Conquest Of Canaan
Some historical objections remain to be noticed.
First, the well-known one of the conquest of Canaan. That, in the public government of the world, men have dealt thus and worse with conquered people, is certain; so that what Mr. N. considers as man as God made him has so acted—and God’s government has so ordered it. This is Mr. N.’s notion. The fact of similar conquests is notorious in history. The only difference between Mr. N. and me is, that I hold, though such inroads may be used for judgment, as is shewn in Habakkuk, Joel, and frequently in the prophets (the book of Job explaining, so to speak, the secret springs of all this), yet that it is the sin of man which has given such a character to the government of God.
Now in Israel’s history God did not go out of this character of government. He merely took a nation in which He shewed its direct operation and the motives of it, so that that government should be learned by a law. So that man should say, “Verily there is a reward for the righteous, verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” Israel, therefore, is put in relationship with God as a nation, and national laws given to them. As a whole, the law given to them was not a code of everlasting righteousness with a fully revealed God. Christ declares even the contrary. God was hidden behind the veil, and said that He would dwell in the thick darkness. Hence those who walked really with God suffered in Israel, as now in the world—a riddle too hard for them till in the sanctuary they learned the way of God in judgment. Grace, though secretly working and shewn in daily mercy, was unrevealed. Judgment and government were the principles on which God dealt, though patient goodness marked this government. The basis of it is laid in Exodus 34:6-9; 32:33. No doubt individuals saw beyond this to eternal things, as the Abrahams, the Davids, and a crowd of holy men in whom real faith was. But the principle brought out in God’s dealing with the nation was God judging in the earth.
This it is that has produced confusion in the minds of many with such a book as Warburton’s “Divine Legation of Moses”. They could not but feel that they are not to be heard who feign that the fathers did look for mere transitory promises; while, on the other hand, the argument of Bishop Warburton’s book is, in the main idea, incontestable. But all is simple if we see that the earthly government, carried on under Moses, did find its public sanction in present earthly judgments, while individual saints (suffering under the sin of others, and even plunged in deep sorrow because God’s people were under judgment for their sins, and the public glory of God and His worship cast down through it) still looked, by present personal piety in which their hearts were elevated to God, beyond it all, and became more heavenly by this very means and the non-accomplishment of earthly promises. At the same time the great principles of everlasting righteousness were interspersed through the national enactments of the law, so that they who had hearts to perceive them should learn and be imbued with them; and they are brought out as such by the divine and perfect wisdom of the Saviour, while faith, as to the nation as the vessel of promise, was sustained by the assurance of the coming of a Messiah, who, executing judgment against every oppressor and bringing in everlasting righteousness, would also accomplish, in grace on God’s part, the hopes of faith and the infallible promises of God in favour of the residue of the people whom He had called. This is entirely to come: for now God is calling the Church exclusively to a heavenly place, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” that the purpose of God for the administration of the fulness of times might be accomplished, that is, to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and on earth, Eph. 1:8-10.
This is not the time of judging the earth in connection with His people (though providentially, of course, all is under God’s hand), but of grace, heavenly hopes, and suffering with Christ. Nothing can be clearer in scripture than this. Christ did not judge the earth when He came; He refused to do it in the least thing. He was condemned by its judges, wielding externally God’s power and authority in the place of judgment, Jewish and Gentile. All judgment was set aside, and the Just One was the victim of man’s judgment and the bearer of God’s wrath. This was indeed, morally, the judgment of the world, and of its prince the enemy of man. But the execution of judgment is yet wholly future, and so is the resulting accomplishment of divine purpose; and this is the true answer to Mr. N.’s cavils against a second fulfilment. The purpose of God declared in prophecy has never been fulfilled at all. Christ’s sufferings have been, no doubt, but nothing else, save the consequent dispersion of His earthly people; but this is not God’s purpose properly speaking. Particular local judgments have been executed, but neither are these His purpose. That remains wholly unaccomplished. God has not yet shewn Himself, according to His purpose, the Judge of the earth. When the wicked shall be cut off, who are open adversaries of His power, a King will reign in righteousness, and the Prince of Peace will exercise His dominion in the world. Christ, at His first coming, declares that it was not to bring peace on the earth, but a sword. Shall then this blessed character of Prince of Peace remain unfulfilled? Certainly not. For the moment sin had the upper hand in the world, because God was graciously doing a still greater work, and shewing Himself above all man’s futile sin in making it the instrument of an eternal and heavenly salvation. But this earth will be the scene of peace and blessing under the government of God wielded by the hand of the Son of man, whom He hath set over the works of His hands. Grace has made us His joint-heirs.
Having given this general view of the connection of the whole subject, I return to the conquest of Canaan. The scriptures are express in presenting it as an example of God’s positive judgment after all patience had already been shewn to be useless (as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrha); of His power against the enemies of His nature, purposes, and people; and of His faithfulness to these last. Abraham was told that his descendants must go down and dwell in Egypt for a long period, for the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full; and this took place. Israel was clearly informed of the cause why they were thus judged: “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord doth drive them out before thee,” Deut. 9:5; 18:12. This truth is expressed in the strongest possible manner (Lev. 18) in warning Israel not to fall into the like abominations. “And the land is defiled, therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes … that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” Thus a people, allowed to ripen up to their full height of wickedness, are taken as the occasion of shewing God’s righteous wrath and power. Israel is fully warned and apprised of the principle on which it was done. It is a great public sample of God’s full judgment in the earth. They were to be destroyed by the judicial power of God. It was also (as the case of Achan fully shews) the occasion of shewing God’s power and faithfulness, but His strict judgment of evil in the midst of His people.
In the case which Mr. N. cites, he carefully omits that, outside these specially guilty people, peace was to be offered to every city, and not one was to be touched if accepted. If they preferred being adversaries, then of those who were thus hostile they were not to make slaves (which would have been their desire and profit), but to slay them as adversaries; the women and spoil, who were not in this case, were given them. But this was totally forbidden as to the seven wicked nations. All, as a judged race, were to be dealt with in God’s name. Now this imprinted a clear character on the act; for it is quite certain that, as to national habits and personal interests, they would have made slaves of them all. That these national habits were according to the rude feelings of that age, there is no doubt; and God deals with them nationally according to their state. But He leads them on in various parts of it far beyond all surrounding nations, checks their will and passions by the sense of responsibility, encourages them by the favour of their God, and gives (enchased in their external and passing ordinances) the great principles of everlasting righteousness—love to God and one’s neighbour, and maintains the great landmarks of society and family, as men speak now.
All this, I say, is not to be confounded for a moment with the eternal ground of man’s relationship with God. The moral law, as far as it went, availed to shew that man as a sinner could have no such relationship on that ground. It convinced man of sin, and revealed nothing else of God but that He was a just Judge who condemned it. For the wisdom of the infidel, all this is jumbled together without distinction.
Purification Of The Temple
We have a singular example of the perfect absence of all moral discernment in the reasoning of Mr. N. in his reference to the Lord’s conduct in purifying the temple. A father chastises his child, and the profound wisdom of the infidel discusses whether it is a warrant for its brother to beat it. “Could it authorize me to plait a whip of small cords, and flog a preferment-hunter out of the pulpit?” (Phases, p. 151.) How sovereignly ridiculous such a remark in a moral point of view! Yet Mr. N. is treating it as a moral question. Now there are cases where the offensive character of an act puts the scourge in everybody’s hand; and it was really such in this case. The men whom Christ drove out were making God’s temple and God’s worship an occasion of trafficking extortion as to the poor who had victims to buy. But this is by no means all. The Lord distinctly presents Himself as Jehovah; and (in one of the instances in which He thus cleared the temple) as at the same time the King, the Son of David, the Messiah, to whom such an office belonged. In the early case in John He says “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “He spake of the temple of his body.” In the other, He sends for the ass, to accomplish the prophecy of Zechariah, saying “The Lord hath need of him,” and enters publicly into Jerusalem as the King Messiah. Think of Mr. N. asking if it would authorize him so to act! He must forgive me saying “such questions go very deep into the heart” of the moral (perhaps I should say, common) sense of the writer.
Assumption Of God Speaking From Without
I may now come to the second part of Mr. N.’s chapter—the discussion of the grounds of faith as he views them. Many general principles have been discussed in my introductory portion, to which they properly belong; but some details and the answers to some objections and difficulties find their place here. Nothing can be more supremely absurd than one remark which is made as to the knowledge of God—a remark, however, which is the sum of Mr. N.’s book.
“But next the analogy assumes, most falsely, that God, like man, speaks from without; that what we call reason and conscience is not His mode of commanding and revealing His will, but that words to strike the ear, or symbols displayed before the senses, are emphatically and exclusively revelation. On the contrary, of our moral and spiritual God we know nothing without, everything within. It is in the spirit that we meet Him, not in the communications of sense.” (Phases, p. 152.)
Was ever anything more futile, to say nothing of assuming the whole question, and deciding it with an aujtoV" e[fh—”We know nothing without, everything within?” A Pythagorean bean-worshipper could not be more certain of truth. But let that pass here, as well as the use of the scripture language to a very different purpose from scripture truth.
What is the sense of this contrast of without and within? “words to strike the ear,” or “symbols displayed before senses,” in contrast with thoughts within? If words strike the ear, are they not then in an intelligent human being thoughts within? Has not God, by a most wonderful process, which no man can fathom, made the moving of the air by my lungs and lips the producer of the highest and most wonderful thoughts in another man’s mind? Senses, no doubt, are in exercise; but is that all? Are not minds and thoughts in communication? yea, these thoughts created in me by this communication from another? This is really too futile, too absurd for a reasonable man.
But further: if God does not speak from without but from within, on Mr. N.’s theory, reason and conscience must be God (for otherwise He must speak somehow to reason or conscience); and they must be God in the highest way, for they have God’s thoughts (have they all of them?) without His communicating them. This is just the grossest form of the desolating Pantheism from which Mr. N. pretends to deliver us. For, either God is without, i.e., outside reason and conscience, and communicates to them thoughts which they have not within them; or if they have them within themselves without God’s communicating them, they are God in the highest sense; they think the thoughts of God themselves without His communicating to them. Good reason had the apostle to say, “No man knoweth the things of God but the Spirit of God.” Now if these things are communicated to reason and conscience by the immediate action of the Spirit of God, that is just inspiration. And when speaking of intellectual subjects, that is from without, though not by the senses and not within. The use of anything which may act on the senses is a mere question of means, by which God, in His wisdom, may see fit to act and produce impressions, man being so framed as to receive them in this way. But without the inward power of the Holy Ghost there would by this be no certain revelation. One must be able to add, “I was in the Spirit— immediately I was in the Spirit.” Reason and conscience are man—a part of his being. Hence, if they cannot have a revelation (i.e., knowledge which it requires a communication from God to possess), that is, unless it be really from without; or, in a word, if it be, as Mr. N. alleges, from within, uncommunicated, man is God. But then what he says is a contradiction; for it is not then a revelation at all. But to talk of the communications of sense, as if ideas were not conveyed, feelings not produced by words spoken without, is a communication not indeed of sense but of nonsense. If God speaks at all, He must speak from without, in any real sense of the word; if not, man is God, and to talk of revelation is absurd. The employment of the senses as a medium is the merest question of means. Immediate communications (i.e., from God) are inspirations.
Faith is within, but not “from within,”134 for it must be in a revealed object, the evidence of which is adequate to convince. For I do not here speak of the effectual working of grace in life-giving power overcoming the “antagonist will,” which produces faith. Faith ought to flow from adequate testimony. The reception of this is a moral question, because the will and passions indispose to receive such a testimony. Further, as to our responsibility, the evidence ought to be adequate and cannot be overpowering, though grace may lead the heart to receive it, the will being otherwise opposed. Hence, “to try people’s faith,”135 though we may all understand it, is an incorrect expression; and Mr. N.’s reasoning on it is playing on words. For if faith is there, there is nothing to try. It is the heart that is put to the test. Adequate evidence is offered, and man will not believe. That is the state of his will: the state of his heart is shewn, because, though the thing to be believed be perfectly certain, and adequate evidence be offered, he will not receive it; and when it is said, “overpowering evidence is not given,” it merely means such is given as is sufficient if the will be not opposed, and hence detects its opposition if it is. To give what would destroy this test would take away its moral character. Grace does not change this. It acts in disposing the heart; but this is not my subject now. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
Simon Magus And Demas
Mr. Newman then puts the case of two men, J one simple-hearted and thus easily deceived, the other acute and shrewd, being exposed to the juggleries of a Simon Magus. Now I do not answer here, that this, as Mr. N. always does, excludes God’s care altogether. But I take the mere human ground, and I say an humble godly mind would, in such a very serious matter, wait till it got clear light—would seek for God’s guidance. Such a mind has principles to guide it, which the shrewd Demas has not. There are tests of holiness, of truth, of respect for the word of God, which enable “a sheep” to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. It may not be able to say what another’s voice is; but till it recognizes the voice of the Good Shepherd, it fears to follow. A stranger will they not follow, because they know not the voice of strangers.
Demas has no such safeguard; he must judge the thing himself, for himself, by his own acuteness. If the pretender is cleverer than he, he is deceived. How often is this the case! Nay, in many cases he is pre-disposed by false motives towards error and deceit; for unholy motives and deceit coalesce. At any rate he has no safeguard but his own acuteness; and he may easily fall. Now the godly, serious, simple-hearted man has. If it is not what his soul knows as truth, or according to it, he does not receive it. No new truth ever upsets old truth, but builds upon it—they mutually confirm each other. How many shrewd ones, like Demas, received false Christs and Barchochebahs! How many simple ones refused the Judases and Theudases, and received Christ! How many clever shrewd men have received the most monstrous imposture ever palmed on infatuated man —that of Mormonism! A simple-hearted believer escapes, because he has got what guards him from the motives which lead a man to receive it. Mr. N.’s estimate of the capacity of shrewdness to escape is not borne out by a just moral estimate of what places a soul in safety, nor by facts.
A miracle is a confirmation of truth in scripture—“confirming the word by signs following.” Men are not called on to beheve the miracle, but to beheve because of the miracle, though not for its sake alone. Now this is a very different thing; because, to be useful as a miracle, it must in general be incontestably self-evident to the persons to whom it is presented. This was the case with all scripture miracles. I may have to judge an apparent miracle136 in certain cases, and shew that it is only apparent. That which has to be proved does not serve as a proof—as a sign given. On the other hand, I do not deny that professed religion may sink below the standard of natural conscience—the case supposed by Mr. N. in Spain.137 When it does, natural conscience will judge it—perhaps be driven into infidelity by it. What then? I admit it freely and fully—have seen it in thousands myself. A strange phenomenon to employ to accredit Mr. N.’s competent human nature, that of pleasure-hunting infidels, or communists and deceiving religionists! I, who believe in the power of sin and Satan, am not at a loss here, though I bow my head in sorrow. How Mr. N.’s “good God,” or even his law of progress, has ordered all this, he must explain. But this fact has nothing whatever to do with the concurrent testimony of incontestable miracles wrought on thousands who profited by them and saw them—of doctrines of the simplest truth, and the most elevated knowledge of God, and of a life of perfect holiness, which, if it were imposture, would prove an imposture to be better than all the realities that ever were. This is the case Mr. N. has to deal with. “He healed them all.” Would this, repeated over and over again, not prove the existence of power? If not, what would? It was not a case of miracles arranged among favouring people, isolated instances, or pre-arranged individual cases. They were public, when men pleased, where men pleased, and as often as they pleased. Along with this power, truth, and goodness were there. If deceit can do these two things, it is not deceit at all, but the truest mercy that can be. If juggleries accompany conduct which shocks natural conscience, let natural conscience judge it. It is, as we have said, a sad case if there be but that natural conscience to judge deceit, for it is but negative. It rejects, but possesses nothing. Our case is with positive holy truth which judges conscience, confirmed by signs which none could counterfeit.
