The Glory of the Redeemer in His Second Coming
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13
while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. Titus 2:13
If it were true, that the abuse or the perversion of a good thing formed a valid argument against its truth, or were a proper objection to its utility, then how soon should we be compelled to abandon all our strongholds of truth, tamely relinquishing into the hands of the sceptic and the caviler the power of controlling our opinions, and legislating for our consciences! If the advocates of Christianity were responsible for all the flaws, mistakes, and inconsistencies, with which its professed disciples were chargeable; and if it were demanded from them to concede a doctrine or an institution, because that doctrine or that institution had been made the instrument of unrighteousness, then how little would be left to us of the "glorious Gospel of the blessed God!" To what a mere skeleton of truth would this sublime, life-inspiring system be reduced! Take, for example, the Scripture doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. To the urgent and faithful expositor of this cardinal truth, laid deeply and pressed home upon the conscience with earnestness and power, how ready is the opponent of this truth with the remonstrance, "You are teaching a doctrine which has proved most injurious to the best interests of the Christian Church- a doctrine which undermines the foundations of morality, and which weakens the obligation to practical holiness!" Suppose that the believer, admitting the truth of this allegation, were in consequence to abandon the doctrine altogether- what would he be relinquishing? One of the essential corner-stones of the great fabric of the Gospel; one of the main pillars of Christianity; one of the most sanctifying, God-glorifying truths of the Bible; yes, a truth which has well been denominated the doctrine of a standing or a falling Church.
Now the subject of this closing chapter is one of those Scripture doctrines against which the prejudices of many Christian minds have been formed, in consequence of the speculative and fanciful views with which it has been associated by many of its advocates. The same mode of reasoning which we have applied in the vindication of the great doctrine of justification, will with equal force apply here. Is the doctrine of Christ's second appearing less a doctrine of Divine revelation- is it less glorious in its nature and holy in its tendency, because some have abused it? Assuredly not. But separated from human speculation, disentangled from the errors with which men have interwoven it, and made to stand out dressed in its own native sweetness and sublimity, it will be found to be one of the most precious, holy, and influential truths revealed in God's holy word.
The doctrine of a coming Savior was to the early Church a fully received, most endearing, and practical truth. They are represented as "waiting for His Son from heaven;" as "loving His appearing;" as "looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God even our Savior Jesus Christ." The great apostasy, however, dimmed this star of hope on which the eye was accustomed to gaze so intently and so fondly. And as it waned, with it waned her true spirituality. The Church of Rome, 'the mother of abominations,' the great extinguisher of all evangelical light, by the introduction of doctrines more palatable to the taste of a declining Church, drew off its mind from the great truth, and the expectation of the Lord's coming became, almost entirely extinct. A purgatory after death, which might allow a longer period and an easier atonement to cleanse the souls of the wicked, was far more agreeable to such a system, than the sure and near approach of the Almighty King, "coming to take vengeance on those who knew not God, and that obeyed not the Gospel of His Son." To the Reformation we are indebted for the recovery of this, as of many other glorious truths of the Bible, so long buried beneath the rubbish of the great apostasy. The reformers, returning to the principles of the early Christians, returned to the 'blessed hope' of the Church, and once more pointed her eye to this bright constellation, which, though darkened and lost to view for a while, now shone forth as if robed with new and richer effulgence; and again the Bride was brought into the holy posture of an anxious expectant of her Lord.
The great subject which has for some time occupied our attention, I trust to the endearing of His name to our hearts, has been the glory of Jesus. Imperfectly as it has been discussed, I am reluctant to conduct it to a close without directing the eye of my reader to one more view of the Redeemer's glory- the last, the crowning one of all- the glory of His second appearing. Let it be premised, however, that with the spiritual and practical bearing of the doctrine as it is laid down in God's word, we have alone to do. It comes not within our scope or design to meet the objections which have been alleged against it, or to touch upon those controverted prophetic points with which, in the minds and in the writings of many, it has been connected. This would divert our attention from the grand topic before us. May the Holy Spirit descend upon us while investigating this great truth! May He unfold it deeply to our minds, and lay it closely upon our hearts, that we may awake out of sleep, gird up afresh the loins of our minds, trim anew our lamps, and be found waiting, watching, and looking for the coming of the Bridegroom, that thus we may be prepared to go forth and meet Him, when He shall "appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
We shall first endeavor to place the doctrine of the second coming of the Redeemer upon a scriptural basis; and then proceed to unfold His glory in connection with the grand event. If it be found to be a truth revealed by God the Holy Spirit, then it becomes us with all teachableness, humility, and joy, to receive it- all prejudices and objections yielding before- "Thus says the Lord."
We commence the SCRIPTURE PROOF with adducing a few of the more prominent predictions of the Old Testament, quoting an observation of Sir Isaac Newton, that "there is scarcely a prophecy in the Old Testament which does not in something or other relate to the second coming of Christ." The first promise of mercy to fallen man must be regarded as containing an intimation of the second advent of our Lord, for the events of the first advent did not fulfil all that is contained in this prediction. "And I will put enmity between You and the woman, and between Your seed and her seed: he shall bruise Your head, and You shall bruise his heel." Now, the incarnation of our adorable Lord has taught us who is the "woman's Seed;" His death has fully explained the prophecy of the "bruising of his heel;" but that part which relates to the bruising of the serpent's head must be considered as yet an unfulfilled prophecy. Christ did indeed defeat and overcome Satan upon the cross; chaining Him to His car, thus "leading captivity captive." But the fatal blow aimed at the head, cannot be said to have been inflicted until Christ tames the second time to take full possession of His kingdom, to raise His saints, and chain down Satan, so that he shall never go forth again to deceive the nations that are upon the earth. The head, or the power of the serpent, is not yet fully bruised nor destroyed; but it will be when the descending Redeemer shall place His foot upon him, trampling him to the earth in complete and glorious triumph.
