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Written by Sylvester Hassell   

The Gospel Messenger--April 1893

 The Spiritual Interpretation of the Scriptures is also called the pneumatic, subjective, hyponoic, underlying, internal, typical, and allegorical, and includes the figurative, topological, metaphorical, metonymical, synecdochical, parabolical, symbolical, and mystical interpretations. The Spiritual is the most important and the most abused of all the departments of Scriptural Interpretation; and in this department, more than in any other, do we indispensably need the light of the Divine Spirit that indited the Scriptures to guide us aright, and to keep us from being allured, by the ignes fatui of evil spirits and our own carnal imaginations, into the inextricable quagmires of deadly errors.

The Church at Sardis (Rev. ii. 1-6) was thought by herself and others to be spiritually alive and flourishing; but the great Searcher of Hearts, the omniscient Head of the Church, who perpetually walks among the Golden Candlesticks, pronounces her dead, or dormant, and commands especially her ministers to awake and be watchful and zealous and diligent, and to labor, under God, to revive and invigorate the torpid and almost extinct graces of His people, and to recall them to apostolic doctrine and practice ("remember how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent"); otherwise, He will soon visit them with overwhelming judgments.

Nearly thirty years ago “the beloved physician,” Eld. John M. Watson, professor of obstetrics in the medical department of the University of Nashville, Tenn, wrote in the "Old Baptist Test,' these wise and warning words: "We have become too ultra in most things. How great the change! Watchman! what of the night? I hear one respond, All is not well! another, that strange winds of doctrine are blowing; another, that the sickly dews of heresy are falling thickly around us, many are sickly and weak; another, that the sound of another gospel is heard in our midst, whereby many are being bewitched. I hear something of heavenly origin! Listen: "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.' O, Israel, to you tents! Gird on the sword of the Spirit! put on the whole armor of God! Set up the waymarks and, in holy boldness and meekness, defend them against all heretical defacers! Above all things, avoid those prevailing ultraisms which are now eating on the Old Baptist Church as doth a canker--dividing churches and Associations, and disturbing the order and peace of the Baptists generally. Rebuke the ultraist whenever you meet with him--reclaim or reject him--let him be regarded constantly as the worst enemy of the Baptists of the present day!"

It is especially in what claims to be the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures that these ultra, wild, chilling, deadening, bewitching, confusing, dividing, and ruinous errors prevail among us. We have been so inattentive and dormant that the Lord righteously permits us to be afflicted, deceived, and desolated by false spirits, "transformed as the ministers of righteousness," (2 Cor. xi. 14, 15). Hyper, or Pseudo-Spiritualism, denying the truth or the importance of the literal meaning of the Scriptures, and thus sapping the very foundation of Christianity, now threatens, above every other danger, to be our ruin. May the God of Israel speedily arouse us all to a sense of this imminent peril, and restore us to the primitive purity of faith and practice, and preserve us, by His almighty power, from these "destructive heresies," whether heathenish or Jewish, of which we are solemnly forewarned in His written Word, and which are now assailing us (2 Pet. ii. 1; Col. ii. 8; 1 Cor. xv. 12-58; Acts xvii. 31; Heb. ix. 27; Rev. xx. 11-15; 1 Thess. iv. 14-18; 2 Thess. i. 7-10; 1 Tim. i. 4, 19, 20; iv. 1; vi. 3-5, 20, 21; 2 Tim. i. 13; ii. 14-19, 23-26; iv. 1-4; James i. 13-15; 1 Pet. iv. 17; 2 Pet. iii.; 1 John iv. 1-3; 2 John 7-11; Jude 3, 12, 13, 17-23; Rev. xxii. 18, 19).

Before entering upon a consideration of these ruinous abuses in what falsely professes to be the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures, I will dwell with pleasure upon the proper and glorious field of Scriptural spiritualization.