Christians Under Constantine
Mr. Newman’s historical reasoning only condemns his system. The positive and superior instructions of Christianity were soon, he tells us, corrupted and polluted.138 How then is man able to get at truth for himself? He corrupts, on the contrary, what he has got. As to his account of Judaism,139 the only thing to be said is, that it is as untrue as can possibly be, as every tolerably instructed person knows.
He tells us that “before Constantine Christians were but a small fraction of the empire.” (Phases, p. 161.) In the East this certainly was not the case, nor, indeed, in the West, though it had not prevailed as in the East. But how did the christian soldiers conquer the empire, if Christians were only a small fraction? Constantine was able to found his pretensions to empire on the strength of the christian party. No doubt, as Mr. N. says, he conquered the empire for Christianity, but whence came the Christians who conquered it140 if they had made no more progress than Mr. N. states? Mr. N.’s assertions are not to be trusted. “There is nothing in all this to distinguish the outward history of Christianity from that of Mohammedism.” (Phases, p. 162.) Now I ask any one in the smallest degree acquainted with history, if this is true? Christianity, unarmed and persecuted for three hundred years, had increased to such a degree that an ambitious chieftain could take up the profession of it to secure the empire for himself. No one can contest this, whatever judgment he may form of Constantine’s sincerity, or Eusebius’s account of his vision of the cross. Everyone knows that all the progress of Mohammedism was by arms. In the thirteenth year of Mohammed’s setting up for prophet (that is, the very year of the Hegira, or flight from Mecca to Medina), he and his friends entered into a covenant engaging themselves to fight, and paradise was promised to those who were killed. Six years after this his public warfare began by the attack on Mecca. Indeed, he began in a small way at once, and a battle gained in the second year of the Hegira was (according to Sale) the foundation of his greatness. A person who can say that the first three hundred years of Christianity are not different from this does not deserve to be listened to. He who begins to consider its means of progress only three hundred years after it was established is not much better entitled to attention.
Prophecy, St. John’s Gospel, tongues, and St. Paul’s conversion, are next considered as to the evidence afforded by them —for this is our subject now.
It is well, as to prophecy, to notice a great principle called in question by Mr. N.—what he calls “double interpretation.” “No one dreams of a ‘second sense,’” he tells us, “until the primary sense prove false.” Now I meet this assertion by saying, that there cannot be a doubt that from the fall of Adam there was one grand subject of promise and prophecy, of hope and expectation—the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head—the seed of Abraham—the seed of David. To say that this was not produced in the universal mind of Israel, at all times with which we are acquainted (and with no nation are we acquainted so long, or so well at this early date), would be to deny the most certain fact, sustained by the most incontrovertible evidence. It is much more certain than that Mr. N. is author of “Phases of Faith,” and was once a Fellow of Balliol. The testimony of Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius concur, it is well known, as stating that through all the East a notion prevailed, that, at the time Christ arose, He should arise who would possess the empire of the world. In a word, so strong was the testimony and the expectation, that all over the East it had reached the Gentiles, and was well enough known in the West to be recorded by the two Gentile historians of those times. All prophecy must (if God’s promise was-such and true) have centred here; and so, in fact, it does—sometimes clearer—sometimes more obscure— sometimes given as a relief and encouragement to oppressed saints—sometimes breaking through the dark cloud of judgment, like the sun in a stormy day; but, from Genesis 3 to the last chapter of Malachi, beginning, middle, and ending, every ray of light converged to this point, that Messiah was to come. This is the first enduring sense, the key and object of all prophecy. All the rest is subordinate to, and conduces to this.
I have no doubt myself that this leads us to the sense of “private interpretation” in 2 Peter 1:20. We have not God’s mind in it unless we take His scope in the whole. No prophecy of scripture is ijdiva" dialuvsew", of its own interpretation. It must have its meaning as part of a great whole. Now, no doubt, partial temporal judgments were announced, which were parts of this great whole; and the prophetic word passed on to the grand summing up at the close, when all the parties to the wondrous drama that is enacting will meet in its eventful denouement on the stage of this world. In this way only is there a double sense. That partial displays (of the spirit of that which is to be judged in its full manifestation) may be dealt with as anticipative of the great final event, is an unquestionable scriptural principle. “Ye have heard,” says St. John, “that antichrist shall come, and even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time.” Here the manifestation of the same spirit is taken as indicating the epoch, and accompanied by the clearest testimony that it is not the fulfilment. I believe that various passages, applied by some to previous events, are spoken of final ones: others, completely fulfilled in previous ones, have been applied to ultimate ones.
Prophecy is much simpler, in general, than is supposed. But that characteristic evil may be partially, as well as fully developed, is undoubted; and as prophecies have generally a moral character, and those in whom the character is judged, a local habitation and a name, the principle of application to characteristic things or events, while fulfilment is to be sought at another time, is perfectly sound and easily intelligible. There has been mischievous spiritualizing. But no one can doubt that Jerusalem, Babylon, and even Egypt, embody certain great principles and systems, which may be variously developed, and judged according to this development.
Now, this is not a question of a “second sense”; it is a sound and enlarged view of what is undeniable in principle, and unquestionably true in its application to scripture. What the believer has to do is to ascertain the principle involved, and the facts referred to in connection with it. The actual accomplishment of the prophecy is to be sought according to the plain testimony of the passage.
And here I would add a remark or two. Nothing can be simpler or more natural than that some great characterizing principle should be embodied in some system, and this have its centre in some place or people where it finds its development and full maturity, as we speak of Rome being this and doing that, meaning the corporate system of papal power. Now scriptural statements, as to these systems and places, are most useful, as guiding the mind in its judgment of the principles embodied. Prophecies declare the ultimate judgment of God on these systems, shewing out the principles judged therein. When Christians apply these prophecies to partial developments of the principles, it is not morally false, although as an interpretation it is inadequate, and may be mistaken as to the letter. But the soul is guided in the judgment of the real principles by the actual judgment of it at the end. It does morally what God will do in power; and while there may be mistakes in interpretation, there is moral rectitude of judgment. The ultimate judgment of God is the application of power to the judgment and removal of the whole system, which is justly judged meanwhile morally in all its partial manifestations. Of course it is important, in interpretation, to keep to what is really and fully meant; without this, even our moral judgment will not be correctly formed.
The addresses to the seven churches call for even individual application and use of the judgment pronounced on what was locally verified in certain places, as to which the Lord declared His mind, and the results which would follow from the neglect of it.
I may now turn to some particular assertions. “The three prophecies quoted (Acts 13:33-35) in proof of the resurrection of Jesus are simply puerile, and deserve no reply.” (Phases, p. 169.) I doubt the application of Acts 13:33 to the resurrection. Raising up Jesus is in the same sense as raising up a deliverer. Why “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption” does not mean resurrection, I do not know. Mr. N. should shew us the puerility of it. In reading the psalm (the application of which to Messiah is, in my judgment, incontestable) we have the plainest evidence that it is the resurrection. What should make flesh rest in hope, and lead to the presence of Him in whom is fulness of joy, “and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore,” if it be not the resurrection? The words themselves also depict it, and that it should take place without His seeing corruption, in the clearest way. A man’s soul not resting in hades, and his body not seeing corruption, can only be by a speedy resurrection. I am aware of the difficulties raised as to Shachath (tjv), one of the words here used, but I see nothing in it to shake the certainty of the Septuagint, Vulgate, English, and other translations (maintained by the soundest Hebrew authorities). The context makes the meaning certain, and the whole psalm treats of the humiliation of Jesus in the most beautiful manner possible. The beginning of it is cited by Paul, as containing, among many other psalms, the great leading principle of this humiliation. Though a divine Person, He took upon Him the form of a servant. Messiah takes a place in which He calls Jehovah His Lord, and declares all His delight to be in the godly remnant of Israel.
Isaiah 55, 50, 53; Psalm 22 1 Zechariah 12, 13
I turn next to the quotation from Isaiah 55, and its application to the resurrection of Christ. This also is objected to in the supercilious language above quoted. If the sense and meaning of a prophecy is to have any influence on the interpretation of it, we are led here at once to the subject of which the apostle speaks. The chapter is a summons, in the fullest largeness of grace, addressed first to the Jews, but so as to open it out to all by the terms of the invitation “every one that thirsteth”—to all who sought after righteousness from God. Thus in principle, though not in immediate address, it lets in the Gentiles, so that, according to the whole tenor of scripture, we must look for Messiah, and for a change in the relationship of God with Israel. Still the address is to Israel. Thus it is the apostle Paul constantly draws out this class of passages, shewing the address to the Jew first, and yet a principle contained which let in the Gentile if he had faith and spiritual need. This is further developed in the following verses. Verses 4 and 5 proclaim some remarkable personage, who is not named, but who is supposed to be known by the previous testimonies of God, who is to be a witness and a leader of the nations—translated people, in English, but which is in the plural le-ummim (<ymwal)—and then the call and influx of the nations through his means is announced. But then in verse 3 this includes an everlasting covenant to be made, particularly with the people of God (the Jews), that is, the assured mercies of David. These mercies of David are incontestably the establishment of permanent blessing in the promised seed of David, in whose time the righteous should flourish (in a word, in Messiah, the Christ). Hence the existence of Messiah in the power of an endless life is most certainly announced here. Nor is this a new thought. The Jews say, “We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up?” Yet, if it were Messiah (as a Jew under the law), known, as the apostle calls it, “after the flesh,” the Gentiles could not have thus been let in in common with the Jews. Indeed, we who know the need of redemption can say “the corn of wheat” would have abode alone. Thus we get elements in the passage which shew that, for their accomplishment, Christ must have been raised. An everlasting covenant in the accomplishment of the sure mercies of David, and Gentiles called, supposed (when duly weighed) a closing of the strict Jewish system, and yet a Messiah who was to abide for ever—a difficulty felt by the Jews in the question above referred to when our Lord alludes to His rejection. Now Christ was rejected and put to death. Hence the apostle introduces to the Jews (objects of this everlasting covenant and holding themselves to be such) the resurrection, as alone accomplishing, or securing the accomplishment of, the sure and abiding mercies of David.
Nothing could more largely and perfectly bring together all the elements of dispensational truth, and give the key and keystone of the manner of their accomplishment. It is nothing but the miserable narrowness of mind of those who can see nothing of God’s ways out of their own petty circle of ideas, which could make the objections which German sceptics, and their imitators, do. They comment on a book of which they know nothing, the object and import of which they have not even studied—an immense scope of connected thought and system, reaching from Genesis to the melting away of time into eternity—all its parts hanging together, and developing every form of relationship between God and man, historically pursued, yet morally and individually realized—in which each part fits into the other, like the pieces of a dissected map, proving the perfectness and completeness of the whole—all this system, I say, making a complete whole, in absolute unity, yet written (for written it was, as the best testimony proves) at long intervals, over a space of some fifteen hundred years, pursued through every various condition in which man can be placed, of ignorance, darkness, and light, with principles brought out into intended contrast, as the law and the gospel, yet never losing its perfect and absolute unity or the relationship of its parts—all this is passed over by these sceptics. They are not conscious of the existence of it. They have about as much knowledge of the Bible as a babe who took the dissected map and would put together two parts from the antipodes, because they were coloured red and would look pretty.
That Mr. N. (who does not believe it himself, and evidently did not at the period of his history) should have found difficulty in pointing out the sufferings of Christ in the Old Testament, is very natural. Had he as much faith as a Jew in the Bible, he would have had none. Let the reader turn to Isaiah 50, 53; Psalm 22; Zechariah 12,13, and indeed a crowd of other passages, which, having cited these, it is needless to enumerate, and he will be at no loss to find a suffering Messiah. Besides, a crowd of sacrifices (for, as I said, all the parts of scripture unite in one whole) shewing atonement for sin, which certainly the blood of bulls and goats could not effectuate, pointing to a suffering Messiah; the portion of Joseph and David (which, though not direct proofs, all confirm by analogies which shew the mind of God in quite as strong a way when we have the facts and doctrines as direct proofs); the universal position of the saints; the expression of sentiment provided in the Psalms for those who were associated with Messiah, and for Himself, and so used in many instances by Him—all, as does the whole tenor of the Old Testament, point to the sufferings of Him who was to be “exalted and extolled, and very high,” but had “his visage so marred more than any man, and his countenance more than the sons of men.” I am not aware what Isaiah 53 has to do with a double sense.141 I know that the Rabbis have sought to apply it to Israel, to avoid its application to Christ; but this is a simple sense, and, to any one who reads the chapter, simply absurd. To make of “He” in the phrase, “He was wounded for our” &c. to be a personification of “our,” both meaning Israel, and so on, is an effort worthy of the natural opposition of a Jew in raising an objection, and of a German sceptic to be stopped by.
As to Daniel 9142 some terms may fairly be contested in the English translation. The only just change, however, in the words which affect this point, confirms their application to the death of Christ. “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself,” goes, I apprehend, beyond the force of the words of the Holy Ghost. It should be “Messiah shall be cut off, and shall have nothing” —that is, shall then possess nothing of the kingdom and glory which belongs to Him in Israel. For the prophecy relates to Israel, and the accomplishment of prophecy as to that people, and the taking away their iniquity and re-establishing them in peace. Consequently, after this, the wars and troubles which are to come on till that which is determined be poured out are announced. Daniel never goes on to the time of peace, but only to the putting an end to evil.
De Wette’s translation is “An anointed one shall be snatched away, and no one is there [or existing] who belongs to him.” Now wl /ya is simply “there is nothing to him.” De Wette’s is a paraphrase which, while giving the sense, fixes it to a person, “no one,” and adds “there” (or existing). With this difference, it gives the sense so as to afford us the clear certainty of the grand meaning of the passage. His translation (it is a learned and rationalist one) is, wird ein Gesalbter weggerafft, und keiner ist vorhanden der ihm angehört. The Hebrew is yekarith Mashiach (jyvmtdby), “Messiah shall be cut off,” as simply as possible; Messiah, as all know, means anointed; ve-aen lo (wl /ya/) “and there is nothing to him,” i.e., He has nothing. Now take this plain and simple passage in the best German renderings, and what has “evaporated?” Something perhaps of an effort to undo the application to Messiah; only that the text was so plain and strong that the Anointed One’s cutting off is impossible to be got rid of; and we have the fact of bis having nothing as the consequence—His labouring in vain, as He says (Isa. 49), with regard to His then taking the kingdom and glory in Israel. That He will have it, Isaiah 53 and Daniel 7 tell us plainly. We know (as Daniel 9 teaches us) that He was cut off and that He got nothing. No one can deny that De Wette’s is a paraphrase, and that “ve-aen lo” means “and had nothing.” Interpreters have confined the passage to Christ’s death, and its application to the Church now; whereas I have not the least doubt (whatever the present efficacy of His blood) that the passage applies to Israel, their establishment, their treatment of Messiah, and their consequent sorrows, which we have before our eyes, till God takes them up again in grace. But the cutting off of Messiah is as plain as words can make it. The word employed is that always used for “that soul shall be cut off from his people,” or from Israel—just what happened to Messiah. De Wette elsewhere always employs another word for the Hebrew one than that which he has used here.
