve him day and night in his temple;" and in still another place he describes two prophets, messengers of God, who had been slain, as coming to life, "and hearing a great voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up hither;' and they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them." De Wette writes, "It is certain that an abstract conception of heavenly blessedness with God duskily hovers over the New Testament eschatology." We think this is true of the Book of Revelation.

It was a Persian Jewish idea that the original destination of man, had he not sinned, was heaven. The apostles thought it was a part of the mission of Christ to restore that lost privilege. We think the writer of the Apocalypse shared in that belief. His allusions to a new heaven and a new earth, and to the descent of a New Jerusalem from heaven, and other related particulars, are symbols neither novel nor violent to Jewish minds, but both familiar and expressive, to denote a purifying glorification of the world, the installation of a divine kingdom, and the brilliant reign of universal righteousness and happiness among men, as if under the very eyes of the Messiah and the very sceptre of God. The Christians shall reign in Jerusalem, which shall be adorned with indescribable splendors and shall be the centre of a world wide dominion, the saved nations of the earth surrounding it and "walking in the light of it, their kings bringing their glory and honor into it." "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death." That is, upon the whole, as we understand the scattered hints relevant to the subject to imply, when Christ returns to the Father with his chosen, he will leave a regenerated earth, with Jerusalem for its golden and peerless capital, peopled, and to be peopled, with rejoicing and immortal men, who will keep the commandments, be exempt from ancient evils, hold intimate communion with God and the Lamb, and, from generation to generation, pass up to heaven through that swift and painless change, alluded to by Paul, whereby it was intended at the first that sinless man, his corruptible and mortal putting on incorruption and immortality, should be fitted for the companionship of angels in the pure radiance of the celestial world, and should be translated thither without tasting the bitterness of death, which was supposed to be the subterranean banishment of the disembodied ghost.

CHAPTER IV.

PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THE principal difficulty in arriving at the system of thought and faith in the mind of Paul arises from the fragmentary character of his extant writings. They are not complete treatises drawn out in independent statements,butspecial letters full of latent implications. They were written to meet particular emergencies, to give advice, to convey or ask information and sympathy, to argue or decide concerning various matters to a considerable extent of a personal or local and temporal nature. Obviously their author never suspected they would be the permanent and immensely influential documents they have since become. They were not composed as orderly developments or full presentations of a creed, but rather as supplements to more adequate oral instruction previously imparted. He says to the Thessalonians, "Brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our epistle." Several of his letters also perhaps many have been lost. He exhorts the Colossians to "read likewise the epistle from Laodicea." In his present First Epistle to the Corinthians he intimates that he had previously corresponded with them, in the words, "I wrote to you in a letter." There are good reasons, too, for supposing that he transmitted other epistles of which we have now no account. Owing, therefore, to the facts that his principal instructions were given by word of mouth, and that his surviving writings set forth no systematic array of doctrines, we have no choice left, if we desire to know what his opinions concerning the future life were, when deduced and arranged, but to exercise our learning and our faculties upon the imperfect discussions and the significant hints and clews in his extant epistles. Bringing these together, in the light of contemporary Pharisaic and Christian conceptions and opinions, we may construct a system from them which will represent his theory; somewhat as the naturalist from a few fragmentary bones describes the entire skeleton to which they belonged. As we proceed to follow this process, we must particularly remember the leading notions in the doctrinal belief of the Jews at that period, and the fact that Paul himself was "brought up at the feet of Gamaliel," "after the most straitest order of the sect, a Pharisee." When on trial at Jerusalem, he cried, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope of the resurrection of the dead I am called in question." We can hardly suppose that he would entirely throw off the influence and form of the Pharisaic dogmas and grasp Christianity in its pure spirituality. It is most reasonable to expect what we shall find actually the fact that he would mix the doctrinal and emotional results of his Pharisaic training with the teachings of Christ, thus forming a composite system considerably modified from any then existing. Indeed, a great many obscure texts in Paul may be made perspicuous by citations from the old Talmudists. Considering the value and the importance of this means of illustrating the New Testament, it is neglected by modern commentators in a very remarkable manner.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 27     Next Part
Home - Random Browse