"God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 24). He is the only Eternal Being, without either beginning or end, and infinitely preceded and surpasses His entire creation, both of matter and of mind. His material and spiritual creation, as perceived by us now, is but a feeble adumbration of His perfect, infinite, and eternal glory. Says David: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge, (though) their is no speech nor language, (though) their voice is not heard" (Psalm xix. 1-3). Says Paul: "The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. i. 20). "Nature," says Paschal, "is an image of grace." "Earth," says Milton, "is a shadow of heaven." The visible creation is an older revelation of God than the written Word; and everywhere, on its sunlit and starlit pages, silently, pictorially, and universally proclaims to man that there is a God, a Creator and Judge of the universe; so that the whole human race is without excuse for their idolatry and wickedness; for if they had excuse, sin would be no sin, and a just Judge could not condemn and punish it. The highest use of the material universe is to point to its spiritual source, its spiritual purpose, and its spiritual destiny. "Of God, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever" (Rom. xi. 36). "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. iv. 11). Proceeding from the same Divine Original, and "linked together by a secret affinity, the lower world, in all its objects and relationships, is an imperfect and fleeting similitude of the higher--a ladder leading the devout mind up to the contemplation of heavenly truth. The characters of nature are hieroglyphics of God." And that nature, in which the Divine Being now dimly glasses His attributes, shall in the end, by his omnipotence, and according to His promise, not be annihilated, but be delivered from all its corruption and disharmony, and mirror, in the clear and serene depths of the crystal sea before His throne, the incomparable marvels of His holiness and wisdom and power and love.

Just as nature is a type or parable of grace, so is the Old Testament a type or parable of the new. The Old is the enfolding bud, of which the new is the unfolding blossom. The Old is the Evening Dispensation of shadows, while the New is the Morning Dispensation of realities. They have the same Divine Author, and are inseparably connected. It is, therefore, perfectly legitimate to seek in the New Testament the spiritual key to the Old--to see, in the persons and events and institutions and ceremonies of the Old Testament, impressive types of the spiritual glories of the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, set forth more plainly in the Gospel Day of the New Testament, after the rising of the Divine Sun of Righteousness. The previous long, dark Evening of four thousand years pointed, all the time to this bright and blessed Morning; as the poor sinner's spiritual conviction under the law surely prophesies his happier experience under the gospel. "The whole Levitical constitution, with its outer court, its Holy, its Holiest of all, its High Priest, its sacrifices, and all its ordinances, is declared in the Epistle to the Hebrews" (ix. 9) to be figurative of the spiritual truths of the new Testament. And so, in 1 Cor. x. 1-15, and Gal. iv. 22-31, is the literally true history of national Israel divinely declared to be typical (the word rendered "examples" and "ensamples" in 1 Cor. x. 6 and 11 is, in the Greek, tupoi, types) and allegorical of the history of spiritual Israel. I sympathize far more with John Cocceius (1603-1669), who found Christ everywhere, than with Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), who found him nowhere in the Old Testament. The fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New is a moral demonstration, to every unprejudiced mind, of the divine authorship and inspiration of the Scriptures. And not only may the Old Testament be spiritually interpreted by the new, but there is a legitimate field for spiritualizing in the life, the miracles, and the parables of Christ--the parables being expressly designed to convey, in the drapery of nature, spiritual truth to the enlightened mind; "fair in their outward form, and yet fairer within, 'apples of gold in networks of silver,' each one of them like a casket, itself of exquisite workmanship, but in which jewels yet richer than itself are laid up; or as fruit, which, however lovely to look upon, is yet in its inner sweetness more delectable still." And so the unrivalled miracles of Christ not only demonstrate his Divinity, His lordship over nature, drink, food, winds and waves, animals, men, demons, disease, and death, but they teach us His almighty and everlasting power to heal all spiritual maladies, to give and sustain spiritual life and health and fruitfulness and peace and joy. And the wondrous life of the wonderful God-Man, His divine birth and nature and baptism, His labors and temptations and sufferings and sorrows, His perfect obedience to His Father even unto the horrible death of the cross, and His resurrection and final ascension to glory, wonderfully represent the history of the spiritual life of every child of God.

But the persons, events, institutions, and ceremonies of the Old Testament, and the life and miracles of Christ recorded in the new Testament, were not fictions, but realiteis--not lies but facts. As Mr. C. H. Spurgeon, of London, well says in a lecture to ministers: "In no case allow your audience to forget that the narratives which you spiritualize are facts, and not mere myths. The first sense of the passage must never be drowned in the overflow of your imagination; it must be distinctly declared and allowed to hold the first rank; your accommodation of it must never thrust out the original and native meaning, or even push it into the background. The Bible is not a compilation of clever allegories or instructive poetical traditions; it teaches literal facts and reveals tremendous realities; let you full persuasion of this truth be manifest to all w ho attend your ministry. It will be an ill day for the church if the pulpit should ever appear to indorse the skeptical hypothesis that Holy Scripture is but the record of a refined mythology, in which globules of truth are dissolved in seas of poetic and imaginary detail."

