« הקודםהמשך »
amanuensis, had excited their alarm ; for it led them to imagine
that the advent of Christ to destroy the man of sin, or little 'horn, so graphically described by Daniel, was close at hand. * To prevent any such impositions in future, therefore, while he assures them that that advent was still remotely distant, and that the man of sin was not as yet even revealed, he tells them, at the close of his Second and genuine Epistle, that the token .by which they might always distinguish his own proper letters ' was his appended salutation, written with his own hand, and ‘not in the chirography of the amanuensis whom he might happen to employ. Hence I contend we have no sufficient evidence that St. Paul, in his Second Epistle, refers to the literal 'second advent of Christ, which he had announced in his First • Epistle ; and, consequently, I contend that the vital fact of identicality remains, as Mr. Mede left it, altogether unsub
stantiated' - Sacred Calendar of Prophecy, vol. iii. pp. 434-437.
Thus far Mr. Faber: and on this his examination of his selffurnished evidence for the Millennarian creed, I beg to submit the following observations. First, I feel compelled to dissent from the learned author in his preliminary proposition; that it was subsequent to their reception of St. Paul's First Epistle that the Thessalonians were led to imagine that the day of Christ was at hand. On the contrary, it appears to me indubitable, from the Epistle itself, that not subsequent only, but also prior to its reception, the Thessalonians had entertained this expectation. Although there be “nothing in that Epistle which could have induced them to take up such a notion,” there is yet something which implies that, at least in some degree, they had already taken it up. From the Apostle's exhortation in the iv th chapter, it does not appear that the Thessalonians were ignorant of the doctrine of the resurrection; but assuming their belief in this important fact, he does, by unfolding the order and relation of that event, endeavour to remove from their minds that undue and unbefitting sorrow which error and misconception had engendered.
The Apostle's language is so precise, that while it declares the truth, it reveals the error which it is intended to counteract: which error we thence perceive to have consisted in the expectation that a certain privileged pre-eminence, or priority, would be the exclusive portion of the faithful who should be living in the day of Christ's glorious appearing : and, believing this, they sorrowed with undue and misplaced regret over those whom death had deprived of this their erroneously expected boon. There is no ground for supposing that they needed to be informed of the ultimate triumph of all believers over death and the grave ; but probably they were ignorant " that them also
VOL. II.-NO. III.
who sleep in Jesus God will bring with him.” And therefore St. Paul, in the passage before us, does as it were tell them : Herein you are altogether wrong, whereas you expect precedence to appertain to the living who shall be Christ's at his coming : " this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go before) them which are asleep; for the dead in Christ shall rise first ; then we which are alive shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air, so ever to be with the Lord.” Now if the Thessalonians did, on the fore-mentioned account, lament for their departed saints, it necessarily must be inferred that as to themselves they expected to live till the day of Christ; or, rather, must have expected that the day of Christ was near at hand. This must, at least, have been within the limits of their expectation : for why would they have sorrowed that previous to that event their brethren had fallen asleep, unless they until that period expected to survive? And when we consider the constant and reiterated exhortations of the Apostles to “wait for the Son from heaven,” to look for the appearing of the Saviour, and to haste unto the coming of the day of God; and all this in a manner that favoured far less the idea of remoteness than of proximity; the probability is greatly increased that the Thessalonians, as well as other Apostolic churches, were looking earnestly for the coming of the Lord. Now, if the foregoing inferences be fairly, and to me they appear inevitably, deduced, it thence follows, “ of plain necessity,” that previously to their reception of St. Paul's First Epistle the Thessalonians must have imagined the coming of Christ, which he therein announces, to have been at hand ; and which is confessedly his literal second advent to judge the quick and the dead.
But though we assume, with Mr. Faber, that it was not till subsequent to their reception of St. Paul's First Epistle; whence is it ascertained that it was by a forged letter that the Thessalonians were induced to entertain this expectation ?_The Apostle's forewarning in the 2d chapter of his Second Epistle appears not specially applicable to a letter, but is given in general terms : “i Now we beseech you, brethren, &c. neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter." But, admitting that a forged letter had been sent, can it be plausibly concluded that it conveyed the precise information which Mr. Faber supposes it to have contained ? For, had the forged letter conveyed the information supposed by Mr. Faber, that which is furnished by St. Paul in his Second Epistle would in a great part have been anticipated.
The Apostle, in his Second Epistle, tells the Thessalonians that the advent which they were expecting should not come until there had first been a falling away, and the man of sin had been revealed ; and further, that the destruction of this apostasy
should by the advent be effected : “ Him the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming.” We are therefore necessitated to conclude, that at this time the Thessalonians were either unaware, or unmindful, that Antichrist's revelation was to precede the advent of Christ; as also that the day of Christ was the predestined period of his overthrow.
Hence I infer, that as the Thessalonians were, until the reception of St. Paul's Second Epistle, uninformed or oblivious that Christ's coming was to be postponed until Antichrist had been revealed ; the coming by them expected as near at hand could have been none other than his literal second advent to judge the quick and the dead.
Hitherto I have maintained this discussion chiefly with reference to Mr. Faber's conjectures as to the nature of the advent expected as near at hand by the Thessalonians; but assuming, what is self-evident, that the advent referred to by St. Paul is identical with that expected by the Thessalonians, the subject is equally susceptible of elucidation, by inquiring what is the advent which St. Paul in his Second Epistle is writing about? Let us consider his own words : “ Now we beseech you, brethren, &c. by (or, as the original is more correctly rendered by Macknight, concerning) the coming of our Lord, and by our gathering together unto him.” Manifestly, St. Paul is here about to write concerning that coming of our Lord whereat his saints are to be gathered together around him: and what is this but his literal second advent to judge the quick and the dead ?
