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Restoration of all mankind to Purity and Happiness, since in every case a denial of this opinion is a contradiction of the declarations they contain. There are passages, however, which seem still more expressly to confirm the truth of this hypothesis.
OF THE PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE WHICH APPEAR ExPRESSLY to AFFIRM, THAT ALL MANKIND WILL BE ULTIMATELY RESTORED TO PURITY AND HAPPINESS.
In the former editions of this work some passages were arranged under this head, which, on further examination, I am satisfied cannot be justly adduced as express affirmations of the doctrine that the whole human race will finally be restored to virtue and happiness. I consider the celebrated passage in Ephesians i. 8–10, as, probably, though not certainly, asserting it. “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself, concerning the dispensation of the fulness of times, that he would gather together to himself in one all things through Christ, which are in the heavens and which are on the earth, even through him.” At first view this passage seems exceedingly favorable to the opinion, and appears, indeed, expressly to affirm, that it is the great object of the Divine dispensations to unite together in one holy and happy state all intelligent beings under Jesus Christ. But many learned and enlightened men propose a different interpretation. They suppose that this passage relates to God's predetermination to comprehend Gentiles as well as Jews in the blessings of the gospel dispensation. “The interpretation of the ancient fathers,” says Whitby, “seems to give this sense, that God hath by this dispensation gathered under one head, viz. Christ, the head of the Church, all things on earth, that is, Jews and Gentiles; and all things in heaven, Christ being the head over principalities and powers.” Locke's paraphrase of this and of the four preceding verses is as follows: “Having predetermined to take us Gentiles, by Jesus Christ, to be his sons and people, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the end that the Gentiles too might praise him for his grace and mercy to them and all mankind, magnifying his glory for his abundant goodness to them, by receiving them freely into the kingdom of the Messiah to be his people again, in a state of peace with him, barely for the sake of him that is his beloved : in whom we have redemption by his blood, viz. the forgiveness of transgressions, according to the greatness of his grace and favor, which he has overflowed in towards us, in bestowing on us so full a knowledge and comprehension of the extent and design of the gospel, and prudence to comply with it, as it becomes you: in that he hath made known to you the good pleasure of his will and purpose, which was a mystery that he hath purposed in himself, until the coming of the due time of that dispensation wherein he hath predetermined to reduce all things again, both in heaven and on earth, under one head in Christ.” By the phrase “things in heaven and things on earth,” he understands the Jewish and Gentile world; observing, “That St. Paul should use heaven and earth for Jews and Gentiles, will not be thought so very strange, if we consider that Daniel himself expresses the nation of the Jews by the name of heaven. Dan, viii. 10. Nor does he want an example of it in our Saviour himself, who, (Luke xxi. 26,) by ‘powers of heaven,' plainly signifies the great men of the Jewish nation: nor is this the only place, in this epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which will bear this interpretation of heaven and earth. He who shall read the fifteen first verses of chap. iii. and carefully weigh the expressions, and observe the drift of the apostle in them, will not find that he does manifest violence to St. Paul’s sense, if he understands by “the family in heayen and earth,’ (ver. 15,) the united body of Christians, made up of Jews and Gentiles, living still promiscuously among those two sorts of people, who continued in their unbelief. Howa
ever, this interpretation I am not positive in ; but offer it as a matter of inquiry to such who think an impartial search into the true meaning of the sacred Scripture the best employment of all the time they have.” Mr. Belsham says,” “Perhaps the sense of this intricate period may be thus expressed: Which riches of his goodness he has abundantly exhibited to us, having enriched our understanding with a clear knowledge of that mystery which was the object of his gracious and eternal purpose, and which relates to that dispensation which has now at the fulness of time taken place: namely, that he would reunitet under one head, even Jesus Christ, all descriptions of mankind, whether Jews or Gentiles.” Although, if the above interpretation be just, this passage cannot be considered as bearing that positive and decided testimony to the truth that all mankind will be ultimately restored to purity and happiness, which some learned men have supposed; yet it does not weaken that testimony
* See Belsham on the Epistles of Paul, in loc.
t The primary signification of the word awakebaxalo, which the apostle here uses, is to sum up an account, or to reduce many sums to one. Schleusner. And the phrase “all things,” signifies all persons, the neuter being put for the masculine, as in John vi. 39. Ut nempe omnes creaturae intelligentes in colo et in terra, per Christum in unam societatem adducerentur. Rosenmüller. o