And, as the narratives of both the Old and the New Testaments were not falsehoods, nor fables or myths, but literal historical facts, so I am fully persuaded that all the parables of our Lord were natural truths designed to embody and illustrate spiritual truths. The radical distinction between the fable and the parable is that the fable is founded upon lies, representing plants or beasts as reasoning and speaking, and inculcates only earthly maxims of industry, prudence, and morality; while the parable is grounded upon facts, and inculcates lessons of heavenly wisdom. Who shall dare to say that Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of Truth, God manifest in the flesh, who could not and cannot lie, invented natural falsehoods to teach spiritual and eternal truths? The most of the parables of Christ state natural truths that have actually occurred thousands or millions of times. And who that properly reverences the Divine Teacher will presume to say that there is the slightest falsehood in the past tenses of the verbs that He uses in Luke xvi. 19-31, wherein He tells of the Rich Man and Lazarus, or in the future tenses of the verbs that he uses in Matt. xxv. 31-46, wherein He tells of His coming in final judgment to the world? In fact, neither of these passages is a parable, nor anywhere called so in Scripture, though misnamed such by a few uninspired men. The passage in Luke is a literal history, and that in Matthew is a literal prophecy--the latter being emphatically distinguished from the preceding parables of the Virgins and the Talents in the same chapter by the adversative conjunction de, but, at the beginning of the 31st verse ("But when the Son of man shall come in His glory, etc."), this conjunction being unwarrantably omitted by the King James translators, but properly expressed by the Victorian Revisers. Some of the parables seem prophetic, or predictive of future events; and I have shown in my article in the March number of the GOSPEL MESSENGER that the prophecies of Scripture are both literally and spiritually true.

Excessive spiritualization, especially when accompanied by an ignoring or denial of the literal truth of the Scriptures, is, to all well balanced minds, surfeiting and disgusting. A few excellent principles, given by Mr. Spurgeon on this subject, are as follows: "1st--Do not violently strain a text by illegitimate spiritualizing. This is a sin against common sense. How dreadfully the word of God has been mauled and mangled by a certain band of preachers who have laid texts on the rack to make them reveal what they never would have otherwise spoken! Mr. Slopdash, of whom Rowland Hill tells us in the Village Dialogues, is but a type of a numerous generation. Avoid that childish trifling and outrageous twisting of texts which will make you a wise man among fools, but fool among wise men. 2d--Never spiritualize upon indelicate subjects. When the Holy Spirit is veiled and chaste, do not tear away the veil and crimson the cheek of modesty. 3d--Never spiritualize for the sake of showing what an uncommonly clever fellow you are. Only an egregious simpleton will seek to be noted for doing what nine men out of ten could do quite as well. Remember that spiritualizing is not such a wonderful display of ingenuity, even if you are able to do it well, and that without discretion it is the most ready method of revealing your egregious folly. 4th--Never pervert Scripture to give it a novel and so-called spiritual meaning. Loathe the thought of such profanity. 5th--The spiritualizing faculty may be judiciously and efficiently employed in generalizing the great universal principles evolved by minute and separate facts. And 6th--Much latitude in spiritualizing may be allowed to men of rare poetic temperament, such as John Bunyan, in his Solomon's Temple Spiritualized;" provided, always, that the literal truth of the Scriptures shall not be ignored or denied.
Legitimate spiritualization has been well said to "turn the Scriptures into fountains of living waters. Everywhere, under its inspiration, Christ is seen; the desert is gladdened by His presence; the wilderness becomes a garden of flowers and fruits." But, in this department of interpretation, we must be careful not to substitute imposition for exposition, not to read our ideas into the Scriptures, but to read their ideas out of them. The ruinous abuses of false methods of spiritualizing the Scriptures, as exhibited for our warning in the Scriptures themselves, as well as in subsequent church history, I propose, with the Divine permission, to consider in the next number of the GOSPEL MESSENGER.
Abuses and Extremes
The Gospel Messenger--May 1893

I now enter upon the consideration of the ruinous abuses in what falsely professes to be the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures, as exhibited, for our solemn warning, in the Scriptures themselves, and also in subsequent church history. The present sad condition of the church, which has been brought about by these unwise, unscriptural, and destructive extremes, emphasizes the great importance of this subject, and has been the leading cause of the preparation of this series of articles.

