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an event which he represents as the coming of the Son of Man. And while he confessed that he knew notthat God alone knew the precise hour when it would take place, he enumerates many particulars which would occur coincidently with it, such as the utter destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish nation. Then, he says, the Son of Man will come with all the holy angels, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he will separate the good from the wicked, and distribute everlasting awards. He declared moreover that there were some present while he was speaking, who should not taste of death before they saw the glorious coming of the Son of Man. From these representations it was inferred by his disciples that Jesus would personally re-appear within that generation, and raise the dead, that the earth would pass away, and an immortal state immediately succeed. And to this very day, it is almost universally believed among Christians that Jesus will appear again in the clouds of Heaven to judge the world in person and distribute the awards of Eternity.

Let us endeavour to enter more fully into the mind of Jesus. The kingdom of Heaven, which was popularly conceived of as a visible empire, was in the view of Jesus, as we have seen, a new moral condition, a regeneration of the heart of man. This was his grand leading idea. The coming of the kingdom, therefore, signified the diffusion of this idea. Just in the degree in which the supreme importance of inward holiness was felt, and the life of the soul was recognised as the highest good, the kingdom of God had come. The first annunciation of Jesus was, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." It was at hand, for in his own bosom it had already come. There God reigned supreme, and angels dwelt, and the ineffable peace of




heaven was diffused. The heavenly kingdom then was near. And as his influence was extended, the kingdom was extended. It was coming. The coming of the kingdom necessarily involved the coming of the Messiah, the head and founder of the kingdom, and was synonymous with it. The essence and power of his coming was to be looked for, then, in the extension and deepening of his spiritual influence. Not in a personal presence, but in the action and force of a living, Son of God's spirit did "the coming" consist.

There is a remarkable passage that throws great light on our subject. "I will not leave you comfortless," said Jesus to his personal disciples, just before his death, "I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. Then ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Upon his making these declarations one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" Jesus answered, "If a man loveth me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." Could language be more explicit? He who acts out the commandments of Jesus from the heart, elevates and purifies his moral sense. He discerns the moral significance of things. He sees the Father and the Son-they come to him not personally, in visible shapes, but they are manifested in the brightness of their moral being, present to his heart. They not only comé to him, but they are in him and he is in them. A far more intimate acquaintance, a far closer and more



inspiring union takes place, than could be formed by mere personal intercourse. The case admits of impressive illustration. There have been men in the world who have mingled with their fellow men. Their personal appearance has been familiar to many eyes. And yet not until they have vanished, have they come close to men. Once, they were seen, and their voices were heard, but none understood them, and only their outward forms, 'the dust and shadow' of their being, were taken note of. Intellectually, morally, they have been invisible, and only in death, when they have died perhaps by the violent hands of a misjudging world, do they come to be known. Then their worth has been recognised-the living force that was in them, that made them what they were, has been felt intimately, in the hearts of mankind. Then have they come, through the force of their characters and works. So was it with Jesus of Nazareth. Personally present on earth, so near to men bodily that their eyes might see, and their hands touch him, yet he was not known. The spirit that was in him and that made him the being that he was, was as truly hidden,-separate from them, as if he were thousands of miles distantbeyond the boundaries of time. Knowing himself to be the Anointed of heaven, bringing unspeakable good to men, he saw that he was not understood or known. He cared not to attract their bodily eyes to his person, but to enter their heart of hearts and diffuse light and blessedness there. There it was that he longed to come and dwell and reign. But the bitter prejudices of his country prevented his access to the human soul. Jewish pride was as a wall of stone in his way. This was the great obstacle to his coming. He knew that the godlike purpose, for which he lived and was to die, must sooner or later be fulfilled, that he would reach



the hearts of men, and that the stubborn bigotry of his countrymen would be broken down. They had arrayed themselves in their madness against the irreversible will and truth of God, and they must be ground into powder by the steady and onward course of Providence. Foreseeing the utter overthrow of the Jewish nation, how natural was it that he should represent his coming as coincident with that grand national çatastrophe. Then the great and immediate obstacle in the way of his progress would be removed. Then the path would be made straight before him and the mountain would be levelled, and he would come in triumph and great glory. Not that his coming was in fact fully consummated then with the cessation of Jewish hostility. Oh! no. Even now, after the lapse of centuries, Jesus is yet to come to the fulness of his power. The sun of righteousness as yet shines but afar off like a tremulous star. Still, when we go back and place ourselves in imagination at the side of Jesus, and strive to see things as he saw them, we perceive how perfectly natural it was that he should regard and represent the annihilation of Jewish opposition as equivalent. to his coming. The tremendous prejudices, which stood in array before him like a steel host, these naturally appeared to him as the sole enemies of truth, the only obstacles to its progress. When they were crushed, then the way would be clear before him. Then would the Son of Man come.

It may still be urged that his disciples evidently looked for his personal re-appearance, and that, soon; and his own language on some occasions seems to have justified the expectation that the Messiah would come in the clouds of Heaven, attended by angelic hosts.

Now in order to understand those declarations of



his which seem to authorise this expectation, and to trace the error of his disciples to its true source, it is of the utmost importance, in the examination of his language, to distinguish carefully between what was peculiar and original in him, and what belonged to the people and the time. It must be kept fully in view that, before Jesus appeared, the Jews were filled with the expectation of a Prophet and Prince, to come in extraordinary glory and with supernatural demonstrations of power. This was the fixed and universal persuasion. So completely had it taken possession of their minds that, as miracles could not shake, neither could they strengthen it. It admitted neither of increase nor confirmation. The obstinacy, with which they held out against the armies of Rome at the siege of the Holy City, revealed the immense depth of this impression. It had grown into them and become a part of their nature. When Jesus therefore spake of the Son of Man's coming in power and great glory, and with celestial signs and attendants, and being seated on a glorious throne, he did not (so far as this language was concerned) present any new idea or produce any new impression. His hearers believed all this already, and they wanted not the word of man or of angel to confirm it.

But why, you ask, did he use language which represented such erroneous impressions in the popular mind? Because, after all, notwithstanding the false, outward meaning connected with it, it was true, true in a far deeper and more comprehensive sense than the people imagined. It was true that the Son of Man was coming, although not in person, yet in the penetrating power of his spirit, not with a glory to be seen by the eye, not with signs in the upper firmament, yet with a far brighter glory and with more celestial signs.


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