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Notwithstanding the manifest truth of all this, however, many professed Christians affirm that God has withdrawn his promise, and cast off for ever the seed of Abraham as a distinct people. To this assumption the apostle Paul gives a direct negative in the eleventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans; to which the reader's attention is now invited :
"I say then, hath God cast away his people ?”. The people referred to are beyond question, Israel. Hath he utterly, and for ever cast off his people ? The inquiry cannot relate to the salvability of individual Jews, for he had already, distinctly stated that the Gospel was the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew as well as to the Greek. The question is therefore tied down to Israel as a nation. Since the people of Israel, in spite of their high privileges, stumbled at the holy stone, which God had provided as a sanctuary for their safety; and continued to be a gainsaying and rebellious people, and since they are exactly on a level with the Gentiles, as regards eternal life; were they a people to pass out of being ? Had God, indeed, who had chosen them from among all the peoples of the earth to be “a peculiar people” to himself, and so signally acknowledged them to be such, by wondrous care and many deliverances in days gone by, now cast them off, as a people, for evermore? The apostle answers" By no means !" It cannot be. “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew;" either totally, or finally. “I also am an Israelite ;” neither do I stand alone, for, as in Elijah's days the apostasy of Israel was not so thorough as he in his despondency thought it was, and as, in the eyes of most it seemed to be, for seven thousand faithful men had never bowed the knee to Baal; "even so, at this present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” “What then ?" Just this, “Israel hath not attained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (ver. 7).
The apostle again puts the question, “ I say, then, have they stumbled that they should fall ?” (ver. 11). Have the nation thus blinded, stumbled against this holy stone, so as to fall, and be completely broken, to perish utterly, for ever? “By no means; but through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy." The apostle here uses the word “fall” in two senses : first, he denies that they have fallen, and then he admits it; he denies that they had been cast off as a people, or nation, for ever; then he acknowledges their present fallen and broken condition, and affirms that it had resulted in bringing salvation to the Gentiles.
That it is of Israel as a nation the apostle is treating is still further apparent from his language in verses 12, &c. “ If the fall of them be the riches of the world : and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? “ For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead.” As the terms, “ falling,” “ diminishing” and “casting away" cannot have been applied to Israel as individuals in reference to personal salvation, seeing that the apostle had already shown that, in that respect, they were exactly in the same condition as the Gentiles; he must have referred entirely to the nation, as such. That being the case, the terms, “fulness,” “reconciling,” and “reviving," must relate to Israel, in the same sense. Since the everthrow of the people of Israel, as a nation, has done so much for the Gentiles, how much more shall be effected through their complete restoration and exaltation to the first place among the nations of the earth ? That, indeed, will be " their fulness."
Again, “ the election” referred to in verse 28, is not election to personal, eternal salvation ; but the selection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the fathers of the nation. For the sake of these chosen men, their posterity, though fallen, were still beloved of God. In like manner, á the gifts and calling of God” (ver. 29) refer to the sovereign act of God's choice of Abraham; and the covenant he made with him regarding himself and his numerous progeny. This choice, and these arrangements, are irrevocable. The fulfilment of the covenant with Abraham was not contingent, on his acts, or the acts of his seed. It was of promise, not of law; and though Israel, as a nation, had been cast off for a time on account of their sins, still the purpose of God concerning them is unalterable. “God is not a man that he should lie, or the Son of man that he should repent,” or change his mind. On account of their fathers they are still a people beloved of God. The love of God shown to Abraham, in his selection, still rests on them; and the divine purpose to make of him a great nation, shall by no means prove abortive. The branches of the olive tree, like its parent stem, are precious in the eyes of the great Husbandman. Long have they been fruitless, withered, and cast aside, but God is ABLE to graff them in again; and he WILL do so, for he hath promised it. This tree of God's planting shall yet stretch forth its branches, in verdure, beauty, and fruitfulness, the glory of all lands; for “ he that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock." (Isa. xxxi. 10).
Thus have we seen that it is the gracious purpose of Almighty God to restore the twelve tribes of Israel to a permanent possession of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
SPES RESURRECTIONIS, MHE late Thomas Cromwell in his philosophical treatise on the soul
I remarks :-“ We need but consult Dr. Maitland's very valuable description of the Primitive Church of Rome, illustrated by its sepulchral remains [The Church in the Catacombs], to see, with Mr. Panton Ham, that epitaphs, in original Christian lands, speak not of a part of the body only being under the temporary power of death, but of the individual himself or herself. The body and the individual, it appears undeniable, were by the first Roman Christians regarded as one; the soul of the deceased as a distinct and still-living personality, though the body was dead, had no place in their view of the subject. Their pagan persecutors were fully sensible of this; and it stirred up in them a desperate desire to deprive the triumphant martyr of that on which his expectation of futurity was built. Connecting the interment of the body with the prospect of its being restored to life, they (the persecutors] thought, by preventing the one, to cut off all hope of the other. They therefore Sought by burning and by other methods to exterminate the very dust of the Christians. And they did these things,' says the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, 'to the end they might frustrate the purpose of God and hinder the revivifying of the saints, and thus, as they expressed it, destroy all hope of a resurrection. For the Christians, say they, having full confidence in this, have introduced a new and strange religion; they despise punishment, and salute death with rapture. Now let it be seen if they will arise again, and whether their God can help them and deliver them out of our hands.' (Hist. Eccles. lib. v. cap. 1.)”
