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"spirits in prison" irere those indi. cident in time and place? Is it viduals who lived in the days of not forced and unnatural to suppose Noah and remained impenitent; that bim speaking of their disobedience the preaching of Christ to them as occurring at one period in the was the ministry exercised in the present world, and their privileges, person of righteous Noah. Such ages after, in the spiritual world, in being our views, we shall briefly show a fancied region called purgatory? that they harmonize both with the To us the supposition seems simply passage itself and the usus loquendi, ridiculous. In Holy Scripture, men's or the phraseology of the sacred privileges and their character are writers.
always represented as coincident and That the persons referred to as contemporaneous; and indeed their being in prison were the antediluvian character receives its complexion sinners who perished in the Deluge from their privileges. If privileges appears clear from the apostle's be improved their character is imdirect statement that they “ were proved; but, if abused and neg. disobedient when once the long-suf. lected, their guilt and disobedience fering of God waited in the days of are enhanced. It would be thus Noah, while the ark was a pre- with the antediluvians. If they had paring." Indeed, respecting this privileges, their character as “ disthere is no controversy.
obedient” people would be aggraThat Cbrist preached to these in vated thereby. Now as they are dividuals is expressly asserted, and emphatically characterized as “ disis, therefore, no matter of contro- obedient,” their neglect and abuse versy ; but there are two questions of privileges must have constirespecting the preaching of Christ tuted that disobedience. Disobewhich are material points in the dience implies neglect, resistance controversy ; namely, When did he and obstinacy. In reference to preach to them ? and, How did he them the question arises, To what preach to them?
privileges were they disobedient ? As to the period when Christ What calls did they disregard ? preached to them, this, we think, is What monitions did they neglect ? decided by the preceding argument. What threatenings did they deThat he did not preach to them in spise? What offered mercy did they purgatory has been proved; for it reject? We presume they were those has been shown that they never were involved in the faithful and earnest in any purgatory. That they were preaching addressed to them. If preached to either in hell or heaven they were “disobedient” they must is not contended for even by our necessarily have disobeyed someopponents. If, then, they were thing. What could they disobey preached to by Christ, and yet that except the commands, calls, and inpreaching did not occur either in vitations of Almighty God? And heaven or hell, or in any supposed how could these calls, invitations, purgatorial state, it follows that it &c., be addressed to them except by did not occur at all in the spiritual vocal proclamation, and by public world, and must necessarily have announcements of a divine message transpired in the present world and uttered by the living voice-the during their existence in the time of mode by which God in all ages has Noah. This is in strict accordance called men to repentance and obewith the text; for it asserts that dience. To us it appears clear that the individuals in question were the term “disobedient," by which the disobedient “in the days of Noah, apostle has chosen to characterize while the long-suffering of God those sinners, is one which suggests waited for their repentance." Since the fact of their resistance of those the apostle mentions, in the same calls which were solemnly addressed breath, both their being preached to them at the time for their repento and their disobedience, does he tance and salvation. This view is not mean that both the privilege supported by the reference the and their neglect of it were coin. apostle makes, in the same passage,
to God's longsuffering and waiting in the days of Noah. If he waited their repentance he must have called them to repentance; if he exercised longsuffering, it implies that he long bore with their resistance to the dirine message; and this aspect of the divine conduct towards them involves the employment of preach ing and of every suitable means for their repentance and salvation. Hence we argue from the text itself, that the preaching of Christ and the disobedience of the people were co incident and contemporaneous facts; both took place “ in the days of Noah, while the ark was a pre. paring."
We are aware that here the ques. tion will be pressed, How could Christ preach to them, seeing he was not then incarnate? We reply, he preached to them as the text itself represents, “by the Spirit," and, as other Scriptures tell us, through the instrumentality of Noah. Let us look at the passage and its connexion with the preceding verse, and we shall see, at least in one sense, how Christ preached to the antediluvians. The apostle, speaking of Christ's death, says, • He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” That is to say, it was the human nature which died, but it was the divine Spirit which raised him again. Then the apostle immediately adds " By which also, "* that is, by which divine Spirit," he preached," &c. So, then, the apostle does not tell us that Christ went in his human na. ture, or in person, and preached unto the individuals in question, but that he did this by the Spirit. Thus the passage explains itself. It informs us that by the agency of the same Spirit which raised his human nature from the tomb he preached to the antediluvian world in the days of Noah.
The view, thus naturally deduced from the passage itself, is else. where taught in Scripture narrative.
For sacred history informs us that God's Spirit did powerfully operato upon the antediluvian race, and its operations are expressed by the peculiar phrase "striving with man." “And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not always STRIVE with man.” (Gen. vi. 3.) Surely this language indi. cates some special and extraordinary operations of the divine Spirit upon the hearts of ungodly men; and ag. gravated must have been the disobe. dience of those who could continue to resist its gracious and powerful visitations.
