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The Second Advent; or, the Glorious Epiphany of our Lord

Jesus Christ. Being an attempt to elucidate, in Chronological Order, the Prophecies both of the Old and New Testament which relate to that Event. By the Rev. John Fry, B.A. Rector of Desford, in Leicestershire. London, 2 vols, Svo, 1822.

[The conductors of the Biblical Repertory and Theological Review do not desire to make the work the vehicle exclusively of their own opinions, but are desirous of extending to their correspondents the liberty of advocating their own sentiments, reserving to themselves the right of deciding how far the opinions advanced can, with propriety, through their instrumentality, be presented to the public. They are, therefore, not to be considered as adopting the views presented by the author of the article on the Second Advent. As the subject, however, is one of interest, and has long been a matter of public discussion in England, it is probable our readers will be glad to see an exhibition of the


different views there entertained respecting it. The extravagancies and eccentricities of many of the leading members of the “prophetic school” have thrown a discredit on the subject, which belongs properly to the individuals, and not to the investigations in which they are engaged.]

“There is scarce a prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming.” This striking sentence is from the pen of Sir Isaac Newton, one of the very best writers on the prophecies; whose repute as an expositor would at this day have been greater, had his fame as a philosopher been less; few men having ever lived so well qualified to act at once as the hierophants of nature and of revelation. Let the truth of the remark be conceded, and it furnishes us with the real clue-allowing of course for the inveterate moral pravity of the human heart-to the Jews' rejection of the Saviour. They confounded the predictions of his first coming with those of the second. Of the second advent it was foretold that the Lord should come in state, in power, and great glory; that is, in a manner more accordant with the general expectation concerning him; that the end of his coming was to establish a glorious kingdom on earth; that he should come with ten thousand of his saints; that the clouds of heaven and attendant hosts of angels should signalize his bright epiphany; that he should appear conspicuous in regal dignity, being “made higher than the kings of the earth;" that his people should share in the glory of this his manifestation; that the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven should be given to them: while on the other hand, all opposing powers of whatever name, “being adversary and evil occurrent,” should be utterly and triumphantly put down. It is not surprising therefore, that with those splendid visions Aoating before their eyes; with the pomp and glitter of an august terrestrial kingdom held out to their hopes, they should have felt in all its force the contrast between the lofty style of their prophets and the lowly guise of Jesus of Nazareth, “ whose father and mother they knew :" we can see with what disastrous facility they might have stumbled at this stumbling stone, at which they did stumble; and how natural that they should have been fatally scandalized at the claims and assumptions of the son of Joseph and Mary. By the powers

of a judicial infatuation, a kind of sealing up of the spiritual senses, they had entirely overlooked, or perverted by the most outrageous glosses, that whole class of predictions which spake of the necessary antecedent “sufferings" of the Messiah, and fixed their eye entirely on “the glory that should follow.” They were transported with the view of their expected Shiloh, as a mighty conqueror “lifting up the head;" but they could not see him “stooping to drink of the brook by the way,” in the deep abasement of his lowly life and his ignominious passion. Their gross and carnal minds. could have been easily intoxicated by such a representation of his glory as that given by John in the Apocalypse, when he saw heaven opened, and the incarnate Word borne upon a white horse, the emblem of victory, his head crowned with many crowns, his vesture dipped in blood, and his retinue composed of the white-robed armies of heaven following him in shining myriads, as he moved onward to the overthrow of his enemies, and to the assumption of his promised æcumenical empire ; while at the same time, when they actually saw the Son of David entering Jerusalem in humble style, and approaching his temple amidst the hosannas of the multitude, they had no eyes to perceive in this scene the fulfilment of the prophet's words: “Tell ye the daughter of Zion, behold thy king cometh unto thee meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass.

If such then was the radical and ruinous error of the Jews; if from this cause, when the Saviour of men came to his own, his own received him not, but bid as it were their faces from him; it may be questioned whether our danger at the present day is not directly the reverse of this, viz. that of applying what is said of his first coming to his second, or in supposing that the prophecies which foretel the latter, are fulfilled in a spiritual coming of the power of his religion, and the more general extension of his kingdom on earth. That the expression “ the coming of Christ," may in one or two instances have this import, is probable; but that in its primary and predominant sense it implies a real, personal, visible and glorious appearance of the Son of God, called in the Scriptures his “revelation from heaven," has been all along the faith of the church, and we see not how it can admit of doubt, as long as the following passages form a part of holy writ : “Ye men of Israel, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken

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