Restored to its chronological order, the remarkable prophecy of Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, as preserved by the Apostle Jude, is worthy of our next consideration. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all." That this refers not to the first, but to the second coming of Christ, is unquestionable, from the fact that the former was an errand of mercy, whereas the latter is here represented as one of judgment.
We must be content to present in a single group, and without comment, the remaining prophetic testimonies. Thus the patriarch Job, in the strength of a far-reaching faith, testifies, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Thus the prophet Daniel: "I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like whitest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, and a river of fire flowed from his presence. Millions of angels ministered to him, and a hundred million stood to attend him. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened." Thus, too, speaks the prophet Haggai: "Thus says the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come." Malachi, in a similar strain, closes the prophetic testimony: "The Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appears? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap." Thus clearly, as a golden thread, does the great truth run through the prophecies of the Old Testament. We pass to the proof afforded by the New Testament writings.
Intimations of a second appearing are clearly discoverable in the angel's annunciation to Mary. "Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. And He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." Surely the subsequent history of our suffering Lord forbids the application of this angelic prediction to the era of His humiliation in the flesh. The Son of David at that time found no throne; the scene of His humiliation was the ignominious cross; thorns the only crown which He wore; and a reed, mocking in His dying, agonies the claims of His majesty, the only scepter which He swayed. But we look for its full accomplishment at a period of far greater visible glory, when He shall part the heavens asunder, and appear in great and acknowledged majesty.
While upon the testimony of the angels, we may refer to the period of His ascension, when, for anything that we know, the same 'ministering spirits' thus proclaimed His second coming: "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven."
We pass on to our Lord's own testimony to the doctrine. Comprehending two distinct predictions, the one the destruction of His temple, and the other His coming again, when the nation now rejecting Him should gladly welcome and acknowledge Him their Redeemer and their King, He thus addresses the Jews- Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, until you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord." Again, intimating that the time of His appearing would be a season for which His Church would long have to wait, thus rebuking the received opinion that it was then near at hand: "He said unto the disciples, The days will come, when you shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you shall not see it." He then presents an emblem of His manifestation: "As the lightning, that lights out of the one part under heaven, shines into the other part under heaven, so shall also the Son of man be in His day." He then proceeds in the following verses to describe the unexpected manner in which the day of His appearing will burst upon an ungodly and unprepared world; illustrates it by the sudden surprisal of Sodom and Gomorrah by the Divine judgments, leaving not a moment to loiter upon worldly possessions; and then, to rebuke a hankering spirit after earthly glory, now fading upon the view, pointed to the case of Lot's wife, who, casting a lingering look upon the doomed city she had left, became instantly a monument of God's indignation.
It only remains that we adduce the proof found to exist in the writings of the apostles. Here the doctrine of the second coming is inscribed as with a sun beam. How solemnly and emphatically are we reminded of this great and grand event, on each return of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper! "As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show
the Lord's death until He come." Thus fitly is this precious truth entwined with our most solemn rites, and blended with our most hallowed scenes. Well is it that we keep in mind, when partaking of the sacred emblems, the speedy return of Him, the elements of whose dying love are at that moment melting upon our lips, and the splendor of whose personal appearing will soon burst upon our view.
With this same truth the apostle seeks to soothe the sorrow of those who were mourning over the pious dead. "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent (or rise before) those who are asleep." Mark the certainty which He attaches to the second coming: "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again." As surely as Christ has atoned for our sins, and has risen again for our justification, so surely will He come again for our glorification. The three great facts form so many links in one golden, indissoluble chain.
Yet again. "Our conversation is in heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." "It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." "Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." "To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him." "The coming of the Lord draws near."
What further testimony need we? The doctrine stands upon the impregnable basis of Divine revelation, and happy and holy is he that receives and embraces it as the "blessed hope" of the Church.
Let us now contemplate THE GLORY OF THE REDEEMER AS CONNECTED WITH THIS GREAT EVENT. It is called the "glorious appearing of the great God our Savior." Surpassing in glory all that the eye has ever seen, or the imagination has ever conceived, will be the second personal appearing of the Son of God. A perfect contrast will it present to His first advent. Then He appeared a king, but disguised in the form of a servant, without a retinue, without the insignia of royalty, without visible glory, His throne a cross, His crown the thorns, His scepter a reed. But His second coming will be in perfect contrast with this. He will now have thrown off the garment of humiliation, and will appear clad with the robe of majesty, the King acknowledged and adored.
In the first place, He will appear in the glory of His Father. "The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father." As the representative of the Father, He appeared in the flesh: "He that has seen me has seen the Father." But when He appears the second time, it will be with a clearer, brighter manifestation of the Father's glory. He will come as the Father's equal- as His own beloved Son, and with all the glory which the Father gave Him as the Mediator of His Church. This will contribute immensely to the splendor of the scene. The Father's glory and the Son's glory will now be seen to be one glory. All His former claims to a oneness with the Father, to a perfect equality with Him in essential dignity, will now be made good. How gloriously will shine out the Father's love, the Father's grace, the Father's wisdom, when the Son of God appears in the clouds of heaven with great glory and majesty! Exalted and precious as had been our previous views of the Father, methinks they will appear as nothing compared with the revelations which at that moment will burst in overwhelming power on the soul.