I may just add, that Messiah (translated an anointed one by De Wette here) is not used with an article in Hebrew, as far as I can find; and, when used without a possessive pronoun, is elsewhere always translated by De Wette with the article (der Gesalbter, the anointed). Here, as it must be applied to Messiah if so translated, he puts ein Gesalbter, an anointed.
In fine, the passage of Daniel is as clear as language can make it of the cutting off of Messiah.
Matthew 24:32 To 25:30; And Daniel 12
I turn to Matthew’s prophecy chapter 24.143 The Lord gives in this chapter down to the end of verse 31, the position of the testimony of His disciples, and in general of the elect remnant in Israel; their position in the exercise of their testimony down to the end of verse 14; from verses 15-28, the position of the faithful remnant during the tribulation, when testimony was useless, and they were to flee; and then, from verses 29-31, the coming of the Lord and the gathering of the scattered elect of Israel from the four winds. I beg the reader to mark, I am stating the contents of the passage, and not interpreting them. That this applies to Jews is on the face of the passage from the reference to Jerusalem, and Daniel, the holy place, the sabbath, &c.
From Matthew 24:32 to 25:30 the Lord gives a practical comment on this solemn subject, and in these parables instructs the disciples as to their just position as Christians during His absence; verses 31 to the end take up the consequence to the Gentiles of His coming to judge the earth. Thus we have, in connection with the Lord’s going away, what concerned the Jewish people, christian responsibility, and the judgment of the Gentiles in connection with their responsibility as to receiving the messengers of the kingdom, Christ’s disciples (His brethren, as He calls them here), when sent to them.
To return to the prophecy which regards the Jews, the testimony of the disciples was to be carried on in the midst of difficulties and reach out to all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end should come. This was the general history of their position. Whatever we may gather of dates from comparison of other passages, which is not my business here, it reached down from the time of Christ to the end of the age. Remark here that the end of the age is not only not the end of the world, but it is not the age of Christianity, but the end of the age of the temple standing under the law till Messiah came. This was the object of the question. Of this, whatever light may be given by the Lord, there can be no question if we read the passage. But in verse 15 a specific definite time is marked out by a particular event—the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. This leads us at once, and in a positive manner, to the subject of which the Lord speaks. His own words, moreover, establish in the most complete and evident manner, that He is speaking of Jerusalem and Judea. Of this there can be no question.
Now Daniel (chap. 12, where the abomination of desolation is spoken of) speaks of twelve hundred and sixty days and twelve hundred and ninety days, at the end of which the Lord would interfere in favour of Israel, dating them from that to which the Lord here referred. Let the reader pay attention to this. Daniel declares that from the time the abomination is set up, there shall be twelve hundred and ninety days, and the blessing in thirteen hundred and thirty. Further, he connects this—indeed it is the grand subject of the last three chapters of his prophecies—with the closing history of Israel. He speaks of a king who will prosper till the indignation be accomplished at the time of the end.
It is indeed the grand topic of the book, and must have been: for the ultimate fate of Israel would have been the thought which governed the prophetic writing, whether it was God’s love to Israel, or Daniel’s which was in exercise; and it was undoubtedly both. Hence we have the last beast destroyed in chapter 7; the image ground to powder in chapter 2, and the kingdom of blessing set up and filling the world. So, in the details in chapter 8, the prophet is shewn what is to happen in the last end of the indignation, when the king of fierce countenance is to stand up against the Prince of princes, and be broken without hand. He gives the series of Gentile monarchies from the first of them, which was set up in his days, and set aside the throne of God at Jerusalem, established in the family of David, to which all the promises were attached; and he pursues these Gentile monarchies in two symbolical prophecies, which gives the whole series (chapters 2 and 7) on to the end, and the setting up of the kingdom of the Son of man.
Nothing can be clearer than what the prophecy thus professes to do. Objections to the execution of it will be considered hereafter, when we meet with them. This is not the point now. Then, in some particular prophecies, the grand crisis which settles the fate of Israel is discoursed of in connection with particular nations and events (besides facts then happening), which realized and at the same time foreshadowed the principles which would characterize the apostate Gentiles, who were the possessors of power, and the adversaries of Israel (for all in Daniel relates to Israel). Now the particular prophecies which relate to the ultimate fate of Israel, though they may be linked on to those among the beasts which had their power established in the countries in which Palestine is situated, yet necessarily speak of and have for their object what closes the scene. That close is yet future, as is seen, not only by the plain testimony of scripture, but in the fact that we have the Jews yet as a nation with their ultimate fate unsettled. This is a living fact around us.
That Daniel does go on to the end is unquestionable, whatever ideas we may have of the time he expected it to happen. We have alluded to the proofs, which indeed lie on the surface of his writings. His book closes with a promise that he shall stand in his lot at the end of the days—a promise which leaves no obscurity as to the period which he was looking for and referring to in his prophecy, be he right or wrong. The difficulty of interpretation arises precisely from the circumstance we have mentioned—i.e., that Daniel links (chapters 8 and 9) the state of things at the end with the Grecian monarchy which possessed the East, where all was certainly to happen, for that was where Canaan was situated; but he as certainly teaches that another monarchy was to arise which would take a great, and even principal, share in these events. When we set about to interpret the prophecy, the difficulty is to allot its proper share to each of these powers. His introduction of the one certainly does not exclude the other; and many other prophecies declare that all the heathen shall come up against, or be in possession of, Jerusalem in the latter day. We have now, however, to do with the particular prophecy of chapter 12.
In the beginning of that chapter Daniel speaks, just as the Lord does, of the time of trouble such as never was; when Michael shall stand up for the Jews. So that we have the grand final desperate trouble of Daniel’s people; and yet at a time when the power of God interferes to deliver them. Just as Jeremiah also represents it: “Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be delivered out of it. For. it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.” This last prophet declares, moreover, that it shall embrace the whole nation of Israel, as well as Judah in a very particular manner; and that it shall be by a new covenant and not by the old; and that, as sure as the heavens stood, Israel should be a special nation, and Jerusalem be restored. All this, observe, refers to God’s government of the earth and the nations. The heavenly blessing of the Church in no way meets it.
That is, we have in Matthew, in Daniel, in Jeremiah, a time of unparalleled trouble at the close of Judah’s history; and Judah delivered out of it, and full blessing brought in (the Lord declaring in Matthew that He referred to what Daniel spoke of; and all in their prophecies, not merely in this, but in other prophecies, professedly referring to this closing scene, declaring that it would be brought to an issue by the raising up of the seed of promise in David’s family by the coming of the Son of man, by God’s interference in favour of His people, whom He never would give up). With this all prophecy, from Moses downwards, coincides; and in many all the details are entered into. It is the grand subject, though many events leading to it, or illustrative of the principles and motives of God’s government which is to be fully displayed in it, are noticed for the instruction of the people in them, and as samples of God’s ways.
Now what Daniel spoke of in chapter 7, as arriving at this epoch of divine judgment, when the saints would have the kingdom (namely, that the Son of man would come in glory), the Lord also expressly declares; referring, in a positive and most remarkable manner, to another prophecy of Daniel, relating to the same epoch, and unfolding the special tribulation of which He spoke, and His coming in glory, which would be consequent on it. Every statement of scripture, in various parts of it, and by different prophets, concurs in this, and concurs in placing these events in the grand closing scene of God’s government of the earth, viewed as the scene of man’s national responsibility, Israel being the centre, in God’s view of it (see Deut. 32:8), of all this government. The Lord (or Matthew, if Mr. N. pleases), so far from confounding anything, gives warnings for the conduct of the disciples in their testimony in the midst of Israel, while that testimony should be carried on there; adding that the testimony of the kingdom should go out to all nations, and that then (not before) the end of the age (not of the world, as every scholar knows) should come. Then, with verse 14, He closes His general history and directions. This is beyond controversy; because the question of the disciples was as to the end of the age; and He says (ver. 14), “Then shall the end come.” Then He takes up a very particular point, which He definitely connects with Daniel’s prophecy of what was to happen at this “end of the age” (that is, that at that epoch, or twelve hundred and sixty days before the end, it would not be a time of testimony, but that they were to see). The sign would be an idol set up in the holy place, which idol was to cause the desolation of Jerusalem. Now this has never yet taken place at all. Titus did destroy Jerusalem, but no idol was set up in the holy place, which caused the desolation. Michael, the prince, did not stand up for Daniel’s people—and to this the New Testament writer refers; nor was any deliverance of Jacob wrought, nor did Daniel stand in his lot, nor did the sign of the Son of man appear, nor did thirteen-hundred-and-thirty days bring any blessing. That is, to the believer there certainly was not the accomplishment of the prophecy. But what is the conclusion we must draw? No person writing, as Mr. N. supposes, after the event, would have written an account, of which the contradiction and falseness was in the hands of all, and of public notoriety. He could not pretend that the Son of man had appeared, and that the elect Jews were gathered—that the blessing of Daniel was arrived. If he lived after the event he might have given a flaming description of Titus’s siege, which history would have furnished him with; but at this point it becomes (to use Mr. N.’s phrase) “clearly and hopelessly false” in Mr. N.’s application of it. That is, it certainly was not written after the event. No man would write, in forging a prophecy, what was already clearly and hopelessly false at the time he wrote it. For, as Mr. N. justly insists (by putting it in italics), it is stated that “immediately after that tribulation,” &c. So that nothing but the utter nonsense of infidel credulous invention could have explained Matthew 24 as Mr. N. does. That infidels should be ignorant of the abundant confirmation given in the prophets of the real force of the passage, was only to be expected. They have never really examined the contents of the book. They are not capable, by their position, of getting beyond literary speculations. Perhaps we must also expect from them that they should seek to persuade us that a rational account of the passage is, that the writer composed, to deceive them, an account of what was happening among themselves, which was notoriously false at the time he wrote it, to gain the credit of a true prophet for his master!
It may be asked by some, if I give no place here to the destruction of Jerusalem. I think it had a very important one. It closed altogether for the moment the application of the passage we are considering, and of all such, to the testimony in the midst of Israel, to which it referred. God’s ways were then to be looked for solely in the Church, whose portion is in heavenly places; and hence (though Providence ever governs all things) not the proper occasion of the display of God’s government of the earth. It was, as Paul says to the Ephesians, the proof to principalities and powers in heavenly places, that the wisdom of God was “polupoivcilo"” very various in its character.
This interruption, as regards God’s ways on the earth, is developed in Luke, who looks at all these dispensational questions in a Gentile point of view, when he says, Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled—exactly the general instruction we have found in Daniel. Jerusalem would be set aside, and all God’s dealings consequently with it, till the period allotted in the decrees of God, for the Gentile supremacy was closed. Then the signs and judgments should take place. So Paul, in Romans 11, “blindness in part” happened unto Israel till the “fulness of the Gentiles be come in”—till, during this time of dealing specially with Gentiles (though every Jew is equally received) all that have ears to hear were brought into God’s fold. And then God would begin again with His earthly people in exercise, judgment, and deliverance, and so accomplish all His promises (on earth) in a restored people. The broken-off branches would be grafted in again into their own olive-tree, the fruit-bearing tree of promise springing from Abraham—of course, in the highest sense from God Himself.
Mr. N. may seek, perhaps, to escape from the absurdity of supposing that a forger would invent a prophecy, proved (to be false) by well-known public events, though he does not dare to say it very clearly,144 by supposing that though it be said “immediately after the tribulation,” yet that the author would have time between the tribulation and the “immediately after” to compose and publish his book, that thus he could give a history up to that, and to be mistaken as to what followed. Now, to say nothing of the universal testimony to the contrary (because suppositions are always more attractive to an infidel than history, because they are the fruit of one’s own mind, which is a great point with them), the supposition is of this probable character, that a forger would commit himself to a very full and clear statement of what was immediately to occur; and thus determine his book to be a forgery as soon as it should be read! And this is only a trifling part of the difficulty; for we must also suppose that the book was received and read as true, without its being found out that it was falsified by facts—that such a thing as the coming of the great day of judgment should be announced and not arrive, and nobody suspect that the announcement of it was false. That is, he leaves us with the choice of two cases: either that he forged a prophecy, false upon the face of it, and publicly known to be so, in respect of such an event as the non-arrival of Christ for the grand judgment; or, that the pretended prophecy, published “very soon after,” preceded what was to happen “immediately after,” and committed itself to what would immediately prove it false in the most public way, and yet that thousands, who, by their existence, proved it was false, and knew that the great day of judgment had not arrived, immediately after believed it to be true all the same.
And mark this. All testimony is directly contrary to the date necessary to Mr. N.’s system. He has nothing for it but its own probability. Yes, I am wrong there: there is his assertion, and yet scarcely that—it is insinuated. To insert the publication of the gospel between the destruction of Jerusalem and “immediately after,” would have suggested the enquiry for some proof— a thing not to be had. Hence, where it suited him, there “it is unreasonable to doubt that the detailed annunciations of Matthew 24 were first composed very soon after the war of Titus” (Phases, p. 170), after the siege. When a dream is in question— it is written by an unknown person seventy or eighty years after the nativity. The former date would be either the year of the siege, according to the vulgar era, or (by the correction of chronology, generally received) four, or according to others, five years before it; but then seventy or eighty left margin for that, if the four years’ error was known by the reader; and a loose period of five or six possible years after left it possibly just at the critical moment, without too much danger of interfering with “immediately after.” It is very nicely arranged.
One point remains—the expression “this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” Now the whole state of things did, for the time, close some forty years after; and Israel no longer existed as the place of testimony. Still I have no doubt that the word has another force than this. “Generation” is habitually used in scripture otherwise than for the period of human activity, or from the birth of a son to the birth of his son —the length of a man’s active life; and it is peculiarly used in reference to Israel in the other sense, which the following quotations present—“the generation of the wicked shall never see light”—“a crooked and perverse nation [the word is the same] among whom ye shine”—“this is the generation of them that seek him.” So, many others. That is, it is a class of persons having a given character, as well as those who have their common period of life together. If the reader turn to Deuteronomy 32, he will find, in verses 5 and 20, the word used in this sense in immediate reference to Israel during its protracted rejection up to the end. “They are a perverse and crooked generation.” “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.” And then Moses speaks of the bringing in of the Gentiles, in a passage which Paul quotes, in reference to the very time we are treating of: the Lord declaring that that generation should not pass—a declaration of which we see the accomplishment to this day. God has hid His face from them to see what their end shall be; yet they have not passed away. There they are till every jot and tittle of Christ’s word be accomplished.
The objections, then, to what Matthew says are without foundation; the prophetic declarations in chapter 24 are distinctly referred to Daniel (the application of which leaves no doubt as to the sense and application of Matthew), and clearly establish its reference to the end of the age, of which indeed the Lord was speaking. On the other hand, the suppositions advanced to prove it forged are the most absurdly improbable that can possibly be, besides being contrary to all historical evidence.
