« PrécédentContinuer »
their first. The third is Jude 2; where, in describing the same class of persons, the Apostle speaks of them as having first proceeded in the way of Cain, then run greedily for reward in the wandering of Balaam, and then perished in the contradiction or gainsaying of Kore. It is equally obvious, that the prophecies, wherewith the Lord stopped the venal mouth of Balaam, have a direct reference to the glory of Christ the King (Num. xxiii. xxiv). Moab and Edom are often associated in Scripture, nay, identified, as types; and Edom is often employed to represent the Roman earth, “Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem ; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof....O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed,” &c. (Psal. cxxxvii. 7), are words evidently applicable to the Roman power, which was God's instrument of wrath in treading down Jerusalem, and in which the characters of Edom and Babylon are combined. And the “remnant of Edom” clearly imports a remnant of life from the death of the Gentile church in the last days. Now, at the time at which the Papacy arose nothing but the mysterious necessity for the revelation of Antichrist prevented the coming of the Lord in his kingdom. That was the midnight, one of the four watches, in which the Master was likely to come (Mark xiii. 35). That was the time at which, as we read Hos. ix. 10, the people of God were as the first ripe in the fig-tree at her first time,-a sign that the kingdom was nigh (Matt. xxiv. 32): it was an apparent period put to that fourth kingdom, in the days of which, according to Daniel, the saints of the Most High should receive the fifth, an unrivalled and intransitory dominion ; and it was that very conjuncture, in the dark anticipation of which the Thessalonian church decmed the day of the Lord at hand, until Paul forewarned them that on the passing away of the Roman power the whole mystery of iniquity should intervene, to mature a fresh harvest of martyrs, and both to postpone and to invoke the vengeance of a long-suffering yet zealous Lord (2 Thess. ii.; Rev. vi. 10; iii. 10; 2 Pet. ii. 1,3). If, therefore, the passing over Jordan into the land of promise be the type of our entrance by resurrection, or change, into the kingdom; if Moab represent the territory of that fourth kingdom in the days of which the God of heaven is to set up his; and if the devices of Balak the king, exercised against the Israelites on the very borders of the land of promise, point to the time when but for such devices the people of God would have attained the kingdom-as it is written, “He brought them to the borders of his sanctuary” (Psal. Ixxviii. 54)—there can be little doubt that we are thereby placed at the rise of the little horn. As Balaain was hired by Hatteries and gifts to attempt the exercise of his power against the children of Israel, whom Moab feared, so was the pope, the false prophet,
seduced by temporal allurements to exercise the authority and abet the efforts of the beast, the Balak or waster of the saints, who feared the increase of God's strangers and pilgrims; and who sought at the hands of the Papacy, first, a curse upon Jacob, the church, wrestling until day-dawn with the Lord; and then the defiance of Israel, the church, made victorious at his coming (Num. xxiii. 7, Gen. xxxii. 28). Wherein historically consist the four several occasions on which Balaam was constrained of God to pronounce a blessing instead of a stipulated curse, I confess my inability as yet to discern; but that they are discoverable I believe : and one thing is abundantly evident in the matter, that in the actings of the false prophet, in his overruled attempts to serve the beast, are to be found the most direct intimations of the kingdom and dominion and glory which he was hired to prevent. We Protestants have sadly
put away from us the lesson here taught us of God. Our fathers, in their righteous, but in this matter somewhat unenlightened, abhorrence, cast off the Papacy as a whole, instead of rescuing out of the hands of Satan the mighty spiritual truths by him so abused; so that, in many cases, truth was unconsciously rejected, through ignorance of Satan's devices and indiscriminating detestation of error: and we, their children, are not only unable to discern, but forgetful to abhor and slack to witness ; fondly dreaming that Satan and his children are got better, and that all men are about to consent in the truth; while the truth is, that all men are about to consent in its abolition. But God has, nevertheless, been very gracious to his Protestant church, in this, that while Satan has set bimself in the