Introduction



INTRODUCTION

    IN THIS WORK it is proposed to show what the Covenants demand, and what relationship the second coming, kingdom, and glory of “The Christ” sustains to the same, in order that perfected Redemption may be realized. This, logically, introduces a large amount of converging testimony.
    The history of the human race is, as able theologians have remarked, the history of God’s dealings with man. It is a fulfilling of revelation; yea, more: it is an unfolding of the ways of God, a comprehensive confirmation of, and an appointed aid, in interpreting the plan of redemption. Hence God himself appeals to it, not merely as the evidence of the truth declared, but as the mode by which we alone can obtain a full and complete view of the Divine purpose relating to salvation. To do this we must, however, regard past, present, and future history. The latter must be received as predicted, for we may rest assured, from the past and present fulfilment of the word of God, thus changed into historical reality, that the predictions and promises relating to the future will also in their turn become veritable history. It is this faith, which grasps the future as already present, that can form a decided and unmistakable unity.
    This is becoming more profoundly felt and expressed, and is forcibly portrayed in some recent publications (e.g., Dorner’s His. Prot. Theol., Auberlen’s Div. Rev., etc.). Seeing that all things are tending toward the kingdom to be hereafter established by Christ, that the dispensations from Adam to the present are only preparatory stages for its coming manifestation, surely it is the highest wisdom to direct special and careful attention to the kingdom itself. If it is the end which serves to explain the means employed; if it is the object for which ages have passed by and are ever to revolve; if the coming of Jesus, which is to inaugurate it, is emphatically called “the blessed hope;” if it embraces the culmination of the world’s history in ample deliverance and desired restitution; then it is utterly impossible for us to determine the true significance, the Divine course, and the development of the plan of salvation without a deep insight into that of the kingdom itself. Prophets, apostles, and Jesus himself, especially in his last testimony, continually point the eye of faith and the heart of hope to this kingdom as the bright light which can clearly illumine the past and present, and even dispel the darkness of the future. Scripture and theology, the latter in its very early and later development, teach us, if we will but receive it, that we cannot properly comprehend the Divine economy in its relation to man and the world, unless we reverently consider the manifestation of its ultimate result as exhibited in this kingdom. It follows, therefore, that a work of this kind, intended to give an understanding of a subject so vital, however defective in part, requires no apology to the reflecting mind. Every effort in this direction, if it evinces appreciation of truth and reverence for the word, will be received with pleasure by the true Biblical student.(1)
    In the reaction against Rationalism, Spiritualism, Naturalism, etc., special attention has been paid to the kingdom of God and the relation that it sustains to history. The attack and defense revealed both how important the subject, and how sadly it had been neglected. It has been admitted by recent writers of ability (e.g., Dr. Auberlen, Div. Rev., p. 387), that much is yet to be learned in reference to it; that only a beginning has been made in investigating the subject; that a correct solution of the difficulties surrounding it in order to give a satisfactory reply to objections is still a work of the future. Some (as e.g., Rothe), when looking over the great array of Biblical authors, still find in their labors a something lacking, which when carefully analyzed resolves itself in a lack of Divine unity in reference to the kingdom of God, evincing itself in a mystical, if not arbitrary, definition of it, in various forms, to suit a present exigency, or harmonize a supposed difficulty. This feeling is strengthened by the continued assaults of unbelievers, which have been for some time made against the early history of Christianity. Numerous works have appeared, and with the boldest criticism have pointed out discrepancies existing between the ancient faith and that entertained by the large body of the Church at the present day; and from such differences of belief have inferred that the early faith was sadly defective, and that its promulgators are therefore unworthy of our confidence. We are told that the apostles, apostolic fathers, and the first Christians generally were well-meaning and even noble men, but “ignorant, enthusiastic, and fanatical” in their opinions. Rejoinders, on the other hand, have appeared, which, professing to defend the apostles, and fathers, are yet forced, most unwillingly, to admit the leading charge preferred by their opponents. Thus, e.g., the German Rationalists point to the preaching of John the Baptist, the disciples, and the first believers, and show conclusively that they preached a kingdom which accorded with the Jewish forms—viz., a kingdom here on earth under the personal reign of the Messiah, the Davidic throne and kingdom being restored. They press this matter with an exultant feeling, realizing that the great proportion of the Church being opposed to such a belief materially aids them in condemning the first preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, and thus making the founders of the Church unworthy of credence. The Church itself, by its published faith respecting the kingdom, forges the weapons that are employed against it. Every work on the other side in defense of the founders of the Christian Church, unable to set aside the abundant and overwhelming evidence adduced, frankly admits that the first preaching was in a Jewish form; that the faith of the early Church is not now the faith of the Church (saving that of a few individuals); and endeavors to solve the difficulty (as, e.g., Neander, and others) by declaring, that the early period was a transition state, a preparatory stage, an adaptation to meet the necessities of that age; that hence the truth in the matter of the kingdom was enveloped in a “husk,” and was to be gradually evolved in “the consciousness of the Church” by its growth. Aside from thus virtually making Church authority superior to Scripture (for according to this theory we know far more doctrinal truth than the apostles), we earnestly protest against such a defense, which leaves the apostles chargeable with error (embracing the husk instead of the kernel), invalidates their testimony, and makes them unreliable guides. Under several of the propositions this feature will be duly examined; for the present we have only to say: the reason for such a lack of unity, of vital connection, of satisfactory apologetics, arises simply from ignoring a fact brought out vividly by Barnabas in his Epistle—viz., that the Abrahamic Covenant contained the formative principles, the nucleus of the Plan of Redemption; and that all future revelations is an unveiling, a developing, a preparation for the ultimate fulfilment of that covenant, and of the kingdom incorporated in the predictions and promises relating to that covenant. The legitimate outgrowth is alone to be received as the promised kingdom, without human addition in the way of defining and explaining. In this way only can we preserve the simplicity and harmony of Scripture, find ourselves in unison with the early preaching of this kingdom, and consistently, without detracting from the apostles and their immediate followers, defend the Divine record against the shafts of unbelievers.