As Satan, the chief "adversary" of God and man, a "liar," a "murderer of man" (anthro-poktonos, John viii. 44) from the beginning of human history, assuming the form of the subtle serpent in the Garden of Eden, appearing not as the Devil, but as a friend even wiser and better than God, deceived the mind of Eve, the weaker of the first human pair, utterly ignoring the true interests of her soul, and successfully tempted her, by her desire for forbidden knowledge, to doubt and disbelieve the word of God, and to believe Satan's lie, that by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would not die, but be wiser and happier, and thus led her to proudly and presumptuously seek to be independent of her Creator, to be an infidel and an atheist, and insanely rebel against God, and to involve herself, and her husband (by his open and wicked preference of his wife to his Maker), and all their unborn posterity, in sin and death--even so, ever since that most real, most momentous, and most fatal transaction, has the restless, cunning, and malignant Tempter, the author of falsehood and mischief, been "transforming himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. xi. 3, 14), and deceiving the nations, indefatigably sowing the seeds of error and sin, depreciating the authority and importance of the word of God, turning the truth and salvation of God and His threatenings against sin into fables, telling men that the Scriptures are mythical or trivial, lulling poor sinners in carnal security, and leading them on in their career of pride, presumption, infidelity, atheism, rebellion, and ruin. "As the divine miracles of Moses were confronted with the satanic juggleries of the Egyptians, and as Christ was confronted with demoniacal possessions, so the heavenly body of apostolic truth set forth in the New Testament was, in he age of the apostles, and has been ever since, confronted with the ghost of heresy." Error has been called the shadow cast by truth; and truth the bright side brought out by error. There was a conflict between them in the apostolic church, and no doubt will be till the end of the present dispensation. In our present imperfect state, it must needs be that offenses come, but "Woe to that man by whom they come."--Matt. xviii. 7. A wise and merciful Providence brings good out of evil, makes EXTREMES, by their very enormity, remedy themselves as last, and overrules error to arouse zeal and inquiry and to promote the clarification of the truth in our understandings; but this fact does not make the teachers of error any the less guilty, nor does it at all lessen our duty to avoid and oppose error in every form and wherever found. Faithfulness to the God of truth will allow us to know no man after the flesh in this important matter. The nearer error comes to us, the more earnestly should we deprecate and combat it. We should feel a far deeper and livelier interest in stemming the rising tides of error in our own ranks, if we are real possessors and not merely vain professors of the religion of Christ, than in opposing the floods of delusion that are sweeping over the religious and the irreligious world. Our chief responsibility is at home, and there should be our chief concern--first, in our own hearts and minds and lives, and then, to the extent of our influence, among our brethren.