We have already seen the value of Mr. N.’s objections to the prophecies in the Apocalypse, to which he again briefly refers without adding any new matter. That not “one of these can be interpreted certainly of any [past] human affairs” may be granted without the least detriment to the book; for (while I doubt not that some have had accomplishment by systems, the principle of which judged in the book was partially developed, and that certain objects of the prophecy have appeared—though not full grown—on the scene) I myself believe that its proper accomplishment has not yet arrived. I think the language of the Apocalypse proves it is not, because we have what the prophet had seen— the things that are—and the things after them. It is to my mind certain, that “the things that are” are not yet passed; and hence the prophetic part, beginning chapter 4, has not yet begun to be accomplished, though many things symbolized in it exist more or less.
Coming Of The Lord
As regards the coming of the Lord, the purpose of God is evidently to make saints always wait for it as a present expectation; and this is shewn in never telling them the moment. Nothing can be more explicit than scripture on this head. St. Paul then made no mistake in expecting “the speedy return of Christ from heaven.”145 He waited for God’s Son from heaven and taught others to wait for it continually. He never prophetically announced the time. In each he was perfectly guided by the Spirit of God. That this was the Lord’s mind as presented in scripture, the following passages shew: But “let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that… they may open unto him immediately… And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants… Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” So again, “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite… the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him… and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.” Yet in the very same discourse, directly after, the Lord says, “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made,” &c. That is, if the heart counted on delay, it betrayed its wickedness; yet the Bridegroom would delay, so trying the faith of His own. Yet, adds Peter, “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish… the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” That is, the delay is not slackness in His promise to us, but God’s patience with men prolonging the time of grace and salvation. But the same apostle warns us that there would be scoffers, saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” The apostle, then, taught of the Holy Ghost, acted in the spirit of Christ’s direction to His disciples in holding and nourishing the lively, and joyful, sanctifying, yea, energizing constant hope of His coming, and yet never predicted the time, which He had put in His own power who had said “Sit on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Mr. N., pressed by proofs, seeks to avoid the effect or what he does not dare deny, while shewing his unwillingness to admit it, “That God has been pleased to reveal something of coming history to certain eminent men of Hebrew antiquity,” adding, “That is all.”146 Now I call this profoundly immoral, and an absurd state to be in. Because, to say of divine communications to man, and in mercy, “That is all!” is, in the worst sense, immoral. And it is absurd; because, to suppose that God should have revealed something about Moab, and Ishmael, and Tyre, and Edom, to some eminent men of the Hebrew monarchy, and nothing at all else, is unreasonable. To have given some local facts about some petty nations, and to have concealed everything about all the temporal and eternal interests of men, His own government and salvation, is an absurd supposition.
But, further, these eminent men to whom God has been pleased to give this, have said a great deal more on more important subjects, and give the particular revelations spoken of as minor parts of a vast scheme of government, ending with Messianic glory, with the same evidence of truth—the same power of testimony. As to the former, according to Mr. N., they are the confidants of God, and as to the rest impostors and deceivers; yet such as God chose as eminent men, to make them the special confidants of these particular revelations: and all this is logic and philosophy! But this is not our subject now. Mr. N. “receives this conclusion”—i.e., of their inspiration on these points—”with an otiose faith.” But his logic has failed him here; because then, at any rate, second-hand faith is not vain. Mr. N. may be indifferent, “otiose;” but that is not the point. Here is faith at second-hand—real and convincing to those concerned— of vast importance to sustain their hearts, to encourage them to trust in God, and to avoid the powerful current of all which was set in, through the assurance of divine interference in favour of the faithful, and the powerlessness of human resources; in a word, through the assurance that God governed and was to be trusted. This was the effect of faith, secondhand faith (i.e., the truly excellent kind of faith subjectively). For while, for the purpose of testimony to others, eye-witness was the just means employed; yet, eyen as to the eye-witnesses, it was the spiritual sense of the value of these things that was real, moralizing, efficacious faith before God. Even as to Israel, they happened to them for figures, and are “written for our admonition on whom the ends of the world are come.” That is, the admission of this one paragraph totally sets aside the whole chapter. It is not true; it is totally untrue (evidently untrue for one who has examined scripture) that these prophecies have nothing to do with Christianity.147 They are part of one vast scheme. They are not Christianity of course. We have the true light; but the first fresh dawn of mercy, and God’s patient ways with ignorant man—always His ways—have not lost their interest for those who can see clearer.
Daniel, And Desolation To The Time Of The End
We now come to the Book of Daniel in general.148 The reader will remember the positive and direct proofs, from different parts of the book, of the fact that Daniel distinctly refers to God’s final dealing with the Jews. He must do so, if shewing God’s ways as to them in government. For what else should definitely display these? All the prophets who so take them up do so; indeed, all do when rightly understood. Daniel positively declares it. And remark here, that we have positive historical and ocular testimony that he who does this must (whatever the final result be with this people) leave an immense gap unfilled up, because they have been set aside as a people for a long period. Hence, again, Daniel gives us specifically the “times of the Gentiles,” whether it be the apostate principles on which they would govern,149 or general historical views on to the end;150 or particular prophecies connected definitely with the end, which was the grand epoch in view, as the Spirit declares to the prophet. These particular prophecies (i.e., chap. 8:10-12, the last three chapters being one prophecy) refer to the Eastern or Grecian kingdom; for there the final scene was to be unfolded. Not that the Western power would not come in—that was the grand general power at the close; but another local one was also to be depicted.
We may now examine chapter 11, to which Mr. N. objects. Here we shall find exactly what I stated—a particular prophecy, as to the Eastern or Grecian power, taken up from its commencement and pursued quite to the end. The king of the north comes to his end, and none helps him; and Michael stands up at the same time, in the time of trouble which has no parallel—of which the Lord speaks in Matthew. Further, in chapter 10, the messenger of God declares, “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for [many] days”; and in chapter 12:4, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end.” So also in chapter 11:40—exactly the prophecy in question: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him,” &c.—that is, at the king who does according to his will. So that we have in the writer’s mind details down to Amiochus Epiphanes, as I agree; and afterwards, right or wrong, other details as to what is to happen at the end in the latter days—those days in which Michael was to stand up; and at the close of thirteen hundred and thirty days blessing comes in, and Daniel stands in his lot. But this, it will be said, leaves a great gap. No doubt. To be exact, it must do so, because, as we know, the Jews have been set aside for centuries.
But let us see with greater exactness, how and where the gap comes in, and is introduced. The prophet does, as alleged, pursue the history down to one who, I doubt not, is Antiochus Epiphanes—that is, the last king of any importance of Grecian Syria, and the great persecutor of Israel, who profaned the temple, and destroyed, or at least sought to destroy, all the books of the law, and prohibited the Jewish worship. The ships from Chittim are then introduced upon the scene, that is, the Romans —the power under whom the whole Jewish system was to remain in abeyance. But another important element was still more in the mind of the Spirit here (that is, the alliance of the local Gentile power with the apostates of the Jews). This, and the profanation of the temple, were to be, and will yet be, the special characteristics of the last days. A full picture151 of this state of things is drawn so far as the elements go which characterize it (that is, the intervention of the Western Roman power, apostasy among the Jews, profanation of the temple, and interruption of Jewish worship, and of all service rendered to the true God). This will be the final state of the Jews, as presented in scripture, till delivered by the coming of the Lord. Hence the elements and vivid picture of it in these comparatively early days is given to us.
But there will be a remnant active and energetic then, but having also another general character, instructors of the people of the Jews in the truth. Still the people shall fall under their enemies [many] days. God shall permit even those who, having been faithful to God, might have hoped to escape, to be cut off also by their enemies: but it is for purifying and making white even to the time of the end. That is, we have just the gap onward from the introduction of the Romans at the close of the Syro-Grecian kingdom, and that up to the very end.
We have not here the Roman destruction of the Jewish polity in detail: that had been given at the end of chapter 9, and could not be the anticipative picture of the latter days, because the Jewish affairs are to take the form they had in Antiochus Epiphanes’ time, that of the apostasy of the Jews, and their being linked up with the heathen. This was in no way the case in the time of Titus. The unclean spirit of idolatry was not entered in with seven others more wicked than himself, so as to make their last state worse than the first. They were empty, and swept, and garnished. They stumbled on the stumbling stone and were broken: in the end it will fall on them.
But we have the general desolation to the time of the end. Then, when that has been shewn, we get a king doing according to his will, setting up idolatry, rejecting the God of his fathers, which Antiochus never did, disregarding all Jewish hopes as something which is supposed to belong to him, exalting himself above every god, and distributing the land among his chiefs. The king of the south pushes at him at the time of the end (that is, he who shall be in Ptolemy’s geographical place); and the king of the north comes against him (that is, he who shall have Antiochus’s geographical place); so that the wilful king cannot be Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet it is a full and minute prophecy of what is to be at the time of the end, when the great gap is over; and it goes on to state the course of the king of the north, and his ruin; and in chapter 12 the trouble that accompanies this period, the duration of the trouble, and the deliverance of Israel —the contrast of the wicked and the wise; all of which would come out at the time of the end, not before; when Daniel also, as we have seen, would have his share in the blessing in the end of the days.
This part it is which the Lord also quotes as to be fulfilled at the end of the age. There is, then, as much particularity as to the events at the end as there is to those previous to, and during, the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. With the speculations of interpreters in applying it I have nothing to do, with Mr. N.’s objections I have; and they, as to the facts of the chapter, are totally groundless. As to the enduring days of desolation and captivity, we are witnesses of its truth, that is, of the truth of the very part where Mr. N. says it breaks down. The fulfilment of all the rest cannot yet be proved, because it is at the time of the end, which we all know is not yet come. No one can say it becomes false. The triumphs of the Maccabees, and the long period of desolation and captivity, are true; and that is what is stated.
As to chapter 7, Mr. N. informs us that “the four monarchies in chapters 2 and 7 are the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, the Macedonian. Interpreters, however, blend the Medes and Persians into one, and then pretend that the Roman empire is still in existence.” “Chapter 7 also is confuted by the event; for the great day of judgment has not followed upon the fourth monarchy.” (Phases, p. 171.) There is nothing like being bold enough: somebody will believe it, or at least, somebody will doubt; and nothing will be certain. “Interpreters, however, blend the Medes and Persians into one.” Indeed! It is not very extraordinary; because, though distinct nations, they are blended in history, though “the highest came up last.152” But is it only interpreters who do this? What does Daniel do? He says, in interpreting Upharsin, “Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That is, he brings them in on the scene together. It may be said, “But Darius, who was of the seed of the Medes, was set over the realm of the Chaldeans.” One “interpreter” has used this to prove that it was still the Babylonish empire. Where was this distinct empire of the Medes to which the Persians succeeded as another?153 Cyrus, king of Persia, takes Babylon, and the temple is built by his orders. Darius may have ruled in Babylon till Cyrus had finished his conquests and had settled the empire; but the Persians were, at the epoch of the fall of the Babylonish empire, joint possessors with the Medes of the imperial power as a people.
Mr. N. says, consequently, on his Median scheme, that the last empire is the Grecian. The ten horns have no kind of analogy with the Grecian kingdom, which Mr. N. supposes the prophet to be describing as a thing past. But not only so: Daniel himself most positively describes (for, unhappily, he is, as to this point, one of the “interpreters,” or, at least, the angel who explained the vision is) the Medo-Persian empire as one beast, and by the well-known Persian emblem: “The ram which thou sawest, having two horns, are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia.” That is, it is absolutely certain (for he says so) that Daniel considers the Medo-Persian as one empire, or beast; and that, consequently, the whole of Mr. N.’s argument is not worth a straw, unless it be to shew that the prophet does really give ampler details of what was future, and is so yet, on to the day of judgment, than he does of what Mr. N. would make historical. For, if the Medo-Persian empire be one empire (that is, the second), then the Roman is confessedly the last—that with the ten horns. Now, even supposing the unfounded assertion to be true, that the author of the book ascribed to Daniel wrote in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, yet still the Roman empire (that which is given with far the greatest detail, and whose division into divers kingdoms is a matter of history) was future. That is, he acts, wherever you put him as to date, as a prophet, and commits himself fully to the details of future events, such as the subdivision of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms, its final blasphemous character, and judgment. Not only so; but the fact of the declaration of the writer, that the Medo-Persian kingdom is one only, considered as a beast, destroys the whole foundation of Mr. N.’s reasonings. He states that “he [Daniel] gives the Grecian kingdom, under which he lived, as the last, and then passes to the general judgment,” “the great day of judgment has not followed upon the fourth monarchy.”154 Now, if the Medo-Persian be one only, then he gives a beast or empire after the Grecian, and that with very much greater detail than as to those which preceded; and the allegation is so far from having any foundation, that we have historical proof that he is right; for another kingdom has succeeded the Grecian, divided into many horns—that is, he is a prophet. I need not say, that I agree with all existing testimony, that it was Daniel the prophet, the captive in Babylon, who wrote it.
In fine, Mr. N. says the book of Daniel cannot be proved to have existed earlier than the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, that is, than the last events it describes. The reader will remember that this is casting off the New Testament altogether—that is, really, Christianity—because the Lord there cites his book as that of a prophet. But, as to other proofs, it is beyond all controversy that, at all times of which we have any evidence, this book has been received by the Jews as Daniel’s, written during the captivity. The Talmud has put it among the Cherubim, or Hagiographa, with Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, &c. But none has called its inspiration in question. Josephus is very particular; he gives the number of the books of the Old Testament, and refers to Daniel as the most renowned of prophets. He moreover declares, that the Jewish canon was closed in the reign of Artaxerxes, that is, with Malachi; so that he bears the strongest possible testimony to the date of Daniel as an authentic book.
It may be asked, “On what are the assertions founded of the regent date of the composition of the book?” The answer is, “On nothing.” The objectors think there cannot be prophecy: hence, they argue, there is not. Hence, when an era is spoken of, the book must have been written after it. In this case, indeed, the book of Daniel must have been written after the division of the Roman empire; for he speaks of that; and the history of Josephus must have been also written subsequent to that division into two kingdoms, for he speaks of the book of Daniel which refers to it. But Mr. N. cuts this all short by saying nothing about the passages which speak of the end; and by making (contrary to history and the positive assertion of the book itself) the Median and Persian two consecutive empires, and maintaining a profound silence on the ten horns.