    The multiplicity and utter inconsistency of prevailing interpretations of the kingdom; the complete failure to reconcile such meanings with the preaching of the apostles; the unfortunate concessions made by able theologians to the Strauss and Bauer school on the subject of the kingdom; the impossibility of preserving the authority and unity of the apostolic teaching from the modern standpoint of the kingdom; the honest desire to obtain, if possible, the truth—these and other considerations led the writer to repeatedly consider, for many years, the Divine Revelation (in connection with the history of man) with special reference to this subject, until he was forced, by the vast array of authority and the satisfactory unity of teaching and of purpose which it presented, not only to discard the modern definitions as untrustworthy, but to accept of the old view of the kingdom as the one clearly taught by the prophets, Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, the apostolic fathers, and their immediate successors. In a course of reading and study it has been constantly kept in view, and the results, after a laborious comparison of Scripture, are now laid before the reader. This work is far from being exhaustive. Here are only presented the outlines of that which some other mind may mould into a more attractive and comprehensive form. Owing to providences which prevented the writer from actively prosecuting the ministry, he was directed to a course of study which influenced him years ago to draw up a draft of the present work. The need of such an one was then impressed, and this impression has been deepened by a varied and close observation. Yet, feeling the necessity of caution, it was held in abeyance to allow renewed reflection and investigation, until finally a sense of duty has impelled him to publish it as now given. If it possesses no other merit than that of presenting in a compact and logical form the Millenarian views of the ancient and modern believers, and in paving the way for a more strict and consistent interpretation of the kingdom, this itself would already be sufficient justification for its publication. The work, aside from its main leading idea, contains a mass of information on a variety of subjects and texts which may prove interesting, if not valuable, in suggestions to others. The author is not desirous to play the Diogenes, evincing, under the garb of humility and pretended low opinion of self, the utmost vainglory; or to enact the Alexander, showing, through an ardent desire for praise, a strong ambition for honors. A due medium, involving self-respect and a sincere desire to secure the approval of good men, is the most desirable, and also the most consistent with modesty. He therefore concluded, that no one could justly suspect his honesty of purpose, integrity, and desire to promote the truth, if he would publish his thoughts in the form herein given, even if he went to the length—impelled by what he regarded as truth—of giving the decided opinion, with reasons attached, that the views so universally promulgated respecting the kingdom of God are radically wrong, derogatory to the Plan of Redemption, opposed to the honor of the Messiah, and a remnant, remarkably preserved, of Alexandrian, monkish, and popish interpretation. Not that the writer claims entire freedom from error himself. Imperfection and a liability to err are, more or less, the condition of all human writings, even of the most well intended. Therefore, while, in illustrating or defending my own views, the opinions of others may be brought into review, it is far from me to assert that in some things, either through inadvertency, or ignorance, or prejudice, the author may not be ultimately found to be in error. Seeing that this is our own common lot, it would be unwise to approach each other’s works with any other than candid eyes and charitable hearts; so that, while we may feel to regret what appears to us a mistake, we may at the same time duly acknowledge the truth which is given. It may be proper to add in this connection, lest the spirit and motive be misinterpreted, that in the course of the work the names of authors are necessarily presented whose views are antagonistic to those here advocated. As it would have required considerable space to insert in each instance the respect and high regard the author has for them, although they thus differ from him, he may be allowed, once for all, to say that, while compelled to dissent from them, he nevertheless esteems them none the less as believers in Christ. Honestly impelled to differences, and, in justice to our subject, to criticise the views of eminent men, we still gratefully acknowledge ourselves largely indebted to many of them for valuable information, instruction, and suggestions. We have no desire to reproach them, or, in imitation of some of them in reference to ourselves, to call their integrity, or piety, or orthodoxy into question. We may even indulge the hope that this work may elicit renewed reflection, study, and discussion, leading to the removal of the evident weakness and contradictory statements of the prevailing Church view. Its publication may, we trust, be provocative of good, sustaining as it does the humble position of a forerunner of the truth, or the relationship of being merely suggestive, and thus opening the way for a more severe and critical examination of a doctrine which has been too much taken for granted. Defective as our works are in some respects, yet gifted minds have asserted, with charity and truth, that no mental toil, no laborious research, no earnestness of effort to interpret the Scriptures, however deficient in part or whole, should be undervalued, or scouted, or denounced, because all such may either present some truth which may serve to elucidate others, or produce thoughts that may be suggestive to others in introducing true knowledge. We too often overlook even our indebtedness to opposers of our opinions and belief. What Julius Müller says should influence us not only to attempt to labor ourselves, but to tolerate the efforts of others: “Our attempts to exhibit the