The word rendered sound or wholesome in the phrases, sound doctrine, sound or wholesome words, in 1 Tim. i. 10; vi. 3; 2 Tim. i. 13; iv. 3; Tit. i. 9, 13; ii. 1, means healthy, first in body, next in mind, and then in opinion. By the use of this term, Paul compares the pure system of gospel truth to a healthy human body. For the preservation or restoration of perfect bodily health, we need a proper supply of pure air, water, light, and food, a due regard to respiration, circulation, digestion, and excretion, and to bathing and clothing, a judicious alternation of exercise and rest, and avoidance of excessive stimulation and narcotization, with an occasional resort to surgery and quarantine. To restore health, medicine is sometimes needed. These natural objects and operations, as may be readily seen, have a corresponding spiritual significance in the preservation or restoration of sound doctrine in the church--representing our indispensable need of the Divine Spirit, and the sincere milk of the word, the broken body and shed blood of Christ, the thorough internal appropriation and proper use of Scripture truth, continual purification in the fountain opened from the wounds of our dying Lord, an adorning with His righteousness and the graces of His Spirit, loving and joyful obedience and rest in Him, heavenly moderation in all things, and sometimes, though rarely, the use of the painful knife of discipline, and even at times also the painful avoidance of association (2 Thess. iii. 6; 1Cor. v. 4-13). Medicine for restoring health may represent needed rebuke and chastisement. In 2 Tim. ii. 17, Paul gives the solemn and prophetic warning, in reference to the heretics, Hymeneus and Philetus, "their word will eat as doth a canker," or rather a gangrene, as the original literally means--an eating or spreading sore which ends in mortification. Gangrene is a partial or total loss of life in a part of a living body, and occurs generally in the extremities of the body furthest from the centre of circulation, and is caused by extreme injuries, extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme age, and extreme disorder of the circulation, and is wet or dry, local or constitutional, and is accompanied by increasing loss of circulation and sensation, and unless stopped, always ends in the death of the whole body. The remedies indicated in the disease are tonics and nervines, and the gentle and gradual restoration of the circulation, and sometimes incisions to let out the poisonous liquids and gases, and, as the last resort, amputation. In reference to this most dangerous disease, as in all other diseases, the motto is no less true than trite, that AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE. The first symptom of the approach of the deadly disease should insure prompt and effectual treatment, and earnest care should be taken, by the AVOIDANCE OF EXTREMES, to prevent the occurrence of even the first symptom. Wisely did Elder and Doctor John M. Watson, of Nashville, Tenn., thirty years ago, solemnly warn all Old Baptists of extremists, ultraists, as their worst enemies. Unless checked, the dangerous extremes prevalent among us, in some parts of our country, will, if inspiration and history be true, result in our increasing confusion, division, disintegration, and ruin. And part of apostolic doctrine or practice may be dissevered from other truth, exaggerated, distorted, or mutilated, and carried to an unscriptural and idolatrous extreme; every other part of eternal truth may be disparaged and sacrificed to the idol; and, if the idolatry be persisted in, not only the peace and fellowship, but even the visibility, of the church will be destroyed. The Brazen Serpent, which had been, not a human invention, but an ordinance of God, but had, after having been preserved 700 years, become an object of idolatrous worship in the degeneracy of the chosen people, was properly and indignantly stigmatized as Nehushtan, a piece of brass, and broken to pieces, by the faithful and fearless king, Hezekiah, in his worthy zeal for the glory of God and the good of Israel (Num. xxi. 7-9; 2 Kings xviii. 4). The same spirit of reverent and benevolent iconoclasm should animate every subject of grace to seek the destruction of every form of idolatry, and thus to promote the pure spiritual, and acceptable worship of the Most High (Exod. xx. 3; John v. 21; Matt. xv. 9; John iv. 24). We cannot rightly serve the God of our salvation, unless we follow the Apostle Paul's admonition to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not become entangled under any yoke of bondage" (Gal. v. 1), absolutely and forever refusing to acknowledge any other master--whatever or whoever that master be--than the Lord Jesus.

The apostolic age was the divinely constituted type of all the subsequent ages of the church, in respect both to truth and to error. The epistles of the New Testament are, to a great extent, "the result of a firm resistance to the distortions and corruptions to which the Christian religion was exposed from the first. Every doctrine of the church is a victory over the corresponding error, which was used by an All-wise Providence to correct and complete the form of the doctrine. By the ordination of the great Head of the Church, all errors in the end only condemn themselves and serve the more fully to establish the truth. The Church Militant has always had to fight error (which is doctrinal sin) as well as sin (which is practical error), which continually re-appear in different forms and modifications; and which the apostles combatted impersonally (mentioning only four heretics by name, Simon Magos, Hymeneus, Alexander, and Philetus), and radically (striking at the roots and principles, rather than the details and forms of error); so that their writings furnish the inexhaustible armory from which the soldiers of the cross can draw all the weapons they will ever need to oppose perversions of the truth."