Papacy to forestall, and burlesque the future kingdom and priesthood of Christ on earth, as he will yet vie with it in the infidelity, our Father is ready to instruct us yet more and more deeply in the mysteries of the kingdom by the conteni plation of that against which he calls us to proclaim; so that, while every truth of God finds itself mocked in these depths of Satan, the presence of the mockery may at once remind us of, and incite us after, the fulness of truth. The caricature of the kingdom is thus made to instruct us in the kingdom, and fit us better for keeping the word of Christ's patience; and the great line of our duty thus becomes that of our chief instruction. Yet, although God did so overrule the Papacy as to furnish from it, for his people, a feast of fat things concerning the kingdom which Satan strove to delay, the people did not use this their increase of wisdom aright, but ceased their pilgrimage and their hopes, and "abode in the plains of Moab." The monstrous union of Christ and Belial, expressed throughout all Scripture by the union of the sons of God with the daughters of men, speedily took place. In the unhallowed combination between the people of God and the
powers of this world (a combination so different from the true standing and function of the magistrate in the church), and in the adoption of pagan customs into Christian worship, we find exemplified the first part of the doctrine of Balaam (1 Cor. vi. 13; Rev. xvii. 5, xviii. 9; Isai. xxiii. 17; Heb. xii. 16); and in the man-worship, and image-worship, and creature-worship, and mammon-worship, which in one form originated and speedily pervaded the whole Papal system, we also find the second part of the doctrine. Combination with the world and deification of the creature form the two leading characteristics of the Papacy. The slaughter of Zimri (a vine) the Jew, and Cozbi (deceit) the Midianitess, was an act declarative of the conjunct judgment to be executed on the apostate priesthood and their heathen seducers. The reward of Phinehas for the deed is couched almost in the very phraseology addressed to David's Son, the destroyer of this earth's destroyers. The second numeration of the people and edition of their law, at the time when their last enemies were judged, indicate the preparation for the age to come, when the body of the beast shall have been given to the burning flame, and a new dispensation ushered in (Isai. li. 4), The declaration which God then made of his character, as the Judge of the fatherless and the widows, and the lover of the stranger, directs our faith to the time when God shall be so in his holy habitation; in that temple of glory where the ark shall find a resting-place; when God shall have arisen and scattered his enemies (Psal. lxviii. 1, 5; Num. x. 35); when the gracious mind of God, which they who now in the hope of glory visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction foreshew, shall be fulfilled (James i. 27); when in deed, not merely in faith, God shall be to us orphans a Father, Christ to his widowed churches a Husband, and when the Lord of the whole earth shall fill the yet stranger nations with joy in the knowledge of himself, and in the light of the New Jerusalem. The unction of Joshua, the man of war (literally "Jehovah's saved one"), as the successor of Moses, represents the clothing of our manifest Lord with zeal and vengeance, when he shall yet rule the nations with a rod of iron in the great day of his wrath. And as the Moabites and Balaam together were slain by the chosen ones of the Lord, so shall the beast and the false prophet share a common fate at the hands of the Lamb and his servants, "called, and chosen, and faithful" (Rev. xvii. 14, xix. 20).
Thus, then, we see how the doctrine of Balaam represents the maturescence of the mystery of iniquity as a part of the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which represents the systematic operation of Antichrist. We see that our Lord puts his mightiest stigma on the whole, by the peculiar expression "which thing I hate." And when we see the church commended in Ephesus
VOL. III. NO. L
for hating as Christ hated the mere deeds of Antichrist ; and then rebuked in Pergamos for having them that dared to hold the doctrine, as well as practise the deeds ; let us not be highminded, but fear, and know that we stand by faith ; and learn that it is not the obviousness of iniquity, but the demonstration of the Spirit, which can at all save us from being the captives of Satan. The relation between the doctrine of Balaam and the seductions of Jezebel, which is indicated in Jer. xxiii. 13, will be exhibited in the sequel.