Not only does Josephus present the number of the books of scripture as composing a whole, divided into three parts, and Daniel as one of the most admirable among them, thus assuring us the Old Testament such as we have it was a known volume, but the Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach, refers to this volume, though not distinguishing the books, in the same threefold division—the law, the prophets, and the other books. That is, he shews the body of scripture complete. Not only so, but he refers to these being translated, declaring that the law, the prophets, and the other books had not the same force in the Greek tongue. That Daniel lived in the time of the captivity, we have proof from Ezekiel, who names him by name, and who wrote at that period. The book of Daniel, moreover, had its place in the Septuagint translation. It is not, indeed, the one we have, which is Theodotian’s; but there was one, of which fragments are now extant in the Chisian MS. Now this translation was probably as early as the beginning of Antiochus’s reign, that is, B.C. 175,155 Mattathias’s revolt being in B.C. 167. The book of Maccabees, probably from the contents dating about B.C. 130, refers to Daniel. In sum, if we receive the New Testament, we have the authority of the Lord Himself for Daniel’s being a prophet. Further, we have (for the historical truth of his existence as a remarkably well-known man at the period the book of Daniel refers to) the testimony of his contemporary, Ezekiel. We have Josephus, thoroughly versed in Jewish lore, bearing witness that Daniel was of special eminence among the prophets, and the complete volume of the books of scripture specifically noticed, saying that they had not a multitude of books, but twenty-two (now made twenty-four by the separation of Ruth from Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah); that they were all completed by the reign of Artaxerxes, thus letting in Malachi and Esther, and no more; that there were indeed other books among them, but that they had not the same authority because there were no prophets to authenticate them.
Nothing can be simpler than this. Without entering into details which change nothing of the substance, we have, on clear and intelligible grounds, the canonical scriptures and the Apocrypha. The canonical books are divided into three parts: the law, prophets, and hymns; or, as the Lord says in Luke, the law, prophets, and psalms. But this is not all. The first book of Maccabees refers to Daniel, and no doubt to the LXX translation. This book was written some hundred and thirty years before Christ. Jesus, the son of Sirach, refers to the canonical books, by their well-known tripartite division, and to a translation of them; that is, Daniel existed then, and was translated into Greek. The lowest date for this is B.C. 130. Some place the son of Sirach B.C. 200. The Septuagint translation, of which Daniel formed a part, was made from B.C. 280 by degrees. The revolt of Mattathias was more than a hundred and ten years after it commenced to be made. It is supposed by some that Esther was translated in the reign of Ptolemy Philometer, and this would tend to shew that the translation was complete earlier. Now we have no authorities whatever to refer to during the interval between Malachi and the Septuagint translation. But we have the concurrent voice of all the authority we possess that Daniel is authentic; and the fact of its being part of the Septuagint makes it to the last degree improbable that its date could be any later one; while the Jews, who certainly knew their own canon, most undoubtedly received it as the book of the prophet (Josephus also, who was thoroughly versed in the question, giving, not his opinion, but clearly and elaborately the Jews’ judgment upon it, and the very intelligible grounds of it). All other authorities agree, not merely as authorities, but refer to these very books as the books known (settled by authority) and received of the nation. We have not an earlier testimony than the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, for none exists; but we have a testimony to the earlier and universal reception of these books as scripture. Hence, it can be proved to have existed earlier, for it was then fully received by all as an authentic book, and translated as a part of scripture, probably some time before the period referred to, certainly then as being fully acknowledged, which is exactly the same thing as to our present question (that is, that it was not written for the occasion, for it was then translated as a well-known book).
Prophecies Of The Pentateuch
In order to connect the Pentateuch with the time of Hezekiah, Mr. N. declares the first reference to be in Micah 6:5.156 The reader may remember that in another part of the book Mr. N. declares that it was never given out as an authentic book till found in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, that is, it is referred to by Micah about seventy years before it was brought out, and referred to as well known to the people. But Mr. N. is on slippery ground here. His friend, Mr. Theodore Parker, the translator of De Wette, thus gives his author in English (vol. 2, p. 154, second edit. Boston, 1850): “About B.C. 790 we find that Amos unites the Elohistic and Jehovistic fragments in Genesis 19:29. Therefore he must have had the book of Genesis in its present form (see chap. 2:9), he says, ‘Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them.’ Accordingly, he seems to have been acquainted with the book of Numbers. About B.C. 785 Hosea affords us a trace of its existence. (Chap. 12:3-5.) Here the allusions are obvious to the story of the birth of Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25:26… Again chapter 9:10. This refers to Numbers 22:3.” I do not go any farther. He refers to Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, whose “acquaintance with our present Pentateuch,” he says, “is pretty clear.” Moreover, I apprehend no unprejudiced, intelligent person can doubt the reference of Joel 2:1, 15, 16, to Numbers 10:1-10. Now De Wette, as do many others, places him in B.C. 810; some so far back as B.C. 870, 865; Mr. N. (in his Hebrew Monarchy) between B.C. 840 and 818. That is, mark, that the Pentateuch is quoted as soon as there is a prophet to quote it. But to apply these facts to Mr. N.’s statements; if we take in Joel, we have prophecies referring to the Pentateuch about a hundred years before Hezekiah’s reign, and nearly two hundred years before Josiah’s. Omitting Joel, we have, at any rate, prophecies in B.C. 790 and 785, which, according to De Wette, prove that these prophets had two books at least of the Pentateuch in its present form.
Josiah, according to Mr. N., mounted the throne in B.C. 640. The law was found in his eighteenth year: that gives us B.C. 622. That is, according to De Wette and Parker, the prophets had the Pentateuch, as we have it now, about a hundred and seventy years before it was composed as it is now, and published, according to Mr. N. And the proofs of Dr. De Wette are founded on the newest and most accurate discoveries of Elohistic and Jehovistic documents afforded us in the book which Mr. N. himself refers to. I should add, perhaps, to make every allowance, that Mr. N. places Amos in B.C. 770; so that, according to his shewing, the Pentateuch, as we have it now, would have been quoted only a hundred and fifty years before it existed!
This paragraph of Mr. N.’s has puzzled me a little: “Next, as to the prophecies of the Pentateuch, they abound, as to the times which precede the century of Hezekiah; higher than which we cannot trace the Pentateuch.” (Phases, p. 171.) He adds, in a note, “The first apparent reference is by Micah 6:5, a contemporary of Hezekiah.” The object of this is obvious: it is to prove that they were composed just then, and gave out history for prophecy. That is plain enough—a very strange thing to urge, when they were most certainly, as he tells us elsewhere, compiled and published in Josiah’s days, and never before. “As I considered the narrative, my eyes were opened. If the book had previously been the received sacred law, it could not possibly have been so lost that its contents were unknown, and the fact of its loss forgotten. It was, therefore, evidently then first compiled, or, at least, then first produced and made authoritative to the nation.” (Phases, p. 137.) But the former was a discovery. His eyes were opened. But I pass from this now: it lasted thirty-three pages; and that is something for a German, discovery—provided, that is, that it suffices to raise a doubt. But now why this singularly vague expression—“as to the times which precede the century of Hezekiah?” They contained accurate accounts, it is to be supposed, as to the times preceding his century. Now we have found from De Wette that these books existed, and were referred to as well-known public documents nearly seventy years before Hezekiah’s accession, about eighty years before his sickness in the middle of his reign. Now where are we to begin “Hezekiah’s century?” If we set fifty years before and fifty years after him for his century, then we have prophecies existing twenty or thirty years before it, and so clear that Mr. N. takes them for histories. If we take B.C. 800 to B.C. 700 as Hezekiah’s century, we have, according to De Wette and Parker, prophecies proving the Pentateuch to be well-known public books, appealed to by prophets in Judah and Israel in the first ten years of his century; and Joel, whom De Wette does not mention, but in whose prophecy the reference is equally clear, proving their existence before Hezekiah’s century some thirty years, perhaps many more. That is, the Pentateuch, according to Mr. N., is full of prophecies as to the times in which it is proved to be publicly referred to as a well-known authentic book already in existence. What does this prove? And why all this vagueness as to times in Mr. N.? Why this omission of the testimony of the book he recommends, in which passages are given as a certain proof that the Pentateuch existed long before Hezekiah’s reign, Micah alone being referred to by Mr. N.—a book, too, as infidel as Mr. N. could wish—nay, which is his grand armoury?
Of course, Mr. N. is not bound to adopt the opinion of the author he recommends; but is it quite candid to say the first apparent reference is Micah without alluding to the citation of passages of the Pentateuch in Amos and Hosea, in the book he himself uses and recommends? But a doubt upon a doubt is a shocking thing when all depends on boldness of assertion to create one in the mind of the reader. But to return: it is true that, vague as it now is, the passage in the “Phases of Faith” will, if not closely examined into, disarm the testimony of De Wette and Parker of its effect, because their proofs of the existence of the Pentateuch are within the century preceding Hezekiah; and the note, if we do not compare it with the text, will bring proofs, down to Hezekiah’s own days, and cut off, for him who does not pay attention, about another century of proof. But this is, to say the least, a strange passage, not helped out by a declaration elsewhere, that they were compiled in Josiah’s days, and could not at any rate have been known before. The fact is, the Pentateuch is referred to most distinctly in the earliest of the prophets, whom Mr. N. puts about B.C. 830, so that the only thing Mr. N. proves here is, that the Pentateuch abounds in accurate prophecies, written, at any rate, a good while before the event.
The Old Testament A Continuous History
But if the Old Testament be attentively examined, we shall soon see that it is a continuous history, whoever was the means of making it so (God, as its divine Author, I doubt not), with moral and prophetic addresses joined to it, beginning with the creation and ending with the re-building of the temple and city, after their destruction by Nebuchadnezzar; not setting aside, however, the Gentile dominion, which had taken the place of God’s throne in David’s family in Jerusalem—a dominion which will continue till Christ takes His, and that at Jerusalem again, as David’s son. But this continuous history is in each successive book carried on, with just so much reference to the previous parts, and especially to the Pentateuch, the foundation of all, as was real and true in the state of the time they refer to; the last verse of Malachi throwing back (while announcing the coming of the great day of the Lord) the thoughts of the hearer to the days of Horeb and of the law. In first Samuel we have seven references to the Pentateuch, one to Joshua; in the second, two. That the law was forgotten in practice is most certain. But the whole of the Old Testament has the character of a successive history stamped on it in the very plainest possible way. This is its clear, natural, intrinsic character.
Mr. N. states that “no prophecy of the Pentateuch can be proved to have been fulfilled, which had not been already fulfilled before Hezekiah’s day.” (Phases, pp. 171,172.)157
This assertion is so flatly contradicted by the contents of Leviticus 26, and the well-known public history of the Jews, that it is needless to go farther. It is quite clear that Israel had not been scattered among the heathen before Hezekiah’s reign, and quite clear they have since, and that God’s sanctuary has been destroyed.
We now come to the Gospels. In the first place, though there is a remarkable similarity of spirit and doctrine in the gospel and epistles of John, they are very easily distinguished by any attentive reader. The presenting of the person in the way of historical fact in the one, and the deduction of the nature of God, Christ, and the new man, from that manifestation in the other, are respectively the characters of the gospel and epistles. This renders the epistles much more abstract; and hence the connection of the reasoning is known only where the inward thread of divine life, which links it, is known; whereas Christ in the gospel is clearly and definitely presented, though the divine glory of His person is brought out.
I do not in the least agree with the assertion, that the divine nature of Christ is not clearly taught in the first three gospels.158 Take the word Emmanuel, “God with us.” Again, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” I cite these as examples which present themselves at once. A multitude are found at the beginning and end of the gospels, if we except the beginning of Mark, which commences with His service; and the same truth is found there in the course of that service—as for example, the comparison of the healing of the paralytic with Psalm 103, and of the feeding of five thousand with Psalm 132. That the Holy Ghost selected for its communication by John what related to the Lord’s person is beyond controversy: that, with the sending of the Holy Ghost, is the grand object of the book. Hence he has given what John Baptist taught his disciples, and not merely his public testimony. Moreover, there are but two verses in what John Baptist says, which can give occasion to any remark (chapter 3:35, 36).159 The rest is a touchingly beautiful comparison by John of himself with Christ. Otherwise there is nothing like John the Baptist’s testimony. The testimony that he that believes has everlasting life is the only thing that passes in its character the general spirit of John’s teaching, that is, the witness to the person of Christ. But it is not in elevation of doctrine more than being Son of God—Lamb of God—Baptizer with the Holy Ghost—and this last is even more remarkable because it belongs to the display of Christ’s power after His departure, as much and more than as having eternal life by Him, and is immediately connected with the Father’s having put all things into His hand. There is one thing very clearly proved by Mr. N.’s remarks in this page—his insensibility160 to divine things; for it is notorious that John’s gospel has delighted, fed, drawn out, and comforted the hearts of thousands, perhaps more than any other book of scripture—for a simple reason, that it presents more of Christ Himself, and more immediately Christ Himself. Mr. N. finds it “monotonous.”
The Discourses Of The Lord
I recall to the reader the very convenient form of Mr. N.’s book for administering doses of infidelity: as he is merely recounting the course of his own mind, he can give a conviction as it formed itself, without the least proof. Thus he has a “high sense of the lucid force with which he [Strauss] unanswerably shews that the fourth gospel is no faithful exhibition of the discourses of Jesus.” (Phases, p. 174.) What has produced this conviction we are left to imagine; of course it is supposed to be something. Before this, however, Mr. N. says, “It had become quite certain to me that the secret colloquy with Nicodemus, and the splendid testimony of the Baptist to the Father and the Son, were wholly modelled out of John’s own imagination.” (Phases, p. 174.) How did it “become quite certain?” It is left to be supposed because it is “quite certain.” One can only, to such kind of assertions, answer in the negative—that it is not “quite certain.”
Such assertions have this immense difficulty standing in the way:—that it is a “splendid testimony” on subjects which Alexandrian philosophers have essayed to teach—that this testimony contains the holiest and truest teaching on man’s real condition, and what he needed—the profoundest knowledge and application of the Old Testament, and the connection between the universal principles it contains and the particular application in which a Jewish doctor ought to have understood them—and yet the clear distinction as to how, in their universality as applied by God in grace, they would reach to all (besides the positive revelation of what introduced the heavenly development of the character to which these general spiritual principles lead), and that connected with what we know to be historically true, and prophetically announced, though contrary to all Jewish thoughts, and in its actual form only discoverable in prophecy by the key which the person of Christ gave to it—yet, with that key, “as simple as possible. All this, and much more than this, in the compass of a few verses (and such is John 3), we are told, is the invention of an impostor, and quite certainly such. It is a pity Mr. N. does not tell us why. If imposture be such, and so true, and has such a stamp of divine knowledge on it, what is truth? And what must the original living witness and exhibition of this truth have been? And besides, however profound, nothing can be simpler. There is nothing obscure and mythically mysterious about it.
Special Views Of Christ’s Person
It may be well here to say a few words on the manner in which the discourses of the Lord would be given to us, assuming the Holy Ghost to record them. For it is the character which would result, not the proof of the fact by evidence, that I now seek. First, it is perfectly certain, that we have a very small portion indeed of the discourses of Jesus. The Holy Ghost would give us those which divine wisdom considered permanently useful to the Church in all ages—that which brought out great principles and abiding doctrines; and such is in fact the case. Take the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 13/Luke 15, 16, and the discourses in John, and the like: all bring out some special view of Christ’s person, God’s ways with men, or the principles of His rule as Father. Even in the same discourse He would give us, according to the connection in which it was recorded, that part which applies to the subject treated. Thus, supposing it had been said, “They killed at Jerusalem the Son whom the Father had sent,” I might say, if the guilt of favoured Jerusalem was in question, “They killed the Son at Jerusalem;” if the mere extent of their guilt in respect of the dignity of His person, “They killed the Son.” If I sought to shew the slight of the Father and the contempt of His love, I might say, “They killed the Son whom the Father had sent.” And all these representations would be perfectly true; and in the pursuit of an object, such as God must have in recording these things, my leaving out a part which did not immediately bear on the purpose of God in the revelation would only give a truer force to the words—more of the sense and meaning, according to the mind and teaching of God. Now each gospel might give only one of these (much more pertinent and instructive, but) incomplete citations; and hence there would be a difference. But so far from there being an inconsistency, there would be a great help to understanding the mind of God in the word.