truth in its entirety and connection are only like the prattle of children, compared with that clear knowledge which awaits us; but woe would it be to us if, because we cannot have the perfect, we should cease to apply to the imperfect, in all truthfulness and honor, our strength and toil” (quoted by Auberlen, Div. Rev., p. 415). This work is written under the impression, deepened by the testimony of able scholars, that the love of truth is one of the fundamental principles given to us by Christianity, and revived by the spirit of Protestantism and Science. Ignorance, fanaticism, party prejudice, etc. may indeed at times have obscured it, but intelligent piety has constantly restored it. Under its influence every inquiry after the truth, if conducted with reverence to the Word, without animosity, and in meekness, even if unsuccessful in its full attainment, is regarded by the truly learned and wise with charity, without an impugning of motives, or questioning of the religious standpoint of the searcher. This leads of course, to the position, that the credit we desire to be awarded to ourselves for presenting what we conceive to be truth, should be likewise extended to others. And if others claim, that they are not to decline the responsibility of holding forth the whole truth from our apprehension of consequences; that they are not to disguise or withdraw it through fear of giving offense, of losing reputation and support—we justly claim the same privilege. More than this: we can say with a distinguished theologian, who, contrasting the labors of more recent theologians with those of the older, and pointing out how the Old Testament is beginning to be appreciated in its relations to the New Testament, and the future—how the historical and doctrinal features of the primitive Church are more distinctly developed, how the place of the Church in its relation to the kingdom of God is more fully recognized—adds, that these are only “the beginnings of a work in which it is a pleasure and joy to have any share.”(2)
    This pleasure, however, is materially affected by one feature, the natural result of human infirmity. Uprightness demands that we follow the truth wherever it may lead, regardless of results, keeping in mind the remark of Canstein (Lange, Com., vol. 1, p. 516), “Straightforwardness is best. When we seek to make the truth bend, it usually breaks.” The doctrine discussed in the following pages being within the field of controversy, and the subject of varied interpretation, it will become in its turn, owing to its antagonism to the prevailing theology, the legitimate subject of criticism. Of this we do not complain, but rather commend the fact. “History repeats itself,” and in such a repetition we do not flatter ourselves to escape the usual fate of our predecessors in authorship. Indeed, we already have had sad foretastes of the same, confirming the teaching of Scripture, and corroborating the experience of good men, that no exercise of wisdom, caution, and prudence will be able wholly to avert the evil tongues and pens of others. Some men seem to be constitutionally constituted to be “heresy-hunters,” and imbibe largely the spirit of Osiander of Tübingen, who (Dorner’s Hist. Prot. Theol., p. 185, note) discovered in Arndt’s writings Popery, Monkery, Enthusiasm, Pelagianism, Calvinism, Schwenckfeldianism, Flacianism, and Wegelianism. Arndt survived the attack and still gloriously lives in the esteem of true Christian freedom, while his opponent is almost forgotten. This random illustration(3) is taken from a vast multitude familiar to every scholar, and serves to indicate a weakness naturally inherent in some men, and who, perhaps, are scarcely answerable for its unfortunate display. Truth itself, however, requires no such picking of flaws, no harshness of language, no personality of attack, no bigoted and selfish support. She loves to hide herself in meekness, humility, and love, while the graces of the spirit surround and accompany her. The rude grasp, the rough touch even, is sure to mar the neat foldings and to spoil the downy softness and shining lustre of her garments. That this work will bring upon the author bitter and unrelenting abuse is almost inevitable, presenting as it does unpalatable truths to a proud humanity. How can this be otherwise, when even the institution of the Lord’s Supper, intended as a bond of union and love, has been made the subject of uncharitable discord, violent abuse, and miserable hatred between professed believers. While we trust that the spirit which actuated many of the eucharistic controversies may never again arise, we are only too sensible, from treatment already experienced, that human nature remains the same. If the amiable Melanchthon did not escape, but most earnestly wished to be delivered from the rabies theologorum, how can others be safe? Even the Master himself was and is attacked, and the disciple is not above his Master. The virulence occasionally received from some quarters reminds one of the utterances of older controversialists, such as Henry VIII.’s work, Luther’s reply, and More’s rejoinder. Perhaps, like St. Austin and others, they regard such a manifestation of spirit as perfectly legitimate, desirable, and honorable. We do not quarrel with those who have inherited a taste for “bitter herbs.” Expressing ourselves candidly and fairly toward our opponents, we dare not return the epithets so liberally bestowed upon us. Two reasons prevent us: the first is, that dealing as we do “with the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy,” entering the sacred province of Scripture with the words of God constantly flowing from our pen, portraying the holy utterances of the Most High, it ill becomes us, when thus writing of the precious things pertaining to redemption, the kingdom of the Great King, and the ultimate glory of God, to mingle with it the painful evidences of human passion. The second is, dealing with a subject which, in the writer’s opinion, has been misapprehended by talented men, it is amply sufficient, for the elucidation and confirmation of the truth, to point out defects and exhibit statements in opposition without defaming the character or standing of any one. The latter procedure is worthy alone of a grovelling jesuitical casuistry. Our names (Millenarian) have been linked with Cerinthus, heresy, etc., which is only imitating the amiable example of the Jesuit Theophilus Raynaud, who was noted for coupling his adversaries with some odious name to render them, if possible, contemptible by the comparison. It is the same trick resorted to by some Jews to wound Christ, and can only have weight with the unreflecting.