The Irrationalism of Infidelity: Section h.

Being a reply to "Phases of Faith"*

J. N. Darby.

{*London: 1853.}

<06001-129E> File Section h.



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 showed 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; Exodus 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.

232 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 dearer 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.

233 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; Deut. 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.

234 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.


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. John 2:15. 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.


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 αὐτὸς ἔφη  - "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.

236 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.

237 Faith is within, but not "from within,"* 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,"** 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." Matt. 6:22.

{*"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.)}

{**"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.)}


Mr. Newman then puts the case of two men,* 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.

{*Phases, pp. 154, 155.}

238 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 believe the miracle, but to believe 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 miracle* 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.** 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.

{*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.}

{**"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.)}


Mr. Newman's historical reasoning only condemns his system. The positive and superior instructions of Christianity were soon, he tells us, corrupted and polluted.* 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,** the only thing to be said is, that it is as untrue as can possibly be, as every tolerably instructed person knows.

{*"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.)}

{**"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.)}

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 it* 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.

{*"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.)}


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.

242 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 ἰδίας διαλύσεως, 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 dĂ©nouement 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." 1 John 2:18. 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.

243 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.

ACTS 13 33-35

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, 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.

244 ISAIAH 55, 50, 53; PSALM 22; 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 — 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?" John 12:34. 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.

245 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.

246 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.* 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" etc. 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.

{*"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.)}

247 DANIEL 9

As to Daniel 9* 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.

{*"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.)}

De Wette's translation is "An anointed one shall be snatched away, and no one is there [or existing] who belongs to him." Now the Hebrew 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, "Messiah shall be cut off," as simply as possible; Messiah, as all know, means anointed; ve-aen lo "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 his 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.

248 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.* 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.

{*"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.)}

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 Lords 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.

249 DANIEL 12

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 (Dan. 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 Daniel 7; the image ground to powder in Daniel 2, and the kingdom of blessing set up and filling the world. So, in the details in Daniel 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.

250 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 (Daniel 8 and Daniel 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 Daniel 12.

251 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.

252 Now what Daniel spoke of in Daniel 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," etc. 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!

253 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 "πολυποίχιλος" 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.

254 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,* 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.

{*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.}

255 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.

256 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 with Revelation 4, has not yet begun to be accomplished, though many things symbolized in it exist more or less.


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."* 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." Matt. 24:48. 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," etc. 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." 2 Peter 3:9. 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?" 2 Peter 3:4. 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."

{*"There is nothing in them to countenance the theory of supernaturalism in the face of his great mistake as to the speedy return of Christ from heaven." (Phases, p. 170.)}

258 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."* 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.

{*"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.)}

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, second-hand 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, even 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.* 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.

{*"With Christianity they have nothing to do." (Phases, p. 171.)}