« PrécédentContinuer »
the Doctor, averring: “So we, brethren, are 'not children of the bond-woman”-of the Jewish covenant; for these two women represent the tuo covenants; but we Christians are "children of the free woman," or new covenant.
It will not help the Doctor to assume that the dispensations are two and the covenants one, since Paul makes two covenants.--Indeed, this whole hypothesis of two dispensations of one covenant", is but dust and ashes thrown by the theological Doctors into the eyes of their too credulous devotees. Two dispensations of religion change membership and privileges just as much as two covenants, A covenant is a dispensation. There is, therefore, just as much sound sense as sound theology in speaking of two dispensations of one dispensation, as in speaking of two dispensations of one covenant. It is learned nonsense. A modest theologian would, methinks, be satisfied with the fact that the Saviour preached a new birth as essential to admission into the Christian church or reign of Heaven. The Jews were born of flesh, of blood, and of the will of man, but not of God. But the Messiah, who came to set up a new kingdom, preached a new doctrine, and gave only to those who received him the power or privilege to become the children of God. And this we are expressly told cut off all the sons of the flesh: for only “to those who received him, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, gave he privilege to become the children of God," or members of his church. Hence to Nicodemus he affirmed, “Except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
But our learned Dr. Miller is full of proof-texts. That the Jewish church and the Christian are identically one and the same institution, he alleges from the dislocated joint of an apostolic argument, Heb. iv. 2.—"For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them:" that is, in the Doctor's vision, equivalent to saying the same gospel was preached unto the Jews that has been preached to us. Suppose that were the fact, would that make us Jews, or them Christians!! It certainly, on the Doctor's showing, has as much power to make Gentiles Jews as Jews Christians! But few men, in this our day of learned criticism, would have the courage to make such a quotation: for all the learning of the age is on the side of reading the passage, “For glad tidings of a rest to come are preached to us Christians as were glad tidings of a rest (in Canaan) preach ed to them;" but the good tidings of a rest in Canaan preached to them did not profit them, (since but two men of the whole nation entered into that rest) because of not wieving the glad tidings con
cerning it announced to them. So evident is this the contextual import of the passage, that children in our Sunday Schools, equally with the most learned of our critics, so understand it. Surely Dr. Miller has survived his generation!
This can only be excelled by Dr. Miller himself. The Jewish ehurch ate the manna and drank the mystic rock, and are a gospel church because, says the Doctor, they are builded on the same foundation—the Apostles and Prophets. Moses alone founded the Jewish church. It is only at this Princeton Observatowy, through some new ecclesiastic telescope, that the Prophets and Apostles were seen along with Moses when he founded the church of Christ in the wilderness of Sin!!
But finally the Doctor completes his climax by the Parable of the Good Olive Tree, Rom. xi. The case is this: Jeremiah (chap. xvi.) in allusion to the past history of the nation, says, “The Lord called thy name a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit.” Paul to the Romans applies this figure, and reminds some Gentile brethren, compared to the branches of a wild olive, that they had been grafted into the good olive tree and made to partake of its root and fatness. Some of the natural branches of this olive tree had been broken off and they were grafted in their place.
That we may not pervert or misapply this allegory, it is important to keep the facts on which it is founded clearly before our minds. Of these the following are chief:
1. To the Jews pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as to the flesh, Christ came." But Christ's church is not found in the inventory of their peculiar rights, honors, and privileges. They had the adoption and the Shekinah. They were the only people that God acknowledged nationally; and amongst whom he pitched his tent and held his abode. The covenants guarantying blessings to the human race, and of making them nationally according to the flesh a peculiar people, were in their hands. To them the law of circumcision was given. The typical worship of the only living and true God was theirs. The promises spiritual and eternal were given to them for the benefit of the human race. This, indeed, was a chief blessing; for Paul admits their chief advantage to have been, that “to them were committed the oracles of God.” The three great fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in whom God promised to bless all the families of the earth, were their natural progenitors.Hence the Messiah himself was the natural son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with some fifty-two other progenitors: for, according to Luke, Jesus was the fifty-sixth person in descent from Abraham. But it is no where said that to them pertained the church or believing family of the only living and true God. This is assumed by all them who make the Jewish nation and the Christian church identical. There was a people of God before Abraham and after Abraham that did not derive their blood from him. Abraham, that he might be a great father, was made the father of two races of mena natural and a spiritual progeny. The history of Sarah and Hagar and their two sons stereotypes this for ever. Now for almost two thousand years these two races were chiefly found in one nation. This was the good Olive Tree. Especially was it good while the whole nation, as such, kept pure the only true worship of one only living and true God. But, be it emphatically said, that this was predicted to continue so only till the Messiah should come. For the patriarch Jacob, when dying, said of Shiloh the son of Judah, “To him shall the gathering of the people be.” Many a type and prophecy indicate this. Hence, according to prophecy, "he came in the fulness of time” to his own nation; but “his own people received him not.” “To as many, however, as received him” in his proper character, and to none else, "he gave the privilege of becoming the children of God, even to them that believe on his name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of but of God.” Hence if we be Christ's," and in no other way, “we are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise."
