Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

INTRODUCTION.

The foundations of duty are laid in the past. Revelation is the record of all we owe to God, to man, and to ourselves. Motive, direction, and authority are there. But duty is not always easy: sometimes it is sacrifice. The love that inspires it occasionally falters, and the weary heart feels despondent. We are labourers in a dismantled vineyard, voyagers on a stormy sea, and travellers on a rugged, crooked, and storm-beaten road. Hope reads the prophecies and promises of that future, to the grandeur of which all past ages contribute, and in the glory of which they shall all be crowned, and imparts unto wavering faith and weary love those joyous and brilliant prospects which refresh the heart, and restore the strength, and give what in itself is victory—the assurance of a near and glorious success. Faith brings stores from the past, and Hope brings sunshine from the future, and both pour their contributions into the arduous, the troubled, and perplexing present. It was because Moses “ had respect to the recompense of reward

that he was able to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” Abraham was sustained in life's struggles because “ he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” So it is written of that white-robed and glorified company: “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” “ seeking a country, a better country, that is a heavenly one."

Despair is the evening twilight that settles in eternal night. Hope is the morning twilight that expands into everlasting day.

We find the toiling and struggling men of the world fleeing to the novel or romance in order that, lifted out of the oppressive present on the wings of fancy, they may enjoy a transient respite and refreshment. Human nature would die of exhaustion were its back always bowed down. It must turn aside occasionally, if only to gather a wayside flower, or dream of summer,

or draw on the picturesque creations of genius for thoughts that lift it above the earth and waft it away to brighter and more ethereal realms. Prophecy has all the interest of the most brilliant romance, with nothing of its emptiness; all the charm of the highest poetry, all the beauty of the noblest painting, and all the reality of truth and fact. It is God's way of lightening the load of care, glorifying the present and gladdening the heart. Christianity, the religion of faith, and love, and hope, is the religion of happiness. It alone presents an axis of rest to the drifting masses of mankind; it imparts a hope “ that maketh not ashamed ;" it alone brings down into the cold heart the warmth of heaven. It is the temptation of man to borrow for to-day the troubles of to-morrow, and to carry over to to-morrow the duties of to-day, thus setting aside the business that belongs to him, and trading on capital that does not. It is the teaching of heaven to draw from the morrow its sunshine, not to supplant, but to sustain the duties of today. That blessed morrow, thank God! comes nearer

every day.

No Christian would wish to adjourn it were it possible.

Nor are any of its thoughtful inhabitants so perfectly satisfied with the world as it is that they do not desire to see that transfiguration of heaven and earth, which will have more than the splendour, and nothing of the transience of Tabor.

Our earth is a grand ruin, for which, however, there is reserved a glorious restoration ; but that restoration will be accomplished by Him that made it, and not by the consummation of any process now going on. The Creator will appear as the Restorer ; the great High Priest will come forth from the Holy of Holies, as Aaron came out froin the “holy place made with hands,” and will pronounce that Divine benediction which will descend into the depths of the earth, and rise to the heights of the heavens, and spread as the waves of an illuminated sea, extinguishing the primeval curse, and causing every wilderness it touches to rejoice, and the solitary places of the world to blossom as the rose.

Every Christian believes in the advent of a day of rest and restoration. Every one who accepts the Bible as the inspired revelation of the mind of God looks for the Millennium. The only existing difference of opinion refers to the nature of it and the means by which it is to be introduced. Dean Alford, in his Critical Greek Testament, Vol. iv., Part 2, observes that there is a division of opinion “ whether the expected second advent is to be regarded as preceding or succeeding the thousand years' reign or Millennium. The majority, both in number and in learning and research, adopt the pre-millennial advent, following, as it seems to me, the plain and undeniable sense of the sacred text of the book itself.” “On one point,” remarks Dean Alford,

“I have ventured to speak strongly, because my conviction on it is strong, founded on the rules of fair and consistent interpretation ; I mean, the necessity of accepting literally the first resurrection and the millennial reign.”

That the Lord will come in person to this earth; that his risen elect will reign here with him and judge; that during that blessed reign the power of evil will be bound, and the glorious prophecies of peace and truth on earth find their accomplishment—this is my firm persuasion, and not mine alone, but that of multitudes of Christ's waiting people, as it was that of his primitive apostolic church, before controversy blinded the eyes of the fathers to the light of prophecy."

The Dean also remarks, in his notes on the last chapters of the Apocalypse: “ This eternal kingdom is situated on the purified and renewed earth, become the blessed habitation of God with his glorified people. Though not here stated on the surface, it is evident that the method of renewal is that described in 2 Pet. iii. 10, namely, a renovation by fire.”

I have illustrated and unfolded those portions of the Old Testament prophets which, like the prophecy on the Mount of Olives, bear on and delineate this blessed era, and have endeavoured to present to the reader a faithful, clear, and most comforting hope of the world as it will be.

In my first volume, “ The Great Tribulation," I endeavoured to describe what St. John calls ý litis i uéyaln, “ the tribulation the great," through which we must pass, and on which the world has already entered.

In my second volume, “ Redemption Draweth Nigh," I collected the various signs and earnests of the glory to be revealed “ at that day.”

In this volume, which concludes and completes the

« PreviousContinue »