Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

tian spirit ; that it will produce peace, individual and domestic peacesocial, national, and universal peace. In those days “shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth."

The exaltation of the Jewish people from a state of slavery to the possession of the promised land, the re-establishment of their civil and religious institutions after their release from Babylon, the victories gained by the Christian church during the three first centuries, and a multitude of minor instances of deliverance of like character, were the results of protracted suffering and severe trials. The Church has always passed through sore travail to a happy deliverance. If we reason from analogy—that is, if we conceive that the glorious deliverance predicted, will be analogous to the deliverances already vouchsafed—we cannot reasonably expect to gain such a triumph without a mighty conflict. The trial which we may reasonably anticipate, is plainly and repeatedly foretold. Amongst the numerous prophecies which describe the glory and the bliss of those days, there are few indeed which are not coupled with awful denunciations of desolating judgments to be inflicted on the ungodly, and especially on those nations which have profaned the Christian name. When " the nations are bruised with a rod of iron, and broken in pieces like a potter's vessel," the godly and ungodly must in many respects share alike in the common distress. They are subjects of the same government, and generally members of the same church; they enjoy the benefits of the same civil and religious institutions ; they are governed by the same laws ; and their temporal interests and comforts are, to a great extent, indissolubly united. When vengeance overtakes the ungodly, the righteous must needs be sorely afflicted. Well may we pray " for kings and all that are in authority under them, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty." The Scriptures assign the same period of time to the restoration of the Jews, and the deliverarce of the Christian Church ; and it is more than probable that they will greatly aid, encourage, and strengthen each other in a conflict, the result of which will be equally advantageous to both. But on this subject the prophet Daniel says to the Jews, " At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Dark and portentous are the clouds which hang between us and the vision of promised bliss. We long to behold the glory, but with humble confidence and holy fear we meditate on the terrors which surround it. " Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure." Let us follow the example of our blessed Lord, and “ for the joy that is set before us, endure the cross, despising the shame.”

How long the last struggle between the Serpent's seed, and that of the woman, may continue, we cannot venture to affirm; but there is reason to apprehend that it might be protracted, with more or less of violence, during a period of forty-five, or even of seventy-five years. The present generation may witness its commencement, and feel the pressure of the troubles which it will occasion, but it is hardly proba. ble that the youngest of them will live to enjoy the felicity and glory of the final triumph. We would comfort ourselves with the reflec. tion, that it is more honourable to gain the victory, though we die on the field of battle, than to enjoy the fruits won by the valour and blood of our forefathers. Only let it be our first concern to gain a personal victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Let us take special heed that the weapons of our warfare be not carnal, but spiritual ; that we may unite in the celebration of the triumphs of that day, if we be be permitted to behold it, and not be consumed by the fiery indignation which shall then overwhelm the dragon and his deluded hosts.

CHRISTOPHILUS.

REMARKS ON SOME PASSAGES IN ST. MATTHEW'S GOSPEL.

(Continued from p. 724.)

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. MATTHEW xii. 25. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out ?" Jesus means to say, “You do not generally attribute the casting out of devils to Beelzebub. It is a power which you have been accustomed to regard as in an eminent degree characteristic of the Messiah. It is a power which many of your own disciples have either possessed, or pretended to possess. Why then do you make my case an exception to the general rule? or, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, how do you exempt your own disciples from the same charge?'

xii. 30. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.” In Luke xi. 23, this pas. sage is immediately followed by the description of the ejected spirit who wanders through dry places, and then returns with seven other spirits to the house from which he had been expelled. St. Matthew places the description of the ejected spirit at a later point of our Sa. viour's discourse (vers. 43-45). According to Schleiermacher, the binding of the strong man, in ver. 29, denotes our Saviour's victory over Satan; and the temporary ejection of the evil spirit, in vers. 43—45, represents the imperfect cures which were effected by the children of the Pharisees. “It is only,” says Schleiermacher, “from its position between these two illustrations that the general declaration, he that is not with me is ugainst me, derives its full determinate meaning; namely, that nothing short of an entire spiritual subjection of Satan can effect his sure and permanent expulsion from his particular holds; and that one who takes no part in the former, as was the case with the Jewish charmers, does by his exorcisms more barm than good.” For myself, I prefer the ordinary interpretation of this verse. Jesus makes use of a saying which had passed into a proverb, and expresses by it that the accusation brought against him was absurd and self-contradictory: it implied that Jesus was acting in concurrence with Satan, and at the same time in opposition to