* Repent thou, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and make war with them with the sword (poppata) of my mouth.” (Rev. ii. 16.)-The sword of Christ's mouth is, as we have seen, his command of judgment in the assertion of the tree of life at his coming and kingdom. The threat here given is directed against the angel-which demonstrates that he was held primarily responsible for the errors of his church, as well as primarily honoured for its holiness. The quickness of the coming is in reference, not indeed to the literal, but to the antitypical church; the adjunct usually employed to indicate the little season of Antichrist (Rev. vi. 11), and the imminency of aspect in which the Lord will ever have his coming to be viewed, especially at those watches of the night at which, humanly speaking, some Divine counsel alone delays his coming. The persons with whom war is to be made by the Lord, are not the church of Pergamos, nor the angel thereof, but those who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans by holding that of Balaam-another conclusive demonstration, if further demonstration were needed, of the fact that the Papacy never continues, far less constitutes, a church. And it is not undeserving of notice, that these persons are not merely to be fought against (uaxncopai) but waged war against (modeunow) : whence we are to learn that the Lord will manifestly, universally, and publicly overthrow them. So we are directed to the time when ten kings, being the ten horns of the beast full of blasphemous names, on which the woman rides, shall make war (modeungovoi) with the Lamb, and be overcome by him with the sharp sword of his mouth, because he is Lord of Jords and King of kings, and they that are with him are called and chosen and faithful (Rev. xvii. 3, 14; xix. 15, 19.) From the whole it is clear that the quick coming to the angel, and the waging of war with the Balaamites, are coincident and that both are suspended upon the lamentable condition that the angel of Pergamos shall not repent or change his mind. Now we know that the apostasy has been revealed, nay, is now just about to be made war against with the two-edged sword of the Lord's mouth : whence we might perhaps be led to infer that the church of Pergamos did not, through her angel, repent. But it is clear, that, if the actual revelation of the apostasy warrant this inference, it proves a great deal too much, because the church of Pergamos has, even in antitype, long since ceased, and the time within which Christ could come to its angel has also ceased : whence it follows that the time of war has no less gone by. Therefore, as the threat, although it was truly a threat of the Lord's coming, was a threat of that coming to the church and in the period of Pergamos, the fact that the apostasy survives is just the proof that the angel did repent. His repentance, therefore, is to be looked for; and is easily discoverable in the succeeding church of Thyatira, which for twelve hundred and sixty years signally laboured and witnessed against Antichrist : and so the repentance of the angel of Pergamos was that act by which he cast off the apostasy. The judgment of God, which would have instantly destroyed the church had it not repented, and had it been ngulphed in apostasy, was postponed by his repentance; and God, in his inscrutable permission of the mystery of iniquity, still found a church which might be a contemporary witness against it, and the continuance of which as a witness and light should measure the duration of his patience, till truth should fail, and there should be no judgment, no man, no intercessor, and his own arm should bring salvation (Isa. lix. 15, lxiii. 5, Ezek. xxii. 30).
“He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches : To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the manna which is hidden; and I will give to him a white pebble, and upon the pebble a new name written, which no one knoweth saving he which receiveth” (Rev. ii. 17).-Although the invocation of each promise has been hitherto passed without comment in this interpretation, yet in entering upon the consideration of a promise referring to a blessing so peculiarly confined to the receiver, it may be right at once to caution and to encourage the reader, by reminding him that the expression, “he that hath an ear," is one in no way intended to affect the universality of the invitation to hear. The Spirit doth in this matter speak directly unto the churches alone, because what he saith is matter of promise only to him that overcometh. But the churches, as the recipients of a message so gracious and glorious, are, in truth, to the world God's continual ensample and monument of blessing; whereby he tells all men of the riches which he hath freely given in Christ to all, and whereof he doth verily yearn continually to make all partakers in the body of his dear Son. And in like manner, while we are most emphatically informed that none but the hearing ear can hear the promises, we are not intended to infer that any thing but the want of the hearing ear stands between any man and these promises; but are, on the contrary, to understand that all are equally urged to hear, by having the hearing ear. The Gospel of the kingdom is