(4) To hold up the faults of opinion in others, for the sake of contrasting, explaining, and enforcing the truth, is allowable to all; especially when they are published, and thus become a sort of common property, or at least challenge the notice of others; but to hold up a man’s faults simply to make him odious is a despicable business. As Fuller (Eccl. Hist., Book X., p. 27) has wisely said: “What a monster might be made out of the best beauties in the world, if a limner should leave what is lovely and only collect into one picture what he findeth amiss in them! I know that there be white teeth in the blackest blackamoor, and a black bill in the whitest swan. Worst men have something to be commended; best men, something in them to be condemned. Only to insist on men’s faults, to render them odious, is no ingenious (sic) employment,” etc. We doubt not the ultimate fulfilment of Isa. 66:5 in the case of many who have been thus defamed: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” This passage suggests that a mistaken zeal for God’s glory may often be the leading motive of controversial bitterness—that our “brethren” may, through such overzeal, be its willing instruments. This, alas, embitters authorship on controverted questions. The opposition and obloquy consequent to and connected with such a discussion as follows while duly anticipated,(5) as a heritage of the studious sons of the Church (the more marked their labors, the greater the abuse), would be less painful if it came only from infidels or the enemies of the truth, but much of it comes through those from whom, in view of a common faith and hope, we expect different treatment—at least forbearance if not charity. Acknowledging the respectful and Christian manner in which we are spoken of by a number of our opponents, yet the simple fact is, that if any one dares to arise and call into question the correctness of popular views and propose another, one too in strict accordance with the early teaching of the Church, his motives are assailed, his piety is doubted, his character is privately and publicly traduced, his learning and ability are lowered, his position is accorded a scornful and degrading pity, by persons who deem themselves set up for the defense of the truth. This plainness of speech the reader will pardon when he is assured that the writer, for the sake of the opinions set forth in this work, has suffered all this from the hands of “brethren,” who, by such efforts, reproaches, innuendoes, etc., have sought to lessen his influence and retard his preferment. Precisely as the learned Mede and hundreds of others have experienced.(6) We here enter our protest, that truth is never benefited by such conduct, and that Christianity in its most rudimentary form forbids such treatment. But in justice to the really intelligent class of our opponents, we must say that such dealings toward us do not come from the truly learned opposer—for among such the writer has the pleasure of numbering valued friends. One feature of this work will bring upon us the censure of some—viz., the candid concessions made to unbelievers who attack the Scriptures, and the acceptance of the principle of interpretation (i.e., the grammatical sense), the views entertained respecting the kingdom by John the Baptist, disciples, and early church, etc., to which the writer is forced by justice, love for the truth, and the decided, overwhelming proof presented in behalf of the same. It must be acknowledged that many facts pertaining to the kingdom, as covenanted, predicted, and preached, are either entirely ignored or most imperfectly (inconsistently) explained by Christian Apologists. But these very concessions form for us a means of logical strength, of consonant unity, of accordance with Scripture and history, that, meeting unbelief fairly and honestly upon its own ground, furnish us with the proper weapons for defending the integrity of the Word and the reputation of the first preachers of “the gospel of the kingdom,” bringing a continued verification of the Divine utterance, that “a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Of course, we expect no special favor from gross Infidels, Spiritualists, Mystics, Free Religionists, and a variety of others, whose basis necessarily leads to opposition and whose unbelief is frankly criticised. Yet even such have dealt far more justly toward us, owing to our honest conceptions of historical facts, than members who were united with us in the same church. We may suitably close this section by again referring to that noble characteristic of candor which should, above all, mark our criticism of doctrine. We select as an apt illustration of our meaning the honorable example of Professor Bush. Although in his writings an opposer of Millenarianism, he endeavors to conceal no facts, however adverse to himself, but freely gives them, being too much of a scholar to be unacquainted with them, and too much of a gentleman and Christian either to ignore, or to despise, or to deny them. Thus, e.g., he fully admits the universality of our doctrine in the first three centuries and eloquently says: “We are well aware of the imposing array of venerable names by which it (Chiliasm) is surrounded, as if it were the bed of Solomon guarded by threescore valiant men of Israel, all holding swords, and expert in war.” Unable to receive our doctrine, he still does justice to that noble list of martyrs, confessors, writers, theologians, missionaries, and others, who have held it, and finds in them the redeeming qualities of Christian integrity, faith, love, and holiness.