But more especially will He appear in His own personal glory. "The Son of man shall come in His glory." He will come in the glory of His Divine nature. His Deity will now be unveiled, unclouded, and undenied, the "God over all, blessed forever more." He will appear as the" Great God, even our Savior." The question of His Deity will be set at rest forever. Will men deny it now? Will they refuse Him Divine honor? Will they withhold from Him Divine worship? Will they now lift their puny hands and pluck the crown of Godhead from His brow? No! "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Angels will laud Him, saints will crown Him, devils will fear Him, His enemies will bow to Him. Every tongue will confess His Deity. His own glory will shine out to the confusion of His foes, to the admiration of His friends.
But He will also appear in the glory of His human nature. This was concealed beneath the cloud of sin and sorrow when He was on earth. Although it was holy, spotless, flawless, yet it was humbled, bruised, and trodden under foot. But He will "appear the second time without sin unto salvation," that same humanity now robed in glory and exalted in dignity. Especially will the glory of His priestly character now burst forth; and like the Jewish high priest, who, after He had offered the sacrifice, entered the holy of holies, taking in His hands the blood of the atonement; then when He had sprinkled the blood upon the mercy-seat, put on His gorgeous robes, and appeared again to bless the congregation; so Jesus, our great High Priest, having offered Himself a sacrifice, and having entered within the veil with His own blood, will appear the second time, robed in majesty and glory, to bless His people, and to take them to Himself forever.
Angels and saints will contribute to the glory of the scene. The celestial beings who sang His nativity song, and who escorted Him back to heaven with ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands more, will now throng His descending way. Clustering around still nearer to His person will be the ransomed Church, the "holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." And as she nears the new earth, the future scene of her rest and her glory, a "great voice out of heaven" will be heard, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Oh, blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God our Savior, "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe!"
But let us briefly trace SOME OF THE IMPORTANT EVENTS suspended upon the coming of the Lord, which will contribute greatly to the glory of the Redeemer, and to the grandeur of the scene.
The first that will then transpire will be the resurrection of the righteous. This is termed in the Apocalypse the "first resurrection." After a glowing description of the thrones, and of the happy saints who filled them, the apostle proceeds to say, "This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is He that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Now this first resurrection, which will transpire a thousand years before the second, will be exclusively the resurrection of the saints. They shall take precedence of the ungodly world. How distinctly is this truth thus affirmed! "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Then the upright shall have dominion over the wicked in the morning of the resurrection; and in the evening of the thousand years- for with the Lord a thousand years are but as one day- the rest of the dead shall come forth. Blessed hope! transporting prospect! The Lord descends! the trumpet sounds! the earth trembles! the graves open! And who emerge?
None but those who slept in Jesus. All the rest of mankind remain locked in the iron dominion of death until the thousand years shall have expired. Not an enemy of God, not a despiser of Christ, not a foe of the Christian, now rears his dark brow! None but holy and happy forms are seen throwing back the clods, and coming forth, gilded with the light, breathing the air, and drinking the dew of that orient and blessed morning. What calmness reigns! All sounds of sin and of suffering are now hushed, and no voice breaks the holy stillness of that hour, save the joyous challenge, as each mounts in triumph from the tomb, "O grave! where is your victory?" Saints of God! this will be your resurrection! Oh to have a part in it! Then will God's electing love shine forth in all its magnificence. Then will sovereign grace appear truly glorious. And then will the crown be laid at Jesus' feet, and every tongue will confess, "Salvation is from the Lord."
The perfect glorification of His saints will then follow. In what will it consist? The reunion of the soul and the body, and both made like Christ. "Our citizenship is in heaven; from where we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." "It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." "As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." This will constitute the perfect glory of the risen saints- they shall be like Christ in body and in soul. The body spiritual, immortal, glorified: the soul resembling a sea of glass, transparent, pure, serene, reflecting every perfection and lineament of the Divine image: "We shall be like Him." Then we will not speculate as fo the details of that happy and holy existence- it is enough that we shall be like Jesus: this, we know, will comprehend perfect holiness and consummate bliss. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
The mutual recognition and reunion of the saints, will form another element in the glory which is to be revealed at the first resurrection, and at the second coming of the Redeemer. This truth is not one of vain speculation or idle theory, and conducting to no important practical result. It is one, if not of express, yet of clear, revelation in God's word, is comforting in its influence, and is associated with the most sublime prospect of the believer's faith. We shall meet and know each other at the appearing of the Lord. That the saints will recognize and have communion with each other immediately on their entrance into glory, is, we think, clear from the apostle's words, when enumerating the privileges of the released believers: "We are come . . . . to the spirits of just men made perfect." We indulge, therefore, the fond hope that, should death remove us before the coming of the Lord, we shall meet, know, and have delightful communion with our friends, who departed this life in Jesus. But the recognition and the communion must necessarily be not so perfect and full as when Christ shall appear, and the risen saints shall cluster together around the person and in the kingdom of their Lord; since neither we nor they have attained our state of full knowledge and capacity, until that great event take place, and the "blessed hope" is realized.
