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six months, at once so rapid and so wide-spread, have forced upon the senses, as well as upon the understanding, the appalling truth, that, when God gives the word, time and place are nothing; that we may at any hour be summoned to meet the Son of Man in glory and the events which every day multiply and thicken around us, seem, every one, like a voice from heaven, reiterating, in louder and louder peals, one warning call, PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD! This solemn impression, which we know will be received with scoffs by the multitude on its bare avowal, renders it impossible to answer those trivial objections and cavils which an unbelieving heart suggests, and which we ourselves, years ago, could have sympathized with and removed. The near approach of the crisis, which has solved so many difficulties, and converted so many points of belief into the certainties of fact, has also opened larger and more interesting objects of faith and hope, which allow not the mind to turn back to those lower regions, which it has passed through, but now surveys from an eminence which, though commanding all the relations and bearings of the several starting-points and avenues behind, does also open a prospect before us so infinitely grand, and so transcendently glorious, that to turn from it for a moment is the highest instance of charity and self-denial. To many of our brethren we can now give nothing but our prayers, and are obliged to say, with the virgins in the parable, "Lest there be not enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."
But, however disqualified for doing the work ably and logically, and now prevented from putting it in an elementary and systematic form by the rush of events, with which ourselves are hurried along; we must endeavour to give a hasty outline of the ample privileges of the church, and of the glorious prospects which lie immediately before her, even at the very door. And, however deficient in man's wisdom the statement may be, we pray that God, who useth the foolish things of this world to confound the wisdom of the wise, and who knoweth that it cometh from the heart, may send it home to the heart of the reader; so that, knowing our privileges and our prospects, we may confess it is our own sin and condemnation if we fall short of them.
The privileges of the church are summed up in one word, THE MIND OF CHRIST. The church is "the fulness of Christ" (Eph. iv. 13); "the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (i. 23). In Christ "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Col. ii. 9.) This endowment was the parting promise of our Lord: " Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. ult.) He had before told the disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go
not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John xvi. 7).
“ But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things" (John xiv. 26). He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, and he will shew you things to come” (xvi. 13). And after the descent of the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles continually make this their high endowment thé ground of appeal to every Christian, that by the nobility of rank to which Christ had advanced them, by the infinite endowments with which he had enriched them, by the peculiar privileges he had conferred upon them, and by the glorious prospects set before them, they might be incited to contend with all earnestness, and to the death, for the crown of glory, which the Lord shall give to all those that love his appearing. (2 Tim. iv. 8; Tit. ii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 7, 11, 13.) They are addressed as " bought" and "dwelt in" by God, to manifest his glory (1 Cor. vi. 20): as called to be "holy, as God is holy, and perfect, as their heavenly Father is perfect” (1 Cor. iii. 17; 1 Pet. i. 16; Eph. i. 4; 2 Pet. ii. 11; Matt. v. 48 ; Col. iv. 12): as amply endowed for this their calling, “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. iv. 13; Phil. iv. 13; 2 Pet. i. 3): as “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,” destined to be“glorified together with him” (Rom. viii. 17; Tit. iii. 7; Jam. ii. 5): and as
“that in the ages to come God might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Jesus Christ” (Eph. ii. 7); “ to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God” (iii. 10).
The first gift to the church, and which prepares for all the rest, is knowledge: “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John ii. 20). But all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ (Col. ii. 3); and therefore the Spirit communicates knowledge, not immediately from himself, but from Christ derived, rendered intelligible to us by the gift of spiritual discernment, and applied to our souls by the preparation of the Holy Ghost within us.
The Spirit shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak. “ He shall glorify me,” saith Christ, “ for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John xvi. 4): and thus the blindness of the natural man is converted into the discernment of the spiritual, and the mind of the man becomes the mind of Christ. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned: but he that is spiritual discerneth all things, yet he himself is discerned of no man. (For who hath known the mind
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of the Lord, that he may instruct him?) But we have the MIND OF CHRIST" (1 Cor. ii. 16). Here we see, not only that the Spirit of God is necessary for the discernment and reception of the truth of Christ, but that every stage of its communication to others, every attempt at declaring it, will be powerless and ineffectual without spiritual discernment to receive it; and teaches us a lesson of forbearance and patience towards our disbelieving brethren; desiring not to be found warring after the flesh; "for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds" (2 Cor. x. 4; Eph. vi. 13); "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance;" that in this also we may have THE MIND OF CHRIST.
