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the number of the quick ; nevertheless we ALL (both parties)
_" we all” shall undergo THE CHANGE, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed ” (1 Cor. xv. 51, 52). And in this change, as I am led to conclude from an examination of all the Scriptures-in this change of all the children of God (without exception either of the quick or the dead) consists the mystery of our baptism “ in fire,” (ev Ilvevuarı ayıą kai tupe, Matt. iii. ll; Luke i. 16); the “ alteration” of 1 Cor. xv.51, or the “ metamorphosis of Matt. xvii. 2: for, indeed, on the authority of 1 John iii. 2, and Phil. iii. 21, we may assume the glory of our Lord’s body (John i. 14; 2 Pet. i. 16, 17) to be of the same kind as that which we are destined to receive. And this is the “ mystery disclosed by St. Paul in 1 Cor. xv. 51, 57, even the particulars of that “ change,” or “ metamorphosis,” of us all.
The word aravinois, which I have translated by the Scotch term “ gathering,” occurs in the New Testament in three more places, besides that in 1 Thes. iii.; in two of which it distinctly refers to the same event. In Matt. xxv. 1, “ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to the aravinois of the bridegroom ”..“ and at midnight there was a cry made; Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye forth to his aravinois.” Five of those virgins, although expecting the Lord, had provided no oil in their lamps; and, what is indeed the most remarkable feature in the parable, and no doubt the key to its meaning, these become self-convicted of their folly, and, foolish as they are, they acknowledge the superior wisdom of their companions. They are shut out, however, because it is the Lord's απαντησις, and the πανηγυρις πρωτοτοκων, “ the convocation of the first-born absolutely complete,” of Hebrews xii. 23; and the only one spoken of from Genesis to Revelation*. For which reason, in Matt. xxiv.31 and in Mark xiii. 27 we find again the description of a completed convocation, or gathering of all from one end of heaven to the other, a navyupis of the brethren of the Lord, immediately consequent upon, or rather contemporaneous, with his epiphany; while the mourning tribes still look upon him (not yet “present”) but only “COMING;” and before the judgment of the nations, in the end of the succeeding chapter.
And now, if it should be objected to the above observations, That the sign given of the Son of Man's approach, according to them, is no sign thereof at all, but the very thing itself, so far as concerns the elect- whose brethren, indeed, were the parties enquiring of the Lord—I reply, in the words of the Lord himself : “ In such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh"
* The remaining instance of the use of the word apartnous is in Acts xxviii. 15.
(Matt. xxiv. 44). And upon the authority of the whole inspired volume I maintain, that unless we watch incessantly, and without remission, the signs of the times in which we live (not boasting of our age, as many do, but " keeping all these things in our heart," as the Lord's mother did, Luke ii. 19); unless we will give ourselves to observe the gradual fulfilment, and ere long the most stupendous and confounding and sudden fulfilment of the prophecies, still such ; we shall have no sign at all of the Lord's advent: we shall be taken by surprise, as the unwise virgins are, and, self-convicted beforehand of our egregious folly, we shall hear him say, “ I never knew you.” Yea, although we may have “prophesied in his name, and in his name cast out devils, and in his name done many wonderful works;" and " though we speak with the tongues of angels, and have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith so that we can remove mountains, and bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and give our bodies to be ned, IT IS NOTHING!” so long as we do not love the children of God, and much more " the Only Begotten Child,” well enough to look for, to hasten, to watch for, and to love their deliverance in His epiphany.“ Prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them that believe !” (1 Cor. xiv. 22).
Brothers in the study of unfulfilled prophecy, and in the desire of the apocalypse of the Lord from heaven, “ of the times and the seasons ye have no need that I write unto
yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say Peace and Safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But YE, BRETHREN, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS THAT THAT DAY SHOULD OVERTAKE YOU AS A THIEF : ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night nor of the darkness: therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us WATCH, and be sober” (1 Thess. v.-read to the end of the chapter).
One of the Pentecostal gifts of the Spirit is said, in 1 Cor. xiv. 22, to be "for A SIGN, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” The evil and adulterous generation of the Apostles' contemporaries they had their sign (Matt. xii. 39), a sign to tell them that it was none other than God's only Son whom they had slain ; and I say that a generation more false than they,"" in which shall be found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev. xviii. 24), shall also have its sign of the advent of its Judge.
Öf what avail the sign of the epiphany may be to the world, is not very clearly, or at least not easily, discoverable. It is written, indeed, concerning the day of the punishment of Leviathan and the Dragon, “ Or let him take hold of my strength,
that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me” (Isai. xxvii.5); but it is written again, and that in more positive terms, concerning some period (and I see not what other period it can be but that of the epiphany, when, the Son of Man becoming an object of sight, men, like the devils, may believe and tremble), " Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your
destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you ; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me" (Prov. i. 24–28; xxi. 18; Psa. xviii. 41; Job xxxv. 12; Rev. xxii. 10–12, &c). Then shall the sun be darkened ; and “ I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering,” saith the Lord ; and in the midst of that thick darkness shall the Lord shine forth, in the glorious company of his catholic church. In that day, the Lord God of hosts coming forth from his dwelling-place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, shall be seen on high; and the infidel shall know, and the Assyrian shall quake to behold it ; and all peoples shall see the grand purpose of God achieved in the gathering of his elect. This shall be the sign of his coming to the affrighted world ; a sign to tell them, It is now too late (Psa. xviii.); FOR HE HATH LIMITED a certain day, saying, “ To-day, if ye will hear his voice” (Heb. iv. 7.)