How clearly is this truth stated by the apostle! Attempting to console the minds of those who were mourning for their departed kindred, he uses these animating words: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that you sorrow not even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." These members of the Church in Thessalonica were bereaved: the apostle seeks to soothe their grief by assuring those who, at the coming of Jesus, they would meet their departed relatives again. But what real consolation could this hope inspire if, when they met them again, they should not know them?
But we argue the recognition of the saints from the fact of the perfection of knowledge to which the coming glory will advance us. Our dear Lord reminds His saints that they shall be equal to the angels. They know each other. It would seem impossible, living together for so many years, that they should not. If, then, the saints are equal to them at all, they must be in this sweet privilege. And is it reasonable to suppose, that in all other respects our knowledge will be perfected, save in this one particular only? Shall we possess an element of mental power here, which we shall lose in a gradation towards perfection, and consequently, shall not possess in a higher degree hereafter? Assuredly not. When, therefore, the dead in Christ shall rise at His coming, every intellectual faculty will be enlarged, and not only retaining all our former, but increasing the amount by a larger degree of additional knowledge, we shall "know even as we are known."
The perfection of happiness, which glorification implies, involves this blessing. What a rich source of high and holy delight does the communion of saints supply even in our present state! How it elevates, chastens, expands, and soothes the mind and heart, so much beclouded by care and chafed by sorrow! A look beaming with love, an expression of the countenance speaking of sympathy, a word unfolding counsel or uttering a promise, oh, it has been like the sudden gleam of the sun bursting through the dark clouds of a storm-wreathed sky!
Above all price is Christian friendship! How sweet the communion of holy minds! To rush into the warm embrace of fond ones, from whom oceans had divided or years had long separated us; to recognize their well-remembered features, too deeply engraven on memory's tablet to have faded- to know again the speaking eye, the familiar countenance, the gentle voice- oh, who has not felt the joyous thrill of that moment?
But heaven will perfect this bliss. Does it not heighten the beauty of the prospect, and strengthen the expectation of the scene? Will it add nothing to the glory of that event, and to the happiness of that moment, when the Son of God descends, and, dissolving the soft slumbers of the holy dead, will re-animate each with its former occupant, that then we shall perfectly recognize those we once knew and loved, and renew the sweet communion before imperfect and limited, but now complete and eternal? Dry, then, your tears, and cease to mourn, you saints of God. They are 'not lost, but gone before.' Their spirits live with Jesus. And when He comes, He will bring them with Him, and you shall see and know them with a cloudless sight and a perfect knowledge. The very eyes which once smiled upon you so kindly- the very tongue which spoke to you so comfortingly- the very hands which administered to you so skillfully- the very feet which traveled by your side so faithfully- the very bosom which pillowed you so tenderly- you shall meet again. "The coming of the Lord draws near," and those who "sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." Let us "comfort one another with these words."
And will it be no additional joy to meet and to know those eminent servants of the Lord whose histories and whose writings stimulated, instructed, and cheered us, shedding light and gladness on our way? Abraham, whose faith had animated us; David, whose experimental psalms had comforted us; Isaiah, whose vision of Jesus had gladdened us; Paul, whose doctrinal epistles had instructed us; John, whose letters of love had subdued us; to gaze upon 'Magdalene' sitting at Jesus' feet- upon the 'beggar' reposing in Abraham's bosom- upon the 'thief' with Christ in paradise- oh! will not this add to the happiness of heaven? Will this be no joy, no bliss, no glory? Assuredly it will!
At Christ's coming, will not His ministers, too, and those to whom their labors had been useful, meet, know, and rejoice in each other? The pastor and the flock, will there be no certain and permanent reunion? no sweet, and fond, and holy recognition? Shall their union in the Church below exceed, in its beauty and sweetness, their reunion in the Church above? Here it is necessarily mingled with much that is imperfect. Much concealment is connected with their united labors in the vineyard of Christ. They go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, and often are called to their rest before the fruit of their prayers, and tears, and toil appears. Here, too, seasons of sickness and of separation frequently transpire, enshrouding the spirit with gloom, and wringing the heart with anguish. And then, at last, death itself rudely breaks the tender bond, lays the Standard-bearer low, leaving the affectionate flock to gaze with streaming eye upon the lessening spirit of their pastor as it ascends and towers away to glory. But the coming of Jesus, with all His saints, will restore this happy union, invest it with new and richer glory, and place it upon a permanent, yes, everlasting basis. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy." It was this hope which animated the apostle so fully and constantly to preach Jesus: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Do we not see here an argument for the mutual recognition of the saints at the coming of the Lord? For how could the apostle present those believers in that day, unless he had a knowledge of their persons? or how, without this recognition, could he call them his "crown of rejoicing?" Yes, beloved, we shall know one another again, altered and glorified though we may be. Our Lord's appearing, if it change our vile body, fashioning it like unto His glorious body, will also enlarge our mental capacity of knowing even as also we shall be known. You bereaved flocks! you mourning churches! has the Lord taken from you the faithful minister, the tender pastor, the watchful shepherd? Has he who first led you to Jesus, who preached to you Jesus, who built you up in Jesus, gone now to be with Jesus? Oh think, as you gaze upon the vacant and mourning-clad pulpit, that soon Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven, attended by your pastor; and you shall meet him again, and he will present you, even you, his children begotten in the faith, before God perfect in Christ Jesus.