But besides this influence of the Holy Spirit, inwardly grappling with human depravity and pressing upon the conscience the truths and duties, the promises and threatenings, of religion, there was the personal ministry of Noah. This just and holy man is emphatically designated "a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter ii. 5); and when we consider the office he sustained, and the solemn revelation made to him of the coming deluge, we may easily imagine what would be the substance of his public appeals to a guilty world. We have before argued from the text itself that both the preaching and the disobedience referred to by St. Peter were coincident facts, and that the people's disobedience consisted in a high degree in their rejection of the divine message, but here we have a direct statement respecting the fact that Noah was a preacher of righteousness in that day and to that people. . We are aware it will be asked, In what sense can it be said that Christ preached, when the act itself was performed by Noah ! We reply, Noah preached by the direct autho. rity of Christ and under the influence of Christ's spirit. Noah was an am. bassador for God, and the official acts of an ambassador are accounted as the acts of the sovereign from whom he receives his commission. Thus it was with the apostles, who said,“Now,then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” If, then, the apostles spoke in Christ's stead, so did Noah, for he
* Eyuxai. Here we have the relative pronoun which, and the antecedent is the word πνευματι, which immediately precedes it.
preached by the same authority ; if in the ministry of the apostles it was proper to regard the gospel as a message from Christ to mankind, so it was in the ministry of Noah; and hence the propriety of our inter pretation of the passage: Christ preached to theantediluvians through the ministry of Noah.
It was the Spirit of Christ, then, which the antediluvians resisted, and the ministry of Christ which they disobeyed and rejected. Nor is there anything peculiar in the interpretation of this portion of the sacred writings. The same principle applies to other passages both in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Indeed, so constantly was the agency of Christ exerted under the old dispensation that the influences commonly ascribed to God may in general and with equal propriety be ascribed to the Son. The murmuring and rebellion of the Israelites in the wilderness is spoken of by St. Paul as rebellion against Christ, “ Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”—1 Cor. x. 9. The general inspiration of the prophets is ascribed to the spirit of Christ, as the apostle Peter states when he informs us that “ The prophets who prophesied of the grace that should come, inquired and searched diligently what, or what manner of time, the SPIRIT OF CHRIST which was in them did sig. nify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” Noah himself was a prophet as well as a preacher of righteousness; and if it was the spirit of Christ which inspired other prophets and spoke by them to mankind, it must have done the same by Noah, for he was one of them; and if the rebellious Israel ites are said to have “tempted Christ” by their sins, so the antediluvians may be charged with resistance to his ministration of mercy.
There is another word or two which may require a brief explanation. The text states " that Christ went and preached” to the individuals in question, and this phraseology, it is thought by some, seems to in
dicate Christ's personal ministry an actual and personal going to them. We reply: the very same phraseology is used by the apostle Paul respecting Christ, in a case where his personal ministry was never exercised. We refer to Eph. ii. 17; but to show the connexion of the words, we give also the preceding verse. “And that he might recon cile both (Jews and Gentiles) unto God in one body by the cross, hav. ing slain the enmity thereby, AND CAME AND PREACHED PEACE to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." Now here it is said that Christ after his death on the cross came and preached peace to the Ephesian Gentiles; but, we ask, did he do so in person ! We have his history before us, but where shall we find a single record of such an event? The answer is, Nowhere! On the contrary, so far from going to preach to the Ephesian Gentiles, he expressly declared that his mission did not extend to the Gentiles. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" nor were his disciples, in exercising their ministry prior to his ascension, allowed to go into the way of the Gentiles, but sent only " to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. x. 5, 6; xv. 24). If, then, Christ in person never went and preached peace to the Ephesian Gentiles, in what sense can the · apostle mean that he went and preached peace unto them! There is but one sense in which this can be interpreted, and it is this : He did it through the ministry of his apostles. He was their sovereign Lord, they were his ambassadors ; and, acting under his authority, and preaching in his name, and blest by his abiding presence and influence, their official acts were virtually his own. Thus, then, the usus loquendi of the several writers again supports our interpretation. The phraseology used by St. Paul is substantially the same as that used by St. Peter, and as in the former case it refers not to Christ's personal ministry but to that of his apostles, so in the latter case it refers not to his personal ministry but to that exercised by his ambas
sador in the preaching of the venera- rit seems to be applied to persons ble patriarch Noah.