As there was a threefold development of Christian doctrine, in the apostolic age, under the labors, first of Peter, then of Paul, and lastly of John (Church History, pp. 227-247), so there was a threefold development of heresy in that age. 1st--PHARISAICAL JUDAISM, an ULTRA and PSEUDO (false) JACOBITE and PSEUDO-PETRINE legalistic Jewish Christianity, resulting in the Ebionism of the second century (denying the divinity of Christ), and similar to the Arians, Socinians, and Unitarians of succeeding centuries, corresponding to the sect of Pharisees among the Jews and the school of Stoics among the Heathens, and the Catholics and Catholicizing Protestants of later ages; bigoted, self-righteous legalists, insisting on the strict observance of both the moral and the ceremonial law as essential to salvation, regarding the gospel as no more than an improved, or perfected, or mitigated law, and Christ as no more than a prophet, a second Moses, denying or ignoring His Divine nature, and His priestly and kingly offices, and hating and persecuting Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, as a dangerous apostate and revolutionist, impugning this motives, and striving to undermine his authority: condemned by God Himself in Acts x., and by the Council of Apostles, Elders and Brethren in Acts xv. (including James and Peter, to whom these heretics falsely appealed for their authority) and more elaborately by Paul, especially in his Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, and his second Epistle to the Corinthians, wherein he sets forth the true relations of the law and the gospel, sin and grace, bondage and freedom, faith and justification; and his unanswerable arguments were divinely enforced, not long afterwards, by the terrible destruction of the Second Temple, Jerusalem, and the Jewish Church-State. 2d--PAGANIZING GNOSTICISM [see Church History, pp. 241, 242, foot-note], an ULTRA and PSEUDO-PAULINE, pseudo-spiritual philosophizing Gentile Christianity, resulting in numerous Gnostic sects of the second century (denying the humanity of Christ), similar to the Docetae, Manichaeans, Cathari, Patarenes, Bogomili, Paulicians, Albigenses, Mystics, some Anabaptists, and the Parkerites of succeeding centuries, corresponding to the Essenes, Therapeutae, and Cabbalists (and in some respects, the Sadducees) among the Jews, and the Platonists, Neo-Platonists, and Buddhists (and somewhat like the Epicureans) among the Heathen, and the rationalizing Protestants of later ages; subtle, cold, intellectual, self-conceited, daring, pretentious, barren theorizers, exaggerating and distorting the Pauline doctrine of the relation of the gospel to the law, sundering Christianity from its historical basis, representing matter as eternal and the source of evil, allegorizing away the substantial facts of revelation into unreal and empty visions, resolving the human nature and sufferings of Christ into illusions, denying the resurrection of the body (and some of them even the immortality or everlasting existence of the soul), and the second personal coming of Christ to raise the dead and judge the world, and the reality or eternity of the punishment of the wicked after death, and degenerating into fatalism, pantheism, asceticism, and licentious antinomianism; unsparingly condemned (in their teachings, as false, foolish, verbal, endless, vain, unprofitable, proud, perverse, profane, blasphemous, distressing, selfish, covetous, sensual, unspiritual, mocking, sceptical, deceitful, spoiling, subverting, diabolical, gangrenous, and destructive) by Paul (in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and his Epistles to the Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus), by James (in his Epistle), by Peter In his second Epistle), by Jude (in his Epistle), and by John (in his first and second Epistles, and in the message to the Seven Churches, in the 2d and 3d chapters of Revelation). 3d--JUDAIZING GNOSTICISM, an ULTRA and PSEUDO-JOHANNINE syncretistic Christianity, combining the 1st and 2d, the Jewish and the Heathenish systems of heresy, in varying proportions; a shadowy and confused mysticism, passing sometimes into pharisaic austerities, and sometimes into diabolical sensualities--the most of the errors combatted in the later books of the New Testament being of this mixed sort. "All these three forms of heresy (springing from corrupt human nature, which is either predominantly Jewish or predominantly Heathen), however they may differ from each other, essentially agree in a more or less distinct denial of the central truth of the gospel--the abiding incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation of sinners--which teaching John calls the mark of antichrist (1 John iv. 3), as it plainly undermines the foundation of Christianity. For if Christ be not God-man, neither is He the mediator between God and men; and Christianity sinks back into Judaism or Heathenism. All turns at last on the answer to that fundamental question, What think ye of Christ? The true solution of that question is the radical refutation of every error. In Christ, and in Christ alone, breaks forth the fountain of truth and of life everlasting." (See the Church Histories of Neander, Gieseler, Pressense, and Schaff.)
The consideration of the development of these Jewish-Heathenish ULTRAISMS and CORRUPTIONS of the pure and spiritual religion of Christ, since the apostolic age, is necessarily postponed to the next number of THE GOSPEL MESSENGER.

It may be expedient to sum up, in a few words, the chief substance of this article. The plain teaching of that God, the only living and true God, who inspired the writers of the Scriptures, and who directs the course of human history, is as follows: The three greatest doctrinal foes to the simplicity of the gospel of Christ (salvation alone by the grace of the Lord Jesus, who is perfect God and perfect man,) are legality, philosophy, and the union of these two principles--that is, a reliance, for salvation, on human works, or human reason, or on both works and reason. We all have, in our fallen natures, these tendencies to self-confidence; and it, therefore, becomes each one of us to watch carefully and continually against the operation of these false principles, and never carry them to such extremes as to destroy the peace and unity of the beloved Zion of our God.

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