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Lord : and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers ” (Jer. iii. 17, 18). “ Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (Joel iii. 20, 21). “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again " (Zech. ii. 10-12).
When men moved by the Holy Spirit speak thus, it is our duty and privilege to listen. The arrogance and impudence, the positive infidelity of some men, who are nevertheless - Christians," are mournful. All these clear declarations are unblushingly ignored or explained away, exhaled into oriental figure, or by a process of theological “ accommodation ”-in plain language, holy theft-applied to things connected with the economy and ministry of grace and the Christian Church. This twisting and torturing of the divine word has robbed the followers of Christ of priceless treasures of intelligence to which they were entitled, the possession of which would have made them MEN—“sons of light,” strong in the Lord. But instead of this, what do we find ? Melancholy ignorance of Scripture, an extremely narrow circle of thought revolving around the very A B C of personal salvation, sometimes attenuated into metaphysical cobwebs without a particle of strength, and at other times crushed into a pitiful sectarianism without a particle of charity. The metaphysical teacher swathes your intellect in fog; the small sectarian binds your heart in ice. Which will you have ? Neither, neither, we pray you! for the glorious future of the Church, and the beautiful future of the world are utterly unseen by both. Metaphysical mysticism has extinguished the light of revelation ; sectarian bitterness has extinguished its love. Let us try, in the name of Him who is both light and love, to extinguish both these foes of God and men ! It will be a difficult task, but the greater the difficulty the greater will be the honour of success : and success is certain if we fight the Lord's battle under the Lord's direction.
By way of illustration take a specimen of each. The metaphysical theologian of course glorifies mind and refuses to accept any thing which appears to him to disregard the standard he has set up. “ The Coming of the Lord,” said one of these brethren to me,
yes, certainly, He is always coming. An impression upon the mind, an intellectual influence, a desire for a better state of things, an occasional rising of the heart heavenward, these are all visits from the Lord. He is always coming."
“ Are you really satisfied," I said, " that the Scriptures mean nothing more than these mental impressions when they speak of the presence-napovoia—of our Lord ? "
“I am satisfied that no man who has any regard for his own mental peace will cross swords with you Fifth Monarchy men! You take the Scriptures literally, and there is no dealing with
The narrow man who delights in the idea of a " little flock," and who is far more Calvinistic than John Calvin, is, of course, blind to the breadth and splendour of the prospects which the light of revelation reveals in relation to the nations of the world, after the church has been perfected in the glory. That miserable thing called "spiritualising," is the joy of his heart; and he uses it sometimes in grotesque fashion. The following illustration bears directly upon the subject of this paper, and as it is not from any secondhand source, but from personal recollection, the reader may accept it as literally true.
The preacher's text was that grand prediction, Mic. iv. 8, " And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” It is many years ago, but I distinctly remember the thought flashed through me, "Surely the preacher will do his best to describe the happiness of the world through the royalty of Israel whose Messiah shall then be present, for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem ” (v. 2).
“My brethren,” said the speaker, “this is a part of the covenant of grace. The stronghold of the daughter of Zion is election. You see how electing love works. Ah! it may well be called a stronghold. The devil can't conquer election, though he has all the blind Arminians on his side! He hates election, and so do they. Well, we the dear children, the precious little flock, are the daughter of Jerusalem ; not of the bond woman, but of the freeJerusalem which is above, the mother of all the elect. We are to have the first dominion, that is nearest the throne in heaven. There may be some Arminians in heaven, I don't know, there may be a few through sovereign grace, but they will be a long way off, just inside the door, where there is very little light – that will suit their weak eyes, you know ! (smiles of approval); but they will never come near us to all eternity, for the first dominion (strong empliasis) comes to the daughter of Zion, that is the elect church.”
This is the substance of an hour's talk. It came to an end at last, as all painful inflictions do, sooner or later, and we left with a feeling of pity for both pastor and flock. But if men will rob Israel of its promised national blessings, Jerusalem of its metropolitan magnificence, as the city of the great King, and that King "
Himself of the splendid dominion that awaits His advent, their knowledge of the Scriptures must be both limited and confused. We thought of the apostolic charge to Timothy :“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
But one word more about the city of peace—the Jerusalem that is to be ; and Isaiah shall be the speaker this time: “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down ; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; whereon shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our King ; He will save us.”
THE PROMISED PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
special study, or who, from the pulpit habit of “spiritualising” are prejudiced against what we believe the revealed mind of God, would do well to examine the Scripture on this great matter. Although we are familiar with the fact that many Christian men are indifferent to the doctrine, caring little about it, seeing that their own salvation as believers is certain, and that others are opposed to it even to the extent of contempt and scorn, we must not shrink from our testimony. We have a duty to discharge, and would like to be received patiently, if not kindly, by brethren who think our position untenable.
Well, on the present occasion, let us try the effect of words instead of arguments. There is no doubt that the coming of the Lord is a doctrine of Scripture. No one denies it. But the question is whether that coming is spiritual or bodily—whether the presence of the Lord is to be understood as a metaphor or as a literal fact. We hold, and for many years have held, the latter, and shall try once more to justify, or give a reason for, our faith in relation to this momentous subject.
