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to God--that she has put on the scarlet robe, and gaudy jewels, and bold look of a harlot, and gone after other godsthat she canonizes men and then worships them—that she has endeavoured to make the apostles untrue to their Lord and the blessed mother of Christ a rival to her Divine Son—that she prays to angels, and so would make them instruments of dishonour to the Triune God; and that she deifies the creature and so defies the Creator" (410).
How are all these awful charges in any way consistent with the belief that Christ is reigning with his saints over this part of the Church? Is a nominal supremacy—a mere reception of the inspired volume—all that Christ's reign requires? Or must we then take refuge in the conclusion that his kingdom is confined to about sixty millions of Protestants ? Alas! even this subterfuge would fail us; for, narrow as this kingdom is, it must be made much narrower if we reflect that those are not all Israel who are of Israel—that the far larger portion of this small section of the world's population are only in the state of a formal and outward profession of their religion--that they “have a name to live while they are spiritually dead”—that even in this best of Protestant kingdoms there is much to deplore that is adverse to the spirit of the Gospel-much that is in opposition to the authority of Him who hath said, “ Ye cannot serve two masters: ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Dr. Wordsworth will not we are sure, deny this; and the admission must be utterly fatal to his scheme that the saints are now seen among us by the eye of faith sitting upon thrones with Christ, and that to them judgment is given.
If this, indeed, be really the case, their empire is a sadly divided one—very different to that which Isaiah and St. Paul had in view when they declared—“As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God? (Isa. xlv. 23; Rom. xiv. 11). Dr. Wordsworth has not scrupled to affirm that the supposition of a Millennium is a natural result of bad and inadequate notions of our baptismal privileges and obligations (p. 57). But we may venture to enquire whether
p the exalted notion which he teaches of the saints already reigning upon earth is not calculated to degrade Christianity itself, inasmuch as it tends to inculcate the idea that the bare profession of this religion and the use of its forms is all that is necessary to give Christ that ascendancy which he claims over the human heart, and to fulfill the truth of prophecy as to his spiritual empire over the world.
Dr. Wordsworth has not, we trust, foreseen this fatal consequence of his scheme. His practical exhortations sufficiently
show that he recognises its spiritual claims; but these are strangely at variance with a theory which must embrace the whole of corrupt Christendom within its charitable arms, or be good for nothing as an argument.
Although we may seem to have said enough to show that the doctrine of a Millennium is not so destitute of scriptural proofs as he would lead us to believe, we feel that we should be doing injustice to the subject if we did not further state our firm belief that nothing short of such a doctrine will suffice to render prophecy intelligible, or to answer any of the perplexing questions that arise in viewing the past and present state of Christianity. Without it we should be at a loss to understand, how, for example, the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah could be interpreted; for with no degree of truth or propriety can it be applied to events that have hitherto occurred in connexion with the religion of the Jews or our own. Take one passage only as a specimen-“ Violence shall no more be heard in the land; wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise. Unless by some extraordinary method of allegorical interpretation,* which the common sense of mankind in the present age would repudiate, we see not how such a passage as this—not to mention a host of others evidently denoting a state of uninterrupted peace
and prosperity-can be reasonably said to have received even the shadow of a fulfilment. We dare not believe that the splendid tableau of glorious days as exhibited in the prophetic books has been so long held up before the world only to delude its expectations. There is also a great fact which here meets us at which the minds of all who can reflect have long looked and wondered—we mean the preservation of the Jews as a distinct people. Dr. Wordsworth and writers of his school do not care to notice this circumstance.f But in this slighting or ignoring
* Among some of the fathers and their successors in the medieval times this mode of interpretation is carried to a ridiculous excess. Dr. Wordsworth has been well initiated in this school, as many parts of these lectures manifest. In Lecture IV., on the words, “ Behold He cometh with clouds” (Rev. i. 7), he explains these words to mean that Christ came by apostles and evangelists, by prophets and by patriarchs - the clouds in the heaven of his Church. In a note he refers to St. Augustine, who says (Epist 199, 45)—“Venit nunc in tota bac hora novissima, Christus in suis membris
, tanquam in nubibus vel in tota ipsâ ecclesiâ, quæ est corpus ejus, tanquam in nube magna fructificante in universo mundo, ex quo cæpit prædicare et dicere, agite penitentiam,” &c. (Matt. iv. 17). So also Aquinas, following Haynes“ Ecce venit in nubibus, i.e., sanctis, qui pluunt per prædicationem, corruscant per miraculorum operationem, elevati fiunt per mundanorum abdicationem; volant per altam contemplationem” (Isaiah lx. 8.) “Qui sunt iste qui ut nubes volant."
+ The only allusion to it in this volume is at p. 343, where Dr. Wordsworth says, in reference to the stumbling blocks which the Church of Rome places in the way of the conversion of the Jews by adding the apocryphal books, and by the adoration of
one of the strongest evidences of the truth of prophecy, we fear they are undesignedly giving an advantage to the infidel; for, according to their mode of interpretation, which leaves but little room for a larger fulfilment of this part of prophecy in particular which relates to the restoration and conversion of Israel, it can hardly be denied that it has entirely failed. To suppose that the metaphorical language applied to this and other events raises a stronger idea than the actual fulfilment is intended to realise is to lower the dignity of the prophet by stripping him of his robe of truth and to reduce him to the rank of a rhapsodist or poetical declaimer. Again : were we to adopt the views of those writers, who thus in our opinion do great injury to the authority of the prophetical books, we must still find an insuperable difficulty in reconciling the general design of Christianity with its present actual condition.