The restoration of the Jewish nation to their own land, and their national conversion to God, will be an event greatly contributing to the glory of the Redeemer at His coming. Into the full investigation of this deeply interesting subject- deepening in interest as the "day draws near" our few remaining pages will not allow us to enter. We must content ourselves with a rapid glance at the Scripture testimony on which we ground our belief of the gathering together of Israel and Judah to the land of their fathers, and the reunion of the two kingdoms subsequently to, and yet closely connected with, the second advent of Him whom they pierced. We need not spend any time in proving that the descendants of Abraham are not only not in possession of Palestine, but are at this moment a people 'scattered and torn,' the dispersed over all the lands. This fact is too evident to need proof. Where is there scarcely a spot on the earth, trodden by the foot of civilized man, where the Jews have not, in their wanderings, found their way? Separate and distinct from all, they yet have existed among all nations, a living monument of the truth of God's word, and a mournful witness to the sin of their fathers. In almost every part of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, they have been alike found. No mountains nor rivers, no deserts nor oceans, have terminated their wanderings. They have penetrated into the very heart of countries, where the traveler hears of their existence, but can not reach them. Thus are fulfilled to the letter the predictions which foretold their ostracism and dispersion among all countries, their total separation from all people, and the severe persecution of which they should everywhere be the subjects: "I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you, and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste." "And the Lord shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other. . . And among these nations shall you find no ease, nor shall the sole of your foot have rest: but the Lord shall give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind." "And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them." "So the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." How literally have these prophecies been accomplished! From the moment of their banishment from their own land they have roamed the world in quest of rest, finding it not, a "proverb and a byword," the objects of individual hate, of national scorn, proscription, and violence. Oh what an overwhelming evidence to the truth of revelation does their thrilling history afford! Let the infidel honestly study it with God's word in his hand, and he must bend his judgment to the irresistible conviction that that word is truth. Their preservation is a standing miracle, and that miracle is a standing proof of the divinity of the Bible. But exceedingly great and precious promises are theirs. Bright and glowing prospects are placed before them.
Their own land, now occupied by Turks, Greeks, Christians, Arabians, and Moors, while very few Jews are permitted to remain in it- let it be distinctly borne in mind- God gave to them unconditionally, and as theirs forever. Thus He spoke to Abraham, "Unto your seed will I give this land." "All the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever." "I will give unto you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an ever lasting possession; and I sill be their God." Now this gift God has never revoked, in any subsequent period of their history, painful and chequered as that history has been. The unconditional promise of their perpetual possession of the land of Palestine remains to this day as God gave it to Abraham, and will ever so remain.
Let us now turn our attention to some of the promises which distinctly point to their certain restoration to this their own land. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left." How striking and conclusive is this passage! It refers to a second recovery of the Jews. Hitherto there has been but one restoration of the whole nation, which was when God delivered them out of Egypt, for their partial recovery from Babylon does not correspond with the fulness of the language of this prophecy. Again, the prophet declares that the Lord shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers." "The days come, says the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it." "Thus says the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.... Thus says the Lord of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you." What a bright and radiant landscape stretches out before the view of God's ancient people! What hues of beauty tint and adorn their sky! What blessings, what bliss, what honor, what distinction await them!
The conversion of the Jews to the faith of Jesus- perhaps the first in order of time- is a subject as distinctly and clearly specified in God's word as is their literal restoration to their own land. A few passages only, affirming the certainty of this blessed event, must suffice for our present proof. "I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and I will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and anew spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them. And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God." "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth .... They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them." "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son."
Passing on to the New Testament, we find the conversion of Israel as unequivocally and explicitly declared. "I say then, Has God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Know you not what the Scripture says of Elias, how he makes intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Your prophets, and dug down Your altars: and I am left alone, and they seek my life? But what says the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." The apostle then goes on to show, that the accession of Jacob's posterity to the Church of God will involve on a large and national scale the conversion of the Gentiles. "Now if the full of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness! ... If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" "God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all. Oh the depth of, the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
But the glory which these events- the complete recovery of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and their gathering together within one fold, and under the one Shepherd- will enkindle around the descending form of the Redeemer, what imagination can fully conceive, or pen describe? Then how glorious will appear His word, magnified above all His name! How manifest His faithfulness in fulfilling to the letter all His promises to His ancient people! How stupendous His love, how rich His grace, how precious His blood, how mighty His power, how illustrious His wisdom, yes, how transcendent His whole moral government, as from the valley of dry bones a mighty army is seen to arise, of living, joyous, holy beings as from every part under heaven, His long lost, long afflicted, long rebellious people are seen to come clustering in adoring crowds around Him whom their fathers slew and hanged upon a tree! Methinks it will be the crowning act of redeeming, pardoning, quickening grace- the brightest, the sweetest, the richest of all. The cry of wondrous joy will be raised, "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to the windows of their dove-cote?" Ten thousand voices will be heard replying- "These are they who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;" while from their lips, once muttering imprecations upon their Messiah, the song will now float, filling the air with its melody, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." Oh, who does not love and long for His appearing in the clouds of heaven, whose coming will be the signal of such blessings to the Church as these?
Other events dependent upon the coming of the Redeemer will augment the glory of His person and the splendor of the scene. Then will take place the full revelation, and the final overthrow of the "Man of sin," and all anti-christian confederates- the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, in which will dwell righteousness- the setting up of the throne of David, and the millennial reign of the saints with Christ over a holy and happy creation. "Then will He sit upon the throne of His glory." "He will judge among the nations." He "shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously." "All things shall be put under His feet." He shall wear the "many crowns," and the "kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever." "Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!"
