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Jesus Christ in glory to judge the world, will not be denied altogether. Where, then, is it revealed? Select your passage; and whatever passage you select, we will shew that it must be fulfilled at the commencement of the Millennium. If you deny our Lord's personal coming at the commencement of the Millennium, we may, upon your principles, deny it altogether, and require you to prove it. If you advance texts to prove it, we take the context of your proofs, and proceed to shew that it must be at the commencement of the Millennium. This is of itself sufficient to refute the objection.
But further: with regard to apparent difficulties,—there are these in every case; everything connected with the infinite God must, from the nature of the case, have some difficulties to finite minds like ours; and therefore difficulties, if fairly considered, can form no objection to revealed truth. Consider the analogy of God's dealings, for here we shall be materially assisted. Let us consider how difficulties must have presented themselves to inquiring minds amongst the Jews, previous to our Lord's first coming. They were informed by the prophets that the Messiah would be born of a virgin,—that he would be despised and rejected of men,—that he would be betrayed by one of his own familiar friends,—that he would be nailed to a tree,—that he would be buried. Let us suppose a conversation to have taken place previous to his first coming between certain Jews, on the one side, who had fastened their attention upon the promised glory of their great King; not understanding, or refusing to attend to, what the prophets had written concerning his humiliation; and on the other side, Simeon and Anna, who were waiting for the consolation of Israel, and hailing the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah. You will remember that the Jewish nation generally stumbled at that stumbling-stone, the humiliation of Jesus. The Christian church has taken the other course; and exhausting her attention on his first coming, has remained heedless of, and is now prepossessed against, what the prophets have written concerning his glory. There are exceptions, as there were amongst the Jews at the first advent; but, generally speaking, this is the state of the case. Let us then, for illustration's sake, consider this conversation between Simeon and a company of Jewish priests. He quotes the 7th chapter of Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." "Immanuel," says Simeon, means “God with us”- that is, the Messiah spoken of by all the prophets. I believe, therefore, that he shall be born of a virgin.” We may easily conceive them saying in reply, “Nay, impossible; the thing is full of difficulties: how can we believe it? The meaning must be spiritual; we do not deny that the passage refers to the Messiah. Immanuel is too plain a word to admit of doubt; but the language can only mean that he shall be holy from his birth. It is wild and extravagant to interpret it literally, and expect such an unnatural impossibility.” Nay," replies Simeon, í dispute not Messiah's holiness. What you say, is quite true as a general statement, but it is not the meaning of this prophecy. The prophet says, 'A virgin shall conceive and bear a son:' therefore I expect the event accordingly.” Then he would quote the 53d chapter, and say, "He shall be despised and rejected, cut off and laid in the grave. We may imagine them saying, “How! the Messiah, who is to reign in glory,—to restore the kingdom to Israel,—to sit on the throne of David, and rule for ever and ever,—cut off and laid in the grave? It must be a figurative mode of expressing his condescension.” “Nay," answers the old man, “whatever figurative meaning we may put upon it, I believe the fact will be as the prophet has spoken.”
Now, my brethren, we know how the events came to pass: we see also the consequence, that while the advocates for a spiritual interpretation rejected Jesus, the old man, who must have adhered to the literal interpretation, was ready to acknowledge him, to take him up in his arms, and say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." We know that it happened in other respects according to the literal sense,-that Messiah was a man of sorrow,—that he was despised and rejected of men,cut off, and laid in the grave.
This is full of instruction to us. The events connected with the Lord's second coming are similarly predicted. He shall come in like manner as he went,—that was, in his human person.
He shall reign over all the earth, that new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; he shall sit on the throne of David, over the house of Jacob for ever; he shall confound his enemies, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel; he shall restore the Jews, and comfort them after their long period of banishment and persecution.* Let us, for the sake of illustration, suppose a conversation between a Christian who holds. these views, and a company whether of priests or people in these days, who think it is more sober-minded to account for the expression of the prophets by the assumption of a spiritual interpretation. Imagine such a one quoting the 9th chapter of Isaiah, the 6th and 7th verses: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Zech. xiv. 9. Luke i. 32, 33, and xix. 27. Rev. ii. 26, 27. Ezek. xxxvii.
