“The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come”
Recovered of his illness, Dr. Thomas resumed publication of the Herald, but under an extended title—The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, the first number appearing in January, 1851. The new name was adopted as it recognised more definitely the importance of the doctrine of the Kingdom of God as expressed in his “Confession.” Under this title the magazine continued to be published for eleven years.
The earlier numbers were largely taken up with expounding matters mentioned in his “Confession” of four years before, but something more than the elementary principles were often mentioned. Taking the issues for the year 1851 as an example, such subjects included “Is not Christ to sit on the throne of David?” “The Restoration of the Jews,” “The Light of Nature in respect of Immortality,” “The Age to Come,” “The Gehenna of Fire,” “The Coming of the Son of Man,” “The Mature of Christian Baptism,” and a number of articles on the Kingdom of God. In the case of the latter the titles of various articles show the growing understanding of the Doctor in relation to the subject. They included “The Covenant of the Kingdom,” “Royal House,” “Royal City,” “Aristocracy of the Kingdom,” and “The New Covenant.”
A general survey of the volume will show the versatility of the Doctor’s interests; the articles included “The Restoration from Babylon,” “The Cretans,” the “Early Christians,” “Practical Life in the Truth,” “Lazarus and the Rich Man,” “Jesus and the Passover,” “Is the Restoration of Sacrifice compatible with the Doctrine of Christ?” the “Priesthood of the Kingdom in the New Covenant,” and “The Feast of Tabernacles.” There were articles in exposition of various Apocalyptic matters; the visions of Zechariah, and so forth; references to current events in their relation to the purpose of God.
Another feature was the exposition of passages of Scripture that seemed to support popular views; they included such things as “to depart and be with Christ,” spirits in prison, the gospel preached to the dead, and so forth.
The Doctor was a wide reader, for many articles appeared in the Herald outside the purpose indicated by its title. News about the early manuscripts of the Bible, such as the Vatican and Sinaitic, are found in its pages, and in 1859 and 1860 he reproduced a long lecture by Tregelles, a well-known Biblical scholar, on the Historical Evidence of the Authorship and transmission of the books of the New Testament. It ran through several issues of the Herald. Dr. Thomas added one or two notes on what Tregelles said. In one case where Tregelles made reference to Paul’s allusion to “perilous times” to come, and his reminder to Timothy that he had been taught the Holy Scriptures from his childhood, the Doctor commented: “The writings of Moses and the Prophets were the only Scriptures at that time in existence. Children then were more enlightened in divine things than the adults, whether clergymen or people, of the nineteenth century. These have an idea that to study the prophets is calculated to craze the mind.”
Another somewhat similar article, but dealing with the Old Testament, Dr. Thomas extracted from Sir Isaac Newton’s Observations. In the course of the extract Sir Isaac suggested that after the attempted destruction of the Scriptures by Antiochus Epiphanes, some passages may have been wrongly placed. On this Dr. Thomas says: “This was doubtless the fact, for Matthew 27:9 assigns a prophecy therein quoted to Jeremiah which is found in Zechariah 11:12-13. Matthew, who was guided into all the truth by the Spirit, (John 16:13), corrected by that Spirit the error of the Maccabean compilers.” Although there are certain errors in Newton’s article, the fact that it was extracted from his works and reproduced by the Doctor indicates how the latter was on the look out for suitable matter for the Herald.
Some of the subjects discussed in the Herald will be found elsewhere; others may be shortly noticed as they give a further insight into the wide interests of Dr. Thomas. In the last volume there was an article from his pen on the Roman Emperors from Augustus to Titus, noting by the way their association with matters referred to in the Bible and the events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem. He also printed a series of notes on various Grecian philosophers, from Pythagorus, who lived about 550 years before Christ. He also wrote of Socrates and Plato, giving brief particulars of their teaching. These were followed by brief statements of the teaching of various Greek philosophers, such as the Stoics, the Cynics, and the Eclectics.
Another indication of his wide knowledge was the inclusion of extracts from Justin Martyr, while such questions as “Should Christians bear arms?” were dealt with. The latter will be mentioned more particularly in a later chapter.
Although written about a hundred years ago the Herald is quite readable today. There is often a raciness of style that adds piquancy to the reading; there is much Scriptural enlightenment, and in reading it one seems to get into contact with the writer—the century seems to fall away, and the man may be heard talking.
The Herald was discontinued after 1861. In the early months of that year the Civil War between the Northern and Southern States of America commenced, and the end of the Herald was one of the results. The last article that appeared bore the heading, “A Few Last Words.” Omitting the last three lines, which were of a personal character, they read: “We have inserted the foregoing letters on suspension for the information of the friends of the Herald in Britain and America. We have no space for comments. We do not read ‘detractors’ or ‘the ignorance of foolish men.’ We only respect the judgment of enlightened, earnest, believers, walking in the truth. There are but few of them in this generation, so that if they wish to hear from us again through the press it will be necessary for them to concentrate their efforts, and to strengthen us for 1863.” This was written in 1861.
Note. —The foregoing has anticipated events, but it is thought best to deal with the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come in a single chapter rather than refer to it in short sections as might otherwise have seemed desirable.
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