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mystery ? and how mysterious is the doctrine which says that good works done after justification do not put away sin ; and that good works done before justification are of the nature of sin. (Articles of Religion, 12, 13.)
Such is certainly the condition of the doctrines of popular Christianity; and within its pale all sorts of struggles are going on,--some to maintain one doctrine, some to repudiate another; some for the establishment of elaborate ceremonies, some for the adoption of stern simplicity; some for the institution of ecclesiastical dominion, some for the semi-restoration of the papacy; some for the security of high church principles, and some to make safe those which are low; so that, notwithstanding the purple and fine linen observable without, all is confusion within ; and the reason is because Ephraim has been lost to Israel,--the intellectual principle has receded from the church, and passed into obscurity. It is utterly impossible that such results could have arisen if that principle had been retained. How plain is it, then, that the loss of that tribe was a type of the departure of this principle! There is a striking analogy between the two events. Ephraim was lost to Israel in consequence of the religious misconduct of its government, and the intellectual principle has been lost to Christianity in consequence of the ecclesiastical perversions of its rulers.
But it is predicted that a restoration should be accomplished, -that Ephraim should return, and that the watchman upon the mount should
ye, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God." This, as it has been said, does not mean that the scattered races of Abraham's descendants will be gathered togetber, and be re-introduced into the land of Canaan. That idea is of the earth, earthy, and not of the Lord from heaven. It is admitted that whatever be its meaning, it must include some blessing; and this is to be experienced not in the external things of the world, but in the internal states of the church. We must look to states of the church for the realisation of the Divine prediction. The promise to restore the lost tribes of Israel will be fulfilled in its genuine sense, when all the lost truths of the Christian church are recovered. Ephraim will have gone up to Zion when the intellectual principle shall be restored to its activity. These are among the blessings referred to by those predictions. They teach us to hope for the development of some superior condition of the church with men, and thus to look forward to a period when “ her light will be like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone clear as crystal.”
Although we speak of those things as blessings to be enjoyed at some future day, yet we feel assured that they are even now, to some extent, in the process of being experienced ; and that a Christian Church is
THE INTELLECTUAL PRINCIPLE OF THE CHURCH.
now in the world—the church prefigured by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation-in which many of the lost truths of the Word are being restored to mankind, and in which they are allowed to enter intellectually into the things of faith. Every one acknowledges that the times in which we live are bright and brilliant with light and information which men have not enjoyed before. It is by the influences of this light that the professing church is made to feel the obscurity of her teachings ;as this light advances towards the meridian of its purpose, those mysteries in the church to which we have adverted will disappear. When the sun rises, the fogs and mists disappear; when Egypt was in darkness, there was light in Goshen ; and now, while the professing church is labouring in obscurity, the New Jerusalem is experiencing something of the sunshine.
Still it is encouraging to observe that some of the obscurity of which we have spoken is even now in the process of being removed from popular teachings, by the activity of a thousand providences. The evil must be felt before it can be remedied. The fermentations which are going on shew that some discomforts are being experienced; and these experiences will lead to efforts for their removal. Errors are loosing somewhat of that strong hold which they once had upon the popular mind, and truths are fastening upon it with greater firmness; they address themselves to reason, and intellect accepts them ;—thus the lost tribes are felt to be returning ; Ephraim is in the process of being restored.
Every one knows that there is a higher degree of spiritual thought developed in society than that which prevailed in it a century ago; and who has not observed that a great variety of new and valuable discoveries have been presented to its attention ? The church cannot escape the influences of these facts, nor can it elude the force of their teaching ; hence it is that new truths are not unfrequently announced through the public ministration of her pulpits,-truths which once could not have been seen, and which, if talked about, would have been rejected. New views of religious doctrine, new developments of Scripture teaching, and many of them in beautiful conformity with genuine truth, are seen to be springing up in numerous departments of our common literature. And all this mental activity, this freshness of thought, those new perceptions and ideas, are inducing some evident changes in the public mind concerning the ideal character of Christianity. The introduction of freer and superior thought into the professing church, though it may not be of the highest kind, or refer to the profoundest subjects, is, nevertheless, a plain evidence to us that some of the lost tribes are returning to Canaan.
And who does not recognise that Ephraim is among them ? How plain is it that an intellectual principle is being developed in the church in this our day, which not long ago was utterly unknown to its members! This principle is exercising a discriminating and an elective power which then would have been viewed with alarm, and spoken of as " the church in danger.” All who are acquainted with the best—the thoughtful classes of our religious literature, know that great advancement has been made in Biblical criticism, and that great changes have been adopted in Biblical interpretation. For instance, the views once held concerning the early chapters of Genesis are now entirely abandoned by the learned, and although no new interpretations have been authoritatively declared, yet some progress is being made towards the discovery of the truth. Many other points, which for ages have stood immovable in the niches of inflexible orthodoxy, have become the subjects of earnest inquiry and debate, and not a few of them are passing away before the intellect that is advancing. Professors at Oxford and Cambridge, and at other seminaries for theological study, do not hesitate to give free expression to doubts and sentiments for which, a few generations ago, they would have been rewardad with the stake ; and yet they are now regarded as open questions-questions placed in the category of learned inquiry, and received as the result of the intellect wbich is asking for information and urging inquiry. Authority may say to it—"Thus far sbalt thou go, and no farther,” but it cannot enforce its dictum. Intellect is bursting the bonds which a mistaken theology has forged for its confinement, and it is making an effort to spring into liberty, and light, and life! And so the men of Ephraim are returning-some of the lost have been found !
