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tion, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Such is the picture that will be a sign of the times in the days preceding the coming of the Son of man.
Christianity is not to be a progressive development from what it is now to its millennial. glory. The idea of many excellent Christians — excellent in all that constitutes the vitality of the truth, but I think deceived and mistaken in this is that by the aid of missions, by the distribution of the Bible, by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit of God, this present dispensation shall have its piety so deepened that the Millennium shall be its coronal, a Millennium the product of elements that are now in action; and not a new age and a new dispensation altogether. Now, if I understand the Bible, it says that the last days of this dispensation shall be worse than the first — that when the Son of man cometh shall he find faith upon the earth ? — that as it was in the days of Noah, just before the judgment of water came, so shall it be in our days just before the judgment of fire comes; men living without God, marrying and giving in marriage, eating, drinking, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Judging from the Bible, the Millennium belongs to a distinct dispensation. I do not believe that it is the complement of the present age, but the commencement of a new one. This dispensation is the dispensation of the Spirit, where the Holy Spirit is electing a people out of this world to be a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, a peculiar people: the next dispensation is when Christ — the King, the true Shechinah, the glory of God - shall personally be revealed, shall personally reign, and all shall be righteous, none depraved, the lion lie down with the lamb, and there shall be no more tears, nor death, nor weeping, nor sorrow, nor crying: the Millennium, the beautiful morning dawn of the everlasting heaven that spreads over all the universe, and earth undergo a re-Genesis, just as the body undergoes a resurrection, and be the heaven of God's people, more beautiful than Paradise, the first home of man, when he came from the hands of his Creator.
We look, therefore, for matters to get worse as the end approaches. And whilst there are more of the people of God than there have been, and more in our own land than in any land upon earth, yet the vast majority of Christendom answers too terribly to the portrait given by the Apostle. Many Christians feel it difficult to entertain the idea that this world is to be the abode of the saints in the future age. But why should you suppose we are to live in some etherialized atmosphere, intangible, and invisible? Adam and Eve held communion with God in Eden, and is it impossible that we shall be made so pure, morally so perfect, and the earth, our dwelling-place, so cleansed of every impure element, that it shall be the loveliest orb in
the universe, because the prodigal one restored to its Creator's presence, to its Father's bosom; while all the sister orbs of creation sing for joy, “Let us rejoice, for this our sister orb was lost, and is now found; was dead, and is now made alive."
But if we are—and I believe we are now-rapidly approaching the close of this dispensation, our first inquiry is, Are we Christians ? — are our hearts changed ? — are we sprinkled with atoning blood ? In other words, is religion anything to us, and are we anything to it? The religion of this book is not something within its boards, to be read when we open it, and to be forgotten when we put our Bible in our library. But, if I understand it, the religion of this book is to go into every nook and corner of the human heart, to penetrate every byway of private life, every broad-way of public life,
– to regenerate men, influence and make them wisér, happier, holier, and more like God. Has it done so? What better are you for the fact that this book was written? Would you be just as you are now, if you had never heard that Christ was crucified ? Would you have been just at this moment as you are and have been, if there were no such thing as religion in the world? You may estimate the influence religion has had upon you, and the connexion you have had with it, by this :
- How much has it done for you? What has it made me that I could not have been made without it? What hopes has it kindled in my heart that I could not have without it? What blessed prospects has it opened up? How far has it lifted my heart above the world, and taught me while in the world not to be of it? If this book, this religion, this Christ crucified, be your trust, your hope, your peace, the anchor of your soul, sure and steadfast, then, whether Christ takes you to him, or he comes to you, “Blessed are ye, enter into the joy of your Lord,” will be the glad and welcome summons given to your souls.
SIGNS, CELESTIAL AND TERRESTRIAL.
Our blessed Redeemer, as the prophet of the Church, foretells the signs and sights and phenomena of the twilight of this dispensation with the same precision with which an astronomer tells the transit of a planet, or the hour and depth of an eclipse, — “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matt. xxiv. 29–31.
The advent of Jesus is not to be a secret known by the few, but a fact, or rather, a phenomenon that shall be witnessed by the wide world itself. As the lightning shines without the canopy, lighting it up with all its brilliancy and splendour, so the Son of man shall come with such majestic