« السابقةمتابعة »
by various arguments; and by the fact that the Gentile converts had learned to approach the Most High their Almighty Father. They had not, indeed, been rescued from slavery, and tenderly led through the deep, "as a horse in the wilderness, that it should not stumble." They had not been miraculously fed, nor assembled to witness those supernatural and terrible manifestations of the Divine Presence at the institution of the Law. Yet the Apostle tells the Christians of his day, that they had arrived at the general Assembly and church of the first-born, which are enrolled in heaven; and had obtained possession of other blessings, of which the community of Israel, and the benefits bestowed upon that nation as the elect of God, were merely the types. The Law was the shadow of good things promised, of which the substance is contained in the Gospel of Christ. This is not less true of the doctrines shadowed forth in the ceremonial rites, than of those adumbrated in the typical constitution of the Jewish polity, persons, and things.
In a spiritual sense, all Christians are members "of the body of Christ," which consists of all his people. "His body, the church," is the same which in other passages is described, as an edifice; elsewhere, with reference to its nature and promised extent, a "new creation." "In Christ" (that is, under the Gospel) "all things are made new:" a new commandment, a new worship, a new temple, and a new city. These are the things destined to be perpetual, as pertaining to the kingdom which cannot be moved. (Heb. xii.)
The blessings of the new covenant extend into the heavenly state, "whither the Forerunner hath for us entered." Yet even upon this earth a glorious type of those higher and more permanent blessings awaits the church, in the which the antitypical Israel shall attain to a high degree of sublunary perfection; forming a spiritual temple, in which the Most High shall manifest his
presence by "the fruit of the Spirit;" they shall occupy, in peace and prosperity, the holy city; all nations fearing and obeying the King in Zion (Gal. v. 22; 2 Cor. iii. 7; Eph. iii. 13-22). Thus in Rev. xxi. 9, to the end of the prophecy, we have an allegorical representation, in glowing colours, of the glorious sabbatism of the church upon earth, subsequent to the destruction of that great city, "which spiritually is called Sodom, and Egypt."
With these brief remarks, I proceed to an examination of the passage.
"The faithful in Christ Jesus," are sometimes spoken of, in the aggregate, as constituting the undivided body of Christ. That which is proper to the collective body, belongs, in a certain sense, to every individual member. Hence, while in ver. 17 the Apostle looks forward to the eternal reward of the righteous, naturally reverting, in the next verse, to temporal sufferings, and more especially to those of the period in which the Epistle was written, he contrasts them with that grand "manifestation of the sons of God," "the glory [about] to be revealed in us," in the time appointed of the Father. Until which period it is necessary that sufferings be endured by the church (Col. i. 24).
The force and beauty of this course of argument are abundantly apparent, when viewed in connexion with what the Scriptures unfold re. garding the wisdom and goodness of God; whereby also the true relations and the relative importance of time and eternity rise into view. By that which has been graciously revealed, we are enabled to repose with confidence in regard to matters too high for us. (Ps. cxxxi.)
In ver. 19 the Apostle proceeds to notice the ardent expectation of the Jews, founded on prophecy; which, although by many interpreted after a carnal sense, yet all devout Israelites, from Jacob to Joseph of Arimathea, "waited for the salvation of God," and the glories of Messiah's reign.
"The creature," is that which is created. The Gospel was a 66 new creation" (Isa. lxv. 17); the Law, therefore, was the old creation, constituted with express reference to "a better hope" and higher expectations. Looking back upon the ceremonial law, many readers are apt to view it as the essence of the former dispensation, to which the chosen people were merely subordinate. But it is of persons, and not of things, that the Apostle speaks; human beings, who should be delivered from bondage and enjoy a glorious liberty. Besides, neither hope nor fear are predicable of mere institutions.
It will also be remarked, that vers. 18 to 27, inclusive, form an episodical illustration of the principal doctrine-namely, the extension to all Christians of the high privilege of being the elect of God; and the glorious prospects of the church, as contrasted with that state of suffering under which she then laboured. Oftentimes the matter is so exuberant, and the subject so vast and comprehensive, that episode and parentheses, with rapid transitions and much compression, are employed, yet nor unsuitably to the epistolary style.
The case of the Jews is first noticed. The persons immediately contemplated are true Israelites, the sons of God in a spiritual sense, who had not neglected the words of God, speaking by Moses (Deut. xxviii. 15) and all the prophets. "For all are not Israel who are descendants of Israel;" and to those the oracles of God address a far different language.
Ver. 20 contains an additional argument, which, like the other portions of the passage, points to the doctrine previously announcednamely, that from the beginning a change had been determined; God not willing it to be permanent. That the antecedent must thus be supplied, is evident by proposing the question, Who not willing it? Doubt less the same by whose authority it
had been constituted. And so of the remainder of the sentence; for the change of the dispensation is the subject treated of. "But by reason of Him who hath subjected it to change." Who? Doubtless "the King in Zion;" by whose authority, and with regard to whom, that dispensation had been temporarily constituted. The writings of the Prophets contain abundant indications of this change, as well as of a future and glorious manifestation of the sons of God. And thus those who waited for the salvation of God were actuated by the hope that "the creature itself" (still employing the abstract term)" shall be delivered' From what?
