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the saints from the ungodly, of the just from the unjust, similar to the separation of Lot from the men of Sodom, accompanied, also, with a dreadful judgment upon Christendom, similar to that
upon the cities of the plain. This conclusion is confirmed by the memorable words of our Lord (Luke xvii. 26-30), “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed ihem all. Likewise, also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” We have further proof
In the apostolical epistles. St. Paul says to the Thessalonians, "Yourselves know perfectly, brethren, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction shall come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief; ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness; therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble
you; 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 that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who 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 (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” Here a separation is marked between the church and the world, in that day, as wide as between light and darkness-salvation and destruction. These passages addressed to Gentile converts are of the utmost importance: for whereas the coming of the Son of Man, spoken of by our Lord himself, is commonly interpreted to apply exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem; it cannot be maintained, that the Apostle referred to that event when writing to Christians in Greece, who were in no way interested in the fall of the holy city. The chronological marks contained in 2 Thess. ii. put this beyond any reasonable doubt.
2. We have now further to consider the date of the close of
this dispensation. On this point I shall not enter upon the grounds for direct chronological calculations, with which it has pleased God to supply the church, and whereunto they that are wise and learned do well that they take heed. I confess, that I have no confidence in any of the interpretations upon this point, which have as yet been given to the church: nor do I see my way to the proposal of anything more satisfactory. I observe, however, upon the relative date of the termination of the times of the Gentiles; that it will synchronise with the restoration of the Jewish people, and precede the introduction of millennial blessedness. *
The proof of this has been anticipated; for, if Jerusalem be trodden down till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, those times must be fulfilled when Jerusalem is lifted up; and if, as we have seen in the parable of the tares and the wheat, a continued mixture of good and bad growing together be a characteristic of this dispensation; then this dispensation cannot include a period when all will be good; and, consequently, it must end before the millennium begins. This supplies the true answer to those who allege, that the descriptions of separation given above at the coming of the Son of Man, apply to a period subsequent to the millennium, when a great falling off will have taken place:t for, however the question may be determined, concerning the condition and character of the nations of the earth during the millennium, it is clear, that our Lord's description of the state of the field until the harvest, and the description which the prophets have given of the prevalent, if not absolutely universal righteousness of the millennial nations, cannot, without violence, be applied to the same period. I
* See Mr. Faber's Sermon before the Jews' Society, in 1822, where this subject is ably discussed.
+ In a volume of Sermons by the late Mr. Milner, published for the benefit of the Church Missionary Society, this view of the subject is advanced, but without any attempt at argumentative support. (Pages 268—272.)
Matt. xiii. 24–30; 36–43. Let both grow together until the harvest. The harvest is the end of this dispensation, when the Son of Man will return with the holy angels, who are the reapers. Let both tares and wheat GROW TOGETHER, is characteristic of the whole period of the Lord's absence. Now, I ask, is this phrase, let both grow together, equally characteristic of the millennium, and of this dispensation? If it be answered, yes; I cannot for a moment dispute that such á millennium will precede the coming of the Lord: we have it already. The millennium predicted by the Holy Ghost, is not, however, of such a mixed character as this would make it. Its characteristics are, the people shall be all righteous—they shall all know the Lord, from the least of them unto the greatest of them. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. The earth shall be covered with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same,
all be great among Gentiles; and in EVERY place incense all be offered unto my name, and a PURE offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. These, and similar predictions, manifestly describe a state of things contrasted with the present. That state is the mil
I forbear from any detailed application of the subject at present; simply observing, that if this view of the dispensation be indeed scriptural—and if, instead of being in the dawn of wide-spreading improvement, making progress towards the meridian of millennial righteousness, Christendom be really on the eve of a tremendous overthrow—then nothing can be more obvious than the connexion between this view of the subject, and the watchfulness of the church of Christ: what he said to his immediate disciples, he says to us all, Watch!
Lev. xxvi. 40—42. "If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of
their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me. And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies: if, then, their ancircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity, then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac; and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember the land.”
We have now considered the separation and the depression of the Jewish people. Their separation from the commencement of their history, including, first, the whole twelve tribes: then the kingdom of Judah as distinguished from the outcasts of Israel: and (subsequent to the time of Messiah) the same kingdom of Judah considered nationally, as distinguished from the remnant of individuals converted in each succeeding age to the faith of Christ—their depression, during the times of the Gentiles, called by our Lord, in Matthew xxiv. 29, the “tribulation of those days," or as it is expressed in the parallel passage in Luke xxi. "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
We have further considered what we are to understand by
lennium. The tares must be removed previous and preparatory to the millennium. The season of the removal of the tares is the harvest. The harvest is the period of the Lord's coming with the holy angels. Consequently, the Lord's coming must be previous and preparatory to the millennium.
