Imagini ale paginilor

is soon to sound, is to be the signal to them of the joyous era to the earth, when Christ is to come and receive it as his kingdom, and reign over it for ever. For coming in power and glory, he is then to raise and judge the holy dead, give reward to the living who fear his name, and destroy the powers denoted by Babylon and the wild-beast, the great corrupters of the earth; and that is to be at the period when the times of the Gentiles are to close, as God foreshowed to his servants the prophets, Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah. Such are the views of the divine purposes, such the joyful expectations that are held in heaven. There will be no dissentients from that song. Dr. Alexander's voice will be heard in it; and he will share in the raptures of joy and adoration of which it will be the utterance. Happy they who reach that faith now, and feel its supporting and gladdening power.

The attitude assumed by Dr. Alexander, and the position in which he has left the subject, are peculiar, and will naturally be contemplated with a measure of surprise by antimillenarians as well as premillennialists.

1. The course he took, indicates, we think, that he saw clearly that if the prophecy, Mark xiii., Matthew xxiv., and Luke xxi., is to be interpreted by the laws of philology in the same manner as the narrative and didactic parts of the gospels are, it indubitably foreshows the personal and visible coming of the Son of Man, in glory and power, at the close of the times of the Gentiles, and anterior to the conversion generally of the nations. For why else should he resort to such methods as he has to evade that revelation? If the prediction, interpreted by the ordinary established laws of language, gives no such sense; if it foreshows nothing but what relates to the fall of Jerusalem and the miseries with which the Jewish people were at that crisis to be smitten; if there is no prediction in it of Christ's personal coming ;-why not expound it by those laws; why not adhere to its grammatical sense; why reject its simple, natural, indubitable philological meaning, and construe it by hypotheses that assign it a wholly different, foreign, and, as he admits, uncertain, signification? His course is inexplicable—it may with truth be said, it would have been impossible—had he not seen with the clearest certainty that the announcement in it of Christ's personal coming at the end of the Jewish tribulation, cannot be avoided, if it is interpreted by the established laws of langnage. His desertion, accordingly, of those laws, and resort for a different meaning to the hypothesis of types, and double and indeterminable senses, is eqnivalent to a public and emphatic acknowledgment of that conviction.

2. His course indicates, on the other hand, that he saw with equal clearness that he had no adequate grounds for explicitly and absolutely denying that the prophecy is to be interpreted by the usual laws of philology, and affirming that it is to be explained on the theory of types or a double and indeterminable sense. Else, why did he not make that denial and affirmation? If he was able to prove that the language is figurative, why did he not do it? If he was able to demonstrate that the persons, acts, and events which its terms literally denote, are used as types, why did he not verify that hypothesis by exhibiting the facts that sustain it? Can anything be more certain, than that if the vindication of his theory had not been impossible, he would not have omitted it; he would have presented the considerations that show its truth? His neglect, therefore, to verify it, is equivalent to a specific and public acknowledgment that he was unable to prove its truth; that he was compelled to leave it in the posture of a gratuitous assumption.

