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stand ?” (Rev. vi. 16, 17.) And so far as the Church is concerned, that is to say— alas ! that the explanation should be necessary, that part of the Church whose heart is in sympathy with the aspiration of the Apostle, the Second Advent is "that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Tit. ii. 13.)
It is now time to inquire whether the Lord,-before His testimony at the bar of Judaism, and His “good confession" immediately afterward (1 Tim. v. 13)—in the presence of Cæsar's representative, – had said any thing to His disciples about this return in the power of a divine royalty; for it is certain, in that case, that they would cherish with intense interest the hope inspired by His words, and make it a prominent article of their teaching as evangelists or pastors. It is beyond question that they did this. The return of the crucified One, in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels, was a prospect too splendid, and a triumph over their Master's enemies too glorious to be concealed. And they did not conceal it. It was the vital force which gave energy to their hearts and their ministry. They fix no dates,
. for they had no revelation about times and seasons, but they dwell upon the coming of the Lord as the crowning glory of the faith. Human chronology has no place here; it is one of the secrets in the safe keeping of God the Father !
Here are the proofs that the disciples were informed of the great purpose : Then "--after His prediction of suffering, death, and resurrection—" said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his life ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to His works.” (Matt. xvi. 24-27.)
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, , and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn ; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (xxiv. 29, 30.)
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; then shall the King say," &c. (xxv. 31-34.)
. After His resurrection, also, he returned to the great theme and spake of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Well, He has gone to His Father and our Father ; He will receive the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven. Who so worthy ? He was set up from everlasting to be Ruler over men. T'he
troubles of the world increase with alarming rapidity ; from the wisdom of human governments nothing more is to be expected : they have done their best and their worst, and their day is at an end; the princes of this world are to be set aside (1 Cor. ii. 6); and the time comes when the last tremendous mundane revolution shall herald the advent of the glorious King and the rest of a groaning creation.
THE VINE OF THE EARTH-CHRISTENDOM. THE.“ Vintage,” is quite distinct from “ The Harvest.”. The
Harvest is the scriptural emblem for the gathering in of God's people, whereas “the Vintage” is exclusively the emblem of judgment on the ungodly. Judgment is indeed implied in the harvest work, but the gathering of “the wheat into the barn ” is its chief object. The "treading of the wine press," on the other hand, has no
, analogy except in the destruction of the wicked. Thus we read in Isa. lxiii. 1, 2, according to Lowth's translation :Cho. Who is this, that cometh from Edom ?
With garments deeply dyed from Botsra ?
Marching in the greatness of his strength ?
And thy garments as of one that treadeth the wine-vat ?
And of the peoples there was not a man with me.
And I have stained all mine apparel. Again, the Prophet Joel (iii. 13), “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe ; come, get you down, for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” Thus also “ The Word of God,” when revealed, “ clothed in a vesture dipped in blood” (Rev. xix. 15). “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."
From these passages it is evident that it is not on the nations of the earth considered merely as unacquainted with Christianity that the judgment falls ;-it is not against them that “the Lord Jesus is revealed in flaming fire taking vengeance ;
" but against those that “knew not God," taken in connection with their “not obey. ing the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Apostate Christendom, the field of culture, shall be the scene of vengeance.
The vintage of the earth we read of in the Revelation. The Revelation is a book of judgment; first, of the professing Church as a system in the earth, where it is responsible to maintain truth and the testimony for God, and then, of the world. “Another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat in the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe (margindried). And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle in the earth, and the earth was reaped. .. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire, and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God."
The vine was a frequent emblem of the covenant people. God says He brought them out of Egypt, and planted them in the Promised Land, in a good soil, but which, instead of bringing forth good fruit, brought forth only bitter fruit and wild grapes. (Psa. lxxx. 8; Isa. v. 1-7.) Our blessed Saviour says of this vineyard : The householder having let this vineyard to tenants, who ought to have rendered him the fruit of it, instead of that, abused His servants, and killed His Son, who went to require the payment of what was due. (Matt. xxi.)