    It is a fact, lamented by some of our ablest divines, that there must be something radically wrong in our prevailing interpretation of the Bible, which allows such a diversity of antagonistic exegesis and doctrine, and by which the truth is weakened and humbled, so that Revelation itself, by its means, becomes the object of Rationalistic and Infidel ridicule and attack, and is even sorely wounded in the house of its friends by its stumbling, conceding, but well-meaning apologetic defenders. To indicate this feeling, which prevails to a considerable extent, Dr. Auberlen (Div. Rev., p. 387) quotes Rothe as saying respecting the defects of exegesis: “Our key does not open—the right key is lost; and till we are put in possession of it again, our exposition will never succeed. The system of biblical ideas is not that of our schools; and so long as we attempt exegesis without it, the Bible will remain a half-closed book. We must enter upon it with other conceptions than those which we have been accustomed to think the only possible ones; and whatever these may be, this one thing at least is certain, from the whole tenor of the melody of Scripture in its natural fulness, that they must be more realistic and massive.” This is a sad confession after the voluminous labors of centuries, and yet true as it is sorrowful. We may be allowed to suggest, that the only way in which this key can be obtained is to return to the principles of interpretation adopted and prevailing in the very early history of the Christian Church, by which, if consistently carried out, the kingdom of God in its “realistic and massive” form appears as the reliable interpreter of the Word. In other words, we have no suitable key to unlock Revelation if we do not seize that provided for us in the revealed Will of God respecting the ultimate end that He has in view in the plan of redemption and the history of the world. A way is only known when the beginning and terminus are considered; a human plan can only be properly appreciated when the results of it are fully weighed: so with God’s way and God’s plan, it can only be fully known when the end intended is duly regarded. How to do this will be contained in some of the following propositions. That it will be accomplished we doubt not, and we are encouraged to labor on when such men as Dr. Dorner (p. 4, Introd., vol. 2, Hist. of Prot. Theol.), expressing the sentiments of many others, says: “There can be no doubt that Holy Scripture contains a rich abundance of truths and views, which have yet to be expounded and made the common possession of the Church,” and adds, that this will be done as the necessity of the Church requires.(7) This, however, cannot be accomplished without long and laborious study of the Scriptures, diligent comparison of them, and inflexible abiding within the limits of their plain, grammatical teaching. We have no sympathy with that flippant, unargumentative, high-sounding, but unscriptural mode of presenting theological questions, so prevalent at the present day, by which the merest tyro of a student endeavors to elevate himself, as a teacher, above men who have been trained by grave and extended reflection, and which manifests itself by despising the teachings of the Apostolic Fathers and of the noble men of the Church, and enforces its views by an applauding of modern views and modern theories as evidences of progression in truth. The dignity of religion, the steadfastness of faith, and the reliability of the discovery of truth, must suffer by such a style, which lacks the strength imparted by a scriptural basis—a “thus saith the Lord”—being built upon the deductions of reason, with, perhaps, here and there a scripture passage thrown in by way of ornament.(8) Give us men, who, instead of following their own fancies, or binding their faith to human utterances, availing themselves of preceding knowledge, patiently, thoughtfully, and reverently go to the very roots of questions, and in things revealed by God determinately reject everything inconsistent with such a revelation. We know that such a course demands courage and study, but in every instance when exhibited by published labors, it will command, if not the entire assent, the respect of the truly learned; for the latter, from experience, can appreciate, at least, the toil in producing such a work. Give us such men, and then we can hope to make advancement in Christian knowledge, in harmonizing the difficulties besetting theology, and in widening the domain of thought, faith, and hope. What we want is solidity, and that, in theology, is alone attainable by having underneath as a foundation to build on the pure declarations of God. What God says is true, what man says may be true; and the truthfulness of the latter can be ascertained, its certainty demonstrated, by comparing it with that which God has declared. If the comparison is favorable, let us accept of it; if unfavorable, then let us have the Christian manhood to reject it, no matter under whose name, patronage, or auspices it is given. Rendering the regard due to the writings of others, it does not follow that we must elevate them to the position of competitors of, or peers with, the Divine utterances. Such a test the author solicits from the reader, bringing to the consideration of the subject an impartial judgment, and weighing its value and authority in the scripture balance and not in human scales. Every sincere lover of the truth, even should his labor be rejected in part or whole, must feel honored by the institution of such a comparison.
    It has, however, been the fate of some authors to be so far in advance of their contemporaries that, appreciated only by the few discerning or candid, it has required time, or the necessity of the Church, or the endorsements of a line of students to give importance and weight to their statements. While the deepest thinkers freely admit that new and valuable contributions to theology are reasonably to be anticipated, that such are absolutely required at the present juncture, and that such can only be found in the rich resources of the Word, yet it is remarkable that a contribution thus given will, especially in the hands of those whose minds are controlled by human traditions and by an exalting of Church authority above that of the Scriptures, be rejected and anathematized on the ground of its being in opposition to their preconceived and favorite formula of doctrine.(9) Others, through indifference or an indisposition to examination, will pass it by with, probably, a momentary interest. Others again, the few tried friends of intellectual and theological effort, will give it a fair, frank, and sincere reception, and form a candid estimate of its value based exclusively upon its correspondence with the Holy Scriptures. The latter occupy the real student position—one that Dorner has aptly characterized as of “individual freedom, that indispensable medium for all genuine appropriation of evangelical truth”—a freedom only limited by Revelation. Without intending an imitation of such great writers as Bacon and others, who declared that they wrote for “posterity,” and that it would require time to “ripen” their views so as to cause their due appreciation, yet such is the subject-matter of this work, so beset and resisted by the torrent of opposing doctrine, so circumscribed by the intrenched prevailing dogmas, so unpalatable to the licentiousness of the increasing free-thinking, so unwelcomed to a proud and self-satisfied reason, that we are justly apprehensive of an overwhelming opposition to the following propositions. In this belief we are fortified by the predictions of the Word, which unmistakably teach that they will find but little acceptance with the world, and even with the Church at large, and that they will only be pondered and received by the thoughtful few. In this period of prosperity, of sanguine hope of continued and ever-increasing peace and happiness, the minds and hearts of the multitude will be closed against all appeal, all instruction. It is only when the dreadful storm of persecution and death, alluded to in several propositions, shall, when excited and marshalled by the elements and forces now at work, burst with fearful violence upon the Church, and beat with pitiless vehemence upon the heads of true, unflinching