still in the body: “ The spirits of It may be inquired, What are we just men made perfect," and God to understand by the phrase, “ The “the Father of spirits.” (Heb. xii. spirits in prison !" We reply, the 9-23.) See also Numbers xvi. 23, phrase is capable of a two-fold sense, and xxvii. 16. Viewed in this sense, either of which is perfectly consis. the prison in which these persons tent with the general interpretation - were held was the prison of their we have given of the controverted sins, holding them in the chains of passage. It may refer to their dis- unbelief, guilt and condemnation. embodied state in the prison of hell, This is a frequent metaphor of the as the state in which they are now state of degenerate men, and one and were at the time of the apostle's with which all are familiar. David writing of them. Dr. Macknight prays, “ Bring my soul out of prison thus paraphrases the passage, “ By that I may praise thy name ;' and which spirit also speaking in Noah the object of the Saviour's ministry (2 Pet. ii. 5) he preached to the was "to proclaim liberty to the persons now (spirits) in prison, who captives, and the opening of the formerly were disobedient when the prison to them that were bound." patience of God, once for all, waited The spirits of antediluvians were for their reformation in the days of bound in the prison of sin, and the Noah." We see no objection to this object of Noah's preaching was to view; but there is another sense deliver them; but they rejected the equally consistent. The term "spi. divine message and continued in rits" may be synonymous with unbelief and disobedience. persons, as the word “souls" is often We have thus given our views of employed both in the Old and New this interesting passage. We have Testament without having any re. candidly looked every difficulty in ference to the disembodied state the face, and carefully weighed every Thus the word “souls" is used in objection ; and the result of our inthe next verse. Peter speaking of vestigation has only added clearness the ark in which some were saved, to our previous conceptions and says: “Wherein few, that is, eight strength to our former conclusions. SOULS were saved." If, then, the We flatter ourselves that our readers word “souls" mean persons, with- will see with us that the grammar, out reference to their disembodied logic and theology of the passage state, why may not the word "spirits" lead to a conclusion opposed to the have the same meaning ? Indeed, in doctrine of purgatory. several other passages the word “spi.
A DESERVED REBUKE TO THE INHOSPITABLE. - The Rev. Mr. — had travelled far to preach to a congregation at — . After the sermon, he waited very patiently, evidently expecting some of his brethren to invite him to dinner. In this he was disappointed. One after another departed, until the church was almost as empty as the minister's stomach. Summoning resolution, however, he walked up to an elderly-looking gentleman, and gravely said, “Will you go home to dinner with me to-day, brother?" “Where do you live?” “ About twenty miles from this, sir.” “No," said the man, colouring, “but
you must go with me." “ Thank you I will, cheerfully." After that time the minister was no more troubled about his dinner.
THE DUKE OF LUXEMBOURG.– This illustrious man, on his deathbed, declared, “That he would then much rather have had it to reflect upon, that he had administered a cup of cold water to a worthy poor creature in distress than that he had won so many battles as he had triumphed for." All the sentiments of worldly grandeur vanish at that unavoidable moment which decides the eternal state of men.
MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES, ANECDOTES, &c.
WORK FOR GOD.
BY THE Rev. John Hilton.* Jesus Christ was "a workman." Working Churches are essential to He delighted to labour for the moral growing congregations and to widenand spiritual elevation of man. No ing Circuits. Working Churches hours of idleness crept through his must exist, if we are to have spirited hands. No facilities for usefulness and successful home mission operapassed him unimproved. His motto tions. There may be among us was, “I must work the works of him regularity of attendance on constituthat sent me while it is day; the ted ordinances; external profession; night cometh when no man can real or assumed wealth-a beautifullywork." Sent into the world by the adjusted machinery of means, but Father to accomplish works of be. we repeat, except we have truly vigonevolence and of mercy, illustrative rous, spiritual, working Churches, of the divine character, and especially we can never be a really prosperous to accomplish the sublime work of community. We shall have a name human redemption, he laboured in a to live whilst we are dead. Alive manner the most earnest, the most and respectable we may seem before disinterested, and the most persever- men, but be proclaimed “dead" by ing. Hence his language, “The zeal Him who searches the heart and tries of thine house hath eaten me up;" | the reins. How important, then, “I have a baptism to be baptized that we cordially embrace the motto with, and how am I straitened till of Jesus Christ, and promptly fulfil it be accomplished ;" “My meat is to his behest, “ Go, work to-day in my do the will of him that sent me, and vineyard !" to finish his work.”
Except there be spiritual vitality The state of religion and the sta in our Churches they can never be tistical aspects of our community working Churches. Great care must imperatively demand that every pro- be taken, therefore, to maintain perfessed follower of this zealous Saviour sonal piety in masculine vigour. No should appropriate his motto, and amount of attention or professed conscientiously imitate his example. zeal for others can avail much, so We have Circuits and congregations long as we are declining in the reliscattered over different parts of the gion of the heart. “What shall we kingdom. We have numerous Sab- do that we might work the works of hath-schools in active operation. But God?" “ This is the work of God, nothing short of converted congre- that ye believe on him whom he hath gations and converted Sabbath. sent." A personal faith in Christ; schools can ever satisfy the man of a felt saving interest in his atoning God, whose heart yearns in sympathy work ; a conscious peace with God, with bis dying master, and who sin and a joyous assurance of eternal cerely desires the everlasting well. life are primary privileges springing being of his fellows. An impera- out of the work of God. tive necessity exists, therefore, for “Work out," says Paul, “your own thorougbgoing, sterling, working salvation with fear and trembling." Churches. Working Churches are For an individual to have a feeble essential to converted congregations. impression of the importance of re
• We received this article just a few days before the death of our highlyesteemed and much-lamented brother. It was, doubtless, the last work he performed of a public kind, and was evidently written in the full view of eternity. Its earnestness, spirituality and faithfulness show plainly the state of bis own mind at the period. It is emphatically a voice from the shores of eternity, and we hope it will be practi. cally regarded.-ÉD.