Here an entirely new idea is presented, which can only be understood with reference to the original basis of the argument. "In hope that the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption." This could not signify the yoke of the Law, elsewhere termed the "yoke of bondage," as in contrast with the freedom and spirituality of the Gospel. The Law had indeed been subverted by the superstition and atheism of that age; but it was still "holy, just, and good." Neither was it the fear of death, a "bondage" under which the human race has laboured ever since the entrance of sin. But it was the oppression of "the abomination which maketh desolate," of Daniel; or, in other words, it was the Roman power, at that period universal, which was the immediate agent in the dreadful persecutions alluded to in this chapter.
The style of this and of the subsequent verses is somewhat veiled, and certainly not without reason. See a similar reserve, 1 Pet. v. 13; 2 Thess. ii. 7; Rev. xi. S.
Still, it was only a hope of a future deliverance, revealed for the consolation of the ancient church. of God, and now confirmed and enlarged by the inspired Apostle. When his nation "shall enter in through the gates into the city," the new Jerusalem; as a people,
make profession of obedience to Messiah; they shall partake of all the blessings of his reign. (Deut. xxix.; Is. xxvi.; Rev. xxi. 2; Rom. xi. 23-29.)
In ver. 22 the argument is extended to the case of mankind at large. All the known world had been laid prostrate before the military power of Rome: the writhings and distortions of the nations afforded sufficient indications of their sufferings: the time was yet future when men should beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and study the art of war no more. But the sufferings of the Christians were peculiar, and superadded to those which they endured in common with the world.
Ver. 23. The subjects of that "high vocation" mentioned in the Epistles, who enjoyed the first benefits of that Holy Spirit promised by the Prophets-the pledge and earnest of complete and eternal deliverance from evil-even the adopted sons of God, suffered every form of cruelty and of death. Yet they endured, "as seeing Him who is invisible" to the carnal eye; patiently waiting for the promised demonstration of their adoption, by the redemption of their body from the oppressive bondage. The body here spoken of, is also "the body of Christ," whereof each Christian is "a member in particular;" therefore in the text termed "our body;" and for which no possible sacrifice is too great (1 John iii. 16). And as the ancient church, after much suffering, and various fortunes in the wilderness, obtained rest in the land of promise, an emblem of eternal blessedness; so shall Christians, as a body, be delivered from all oppression, and enter upon a state of tranquillity, typical of still higher blessings beyond death and the grave.
This salvation was then, and still is, a matter of hope. But if the Apostle (ver. 24) had chiefly in view the future life, it were superfluous
to describe it as a matter of futurity. The hope alluded to, is "the redemption of our body" from slavery, and a corrupting oppression. Its object is the same with that mentioned ver. 20. Many of the children of Israel, who had received in faith the promises of God in Egypt, doubtless never entered the land of Canaan. Moses himself only saw it at a distance.
Ver. 25. One beneficial effect of this remote accomplishment is, the exercise of faith and patience, with resignation, in full reliance upon the Divine wisdom, goodness, and truth.
Yet, not being fully revealed, or but imperfectly apprehended (ver. 26), the sufferers did not well know what to pray for: and the Apostle, by one of those strong rhetorical figures which abound in his Epistles, represents those inarticulate aspirations (ver. 27) as perfectly understood by "the Searcher of hearts," who in them recognised the earnest pleadings of the Holy Spirit; seeing that these sufferings were consequent upon their illumination, whereby they had learned to "live godly in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. iii. 12), and were in accordance with the purpose of God, who, in due time, should grant their requests.
The Apostle next suggests topics of consolation; shewing from prophecy that all had been pre-ordained by Infinite Wisdom; that the children of God had been predestinated to be "conformed to the image of his Son," who "was led as a lamb to the slaughter;" and quoting from Ps. xliv., "For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter." The chapter concludes with a triumphant strain of confidence in the final triumph of believers over all enemies; among whom are enumerated "principalities and powers," elsewhere "the rulers of the darkness of this age," and "spiritual wickednesses in high places"—that is, "the old serpent," ruling by means of the Roman power (Rev. xii. 9).
In his Second to the Corinthians
the Apostle also consoles the faithful with the prospect of "a far more exceeding, eternal weight of glory," in a style of eloquence and emphasis of truth refreshing and elevating, filling the soul with the most exalted anticipations of things unseen and eternal (iv. 8 to v. 11). In both Epistles the deep aspirations of the oppressed saints are viewed as the result of their sonship; the consequence of sufferings heaped upon them by the powers of darkness.
It might here be proper to notice the seeming discordance betwixt the true character of the Roman power, and the very plain and ample directions to Christians, as subjects of "the powers that be." (ch. xiii.) Nothing could be more descriptive of that power than the composite wild beast of Daniel; and yet Christians are commanded to yield obedience. But on this topic the limits of this paper do not permit that I should enlarge.
