« PreviousContinue »
which Scripture assigns to the second advent. The death of believers, however changed in its character in virtue of their union to Christ, is intrinsically considered not joyous, but grievous; not attractive, but repulsive. It is the disruption of a tie which the Creator formed for perpetuity, the unnatural and abhorrent divorce of parties made for sweet and uninterrupted fellowship. And as a substitute for the expectation of the Redeemer's appearing, this looking forward to one's death will be found very deficient in practical effect. The bliss of the disembodied spirits of the just is not only incomplete, but in some sense private and fragmentary. But at the Redeemer's appearing all His redeemed will be collected together, and perfectly and publicly glorified. To put the expectation of one's own death in place of the prospect of Christ's appearing is to dislocate a beautiful jointing in divine truth, and to destroy one of its finest collocations." The bride is always represented as feeling in a widowed condition while her Lord is absent. The bridegroom is taken away, and she fasts in those days. She cannot feel sad in the presence of her Lord. She must feel desolate while absent, and anxious for His return.
“Ye now, therefore, have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
Our attitude is not that of expecting, desiring, or waiting for death, but “waiting for the coming of the Lord.”
It is our privilege to look across the valley of the shadow of death, and to rest our eyes on the shining walls of Jerusalem, which is above; so to think of the glory that lies beyond that we shall scarcely notice, certainly not care for, the dark shadow that lies at our feet. Hope, like faith and love, rests on a personal Christ; expects and watches for a living Lord, and patiently waits for His advent.
The promise that runs through all inspired Scripture is that of Christ coming to us, not of our going to Him. He says, “Surely I come quickly.” We do not answer in prayer, " Take us, O Lord, to Thyself,” but “ Come, Lord Jesus." Edward Irving very truly wrote“ If
my bride were in Calcutta and I in England, and I say to her, I am coming, it would be a strange thing for her to busy her mind about coming to me.
“Come, thou bright and holy morning,
Lord, our Sun, arise,
Through the silent skies.”
THE SULTAN AND THE POPE.
In East and West there are impressive signs of yet more weighty events. During the action of the sixth vial, dated about A.D. 1822, the great river Euphrates began to dry up under the descent of an influence which France and England and Italy on political grounds tried, at fearful sacrifice, to mitigate, if not arrest. But steadily and irresistibly the process goes on. All that is distinctive of the crescent in Europe is disappearing. The Turks are crossing the Bosphorus as if the flood were retiring to its fountains ; the deaths outnumber the births, and the Mahometans that remain are day by day parting with their distinctive civil and ecclesiastical habits and usages. The Sultan has in 1867 broken through an ancient restraint. He has put off the Mahometan for a season. Had the Pope visited London and declared himself fallible while he remained in the capital of heretics, he would not have indicated a greater revolutionary movement than that recently inaugurated by the Sultan. Long processes in national life sometimes acquire accelerated speed, precipitating the conclusion
which was supposed to be remote. I appeal for an interpretation of this phenomenon to the public press, an interpretation which, put forward by a student of prophecy, would be regarded as infected by foregone belief, but freely enunciated by an impartial and farseeing press, must convince every reader that we have recently had for our guest one of the most marked and eloquent signs of the times.
The Times of July, 1867, thus writes: “What an event for the students of political prophecy is this entry of the Great Prince of the East, the Grand Turk' of so many direful histories, the chief of the religion which for centuries was dreaded as the most deadly enemy of Christendom, into the palace of an English queen, and the unfolding to the winds of that banner which has carried desolation and terror even into the heart of Europe ! It is this juxtaposition of the West and the East, of Christendom and Islam, of the genius of European liberty and Asiatic despotism, that gives the Sultan's visit its unparalleled importance. The grand vizier is, by general consent, 'un homme d'esprit,' and if he faithfully translated on this occasion, the Sultan has quite as much esprit, and esprit à la Française, as his grand vizier. His Highness is also said to have declared it to be his intention to introduce French institutions into his Empire! This is easier said than done, but I hear it for certain that he has requested the emperor to recommend him a preceptor for the education of the heir to his throne."
Again writes the same journal: “That the ruler of the Ottomans should make a speech at all is almost a revolution, but that he should, with his own lips, express such sentiments and declare such intentions, shows that this Old World, with its seemingly ineradicable hostilities of creed and caste, is breaking up to come forth in some future day new and reformed. It will be observed that we attribute to the few words uttered by the Sultan at Guildhall an importance which the complimentary phrases of great personages seldom possess. Were the speaker a European monarch, and were the purport of his answer merely to pay the conventional homage to peace and friendliness, and to express the usual admiration for our activity and industry, we should look upon both address and reply as formalities, of which the diction and the delivery would be the only matters worthy of criticism. But the world must have made a great advance for the chief Mahomedan ruler to stand in an assembly of Franks and speak in such terms of them and of his own dominions. Liberalism is indeed the order of the day, and the corporation of the city of London was not wanting in this, the newest of the virtues. The Christian assembly complimented the ‘enlightened sovereign’ who ‘unites to a firm attachment to his own faith' the desire that all his subjects should worship as they please. Certainly the 'persecuting spirit' which the Christian Church is accused of displaying in past ages no longer animates the breast of