« FöregåendeFortsätt »
sou! into Ilcil, is evident from the passage itself; for he speaks of his preaching, not personally, but by his Spirit; by I hat Spirit which, as the words immediately preceding express, quickened or raised him froyi the dead. This certainly nm not his human soul, but the Holy Spirit himself. The notion, respecting the descent of Chain's, human soul into Hell, im-. mediately after its separation from the body.by death, is evidently contradicted by our Lord's address to the dying thief: "To-day slialt thou he with tue in Paradise.'' Tl|ia declaration of Christ, so far <is it related to himself, had respect to hia soul in its separate stale; and it informs us, that Paradise, or Heaven (7/a</< s or the invisible world) was the place of its immediate reception and residence.
The sentiment to which I have adverted is not the only errof that has been deduced from this passage. Some taking it for granted, that the apostle speaks qf Christ's descent into Hell, in order to preach there to the spirits in prison, have hence inferred the probability of the final salvation of the damr.ed themselves. It appears, however, from what has been already said, that the passage does not contain the principle from whence they argue; consequently, their conclusion is groundless. It might be further urged, it the passage relates to the descent of Christ into Hell, that he might preach unto the damned, in order to their salvation,i-» why are the unbelievers in Noah's time only mentioned, and not those of other generations? .And why does the apostle say nothing of the success of Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison i Surely, he would have spoken in a very different manner, if he had meant to inform us of the probable deliverance of those who are imprisoned in Hell. To put this matter beyond all doubt, many passages of Scripture expressly teach, that the misery of those who die in a stale of unbelief and impenitence, is properly eternal; equal, ju point of duration, to the blessedness pf those who axe saved *.
This controverted passage will be better understood by considering, a little more particularly, the persons to whom Christ is here said to have preached, the time when, and the medium through which he preached unto them. Respecting the persons, we observe, they were " disobedieut in the days of jNoah;" and, at the period when Peter wrote this epistle, they veie disembodied tpiriU, confined for their disobedience i» the prison of Hell. The time- of. Christ's preaching unto them js not here expressly specified; but, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, it will not be difficult to point out this period. Fiom what has been already advanced, we may safely inter thai it was not in the time of their imprisonment. The Ai:a-» lngy of Faith directs us to conclude rather, that it was during
• * Pet. ii. 1—9. Jude v. 6, 7. Mat. xxv. 46.
their life of disobedience, " when once the long-sitfforing of God waited, in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing." This interpretation exactly accords with the evident , meaning of a parallel passage in this same epistle. It' we turn to chap. iv. ver. 6", we rind the following expression: "Tor this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." The persons here spoken of, were certainly dead at the time when the apostle made this remark; but can any one suppose, for a moment, that he meant to say that the gospel was preached unto them when they were dead? Does not the hature of the case direct us to conclude, without any hesitation, that the preaching unto the in was while they were living? if we compare the two passages together, *ve shall find, that the same mode of interpretation applies, with equal propriety, to each. Hut we have another particular to notice, viz. The medium through which Christ preached to these antediluvians. "This," says the apostle," was by his Spi«t;" that is, by the warnings, the ex* hortations, the reproofs of iiis Spirit, in the ministry of his inspired servant Noah. This accords with what the apostle had suggested in the first chapter of this epistle, ver. 10, H, 11, where he informs us, that the prophets, and, doubtless, Noah among others, conceived and spake as the Spirit of Ciirist, which was in them, did signify; and it also serves to explain the declaration of Jehovah, respecting those very persons to whom the passage before us refers: "The Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with mnn*."
The above is no novel interpretation of the passage in question; it corresponds with the commentary of the venerabia Bede. Paraphrasing on the words, as Fulke, in his notes on the Rhemish Testament, observes, he expresses himself thus: "He, who in our time, coming in the flesh, preached the way of life to the world, even he himself came before the flood, jind preached to them who were then unbelievers, and lived carnally; for even he, by his Holy Spirit, was in Noah, and in the rest of the holy men, who were at that time; and, by their good conversation, preached to the wicked men of that age, that they might be converted to better manners."
The passage thus interpreted, suggests some very interesting remarks. Hence we observe, First, That it is Christ himself who preaches by the ministry of his servants unto men. Thus he preached by his Spirit in Noah, in the prophets, and in the apostles. Thus also he preaches by his ministring s»rvants in the present day. They are not indeed inunediatci/ inspired by Christ, so as to be rendered infallible, as the prophets and apostles were; but the office of a gospel-ministry
• Gca. y i. j,
ordained by him: he qualities and sends forth persons to engage in this office; he has given them his word as the rule of their ministry; and so far as their addresses accord with this rule, it may be truly said, that Christ himself preaches by them. They who disregard the instructions, the warnings, the exhortations, thus given unto them in the name of Christ, are chargeable with the rejection of Christ himself, and must account unto him for their conduct.
Another idea which this passage suggests is, that multitudes of those to whom Christ preaches by his ministring servants, are disobedient to his word. This is the character There given of the persons to whom he preached by Noah. Moses often complained of it in the Israelites, and so did the prophets in general. "All the day long," said Isaiah," have I stretched out my hands to a gainsaying and disobedient people." We have sad evidences of the fact, eVen under the personal ministry of Christ himself, and that of his apostles. It is glaringly manifest in the present day. The word here rendered disobedient, properly signifies unpersuadable; and is not this descriptive of the generality of persons around us, to whom the gospel is sent? Neither warnings, exhortations, nor encouragements, can persuade them to flee from the wrath to come. Ignorance, insensibility, self-righteous pride, delusive hopes, depraved affections, Satanic influence, so fatally stupify their njinds, that they arc equally unaffected by the threatenings of God's vengeance and the proclamations of his mercy.