Eusebius admits that it was a great grief to the survivors that they were not permitted to bury the mangled corpses of the martyrs; but he is far enough from hinting that the faith of those survivors in the doctrine of a Resurrection was at all shaken when they watched the corpses not only being reduced to ashes, but the ashes themselves cast into the rushing river and carried out to sea. Their ignorant persecutors might think that future existence was thereby blotted out, and the ancient Egyptians might have thought so; but we never heard that any believers in a risen Christ were so besotted. If we are to credit the newspaper reports of the past week, it was reserved for an Anglican Bishop of the ninteenth century to propagate the alarming dogma that the credibility of that which is emphatically the bright hope of the Christian would be rudely disturbed and imperilled by a return to the practice of burning the dead. If the sermon against cremation which the bishop of Lincoln is said to have recently delivered in Westminster Abbey has been wrongly reported, it would be to his credit to set us all right about the matter. In the meanwhile, we beg to assure him that from some cause or other, certainly not by the process of cremation, the hope of a resurrection has very much faded out of modern theology, or, if you will, modern teaching. If the bishop would set to work and fetch out to the light and expose the origin of this grand defect in modern teaching, he might do his generation and the state some service. At present, the confusion of thought on this topic in the public mind, a result necessarily outcropping from illogical not to say anti-scriptural pulpit utterances, seems to be rather on the increase than otherwise. In spite of the beautiful language of the prayer-book burial service, the sentiments of survivors as to the condition of the departed are of a character so singularly discordant as to be absolutely grotesque. Mr. Cromwell, to whom reference was made above, puts the following hypothetical case :“ Suppose a stranger to the Christian religion were to visit our burying places with the view of acquiring some knowledge of what that religion taught respecting the state of the dead; how would he regard those discrepancies ? Clearly he would derive from his examination no definite idea of our sentiments on a very solemn and important topic. And should not some doctrine on the subject be, if possible, commonly established, that would consist at once with plain thinking and with Christianity ?”
Mr. Cromwell means, we suppose, should not the bishops or some others holding authority in such matters look after the literature of the tombstones and see that no more nonsense be perpetrated in that licensed arena for free thought and mythological conjecture? His quiet sarcasm can hardly contemplate more than this ; for his own conclusions which are derived from the Bible are set forth with sufficient lucidity in the admirable work from which we quote.
He further informs us that during a series of years it had been his custom to embrace every opportunity for inspecting churchyards and other public cemeteries with the object of ascertaining in what relative proportions the opinions of survivors manifested themselves touching the actual or future condition of their departed friends. From this observation of many thousand monumental inscriptions it resulted that, wbile the vast majority set forth nothing but names and dates, with such expressions as “ Sacred to the memory" and the like, a tenth or there. abouts were found to convey the idea that the deceased had gone from the death-bed direct to heaven; and, contrariwise, a twelfth that he or she would lie in the tomb until the resurrection. About a fiftieth led the reader to infer, of one and the same person, the two opposite conditions of immediate transference to a state of living blessedness and detention by death below the sod till the last day. The terms soul, spirit, or shade, as applied to the departed individual, occurred in (say) two memorials out of a hundred; and “Remains” or “body” in the same sense, in rather less proportion.
From his collection Mr. Cromwell then proceeds to give specimens taken at random, (First), of modern positive assertion that relatives or friends on dying, had gone forthwith to heaven.
A. B. Who exchanged this mortal life for a life of immortality on (day of death here given):
C. D. Who left this world of sin for the glories of heaven on (day of death here given).
With Jesus they are now in bliss,
And all his glory see.
Death came with friendly care,
And bade it blossom there.*
That mourns thy exit from a world like this ;
And stayed thy progress to the realms of bliss. †
* This epitaph occurs rather frequently. It was written by Coleridge on an infant. See p. 7 of his poems edited by Derwent and Sarah Coleridge. 1852.Mr. Cromwell's Note.
† The authorship of the elegant epitaph commencing with these lines, and set to music by Dr. Calcott, has beeu variously ascribed. It was really written by Mrs. Anne Steel, of Broughton in Hampshire, on the death of the Rev. James Hervey, well known to the religious world by his “Meditations among the Tombs, ' “ Theron and Aspasio," &c. It occurs at page 71 of the second volume of Mrs. Steele's Devotional Poems published under her feigned name of Theodosia by Pine of Bristol, 1780.- Mr. Cromwell's Note.
That was the parting sigh
With that he upward fled ;
He is not, is not dead.
I lift the eye of faith to heaven,
She lives in glory.
She lives in bliss. In addition to the above we offer two or three examples from Brompton cemetery.
Why should our tears run down,
And our hearts be sorely riven,
And another soul in heaven?
The great Jehovah, full of love,
An angel bright did send,
To joys that never end.
Beloved by all who knew her,
Her virtues were so rare ;
To dwell with angels there. The summary way in which this last rattles off seems to have about it a touch of the sarcastic, reminding one of the American joke, that there are two brief periods in a man's life during which he regards his wife as an angel, viz., the month before her marriage and the month after her funeral.
William Yeo Martin.
God in his wisdom has recalled
The precious boon his love had given ;
The gem, we hope, is now in heaven. The inscription to Edward Tribe, touching whom we have the equivocal announcement that “ for many years he was a Wesleyan,” terminates with the more astounding statement that “he is not dead, but alive for evermore.”
In the following example, where two children are invoking their deceased mother, several doctrinal quibbles seem struggling for utterance. Only one more short step seems needed to carry the suppliants within the Roman pale.
Mrs. Kate Powell.