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they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.' And xi, 20: 'Well; because of unbelief they were broken off,' &c.
3. Those on whom this stone fell, were those kings, and their monarchical powers, represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. See Daniel ii, 31 : 'Thou O king, sawest, and behold, a great image: this great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible.' And verses 34, 35: Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.'
The way in which tradition applies the foregoing parable to prove the doctrine of endless punishment, is by supposing, that by those who fall on this stone and are broken, is meant those who give up all dependence for salvation, in works of their own, and depend wholly on Christ; and that, by those on whom this stone shall fall and grind them to powder, is meant, those on whom the vindictive wrath of Christ will finally fall and endlessly remain.
This use and application of the parable is subject, among many others, to the following objections: First, If it had been the intention of the divine teacher to
give evidence of so momentous a doctrine as that of endless punishment, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have been more explicit, and that for the follow ing reasons:
1. It is not reasonable to suppose that he would wish to establish a belief in anything, which would not work some benefit to the believer.
2. If he saw that a benefit would arise to the believer of that sentiment, from a belief in it, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have expressed the sentiment in plain, unequivocal terms; as our preachers now do, without Christ's example.
The second general objection against the traditional use of the parable may be stated thus: If Christ had been in possession of a positive knowledge that he hould finally act in an official capacity in making any portion of the human race endlessly miserable, it is most reasonable to suppose that he would have kept tha to himself, for the following reasons:
1. Because he professed himself to be differently disposed from any such will or disposition. He declared that the Father did not send him into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He likewise urged the necessity and propriety of loving our enemies, and praying for them; and he manifested this spirit even until the last, when he prayed his Father to forgive his persecutors and
2. It is not reasonable that the manifestation of such a fact could be of any service to any person living on the earth. For if this divine teacher knew that he should administer never ending punishment to any of the human family, for them to know it, in this world, could surely be no advantage to them. If it be
urged in reply, that it was necessary to have this fact known, so that men might use means to avoid it, let it be noticed, that if it can be avoided, it is by no means a fact.
The third objection to the commonly received opinion, use and application of this parable, is, that in such a use of the passage, the language of the text is not analogous with other scriptures where similar language is used. This stone is spoken of in Psalm cxviii, 22, 23: The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.' viii, 14, 15: And he shall be for
This is the Lord's
Again, in Isaiah a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.' Christ says in the parable, 'whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken.' Isaiah says in the quotation above, many of them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken.' No reasonable doubt can be entertained that Christ had his eye to this scripture in Isaiah, when he spoke our parable. Nor will it be contended that the meaning of the passage in Isaiah is, that those who stumble and fall, who are snared and taken, are, in that situation, true converts to Christ. St. Paul's application of this scripture of the prophet, in Rom. ix, 31, 32, 33, makes our subject plain to the understanding. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written, Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone
and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.' In Rom. xi, 19, 20, the apostle designates his meaning more particularly. 'Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.' Corresponding with the quotation from Daniel, used in the above notes, to apply the words of the parable which say, But on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder,' are the following passages: Psalm ii, 8— 12. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now, therefore, O ye Kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord
with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.' Psalm cxlix, 5-9: 'Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand: to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishment upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written this honor have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.' Rev. ii, 26, 27: And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father.' It seems hardly necessary now to proceed to prove that Christ will not dispossess himself
of his possession, and that he will not make his own inheritance, which his Father gave him, eternally miserable. The words of the blessed Saviour on this subject will, however, be considered as not only important, but acceptable and edifying. See St. John vi, 37, 38, 39: 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.'
The saints noticed in Psalm cxlix, were armed with a two-edged sword, and had the honor of executing on the heathen the judgments written, of binding their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron. St. Paul in Eph. vi, 17, speaks of this sword as being the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. The conquest obtained by the saints over the nations and kings of the earth, is noticed in Psalm lxxii, 11; All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.' And this corresponds with a vast multitude of passages of Scripture, particularly with Psalm lxxxvi, 9, 10: All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.'