In this parable, the householder is God the Father ; His planting & vineyard, denotes His establishing a Church among the Jews, and furnishing it with all needful helps and means to make it fruitful ; and the scope of this parable is to show the Jews their obstinate impenitency under all gracious means, and their incurableness in their evil conduct to God's messengers, the prophets; for which, “ The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” The parable told, for we read further on, “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them.” On this change of dispensation,
or a change of possession of the vineyard, we have only to look to Romans xi. In their debates and addresses, the apostles distinctly warned the Jews. Thus at Antioch, “Paul and Barnabas waxed strong in spirit, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Acts xiii. 46, 47.) At Corinth, where Paul was pressed in spirit, and “testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ; and when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be on your own heads ; I am clean ; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." (xviii. 6.) At Jerusalem, when Paul addressed the multitude from
the castle, he declared God's commission, "Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." (xxii. 21.) And in his defence before King Agrippa, he declared the same mission. And finally at Rome, he said to his Jewish hearers, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (xxviii. 28.) Hence, the kingdom of God is taken from His ancient people, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. He has let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen. The children of the kingdom are cast out. So that we may say, it is not sect or ecclesiastical system ; it is not latitude or longitude that are the limits of Christianity.
Originally, Israel was a fruitful vine, a “noble vine, wholly a right seed." (Jer. ii. 21.) “How then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?" Planted, as Ezekiel states, “by many waters ;” but lapsed into a strange vine, and finally, “ Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” (Hos. x. 1.) Israel brought forth no fruit unto God. No nation had before, or has since, been placed under such advantages; but these advantages, instead of being used for the glory of God, had been misused for their own glory, and the evil was, that through the means of this highly favoured people, the name of Jehovah was blasphemed among the Gentiles; but through their fall salvation is come unto the latter. The Gentile world, or Christendom, becomes the vineyard, and its consummation we find in Rev. xiv. 18, 19. “The vine of the earth,” is the symbol of earthly religion in its apostate state. Can this be possible ? Is Christianity the vine of the earth with its “clusters”? Is it to be “cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God ? ” Is Christianity then a failure ? Our churches and chapels count by thousands, and are scattered through the length and breadth of Christendom. Our church gatherings are counted by myriads; and our Sunday school children by millions ! Christianity is the Magna Charta of universal liberty; the great Bill of Rights for the nations, the one bright sun in the political firmament; in the light of which men will erect themselves in the nobility of individual manhood, in the grandeur of mighty nationalities, and call themselves freemen and brothers all the world over. Christianity is the death-warrant to slavery, tyranny, oppression, and wrong. Look at plain, broad facts. Which is the mightiest of the continents that is peopling, or dominating all the rest ? It is Europe, the smallest of them, but also the one that is Christian, and it is enlarging daily. The Greek Church is spreading over Eastern Europe, and will spread until Mohammedanism fades away with the Turkish Empire ! Imperfect as that Christianity is, who sees not that it is the secret of European supremacy. On the British Empire “ the sun never sets."
We and other powers are exploring, mapping out, and elevating Africa. We are touching into life the great dead organisms of the East. Behold the waning Crescent. Turkey is dying for want of Turks. The Christian element is surging around semi-barbarous peoples, and missionaries of the Cross range at will throughout all nations, as a witness that the Kingdom of God is near. Every one knows how Christianity has urged on the car of universal progress, and conjured up by her magic wand an angel-band of humanities and charities peculiarly her own, and is the foster-mother of all modern civilisation and power.
It is acknowledged, with more or less readiness, as a divine institution-it is admitted that Christ was not only divinely commissioned, but that He is also a divine person. The appeal is legitimately made to the miracles which He wrought ; His ability to read what was passing in the hearts of others; the purity of His precepts, and His remarkable prophecies, that the Christian religion has a claim on the conscience, understanding, and affection of men, which no other religion can pretend to have. But all this may be acknowledged by branches not abiding in the true Vine. Christ HIMSELF is the "true Vine." A corrupt Gospel, “severed” from Him, becomes the vine of the earth. The law of Moses was divine, as truly as the Gospel of Christ. The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. If Moses be taken away, the law still remains; but if Christ be not risen, and at the right hand of God, our preaching is vain.
Christ is the truth; all fulness dwells in Him. “Of His ful. ness have we all received, and grace for grace.” It is not the point whether we believe Christianity to be divine, but whether we are actually receiving out of the fulness of Christ. A branch not abiding in the vine, is cast forth and is withered; and men gather such and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. A withered vine branch is fit for nothing but the fire. “Behold, when it was whole it was meet for no work : how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned." (Ezek. xv. 5.) It is true of the individual branch, it is also true of the aggregate branches of the vine of the earth. A branch not abiding in the vine is an alarming emblem. How many things which are true respecting Christ may be honestly held, without that habitual dependence on Him which is needful to fruit bearing!
Is the vine of the earth in a better condition than the Jews were ? The warning of the apostle suggests not. He says to the Romans : “If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being 8 wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches are broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also