« PreviousContinue »
written, that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS: And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God. That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.' These expressions describe the persecutors in their last unnatural coalition; superstition and infidelity (like Herod and Pontius Pilate) making common cause against Jesus. Popery and liberalism uniting their uncongenial ranks, if so be they may succeed in sweeping from the face of the earth the church of Christ, the witnesses for the living God. But our God shall come, and not any longer keep silence, and both sections of persecutors shall be cast alive into the lake of fire. At the Lord's coming the wicked shall not enjoy any respite from bodily suffering, (as they do who die in the meantime, but shall go down alive, body and soul into the lake of fire, as the righteous shall be caught up, body and soul, to meet their Lord in the air: “They both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
3. The Prophet also predicted a special chastisement upon Satan at that time. Mark what the Apostle says, at the beginning of the 20th chapter: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and satan, and bound him a thousand years; and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loose a little season.' There is a needs-be here. It must be so; but it shall only be for a little season.
4. Does the Prophet announce the resurrection of the church, saying, I will swallow up death in victory? Hear what the Apostle says: “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” “This is the first resurrection"--the swallowing up of death in victory. It is in vain to say that because souls are mentioned here, therefore it does not mean the resurrection of the body. The word soul is often put for the whole man,-as where we read of so many thousand souls coming up out of Egypt; and the crew of a vessel consisting of so many souls; and similar expressions without number. And if it be still objected that the soul exclusively is meant, we answer that such an interpretation involves an absurdity, for it is to say that the soul lived again, though the soul can never die. Therefore it must mean the whole man, and the statement is, that the part which did die, lived again, which is called the first resurrection.
How striking is the parallel! The destruction of Babylon, -the preservation of a people in the midst of the ruin, as the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done,—the coming of the Lord out of his place to punish the earth,—the binding of Satan, and the resurrection of the people of God. These the prophets have from the beginning set forth in different sorts of language, and under the New Testament the same great truths are enforced, --God's long-suffering love, the trial of his people and the temporary triumph of their adversaries, the coming of Jesus as the beginning of the everlasting reward of the righteous, and the utter ruin of the ungodly.
Now what is all this in its application to you? First of all, it explains the Scriptures to you,—and this is a view which you should highly prize. By all the value which you set on your Christian experience-for I speak to you who know and love the Lord Jesus—by all the value you set on the experience of his love, you ought highly to prize whatever explains the word of God. The more you know of that, the more solid and stable will your principles and your judgment be. Those who love the excitement of their feelings rather than the instruction of their understandings, are like the drinkers of cordials as compared with the eaters of bread.
Again, in the way of experience, here is a warning against having part or lot in the Babylonish or Roman system. Come
out of her, my people, saith the Lord, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. You have, in one sense, separated from much that is externally wicked: you are no longer partakers in her idolatries-her open and undisguised idolatry in the worship of saints and angels: you are no longer partakers in the blasphemy of her masses,—the folly and mummery of her beads, her crucifixes, scapulars, creeds, and idols. But these are the outside only, and many protest against them, who are still part and parcel of the system;-still in the very heart of the corruption, full of worldly pride, vanity, and self-conceit. This is the real idolatry-indifference to the truth,—disregard of eternity-self-complacency; the spirit that says, “I am a lady, and I shall be a lady for ever.”—Satisfaction with personal possessions and enjoyments-neglect of God's cause on earth,—carelessness about sin, unless hurtful to your credit in the world,-covetousness of the enjoyments of life, leading to luxury and licentiousness, -ignorance, blindness, absorbing engrossment in the pursuit of worldly things,—the merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stones. Oh! my Brethren, except your heart be devoted to God, except you have a desire to prosecute all your undertakings, not for the sake of self, but for the glory of God; attending to them with diligence, and cheerfulness, and prudence, with honesty of purpose, with truth on your lips and integrity in your hearts; unless you are thus God's in reality as well as in profession, you have only protested against the outworks of Popery, while yet you hug the accursed thing to your souls, and hide the Babylonish wedge in your stuff. Bear with this freedom, 1 beseech you: for let me ask you if the world,-if this town,-if this congregation is fit for the coming of Christ? Oh! consider, ye that forget God, lest he tear you to pieces, and there be none to deliver! Honour him. How? I will tell you. Honour him with the first fruits of
increase. Increase is the grand object on which men set their thoughts. Honour him with it. Let every gain be consecrated to God, by a thank-offering. Learn that, except you honour him with your increase, you honour your increase above him,-setting your heart upon it to gratify self; to gratify your appetites by present luxury, or your pride by leaving large legacies. Seek to advance, as far as lies in you, the cause of God; strengthen the hands of those who desire to spread the knowledge of God at home, and to carry the light of the Gospel to the dark and dismal abodes of ignorance and superstition over all the face of the earth. See how busy the agents of the devil are: and if they can prosecute their work with so much ardour amidst all the other avocations of the world, surely you may find opportunities for prosecuting the work of God, without the least disarrangement of your ordinary business. Secret willing ness of heart is fertile in expedients, according to the true proverb, "where there is a will there is a way.
Is it not a duty in stewards to be faithful? Yea; and a most solemn duty. And how, then, shall we be faithful to our divine Master, if, having received opportunities and means, to be applied for the benefit of our fellow-men, and for the doing of the Lord's work in the earth, we appropriate the whole of those resources to our own use, to the gratification of our senses, the indulgence of our sloth, or the feeding of our pride.
Now bear the word of exhortation, and be assured, that whatever delusions the world may supply, and however deceitful your hearts may be, in arguing upon the distance and the uncertainty of the event of Christ's coming—be assured that to us, individually, the day must be fast approaching: the time is short-the world is fading from you at every stepdiseases are at hand-death is on every side—and there is but one ground, one hope of safety,-BE READY. Jesus is the way.
Take no exception, by brethren, at this plain dealing. It is your place to pay attention to the word of God, and woe unto me if I speak it not so far as he has taught it to me. Take no exception, therefore, against me, but take exception against yourselves, for being in such a state that the telling of the truth wounds you. Repent, and believe the gospel; for to all who repent and believe, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will be a joyful and glorious theme of praise, and they shall join our Prophet in the chapter before us, in singing with one enraptured voice, “Lo! this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord, we have waited for him; we will rejoice and be glad in his salvation!”
The Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, in its conThe second coming of our Lord is announced to us in the Holy Scriptures, in connection with four leading themes which embrace the whole subject. 1. The present dispersion and coming restoration of the Jewish people. 2. The present suffering and coming glory of the elect church. 3. The present proud prosperity, and coming utter destruction of ungodly men. And 4. The present groaning misery, and the coming renovation unto blessedness of the whole earth.
nection with the present dispersion and coming restoration of the Jewish people.
Rom. xi. 25—29. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of
this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in
part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion
the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching
the election, they are beloved for the father's sake. "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
It is to the first of these topics, that I desire to call your attention, my brethren, on the present occasion.
In our text we learn that blindness, or rejection, in part, hath happened to Israel, only for a time, until an appointed season, (elsewhere called “the times of the Gentiles,' shall be fulfilled. This interpretation of the passage harmonizes the apostle's meaning, with our Lord's statement in the 21st chapter of St. Luke, Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Blindness in part, saith St. Paul, hath happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentile times, not persons, shall come in.
because to interpret this clause of persons would be to subvert the whole argument of the chapter: the drift of which is to prove, that as the fall of the Jews was the occasion of a blessing to the world, in opening a way for the preaching of the gospel among the nations: the diminishing of the Jews, as the Apostle expresses it, thus proving the riches of the Gentiles: much more the restoration of the Jews shall be life from the dead to the whole world. If, however, we interpret the clause before us to mean Gentile persons, and so understand the Apostle to say, that before Israel's return the fulness of Gentile persons, or in other words, all mankind, shall be come in; then to whom can Israel's return be life from the dead, seeing that all will be already alive before her return?
Thus the integrity of the Apostle's argument, and the parallel statement of our Lord, compel us to conclude, that during the times of the Gentiles, or present dispensation, Israel is involved in unbelief; but that then the whole nation shall be saved, for their Deliverer, or as it is written in Isaiah, the Redeemer shall come to Zion,* and God shall fulfil the promise of his covenant to them in taking away their sins. In the mean time, as concerning the Gospel which they have rejected, they are enemies, for the sake of you Gentile churches, to whom that Gospel is come: but in the end, as touching the purpose of God concerning that nation, and their selection from among the nations, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning their
* Isaiah lix. 20.