Satan's interests. Such a charge as this (says Jesus) is refuted by the well-known proverb, “ He that is not with me is against me.”

xii. 32. “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him : but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Some writers have found it difficult, in the case of the Pharisees, to distinguish between speaking against the Son of man and speaking against the Holy Ghost. The answer to this objection is, that the latter included the former, and at the same time was a much greater sin. When the Pharisees reviled our Saviour on account of his mean origin or humble condition, they spoke against the Son of man : they spoke against him also when they attributed his miracles to the co-operation of Beelzebub : but in the latter case they were guilty of an additional crime, namely, that of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost.

xii. 46. “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.” St. Mark (iii. 21.) gives us the reason why Christ's mother and brethren desired to speak with him : they came to lay hold of him, as thinking that he was beside himself.

xiv. 4. For John had said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.” Josephus says, that Herod imprisoned John through fear that he would stir up an insurrection. St. John here tells us of a deeper reason, namely, that the Baptist had rebuked Herod, on account of the unlawful marriage with his brother's wife. But Rettig has justly observed, that one of these reasons does not exclude the other. If John preached publicly against the immorality of Herod, and more particularly against his incestuous marriage with Herodias, this would tend to bring his character into general disrepute : and when to this was added the announcement by John of a kingdom which was shortly to be established, Herod might really think that the Baptist's preaching glanced dangerously towards himself.

xvii. 17. “ Then answered Jesus and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you ? how long shall I suffer

Commentators are not agreed as to the persons whom Jesus here rebukes. Some say that he addresses these words to the mul. titude ; some, to his own disciples. But here occurs a case," says Schleiermacher, “in which St. Mark gives a key. He mentions among the multitude some scribes who were disputing with the disciples at the time, and therefore probably were drawing unfavourable conclusions from their refusal or inability to heal the sick child. For that the dispute was connected with this is evident, from the fact that, upon Jesus's question as to the subject of the dispute, the father came forward with his petition. These scribes therefore, and the part of the multitude which took their side, are the ' faithless and perverse generation,' for the very reason that they refused to ground their belief on anything but acts of this kind : and we may safely acquit the disciples of being comprised under this denomination."

xvii. 21. “Howbeit this kind (i. e. this kind of thing, namely devils) goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Jesus, as Schleier

new

you?"

2

macher observes, had been praying (Luke ix. 28), and perhaps, to judge from the circumstances, had been fasting also.

xix. 21. “ If thou wilt be perfect (i. e. if thou wilt be altogether qualified for the attainment of eternal life), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." This, though in form a precept, is rather intended for a warning. To obtain what you desire,' says Jesus, you must become one of my followers. And this will involve the loss of your worldly goods. Go therefore at once, and sell your great possessions, for they must inevitably be sacrificed.'

xx. 15, 16. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last.” It has often been objected against the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, that the conduct of the house. holder seems to be unfair. The answer to this objection is, that, if the householder had been represented as distributing the workmen's wages in sums proportionate to their different periods of service, this would inevitably have been the prominent feature of the parable, and have kept out of view the particular point which our Saviour designed to illustrate ; namely, that many of the last would ultimately be on a level with, or even take precedence of, the first. Whether the householder's conduct was commendable or not, is a question not pertinent to the case.

xxii. 11-14. “ When the king came in to see the guests, &c. This incident of “the man which had not on a wedding garment" is to be regarded as a sort of corollary or collateral circumstance. The main point in the parable is, that the king's guests were not those for whom he had originally prepared his supper. For this is the point in which it applies more immediately to the case of the unbelieving Jews. Perhaps Jesus added the other incident by way of warning to another part of his audience, namely his own disciples.

