« PoprzedniaDalej »
his Church, but stand afar off and gaze at it, as golden fruit which they dare not touch.
What then are the things that prevent any from attaining to this present inheritance? I cannot here discuss them all; but one great barrier is a want of boldly declaring "I am on the Lord's side," and thus appearing still to halt between two opinions. This indecision not only prevents inward peace, but gives our worldly friends more hope of reclaiming us; and many will ridicule a wavering saint, who would not attempt it towards a more determined christian. Or it may be there is some besetting sin, which the world perhaps sees not, but which poisons every spiritual enjoyment, and pollutes every holy feast. Bitterly shall that Christian sorrow, who turns aside to walk after the flesh. Let not any say, he cannot get dominion over his sins: let him remember that with God all things are possible, and that if he will but seek His help He will make him more than conqueror."
All believers are now more than ever called upon to press forward toward the mark. The time for work is short. The Lord is at hand. The convulsions of nations, and that direful pestilence which is stalking before Him, tell that the night of darkness is far spent and that the day of glory is at hand. Now must they take unto them the whole armour of God; for now shall there be times of trouble, such as were not since the world began. (Matt. xxiv, 21.) And these times shall be shortened for the Elect's sake. Oh, Oh, then let us bestir ourselves: and if we have friends, or relatives, or members of our own household who know not the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, now, while the time is short, let us urge them to flee to Him. And let our prayers continu
air." Yes-many I repeat, are watching, to see if the lives of such agree with their declaration, that they expect the Master of the house speedily.
Let us therefore keep near to Jesus, in humble confidence, trusting only to his arm to save us in the day of peril. Alas! we know not how soon the fire of persecution may prove and make manifest, who are the friends of Jesus and who are not; nor how soon many of those who are now preaching the Gospel of salvation from their pulpits to a congregation, sitting in ease and comfort, may soon have to exchange their pulpits for rocks, and preach Christ in the forest, or in the wilderness to which they have fled. But fear not let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, for still shall the Lord's words hold good; Peace I leave with you, my
peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you." When those times arrive we shall more truly desire that swift return of the Lord which many of us have forgotten, or ceased to look and watch for; and our prayer shall then more truly be—" Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
Mr. Scott, of whom we cannot speak with too much respect as an expounder of sacred Scripture, gives the following explanation of the first part of the above passage.
Our Lord intimated to his apostles that in a few hours he would be removed from their sight by his • death and burial: but after a short 'time they would see him again as risen from the dead; because he was visibly to ascend to the Father in their presence, that they might testify that event to the • world."
This exposition, however, does not appear to me to convey the mind of our Lord, as expressed in those words which so much puzzled the disciples who were then present.
A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." Their meaning as conveyed to my mind may be more clearly shewn by a paraphrase: "A little while and ye shall not see me, [because I shall be dead and buried;] and again a little while and ye shall see me, [and only a little while,] because I go to the Father."
Besides this our Lord speaks of a day, in which he will see them again; in which, though now they have sorrow, their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man taketh from them; and in which also they shall ask him nothing.a On this passage Mr. Scott has the following observations. Thus they [as well as he,] ' would have sorrow: but he would certainly see them again after his ' resurrection; and then they would
have the most cordial, solid and substantial joy communicated to them; which would not be destroyed by his ascension into hea'ven, as the Holy Spirit would be 'their comforter: nor would the ‘malice of men or evil spirits, or any of their trials and sufferings in ‹ life and death, ever deprive them · of it."- -"When Jesus should ascend into heaven, and the Holy Spirit should come on the apostles: their views would be so enlarged, and their faith and hope so confirmed, that they would not have 'occasion to ask him the meaning
of any of his words, as before they had been desirous of doing."
In this passage of Scripture three periods are spoken of, two little whiles, and a day, in which the Lord would see his disciples again. According to Mr. Scott's exposition, if I understand it aright, the first "little while" included the period, from the time of his speaking these words to that in which "he would be removed from their sight by his death and burial ;" the second "little while," the short time between his burial and resurrection from the dead; the day in which they should see him again with joy, according to his view, meant the same time after his resurrection; and that day in which they should ask him nothing, the period after his ascension. According to my view, the first little while" intended the three days, or part of three days, during which he was in the grave; the second "little while," the forty days between his resurrection and ascension; and the day, in which
a vv. 22, 23.
they should see him again with joy, another season different from the second little while; and certainly the same season in which they should ask him nothing.
As it regards the construction of the two "little whiles," I prefer that which I have ventured to suggest, because it is the most easy and natural of the two; and the reason which our Lord gives for the Church seeing him during the second period only a little while,-viz. because he went to the Father,—is a substantial reason, easy to be understood. Whereas Mr. Scott's exposition obliges him to add to that reason, and to say, because he was visibly to ascend to the Father in their presence, that they might testify that event to the world:" which though in itself a truth, was not the truth I conceive which the Lord designed to convey at that time. He was giving the apostles a reason why, after having been taken from them a little while, and having returned, he then should continue with them only a little while; and the reason was a plain one,because he went to the Father.
That the day, in which the Lord would see them again, (v. 22) and the day, in which they should ask him nothing, (v. 23) intended the same season, is, I think, undeniable from the form of expression there used. Let any one read the two verses attentively, and I hardly think it possible he can draw any other conclusion. The question therefore now is, what day did our blessed Lord intend? Neither the one day nor the other, I believe, suggested by Mr. Scott; but the day of his
That it could not intend the time, when he should see his Church after his resurrection, is clear from this
b Dan. vii, 27. c Heb. ii, 8.
fact, that the mourning time of the Church, and the rejoicing time of the world, was not confined to that short space of three days. I readily grant, that those days were days of darkness and peculiar distress to the Church; and I will as readily grant, that the appearing of Christ to the disciples after his resurrection was a subject of peculiar joy, fitted to remove that distress; but, who can say, that the uninterrupted joy of the Church commenced at that season? If so, the mourning time of the world must have commenced also, for they are simultaneous. But was it so? We must acknowledge that it was not.