The Apostle proceeds : “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or troubled, as that the day of Christ is at hand." Mr. Faber himself admits that it was “the day of Christ," whatever precise day may be meant by the expression, which the Thessalonians expected was at hand. Now the precise day intended by this expression appears, from the uniform testimony of Scripture, to be the day of Christ's glorious appearing. By this expression that event is clearly pointed at in 1 Cor. i. 8, Phil. i. 6, as also in numerous other passages; and in the 5th chapter of his First Epistle St. Paul makes undoubted reference to the literal advent, which he had announced in the previous chapter, by the parallel expression “day of the Lord : " and in the chapter immediately preceding that wherein the text now under consideration occurs, be had thus spoken of the period of our Lord's personal re-appearance : “ In that day, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.” Whence is it not plainly to be inferred, that it is the same event which immediately after he anounces by the analogous phraseology" day of Christ ?”
Another argument, which may be fairly employed in this dis
cussion, is derived from the language whereby the Apostle declares that this coming shall destroy the man of sin, “ Him the the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming :” τη επιφανεια της παρουσιας. Both which words, as Mr. Cuninghame has in “Summary Argument,” &c. fully shewn, when separately appropriated to ex. press a future coming of Christ, do invariably intend this literal second advent: and therefore, to use Mr. Co's words, “If neither of them, when used singly, can denote a spiritual advent, much less can they when conjoined ; and if each of them, when employed separately, indubitably means a corporeal and personal manifestation and presence, much more must they when united.”
In concluding these, I fear too extended, remarks, I shall now endeavour to re-assemble the various propositions by which I have sought to substantiate the indenticality which Mr. Faber professes himself unable to discover; every one of which appears to me convincing, but taken together irrefragable.
First, I have endeavoured to prove, in opposition to Mr. Faber, that previously to their reception of St. Paul's First Epistle the Thessalonians believed in the nearness of the advent which the Apostle therein announces; and thence have inferred, in the absence of all contrary evidence, that it was the same advent which we are informed by the Second Epistle they subsequently imagined to be at hand.
Secondly, I have endeavoured to shew the improbability that the Thessalonians had received a forged letter, of such contents as Mr. Faber supposes, since it is apparent that when St. Paul wrote his Second Epistle they were not aware that the coming of Christ which they expected was to be preceded by Antichrist's revelation : whence I have inferred, that this their expectation of Christ's coming having been thus dissociated from the notion that it would be reserved for Antichrist's overthrow, must have had for its object our Lord's personal return, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.
Finally, I have endeavoured to shew that the terms in which St. Paul speaks of the coming expected by the Thessalonians, are precisely those which, when appropriated to predict a manifestation of Christ, do universally signify his literal second advent to judge the quick and the dead. Thus negatively and positively have I endeavoured to shew the invalidity of Mr. Faber's positions, and the strength of those of his opponents. If Mr. Faber still say there is no demonstration, I would humbly beg to suggest to him, that mathematical demonstration may not be that which the subject is capable of: a degree of probability is all we should expect; and the degree attained in the present case carries to my mind the fulness of moral certainty.
It is needless to notice the obvious conclusiveness which the admission of the foregoing arguments at once furnishes to the Millennium scheme. Mr. Faber admits the validity of the conclusion so soon as the vital fact of identicality shall have been demonstrated. This demonstration having now attempted, I shall leave others to determine how far I have succeeded. I remain, sir, your most obedient servant,
J. B. S.
ON THE NUMBERS IN DANIEL.
To the Editor of the Morning Watch. Sir,—The pleasing style in which Mr. Maitland has written his pamphlet has seduced some of his readers into a consent with his statements, which ought not to be given. Although your remarks on the doubts which he has thrown out respecting the prophetic numbers are conclusive, yet upon so important a point every corroboration is valuable; and I therefore send you à few observations, upon evidence drawn from very different
Future events were revealed to Daniel in two visions ; one vision of an image composed of four different metals, and the other a vision of four different beasts. Each metal and beast is subsequently revealed to represent, not an individual, but a dynasty. The history of the last of these dynasties is expanded, under the emblems of ten horns ; representing, again, not ten individuals, but ten kingdoms or systems, which were to prevail under the dynasty represented by the fourth metal and fourth beast. A place and a time are annexed to these visions : of the first I will say nothing, because it is not the subject in hand; of the second, we should be led to suppose, a priori, and without any reference to interpretation, that the time must bear some analogy to the duration, not of individuals, but of dynasties, or systems. The time is expressed in unusual language ; such as "evenings mornings, forty-two months," "twelve hundred and sixty days,” “ three years and a half.” The question is, do all these terms signify 1260 revolutions of the earth on its own axis before the sun, or 1260 revolutions of the earth round the sun ? Now, three years and a half bear, indeed, some analogy to the life of an individual, but none whatever to the duration of a dynasty; but when extended to the larger revolution of years-of annual, instead of diurnal-they do bear an analogy to the life of a dynasty; the whole vision, with its time, is congruous; and whatever difficulties and niceties of solution there may be, there is none of so formidable and heterogeneous a nature as this would be.