xxii. 36. “ Master, which is the great commandment of the law?" St. Matthew says that the lawyer proposed this question to Jesus, tempting him (ver. 35). The lawyer must have intended that Jesus should be provoked to set himself in opposition to the Jewish doctors, by whom the Divine precepts were not all ranked upon the same level. Jesus therefore returned an answer, which, from its generality, lay quite beyond the range of casuistical objection.

xxii. 43. “ How then doth David in spirit call him Lord ?" This question of Jesus is a sort of counterpart to the question proposed by the Pharisees in verse 17, about the lawfulness of giving tribute to Cæsar. “I too,' says Jesus, 'will propose to you an ensnaring question, which you cannot answer without saying something for which I might instigate the Romans against you. For, since the Pharisees applied the Psalm to the Messiah, they could not answer otherwise than that David called the Messiah his Lord, because he was to be a more powerful king than David himself; which certainly implied that he would not hold his power, like Herod, as a vassal of the Roman emperor. This is Schleiermacher's interpretation of the

M. J. M.

verse.

MEMOIR OF BISHOP MILES COVERDALE.

(Concluded from page 750.)

For the Christian Observer. The publication of Coverdale's Bible was a signal benefit to this nation, and to the general cause of Scriptural truth. It is related by Fulke, from Coverdale's own statement at St. Paul's Cross, that Henry VIII. directed some of the bishops to examine it, who reported that it contained faults, but not heresies ; whereupon the king said, “If there be no heresies, let it go abroad among the people.' We may presume that the king gave his sanction to it ; for no other version was extant when Lord Cromwell issued the Injunctions of 1536, commanding, by the royal authority, every parson, or “ proprietory” of every parish church, to provide the whole Bible, both in Latin and also in English, and lay it in the chancel for public use, and to “ comfort, exhort, and admonish every man to read the same as the very word of God, and the spiritual food of man's soul."*

It would be tedious to follow up Coverdale's literary career; for besides his Bible of 1535, with the reprints of the whole and portions of it, and other biblical labours, he translated various tracts of the foreign Reformers, and also published several pieces and treatises of his own. The fullest catalogue of his works will be found in the Memorials” published in 1838 (we wish that for easy reference the compiler had given his name or a distinctive title), where are enumerated more than sixty publications that is, including successive editions—which have been attributed to him, in whole or in part, by different authorities ; but many of them, as the memorialist clearly proves, were not his ; and others are doubtful. Thus, doubtfuls, there is one entitled “Of the old God and the new ; of the old faith and the new, or the original beginning of idolatry” (popery), purporting to be written in 1523, but printed in 1534, which Fox

among the

. We still presume the fact to have plied that there is nothing but tradition heen as above stated; but doubts have to support the statement that the book been thrown upon it. With regard to was given by Aune, and that it might Coverdale's remark at St. Paul's Cross, have been by Jane. The declaration at as no date is given, it has been replied St. Paul's Cross, and the book of De, that he may bave alluded to one of the votions, are auxiliary, but not conclu. subsequent translations in which he was sive, arguments ; but we have such con. engaged. With regard to the injunc. fidence in Fox that we feel assured he tions of 1536, it is asserted that there could not have deceived, or been de. is no such clause in the Injunctions in ceived, as to the existence of the elause the authentic copy in Cranmer's Regis- in the Injunctions. The unnamed comter, and that Fox is not so accurate a piler of the Memorials of Coverdale, narrator that his testimony ought to published by Bagster, suggests that the weigh against the document wbich he licence may have been given while Anne protesses to quote. A third argument was in favour, and bave been afterwards was adduced by Lewis, in his History expunged when Henry changed his mind. of Translations of the Bible, namely, We think this as probable a conjecture tbat

a little book of manuscript as any. We cannot admit the solution prayers, given by Anne Boleyn to one of that Fox copied from some rough her maids of Honour, and preserved draught, and that the passage was exin the family of the Wyats at Boxley, punged before the royal assent was given. Kent, contained a thanksgiving for tlie Among other possibilities, it might be Bible being “ now at length promul. said that as Queen Mary gave direcgated, published, and set at liberty by tions to destroy documents favourable the grace poured into the heart of thy to Protestantisin, Cranmer's Register supreme power, our prince.” It is re- may have been mutilated. CHRIST. OBSERV. App.

5 H

« VorigeDoorgaan »