From this passage we remark further, that God bears for a season with those who are disobedient to the word which Christ preaches by his ministring servants. Thus he did with these antediluvians. His patience bore with them during the long space of 120 years, " while the ark was preparing.*' Thus has he borne with similar characters in every age. What instances have we of this among ourselves! How long has he borne with us! He acts thus, in order to magnify his longsuffering,— that he may have mercy on his chosen at the appointed period, — that the ungodly may fill up the measure of their iniquity, — and that the finally impenitent may be rendered the more inexcusable.
Lastly, We learn from this passage, that they who continue disobedient to the preaching of Christ by his ministring servants, shall, at death, have their spirits consigned and cast into the prison of Hell. This was the miserable fate of those who were disobedient in the time of Noah. Though God bears with these characters for a season, yet he does not overlook their conduct. He marks all their ways: his patience has its limits* With respect to some, it is of comparatively short duration. They who are yet disobedient, are in a most perilous condition. The period of God's long-suffering toward them
isvery uncertain: it may terminate the very next moment ! If they should be cut off in their disobedience, by the stroke of Death, theirdeparting spirits would be dragged as criminals, by the authority of God, into the prison of Hell:- there they would be confined in chains of darkness, in a state of misery, and reserved unto the judgment of the great day! Let every Teader examine himself, and beware lest he become a compagion of them who were disobedient in the days of Noah!
A LETTER FROM MR. SAMPSON OCCOM,
AN INDIAN PREACHER THEN IN ENGLAND
AT WAR ENAM.
London, Murch 6, 1767 I AM sorry to tell you, that I can't gratify you to your sa' tisfaction, in giving you a complete history of my life, or experiences. Indeed, the whole narrative would make a volume, and to give a part of it, whilst I am alive, is against my mind. However, to you, as a dear friend, I will give some general hints in a few words. I was born a Heathen, and brought up a Heathen, in a place called Mohegan, in Connecticut, in New England, till I was between sixteen and seventeen years of age; and then there was a great revival of religion among the white people about us, who began to take notice of us with pity and compassion; and zealous ministers came among us, and preached to us the word of God. The common people came also frequently, and exhorted us to attend the things of God; and it pleased the Lord to bless their endeavours in the awakening of a number of our poor Indians; and many are hopefully converted to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Amongst others, I was one that was brought to a serious consideration, and was under trouble of mind about half a year: but it pleased the Lord, as I hope, to reveal to me the way of salvation ihrough Jesus Christ, at the very time when I thought it was a lost ease with me for ever. Yea, I thought I was actually going down to everlasting destruction, and had, as it were, given over striving. I saw it was just and right that God should cast off sinners for ever, and punish them everlastingly for their sins. At this very moment I thought I actually heard such words as these, “ Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die:" This was before I could read; and as these words came go me, I was supported by them; and the burden wbich lay so heavy upon my soul, and the distress of my mind, were at
,tliat moment removed: but I had not a particular satisfaction , or assurance of pardon, or of'an interest in Christ. I was in a strange frame for about a fortnight: . I had neither joy nor sorrow of any kind; I had no sense of the joys of Heaven nor Earth, nor the sorrows of Death or Hell. Some time after, I •.was at a Meeting where the work of the Lord was going on in a powerful manner. While I was at this Meeting, it seemed, eie I was aware; J thought the Heavens and the Earth were coming together in unity, and my soul was as the chariots of .Aiuinadab. I thought 1 had some discovery of the Divine Being, some view of the infinite love of God in sending his clearjy beloved Son into the World to s;;ve sinners; and.that I discoverer! tlie?firlncs$ and suitableness of Christ to redeem poor sinners.' $t this time I was ready to call upon alj creatures to praise God. Yea, 1 "thought every thing was praising God, except sinners. Erom' this time I had a great concern for my poor brethren^ the Indians. I-continued in a comfortable frame of soul for near three years. It was then easy to serve <iod, it was -rr.eat and drink to my soul; •— my mind was entirely taken bpwith the things of God: but, alas! after this it .was otherwise with my soul. I have been in strange and various exercises'ot mind, which are not to be mentioned at this time, indeed, it would make a long epistle to write them all. Thus I have given you a few hint* of my experiences. I am wcrting, sand shall, write as long as I live, a full account of my life, which the world shall be welcome to see when I am dead and gone, and not before. This is the largest account I ever gave, in writing, to any one in the world. I have indeed given large relations many a time to friends in conversation; and am ready to do it at any t'une-among friends.
■I hope, dear Sir, you won't be displeased that I have nqt wrote you a longer narrative. Sir, I return you thousands of thanks for your good assistance to our good cause. The Lord reward both you and your people, with both temporal and spiritual rewards. Through the goodness of God we enjoy our health; and hope these may find you and yours in a gootl state of health also. By the leave of Provjdence, we shall quit London next Monday, and direct our course towards Scotland, intending to be there by the first of May, and to do our business w ith the Assembly, and finish it at once. Perhaps we shall go over to Ireland before we come to London again; and in the whole, it will take some considerable time before we can return to London. My sincere respects to you. and jours; and Christian salutation to all enquiring friends.
1 am, Rev. Sir,
m your most obliged humble Servant,