Would any man say of these, that any one was not a true account? It would be a great deal truer if the object be to communicate God’s mind in the discourse to me; and what else can it be if God inspired the account of it? I repeat, we have not a hundredth part of Jesus’s discourses. We have what the Holy Ghost was sent to give for the permanent good of the Church— the very words Jesus used, if needed, for the divine teaching, perhaps the substance perfectly fitted for future ages, or some of the words which had a permanent application.
Again, suppose there were a question of blaming me for taking some one to a distance, and it were affirmed that I had, on the contrary, said to him,” Come into the next room;” whereas I had said, “The next room is airy and will suit you: come into it.” The report made to justify me is not literal, but it is exactly true. Now I do not doubt that the Holy Ghost, by the apostle, has given the discourses of Jesus, not necessarily in every case literally, but in the way alluded to in the example I have given, so as that they exactly communicate the mind of God in them which He meant to be preserved in writing, and word for word when that was needed so to do. Many things may have been said, and undoubtedly were, by which what He said was adapted to the persons and circumstances which surrounded Him, but made no part of the truth to be conveyed. These would be only so far preserved as would be needed to give a perfect idea of what He said to them, and how. Hence the force of the discourse would be, as the Holy Ghost used the mind and pen of John, or any other writer, exactly what the Holy Ghost meant to communicate.
Now this is much more really a divine communication by the Holy Ghost, than a mere repetition by human memory of what the Lord meant only for the good of the individuals at the moment, or forms of expression adapted to suit what He said to them, and not for the permanent good of the Church, and the full revelation of Himself. I have His instructions with divine perfection, as He meant them to be given for the permanent use of the Church, written by the power of the Holy Ghost. If the Holy Ghost employed John or Matthew to convey a particular part of the truth as to Jesus, as He undoubtedly did, their writings would necessarily take the form of the particular truth or aspect of Christ they were employed to set forth. Thus Emmanuel shines through Matthew, and Jehovah King in Zion; in John, the Son’s relationship in every way with the Father, both in nature and mission: Judaism is quite set aside. The vessel used was fitted for its use, but conveyed exactly what it was meant to convey. The form, as we have said, of the jet was according to the fountain-maker’s design, but the water which took that form was unmixed and pure.
John’s Account Of The Raising Of Lazarus,
And Of The Healing Of The Man Born Blind
Mr. Newman objects to John’s account of the raising of Lazarus, and of the healing of the man born blind,161 on the ground of their not being mentioned by the other evangelists, and John’s writing long after. Now the miracles Mr. N. objects to were immediately in connection with the subject the Holy Ghost employed John to treat of. One was in demonstration of His Sonship in the direct way of power; and the other, of the light-giving power which accompanied the recognition of His mission, leading to the owning of Him as Son. Now I repeat here what I have already said, that the Holy Ghost must have an object in writing such histories. He is not—could not be—a biographer, to write a life with circumstances which there was no divine reason for communicating. He was revealing Christ under various characters of glory, Son of God, Son of David, Son of man, Emmanuel.
Now let us examine whether there is not such a definite bearing of the two miracles referred to as is to be expected in a history given of God; whether they do not bear the stamp of a divine revelation of Jesus. From chapter 4, John’s Gospel had systematically unfolded the new thing in contrast with Judaism. Spiritual worship of the Father instead of at Jerusalem or on Gerizim. (Chap. 4.) Life-giving power, instead of human strength using ordinances; judgment executed to secure Christ’s glory in those who rejected Him: here He is the life-giving Son. (Chap. 5.) Next, He is the humbled Son of man instead of King Messiah in Israel, the spiritual food of faith while away, having come down from heaven and been crucified. (Chap. 6.) Then, the time for His glory before the world being not yet come, the Holy Ghost is to be given to believers, witnessing His heavenly glory as Son of man. (Chap. 7.) Then He is the light of the world in contrast with the law; but His word is rejected (chap. 8); as is the evidence of His works (chap. 9), of which hereafter. He will at any rate have and save His sheep. (Chap. 10.) That closes the direct revelation of Christ in the gospel.
From chapter 11 we have the public testimony given by God to Him who was rejected:—first, as Son of God, life-giving, resurrection-power was His proper glory; and Lazarus is publicly raised.162 This sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, and that the Son of God should be glorified thereby. Hence all say, “If thou hadst been here, he had not died.” They knew His miraculous power of healing; but now close to Jerusalem, the most public testimony possible is given to His life-giving power as Son of God. How truly this is in its place is seen by this, that after this we have His glory as Son of David publicly proclaimed by His entry into Jerusalem, and the time come for His glory as Son of man marked by the Greeks coming up; and then the Lord shews that to this the cross is necessary, and looks in spirit at the coming hour. Thus the peculiar bearing of this remarkable miracle is clearly seen—the public indication of Christ as Son of God who raises the dead.
Now Matthew is employed by the Holy Ghost to present Christ in another way—that of Emmanuel, Messiah. Hence the Spirit does not give what was specially used to prove another point; but He does give with much more detail the riding in as Jehovah, the King Messiah, with all that followed on it—in the judgment of Israel, chief priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians —every class, in a word, and the whole moral position of those who rejected Him; and then shews from Psalm no that the Messiah ought to leave them, and to ascend up on high, because He was David’s Lord as well as David’s Son. That is, he gives in greater detail what was suited to his subject.
Again in the case of the blind man, the same considerations apply. We have the contrast between the blind receiving sight from Him who is the true light of the world, and the judgment of those who set up to be lights, and that by the most ignorant believer who finds his place with the rejected Son of God. And mark the process. First, in the typical act, He puts clay on the man’s eyes—a figure (I doubt not, from what the apostle says) of Christ come in the flesh. But this operation in itself produces no effect; but the moment he washes in Siloam (which, says the apostle, signifies “sent”), he sees. That is, the moment he, by the purifying word and Spirit, recognizes that Christ is the sent One, all is clear. In result, the poor man, the subject thus of the delivering power of Christ, honest of heart, bears witness to the power of which he had experienced the effect, knowing Jesus only as a prophet; but, having received in his heart the authority of His word and mission, he immediately receives Him as Son of God, and prostrates himself before Him. The rest are blinded; for the effect of His mission is, that they that see not might see, and that they that see might be made blind.
Characteristics Of John’s Testimony
Now this unfolding of particular testimony to Sonship, in contrast with the bunding of the Jews, is John’s subject all through. Matthew’s, as we have seen, is different; as is Luke’s, who gives us the Son of man, and what is suited to the display of that truth. But there is such total and profound ignorance in all these infidel writers of the purpose of the author, that they do not understand the scope of a single passage. How should they? It is as if some wise housemaid should clean out a powerful voltaic battery, because dirty wire and plates and useless water were in it.
And I beg the reader to call to mind, that if God was writing a book, He must have such objects. Adequate evidence of the facts proving His mission in Israel among the Jews was given in Matthew’s Gospel among themselves, and I suppose (it is hardly to be doubted from the evidence we have) in their own tongue as well as in Greek, before the destruction of Jerusalem. John was employed (when Christianity was now, in one sense, established, and no longer in the cradle of Judaism) to give the great leading truths concerning the person and glory of Jesus, and the presence of the Holy Ghost needed for its building up and consolidation, and the guarding it against the inroads of heretical pravity. Could anything be more suitable, more timely, or more gracious on God’s part? He preserves also an apostle himself, that, as external proof, we might have an eye-witness, and one most especially intimate with Jesus—one we may reverently call His bosom friend—to shew what really was the true doctrine of Christ when there was danger of departure from it, and need of building up in it; when it was no longer sufficient to believe that Jesus was the Christ in order to be preserved from the machinations of the enemy. And this is what we have in John. He is occupied entirely about the person of Christ, and the testimony of the Holy Ghost operating in the saints, whether to convict the world by, or to build up the Church in, the glory of that Christ. Meanwhile, if God chose fitting instruments, the Holy Ghost Himself, as Christ had promised, was the Author and Inspirer of all, whether in Matthew or in John, or any other. Now John was just the person fitted for this. The time was the time it was required, the thing done exactly what was called for: just as the general course of Christ’s working was recorded by Matthew; but in Matthew, hundreds of miracles in a verse or two, to introduce the true character of the kingdom of heaven, which was his subject (all his detailed miracles bearing on his subject, as the few John relates do on his; and Luke’s in an equally remarkable manner on his—the healing, cleansing, forgiving, and quickening of man lost in sin).
Observations On Miracles
Hence nothing can be more out of the way than Mr. N.’s remarks. If John had in Asia Minor (if he was there), after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews, given the general history of miracles and acts as a proof of the truth of his mission as Messiah to the Jews, then, though it would not hinder one taught of God from believing, there would be something plausible in what Mr. N. says, in objecting to a new history of miracles at so late a date.163 This was already done; and that John should then develop Christianity doctrinally and in its spirit, relating only two or three miracles of Jesus, specially connected with this, is exactly in place and keeping. John’s testimony as eye-witness was just as valid. These events must have been much more vividly impressed upon him than more recent ones. The Holy Ghost, while acting suitably as to His instruments, and for His purpose, always acts in His own divine power.
Mr. N.’s low and disgusting introduction of John as a witness is without sense or force. He puts a question164 which only shews his ignorance of the matter. The Holy Ghost acted on his memory, “He shall bring to your remembrance.” Does he mean to say that God cannot call to a man’s memory what He thinks fit? Such a notion is ridiculous—a man can do it. But He puts the memory into activity, and recalls to it the images of what had passed before it. How many scenes and thoughts has the sight of a person called back to our minds! How well does the sinner know that when God acts convertingly on his conscience all his sins come up fresh into his memory! Could God not do as much as to the life of His blessed Son, and control the memory in its activity so as to give what He wished, if He purposed to give a revelation by eye-witnesses? This is what Jesus said the Holy Ghost should do. Hence it is not a “romance,” but a history— a real history by eye-witnesses, and a real history by God Himself through their instrumentality. It is much more incredible that He should have sent and given His Son, and not given such a history of Him, but left it unknown, or only traditionally guessed at in after ages.
Further, I repeat, miracles may arrest and draw attention to truth; and truth may arrest and fix attention on divine power shewn by miracles; but the fact is, both were concurrent testimonies to the person and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.165 On this point also Mr. N. only shews he is far from the plain and very simple state of the case. Suppose the anxious father, who entreated deliverance for his son, found that the fever left him exactly at the moment that Jesus said, “Go thy way, thy son liveth”; and thus, giving ear to Jesus, found that truth, the entering in of which gives light and understanding to the simple, would an infidel’s scepticism or the parent’s conduct be more just?166 In the main, the Gospels just give us an authentic history of those things, and of plenty of scepticism too, which has not happily succeeded in anything save confirming, in the state of the sceptic Jews, the prophecies and warnings which they disbelieved and rejected.
Suppose, on the other hand, one heard Him who spake as never man spake, and received precious truth in his soul, yet remained pondering as to who He should be who spake, and whether all His claims were real, and, as John’s messengers, saw that the blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and, in the absence of all the pride and selfishness of religious grandeur, the poor had the gospel preached to them; was it not a just means of receiving Him who spake grace and truth itself, and confirmed the word by signs following? Or must he have settled the knotty, logical point whether miracles were to be believed on account of doctrine, or doctrine on account of miracles, before he did; or remained in torturing doubt if the Saviour he wanted was there, or in proud and indifferent ignorance? He had nothing to settle. Truth and power concurred in assuring his soul that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God. If he did not believe it, it was that his heart was so hard that it resisted both. We have lost the sight of the miracles and possess the truth more complete as a whole, and an historical testimony which nothing but folly and self-will can dispute: an historical testimony which makes the whole course of miracles more powerful morally, though less impressive to the senses. Christianity exists. It arose from something. What it did arise from is believed by all the world except voluntary sceptics and mythical dreamers like Dr. Strauss, who will serve for a nine years’ wonder for the Germans, as the Paulus school did before them.
It will be said, “But people believe Mohammedanism too”: so do I historically, though far less fully authenticated in detail than Christianity. The difference is this, that if the history of Mohammedanism be true, it is an imposture. If that of Christianity be true, it is incontestably divine, But you might better deny the history of Mohammedanism than of Christianity. I turn to the examination of St. Paul’s testimony.
Mr. Newman’s Remarks On Tongues
I think I never read more thorough nonsense than Mr. N.’s remarks on the tongues. The Irvingites were a convenient loophole of escape, indeed, as regards the remarkable testimony afforded by the tongues; but I cannot say that Mr. N. has managed it well, though in some respects subtilely enough. Indeed it was a difficult task. St. Paul’s speaking tongues more than they all is slipped in at the end as “hallucination.” It was an awkward fact to deal with. And now let us examine Mr. N.’s dealing with the facts of the case. They were the same, he says, as the Irvingite tongues. St. Paul’s “moral sobriety of mind was no guarantee against his mistaking extravagances for miracles.” So that the tongues which Paul spoke were extravagances like the Irvingite tongues. And “Luke (or the authority whom he followed) has exaggerated into a gift of languages what cannot be essentially different from the Corinthian, and in short from the Irvingite, tongues.” (Phases, p. 179.) So that Paul, in speaking the tongues he boasted of, was never understood. They were mere extravagances, “hallucination!”
He, whether through delusion or imposture, encouraged others in the thought that they had these tongues, and only boasted of having more “extravagances” than they, and of course different kinds of extravagances; for he spake several tongues—a thing hard to conceive, that he should speak several kinds of jargon as if they were languages, and yet remain an honest man. Did he mistake his own diversified extravagances for miracles? It is very credible for a sceptic, but for no one else, I should think. If it comes under the class of logic or philosophy, I know not; but it certainly seems an “extravagance” to a plain mind that a man should speak a number of tongues which were no tongues at all, and never find out he was deceiving himself, nor think of deceiving others; but appeal to others who indulged in like extravagances, and without smiling, like Cicero’s augurs, when they met each other. I have known some who held that Paul’s tongues were simply languages that he had learnt and was thankful to use. Mr. N. treats this notion as cheaply as it deserves, by not noticing it, and distinctly declaring the tongues to be an extravagance; whereas it is clear enough there is no extravagance at all in speaking a language we know to those whose language it is. Nothing more wise or simple. I say as cheaply as it deserves; because to suppose that people’s speaking a language they had learnt at school was a proof that the Holy Ghost had come upon them, is really not worthy of consideration. And not only on the day of Pentecost, but at Samaria, and at the reception of Cornelius, the speaking of tongues is advanced in a very specific and distinct way as a proof of the descent of the Holy Ghost, and in the last case as a warrant for receiving the Gentiles into the Church of God (God having given them the like gift as to the apostles). Now, that a man’s speaking a tongue he had learnt in an ordinary way should be a warrant for so doing, is too absurd an idea to entertain for a moment. No: they were extravagances or a miracle.
