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Jude comes down to a nearer and closer scene; evil men have crept into the Church, and, corruption once in, the place of witness becomes the scene of the power of evil. The old evils arise, but, as taking their new birth-place in the Church, they give to these engaged in it the terrible character of apostasy. The flesh, great pretensions within the Church, ending in hard speeches against the Lord Himself; and then that judgment by His coming, of which the Lord of old had spoken by the mouth of Enoch, the ancient prediction of judgment, finding its objects in the apostates from the last resource of grace. Their present character the New Testament unfolded. It was creeping into the Church for this purpose. The extent to which the imaginative part of gnostic heathenism had gone, the way it had linked itself with Judaism; the way it had left the prints of its defiling foot-marks on nominal Christianity, on what has the public place of the Church, few I believe are aware.
The philosophic Jews believed that the stars were animated beings, which was Sabaism.
The influence of heathenism on the Fathers, particularly of the Alexandrian school, was frightful, no one can doubt that such as Origen and Clement were largely tainted with it. The inroad of the old evils into the western and less imaginative, and therefore more orthodox Christendom, was more plodding Judaism as to its character. Still it did not escape the inroad of evil. There is the worshipping of saints and angels; there is the for
to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats; there is pretended human righteousness by works and ordinances; there is really the Lordship as well as
grace of Christ widely denied; that is, the elements of Judaism, Gnosticism, and heathenism, are all theretheir development checked, but there, and characterising the system—the mass having cast off the Lordship of Christ really altogether. This element is restrained, but
c I have
little doubt, that “Lord and Giver of life,” in one of the creeds, is derived from Egyptian idolatry, and that in it which was expressive of the worst evil of diabolical corruption. I merely speak of the expression, but it shews the
influence which reigned.
ever ready to burst out when God's restraint is taken off. What a deliverance Protestanism was in respect of all this, people are little aware. But that, alas, has lost its moral force; it has turned to infidelity. The light that is in it is become darkness on one side, where it had cast off the old Judæo-heathenish Gnostic system; and on the other, where it retained some elements of this, having lost its vital power, it is returning to it again, as the dog to his vomit, to plunge itself wilfully, and therefore hopelessly, into the evil which God is about to destroy, because nothing but judgment remains. The masses, when mind is active, you will see, I doubt not, turn to rationalist infidelity; the upper orders and governmental powers to be under the influence of Judæo-heathenism. Still, as yet, God holds the reins, and there is One, who, if He shuts, no man can open; if He opens no can shut; and in the energy of His grace, it is our part
it is our part in all wisdom, for the days are evil, to assert the Lordship of Christ, the spiritual holiness of His name in the world, and the perfectness of His redemption, gift of a God of love when no good was in man, and perfect in reconciling us to Him. The written word, the great unchanging sure rule, where God Himself speaks; pointed out as the safeguard in the last days, when the pretensions of the Church, which contradict Christ's Lordship, (for I have a lord not a lady over me, and cannot serve two), and corruption, are rising up, waiting daily for Him who shall present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
I ́have but sketched and roughly, I am quite aware without any false modesty, the great principles of these epistles, but I trust I have done it sufficiently according to the truth, to enable saints in reading them, to avail themselves of what I have said as a help, as far as it is such. If it awaken them to a sense of the dreadful character of the evil which is coming in, apostasy letting in the aggravated and more subtle flood of old evils long ago set up by Satan, and make them feel that they have really to do with the enemy, it will be really useful. Only let them remember, that while
walking quietly through the world subject to the powers that be, as of God, not expecting men to harm them if followers of that which is good, happy if it is for righteousness or for Christ they suffer, they should be in nothing terrified by their adversaries, an evident token to them of perdition and to themselves of salvation and that of God. That if Christ's Lordship be denied, covertly by setting up the Church's authority, or openly, they believe he is Lord and with power to maintain His Lordship, even all power in heaven and in earth. Our
Our part is to keep the word of His patience, and our security and joy with Him will be complete.