It may be here remarked, how every sectarian effort to get what is called a pure church, is an abortive attempt to antedate the millennium by the removal of the tares. In all such attempts, the wheat also is removed, or tares are mistaken for wheat, or both, and the scheme proves a failure. A visible church, and open communion, correspond with our Lord's--let both grow together until the harvest. Then, indeed, the "ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous."
this expression, the times of the Gentiles; and advanced some arguments in proof of the opinion, that the dispensation under which we now live will end in like manner as the times of the antediluvian dispensation, and the times of the Jewish dispensation ended; being designed for the separation of an elect church from amongst the nations, which church will be completed at the return of Christ, its head, previous to the introduction of thạt glorious purpose of universal mercy which Jehovah has revealed towards our fallen world.
We thus advanced in our subject to the conclusion of this present dispensation; and then, and there, we found the Christian churches apostate, and ruined; a remnant only being saved: then and there also, we found the Jews a separate people. We now repeat our question, What is then to be done with the Jews? " Has God revealed his further intentions concerning them; and if so, what are those intentions?
This leads us into the region of simple, unassisted prophecy. As long as we had history and observation for our companions, we had an occasional, and, I must be bold to add, an unanswerable appeal to them: but now we go where no man can follow, who requires any further proof than the simple assertion of the Holy Scriptures, thus saith the Lord. We enter upon a narrow path, clearly traced, indeed, by the inspiring hand of the Holy Ghost, that glorious, ready writer, whose pens are the prophets; but not admitting of any excursive corroboration. History, however, is still of use to us; because, containing the fulfilment of some prophecies, it contains, at the same time, a guide to the interpretation of the prophetic language: and it is of use still further, so far as the prophets themselves point to it, as typical, or as containing analogical similitudes. Analogies and types, drawn from revelation itself, cannot of course be expected to have any influence upon the minds of those who deny the divine authority of that revelation; and as I have reason (from various private letters lately received) to believe that some such persons are here present, and have followed the subject with us thus far, I would now, with earnestness and much affection, entreat them, as my beloved brethren, and fellow-sinners in Adam, to revert to what has been briefly said upon the fact of the separation of the Jews from all nations, unto this day, and with solemn candour to come to a resolute determination of mind upon the arguments there adduced; remembering, that it is not the Shibboleth of a party amongst men that is at stake, but their own everlasting salvation, both body and soul. The condition of such persons is truly appalling. In the good providence of God, they have been baptized in the name of his dear Son, and have had the oracles of his
truth intrusted to their care, and pressed upon their perusal. They have thus been transferred from the wide waste of Tyre and Sidon, into the cultivated enclosure of Chorazin and Bethsaida. But they have despised the baptism; they have resisted the Holy Ghost; they have neglected, nay, even denied the Scriptures. Under the watchful care of the husbandman, they have produced no fruit, but proved barren cumberers of the ground; yea, worse, they have been as noxious weeds, distilling poison, and blighting, by their baneful influence, many a fair and promising flower. They cannot stand in the judgment, absolutely, as ignorant and comparatively irresponsible heathen men. No; they must appear before God relatively as deserters and apostates. May the abounding mercy of Jehovah, in Christ Jesus, whom they deny, be extended to them with power, now while it is yet time; pardoning all their sins, including this deadly sin of unbelief; and may the Holy Ghost graciously guide them into the saving truth of the Holy Scriptures!
With the great majority, however, amongst us, thus saith the Scripture, is all sufficient proof. Our difficulty is in ascertaining unequivocally what the Scripture does say; and our differences of opinion, one from the other, are differences of interpretation only, not of standard.
The question now before us is, What has God revealed concerning his purposes towards the Jews, at and subsequent to the termination of the times of the Gentiles? An adequate answer to this inquiry would include a great variety of particulars. On the present occasion, let us specially consider
THEIR PENITENCE IN THEIR DISPERSION, as immediately leading to their restoration to the land of their forefathers.
They shall acknowledge their iniquity, and the consequent righteousness of God's chastisements: they shall recognise his hand in their dispersion among their enemies: they shall accept their punishment from him as a token of holy love; and they shall cry to him for deliverance out of their distresses. These shall be the beginnings in them of the manifestation of God's sovereign mercy towards them, preparatory and immediately antecedent to their restoration. This state of mind and heart is frequently spoken of, as the obviously implied condition, upon the performance of which their restoration hangs suspended: but God has graciously made the condition of one promise the subject matter absolutely of another; thus pledging himself to work in them all that he requires from them.
I. In support of these positions, I appeal, in the first place, directly to the language of the predictions, in its natural and