Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

RESTORATIONISTS.

BY THE HON. CHAS. HUDSON, M. C.

RESTORATIONISTS believe that all men will ultimately become holy and happy. They maintain that God created only to bless; and that, in pursuance of this purpose, he sent his Son to be for salvation to the ends of the earth;" that Christ's kingdom is moral in its nature, and extends to moral beings in every state or mode of existence; that the probation of man is not confined to the present life, but extends through the mediatorial reign; and that, as Christ died for all, so, before he shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, all shall be brought to a participation of the knowledge and enjoyment of that truth, which maketh free from the bondage of sin and death. They believe in a general resurrection and judgment, when those who have improved their probation in this life will be raised to more perfect felicity, and those who have misimproved their opportunities on earth will come forward to shame and condemnation, which will continue till they become truly penitent; that punishment itself is a mediatorial work, a discipline, perfectly consistent with mercy; that it is a means employed by Christ to humble and subdue the stubborn will, and pre. pare the mind to receive a manifestation of the goodness of God, which leadeth the sinner to true repentance.*

That God was the rightful sovereign of the universe is a truth which no one will deny; and that he had a moral as well as a natural government, will be conceded by every believer in divine revelation. But man, the subject of this moral government, rebelled against Heaven, and set the laws of his Maker at defiance. In this defection, which was moral in its character, the whole world was involved. They had all gone out of the way; there was none good, no not one. Now it was to heal this moral defection, to subdue this rebel universe, and to bring all to true allegiance, that the kingdom of Christ was instituted. This lets us at once into the nature and extent of the Redeemer's kingdom, and shows most clearly the object of his reign.

a

* Encyclopædia of Religious Knowledge.

The defection was universal. It reached back to the commencement of time, and onward to the consummation of all things. It consisted in an alienation of heart and a perverseness of mind. It was, in a word, a moral epidemic, affecting every individual of our race. Such was the nature and extent of the disease; and the cure must be correspondent. Christ's kingdom, then, is moral in its nature, and universal in its extent. It is not an empire over matter, but over mind. He was placed at the head of this kingdom, not to exercise mere physical power, and thus subdue sinners by brute force; not to operate upon men mechanically, and by the application of natural laws to restrain their outward actions. No; he was invested with regal authority, that he might by the employment of moral means subdue the evil propensities, and implant virtuous affections in the heart—that he might induce men to return to their allegiance, become reconciled to God, and own him as their lawful sovereign. His kingdom is purely moral—the rod of his empire is persuasion, and the sword he wields is the sword of the Spirit. By an exhibition of his Father's love, by a display of the joys of heaven, by kind entreaty and stern rebuke, by promises and threatenings—by these, and means such as these, he assails a rebel universe. With such weapons he will subdue our unregenerate hearts, and re-establish the reign of righteousness throughout the vast empire of the King Eternal.

The nature, design, and extent of Christ's kingdom involve each other. His kingdom being moral, must apply to every moral being. Being clothed with authority to put down rebellion, it must extend to as many as have rebelled. Being sent to heal the leprosy of sin, the healing medicine must be applied to as many as are diseased. No reason can be assigned for the establishment of this reign, which will not apply equally to every individual of our race. Did it flow from the love of God? That love is universal, and embraces the whole intelligent creation. Was it to bring men to their rightful Sovereign? All were estranged from God by wicked works, and needed alike this reconciliation. Was it to subdue rebellion, so that the laws of God might be obeyed, and his character respected ? Our whole species had revolted from heaven, and were alike in opposition to the reign of God. Every reason therefore which can be assigned for the establishment of the mediatorial kingdom, shows that that kingdom includes the whole offspring of Adam.

There is another consideration which proves beyond a doubt the universality of the Redeemer's kingdom. The very idea of a kingdom supposes laws, and these laws are binding upon all the subjects. No sovereign, how great soever may be his power, or extensive his do

minion, has a right to command the obedience of a single individual who is not a subject of his kingdom. The Czar of Russia, potent as he is, and absolute as his power may be, has no right to extend his laws a single inch beyond his dominion. Wherever you limit his kingdom, you limit his right to command obedience. And the same principle applies to the divine government. Jehovah himself in the plenitude of his power, has no moral right to extend his authority beyond his own kingdom. His right to command obedience is unlimited, simply because his kingdom has no bounds. If you could limit the one you would at the same time limit the other. To whom then does Christ address his laws? Who are under obligation to obey those moral precepts which flowed from the lips of the dear Redeemer ? The true answer to this question determines the extent of his kingdom. And surely there can be no dispute on this subject. Every enlightened Christian will allow that his precepts are universally binding; that every human being, from our first progenitor down to his latest descendants, is under obligation to obey all known gospel requisitions, and ascribe glory to God and the Lamb. This settles the question in the most satisfactory manner, and proves beyond controversy that the kingdom of Christ is universal.

