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may I believe it?»
do not." He said, “I understand, I believe ;” and that face, so long and so tearful, became like the face of an angel. “ You are saved then?”
Yes." “ And happy?" “ And at peace with God?” “Yes.”
He had drunk the wine of the Good Samaritan. And the healing oil had been applied. Precious wine! blessed oil! I know it in my own experience. I remember well how I was troubled about my sin; and how the Word of God told me I must die ; but when I saw what Christ had done for me; when I saw that I had not to take the punishment, for that He had taken itwhat joy I had, what peace it gave me Thus, beloved, is it " He that hath the Son hath life.” May the Lord,
gh the power of His own Spirit, bless you with a sight of Jesus, that you may know that He is your Saviour and your Friend, that Good Samaritun !
THE TAKING UP OF THE SAINTS.
“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John xiv. 2, 3.
It is respecting the Lord's promised return for His saints, to take them out of this world to Himself, that I now wish to speak, and not so much of His actual advent to the earth, or of His predicted coming to judgment.
That He will come to “ judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom,” all true Christians implicitly believe. But all Christians do not readily distinguish the fact that He has promised to come simply and specially for them—in other words, to receive them unto Himself, that where He is, they
may be also.
This promise I hold to be quite distinct from His coming to judgment; at which solemn time all His saints, whom He will have previously gathered to Himself, will come with Him." I also hold that this promise to come for us may be made good in this our own age, just as the promise of His first coming was to be made good in the Jewish age; and that as it was perfectly consistent throughout all the Jewish dispensation for any pious Jew to be always looking for the Messiah to come, so it is equally consistent for a Christian, in all this present age, to be looking, as did Paul, and the Thessalonians, and others, for the return of the Lord Jesus, so specially promised to them.
Let the hearer, then, for the present, throw from his mind all thought of the great appearing of our God and Saviour, which, indeed, is a solemn truth, and which none of us doubt, whilst we show the special ground we have for believing, that ere that event shall occur, the Lord, in a less public manner, will come for us.
The promise finds its root in John xiv. But before going into its meaning, let me premise, that as a rule, the Bible must be taken to mean what it says, else it is not a book for the ordinary reader. That God never meant it to be considered otherwise, is evident from the fact, that in stating its truths, He never, as do human authors, resorts to any definition or explanation of terms, the terms used being those that, to the ordinary reader, carry with them their own meaning. Hence the literal meaning may be safely taken, excepting where it is not only obviously not intended, but obviously otherwise ; such as where the Lord is spoken of as a door, or a vine. Thus when He speaks of “nations," He surely means nations; or of Israel,” He means Israel; or of “the Church of God," He means the Church of God.
How comparatively easy, with such a rule of interpretation, is even the study of prophecy. Hence reading of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem means what it says; also that His feet will stand on the mount of Olives; or that Christ will again come; and also Antichrist; and that as Christ is a person and not a system, so also is Antichrist. Thus a single passage of the Word to the eye of a child will convey a ready and comprehensive meaning, when volumes of books, making out Antichrist to be this or that system, will only perplex the mind, and land it in constant uncertainty.
If this principle of interpretation be objected to, anything I have now to say will go for nothing. If admitted, our subject is plain, and I will add blessed, to any ordinary understanding, willingly receptive of Divine truth. To proceed at once, then, to the root of this matter: the Lord, who was about to leave His disciples, and who knew the sorrow it would give them, and who wished to inspire them from the very outset with what He intended as a sure antidote to that sorrow, said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself ; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Taken literally, these words are plain and simple, and were assuredly full of a present comfort to the disconsolate disciples; but taken otherwise, they are vague. For example, some affirm, that the Lord meant that some day, by death, He would come for us; the answer to which is, that at death He does not come to us, but we go to Him. But surely if He had meant death, He would have said death, and not as He does, “1;" that is, Himself.
There are others who surmise that He meant He would come by His Spirit. But surely the Lord could have said Spirit ; i.e., He could have said what He meant. But that He did not mean the Spirit, is obvious from the fact, that farther down in the same conversation He tells them of the coming of the Spirit, whom He calls “the Comforter," and who alone, during His absence, could supply His place, or could comfort them. What He meant was,
“ I will come again ;" that is, I myself; and “ if I come again, I will take you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be
, also.” If you doubt this, place yourself in a like
a position. Suppose a husband or father, going to à distant land, and that he said, “I am going to a far land to provide a home for you; and if I go and provide a home for you, I will come again, and take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also." Now, with words such as these, would any one understand them to mean that the speaker would send a messenger merely, or a letter? or that they to whom he spoke were first to go to him ? Certainly not. And when the Lord said, " I go to prepare a place for you; and I will come again, and receive you to myself," the words were definite-meaning that He HIMSELF would come.
But mark the words in yet another aspect. They were addressed to His disciples ; not surely to the world, not to men in general, but to His disciples, and through them to us. "I go to prepare a place for you.'
And mark the purpose, which is simply stated--viz., to take us to Himself-to the home of which He speaks
-“ the Father's house”--that where He is, there we
may be also.
The next place where we meet with this promise is in John xxi. 18, where the Lord said to Peter, “ When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself;" but, adverting to his martyrdom, said, “when thou art old, another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." This the Lord said, “ signifying what death he should die." “Death ?" inquires Peter. “ How is this? The Lord said He would come for us, and now He speaks of death! I do not understand." Then looking at John, he inquires, “ Lord, and what shall this man do?” shall he, too, die ? Then said Jesus, "If he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” What I would adduce from this is, that it was evidently an understood thing among these disci