But there is this untoward difficulty in the way of their being fancied tongues, that all the different nations to whom the tongues belonged understood them. “Are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born?” And then Peter speaks to the Jews in theirs. Now this fact is the substantial point of the whole affair. It was that which struck the multitude. Three thousand people were converted by it. The Church begins its existence, and was formed in virtue of this multitude understanding what was said. Christianity was planted and rooted in the world by it.
It was this was the proof that the Holy Ghost was indeed come down. It marked and characterized the day of Pentecost. Mr. N. says, it “cannot have been essentially different from the Corinthian.” Surely not; but there was this difference, that there was nobody at Corinth who understood the strange tongues. It was not needed, and it was not for edification; and, therefore, with his usual “moral sobriety,” Paul forbade the exercise of this gift unless there was an interpreter, because then, as is evident, it would edify.
He would not preclude its use, as it was a sign of divine power, provided it was for edification: all was to be subservient to that.
Thus all was the very opposite of extravagance. An immense aid was given to the propagation of the gospel, obvious to all, as. well as a sign of divine power accompanying it.
Now it seems to me, not only was such a miraculous aid peculiarly appropriate for a religion propagated by preaching; but, besides that, there was a very special and gracious meaning in this gift.
In Babel, where man had once been of one lip, and one language, God had confounded their pride, and men were shut up into a dissociable condition, used of God for providential purposes, but which set up barriers which precluded common communications. Israel had one of these tongues perhaps, and, probably, the original one; and the true knowledge of God was confined to them. When Christianity came in, power was not yet going to set the world right, but grace was overstepping these barriers, and the over-flowing love of God saluting the heathen where they were, in their darkness and misery, without compelling them to bend their neck under the galling yoke of Judaism. What could be more expressive of this than speaking to every one of them in their own tongue? The barrier was gone—at least God’s love had over-stepped it, and visited every heart where it was at home, where judgment, indeed, on man’s pride had placed it. Was there not something most beautifully significant in this? Surely there was. Hence it became a kind of distinctive miracle.
So when Samaria was received, they spake with tongues. When God would outstrip man’s tardy love, and He visited the Gentiles in the person of Cornelius, He put His seal on the Gentiles before the Church had put hers—an unusual act. Yet surely the first place in grace belonged to Him; and how could the apostle refuse those to whom God had given the same seal as to the Jews and the apostles themselves? But when they were used for personal vanity, and not for edification—for of what is not man capable?—then they are restrained; not absolutely, which would have taken away a just testimony to the Holy Ghost’s presence, but unless there was an interpreter who could turn it to edifying, which was certainly the Holy Ghost’s purpose. With Mr. N. this is the same thing as Irvingite extravagances. What profound moral judgment, and estimate of facts!
But I must here (without any reproach to Mr. N., as it is a matter of memory) recall some facts, and rectify some statements. At Pentecost the languages were universally understood by those who spoke them; the Irvingite tongues never by any one: a notable difference. And this is so true, that after first trying their hand at making Chinese of it, it was suggested among them that it might be the tongue of angels, as it was said, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels”—delightful idea!
Mr. N. is not quite exact in his account of the report of the “Irish Clergyman,” or at least of what the “Irish Clergyman” saw and heard. There was a pretended interpretation. Two brothers (respectable shipbuilders at Port Glasgow, of the name of M’D—), and their sister, were the chief persons who spoke, with a Gaelic maid-servant, in the tongues, and a Mrs. J—, in English. J. M’D— spoke, on the occasion alluded to, for about a quarter of an hour, with great energy and fluency, in a semi-latin sounding speech—then sung a hymn in the same. Having finished, he knelt down and prayed there might be interpretation; as God had given one gift, that He would add the other. His sister got up at the opposite side of the room, and professed to give the interpretation; but it was a string of texts on overcoming, and no hymn, and one, if not more, of the texts was quoted wrongly. Just afterwards there was a bustle; and apparently some one was unwell, and went into the next room; and the gifted English-speaking person, with utterances from the highest pitch of voice to the lowest murmur, with all strange prolongation of tones, spoke through (if one may so express oneself, as if passing through) the agony of Christ. Once the Gaelic servant spoke briefly in “a tongue,” not, if the “Irish Clergyman” remembers right, the same evening. The sense he had of the want of the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church made him willing to hear and see. Yet he went rather as deputed for others than for himself.
The excitement was great, so that, though not particularly an excitable person, he felt its effects very strongly. It did not certainly approve itself to his judgment; other things contributed to form it. It was too much of a scene. Previous to the time of exercising the gifts, they read, sung psalms, and prayed, under certain persons’ presidence (one of diem a very estimable person, whom he has since seen free from all this, and a minister of an independent or some dissenting church in Edinburgh, then a church-elder). This being finished, the “Irish Clergyman” was going away, when another said to him, “Don’t go: the best part is probably to come yet.” So he stayed, and heard what has just been related. He was courteously admitted, as one not believing, who came to see what was the real truth of the case. The parties are mostly dead, or dispersed, and many freed from the delusion, and the thing itself public; so that he does not feel he is guilty of any indiscretion in giving a correct account of what passed.
It may be added, without of course saying anything that could point out the persons, that female vanity, and very distinct worldliness, did not confirm, to his mind, the thought that it could be the Spirit’s power. The M’D—s were in ordinary life, quiet, sober men, and, he believes, most blameless. Their names were so public that there is no indelicacy in alluding to them, but the “Irish Clergyman” did not think they had that kind of peace and deliverance from legal thoughts, which is a sign in another way of the Spirit’s power. They never received the apostolic pretensions of London and Albury, but repudiated, in the strongest way and on full enquiry, the blasphemous doctrine of the Irvingites as to the person of the Lord. Mr. N.’s reporter, the “Irish Clergyman,” doubts that they were in the least aware of it at the time they professed to receive the gifts; but they certainly entirely repudiated it when he saw them afterwards.
It may not be generally known that the “gifts” among the Irvingites were founded on this doctrine of Christ’s being a sinner in nature like ourselves. Mr. Irving’s statement was, that he had long preached the “gifts,” but there were none, because there was nothing for the Holy Ghost to testify to; but that when he preached this doctrine, they came as a witness to it. His teaching moreover on the subject was confirmed by what was received as the prophetic power amongst them. I am afraid the tongues are not quite “exploded” yet, as they have allied themselves with other influences suited to the world (that is, the spirit of Romanism and Puseyism). At any rate, there is one consoling fact, that as yet, in God’s patient mercy, in spite of efforts from without and provocations of many Mr. N.’s from within, the lapse of eighteen hundred years, instead of three, has not “exploded” the effect of Paul’s “extravagances” and “hallucinations,” and Luke’s “exaggerations.” We possess the blessed testimony that the Holy Ghost has given to the glory of the person of the Lord Jesus; and, despite their many sins, mercy is yet extended to the Gentiles.
The rest of Mr. N.’s remarks on the tongues are not worthy of an answer. The term “barbaric jargon” is avowedly used because it was not understood by the hearers. He that spoke was “as a barbarian.” The rest is composed of a kind of sneer, which, in the presence of the proofs and facts, throws scorn on the sneerer, not on the things sneered at.
Paul’s Preaching of a Glorified Christ, Peter’s Witnessing
The next point noticed is St. Paul’s preaching a glorified Christ, not a lowly One. It is quite true: and equally true that he was not called to be a witness of Christ’s oral teachings. So it is declared in his mission as distinguished from that of the twelve. He was to be the great witness of that part of truth which put Jew and Gentile on the same footing in a heavenly way, which could only be in connection with a glorified Christ. But if that be supposed to mean, that he attached no importance to the history of Christ’s humiliation,167 nothing can be more false; only he takes it up, as he does all else, as a part of the vast counsels and plans and purposes of God.
The following passages, not to speak of unnumbered ones which speak of the cross, will prove what I say. In John 15:26, 27, it is said, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” They were eye-witnesses of His life down here. As to Paul’s ministry, it is said, Acts 26:16, “But rise and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” Here we have the two commissions clearly stated.
So Peter calls himself a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and a partaker of the glory to be revealed. Paul not only speaks of “the gospel of the glory,” but says, “for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” his Lord; and, instead of speaking of himself as a witness of the sufferings and partaker of the glory, seeks “the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” He descends, so to speak, into the sufferings, because of the glory, and as the way to his high calling above. He does not speak of waiting for its revelation. And this was so very distinct, that Peter proposes, in Acts 3, to the Jews repentance, that Christ may return to them; Paul never. Peter’s testimony had been rejected, and Stephen killed and received on high; and there was no thought then but receiving Jew and Gentile through the ministry of him whom grace had called away from Stephen’s martyr-ground, and from the apostleship of Jewish hatred, to Christ, to be the witness of heavenly things connected with that glorious Christ, by the vision of whom on the way to Damascus he was arrested, and his pride laid low. The Holy Ghost also opened his spiritual eye on the Lord, leading him to preach Him whom once he destroyed.
Hence he boldly declares, after speaking of the “gospel of the glory,” that he does not know Christ in the former or Jewish way, after the flesh; and that if any man was in Christ, there was a new creation—he belonged to what took him out of Jew and Gentile; as it had been said to him by Christ, when He appeared to him by the way, “Delivering thee from the Gentiles, to whom now I send thee.” But this only fills up the perfectness of the gospel revelation in its place. And the humiliation of Christ takes, in Paul’s view, all its immense and vast importance in the counsels of God, and is not a mere personal history, perfectly interesting and divinely instructive as that is in its place; for the gospel has a thousand aspects in one divine truth.
Paul was eminently the vessel of the counsels of God in Christ. Does that make the personal history of Jesus less interesting, less profoundly, divinely, though humanly, instructive? No; the heart goes back to study in every detail, One who in every detail was divine love and holiness, near enough to man’s eye to study it for himself. But how does Paul speak of this? See the sweep of truth with which he brings Christ’s humiliation in: “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” What a place does His humiliation fill here! Again, take His, so to speak, official exaltation: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.”
Thus the history of Christ’s humiliation was looked at by Paul, through the Holy Ghost, not in the touching detail of Christ’s individual life, of which he was not witness, but as one immense fact, and a cardinal one, in the vast scheme of God. This was exactly in its place, and in keeping with the service for which he was employed. John gives us the divine nature; Paul, the divine counsels; Peter, the walk of him who has a lively hope through the resurrection of One whose walk he had known and followed in its bright display on earth, towards the heaven into which resurrection is meant to introduce us (all founding the accomplishment of blessing on the redemption which He has wrought out for us).
Mr. N. next complains of Paul not affording us the grounds on which he believed the facts as to Christ’s resurrection.168
I have, in principle, answered this. The business of a revelation is to afford the objects of faith in such a full display as makes the evidence of it, not to discuss the logical grounds of its reception. Nothing can be more absurd, more demonstrative of the petty narrowness of mind which cannot discern the true character of what is before it, than the claim of such a logical discussion in scripture. Moral appeals of the most touching character to all, the evidences given and slighted, are indeed found. That we can understand. But I venture to say, there is not a right-thinking man in existence, who would not (if he had found in the New Testament a discussion on the logical grounds of evidence) have at once concluded that it was not, or at least that such a portion formed no part of, a revelation of God.
Even as to logic,169 I must beg to be entirely exempted from partnership in that of Mr. N. “Our” is a very comfortable, comprehensive word; as if his reasoning were the universal grounds of enlightened modern conviction. I must beg to think, poorly as I esteem men’s competency in such matters, that is far from being the case. Take the example Mr. N. appeals to— Paley. He has examined all these subjects with a clear and accurate mind; he has come, and written to shew why he has come, to the full conviction of the authenticity and divine authority of that to which Mr. N. denies both. What kind of logic had he?
But let us ourselves examine the evidence St. Paul affords in writing to the Corinthians. The question was, Will the saints rise again? The proof of the resurrection, insisted on as evidence, is the fact of Christ’s resurrection; for if there be no resurrection, then Christ is not raised; and the whole gospel, which is really founded on it, falls to the ground. Besides, therefore, a doctrinal statement (to which the evidence of his own mission, already afforded, gave authority), he appeals to historical proofs. And what are they? Some one apparition to an excited individual, whose imagination may have misled him? No; different and repeated manifestations of Himself by Christ to persons who very well knew Him. The apostle states (besides these manifestations of Christ taking place often to those who were intimate with Him) on one occasion He appeared to some five hundred persons, of whom the apostle takes care to say that the greater part are still living to testify, if needed, to the truth of the statement. Now what so good evidence can you have of a person being actually there, as being repeatedly seen by those who knew him well, his daily companions; and (if prejudice or feeling may be alleged as leading a dozen of them to concur in and continue a most elaborate falsehood, and suffer for it) having the certainty of the truth confirmed by His being seen by above five hundred persons at once, who were then most of them living to tell the story? It is difficult to imagine what “our logic” could have, in the way of evidence, more convincing.
St. Paul, it is true, does not discuss its validity; but he produces what is valid; and that is just what he had to do. We are discussing it now; we do not want St. Paul for that. When he wrote, they were living to be examined who had seen Him. What other kind of evidence would Mr. N. require? What other could he have? Would he require some palpable proof of its being real? Christ eats and drinks with them after He arose from the dead. Is he still unbelieving? Thomas, happily for us, had the same scepticism; and Christ’s wounded side and pierced hands extorted the acknowledgment of the fact, and of the divine person to whom such a fact testified.
And remark here, we are discussing the nature of the evidence afforded.170 It will be said, “You should bring the proof of enemies as well as friends.” Were such adduced, it would have been equally alleged, they would not have known Him; and if convinced, were they to be excluded as witnesses, because they were honest enough to become friends? Must a man be necessarily a sceptic to have truth and sense? I judge a man more honest who avows his convictions and suffers for them. I can produce thousands, ay, millions, of sceptics, who are constantly making profession, for their ease’ sake, of this and many things besides, which they do not beheve. This was certainly not the course of those who received and professed the testimony of Jesus. But I do bring the best proof of that kind (that is, of thousands of enemies thoroughly convinced by the evidence they had where the facts occurred, so that they embraced and suffered for the truth of it).
Among them was St. Paul, who, not for his conviction but that he might be an eye-witness, did see Him when he was an enemy. He very modestly introduces this, with the expression of the sense of his own unworthiness, but declares expressly here in Corinthians, as he does elsewhere, that he saw the Lord. St. Paul then produces five hundred witnesses, and declares they are alive. The simplicity of the proof needed no comment. It has the dignity of a plain, unanswerable testimony. It wanted no “extravagating,”171 no “revelling” in it. It carried its own weight. He adduces his own testimony in the same simple way—“Last of all he was seen of me also.”
Mr. N. asks, “Did he see Him as a man in a fleshly body, or as a glorified, heavenly form?” (Phases, p. 182.) There was such a manifestation of glory as left no mistake with any present, though they were not intended to be eye-witnesses of Jesus, nor to hear His voice. The general blaze of glory and the sound from heaven confounded them, and they fell to the earth. Paul, to whom the Lord meant to reveal Himself, then saw the glorified Lord, and heard His voice speaking to him—answered Him, received His reply at large and in detail. He made no mistake as to the glorious light; and when One who gave such plain proof of glory, and whom he saw in a glory which surpassed the sun’s brightness, declared to him Himself that He was Jesus, Paul believed the glorious One he saw from heaven. Perhaps Mr. N. might not have done so, might have been “disobedient to the heavenly vision;” but I know not that he would have proved his wisdom in his disobedience. And, though Mr. N. does not like threats, there certainly is a day which will declare it, or the grace (as the Lord grant it may be!) which has forgiven it.