3. The assumptions to which he resorted in his attempt to balance between positively admitting, and positively denying that the prophecy foreshows the personal visible coming of Christ, are not only gratuitous and untenable, but if carried to their legitimate results, would overthrow his exposition of every other part of the New Testament, and subvert Christianity itself. One of his assumptions is, that there are no means of determining from the language whether a passage is figurative or not; and that assumption rests on the antecedent postulate doubtless, that a passage may be figurative without there being any specific and cognizable figure in it. For as all the known figures of language are distinguishable, and may be identified and demonstrated wherever they exist; to maintain that a passage may be figurative without being demonstrably such, is equivalent to maintaining that it may be figurative although there is no figure in it. But that is a self-contradiction. For how can a passage be proved to be figurative, if it cannot be proved that there is a figure in it? And how can it be proved that there is a figure in it, if the figure cannot be identified, and its reality and power as a trope established by positive evidence? But if a passage may be figurative, although it has no cognizable fignre in it, how could Dr. Alexander prove that there is not a figure and a score of figures in every passage which he has interpreted as without a figure? How could he verify a single construction he has placed on Mark, the Acts, Isaiah, or any other part of the Scriptures? He could not. He plunged, by his assumption, into a bottomless gulf of uncertainty. He could no more prove that Mark's narrative of Christ's preaching, miracles, seizure by the agents of the priests, trial before Pilate, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, treats of those events, and affirms wbat the language naturally denotes, than, according to him, it can be proved what the events are that are foretold by Christ in his prophecy respecting the church, the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and his coming in the clouds of heaven. There is not a fact or truth in the New Testament the import of which can on his theory be determined with any certainty. His assumption also that the meaning of prophecy universally is indeterminable till the import is revealed by the events foreshown, is as incompatible with a certain knowledge of God's purposes in respect to other subjects as it is on this. Among the great events revealed that are yet future, are the coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment of the dead, the change of the saints that are in life at his coming to immortal, the conversion of the nations, Christ's everlasting reign over the race, the endless life and blessedness of those whom he redeems. On Dr. Alexander's assumption, not one of these, in the sense in which they are generally believed, can be certainly known to be future. The language in which they are foretold, may, for aught that we can determine, denote something of a wholly different nature. We cannot repress our astonishment that Dr. Alexander did not see this. But entangled in the theory of double senses and typical predictions, in which he had been educated, and yet accustomed to apply it only to those parts of the Scriptures that contravene, in their grammatical sense, the views he entertained of the divine purposes, he failed to see that its principle, if legitimate, is equally applicable to others, and strikes the most essential elements of his faith from the Bible as effectually as it could the doctrine of Christ's coming. Though, however, he did not see this, others will, and will regard it as an unanswerable proof of the error of his assumption.

4. The attitude in which he has placed the question, will not, when understood, meet the acquiescence of antimillenarians, any more than of millenarians. Instead, the fact that he was led to such untenable assumptions to escape the announcement of Christ's personal coming, will be felt to be a proof that it cannot be legitimately avoided, and will lead to the adoption, in place of the rejection, of that great teaching of the prophecy. Good men, on seeing that the theory they have been accustomed to entertain, cannot be sustained, except on hypotheses that are not only groundless, but that subvert the most essential truths of the gospel, will renounce it. This change has indeed long been taking place. It is well known that large numbers bave become dissatisfied with the doctrines of antimillenarianism in which they were educated, from the unanswered and unanswerable difficulties with which the discussions of late years have shown them to be embarrassed.

5. As it becomes more and more apparent that the great question here debated respecting Christ's coming, turns on the laws of language, there is reason to believe that many who have hitherto neglected a test of those laws as they have been unfolded in the Journal, will be induced to scan them; and whenever they become aware of their nature and the grounds on which they rest, they will accept them, and under their guidance embrace the great doctrine of Christ's coming and reign as one of the most indubitable and most important in the divine word.


THE Rev. JOHN RICHARDS, D.D., pastor of the church at Dartmouth College, and for a number of years a contributor to the Journal, died 29th March, 1859, aged sixty-one. The following memorial, from a Discourse delivered soon after his decease, by the Rev. N. Lord, D.D., President of the College, will be acceptable to our readers :

Dr. Richards was born of worthy parents, at Farmington, Conn., May 14, 1797. His father was an officer of the Revolution, a good Christian, and an honest man.

He was a deacon of the church; held responsible offices in the General and State governments, and was a pattern of the civic and Christian virtues of the old school which has now nearly passed away. An intelligent friend characterized him as the best specimen of the old Puritan stock of New England that he had known. He commanded his children and his household after him to fear God.

At the age of seventeen, being then a clerk in the neighboring city of Hartford, and intended for mercantile pursuits, Mr. R. came under the ministry of the venerable Dr. Strong. He was greatly instructed and moved by the preaching of that distinguished man. His mind became profoundly engaged upon the great doctrines of the gospel, and after many spiritual conflicts his heart was bowed to Christ.

Then he returned to Farmington, resolved upon a different pursuit of life, and said, with his characteristic abrupt and unstudied air: “Father, I wish to study, and to preach the gospel.” It was said and done. He became, in due time, a student at Yale. During his Junior year, being then more quickened in his religious feelings, he made profession of his faith. He graduated with honor, in 1821; at the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass., in 1824 ; was then, for one year, an Agent of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; from 1827 to 1831, an honored pastor at Woodstock, Vt.; then, till 1837, an associate editor of the Vermont Chronicle; and in 1841 was installed as pastor of the church at Dartmouth College.

In all these relations Dr. Richards was true to his heavenly calling; always an active student, a comprehensive scholar,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »