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ples, that some day the Lord would come for them, even as He had said. They had heard His promise, and had believed it, and were expecting its fulfilment.
As to how He was to come—whether publicly to the world, as, doubtless, He will do, or, first of all, for them—we learn in the 11th verse of the 1st chapter of Acts, where, while the disciples stood gazing stedfastly toward heaven, as Jesus disappeared from their sight, two men stood by them in white apparel, and said, “ Men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from
you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." 66 In like manner.” That is, as I understand, it is not to be a universally public event. The “like manner" does not in anywise answer to the solemn pomp and awful grandeur and terror of the coming to judgment. That He could so come—that millions of angels could come in a way known to His saints, but private to the world, is evident from their songs at the first advent, which none heard but the shepherds. The words, “IN LIKE MANNER,” may indicate that as the Lord's departure was known only by His disciples, so also may it be with His return.
We know that after His resurrection, the Lord came many times to the disciples, and once from heaven to him who describes himself as 6 born out of due time.” But none saw Him, save the disciples and Saul of Tarsus. Even the soldiers who were with Saul saw Him not. So, when the heavens were receiving Him out of their sight, none but the disciples saw Him. Said the angels, “ in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven,” will He return-His going away and His coming again alike unobserved by the world.
Have you ever thought of it?-how that the world has never yet seen a risen Christ. The Rabbis, the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate, the Jews, the soldiers—they
never saw Him after He was put down into the tomb. As for the world that now is, they never so much as ask for Him; they make no inquiry for Him. It would matter to Europe and the world if told, “the Emperor or the Queen were dead !” but the world makes no count of the fact that the Son of man was dead ! It would matter little to the world if no Christ had been crucified, and no Christ had risen, or had entered into heaven. The world cares not about a Christ in heaven, or a Christ who is to come to the air for His saints. Remember it was to the disciples, and not to the world, He said, “I will come again for you; and I go to prepare a place for you a mansion, a home, in the Father's house :” and when the members of the mystical body, of which He is the Head, are complete, He will come again, and for this one purpose—" that I may receive you to myself." Beloved, we need no other interpretation of these words than their own, which is self-evident. Nothing could be plainer than that JESUS HIMSELF-not then as Judge, but as Son, from heaven-is to come ; and to come for us ; and that His coming is to be after the manner of His departure. But, then, not only is He thus to come for us, but
, we, at a subsequent time-how long it may be, we know not-are to come with Him. These truths are both needful to each other. For if we are not first gathered to Him, we cannot appear with Him, as we shall do at the appearing and kingdom. Our Princess could never have appeared with the Prince, unless she had first come. So, as to the first, we shall be caught up “ to meet the Lord in the air ;” and as to the other, we know that when He “shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.”
Beloved, this is no mere theory of our own, but a blessed truth, found in the words themselves. Search
Remember, it is “ the same Jesus” who shall
come Oh, what unnatural thoughts many have of Jesus! They make Him quite another Jesus. But it will be the same Jesus, with the same head that once wore the thorny crown; and the same ever-loving heart; and the same hands and feet once perforated; yes, the same JESUS is to come for us-- —not with marred countenance, or on the bleeding tree. Ah, no! but in His glory and beauty, and rest, which we shall share; as we sing
“ With Him shall my rest be on high,
When in holiness bright I sit down, -
In the peace that His presence shall crown."
As to His coming to the earth : and before the millenium, turn to Acts iii. 20.
“ He (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things." Mark, it is not, “He will send the Spirit,” or the Gospel, which He has sent, but “He shall send JESUS CHRIST, whom the heavens must receive until”—the end of the world ? No: but “ until the times of restitutivn;" until the millennium—according to that word, (Matt. xix. 28,) “ Ye which have fol
" lowed me, in the regeneration (or time of restitution) when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones.” When I brought an objecting friend to this verse, he said, “I have always rejected the thought that Christ could be here till the end of the world, but I now see it is until,' and not 'AFTER' the times of restitution;' not until the great white throne is set up, but "until the times of refreshing, or millennium, which shall come from THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.'” (Acts iii. 19.)
It is plain, then, from these passages, that He will come first, as we have seen, specially for His saints;
and, secondly, as a subsequent event, He will come publicly to the earth, or appear, not for them, but with them—not privately, but in power and great glory.
Let us now touch, for a minute, on the effect which the first of these produced on the Thessalonian saints. Perhaps some one is saying, “ I wonder at the preacher bringing such truth before a congregation in which there must be many who are yet unsaved;" but when Paul went into Thessalonica, were they all saved ? No; they were pagan idolaters; yet, when the champion of the Cross, and the lover of the crown, and the expectant of the person, bodily, of Jesus, went into their dark idolatrous city, did he hold his peace about the promise of the coming, lest they could not or would not understand it? Indeed, no! Paul, where truth was concerned, never pledged himself to silence. How unnatural if he had ! Ah, dear wife, if your husband had gone to a distant home, and was there making a million of money, and was coming to take you to himself, that you might be with him in his riches and splendour, do you think you could keep it all to yourself? You could not. So when that mighty heart, that pleaded for the Cross, and throbbed with expectancy because “the Lord was at hand,” when he went to this idolatrous place he told it all. Says Paul, “ Ye know my manner of entering in;" was it that he never taught them deep truths, for fear of different opinions ? or lest they should not comprehend them ? or lest they should produce disunion ? Ah, no! but speaking of their faith God-ward, he says, (showing how they had been taught,) “ Ye know what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to waiť—to wait for what? For death ? No. For heaven? No. • For His SON FROM HEAVEN.”
As soon as the Thessalonians knew of a crucified Christ, they turned from idols, “ to wait for Him," the Son, as He had said. This was their hope.
Now turn to the 4th chapter, where you will find that some of these saints died ! Like Peter, they were astonished, and said, “ Did not Paul, the apostle, when he planted us as a church, tell us to wait ? and here we are dying !! How is this? Paul writes, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep"—that do die—“ that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” They will lose nothing of the hope, but contrariwise, they will be first in it: “ for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
Dear, sweet sleepers ! they will be the first to be in the glad resurrection scene with Jesus. I never come across this verse without taking a loving glance at our sleeping sainted ones-our fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers—peace to their memories! “ They that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. And this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord"— where? on the earth ? No, not now. At the judgment? Not now; not here at all, but “in the air.” The Lord does not, then, come to the earth, but we are caught up to Him
“ in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Paul, for himself, was evidently in this hope, and did not look simply for death. He said, “ Not that we would be unclothed” — not that we would die-_" but be clothed upon.” And again, “ We shall not all sleep; (die;) we shall be changed." The very truth the Lord taught to Martha, where He said, (John xi. 25, 26,) making a distinction between those who die and those who remain.” - He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and he that liveth (when I come) and believeth in me shall never die.” Or, as