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The Day alluded to in this passage is more definitely named in the preceding verses.
For the consolation of those of the Thessalonians whose hearts were bleeding with bereavement, the Apostle undertakes to dispel their anguish by dispelling their ignorance, "concerning those who are asleep" in Jesus. Looking downward and pointing to earth's world-wide charnel house, he sees and traces from the rock-hewn tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a single brilliant
ray of light and hope. Here was a torch for the hand of faith and a light for the eye of hope. If God had brought Christ from the dead, then those who are “in Christ" must also be brought. The living shall have no preeminence at last over those who in former ages had lived and died in the Lord. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven—a mighty shout shall proclaim his victorious power and majesty—the awful voice of the Archangel, and the swelling echoes of the far-resounding trump of God, shall proclaim alike perdition to the sinner and deliverance to the saint. What a scene ensues !—forth from their graves burst the unnumbered saints of Godearth and ocean teem with an immortal host-each living saint feels a sudden thrill,—it is “the power of an endless life”-and lo! this mortal puts on immortality.
And now they ascend. Slowly, calmly they rise ! earth sinks and recedes from their view the deep despair. ing wail of the ruined world sounds fainter and fainter in the distance while around them and above them burst on their ears the enrapturing harmonies of Cherubim and Seraphim. Still they ascend—the vast and radiant oloud of glory unfolds a gorgeous portal, and attendant angela escort them within it. Still they come, an innumerable company from every land and clime-from prisons, dens, and deserts, from vallies and from hills. Oh, how beauteous are their glittering ranks!. And now the last one has arrived. The shout of joy goes up—the Savior's smile is seet, the Savior's greeting heard—the pierced hand wipes away the lingering tear—the dead and the living are together once more—the prophets and the apostles meet-martyrs behold their martyred Lord. Sinners saved gaze upon their Savior, and so are they for ever with the Lord.”
Calmly and kindly does the Apostle turn and place this glowing page before the mourners' weeping eye, bidding them to “ comfort one another with these words." Blessed words,-consoling thoughts. They have been the “oil of joy" to mourning hearts for eighteen hundred years, and still they “hush the low complaining sigh,"—still they “ dry the flowing tear,"—still they make the place of weeping a place of joy, and bind about the tomb the flowers of never fading hope. Still they illuminate the path that lies along the dark valley. Still they strengthen those who stand beside the dying. Still they comfort those who weep above the dead. Never shall the Christian's eye cease to contemplate the picture; never shall his heart cease to thrill with the anticipation—never shall his hope cease to embrace the promise, until the rent heavens dis. close the majestic form of the descending King—the quaking earth deliver up its sleeping captives at his call, and the saints from every age and clime, unite in singing the song of Moses and the Lamb,
“ Far from a world of grief and sin,
Concerning " the times and seasons" when these sublime
anticipations should be realized, there then existed no pre. sent necessity for further communications. They were perfectly acquainted, however, with the fact, that the day of the Lord in its coming would resemble a thief in the night. When the whisper of 'peace' and the careless thoughts of safety' should possess the minds of a slumbering, dreaming, and besotted world--then destruction, unparallel. ed for suddenness and exterminating fury, shall burst upon them.' Vainly they flee from its devastating influence-vainly they pour their piteous prayers for refuge to towering mountains and to craggy rocks. Vainly their mighty wail reaches from sea to sea--overspreading continents-echoing from the islands and comprehending “all the tribes of earth.” Vainly are ten thousand stubborn hearts broken--ten thousand blasphemous lips employed in supplication—ten thousand brazen foreheads bowed in sorrow, and ten thousand knees bent before God that never bowed before! Alas, it is too late. "Sudden destruction" has come, and from the faithful word peals forth the dread announcement, They shall not escape.”
It was this “day” which stood full in the view of the inspired Apostle, and the expectant church-this day of resurrection, of triumph, of glory, of reunion, of deliverance, of immortality to the righteous, and of destruction and despair to the impenitent-it was this day to which he alluded when he declared, “ 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 darkness."
The teaching, then, of the Apostle was clearly this :Frist :--That the people of God at that period, needed no special information concerning the times and scasons" of
the Saviour's second advent. SECOND :-They were informed that the coming of that day would be sudden and unanticipated by the world. Third:—That, still further, at its coming the wicked would be denying the very possibility of its approach, and dreaming of perfect safety. Fourth:—That at that time of profoundest carelessness, the sudden and unavoidable destruction from the Almighty should fall with resistless fury upon their heads. FIFTH :That the people of God were not in darkness but were the day.” Sixth: That, therefore, that day can not overtake them as a thief, but by watchfulness and sobriety they might discern its proximity, observe its precursors, and escape its terrors, while they participated in its joys.
Concerning this great and terrible day of the Lord," we are not left destitute of further information. Information, too, that is amply sufficient to stir the deep and swelling surges of emction within every pious soul. Strangely hardened must be the heart that can behold unmoved the approach of the tremendous scene, and strangely perverted must be that Christianity that can view without the intensest awe and solemnity, the coming of that day of clouds and darkness, of judgment and of wrath-or that can anticipate without delight that day of deliverance, of triumph, of joy, of songs and of crowns, for "all that love His appearing."
The events of that great day are most graphically sketched by the Apostle Peter, in the concluding chapter of his last epistle. Carrying the lustful scoffers of the last day backward on the track of time, to the antediluvian world, he, by that awful example, reproves their impious mockery. He teaches us that the same God who condemned that world, condemns this, and “the same word” that over. whelmed that with water, shall desolate this by fire. Not.
withstanding the patience and compassion of God- notwith. standing his “ long-suffering to us ward,”—notwithstanding his unwillingness that one guilty rebel “should perish,”notwithstanding his mercy holds open the door of refuge, and his love bids and entreats sinners to enter thereinnotwithstanding all this, yet "the day of the Lord” must and “will come as a thief in the night;" wickedness must find a shore to its foaming wave; impiety must be smitten on its brazen front; oppression must be punished; blasphemy must be hushed; and righteousness, so long abased and abused, must triumph at last. Hence the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” And in that day the ascending fires of wrath shall reach the very heavensawful thunderings shall tell their dissolution and departure: “ The elements shall melt” like wax within the glowing furnace: carth, too, shall be molten before the presence of her God, and shall roll, an orb of fire within a sky of flame, while “the works that are therein," the products of human pride, and power, and cruelty, shall perish with the enemies of the Most High, amid those all-devouring flames.
But beyond all this, a vision of purity and peace rises in brightness before the prophet's eye. God's curse hath devoured the carth, his blessing shall restore it. No longer groaning beneath the burden of sin; no longer charred and molten by the fires of wrath, her desolateness is exchanged for the verdure of Eden; perfection blooms where barrenness reigned; Carmel and Lebanon are faint types of its blushing beauty and unfading green; the glory of God floods it with one sea of radiant splendor, and peace waves her olive branch from shore to shore. Righteousness, too is there—not as a visitant, merely--not as a contrasting spot amid surrounding corruption--not as exemplified in