believers in Christ, that this work will find a cordial response, a hearty welcome in the breasts of the faithful. Time with its startling and terrible events will justify this publication. When the dreams of fallible man, now so universally held as the prophetic announcements of God, are swept away by stern reality; when, instead of the fondly anticipated blessedness and glory to be brought about by existing agencies, the blood of man shall again stain and steep the soil of earth with its precious crimson, then will the doctrine of the kingdom, as here taught, be regarded worthy of the highest consideration, and then will it also become a solace, hope, and joy under tribulation. But to remove the suspicion of arrogance or pride in making so strong an assertion, we may be allowed to say, that such a future estimation is not based on literary or theological merits or attainments, but solely upon a strict adhesion to and firm belief in the infallible Word of God as herein delineated under the guidance of a legitimate rule of interpretation, by which the Divine purposes relating to the Church and world are plainly and distinctly taught. The possessions of God, even the most costly, are often given to mere children, and denied to the wise and noble. The Magi, although babes in knowledge compared with the Pharisees, came nearer to the truth than those who supposed themselves to be specially set up for its advocates. Numerous examples attest the same and reveal the feature, that just in proportion as a man, learned or unlearned, receives and endorses the declarations of God, to the same extent will his writings have an abiding value. Especially is this true concerning the things pertaining to the future—that region, those ages known only to the Eternal, and utterly imponetrable to mere mortal vision. Hence, the writer consistently claims that his labors will not be in vain; that they will at least some day be esteemed in the degree that they sustain to the Bible. We firmly hold to the opinion, confirmed by the providences of God, that the necessity has arisen for a renewal of the early Church doctrine respecting the kingdom. If the millennial age, as conceded by a host of antagonistic writers, is near at hand, and if the kingdom in that age is such as herein portrayed, then is the kingdom itself not very distant, and then too ought we reasonably to expect—in view of its peculiar nature, prominence, aims, etc., especially of its immediate tremendous and frightful antecedent preparations, and of its becoming a net and snare for the unbelieving and wicked—that before its appearance God will raise up instruments—even if weak Jonahs—who will so distinctly announce the order of events, so vividly represent the nature of the kingdom, point out its manner of manifestation, give a precise understanding of the Church’s actual relationship to the world and this kingdom, that the Church will be prepared to endure the awful scenes awaiting her, and that the saints, called to suffer the loss of life, may, in the thus revealed will of God, find encouragement and comfort instead of disappointment and despair. With the hope of being thus honored with others(10) as an instrument in upholding the faith of God’s dear children in the darkest period of the Church’s history, one will sadly but cheerfully endure the censures of mistaken zeal and bigotry, and give his days and years of wearisome labor as an inspiring sacrifice of love.(11)
    The doctrine herein advocated, because of its being so directly opposed to the current theology, and perhaps new in form to some readers, must not be regarded in the light of a novelty.(12) It is, as we shall show, far older than the Christian Church, and was ably advocated by the founders and immediate supporters of that Church. It is admitted by all scholars, that the Apostolic Fathers and many of their successors endorsed it, and that since their time eminent and pious men have taught it, and that to-day it is embraced in the faith of some in the various denominations of the Church. We therefore are not open to the charge of introducing a “modern novelty.” Again: men of pretensions, without perceiving the logical result of its once being universally held by the early Church, may deride this early view of the kingdom and stigmatize it as a return to “Jewish forms.” But persons of reflection, seeing how largely it is interwoven with the very life, prosperity, and perpetuity of the Church in its earliest period, and perceiving how deeply we are indebted to “Jewish forms,” even if unable to accept of its teachings, regard its faith with respect. Indeed, it is difficult to apprehend how any one can scorn that which inspired a hope that supported and strengthened the ancient steadfast witnesses for the truth, the very pillars of the Church in their sufferings, the dying martyrs at the stake, on the cross, or in the circus. Cut off the believers of this very kingdom as they existed and testified in the first, second, and third centuries, and where would be the Church? The really intelligent comprehend this, feel its force, realize their indebtedness to such believers for the perpetuation of gospel truth, and hence from such we anticipate no censure, couched in derision, in advocating what was once almost, if not entirely, universal in the Church. They are ready to acknowledge how, instead of its being a novelty and being held by weak and unreliable men, it interpenetrated the most significant and remarkable era, and how widely it was inculcated by the very teachers to whom the Church owes, under God, its growth and extension.
    Some, probably, may object to the quotations as excessive or pedantic, but the reader will allow me thus to express my gratitude to and respect for others; thus to avoid the charges of misquoting or misstating writers (from which he has unjustly suffered); hence the author, book, and page are adduced to facilitate reference and indicate an intended fairness in argument, thus to aid those who are disposed to examine the affirmations in the following propositions; to show how many great and earnest thinkers have given this subject, or parts of it, their earnest attention; to evince my indebtedness to others, and avoid the appearance of so many writers of the present day, who, while under great obligations to others for valuable material, give no sign of a just recognition; to imitate the conduct of those who go forth to meet the storms of the sea, taking in a quantity of ballast to keep the bark steady among the currents and winds; to emulate the practice of writers of conceded merit, impressed by the fact tersely stated by D’Israeli (Curios. of Lit., vol. 2, p. 416), that “those who never quote, in return are seldom quoted;” to present a sense of delicacy by avoiding “the odium of singularity of opinion,” adding weight and authority to what otherwise might be regarded as doubtful; and, lastly, to avoid even by implication the application of the simile of Swift in “The Battle of the Books”—viz., of being like the spider weaving his flimsy nets out of his own bowels, instead of being like the bee passing over the field of nature and gathering its sweets from every flower to enrich its hive. We may be allowed to add: like the beo, however, we may justly claim, if nothing more, the industry and skill requisite in the gathering of the wax, the honey, and the building of the cells.(13) Indeed, such is our infirmity, that we all are more or less influenced by the authority of names, and in the reading of a work chiefly composed of controverted questions given in an argumentative form, we reasonably expect an array of advocates on both sides, which imparts confidence that the author has bestowed some attention to the subject, and makes his labor, in consequence, the more valuable as an expression of opinion or a book of reference. At the same time, important as it is to the student to know and trace opinions, we are not influenced, either by their commonplaceness, axiomatic nature, or remoteness in time, to assert, as Glanvil (Lecky, Hist. of Rat., vol. 1, p. 132, note) sarcastically charged the scholars of his day, on the authority of Beza, that women have no beards, and on that of Augustine, that peace is a blessing, or to believe that common pebbles must be rare because they come from the Indies.
