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animate and living—that these broken circles should be reknit; that those who have left us should return; that fathers, and mothers, and sisters, and brothers, and husbands, and wives, and all that made up that exquisitely dear and blessed word home, should again see us, and we see them, to tell over the story of our pilgrimage below, and to lift up together the anthem peal that celebrates our joys above,—we shall long for that day when we shall see Him come in like manner as we have seen Him go.
Not only shall they all be restored, but death itself shall be entirely destroyed. Everywhere we see death. All we plant, or build, or lay aside, death in some of its formulas instantly seizes. Build walls of granite, and decay, the breath of death, will instantly begin to act upon them. Death is our enemy, but the last enemy also. His destruction is fully and frequently foretold. The Lord of life overcame death in its own domain, and at the end he will be cast into destruction, and in words that are music as well as prophecy, there shall be no more death.
" I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like a Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” We read in the book of Revelation, in almost similar
words: “Behold, he cometh in clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him; and all kindred of the earth shall wail because of him.” And in Zechariah xiv. 4, there is a remarkable prediction that vividly recalls the ascent of the Saviour as recorded in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. It is stated, in the Acts of the Apostles, that he ascended from the Mount of Olives, a beautiful hill, about a Sabbath day's journey distant from Jerusalem; from that mount he ascended into heaven. Zechariah predicts, in the 14th chapter, at the 4th verse, that He shall come again, in the following words :“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah ; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” In the words of the Epistle to the Thessalonians, Christ shall descend, and bring with Him them that sleep in Jesus. He ascended from that mount; and the prophet leads us to believe that He shall descend on that very mount again. It is not right to try to explain away plain words of Scripture. Wherever the literal interpretation does not involve
absurdity, or obvious contradiction, let us always accept it. But these words are special and elaborately minute, and I cannot explain them away. I must accept the simple prediction that the sacred feet once nailed to the cross for me shall one day stand upon the Mount of Olives, that is before Jerusalem on the east, at that day when the Lord my God shall come and all his saints shall come with him. What shall then take place? We read in the same chapter of Zechariah: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth ; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one." The venerable Dr Chalmers, who formed a different estimate of this very
doctrine now under our consideration in his early days, in his later years fully accepted what we are now trying to explain. In his “Readings on the Old Testament Scriptures," and referring to Zechariah, the venerable professor says: "His people will see him one day whom they pierced, perhaps when his feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem shall again become the metropolis of the whole earth." There is, therefore, nothing singular in these sentiments : indeed one cannot understand how any mind, accepting Scripture according to its simple, literal, and expressive usages, can come to any other conclusion than that which the two men announced to the wondering disciples : This very same Jesus shall so come down again, on this very mount, and in this very mode, as you have seen him personally go up from this mount.
It is also our cheering hope, that when Christ shall
and the dead in Christ shall rise, we shall recognize and hold sweet communion with each other. Christianity is the mother of union. Sin is the cause and spring of disorganization; true religion begins in this world associations, friendships, intercourse, communion, that never will and need not be dissolved. If Christianity has created new ties between me and others, and it was Christian to create them, it is no less Christian to conserve and perpetuate them; if they be the fruits of this religion, like all its fruits they shall have an amaranthine life, and wear an imperishable glory. Natural ties, the ties of parent, of child, of brother or sister, are intrinsically pure and holy; they were originated before sin entered. If they be in themselves intrinsically pure, we must expect that the religion which sanctifies all that is natural will perpetuate for ever what it has sanctified. Can we suppose that Lazarus will not know Martha and her sister Mary? Will the friendship of David and Jonathan be quenched for ever? Will the beautiful affection of Ruth and Naomi wither the instant it is admitted into that land where all bright things never fade, and all blessed things die not? But there are facts that seem to demand a future recognition. For instance, some unseen benefactor has interposed in the hour of your trial, and relieved, comforted, or delivered you. Some word spoken in a distant part of the world by one you never saw, has become to you a ministry of everlasting joy. Some great truths in the printed page, set in a new light, have struck your
heart with irresistible force; you never saw the person that wrote them, or heard a single word from his lips ; but if you feel that what you then read, written it may be across the Atlantic, has been to your soul a savour of life, will it not be natural in the future state to seek out the unknown individual, and ask what he is and who he is ? If they that have turned many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever, will it not be reasonable that you should see that bright star which has guided you across a stormy and a tempestuous sea, now that there is no cloud to intercept its splendour, no darkness to dim, and no space to separate ? The desire is so natural that surely the sense of it here, is a prophecy of its gratification hereafter. A reason why we do not see as we are seen now, is, sin has enfeebled the intellect, deadened the conscience, depraved the heart; but in the future world we shall see in a brighter light, and with anointed eyes, all things clearly; for in this world we see through a glass darkly. In the times when the apostle wrote, the window through which they saw, or the mirror which reflected the human countenance, was then very imperfect, and from its nature extremely opaque. The apostle says,
“We see now through a glass darkly ; but then face to face; now we know in part, but then we shall know even as we are known.”
“I shall go to him, though he shall not come to me."
Does not this expression of hope imply his belief that he would recognize his son whom God had taken from him in just and righteous chastise