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." There can be no mistake in this: here is his birth declared, his name, and his reign over the kingdom of David. He says, “The kingdom of David is the rule over the Jewish nation, the twelve tribes, as unbroken in the days of David, and the throne is the personal government over them in Jerusalem. I expect, accordingly, that Messiah shall appear again; that he shall sit on the throne of David, and rule over the whole twelve tribes of Israel in the holy land.” “Nay,” is the reply; "the meaning of this highly figurative language is, that he shall rule spiritually in the hearts of his people; it signifies that holy authority which he exercises over all his people now, and will exercise over all the nations of the earth when converted, together with the Jews. This is the meaning, and it is the wildest extravagance to interpret and expect it literally, as the throne of David in Jerusalem.” The answer is, “I do not deny the spiritual truth you state. It is, indeed, quite true that he reigns invisibly in the hearts of his people now, and that this reign is in several passages of Scripture called the kingdom of God, or of heaven. This is a precious truth, in which I greatly delight; but this is not the statement of the prophet in the passage before us; his statement is, not that the Lord is reigning in their hearts, but that he will reign over the house of Jacob; which I expect to be fulfilled literally as it is stated.” “It cannot be,” say the others: “Why, how derogatory to the dignity of the glorious Saviour of man, to leave the glory of his Father, and return to reign on the earth. The meaning must be spiritual: there are too many difficulties in the way of a literal interpretation.
In the case of the first Advent, according to the predictions of the prophet, the events, as we have seen, proved the correctness of the literal interpretation. And so will it be in the case now before us. To deny this, is to deal in a most arbitrary manner with the language of the prophets; assuming that nothing can be literally predicted but what has already been fulfilled.
Suppose we take the spiritual interpretation, and reject the literal, what shall we say to the Jews? If we maintain that this prediction in the 9th chapter is spiritual, what consistent answer shall we give to the Jew, when he tells us that the meaning of the virgin bearing a son, as predicted in the 7th
chapter, is also spiritual, and so denies the incarnation? Oh, what a stumbling-block do we throw in his way by doing this? We take the Scriptures and break them asunder. We take the 7th chapter and insist that the meaning is literal, but take the 9th chapter and insist that the meaning is spiritual. This is not a fanciful objection. I have heard a Jew say to a Christian minister, We shall not believe you,-how can you expect it, when you take as much as is convenient for yourselves, and maintain it to be literal, and escape from the rest by maintaining that it is spiritual.
Thus I have called your attention to two points,—the time and nature of the Advent, disclaiming the slightest intention to fix precisely the date; but proving as I think with much Scriptural power, that the time relatively considered. is at the commencement of the Millennium, and that the Advent proved to take place at that time is the personal Advent. I shall now only call your attention further to the state of mind in which this glorious personal appearing of our Lord should be expected by us. My Brethren, it is the end that gives importance to the progress of any proceeding. It is the winding up of a transaction that gives weight to every preceding step. It is the settling of the account, which reflects its sovereign power over the details of the business. Now with what amazing diversity of feeling, do men anticipate the winding up of an open transaction, the settling a long standing account.
My brethren, among ourselves at this present time there is a transaction going forward; a great transaction of business for eternity. Temptations abound. Fraud holds out a promise of gain. Unfaithfulness holds out a promise of ease. Vanity holds out a promise of distinction. Unbelief holds out a promise of impunity. While, on the other side, faith and faithfulness speak loudly and clearly of glory, honour, and immortality. The business proceeds. Men are pledged and busy on every side: and the end,-yes, the end-the day of the Lord's reckoning, the coming of Jesus Christ draweth nigh.
With what marvellous variety of feelings do we await the crisis! To every dishonest mind, to every plausible hypocrite, to every flatterer and backbiter, to every secret cheat, and thief, and liar, and drunkard, to every fornicator, idolater, adulterer, extortioner, to every self-righteous formalist, every self-deceived sentimentalist, every heady high-minded Antinomian, to every unbeliever of every class and every character, the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ will prove the hour of death-eternal death! The brightness of it will strike the ungodly into hell, and the awful sound of it will roll in unabated fury over them throughout eternity! But to the chil.
dren of God, to the believer in Jesus crucified and risen from the dead, to the self-condemning penitent, humbly weeping at the foot of the cross, and reposing in holy peace upon the precious blood of sprinkling; to every new creature quickened by the Holy Ghost, groaning after deliverance from this body of death, and thirsting for higher and nearer conformity to the character of God's dear Son-to every such child of God who has fallen asleep in Jesus since the beginning of the world, and to every such child of God who shall be then alive upon the earth, the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ will be light, and life, and joy; deliverance from every danger, every sorrow, every sin; the birth-day of admission to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; unmingled gladness, because unmingled holiness; perfect conformity to the image of Jesus! Hallelujah! O Lord Jesus! when shall it be? Hasten it in its time! Even so come!
Signs of the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Luke xxi. 24–28. “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall
be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down
of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and
upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves
roaring "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 draweth nigh."
THESE are words of great solemnity in themselves, and to ascertain the right meaning of them, must needs be a matter of lively interest to every true disciple of Christ. Of affectionate and practical interest; for, my dear Brethren, an inquiry into the unfulfilled prophecies of the word of the Lord, so far from being a mark of carnal inquisitiveness, and curious unsanctified speculation, as it has been rashly represented to be, is in truth an exercise of sincere love towards an absent brother.
What is prophecy? A simple answer to this simple question will materially assist us in the investigation of the passage now before us.
Here we are assembled on the 30th of November,