From this view of the subject it appears that the kingdom of Christ is moral or spiritual in its nature, unlimited in its extent, and benevolent in its design; that it was instituted by God to put down rebellion, and to bring all his creatures to the worship and enjoyment of himself. Do you ask from what scriptures we prove these positions? we answer, from the whole Bible. They are the fundamental principles of divine revelation. That all have sinned, and that Christ came to save sinners, is the summary of the Old Testament and the compendium of the New. The very existence of the Christian scriptures shows that Christ came to save sinners, and reconcile to God a world lying in wickedness. The Gospels prove it without the Epistles, and the Epistles without the Gospels. You may expunge from the New Testament any verse you please, any chapter you please, or any book you please, and the residue will clearly sustain these positions. Nay, you may expunge from the New Testament any five books you please, and you leave the positions we have stated untouched. They are deeply interwoven with the whole New Testament. They constitute the bones and sinews, the letter and spirit, the life and soul of the Christian scriptures. Take from the New Testament the important facts that Christ came to save sinners, that his kingdom is moral in its nature, and extends over all, and you sap the foundation of the gospel--you extract the life-blood of the living oracles of God.

We do not rely upon particular texts, so much, as upon the pervading spirit of the Bible. We draw our conclusions from the whole rather than from a part. One argument of this character will outweigh a hundred arguments founded on particular passages or isolated expressions. When we reason from particular texts, the argument frequently turns upon the meaning of a single term; and as words have different significations, we are somewhat liable to mistake the import of a term, and hence all arguments of this sort are more or less uncertain. But where we draw our argument from the fundamental principles of the word of God—where the conclusion results from the very being of scriptures, and any other conclusion would oppose the whole design of revelation, we arrive at the highest degree of moral certainty.

But if there is any charm in particular passages, any thing like ocular demonstration in the precise phraseology of the scriptures, we can produce a multitude of passages in support of our views. We are told that Christ came “to save sinners,” “ to be for salvation to the ends of the earth," " to be the Saviour of the world;" that he “ died for our sins,"

.“ for the sins of the whole world;" that there was given to him a “ kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him;" that he “will reconcile the world to himself," “swallow up death in victory,” and bring "every creature in heaven and on earth to confess him to be Lord to the glory of God the Father.” This phraseology, with which the Bible is filled, concurs with all the great principles of divine revelation, in sustaining the views we have expressed concerning the nature, design, and extent of the Redeemer's kingdom.

There is one passage to which we will call especial attention. Christ says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” This passage, taken in connexion with the circumstances which called it forth, shows most conclusively the nature of his empire. Judea at that time was subject to the Emperor of Rome, and was ruled by a Roman governor. Before Pilate, this Roman governor, the Jews accused the Saviour. Knowing that the Romans suspected them of conspiring against their authority, and of intending to raise up a prince of their own who should deliver them from the Roman yoke, they brought Jesus before Pilate, and accused him of being, or pretending to be, a temporal prince, and of course an enemy to the Romans. Pilate interrogated him on this subject—" Art thou the king of the Jews?" In answer to this Jesus replies, “ My kingdom is not temporal, but spiritual-not secular, but moral.” Our Saviour did not mean to say

that his kingdom did not exist in this world, but that it was not worldly in its character. He meant to inform Pilate that his government was of such a nature as would not in the least interfere with his; that his business was not to lead armies to battle and to victory, but to teach men to subdue their evil passions; that he came not to deliver his people from the Roman yoke, but to redeem them from the bondage of sin and Satan.

The view we have taken of this subject shows that the kingdom of Christ has no reference to climates, states, or worlds, but is ihe same at all periods of time, and in all modes of existence. His kingdom does not apply to one world to the exclusion of the other. It commences in this state of being, but it is not bounded by our temporal existence. The reign of Christ has no reference to our temporal existence, he takes no cognizance of our earthly being as such. We are his subjects, not temporally and corporally, but morally and intellectually. The death of the body does not in the least affect our allegiance to him, or alter the relation he sustains to us. In all states and worlds, where we are moral and intellectual beings, we are the citizens of his realm, and the subjects of his kingdom.

If we look at the origin or design, nature or extent of Christ's kingdom, we shall be led irresistibly to the conclusion that it extends into a future life.

In what then did this kingdom originate? What gave rise to the reign of the Redeemer? It resulted from the goodness of God. The divine Teacher himself, says that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” The mission of Christ then originated in divine benevolence. And this unpurchased benevolence existed from eternity, fills all space, extends to all worlds and all beings. It was moreover manifested to the world, when they were “dead in trespasses and sins.” And unless we limit the goodness of God to the brief period of human existence, we must allow that the kingdom of grace extends into a future lise.

The nature of Christ's kingdom confirms this opinion. We have already seen that his kingdom is a moral kingdom; that he sways his empire not over our bodies, but our minds. If his empire were temporal, its operations would cease with our temporal existence; if his sway were to be exerted over our bodies merely, it would cease with our natural lives. But his kingdom relates to our moral and intellectual existence. And do these cease at temporal death? Does man cease to be an intelligent being, when he changes the mode of his existence? Does he cease to be accountable to his God, when he

a

« ElőzőTovább »