If the end for which the Son of God came was to defeat the scheme by which Satan first marred the divine work in Paradise, we are unable to perceive how this end can be said to be accomplished except by the entire subjugation of the evil one throughout the whole extent of his acquired dominion. It is quite useless to point to the victory which the Gospel attained in the first ages or to its progress since, for Satan has still the mastery over the far larger portion of mankind. He is to all appearance the mightier monarch, else the title of “the god of this world” would not apply to him. Can we suppose that this state of things is to last to the end of the world—(and nothing in Dr. Wordsworth's book seems to forbid this view)—then what follows ? Satan retains his sceptre as long as the work of redemption lasts, and divides his empire with the Son of God, thus to all appearance frustrating the first promise and the declaration that “ He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.” Admit, however, on the other hand, with the rational millennarian, a period of regeneration yet in store for this polluted earth--and that during a large cycle (a thousand years at least) Satan shall be by some signal act of Almighty power stript entirely of usurped dominion-sealed up in the bottomless dungeon and no longer be permitted during this time to deceive the nations—admit that this shall be a period of holiness and of universal happiness in full accordance with the visions of the ancient prophets—such an admission, though it will not explain the whole mystery of Providence, will vindicate
saints and angels. We cannot but believe, with humble submission to the mysterious counsels of Divine Providence, that there is a solemn truth in this their popular conviction-referring to the opinion of the rabbis)—that the spiritual redemption of Israel will be ushered in by the downfall of Rome.
it at least from the objection that Satan's power over inan is to run coeval with man and the world itself.
Connected with the question of moral evil, this must surely be considered the darkest of all its enigmas, and we see no relief from it but the prospect which such a doctrine as the Millennium affords us. When we look around and survey the comparatively feeble influence which eternity has upon the mass of our own population—the dissensions in Church and State, and the many evils temporal and spiritual which yet abound in what we may yet believe to be the happiest and purest kingdom upon earth—we confess that we could not recognize amidst such a state of things any evidence of the triumphant power of our religion over the arch-tempter, even if all the kingdoms of the world had the same advantage as our own country;
But when we extend our views beyond this privileged pale, we are met by objections still more formidable at every step. The farther we advance, the more portentously does the power of the evil one rise up before us, amidst even the incense of professedly Christian shrines, where he sits enthroned in the scarlet vestments of the Papal antichrist-amidst the baleful light of the Mahometan imposture--amidst the darkness and cruelty of Pagan abominations. To believe that there is no power at work sufficiently mighty or merciful to purify Christian nations in the end, and to overthrow the tyranny of delusion and superstition by which Satan reigns over the heart of man till that final catastrophe which shall swallow up the prince of evil and his victims in the fiery gulph for ever—this is, indeed, a heart-sickening conclusion, which gives the Gospel dispensation a still more mysterious and awful character than that of the fall. Assume, however, that these evils are only temporary --that the world and the Church are at present only in a course of preparation and trial like Israel in the wilderness—that there is a Canaan beyond or something better still—a world restored to a state of paradisaical happiness and peace, peopled infinitely more than it has yet been, and with rejoicing beings all worshippers of the true God and his blessed 'Son, all holding nearer communion with heaven and with angelic natures than Adam himself enjoyed in Eden—this, indeed, if it be a dream, is one which at least comforts us by the thought that the existing evils of the universe are only the means of working out its final redemption-"the glorious liberty of the sons of God” -a dream which will enable us also, in some measure, to understand why the world in which we live should have been so long the scene of Satan's triumph ; for thus at last the victory will be the greater when the command shall be issued from the throne of the Paternal Deity:
“Go, then, thou mightiest in thy Father's might,
Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels
God and Messiah, his anointed King." With whatever discountenance such anticipations are met by a certain class of theologians in the present day, some view of this kind will, we believe, be found to have entered largely into the faith of the first Christians, and we may say the majority of Christians in all ages. In our own days we may gather from the signs of the times that men of piety are also for the most part inclined to believe that, with the increase of knowledge and civilization, there will open a much wider field for the advance and permanent triumph of true religion. Without absolutely pledging themselves to a theory of Millennium, they have a sufficient perception of the force of the ancient prophecies to discern that no other interpretation of these but that which assumes, as its basis, the ultimate universality of the Gospel, can be reconciled with reason, with natural religion—or, in short, with any system of theology which aspires “ to justify the ways of God to man.” There are, we feel satisfied, only two methods by which such a conclusion can be avoided. We may adopt the Calvinistic theory, which resolves all doubts and difficulties on this subject by a reference to the mystery of the divine sovereignty, and rocks its followers to sleep with the soothing doctrine of election and reprobation. Or, we must take part with the sceptic in entertaining a mistrust whether the existence of such a state of things as that which the world presents, if to continue to the end, is in any way compatible with the design and pretensions of Christianity. This we fear is the predicament into which Dr. Wordsworth has thrown himself and his readers by his attempt to controvert the doctrine of a Millennium. He will not, we are sure, be driven into the ranks of the infidel; but how can his theory save him from close alliance with the Calvinist? His argument takes a desperate course in these “Lectures,” and for the reasons we have stated must inevitably subject himself, and all who follow his teaching on this point, to one or other of these dangerous alternatives. Here, therefore, with deep regret, we leave him to illustrate the old adage—“ Incidet in Scyllam, qui vult vitare Charybdim."