Let us now briefly contemplate THE APPROPRIATE AND SPIRITUAL POSTURE IN WHICH IT BEHOOVES ALL, AND ESPECIALLY CHRIST'S CHURCH, TO BE FOUND IN VIEW OF SO GLORIOUS AND NEAR AN EVENT AS THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS. For "behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints." The becoming attitude is in general terms thus expressed- "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God even our Savior Jesus Christ." It involves among other particulars, Faith in the doctrine of the coming Savior, as the basis of a holy posture of expectation. Without a belief of this truth, there can be no looking for this blessed hope. "When the Son of man comes, will He find faith" -in this doctrine- "on the earth?" No: it is to be feared that many in the Church will be found sadly lacking here. They had believed in the coming of death, but they had not believed in the coming of Him who has 'abolished death.' They had expected with trembling the "king of terror," but had not expected with joy the "King of glory." They had hoped to go to Christ, but they had not hoped that Christ would come to them. But the "glorious appearing" of Jesus, and not the death of the saints, is the "blessed hope" of the Church of God. On this one grand event the eye of faith is bade to rest, as the pole-star of the soul: "Until the day-star arise in your hearts." And how much more soothing to the believing mind is such an object of faith, than the terrific monster- Death! To look up to the "bright and morning Star," and not down into the misty vault of the grave- to anticipate the glorious coming of the great Captain of my salvation, and not the gloomy and subtle approach- perhaps by slow and lingering steps- of the "last enemy" of my being- to hope for the coming of the Conqueror, and not to live in dread expectation of the foe, surely is more strengthening to faith, animating to hope, and stimulating to love!
Faith thus firmly grasping the doctrine that reveals, will inspire the hope that expects, the event. The child of God first believing it, will then be found looking for it. Resembling the faithful and affectionate wife, who frequently retires to read over the letters of her long-absent and far-distant husband, lingering with especial interest and delight over the assurances of his certain and speedy return to her again, love will constrain you to dwell upon the promise- "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, you may be also." "I will not leave you comfortless (orphans), I will come to you." Thus, a quickening power and holy exercise are given to these sister graces of the Spirit, faith, hope, and love. Faith believes it; hope expects it; love desires it.
Thus, with this firm belief in the doctrine of the Lord's coming, the truth itself will be found an eminently influential one. Is it asked, Of what PRACTICAL USE is this blessed hope to the Church of God? We answer, 'Much every way.' Chiefly in the emptiness and nothingness to which it reduces all worldly glory, and in the holy elevation which it gives the believer above all sublunary enjoyments. And is this no great attainment in holiness? The grand duty of the believer is to live above the world. He is not of the world, even as Christ was not of it. The very name of a Christian implies his crucifixion to the world. In his profession, his joys, his pursuits, his hopes, he seems to say, with the soaring eagle, "I was born on the earth, but I live in the sky." But we require powerful motives to influence us to this. We are moved by motive, and the religion of Jesus is pre-eminently a religion of motive. The certain and speedy coming of Christ to glorify His Church, oh, what a motive is here! Were you to rise in the morning impressed with this truth, how sweetly would it carry you through your day! How effectually would it dim the luster of the world's pomp, deaden its joys, soothe your sorrows, dry your tears, lighten your burdens, reconcile you to poverty, to crosses, to losses, yes, to whatever your Lord ordains! You would feel, "What have I to do with the world's vanities, its smiles, and its glories? I am waiting, expecting, looking, hoping, praying, for that blessed hope, the appearing of my Redeemer." Oh what an eminent Christian would you be! What a burning and shining light! What vigorous faith, what lively hope, what fervent love, what a holy living for God, for Christ, and for eternity, would henceforth distinguish you!
It stimulates to the exercise of watchfulness and prayer. How closely and beautifully has our dear Lord connected together these two important Christian duties, "Watch and pray!" The one as necessary as the other is sublime. Watchfulness implying uncertainty as to time; prayer expressive of an earnest desire to be found in an appropriate attitude for the event. "Watch therefore and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." "Watch therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord does come." "Therefore, be you ready also, for in such an hour as you do not think, the Son of man comes." "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments." Surely, if our affections were supremely fixed on Jesus- were He to us the "chief among ten thousand," and did we really feel in our hearts the sentiment which our lips so often utter, "Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides You," the return of our Lord would be to us a matter of most delightsome expectation and joyous desire. Our earnest prayer would oftener be, "Why are Your chariot-wheels so long in coming? Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
Yet again: we are the expectants of a "new heaven and a new earth," from which will be excluded all that is sinful and sorrowful, and in which will dwell all that is holy and blissful. This world of pollution and of woe, and yonder skies of storm and of tempest, soon will pass away. "The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and of perdition of ungodly men." "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness." As to the precise period at which
God will thus create all things new, the students of prophecy are divided in opinion. Some place it at the commencement of the thousand years of millennial blessedness, believing that on this renovated earth Christ will reign in glory with His saints, and that at its expiration, the second or general resurrection will take place, the judgment will be set, and the books be opened. But differing from this view as to the time of the new creation, we are constrained to place it after the first resurrection, at the close of the thousand years, and immediately following the judicial process of the judgment day. In support of this opinion we again quote the words of Peter, "The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and of perdition of ungodly men." And it will be recollected that immediately after John describes the process of the last judgment, he says, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
The heavens and the earth, thus renovated and formed anew, will constitute the home and the abode of the glorified, palm-bearing saints. All the physical evils, all the ravages of sin, all the emblems of the curse, will have passed away; and from the conflagration of the old, a new creation will spring, like the fabled phoenix from its ashes, robed in beauty, order, and loveliness. "For behold," says God, "I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create." That this view of a renovated earth may disturb the conceptions of many pious minds, we are prepared to believe. To the believer the present material world has so long been the scene of moral degradation and of sin, a valley of bereavement and of tears, that he has labored to detach his best sympathies and affections from its locality, and fix them upon some distant though undefined abode of glory and of bliss. Throwing his eye around, and resting it on nothing but spots blighted with the mildew of the curse; forms of pollution each moment crowding around his path, and spectacles of suffering meeting him at every glance; his ears assailed with the plaintive sighs of grief, or the harsh sounds of blasphemy, he has longed for the wings of a dove, with which he might soar to another and a holier dwelling-place, far removed from all the sorrows of earth and the grossness of materialism. But of such would I inquire, May not your views and anticipations of heaven be less spiritual than you have supposed? Are not your conceptions of its nature derived less from anticipations of the Divine glory, than they are intertwined with cherished expectations of your own happiness? What is it to me, whether I float in ether, or whether I dwell in a material heaven- a world re-created, restored, made holy, if God is but glorified, and His will is done on earth, even as it is done in heaven? And this is heaven!