The worldly sanctuary and service are abolished, and the worldly race of Abraham are broken off from now being the peculiar people of God. A portion, however, of the natural seed of Abraham became his spiritual seed, and formed the neucleus of a new insti. tution. To them, as Christ's church, the believing Gentiles are added. Thus the natural branches of God's ancient olive tree are every one broken off; and none but spiritual branches, or believing men and women, are regarded as his peculiar people. Into this good olive tree believing Gentiles are as admissible as believing Jews; for now “we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ;" and "if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things have become new.”
How Dr. Miller could mystify or overlook the three following declarations,—“Because of unbelief they were broken off”_"Thou standest by faith”-and, “If they abide not in unbelief, God will graft them in again,"--can only be explained on the alleged all
predominating power of prejudice. Are not these declarations fatal to his assumption that all that are born of a certain kind of human flesh are, without faith, to be grafted into Christ's good olive tree? To any such engrafted individual who could say with Paul, “Thou standest by faith?” “Be not high-minded, but fear!”
Dr. Miller's 5th argument is—“If infants were once members, and if the church remains the same, they undoubtedly are still members, unless some positive divine enactment excluding them can be found.” p. 21.-But we have shown that infants never were members of any church less than a whole nation, or a church founded on blood. Therefore, his fifth argument is, in one of its branches, altogether baseless as a dream. In the other branch-if the church remains the same,” it is equally without foundation. There never was a community on the earth founded upon faith till Jesus Christ came. This is the divine and glorious character of Christ's church. All other communities, ancient or modern, are founded in blood or selfishness of some kind. But this alone is founded on faith—“If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest." This is its essential and indispensable prerequisite. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Hence we must be born again in order to enter into Christ's kingdom.
His sixth argument is to show that baptism came in the room of circumcision. He, however, strange to tell, proves that it has not come in the room of it. He says that “circumcision publicly ratified admission or entrance into the visible family of God." p. 23. But circumcision was not the door into Abraham's family, or the family composed of the children of Abraham. Natural birth was the door, and not circumcision. Moreover, circumcision was confined to male children. It was also restricted to the eighth day after natural birth. In these particulars, as in many others, baptism is proved not designed to fill or occupy the room of circumcision. He seems to have forgotten that Jesus Christ was himself both circumcised and baptized—that the twelve Apostles were circumcised and baptizedm that the whole Christian church, for seven years after its birth on Pentecost, in its myriads of converts, all Jews, was entirely composed of persons both circumcised and baptized-myriads of the Jews believed and were baptized. Two seals, blood and water, atlached to one subject and to one covenant as doors into the church!
Nay, farther, he asserts that circumcision was done away, and th at baptism came in the room of it. But where is his proof? Circumcision was not, in any recorded case, dispensed with. The believing Jews, down to the end of New Testament history, circum cised their children. Paul publicly declared, by an overt act, that he had not commanded them to desist from circumcising their chil. dren. It is, then, perfectly gratuitous to affirm that circumcision has been done away by any divine statute; and, consequently, that baptism has come in the room of it. See this more fully developed Tract No. 6.
Dr. Miller's seventh argument for infant baptism is household baptism, already noted. Bishop Kenrick gives that up as wholly inconclusive, and so must every enlightened man of candor. There is no case of family baptism indicating infant baptism. On the contrary, we have shown that there is internal evidence that there was no case of infant baptism in any one of them. But suppose there was no ambiguity on the subject of infant baptism, that it was a matter clearly established; even then it could not be proved that in the three or four families reported to have been all baptized, there was an infant in them. In the first place, it is not named. Hence it is inferential. There is no circumstance at all indicating or even implying it. Then it rests upon mere possibility, not upon the least probability; for there are amongst us many families or households and not an infant in them. Therefore, nothing remains but bare possibility; and he that builds a Christian institution upon a mere possibility, is not to be reasoned against; for there is no sound reason in him.
His eighth reason is, that "had the sign of infant membership been suddenly withdrawn, there would have been wounds and murmurings, and feelings of deep revolt and complaint against the new economy.” Had they, indeed, had as carnal and secular views as Dr. Miller seems to have of Christianity and Christian baptism, there would have been a fearful tumult and uproar among the people. But when we remember that faith and repentance from the days of the Harbinger were preached as essentially prerequisite to baptism, and that John refused to baptize some who demanded it on the ground of having Abraham, or some saint, for their father, we only wonder that any one well read in the New Testament could have ever found such an objection. And still more especially, after reading the Acts. of Apostles, in which faith is so often connected indissolubly with baptism. When Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” who can rationally expect to find his followers and his Apostles teaching by their practice he that is baptized without faith shall be saved?
His ninth argument is, “The New Testament abounds with passages which cannot reasonably be explained but in harmony with this doctrine.”