Of course the word “coming,” like many other words, has several related significations, with an essential idea. 1. It signifies to meet (gara), “And the elders of the town trembled at his coming." (1 Sam. xvi. 4.) 2. Foot (regel), “The Lord hath blessed thee since my coming.” (Gen. xxx. 30.) 3. Uncovering, rerelation (apokalipsis), " Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. i. 7.) 4. Way in, entrance (eisodos), " When John had first preached before his coming." (Acts xiii. 24.) 5. A coming (eleusis), “ Which showed before of the coming of
the Just One.” (Acts vii. 52.) 6. To come (erchomai), “My lord delayeth his coming.” (Matt. xxiv. 48.) “At my coming I should have received" (xxv. 27). “My lord delayeth his coming" (Luke xii. 45). “Lest by her continual coming she weary me" (xviii. 5). “That at my coming I might have required mine own” (xix. 23). “I have been much hindered from coming" (Rom. xv. 22).
But whilst the root idea is retained amidst this variety, let us now look at, 7. A being alongside, presence (parousia). As this word determines the doctrine, we shall quote every passage in which it occurs, that the reader may have it clearly before him. “What shall be the sign of Thy coming ? " (Matt. xxiv. 3). “So shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (vs. 27, 37, 39).
oi “Afterward they that are Christ's at His coming ” (1 Cor. xv. 23). “I am glad of the coming of Stephanos” (xvi. 17). coming of Titus” (2 Cor. vii
. 6, 7). "By my coming to you again ” (Phil. i. 26). “Our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming (1 Thess. ii. 19). “At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ " (iii. 13). “Unto the coming of the Lord” (iv. 15). “Unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 23). “By the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. ii. 1). “ The brightness of His coming ” (v. 8). “Whose coming is ” (v. 9). “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord” (Jas. v. 7). “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh' (v. 8). “The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. i. 16). “Saying, Where is the promise of His coming ?” (iii. 4). “The coming of the day of God" (v. 12). “And not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John ii. 28).
Here, then, we have twenty-two instances in which parousia is used ; and two of these instances are positive proofs that the meaning is personal presence. When Paul writes, “ I am glad of the coming of Stephanos and Fortunatus and Achaicus" no one doubts that these brethren were with him. Again, when he expresses his gratified sense of the visit of Titus—“God that comforteth those that are cast down hath comforted me by the coming of Titus"-every reader understands the thing at once. The most ethereal mysticism would find it impossible, I suppose, to spiritualise this; or if it made the attempt, we should be quite at a loss to know what the Apostle was glad of and grateful for. But if common sense is affronted by any process of so-called interpretation which would drive plain facts into the clouds, so far as Paul is concerned, what shall we say of the same word used in reference to Paul's Master and ours? Does it change its meaning to suit a theological emergency? If that be so, language is deceptive, and grammar a delusion. But we must not depart from the lexical meaning of words to please any school of theology, even if it were lawful to tamper with words through which the Holy Spirit teaches believers things of priceless value respecting their glorious Lord.
Moreover, the “spiritual presence, spiritual kingdom," and the “ reign of Christ in the heart,” are all phrases of human invention, mere crutches to support a lame and sickly theology which is no longer able to walk on the bracing highlands of Apostolic doctrine. These poor phrases have nothing in them; they are empty; the writers of the New Testament could not have used them, for they had to do with grand realities, not with imaginary nonentities. “He comes spiritually,—He came at the destruction of Jerusalem,-He is constantly coming in Providence,—and He comes at death,”-are other pithless phrases built up as a sort of rampart to resist the divine force of “ This SAME JESus shall come,” and “The Lord HIMSELF shall descend." But all will not do. If Christ's friends try thus to prevent Him from revisiting and taking possession of His own world, they are robbing themselves of a blessed hope, and depriving Him of the pleasure He derives from the loving cry, “Lord Jesus, come quickly!” But He will come at the time appointed by the Father, whether we look for Him or
He Who passed through the heavens to represent us in the presence of the Father, and breathed His Spirit upon the Church, which is His body, to abide with it to the end of the age, will Himself come again to grant the glory of incorruptibility to all who are His at His coming, and to grant the unspeakable boon of righteous government to a crushed and distracted world.
THE GOODNESS AND SEVERITY OF GOD TOWARDS
THE HUMAN RACE. SIN has abounded; grace has much more abounded ;-— has
severity abounded most of all ? Are the dealings of God with the human race more strikingly characterised by severity than by favour? Is God in such wise making the family of man an example of stern penal retribution that we need pass beyond man to other and future orders of beings before we can effectively vindicate the wisdom and benevolence of God in His treatment of this world ? Is God dealing harshly with man, considered by himself; so that we can only soften down the harshness and reconcile it to our fundamental conceptions of the love that we know God is when we enlarge our view so as to take in worlds yet unknown,-perhaps yet uncreated,- and shrewdly conjecture that our Gehenna will be little less deterrent of sin in those distant realms than will be our Calvary ?
Does the belief in Conditional Immortality at all fairly suggest that, if we would speak a word for God on this subject, our plea for Him must run on some such lines as these? The inquiry thus stated has been suggested by the latter part of the Rev. H. Constable's admirable paper, read at the late Maberly Conference :- admirable, because so calm, so