Critical persons have been struck with the similarity of the subjects of part of Peter and Jude. It could not be otherwise, these are the expressions of the evil they were combating and which was then creeping in; the part that most strikes critics, the heathen were all thoroughly familiar with. The spirit was dealing with what was before them. The way of dealing with it was quite distinct. The great public examples of judgment also were equally before and known to all; but Jude quotes an instance (Israel) to his purpose which Peter does not, and Peter refers to final dissolution; Jude to Christ's coming with His saints. What must have been common the testimony as to it is perfectly independent.
FRAGMENTS. I REJECT all inference from Scripture as authoritative. It may be true, may lead to something else ; but I cannot believe it. I can only believe what is revealed: not what is deduced from that revelation.
When the Holy Ghost comes, he breaks off everything of nature, and gives altogether another set of associations.
Eating of the "hidden manna." The omer of Manna has been laid up
before God, a memorial of all that He, the bread of life, has been to us in this way of grace : our food here in the wilderness : and God has kept a portion of this, never to be lost, for our food there.
THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.
A DISSENT from a view expressed by me on a portion of this epistle (chap. vii.) has induced me to go over it again with the caution I had gained. I did not, as I believe God would bear me witness, seek new truth, there is no new truth, but believing, to those who acknowledge the Lord, that He will, by the Spirit, do as He did when on earth, enlighten those who are subject to and love Him; and that the promise to guide into the whole of truth will not fail.
We have no reason to avoid truth, but I would wait on Him, not in the spirit of saying, Let it come near to me that I may know it, but looking to Him to impart it, to
my need and that of others, as truth to serve in the way of our salvation. It is exceedingly needful to wait on God's time to make truth plain. He certainly will not fail those who build themselves on their most holy faith; who own the Son and gather round Him as having the words of eternal life. We are out of all fold, and it is His voice and His obedience that is our guide and bond. There are those who build themselves on their most holy faith, who do not wait God's time. They press forward untimely, and get off the track that leads the farthest and surest.
If they fulfilled all they knew, God would reveal all the rest to them according to His good pleasure, even to the highest steps and helps of His calling. Every bias in apprehension of the word springs from this act of the flesh, not waiting upon God.
It had been long evident to me that the Spirit had two special objects in the Epistle to the Hebrews, one of these has become much more salient to
mind in recurrence at this time to the bearing of this Epistle. One object was to prevent Hebrews who had received the truth from relapsing back into the dead and rejected ordinances of Judaism; the second, which for long had been indistinct to my mind, was to advance those who being the Lord's had not advanced beyond Hebrew Christianity. The force of the word “we” is also materially engaged in these questions. The passing from one position to another, of those addressed, requires a finer insight than any other portion of Scripture, and to us bringing the most important elucidation. I confine myself to the two first mentioned broad distinctions as a help to the intelligence of the church.
The channel of the Old and New Revelations is first touched on.
We learn (in Acts, chap. vii.) that the law was given by the disposition of angels, as here the communications were by the prophets. They are now by Son, a peculiarity of expression noted in the margin of the common version. This gives a key to the whole depth of the Epistle. The opening of it marks out the structure of it throughout. Side by side from first to last in succession is what was in Judaism, and what by Christ. It might appear disconnected in the succession of subjects; but the links are also manifest.
In the first two chapters, is pursued the difference between the angels and Son. At the end of the first chapter, the angels take the place of servants (in exterDals), who before ministered as superiors in charge of the external things of God, in connection with His ancient people. In the second chapter, with a “wherefore" come the results of the difference of standing of the saints towards God. It rises in character as it
goes on; in the eleventh verse, the sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one (e evos) and the adoption is comforted by the fellow-feeling of Him who suffered to be exalted.
In the third, comes the difference of the calling, opening with the words, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.”a The calling in the wilderness is set before us, and the grievousness of unbelief to the failure of coming through; and this applied to those of the superior calling, to wit, heavenly. In the second, it was
This expression makes it indisputably clear who are the class concerned. If they were those who first trusted in Christ, we have also trusted.