    Finally, the form of propositions adopted avoids repetition and insures easy reference. It also gives distinctness to the numerous subjects so intimately connected with the kingdom, and it enabled the writer to abridge what otherwise would have required considerable enlargement. The design kept in view has been to give the greatest amount of information within the smallest space, resisting the temptation, often presented, of extending some salient point. The propositions, separately treated, are to be examined and criticised in the light which each one sustains in its connection with the whole. It is but a low polemical trick to detach one from the rest without indicating its relationship to others, and upon such a detachment frame a charge of error. It does not require much cunning or skill to wrest the words of any author from their connection, to misrepresent their meaning, and to hold them up to undeserved reproach. Willing to have any fault or error pointed out, it must, to give it adequate force, be done not only with a consideration of the manner and relation in which it is set forth, but also of the scriptural arguments, if any, which profess to sustain it. Otherwise, we take refuge in what Zeisius (Lange, Com., vol. 1, p. 496) says: “If the words of Christ, who was eternal Wisdom and Truth, were perverted, why should we wonder that His servants and children suffer from similar misrepresentations.”(14)

GEORGE N. H. PETERS.

SPRINGFIELD, OHIO, 1883.



ENDNOTES:

[1]
When regarding the large number of able treatises on various parts of the subject here discussed, the author felt somewhat like Montesquieu, who, in his preface to “The Spirit of Laws,” wrote: “When I saw what so many great men in France, in England, and in Germany had written before me, I was buried in admiration; but I did not lose courage. I said with Correggio, ‘I also am a painter.’ ” My painting consists in bringing together upon a large canvas the ideas of many painters; or, without figure, to place in a strict logical, consecutive order the truths pertaining to the kingdom, truths too often presented in an isolated, disconnected manner, and thus destroying their force. As to the ability to perform such a labor of love, the text above contains a sufficient excuse. For God, passing by the refined and the learned, first showed forth His wisdom and power in Galileans (Acts 2:7); He chooses “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27); He places His “treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7), in order to evince the often-repeated fact that even humble talents and attainments may be highly useful in upholding the truth.
[2] Auberlen, Div. Rev., p. 264.
[3] The Faculty of Wittenberg with John Deutschman (Kurtz’s Ch. Hist., vol. 2, p. 241) charged the amiable Spener with 264 errors, so lynx-eyed are some critics.
[4] Simple candor requires us to say, that some of our opponents write against us in a style that forcibly reminds us of the Popish bulls against heretics, or the supercilious language addressed by sundry ecclesiastical and civil judges, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, against the Puritans—a style constantly reiterated in history and produced by the spirit, “I am holier than thou,” connected with a feeling of personal importance akin to that of the petty constable who felt that anything in opposition to himself was in opposition to the commonwealth itself. Yet philosophy may suggest, that reproach, however bestowed, often answers, like the dark background or shading of a portrait, to bring out more vividly the individuality—a principle that Renan recognizes in Christ; the reproaches of others bringing out, by way of contrast, more prominently and distinctively the traits and characteristics of Jesus. Would any lover of the Christ wish this part of the record blotted out? If not, why object to it when related to ourselves, especially when contrasted with Matt. 5:10–12, etc.
[5] When Spalatin, the chaplain of Frederick the Wise, desired to translate a work that would give general satisfaction and at the same time be useful, he requested Luther to recommend to him such an one. Luther, in his reply, declared that it was impossible to find such a book, saying, that if he wished to make people “hear the voice of Jesus Christ, you will be useful and agreeable, depend upon it, to a very small number only.” Luther’s view, alas, is painfully corroborated by the disputes over “the testimony of Jesus,” and the recompense meted out to those calling specific attention to it.
[6] Compare the case of Edward Irving (Life of, by Mrs. Oliphant, pp. 337–339), who offered to win the degree of Doctor of Divinity by submitting to an academical examination, etc. Some of our opponents have received the title for writing books against us. Those subject to such treatment can, however, console themselves with such passages as 1 Cor. 3:18, when, as Barnes tells us (Com. loci., Remark 17), that the Christian “must be willing to be esteemed a fool; to be despised; to have his name cast out as evil; and to be regarded as even under delusion and deception. Whatever may be his rank or his reputation for wisdom and talent and learning, he must be willing to be regarded as a fool by his former associates,” etc. Alas! this was foreseen, and hence the encouragement given by Jesus, Matt. 5:11, etc. Bishop Newton remarks (Proph. Diss., Vol. 2, p. 164), that we have but little encouragement from the Church in studies of this kind, and instances the neglect bestowed upon two, “the most learned men of their times,” viz., Mede and Daubuz. The experience of many corroborates this statement. The writer has now in his mind several men of eminent ability, who are suffering from the covert and open attacks of “brethren,” and are in danger of losing positions of usefulness and trust. But we console ourselves with Rothe’s declaration (“Stille Stunde”): “He whose thoughts rise a little above the trivial must not be surprised if he is thoroughly misunderstood by most men.” One of the severest trials—incident to our infirmity—to a sensitive heart, is the loss of personal friends, highly esteemed, through adhesion to what is honestly regarded as the truth, but which such may suppose to be error.
