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the destruction of Jerusalem, and the breaking up of the Jewish theocracy, which had become a stumbling-block in the progress of Christianity, and generally at any other great crisis or turning-point in the history of the church, or the world, which would affect the interests of the spiritual kingdom that Jesus had established among men.
It is not our purpose to develope the doctrine here. We refer to it as indicating the tendency of certain portions of the church to materialistic conceptions. Such a gross, sensuious. completion of Christ's kingdom is not in accord with its spiritual nature, or calculated to promote its highest interests. Jesus came not to condemn, but to save, not to teach physical, but moral judgments for sin, and to make known the lact of man's sonship with God, and induce him to accept it, and live in spiritual union with Him. The fruits of the former doctrine must be gross and degrading; those of the latter, purifying and elevating. The theory of the destruction of the earth and its plıysical renovation is, as we have remarked, intimately connected with Second Adventism. Christ is to come with his people and re-inhabit the earth after it has been burnt over and cleansed. The doctrine is supposed to be taught in 2 Peter iii. 10, “ But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." We suppose that all will allow that this passage, if taken literally, teaches the theory in question, and no other passage teaches it so clearly. Says Rer. Dr. Hitchcock : “ It needs but a cursory examination of the Bible to convince any one that the description in the second epistle of Peter of the future destruction and renovation of the earth and heavens is eminently the passage first to be examined, because the fullest and clearest on this subject. It is the apostle's object directly and literally to describe those great changes apart from all the embellishments of language.” Rev. Dr. Paige, the Universalist commmentator, also says: “ This passage affords as much proof as perhaps any other that the
material universe shall be destroyed; yet,” 119 adds," it seems Busceptible of an interpretation that will not involve this consequence.” In loco. It is not our purpose to explain this and similar passages bearing upon this theme. This has been very
. fully and satisfactorily done in previous volumes of this periodical and the Universalist Expositor. We adduce it to show the disposition of some readers to give a materialistic interpretation to the Scriptures when the writers evidently designed to teach simply a moral lesson. This language is figurative, as the context abundantly attests, and is specially applicable to that age, “ The last days," as all intelligent readers of the Bible understand, is used as a plırase to designate the closing period of the Jewish dipensation, and the introduction of Christianity in its stead, as in Hebrews, “ God, who, at sundry times, and in divers places, spake unto the fathers by the prophets, liath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (i. 1, 2), alluding to the time of Jesus' mission.
Then, too, the apostle inakes a direct and personal appeal to those whom he addressed. Read the passage following that quoted from Peter: “Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ouglit ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness ? ” What pertinency in an appeal like this for them to lead a holy life, if the event spoken of would liappen, not in the life-time of the persons appealed to, but thousands of years in the future! "Heat" is a term frequently used to designate the cause of great political, social, and moral changes that take place in the world, and the dissolution of the heaveus by fire, and the melting of the elements by fervent heat, are only the carrying out of the imagery which designated these changes. Isaiali, speaking of the desolation of Idumea, says: “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll,” which language can not surely be taken in a literal
Dr. s Die
Thus we see that these bold and striking expressions are not to be taken literally, for there are other passages, similar to them, which necessarily have a figurative application, NEW SERIES VOL XVIII
The age of vice and sin on earth, with the overhanging sky, shall pass away, and “ new beavens and a new eartlı appear,' which the discis les were asked to look for, not material, but “wherein dwelleth righteousness" (v. 13). Other elements of a materialistic religion we might mention, if space sufficed. They pervade all departments of life and action. The so-called
