« PreviousContinue »
THE ORDER AND SEQUENCE OF EVENTS.
THE popular belief held by not a few truly pious men adjourns the advent of the Redeemer to a far distant period—deep down in the future—too remote to have any influence on our hearts, or hopes, or preparation. They are persuaded that those noble institutions they munificently support and carefully tend—Bible Societies, Missionary Societies, Sunday Schools, Ragged Schools, and the faithful and affectionate preaching of Christ crucified—are destined, by the blessing of God, to bring on the millennium with its thousand years of bliss, and that after, if not before, the Redeemer will return.
The institutions they support are worthy of all the sympathy and support they receive. They are owned and blessed of God; they are His work upon earth. It is a crime to disparage them. But it is a misinterpretation of their work to suppose they are to accomplish the conversion of the whole earth. It seems their mission to bring a people out of the world; to enlighten souls, and build up the bride the Church, and the redeemed.
Both agree that Jesus is to return to our world, but we believe His return is to precede the millennium, not to follow it—that our hope is to rest, not on it, but on a personal Christ—that we are to look for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the Son of God, not that secondary event, the dawn of millennial blessedness. The sunrise introduces the day, and the day closes in sunset. The Sun of righteousness appears first, and the millennial day is the creation of “healing under his wings.” Christ crucified alone the object of faith. Christ crowned alone the object of hope. We believe in the cross; we look for the crown. The prophetic history of our present dispensation, beginning at Bethlehem and ending at the second advent, is a programme of abounding sin and suffering and apostasy; written even like the. prophet's roll, with lamentation, and mourning, and woe. “When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith upon the earth ?” Such a condition is not that which distinguishes the millennium. His servants, instead of being a holy, and happy, and united brotherhood, will be found saying, “My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite their fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; and the Lord shall come in a day when they look not for him, and cut them asunder and appoint them their portion with hypocrites.”
“The Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits."
“This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."
“There shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the pro- . mise of his coming ?'"
“The mystery of iniquity does already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming.”
Thus the great and powerful apostasy will exist throughout this dispensation, and disappear only when Christ comes; there cannot be a millennium with the Antichrist reigning in the midst of it.
The Saviour, in his great prophecy on the Mount, declares—
“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.”
Tribulation, and solar and sidereal disturbances, will thus immediately precede its advent.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What was the moral condition of mankind in the days of Noah? “God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” “So shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.”
Thus the world is to wax worse up to the very arrival of the King of glory. Therefore, those glowing prophecies of an opposite state of things will be fulfilled after, not before, His advent. “They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest.” “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; to the glory of God the Father.” “The whole earth shall be filled with his glory.” “The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.”
These two lines of prophecy, one of abounding wickedness and the other of abounding righteousness, are fulfilled—the former up to the advent of Christ, and the latter after His advent. We do not look for a millennium that will usher in the Redeemer, but for a Redeemer who will introduce the millennium.
So clearly is the second personal advent of the
Saviour delineated in the Old Testament that it caught the eyes of the Jews almost universally, and merged in its splendour, to their apprehension, His first advent, to suffer and to die.
Dr Seiss quotes the following critical evidence of this fact. Knapp writes—“At the time of Christ previously the current opinion of the people in Palestine was that the Messiah would be a temporal deliverer and king of the Jews, and indeed a universal monarch who would reign over all nations. The apostles themselves held this opinion.”
Neander writes—“The Jews expected a Messiah who should be armed with miraculous power in their behalf, free them from civil bondage, execute a severe retribution on the enemies of the theocratic people, and make them masters of the world in a universal empire, whose glory it was their special delight to set forth.”
Schaff writes—"The Jews conceived of the Messianic kingdom as a glorious restoration of the throne of David."
Brooks writes—“It is quite notorious the Jews did, in the time of our Saviour, look for a king who should in an illustrious and glorious manner inherit the throne of David, reign over Israel, and obtain dominion and possession over all nations.”
Amid much that was carnal in the expectation of the Jews, there was also what was true and plainly revealed. The substance of their expectation was Scriptural. Their exaggerations were their own.