[7] See the duty of contribution in this direction insisted upon, and so eloquently expressed by Van Oosterzee in his address, “The Gospel History and Modern Criticism,” before the Evangelical Alliance of 1873, and his insistence upon all in the church in a broad catholic spirit participating, happily quoting Dr. Nevin: “The sectarian spirit is always fanatical, or affects strength and has none.” Oosterzee in his Ch. Dog. (vol. 1, p. 69), speaking of an advancing and clearer apprehension of the truth, anticipates, such “e.g. on the subject of the eschatology of the nineteenth century.”
[8] We are reminded of Henry More’s sarcastic remark of smatterers in theology, who are “parrot-like prattlers, boasting their wonderful insight to holy truth, when as they have indeed scarce licked the outside of the glasse wherein it lies.” Human nature always produces a class who think that what they do not know is not worth knowing, or who suppose that, from the knowledge professed, they are eminently qualified to judge of those things never examined or studied. The latter are illustrated by the professor of Church history (mentioned, Blackwood’s Magazine, June 1873, in article on Dr. Arnold), who, when questioned as to the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, and the Apologists of the second century, replied, that he knew nothing of these writings, but “what with the Bible on the one hand, and the human consciousness on the other, he knew very well what must have happened in that century.” Bishop Berkeley’s saying is still true: “In the present age thinking is more talked of but less practised than in ancient times.” In ancient times the thinkers were the instructors; nowadays nearly every one sets himself up for a teacher. The tendency now is to despise laborious research and to substitute tinsel; scholarship must give place to beautiful writing; depth must be sacrificed for a vast range of graceful figures of speech. The Bishop of Exeter (The Intellectual Life, p. 46) has well said, confirmed as it is by experience, “of all work that produces results, nine tenths must be drudgery”—“there is nothing which so truly repays itself as this very perseverance against weariness.” The discriminating, the scholarly, the wise, will, over against the large majority, give due credit to evidenced study and labor, even if unable to accept of all its results.
[9] Truth has ever met with bitter opposition, and the cessation of this condition would nullify the example and exhortations of the Master, and materially lessen the prospect of future reward and glory. Emerson, in referring to a scholar’s duty to afford at least “hospitality to every new thought of his time,” adds: “The highest compliment man ever receives from heaven, is the sending to him its disguised and discredited angels.” Advised by some friends, who take no interest in “the blessed hope,” to destroy my work (and if such advice had been followed in the case of others, exceedingly valuable works, the most highly esteemed, would never have seen the light and secured the admiration of multitudes—Comp. Library Notes, p. 145, etc.,) because the only books read were those of well-known and noted men, the writer felt impelled to perseverance for the reasons assigned in the preface.
[10] See Props. on His. Mill. doctrine for others thus honored.
[11] The author of The Kingdom of Grace in his preface coolly charges the Millenarian view with being a “novelty.” (Comp. Props. 76–79.) Over against such unscholarly affirmations, it is sufficient to present the acknowledgment of Dorner (Hist. Prot. Theol., vol. 2, p. 462–3), that Millenarian doctrines have been successfully introduced into the province of theology, and that, as in the early ages of the church and in the days of Spener, etc., they are of importance to a correct understanding of the kingdom of God.
[12] It is saddening to have religious ideas—sanctified by the dearest associations of life; hallowed by connection with suffering, trial, and bereavement; endeared by study, meditation, and prayer; fortified by strength—imparting power in times of deepest gloom—ruthlessly trampled upon, or branded by cruel terms; but if productive of comfort, hope, and strength to ourselves and others, such trials are alleviated by a preponderating gladness of heart.
[13] Burton (Anat. of Melancholy, p. 37) quaintly remarks: “As a good housewife out of divers fleeces weaves one piece of cloth, a bee gathers wax and honey out of many flowers.” In reference to the difficulties of authors, the originality manifested, the crediting of thoughts and ideas to others which have become assimilated with our own, etc., the reader may consult Mathews’ The Great Conversers, D’Israeli’s Calamities of Authors, Curiosities of Literature, Saunders’s Salad for the Solitary, etc. This, however, does not prevent a student who diligently compares scripture with scripture to bring forth—so rich is the precious mine—things “new as well as old” (Matt. 13:52). That explorations thus conducted will not be fruitless may be found not only in exegetical remarks scattered through the work, but under special propositions, as those, e.g., on the disciples preaching, the preaching of Jesus, the election, the postponement of the kingdom, the covenants, the genealogies, the temptation, the Divine sovereignty, the Son of Man, the kingdom, the Church, the parables, the inheritance, the resurrection, the barren woman, Pre-Mill. Advent, signs, Divinity of Jesus, etc.
[14] May the author add: after many years of labor—as the following pages indicate—and the cold fraternization of “brethren” who had no sympathy for Chiliastic study, it would be a personal gratification to the writer to learn from students who have investigated the subjects presented in this work, that the perusal of this book has given them pleasure and strengthened them in “the blessed hope.”