But this was not all the evidence Paul had, nor all he refers to. A godly, sober man, well reported of by his enemies and the truth’s, but whom he did not know, comes to him unsent for, and declares to him that he has had a vision, and that he has been sent to him by the same Jesus who had appeared to him by the way; and not only this, but that he had been sent to give him back his sight, which accordingly took place, and moreover that he should receive the Holy Ghost. Accordingly we find Saul, previously astounded by the vision, and the immense revolution it must have produced in his mind to find he was fighting against the Lord of glory, and that all the heads of his religion were the bitter enemies of the glorious Christ of the God they professed to serve—we find him, I say, boldly, with great force and conviction, proving that the Jesus whose disciples he persecuted was indeed the Christ, and soon naturally becoming himself the object of persecution, but persevering to the end.
Now was the glory seen by all—the confounding voice from heaven—the vision of His person by Saul—the detailed conversation in which he was convinced and his mission given to him, confirmed by the independent evidence of Ananias the righteous Jew—his receiving his sight and such spiritual power as confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus—all confirming the reality of the positive declaration of One whom he saw in glory, that He was Jesus—evidence which changed the man’s whole life —of such a character as proved a man had “lax notions of evidence,”172 because he was convinced by it? I apprehend that when he had himself seen the Lord, talked with Him, received from Him sight and power, he did not think much about notions of evidence, because he had a full revelation for himself. He might leave it easily to sceptics, and wonder at their notions, well convinced that “if his gospel was hid, it was hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them.” He had seen that Just One and heard the words of His mouth. He had told him who He was. All was confirmed by signs of power and holiness and truth. What needed he more?
And remark here, that all the testimony of the apostle bears the stamp of this for some thirty years after. His gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ.” He knows Him only in this way, knows Him for himself—his doctrine, the union of the Church with Him who said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest”—the deliverance from Jewish habits of thinking in so remarkable a way—the very hatred of the Jews perpetuated to this day—all bear the stamp of the origin of his mission by this vision of Christ. As to the character of his testimony, Mr. N. does not deny it; but effects shew, more or less, their cause. And then here it was exactly what was needed, if it be true; just the point of progress at which Christianity had arrived. The Jews who sent Saul had denied and rejected it. The time was come to bring out the Church as such, and the Gentiles into a place common to them and to the Jews, dropping the privileges of the Jews (forfeited by rebellion persevered in against mercy); for they had “filled up their sins, and wrath was come upon them to the uttermost.” The doctrine of Paul (of the reception of the Gentiles, and the building of the Church in union with its Head, Christ in glory) all flows naturally and necessarily from the vision on the way to Damascus; the sovereign grace which gave it to a Saul, stamped its character throughout.
My business is not with the logic of the apostle, but with his truth, with his testimony. I may look for it in Mr. N.; and his reasonings, which expect logic from a witness instead of his testimony, are as illogical as they are narrow and petty in their scope of apprehension of the character and effect of the evidence.
Mr. N. says, “Peter does not attest the bodily, but only the spiritual resurrection of Jesus.” (Phases, p. 184.) I can only say to this, that Mr. N.’s views of Greek are as narrow as of logic. Indeed, he must be a hardy man, and have very “lax notions of evidence,” who could allege Peter as one who attested only the spiritual resurrection of Jesus. He it is who declared the twelve were witnesses or it, having eaten and drunk with Him after He rose from the dead. They preached Jesus and the resurrection— that neither did His soul remain in Hades, nor His flesh see corruption. He it was who proposed that one of those who had constantly accompanied Jesus should be with them—a witness of His resurrection.
But will Mr. N. say that zwopoihbeiV" preuvmati or tw'/ p. means simply that His spirit was raised and not His body? Is that the simple force of the dative in Greek (viz., to be the direct object of the active power of the verb)? Mr. N. knows just as well as I do that it is not; and that his remark has no solid foundation whatever. For if Mr. N.’s remark has any weight, it is that z. p. meant that His spirit was made alive. On the face of it this would be absurd, because the only thing put to death, if we so take it, was the flesh; for it is said, qanatwqeiV" meVn sarciv. The enquiry as to the Messianic prophecies remains.
134 “All pious Christians feel, and all the New Testament proclaims, that faith is a moral act and a test of the moral and spiritual that is within us… faith therefore is essentially from within.” (Phases, pp. 153, 154.)
135 “It had always appeared to me very strange in these divines to insist on the convincing and stupendous character of the christian miracles, and then, in reply to the objection that they were not quite convincing, to say that the defect was purposely left to ‘try people’s faith.’ Faith in what? Not surely in the miracle, but in the truth as discernible by the heart without aid of miracle.” (Phases, p. 154.)
136 There is this evident distinction between a mass of pretended miracles and scriptural ones, that these were to convince where men were strangers to the doctrine, the others to confirm existing prejudices. Besides this, I may remark that in many instances there was no room for the power of the imagination in the patient—the cure being wrought by Christ’s word when He was at a distance.
137 “Suppose him to be a poor Spaniard, surrounded by false miracles, false erudition, and all the apparatus of reigning and unopposed Romanism… ‘You bid me not to keep faith with heretics: you defend murder, exile, imprisonment, fines, on men who will not submit their consciences to your authority: this I see to be wicked, though you ever so much pretend that God has taught it you.’” (Phases, p. 155.)
138 “Hardly was it started on its course when it began to be polluted by the heathenism and false philosophy around it… It became more and more debased… It sank into deep superstition and manifold moral corruption.” (Phases, pp. 159, 160.)
139 “It began in polytheistic and idolatrous barbarism, it cleared into a hard monotheism, with much superstition adhering to it. This was farther improved by successive psalmists and prophets until Judaism culminated.” (Phases, p. 160.)
140 “They [Christians] had made no such rapid progress in numbers as to imply that by the mere process of conversion they would ever christianize the empire. In fact, it was the christian soldiers in Constantine’s army who conquered the empire for Christianity.” (Phases, pp. 161, 162.)
141 “I still rested on Isaiah 53, as alone fortifying me against the Rabbis, yet with an unpleasantly increasing perception that the system of ‘double interpretation,’ in which Christians indulge is a playing fast and loose with prophecy, and is essentially dishonest.” (Phases, p. 169.)
142 “The prophecy in Daniel 9 looks specious in the authorized English version, but has evaporated in the Greek translation, and is not acknowledged in the best German renderings.” (Phases, p. 168.)
143 “The prophecies of the New Testament are not many. First, we have that of Jesus in Matthew 24, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. It is marvellously exact, down to the capture of the city, and miserable enslavement of the population; but at this point it becomes clearly and hopelessly false.” (Phases, p. 169.)
144 Page 109. He cannot shake off the suspicion that Zacharias son of Barachias, was Zacharias son of Baruchus, slain in the courts of the temple during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus. (Phases, p. 129.) The dream of Joseph is “reported to us by a person wholly unknown, who wrote seventy or eighty years after the fact.” This (seventy or eighty) would leave, at all events, several years’ margin for the immediately after. The taking of Jerusalem was a.d. 70. If the reader asks what authority there is for this date of Matthew’s gospel, the reply is, There is none: but universal testimony to the contrary. Matthew is quoted by Barnabas just after the siege of Jerusalem. But we must not expect any authority for sceptical statements. I opened Parker’s “De Wette,” to see why he rejected Daniel. I find “It appears Daniel is not the author of the book.” How? “From its legendary contents it is full of improbabilities.” Other reasons, of which a word hereafter, about as solid are given. It is merely an idle opinion given as a proof.
145 “There is nothing in them to countenance the theory of super-naturalism in the face of his great mistake as to the speedy return of Christ from heaven.” (Phases, p. 170.)
146 “As for the Old Testament, if all its prophecies about Babylon, and Tyre, and Edom, and Ishmael, and the four monarchies, were both true and supernatural, what would this prove? That God had been pleased to reveal something of coming history to certain eminent men of Hebrew antiquity. That is all.” (Phases, p. 170.)
147 “With Christianity they have nothing to do.” (Phases, p. 171.)
148 “At the same time I had reached the conclusion that large deductions must be made from the credit of these old prophecies. First, as to the Book of Daniel: chapter 11 is closely historical down to Antiochus Epiphanes, after which it suddenly becomes false… Hence we have a primâ facie presumption that the book was composed in the reign of that Antiochus.” (Phases, p. 171.)
149 That is, these are idolatry (chap. 3.); blasphemous insults against God (chap. 5); and setting up to be God Himself, as far as pretending to exclude all other. (Chap. 6).
150 As the statue (chap. 2), or the beasts (Chap. 7).
151 I say picture; for I have no doubt that chapter 11:30, 31, 32, applies to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Maccabees, &c.
152 Sculptured heads of rams have been found at Persepolis, with one horn higher than the other.
153 I do not doubt that the Median branch had the supremacy at first. The prophecy so states it, as does profane history; “the highest came up last.” And Cyrus succeeded to a Median prince, though as to this, there is some confusion; but that is not the question here, because Cyrus took Babylon; and the Medes and Persians were, undoubtedly, at that time a united empire. Evil-Merodach was slain by Cyrus before the close of the Babylonian empire.
At any rate, as the kingdom, according to Daniel, was given to the Medes and Persians, his four monarchies cannot be made out by making of the Medes and Persians successive kingdoms.
154 “The four monarchies in chapter 2 and 7 are the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, the Macedonian.”
155 It is generally agreed now that the Septuagint was made at different epochs: the law, in the reigns of Ptolemy Soter and Philadelphus, or during their joint possession of the throne (according to Hody, about B.C. 280, in the reign of Ptolemy Evergetes). The son of Sirach seems to speak of an existing translation; and if so, of this, about B.C. 130. The other books we have no positive date for, unless it be Esther in the reign of Ptolemy Philometer.
156 “Next as to the prophecies of the Pentateuch, they abound, as to the times which precede the century of Hezekiah. Higher we cannot trace the Pentateuch.”
“The first apparent reference is by Micah 6, 5, a contemporary of Hezekiah, which proves that an account contained in our Book of Numbers was already familiar.” (Phases, p. 171, and note.)
157 Here we have slipped on from the times before Hezekiah’s century to Hezekiah’s day; that is, a margin of about a century is left. We have the Pentateuch cited 830, or at any rate 800, years before Christ, according to De Wette. Hezekiah’s accession was, say, B.C. 725. Now suppose a prophecy in the Pentateuch was fulfilled in 750 before Christ, it was twenty-five years before Hezekiah’s day, and yet fifty years after the prophecy was certainly in existence. Hence it was better to leave the date as vague as possible. The consequence is, Mr. N.’s statement proves nothing—a hundred years is rather a long epoch to leave out and pass sub silentio, in order to escape the necessity of proving one’s point. We have Hezekiah’s day bold enough in Phases, p. 172; the times which precede his century (ib. p. 171), as if it were the same thing; and in the note (ib. p. 171), the first reference to the Pentateuch is in Micah, his contemporary (leaving out Joel, Amos, and Hosea, preceding prophets by whom it is quoted), and that makes a bridge from the times preceding his century to his day. Had I not looked into De Wette, who proves in due form that the Pentateuch, as we have it, is cited “in the times preceding Hezekiah’s century,” I could never have discovered what this singular phrase was worth; or why Hezekiah’s name was introduced for dating quite a different epoch from his own. But then it glides, with Micah’s help, much easier into “Hezekiah’s day” in Phases, p. 172.
I take the opportunity of this note to insert a statement from Lightfoot, in reference to the period at which the Magi came up, the sheet to which it properly belongs being already printed off. He supposes, as I have done, that the Magi came up some time after the birth of Christ, making the interval at least a year.
“Since, therefore, only fourteen years passed from the nativity of Christ to the death of Augustus, etc., we must reckon that Christ was not born but in the last years of Herod. Thus we conjecture:
“In his thirty-fifth, Christ was born.
“In his thirty-seventh, now newly begun, the wise men came: presently after this, was the slaying of the infants—and after a few months, the death of Herod.”
158 “That the divinity of Christ cannot be proved from the first three Gospels was confessed by all the early Church, and is proved by the labouring arguments of modern Trinitarians.” (Phases, p. 173.)
159 “I saw it infallibly to indicate that John had made both the Baptist and Jesus speak as John himself would have spoken; and that we cannot trust the historical reality of the discourses in the fourth Gospel.” (Phases, p. 173.)
160 “The monotony also of the Gospel had also excited my wonder.” (Phases, p. 172.)
161 “How was it that the other writers omitted to tell of such decisive exhibitions?… When, where, and in what circumstances did John write? It is agreed that he wrote fifty or sixty years after the events, when thejother disciples were all dead.” (Phases, pp. 174, 175.)
162 There is no “Tell it to no man” here.
163 Note, here, infidel candour. It suits Mr. N. to accept the usually received date of John’s Gospel; and he says, “It is agreed that he wrote fifty or sixty years after the events;” but it is much more universally agreed, that Matthew and Luke wrote much earlier, though the precise year is not known. But this has no weight with him.
164 These are the words: “O aged sir, we understand that you have two memories: a natural and a miraculous one… Be pleased to tell us now, Is it from your natural or from your supernatural memory that you derive your knowledge of the miracle wrought on Lazarus?” (Phases, p. 176.)
165 Compare John 6:14; 7:40.
166 Note, here, the clear proof of power in miracles done on one at a distance unconscious of what was said.
167 “Paul shews total unconcern to the human history and earthly teaching of Jesus… The Christ with whom Paul held communion was a risen, ascended, exalted Lord… He surely therefore must have been wholly and contentedly ignorant of the oral teachings of Jesus.” (Phases, pp. 180, 181.)
168 “But I now saw that this independence invalidated his testimony… It avails not to talk of the opportunities which he had of searching into the truth of the resurrection of Christ; for we see that he did not choose to avail himself of the common methods of investigation.” (Phases, p. 181.)
169 “How different was the logic [Paul’s] from ours! To see the full force of the last remark, we ought to conceive how many questions a Paley would have wished to have asked Paul; and how many details Paley himself, if he had had the sight, would have felt it his duty to impart to his readers.” (Phases, pp. 181, 182.)
170 Mr. N. says, “He does not afford to us the means of sifting and analyzing his testimony;” but he did, in the fullest way, to those to whom he wrote—giving the names of those well known, and adducing five hundred others who were, he declared, mostly then alive; so that there was the fullest means afforded to sift his testimony. As far as the lapse of eighteen hundred years allows, there is the amplest opportunity given now.
171 “Conceive, farther, how a Paley would have dealt with so astounding a fact, so crushing an argument, as the appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred brethren at once! How would he have extravagated and revelled in proof! How would he have worked the topic! … Yet Paul dispatches the affair in one line.” (Phases, pp. 182, 183.) What is so crushing? If it be the effect, we have it. What more does Mr. N. want? If it be crushing, it is all we want. Why is Mr. N.’s reasoning crushed by it?
172 “How can I believe, at second hand, from the word of one whom I discern to hold such lax notions of evidence?” (Phases, p. 183.)