Page images

longs to the dispensation of the Spirit. It is the voice of John, crying in the wilderness; it is preparing the way of the Lord; it is all the work of the gospel, and it all belongs to gospel times. In like manner "the stone cut without hands” makes its way to fill the whole earth, breaking in pieces and consuming all other kingdoms, showing the work to be progressive in its character, and also that it belongs to the age to which the kingdons belong which are subdued by it. In the second Psalın we have the solemn decree of the Father that the heathen shall be given to the Son for an inheritance. By what means is this decree, which secures the glorious triumph, to be executed? The prophet tells us, "the king is set, or poured out upon the holy bill of Zion," the well known figurative denoinination of the Christian church. Does not this clearly indicate that the church is to be the instrument ? Does not a king conquer By means of his subjects? The expression I have poured out my king may be equivalent to - 'I have constituted my king by pouring out my Spirit;' and then it refers to the abundant and glorious out-pouring of the Spirit on the primitive disciples, and to those still more abundant effusions of the same Spirit, yet to be enjoyed, in which Christ “shall come down like rain upon the mown grass ; as showers that water the earth. Are not these the means indicated by the prophet? But the grand condition of the perforinance of the decree is, asking. Though the decree is irreversible, it is not to be performed but upon this condition. Yet the prescribed asking is not to be made by the Messiah in his own person only; else how shall we account for the long delay ? In himself has not the desire ever been as strong as it can be, and in this sense has he not long since asked in the fulness of his soul? But there is a constructive oneness between Christ and his people. As they are to be joint-heirs with him in this profession of the promised ascendancy, so they are united with him in the condition of fervent supplication. If then the church is joined with Christ in the asking, if he as king conquers by his own people, if the glory of his kingdom comes through the outpouring of the Spirit; can it be doubted to what dispensation it belongs? We read in Ps. 82: 2. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.” This will be the day of Zion's glory and triumph: and this day comes through the dispensation of the Spirit. What language could more clearly describe his effectual operations, causing guilty men to remember their former ways, and turn from them unto the Lord ? And thus it is that the kingdoms of the world are given to Christ, and all the kindreds of the nations are made to worship before him. These passages may suffice to show what is the 1849.)

Reign of Christ foretold by Prophecy.


general tenor of the Scriptures, when speaking of glory which awaits the church of Jesus Christ upon the earth, and the means by which it is to be brought about. This is the appearing of Christ in the abundant out-pouring of the divine Spirit, and in the glory of the redemptive work, — not his final appearing in the clouds of heaven.

There is a beautiful harmony between this view of the coming and those parables of Christ which speak of the progressive character of the gospel. The grain of mustard seed, from the sinallest beginning, grows to the largest size. The leaven, by a sure but gradual process, leavens the whole lump. In both the process may be more rapid at one time than at another, owing to the increase of heat, or some other favoring circumstance, but the same principle remains, and advances to the end, when the whole lump is leavened. Did not the divine principle begin to operate when the Holy Ghost was poured out at the Pentecost? Will it not continue to operate till the world is renovated ? Do not these parables absolutely exclude the idea of the breaking up of the present system before the glorious result shall appear?

How can they be made to harmonize with the supposition that the age of the Spirit must end, and Christ appear in a new dispensation before the promised glory come ?

The triumphant reign of Christ upon the earth is abundantly established by the prophecies both of the Old and the New Testament. Daniel, in the vision of "the great image," speaks of this kingdom,

a stone cut without hands, which became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Again in the vision of the “ four beasts,” he describes it as the kingdom given to the Son of man and to the saints of the Most High, which is to supercede all other kingdoms. In the Revelation the same glorious kingdom is represented in three distinct visions. The first is at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, (chap. 11: 15,) when “ there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” Again, in the first verse of the 19th chap. the same thing is described by the marriage of the Lamb, consequent upon the fall of Babylon and the judgment of the great whore. In the first verse of the 20th chap. it is again mentioned, as consequent to the destruction of the beast and the false prophet, and the binding of Satan, which follows upon the destruction of the last of his allies. That these all refer to the same event is evident, from the resemblance of the things described, and from the inapplicability of either to any other predicted event. Whatever is meant by the prophets of old in their descriptions of the glory which is to come; the same is meant by “the kingdoms of the world becoming the kingdom


of Christ;" by the “marriage of the Lamb;" and by the saints "reigning with Christ a thousand years." The difference in the descriptions is only the difference resulting from different points of observation. The question which concerns the present discussion is, do these refer to the second personal advent of Christ ? As there are other passages which speak of this advent about which there is no dispute, and which are very explicit; we must learn from these what this advent is to be. Passages of doubtful import are to be determined by those which are plain. “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go up into heaven.” “ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before himn shall be gathered all nations : and he shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. ... And to you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, And when he shall come to be glorified in his saints. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all. And as it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this the judg. ment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." See also 2 Pet. 5: 7-10.