To come back, wearing my same material but glorified body, to the same material but glorified earth, both springing from their ruin, lovely, pure, beauteous, immortal- "to be with Christ"- to be like Christ- to behold the glory of Christ- to mark His triumphs- to witness the golden harvest of Redemption waving in a world once accursed through rebellion, and barren through sin- to behold the contrast between revolt and allegiance, hatred and love, sorrow and bliss, death and immortality- to go and trace the spot where this picture of incarnate love was displayed- to see the crown upon His head, who singlehanded fought the battle and won the victory- to reign with Him, and to unite in the accordant song of praise in the presence of Him to whom it refers, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen," -oh, can we form a loftier conception of heaven, or cherish a fonder desire for its happiness and joy, than this? Where is rest, where is peace, where is joy, where is purity, if not found in the presence of the crowned Lamb, associated with the reigning Church, and on the actual theater of His glorious triumph? "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and basting unto the coming of the day of God!"
But the appearing of the Lord, while it will be "the year of His redeemed," will also be the "day of vengeance" to His enemies. He comes to judgment! "Look, the Lord is coming with thousands of his holy ones. He will bring the people of the world to judgment. He will convict the ungodly of all the evil things they have done in rebellion and of all the insults that godless sinners have spoken against him." You may think lightly of Christ now- you may despise and reject Him now- you may scoff at the doctrine, and say, "Where is the promise of His coming? " but, He will come to judgment, and every eye shall see Him, and you shall see Him. That same Jesus whose Deity, perhaps, you have denied, whose atonement you have rejected, whose saints you have ridiculed, that same "Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God, and 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." Then will "all the kindreds of the earth wail because of Him." "I beheld," says the apostle, "and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
You enemies of God! You despisers of Christ! You lovers of the world, dazzled with its pomp, and fascinated with its pleasures, pause for a moment, and contemplate this tremendous scene. "Look at that point, far away in the ethereal regions, where the gradually lessening form of our Savior disappeared from the gaze of His disciples, when He ascended to heaven. In that point see an uncommon, but faint and undefined, brightness, just beginning to appear. It has caught the roving eye of yon careless gazer, and excited his curiosity. He points it out to a second and a third. A little circle now collects, and various are the conjectures which they form respecting it. Similar circles are formed, and similar conjectures made, in a thousand different parts of the world. But conjecture is soon to give place to certainty- awful, appalling, overwhelming certainty. While they gaze, the appearance which has excited their curiosity rapidly approaches, and still more rapidly brightens. Some begin to suspect what it may prove; but no one dares to give utterance to his suspicions. Meanwhile the light of the sun begins to fade before a brightness superior to its own. Thousands see their shadows cast in a new direction, and thousands of hitherto careless eyes look up at once, to discover the cause. Full clearly they see it; and now new hopes and fears begin to agitate their breasts. The afflicted and persecuted servants of Christ begin to hope that the predicted, long-expected day of their deliverance is arrived. The wicked, the careless, the unbelieving, begin to fear that the Bible is about to prove no idle tale. And fiery shapes, moving like streams of lightning, begin to appear indistinctly amid the bright dazzling cloud which comes rushing down as on the wings of a whirlwind. At length it reaches its destined place. It pauses; then, suddenly unfolding, discloses at once a great white throne, where sits, starry resplendent, in all the glories of the Godhead, the Man Christ Jesus! Every eye sees Him, every heart knows Him. Too well do the wretched unprepared inhabitants of the earth now know what to expect; and one universal shriek of anguish and despair rises to heaven, and is echoed back to earth. But louder, far louder than the universal cry, now sounds the last trumpet; and, far above all, is heard the voice of the Omnipotent, summoning the dead to arise, and come to judgment. New terrors now assail the living. On every side, no, under their very feet, the earth heaves, as in convulsions; the graves open, and the dead come forth, while, at the same moment, a change, equivalent to that occasioned by death, is effected by Almighty power on the bodies of the living. Their mortal bodies put on immortality, and are thus prepared to sustain a weight of glory, or of wretchedness, which flesh and blood could not endure. Meanwhile legions of angels are seen darting from pole to pole, gathering together the faithful servants of Christ from the four winds of heaven, and bearing them aloft to meet the Lord in the air, where He causes them to be placed at His own right hand, preparatory to the sentence which is to award to them everlasting life." But another and a different scene presents itself. Consternation now seizes the myriads whom this event has surprised amid their worldliness, their gaiety, their voluptuousness, their employment, their marrying, and their being given in marriage. As a thief in the night, the Bridegroom has startled them from their sleep! And now the