We do not attach any higher value to these facts than they deserve. But surely they may be regarded as evidences that a new condition of intellect is being developed even in the professing church, notwithstanding it is hindered in its progress and perplexed in its activity by the dogmatic teachings which are retained. The true church, however, being a Divine institution of spiritual light, must have within it an intellectual principle, in order to accept and appreciate its teachings ; and such we venture to say is the constitution and privilege of the New Jerusalem. In this dispensation all that is believed by its genuine members is seen to be a mental reality. That with which the mind has here to do is perceptible, comprehensive truths from the Word of God, and these enlarge, develope, and enlighten it. It is free in its inquiries, free in its utterances, free in its embracings: it is truth that makes it 80,—truth which has God for its author, and heaven for its end; and
heaven, we may be assured, is a kingdom of freemen, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." The cry of the watchmen on Mount Ephraim is—“Arise ye
go up to Zion to the Lord our God.” As the watchmen on this mount represent those of the church who have an enlightened understanding of the truth, so to “arise” denotes the elevation of the will into the activity of goodness; this is the common signification of the term in the Word ; and to "go up to Zion to the Lord our God,” denotes progression towards that eminent love of which Zion is the type, and by which we may be so conjoined to our Heavenly Father that we may abide in Him, and His Word abide in us; in which case it is promised—“Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John xv. 7.)
But one of the means to this result is, that we must know Him : we cannot love what we do not know. In the Word great stress is laid upon the advantages of this knowledge. It is written—"Behold, the days come” in which " they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” (Jer. xxxi. 31–34.) Those who think that God cannot become an object of human apprehension, can have but little faith in the fulfilment of this prediction ; and, therefore, upon this point they can be no wiser with a revelation than they would have been without it. But that is a mistake; the promise is intended to be realised, and we believe that the days have come in which the Lord is shewing us plainly of the Father. He whom the text points to as the “Lord our God” is one Lord. (Mark xii. 29.) He is called Lord in reference to His love, and God in reference to His wisdom; but these attributes can only be thought of in connection with the idea of a Divine Person, and, therefore, a revelation has been made to teach us who that Person is, and how we ought to think of Him. The Old Testament frequently points to a fuller revelation upon this subject than that wbich itself contains, and in the New Testament this is brought out with certainty and clearness. Therein we are expressly told that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh; that whoso saw Him saw the Father also ; that He and the Father are one; that in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; that He is the true God and eternal life ; that He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last; who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. God is in Christ: the Divinity must be thought of as being in the Humanity of Jesus ; it is this Humanity which has brought Him forth to view. This is the final—this is the fully revealed idea of the Lord our God, it is an idea
of the Infinite presented to the finite; and who does not see that no other idea can be formed of Him but that Human idea revealed to us in the fact that He became flesh and dwelt among us? This idea of the Supreme is adapted to maintain its truth and loveliness in all the vicissitudes of human thought, and being founded upon His Word, it cannot perish, therefore the church in which it is acknowledged must endure for ever.
He is the Father as to His essential Divinity, He is the Son as to His Divine Humanity, and He is the Holy Spirit as to those Divine influences by which He instructs and saves His people.
The Lord Jesus Christ, then, in His glorified Humanity, is the Lord our God, to whom the watchman upon the Mount Ephraim would direct us; He about whom the intellectual principle of the church will be full of interest, light, and love. The more deeply we inquire into this grand truth, the more thoroughly shall we have our faith enlarged respecting it. The knowledge of it began to be disclosed to the church when the intellectual principle of it began to be recovered ; they were coeval acts in the Divine Providence. The doctrine was revealed when the Divine Judgment restored the capacities for perceiving it; and with this the descent of the New Jerusalem began. The knowledge of the Lord as the true light which enlighteneth every man who cometh into the world, is the highest, most valuable and interesting knowledge which can engage the attention of humanity on earth ; and therefore the restoration of the intellectual principle to the church was a necessity for its reception, and indispensable for its appreciation.
The two general facts to which all these considerations tend, are that a new church has been commenced, with new knowledges concerning God, and with the restoration of an intellectual principle for its comprehension and acceptance. This knowledge and this principle constitute a centre of light and a source of power by which all the other teachings of this church will be influenced and exalted. The extent of this knowledge is by no means so great as it is capable of becoming, nor is the quality of this principle so pure and penetrating as that which will be experienced by society in its higher states of regeneration. They are progressing things, because the humanity to which they are addressed is of a progressive nature, and also because all things of the church are meant by its Divine Founder to aid this progress, and to lead mankind onwards to the security of those spiritual triumphs, and to the enjoyment of those eternal blessings of light, liberty, and love, with which genuine Christianity is intended to inspire its wise and devoted recipients.AMEN.