The world" has had and will have the upper hand in the earth for the time appointed by the Father,—even until that season shall arrive, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in which in which "the kingdom and domin ́ion and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." Then we shall see, what as yet we see not, all things put under Christ, as the head of his body the Church.c Then Christ will manifestly reign as God the Father's King; and that power in heaven and earth, which he now exercises in an unseen manner in the spiritual and providential kingdoms, shall be clearly revealed. Then the meek spirited shall possess the earth and be refreshed in the multitude of peace," for then Christ will reign as Solomon, the Prince of peace. When that day shall dawn the tables will indeed be turned! No longer shall we we "call the proud happy," but shall confess that "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."d Christ will in that day see his Church again, yea "face to face,e and her heart shall rejoice, and her
d Matt. v, 5. e 1 Cor. xiii, 12.
joy no man taketh from her. But who will say that this took place immediately after his resurrection? Have we forgotten the warning, “Through much tribulation ye shall enter the kingdom?" Have we forgotten the prediction, But the days will come in which the bridegroom shall be taken away, and then shall they fast in those days?" And is not this the very season of the bridegroom's absence? and can the true bride rejoice unceasingly in this season? It would seem in very mockery of the actual condition of the Church since her glorified head ascended to the Father, to assert this. It would appear to be in very derision of all the tears and blood which have been shed, and of all the sighs and groans which have been uttered, and which have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, during the eighteen hundred years in which she has been clothed in sackcloth. Now she weeps and laments, but the world rejoices; now she is sorrowful, but then her sorrow shall be turned into joy: and, when that day shall dawn, the world shall lament; and with reason too, for then "sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."f
Another reason, for which I cannot admit that the day spoken of by our Lord intended either the day succeeding his resurrection, or any of those which shortly followed his ascension, is found in the last words of the passage,—" And in that day ye shall ask me nothing.'
Now, is it true, that the apostles asked nothing of Christ after his
f 1 Thess. v, 3; 2 Thess. i, 7—10.
resurrection? or that the Church has asked nothing of Christ since his ascension into heaven? Certainly not: for the apostles asked him, amongst other things, when he would restore the kingdom to Israel; and the Church has asked and continues asking of the Lord Jesus Christ the performance of his promises, and the exercise of all his office works on her behalf. She has asked, and still continues to ask him to reveal the Father to her ;g to pour out the Spirit upon her;h to give her repentance and remission of sini and all these things she has asked and still asks of Christ directly, and of no other person in the glorious Godhead,—that is to say, if she be taught of God to ask as the truth is in Jesus. Therefore I conclude, that the day spoken of by our Lord was neither that of his resurrection, nor any of the days immediately succeeding his ascension, but that of his second coming.
In what sense then are we to un
derstand the words, "In that day ye shall ask me nothing?” In their plain literal sense; and, if we consider them as referring to what shall happen in the great day of Christ's appearing and kingdom, a very easy exposition of them is afforded. In that day, when the Church shall see her Lord, and be made like unto him, (for she shall see him as he is,) her joy will be so full, her glory so great, and she will be so satisfied with the plenteousness of her portion, that she will want nothing, and therefore have nothing to ask. Her faith will be swallowed up in sight, her hope in fruition, and her prayer converted into praise.
W. W. P.
g Matt. xi, 27.
i Acts v, 31.
h Acts ii, 33.
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
MAITLAND AND OTHERS ON THE PROPHETICAL TIMES.
The subject of controversy, contained in the works just enumerated,* appears to us of no small importance; being calculated, if Mr. Maitland's opinions are based upon sound principles, to effect an entire revolution in the greater portion of We prophetical interpretation. anticipate benefit from this discussion under under any circumstances. It causes one grand feature in the Protestant system of exposition to be thoroughly sifted and proved; and it will either come forth from the furnace refined from its dross, and shining more brightly; or, if it be not grounded in truth, it will be consumed, as in such case it ought to be. Indeed, in the present state of prophetical investigation, learned and pious adversaries, such as we esteem Mr. Maitland to be, are especially useful. The students of prophecy have on the whole been left too much to themselves, and many crudities have doubtless got mixed up with principles and interpretations which may in the main prove scriptural and sound : and whatsoever tends to promote more of the spirit of sobriety in our investigation, and to lead us to prove all things well, holding fast only to that which that which is good, will unquestionably be beneficial to the cause in which we are engaged.
The argument is lengthy, as may be judged from the numerous pamphlets which head this article: we
* There have appeared several other notices and reviews of Mr. Maitland's pamphlets in various periodicals; but the writers touch upon the points in question too slightly for their works to avail us much; and in some instances they are manifestly unacquainted with prophetical subjects. We conceive indeed that some of these have done injury to the cause they have intended to support; for Mr. Maitland, perceiving their unskilfulness, has dashed among them like an eagle into a dovecote, and through their weakness has seemed for a time to enjoy a triumph.
There have been two letters also on Mr. Maitland's side, published by Mr. Mc Caul, missionary to the Jews; but they appear to have been distributed privately and not sold: at least we have been unable to meet with them.