ON THE NATIONAL CRIME OF PRI
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
YOUR Contributor W. in your Number for January, cannot have set forward in too strong a light "the national crime of privateering;" and he has my thanks for having introduced the subject into your pages. He is wise, also, in considering a time of peace the proper season for calm and reasonable, and therefore useful, discussion on a practice which custom has brought to us, and custom has kept with us; veiling its enormity, and its indefensibility, in the deceit with which time and habit cover all things. No nation, nor individual I should hope, could be found now, for the first time, to introduce, or to defend, maritime war against private persons and private property.
The progress of civilization has long since confined warfare on land CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 352.
to combatants; and the spoil of war, to public property and munitions of war. On land, except in extreme cases-and each case justified on its own grounds only, and controuled by public opinion-private persons and private property are acknowledged and respected. We hear no longer of the husbandman being carried into slavery, or the fruits of the earth filling the garners of the victor. We hear no more of private plunder by the soldier; at least, no soldier is heard to dishonour himself by the avowal of private plunder; and the sense of shame and reproach in the individual, and better discipline in the army, growing up with increased civilization, have put an end to this once great scourge of war on land: and the change has not been less to the advantage of the victor than the vanquished; for "plunder, like pitch, defileth the hand," and, more, it betrays the heart.
Your contributor has done well, therefore, in drawing the attention of the thinking part of the public to the corresponding evil, which yet continues, in war upon the sea: and it is by the discussion of the subject through the press, and the influence of public opinion (and public opinion, though slow to reason, is reasonable in the result, as we have seen and are seeing daily), that I look forward for a change to be wrought, rather than by "a few petitions to Parliament," or by endeavours to move our cabinet, or "the sovereigns," for immediate alteration. Petitions to Parliament, in the present fashion, bid fair to destroy their own weight, or to supersede the functions of government; and we may do more wisely by expecting parliament, the cabinet, and the "sovereigns," to follow, rather than to lead, the public opinion, in a matter "opposed to every dictate of Christianity and justice," but of which time and habit have accustomed men to endure the crime and to take the profit.
But your contributor, in his tribute of respect to the president of the United States of America (in 1823), for proposing to the courts of France, Russia, and Great Britain, as an article of international law, the putting down privateering, has omitted to do justice towards another great man, as also to the subject he discusses. I do not wish to detract from that president's merit, in having brought forward the consideration in 1823; but I should as soon think of coupling the abolition of the Slave Trade with the name of Buxton, and forgetting the names of Wilberforce and Clarkson, as of giving the honour of the proposal for putting down privateering to a Monroe, and omitting a Franklin.
The honour, however, is still with America; and if you think with me, that discussion and information on this subject are useful, you will allow me to use your pages in reminding your readers that as early as 1783 (January 14th), Benjamin Franklin submitted to the British Ministry a proposition in writing for improving the law of nations, by prohibiting the plundering of unarmed and usefully employed people. He added, that he rather wished than expected that it would be adopted; but he thought it might be offered with a better grace by a country that was likely to suffer least, and gain most, by continuing the ancient practice; which was the case with America, as the American ships, laden only with the gross productions of the earth, could not be so valuable as the British ships, filled with sugars or with manufactures. His proposal, he said, had not been considered by his colleagues; but if the British Minister should find that it might be acceptable, he would try to get it inserted in the general treaty, and that he thought it would do honour to the nations that established it.
Dr. Franklin's views took also a wider range; and as, in these times
of distress and difficulty to our West-India proprietors, and the acknowledged embarrassment of the government in devising and applying a proper remedy, every suggestion may be of value, it may be useful in this regard, as also as respects privateering, to subjoin the whole paper of Dr. Franklin, and the article for treaty, in the form delivered to Mr. Oswald. On a future occasion I may offer you some remarks on the hint to be taken from this paper, as supplying one means, and one instrument, for a safe and satisfactory abolition of slavery.
But, to return to the immediate subject: Dr. Franklin did more than propose, he actually, as one of the last acts of his public life (9th of July, 1785), concluded and signed a treaty of amity and commerce between the United States of America and the King of Prussia ; in which, as a strong and lasting testimony of Dr. Franklin's phi lanthropy, was introduced for the first time (and as yet for the last) the same article against the molestation of the persons and property of unarmed citizens in time of war, and against privateering;-extending the language to comprehend, not only fishermen, cultivators of the earth, artizans, and manfacturers; but "all women and children, scholars of every faculty, and, in general, all others whose occupations were for the common subsistence and benefit of mankind."
Nor to America alone belongs honour in this matter; for the Scotch Presbyterians were formerly as tender and as honest; and there is still extant an ordinance of the town council of Edinburgh, made soon after the Reformation, "forbidding the purchase of prize goods, under pain of losing the freedom of the burgh for ever, with other punishment at the will of the magistrate; the practice of making prizes being contrary to good conscience, and the rule of treating