The other gifts we need not here dwell upon, having done so elsewhere: they are enumerated 1 Cor. xii. 8, Eph. iv. 7: Wisdom, by which we enter the church; then knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation for the several members of the church ;-the" talents" in the occupation or abuse of which it shall either be said, done, good and faithful servant, I will make thee ruler over many things enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;" or, "Take the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.... and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For this dispensation is the preparation for another and a higher. The hour draws near when we shall be called to account for the "goods" delivered to us by our Lord when he took his journey to a far country. Shortly will he return, and those only shall reign and rule with him then who have been diligent and faithful in the administration of the goods and talents committed to their trust now; the oil of knowledge, provided by the wise virgins, preparing them to enter in; the diligent use of the gifts, preparing them to rule; brotherly kindness and charity receiving the greeting," Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. xxv. 1, 14, 31). If the church saw this rightly, we should not hear the inquiry, How much can be safely dispensed with of knowledge, of holiness, of charity? and, Where is the use of any thing beyond safety? Such persons know not the dignity of being a Christian, nor the fulness of the word "salvation," nor the mystery which God is now evolving, and shall exhibit to the universe through the church. But as surely as Christ is heir of all things, so surely are his people joint heirs with him; as surely as he shall reign, so surely shall they reign with him; as surely as he is glorified, so shall they be glorified together. And could we
realize as we ought the glorious promises to the church in the coming age, we should strain every nerve in ceaseless exertions to prepare for that exceeding, that eternal weight of glory.
The promise of reigning with Christ is one of the most frequent in Scripture. Of its fulfilment, this earth is declared to be the place, Rev. v. 10; and the participation of his sufferings in this age is the preparatory condition for rule in the next: as 2 Tim. ii. 12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” But the fact of the reign being received, the consequences which follow are most important; for it carries with it deliverance from judgment with the world, rule over the universe, and never-ending blessedness with the Lord. The last oppressing power is destroyed by the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven; which act of coming is at once the judgment of the nations and the giving of the dominion to his saints. For it is written, Dan. vii. 13, “ One like the Son of Man came to the Ancient of Days; and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him
: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed :” while, ver. 21, it is said, speaking of the very same time, “ I bebeld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom:" and so also in ver. 27 ;—the same kingdom being given botlı to the Son of Man and to bis saints. This truth is also shewn out in Rev. ii. 26, compared with Psalms ii. cx.; the rule over the nations being exercised both by Christ and his people. And that this rule and judgment begins at a period called the time of the end, and runs on till the end of this dispensation, is manifest from the judgment being set (Dan. vii. 10), the body of the fourth beast destroyed, (ver. 11), and the rest of the beasts having their dominion taken away but their lives prolonged for a season (ver. 12), while the judgment sits and takes away the dominion of the fourth beast (ver. 26); and the dominion so taken away, and consequently the
, dominion of the rest of the beasts taken away (ver. 12), is given to the people of the saints of the Most High (ver. 27) during the time that the fourth beast is consumed and destroyed to the end (ver. 26), and while the lives of the rest of the beasts are prolonged for a season and a time (ver. 12). The little horn of the fourth beast, which makes war with the saints (Dan. vii. 21), is universally allowed to be the Papacy in the Roman Empire; which, though shaken to its very foundations, still subsists, and will make one more mighty effort previous to its destruction, which is reserved for the Son of Man and his saints, who shall shiver it like a potter's vessel. For this the martyred saints, against
whom the same horn made war and prevailed (Dan. vii. 21), wait beneath the altar, saying (Rev. vi. 10), “ How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not avenge our blood ? And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” This season expires at the destruction of Babylon (Rev. xviii. 24): “ For in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth :” being in her consummated and avenged, just as upon Jerusalem (Matt. xxiii. 35) came all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel; and we may say now, "Verily, all these things shall come upon this generation.” Immediately on the destruction of Babylon (Rev. xix. 1), a voice is heard, not, as before, from beneath the altar, but“ a great voice of much people in heaven;" not, as before, imploring vengeance, but singing “ Alleluia, for he hath avenged the blood of his servants.” This, therefore, is the beginning of the judgment of the nations and the dominion of the saints, the first act of preparation for the marriage of the Lamb, for his wife hath made herself ready (Rev. xix. 7). And oh that men were wise! that they would consider these things! that they might feel as we do the insportance of now striving to enter in at the strait gate! for when the bride hath made herself ready, the door will be shut, and those who are without will knock in vain. For one only act remains, called the marriage supper of the Lamb, in reference to those who are saved and blessed (Rev. xix. 9; i. 20); the supper of the great God (xix. 17), the great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel (Ezek. xxxix. 17), in reference to those who are found in rebellion against the Lord and his Christ. During which last act of judgment, or immediately
. after, the heavens and the earth pass through the baptism of fire; which purifies them in preparation for the Millennium of peace and blessedness, and for the manifestation of the heavenly Jerusalem in a sky of cloudless serenity and on an earth of stainless purity: a purity which the loosing of Satan at the end of the Millennium shall not sully, but only manifest, like incense cast upon the coals of the censer; sublimed in the contact. The closing act of judgment on the mountains of Israel is the one most often spoken of in the Old Testament, it being the cleansing of the sanctuary and of the land spoken of Dan. viii. 14; Ezek. xxxix. 12, 16; and it is the destruction of the rest of the beasts” whose lives had been prolonged after the destruction of the fourth (Dan. vii. 12). But the preceding act of judgment, which falls upon Babylon, is also spoken of as the commencement of the day of the Lord (Isa. xiii.); and as the great sacrifice in the land of Idumea (Isa. xxxiv. 5, 6); distinguishing it thus from the closing act, which falls upon all nations who shall be