graceless professor seizes his lamp, and finds it destitute of oil. The pharisee hastens to wrap his righteousness around him, but discovers that it is too narrow to conceal his deformity. The scoffer, the sceptic, the careless, the procrastinator, are seen fleeing from refuge to refuge, from mountain to mountain, from rock to rock, but none afford a shelter from the darkening storm. The great day of His wrath is come, and who is able to stand? The judgment is set! the books are opened! the wicked are arraigned! the trial proceeds! the verdict is given! the sentence is pronounced! the doom is fixed! and the undying worm and the quenchless flame are their portion forever! "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." "Upon the wicked He will rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." Reader! are you prepared for the coming of the Lord? Are you ready to enter in with Him to the marriage supper? Are you a professor? Have you grace- renewing, humbling, sanctifying, Christ-exalting grace in your heart? Is your preparation one of principle, one of habit? Will it abide the searching scrutiny of that day? Examine and see. Take nothing for granted, in deciding a matter so solemn, and involving interests so momentous. Christ must be all in all to you- the entire groundwork and fabric of your salvation. Mere notions of truth- external membership with the Church- sacraments- regular attendance upon means- punctilious observance of days, and forms, and ceremonies, in themselves, are no fit preparation for this awful event. As the fruit of a living faith in Jesus, they are valuable; but standing alone, without repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are the wood, the hay, the stubble which the last fire will consume.
Believer in Jesus, the day of your redemption draws near! The Lord is at hand. Behold, the Judge stands at the door. The days we live in are eventful. The times are perilous. The signs, thickening and darkening around us, are deeply and fearfully significant. We are standing on the eve of events perhaps more awful than the world has ever seen. A period of glory for the Church brighter than has yet shone upon her, and a period of woe to the world more dark than has yet cast its shadows upon it, seems rapidly approaching. Then, "let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober." "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand." "Watch you therefore for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping." Oh, to blend the steady thought of our Redeemer's coming with every present duty, privilege, and effort: how would it hallow, cheer, and dignify us, consecrating by one of the most solemn motives, the lowliest work of faith, and the feeblest labor of love!
Thus, too, would there be a growing preparedness of mind for the judgments which are yet to come upon the earth. "For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near."
"A child of God! and can this earth's vain pleasures
Be anything to you for whom the Savior died?
Rise, rise above them all! its worthless treasures,
Its soul-destroying joys, its pomp and pride.
Be His in all, your soul and eye be single,
Fixed as the glory that surrounds the throne;
Seek not Christ's service with the world to mingle;
Remember God has sealed you for His own.
O child of God! do not be this earth your dwelling,
But stand in spirit on that glassy sea,
Where the rich harmonies forever swelling,
Sound forth the slain Lamb's love, so full, so free.
Stand forth in peace, far above all the madness
Of sinful man, weighing with even scale
The worth of all things- feeling the deep gladness
Of one who follows Christ within the veil.
Child of the living God! what boundless blessing!
His Spirit yours, to comfort and refine;
The heir of God! joint-heir with Christ, possessing
All things in Him, and He Himself too thine.
Hold fast your crown, go forth with joy, meet Him
Soon will He come, and take you for His own.
With girded loins and burning lamps then greet Him,
The Bridegroom's triumph yours; yours too His throne!"
Precious Jesus! we have been contemplating Your glory as through a glass darkly. And yet we thank and adore You even for this glimpse. Dim and imperfect though it is, it has endeared You, unutterably endeared You, to our hearts. Oh! if this is Your glory beheld through a clouded medium, what will it be when seen face to face! Soon, soon shall we gaze upon it. Then, glorious King, we will exclaim, "It was a true report that I heard of Your acts and of Your wisdom, and behold, the half was not told me." "Seeing that we look for such things, grant us grace, that being diligent, we may be found of You in peace, without spot and blameless. Send to us what You will, withhold from us what You will; only vouchsafe to us a "part in the first resurrection," and a seat at Your right hand when You come to Your kingdom. Low at Your feet we fall! Here may Your Spirit reveal to us more of Your glory! Oh irradiate, sanctify, and cheer us with its beams! Behold, we cling to You! You are our Emmanuel, our portion, and our all. In darkness, we repair to the fountain of Your light. In sorrow, we flee to the asylum of Your bosom. Oppressed, we come to the shelter of Your cross. Oh take our hearts, and bind them closer and still closer to Yourself! Won by Your beauty, and drawn by Your love, let there be a renewed surrender of our whole spirit, and soul, and body. Claim and take a fresh possession. "Your statutes have been our songs in the house of out pilgrimage;" "You shall guide us with Your counsel, and afterward receive us to glory." Then, oh then shall we unite with the Hallelujah Chorus, and sing in strains of surpassing sweetness, gratitude, and love
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!"