Spiritualism ” of the age is one of the grossest forins of materialism, not in its table-turning and chair-raising merely, but its views of the human soul as composed of parts, which can be sundered and united again, its future life of material forms and sensual pleasures. Philosophy is materialistic. Mind is identical with matter, or the result of its organization, or it lurks in secretory vessels, moves along the nerves or hides in some dark cell, and is to be explained through their action. Ethics must have its "moral sense,” to enable us to understand the ideas of right and wrong. Science is materialistic. I: strives to subordinate spirit to matter, or make matter, as Tyndall says, " the promise and potency of every form and quality of life.” Amid all these tendencies and influences, it is the duty of the Christian Church to stand firm against every attempt to introduce into the sacred domain of religion, materialistic conceptions, whether in the form of dogma or ritualistic service. Material forms should ever be rendered subservient to the spiritual ideas which they were primitively designed to represent. Realism should be used only to illustrate spiritual truth. Materialistic conceptions of religion never can satisfy the higher wants of the soul. We shall rise up, by and by, and cast off these deadliest foes of Christianity. Such a re-action is at hand. We see it in the sturdy blows wielded against the gross dogmas of a material heaven and hell, the atonement as a commercial transaction, the bodily resurrection, and Second Adventism. Then will religion return to its normal state, and gain greater victories in the realm of the spirit. Christ's methods will be followed, and revivals, such as have not been witnessed since the apostolic age, be inaugurated. Not by mechanical agencies, not by materialistic dogmas, not by carnal weapons, but by those of the spirit, mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong-holds of sin and error, will Christianity progress and achieve its final victory. “It arose," says Carlyle, “ in the mystic depths of man's soul, and was spread abroad by the preaching of the word, by simple, altogether natural and individual efforts, and flew, like hallowed fire, from heart to heart, till all were purified and illumined by it, and its heavenly light shone, as it still shines, and as sun or star will ever shine, through the whole dark destinies of men."
Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.
We have lately been reading “The Life of Christ,” by Cunningham Geikie, and also by Canon Farrar. It has led us to à more close and attentive study of the four Gospels, with special reference to the account of his birth.
These authors are believers in the Trinity. To their minds the Holy Ghost is the third person in the Trinity ; but we do not regard the Holy Ghost as a person in any sense of the word, or by any construction of language. We understand it to be the Spirit of Truth and the Power of Love.
That the Apostles regarded the Holy Ghost as a power, not a person, there is abundant proof. The idea of being baptized with the Spirit; filled with the Spirit ; quenching the Spirit; is inconsistent with the notion of personality; as is also the manner in which the Holy Ghost is given to them. John says that in the evening of the resurrection day, as they were assembled, Jesus appeared in their midst; that he breathed on them, saying : “ Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” John Xx: 22. This is manifestly a power, and not a person. Again at Pentecost, when there appeared a mighty rushing wind, and cloven tongues of fire, and it sat upon them, they recognized it as the Holy Ghost. Acts ii : 2–3. This we understand to be a power; a power to discern and impart the truth. At the Last Supper, when Jesus conversed with them, he promised that the Father would send them another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, which is the Holy Ghost. The Apostles did not, surely, understand our Lord to speak of a person, but of a power by which they were to know and to teach the principles of divine truth.
With this apostolic idea of the Holy Ghost in mind, we have tried to answer three questions :
1. Was Christ God in person or substance ? 2. In wliat sense was he the Son of God ?
3. How do we, or how can we account for his exceptional life?
1. The passage relied upon to prove the deity of Christ, is John x: 30,“ I and my Father are one." The whole force of this passage turns upon the significance of the word “one.” Paul says, I Cor. iii : 6–8, “ I have planted ; Apollos watered ; but God gave the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.” Paul and Apollos were one in their work, their faith, and their purpose; of one mind in planting and building up the Corinthian Church. Jesus prayed that all believers might be made one. And, moreover, made one in the same sense in which he and the Father are one. John xvii : 21-23. This means only that they may be united ; be all of one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel ; 'that there should be no differences nor discussions among them, but that they should have one spirit, one faith, one purpose. The decree in the Garden of Eden was that a man should leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh, From that day to this husband and wise are one before the law, because it is held that their interests, their hopes, their duties, are the same ; that which is for the good or the gratification of one is such for them botlı.
The fact, then, that Jesus speaks of himself as one with the Father, does not prove that he was, or is, one with him in substance or personality ; but only in his affections, his spirit