SOME VIEWS REGARDING MANASSAH: KING OF JUDAH.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Having received a letter from brother John S. McColl, of Albdorough, Elgin County, Canada West, dated the 27th November, and requesting my views on II Kings 24:3,4, in view of what is said of Manassah, in II Chron.33:11-18, I will by your permission, answer him through the SIGNS.

Dear Brother McColl: - After thanking you for the kindly expressions of fellowship, contained in your letter toward me and the writers in the SIGNS and MESSENGER, and assuring you that I feel thankful that there are brethren in Canada who agree with the remnant in the United States, in the belief of the doctrine of Christ being the life of his church and people, and therefore in a life-union of him with them from before the foundation of the world, I will proceed to give you such views as I have, of the text proposed. You will excuse me for answering you through the SIGNS, instead of doing it by private letter. My reason for this course may be thought by some to be indicative of vanity in me. The passage in its connection, no doubt, appears difficult to many besides yourself, and yet since you called my attention to it, it has appeared to be of easy solution, and I therefore thought that my explanation might be beneficial to others, as well as yourself. If I am deceived I hope the error will be corrected.

The passage, II Kings 24:3,4, reads: “Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manassah, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed, {for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood;} which the Lord would not pardon.” It will be seen from the connection, that the judgment which is here spoken of as coming upon Jerusalem and Judah, as a punishment for the abominations which Manassah committed, and which he caused Judah to commit, was inflicted many years after Manassah’s death, and even after the good reign of Josiah; thus showing that the Lord did not, and would not, pardon this thing. On the other hand, I think, brother McColl, with you, that the account given in II Chron.33:11-18, of Manassah’s penance, &c., shows clearly that his prayer was heard of God, and therefore that he prayed in faith, and was personally forgiven of God. The question then arises, how is this apparent contradiction to be reconciled? It is easily reconciled by considering the difference between the Sinai covenant and the gospel. If Manassah was forgiven and accepted of God, as we think he was, it was through Christ, and not by the provisions of the Sinai covenant. Though Christ in his flesh, lay in embryo in that nation and under that covenant, and was the Holy One of Israel, and thus preserved them from being destroyed as a nation, by all the judgments they brought upon themselves, until the fulness of time come for him to be personally manifested in the flesh; yet he averted none of those judgments from them. And though by his death he redeemed his people from under the law, and took the whole handwriting of ordinances out of the way, yet he averted not the consummation of the full curse of that covenant from falling upon them as a nation. The truth is, Christ’s atonement was for individuals of the human family, and has no reference to nations as such. But the abominations which Manassah perpetrated, and led Judah to commit, he enacted as the king of Judah and therefore as the head and representative of the nation; hence it was a national act, and therefore drew down the judgment upon the nation long after his death. Indeed, God left him to act out the vileness of his nature, in leading the nation to do these abominations, and thus to fill up that measure of their iniquity which should bring upon them the Babylonish captivity, as a punishment for their rebellion against God from the day he brought them out of Egypt, according to II Kings 21:15. And as God said unto Moses, Exod.32:34. The same principle is carried out under the gospel; the believer has evidence of pardon and acceptance with God, yet in this life he is not relieved from those curses entailed on him by Adam’s transgression, such as death, thistles and thorns, &c., nor from that depravity under which he groans. So of national judgments, such as wars, pesthences, &c., the believer has to share with others in their infliction. Not only this, but although all the sins and depravity of the believer are covered over by the atonement of Christ, and can never come in judgment against him, yet he will be made to feel, in this life, the consequences from his sins and errors, or the evils they produce. And as Moses said to Israel, {Num.32:23,} “Be sure your sin will find you out;” so with the believer, as he will be made to feel the burden of his sins sooner or later upon his conscience.

You wish, further, that I would give my views concerning the innocent blood which Manassah shed. II Kings 21:16 & 24:4. By turning to Deut.19:10, we find that the killing the man-slayer, who slew his neighbor ignorantly, would be shedding innocent blood, and also the killing a man from hatred is shedding innocent blood. See verse 13. Instead, therefore, of supposing that the innocent blood which Manassah shed was the blood of infants, and that was innocent because of their purity from sin and depravity, as Arminians have said, we are authorized to consider that as innocent blood, which was shed without provocation. See also, as a further confirmation of this, I Sam.19:5 & I Kings 2:31. By Manassah’s shedding innocent blood, we are therefore to understand his procuring the killing of many without just provocation, and perhaps because they would not go with him into his idolatry. Probably your enquiry embraced the idea of the antitype, whether there is anything there answering to the figure. The blood of Christ was truly innocent blood, and that has been shed in spiritual Israel. It had its effect upon the Jewish nation more direct than the blood which Manassah shed, both in filling up the measure of their iniquity, and in the judgment of God which it drew in on them. But this was only the consummation of the depravity of that people of which the reign of Manassah was only a prelude, and cannot therefore be viewed as the antitype. The depravity thus showed in the type was but a true figure of the depravity which every believer has to acknowledge belongs to, and hangs upon the spiritual seed in their old man; and such are made to feel that it was their sins which caused the Lord of glory to bleed and die. Does not the believer, at times, feel the force of the poet’s words?

“Was it for crimes that I had done,
He groaned upon the tree?”

It was Manassah, the king of Judah, that shed innocent blood. It was Christ, the King of Israel, that shed this in Zion. He says, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself,” &c. John 10:17,18. Still the sins and depravity of his people’s were the occasion of his doing it, they being laid on him. The consequence of the shedding of this innocent blood has followed the church of Christ from that day to this, not calling for vengeance, but calling down mercy and pardon upon all the children of grace; thus illustrating the distinction between the two covenants; between law and grace. In a worldly point of view; that is, in relation to the outward man, and the outward appearance of the church, the shedding of Christ’s blood has had an apparent different consequence upon the church. It has drawn down upon her persecutions, and more than Babylonish captivity, occasioning her to be considered as the offscouring of all things unto this day. Not as retributive justice, for Christ took all that out of the way, in expiating our sins, according to the peculiarities of this letter covenant, under which the church lives; but as a natural consequence of the doctrine of the Cross of Christ; such is the enmity of the human heart against God’s way of saving sinners by grace. But the wisdom and grace of God are alike manifested in both cases. By permitting the house of Judah to draw upon themselves the Babylonish captivity, and other repeated judgments, it was manifested that the purpose and grace of God in Christ would override all their sins, and the consequence thereof, so as still to preserve the sceptre in Judah until Shiloh came. Thus God’s dealings with that people stand as a confirming testimony to the experience of the saints, that this same purpose and grace of God can, and will, bring all the heirs of promise to the knowledge of the truth, and preserve the church as a faithful witness to the truth, notwithstanding all the opposition of their own corruptions, and the world, and the world’s governments array against that truth, until all the ransomed ones are brought in, and all be saved to sin no more.

Thus, my brother, I have given you my views, perhaps not in as explicit language as I might, but I hope you will be able to understand them, and be edified by them, if they are in substance correct, as I think they are, or I would not have given them. If you please, let me hear from you again, publicly or privately, and if you have objections to these views, inform me of them.

Yours in the bonds of the gospel,
S.TROTT.
Fairfax County, Va., Dec.9, 1855.