Hitherto “ the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! and let him that heareth say, Come! and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely! For I testify to every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. xxii. 17–19). “He that despised Moses's law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. x. 28, 29). “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen : Even so; come, Lord Jesus ! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. xxii. 20. 21).
ON THE DIVINE WILL. Much difficulty in apprehending truth, and much opposition to some of its most important principles, arise from regarding the Will of God and the Decrees of God as things identical. The following remarks are designed, by His blessing, to shew, that, while his decrees can never fail to be accomplished, it is absolutely necessary for his honour, and for the practical use of all revelation, to acknowledge that his will is often resisted. The distinction is recognised in the language of John : ". And this is the confidence that we have in him, That, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us : and if we know that he hear us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John v. 14, 15).
In the preceding verse the Apostle informs us to whom he addresses this epistle, and for what purpose. He writes, he says, to those that believe on the name of the Son of God; and he writes that they may know that they have eternal life, and that they may believe on the name of the Son of God. That is, his object is not to inculcate new principles on the ignorant, but to extend and to establish in the minds of his disciples the influence of principles already familiar to them. He tells us expressly that they already believed; yet he writes that they may believe. In the former part of this chapter he has been proving, that to receive the testimony of God is to know that we have eternal life ; yet he writes that they may know that they have eternal life. Thus far there is an agreement, between the object of this so purely spiritual Epistle of the beloved disciple, and that of more information and argument addressed by Paul to the Hebrew church. He, too, is writing to those who “ knew in themselves that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance ;” and he, too, writes that they may " keep the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end.” Of the verses immediately before us, the especial subject is prayer, but the doctrine of prayer so stated as to contain in itself a summary of the doctrine concerning legitimate Christian faith, and the one foundation on which it rests. For though prayer and faith be things distinguishable, they are nevertheless inseparable: they remind us, as the heads of Christian doctrine continually do, of the relation subsisting between the Lord and his Father. Faith and prayer are not the same, but they are one as He and the Father are one. Prayer is in faith, and faith in prayer; as He is in the Father, and the Father in him. Let a man ask,” says James, “ but unless he ask in faith let him not think to receive any thing of God: ” that is, where faith is not, prayer is not. And that is no true faith which is not, even by its continued sub
sistence, a praying without ceasing. So far, therefore, from its being an abrupt transition which the Apostle makes from faith to prayer, he is in fact still dwelling on his former subject, though under a somewhat different form and aspect. “ I write," says he, “that ye may believe: and this is the confidence (this is that confidence implied in such belief), that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us : and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” To take this principle out of that form of expression peculiarly appropriate to prayer, and to clothe it in that form which is applicable to all faith in all its exercises —"faith the substance of things hoped for, and the evi. dence of things not seen” we may say, This is the confidence that we have towards him, that he will fulfil all hopes which are in accordance with the dispositions of his own character, and which take their stand on the manifestation of that character in the work of Christ Jesus, the object of our faith.
To any one who will consider these words with some measure of that earnest reflection arising from the knowledge of a personal interest in them, and from a desire to see light cast by them on his own soul's well-being, it will not fail to be manifest that the word of chief importance in the passage is this word, will ; "things according to his will.” How shall we know what things do accord with his will? Is this a revoking of the declaration that unrevealed things belong to God ? Is this an encouragement, or rather an obligation, to search into the awful immutability of his predestinating decrees? And were this possible ; could we know surely what things God hath foreordained to come to pass, to what end were it ? Are we to pray for nothing but what we know to be already virtually given? Does God, with all those pleasant voices of invitation to pray and assurances of blessing, grant nothing more than liberty to listen to his unchangable resolves, and then re-echo them as our own wishes ? This is manifestly impossible : such knowledge is too high for us; and prayer founded on such knowledge might be a fitting exercise for spirits basking in the beatific vision, but no solace, no strength, no enlightener of the future, for those who have still to struggle, dubiously and anxiously, with the devil and the world, with the flesh and the evil heart of unbelief. Having, therefore, no doubt of proceeding with the entire sympathy of the reader, in our conviction that the will of God cannot here possibly mean God's predetermination to bring about any individual fact or event ; let us first call his observance to an important conclusion which this implies ; and then proceed to the high inquiry, If the will of God mean not those inaccessible books of fate, what is the will of God—the foundation, according to John, of all warrantable confidence towards him?