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On Subjection to Christ.
ON Isa. xlv. 23, Mr. Winchester remarks, "Mind well, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR.-Swearing allegiance, "as every civilian will tell you, implies pardon, reception, "and protection on the part of the king, and a hearty re"nouncing of rebellion, true subjection, and willing obedience, on the part of the rebels."* Mr. W. has here taken for granted what ought to have been proved, namely, that to swear to Christ, intends swearing allegiance. The following verse is inconsistent with such an interpretation "Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I right66 eousness and strength: even to Him shall men come, "and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed." If to swear, in this passage, denotes swearing allegiance; and if swearing allegiance implies a hearty renouncing "of rebellion, &c. then the " all that are incensed against "Him" will swear hypocritically; for no man can willingly obey a sovereign, against whom he is incensed.
The apostle Paul alludes to this passage in Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 12. Philip. ii. 9, 10, 11. Instead of inferring from it an universal restoration, he quotes it, in the former passage, as proving an universal judgment: "We "shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For "it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall “bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So "then every one of us shall give account of himself "to God." Philip. ii. 9, 10, 11. must be interpreted as referring to the same event, to make the apostle a consistent writer; for if the words, Unto me every knee shall
* Dialogues, p. 21, 22.
bow, and every tongue shall swear, mean, Every one of us shall give account of himself to God, they cannot possibly refer to "willing obedience on the part of the rebels."
It is worthy of remark that, for the word swear, used by the prophet, the apostle substitutes the word confess. The confession will consist of two parts, 1. Every one will acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, or His right to judge:"Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is "Lord." No one will presume to dispute the authority of the court. 2. Every one shall give account of his conduct. "Every tongue shall confess to God. So then, every one of us shall give account to God." It has been usual, in courts of judicature to put the parties upon their oath to secure the truth of their testimony. The prophet alludes to this custom. He must not however be understood literally, but merely as speaking with a reference to the truth of the confessions which men will make before the tribunal of God. No imposition will be practised there! Thus the prophet and the apostle are reconciled, and the weak subterfuge of the Universalists is cut off.
But this confession, says Mr. Winchester, must "imply a willing subjection to the authority of the Saviour, brought about by the operation of the blessed Spirit, "because no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by "the Holy Ghost."* The devil confessed, "I know "Thee who Thou art.-The Holy One of God." Did this confession "imply a willing subjection to the "authority of the Saviour, brought about by the opera"tion of the blessed Spirit ?" Why then to be sure the devil is already restored!
"We ask," says Mr. Vidler, "Are not the effects of "judgment here represented by every knee bowing to "the authority of Christ, and every tongue confessing "his government, so that the Father shall be glorified?"
I answer in the negative, and demand proof, if any can be given, of the affirmative.
Mr. V. proceeds, "You seem to think that the result "of judgment will be only a forced submission to Christ, "and a forced confession of his name; if this be all, it "will rest with you to point out the glory which is to "arise to the Father from such constraint."* That is very easily done. It is universally allowed to be the glory of a sovereign to administer justice to his subjects with an impartial hand, so that not one refractory rebel can escape being brought to justice and punishment, nor one faithful subject lose his reward. To say that there is no glory in such a conduct because some of the subjects do not love their sovereign and his laws, is to make him accountable for their delinquencies, which is perfectly absurd.
"St. Paul assures us," says Mr. Winchester, "though all things without exception are put under him" (Christ) "in one sense, yet, in another he says, ' But now "we see not yet all things put under him.' But he "leaves us not in the dark about the matter; but speaks "of that effectual working, whereby he is able, even to "subdue all things unto himself,' Phil. iii. 21. And when "all things shall be subdued unto himself, then shall the "Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things "under him, that God may be ALL IN ALL, 1 Cor. xv. 28. "Here we plainly find a very necessary distinction "between things being put under him, and all things being "subdued unto him; the former is already done in the "fullest manner and the latter shall be as perfectly "and as fully accomplished in due time: because the "creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of "corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of "God. For we know, that the whole creation groaneth " and travaileth in pain together until now," Rom. viii. 22.t
* God's Love to his Creatures, p. 19. + Dialogues, p. 42.
I admit Mr. W.'s distinction, and believe that Jesus Christ will subdue all things unto himself; but how does the universal restoration follow? When a sovereign has subdued his rebellious subjects, are we to understand by it, that all of them are restored to favour, and that not one of them can be suffering in an exemplary manner? The connexion of 1 Cor. xv. 28. will show, that by All things shall be subdued unto Him, is not meant, All things shall be restored by Him; for in ver. 25 we read, "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet." This then is included in all things being subdued unto Him. But there would be as much propriety in supposing, that when a criminal, with a rope about his neck, is brought to the gallows, that he will certainly be restored to civil society, as to suppose, that when an enemy is under the feet of a conqueror, he must be restored to favour. The apostle here undoubtedly alludes to the custom of conquerors treading upon the necks of their enemies. The captains of Joshua put their feet upon the necks of the five kings whom they had subdued; but this was preparatory to their destruction, not to their restoration. See Jos. x. 24—26.
Mr. W. seems to lay much stress upon the words "That God may be all in all." It must be remembered, however,that it is said Christ now "filleth all in all," Ephes. i. 23. and again, it is written, "Christ is all, and in all," Colos. iii. 11. Both these texts are in the present tense. And if Christ be now all in all, and yet many are now in misery, then the sovereignty may be transferred into the hands of the Father, that He may be all in all, and yet many may still remain miserable.
Rom. viii. 21, 22. is cited to prove that all things shall be subdued to Christ; but it speaks of deliverance, not subjection. Some have thought that this passage relates to deliverance out of hell; but a little reflection will convince any unbiassed mind that the apostle refers to the irrational creation. For,
1. He says, "The creation was made subject to vanity, Now the rational creation was made subject to vanity, or trouble, willingly; for the sin of our first parents was certainly wilful. If it be objected that their posterity are subjected to trouble not willingly, I answer, that the apostle, by the word was, evidently refers to the period when vanity was first introduced into the creation; and it can be true of the irrational creation only that, at that time, it "was made subject to vanity, not willingly.”
2. The apostle observes, that "The whole creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," And what are they groaning and travailing for? To "be "delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God." This is true of the irrational creation. But no one pretends that the whole of men and devils had groaned and travailed until the apostle's time, to enjoy " the glorious liberty of the "children of God."
3. Rational creatures in this passage are distinguished from the creation. "For the earnest expectation of the "creature (Tns TIσews, creation) waiteth for the manifesta"tion of the sons of God. Because the creature (creation) "itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption "into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For
we know that the whole creation groaneth, and tra"vaileth in pain together until now and not only they, "but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the "Spirit," &c.
4. The time of this deliverance is unfavourable to the restoration out of hell. The creation is waiting for, and earnestly expecting the manifestation of the sons of God: when this event shall take place, therefore, their sufferings will terminate. Now the sons of God will be manifested in that day when I (Jehovah) make up my jewels. “Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and