These Scriptures, we think, establish the following points beyond all controversy, viz. that Christ will personally appear in our world but once more ; – that the great object of that appearing is the general judgment including both the righteous and the wicked, -- that all the dead will then be raised, and all be judged ; " for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” that the world will then be burned up, the righteous be taken to heaven, and the wicked be cast into hell forever. Now if such be the design and ends of Christ's coming, the prophecies referred to can have no reference to it; for they clearly indicate that this world is to continue after the event of which they speak; and John expressly informs us that it will be followed by the battle of Gog and Magog, and that again by the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment (Rev. 20: 7—15). The resurrection and the judgment here described are general in the fullest sense. The dead small and great are raised, the books are opened,

| Acts 1:11. Matt. 24: 30, 31. 1 Thess. 4:16. 2 Thess. 1: 7, 9. Jude 14. Heb. 9: 27, 28.

Visions of John not literal.

667 and the book of life also, proving the judgment of the righteous as well as the wicked. It is idle therefore to pretend that this describes the resurrection and judgment of the wicked only. No description of a general judgment in the Bible is more explicit. Besides, there is not one passage in the visions of Daniel, or of John above referred to, which contains any such mention of the second advent, or of the general judgment as appears in the passages we have cited; not one from which it would be possible to prove the doctrine of the second advent. Daniel has been thought to refer to this, when he “ saw one like the Son of Man come with the clouds of heaven, and come to the Ancient of Days - and then sees given him dominion and glory and a kingdom.” But it should be observed that the coming here spoken of, is not to this earth, but to the Ancient of Days ; that is, to the throne of God in heaven; and this was fulfilled when Christ ascended in the clouds of heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

In the visions of John there is no proof of the second advent. We look in vain for such proof at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, or in the vision of the marriage of the Lamb, or of the binding of Satan. It is said that the appearance of Christ and of the armies of heaven, in the vision of the destruction of the beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19: 11) is proof that this refers to a personal advent, because Christ can be a symbol of no one but himself. But we find an appearance of the same Person in the same characters essentially, in the vision which precedes the letters to the churches of Asia. The argument therefore proves a personal advent at that time as really as at the time here referred to, which is not true. Much stress has been laid upon the 20th chapter of the Revelation. But there is nothing here indicative of the second coming. The vision represents the old serpent bound by a strong angel, and cast into the bottomless pit, the saints seated upon thrones, and the souls of them who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus living and reigning with him a thousand years. This is the whole of the vision, unless we consider what is said respecting the rest of the dead as a part of it. Here it is certain that the binding of Satan with a chain cannot be understood literally, but must refer to some effectual restraint put upon him. In like manner the reigning of the saints, sitting upon thrones, is not to be understood literally, but as having reference to their great power and dignity and prosperity when restrained. The souls of the martyrs living with Christ, has no fitness to symbolize the resurrection of their bodies, but is the appropriate representation of such a state of prosperity as if all the martyrs had come back to the earth, to live in triumph and to pervade the earth with their spirits. The coming Saviour forms no part of the

vision. Could a feature so important have been omitted, or overlooked by the prophet, if it had formed a part of the event described ? More over, this vision does not embrace the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment, both of which are inseparable from the second advent. John expressly informs us (vs. 7—15) that the resurrection and final judgment will both take place after the thousand years are expired. What John saw in this vision is called a resurrection, indeed, and so is the recovery of lost sinners called a resurrection (see Luke 2:34 in the Greek). True it is called a "first resurrection," which implies a second ; as much as a "second deathimplies a first; but as the first and second deaths are different in their nature, so may the first and second resurrections be. There surely is no proof here that the bodies of any of the saints will be raised previous to the millennium; and without the aid of other Scriptures, not even the great fact of Christ's second coming would be established. The obvious design of these visions seems to be, to exhibit the providence and grace of God moving on with increasing majesty and power to the final conquest ; in the destruction of Babylon and the great whore; of the beast and the false prophet; and of all the allies and resources of Satan; and as the last act in " bruising his head,” fitly introduced when his power is utterly broken, he himself is taken and shut up. Then is Christ's conquest complete; his kingdom appears in glory, his saints are exalted and blessed; and the “ bruised heel" is recovered in restoring the memory of those who have been slain for Christ, and in making them to live in the general prevalence of their spirit and power upon the earth. Thus will all the prophecies be fulfilled which describe the prosperity of the church in the latter days. But how or when are they to be fulfilled on the supposition that the end of time immediately follows the destruction of the antichristian system? What existence has the church upon the present earth but in the wilderness ? How shall we reconcile the idea of Christ's second coming at a thousand years' distance from the last judgment, or, as some will have it, 360,000 years, with those Scriptures which make them inseparable; which teach us that the wicked "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power; WHEN HE SHALL COME TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS, and to be admired in all them that believe in THAT DAY? How can the account of Satan's being loosed after a thousand years' restraint, and going forth to deceive the nations, and to gather together the armies of Gog and Magog, be made to comport with a state of immortality, or with the condition of men after their resurrection ? Will the sea and the grave give up their dead to become followers of Satan in a new enter

« PreviousContinue »