« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
listens to the cry—the “Lord save, or I perish”—himself hath implanted, he mercifully leads forth the soul through the deep, which had so recently spread before him in dread array ; drowns his enemies-his sins --- in that self-same ocean of blood, and brings him exultingly to sing with Moses, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation.”
Dwelling, for a moment, upon the state of Israel literally, what a glorious scene must have presented itself. We see, or think we see, the host congregated upon the sea shore, one vast assembly, small and great ; the old men and the stripling tribes; they have all passed through the river—"not a hoof is left behind ;” and the waters, returning to their place, at the command of God, have deluged the Egyptian foe. Wonder and astonishment seem writ upon every countenance ; and, as they stand upon the threshold of the wilderness, and gaze on the agitated waters, heaving up its dead, the song begins. We seem to hear its joyous notes ; it ascends as if to rend the very heavens with gladness and thanksgiving: But the song, though sweet and powerful, is brief ; and, in this particular, unlike that in which the true Israel shall unite, when they have crossed the river of death. Here it was but a passing song—they had still the wilderness to cross, its difficulties to encounter, Jordan to wade through, and the promised land to enter ; there shall all this have been accomplished, and we shall commence an everlasting song.
It is, too, a very humbling consideration, that as the Lord effected so gracious a deliverance by means of the sea—a vast mass of wateryet such was the power of Satan operating in conjunction with the unbelief and depravity of the human heart, that scarcely was the Red Sea, with all the mercy it instrumentally unfolded, out of sight, ere the lack of pure water—but a tiny drop, as it were, of that which they had seen so mightily controlled-proved the means of drawing forth the unbelief and ingratitude of the Israelitish hosts. Reader, is not this consideration attended with any humbling sensations in your own experience? We feel at this moment dumb before the Lord ; if our lips could afford expression, it would only be in his language who exclaimed, “Unclean, unclean !" when we contemplate the fact, that out of our very mercies, or in most intimate connexion with them, arise our cross-questioning, hardness of heart, and ingratitude. Frequently after the Lord's most timely, most tender, and most gracious interference ; in the contemplation of the improbability of which we have previously said, “Our hearts never can be so hard, our unbelief cannot be so great, as to lose sight of so gracious an interposition, or be unthankful under such circumstances, should the Lord make bare his arm, and again come forth in his kind delivering acts ;' such is the villany of the human heart, such its awful depravity, that we have scarcely stepped over the threshold of the deliverance, ere our notes of gratitude are silenced; Unbelief rears his cursed head; and, like Israel of old, argues upon appearances, Oh, wretched human nature ! oh, wondrous grace ! 'oh, mighty Lord, that thus can bear with such vile mortals ! We want an eternal day, and a soul released from these cumbrous clay fetters, this body of sin and death, ere we can praise him as we would.
But to return. “The Lord is my strength and song; and he is become my salvation.” Mark, beloved, it is the Lord is the song ; not self, nor creature acts. There is nothing in self, nor in any of its performances, that is in any way calculated to make us sing; but everything directly the contrary. There is plenty within, plenty without, and indeed, everything that falls short of the Lord himself, to cause us to sigh and groan, but nothing to make us sing. All that appertains to self, to the creature, or to the world, can never afford the least motive for rejoicing. Not a single note can be struck in harmony; all is discord and confusion. And so the Lord will have it, in order to make himself the only source of real rejoicing in the hearts of his people.
Its personal nature—my strength and song, and my salvation. It is mine, purposely for me, as if there were no other sinner upon the earth that needed salvation. It is so sacred, so suitable, so exactly adapted to my necessitous condition'.
“He is become my salvation.” Here is a suitable word for poor sinners, plagued with unbelief, and standing in need of an appropriated salvation. “Become ;" then, before it was not manifestedly my salva. tion ? No; it was secret, hid from my view, kept in the back ground; but now it has become my salvation ; or rather, the Lord has made known this salvation to me as mine. Oh, precious souls ! here is cause of hope for you. Distressed and burdened as you are, if the Lord has so mercifully appeared for you as to give you a sense of your lost estate and condition-your weakness, your depravity-you are in the line of his instruction, in the school of his grace ; and, though now upon one of the lower forms, and learning, as it were, but the alphabet of grace, the same divine Instructor who takes such an incomparable delight in his work, and such wondrous care of those he graciously undertakes to teach, will lead you on by degrees, giving you line upon line, here a little and there a little ; until by and by, after a full and very blessed discovery of Jesus to you as a Saviour, most suitable and most complete, without any worth, work, or merit of yours, your lisping, stammering tongue will burst forth with the fulltoned language, "The Lord is my strength and song; and he is become my salvation.
“Salvation.” There is such a fulness, such a completeness, in that word, that we scarcely venture to touch upon it. Is a poor
sinner lost ? it finds, or rather, sets forth the finding him. Is he poor? it makes him rich. Is he sickly? it gives him health. Is he dead, spiritually dead ? it includes life. Is he an enemy to God, afar off by wicked works ? it brings him nigh, even by the blood of Christ, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Is he sunk to the lowest hell ? it raises him to the highest heaven, even to the heaven of heavens. Salvation ! what is it? Rather ask what it is not ?
ON THE PERSONAL REIGN OF CHRIST ON EARTH.
In various parts of the sacred Scriptures intimations are given of a future period when the church of God shall enjoy on earth general, but not universal peace, tranquillity, and happiness, but more particularly in this period referred to and spoken of in Revelations (ch. xx.), where it is stated that the saints shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years, during which time the power and influence of Satan, his retinue and agents, shall in a great measure be restrained, but not altogether suppressed, and when Jews and Gentiles shall be of one heart and one mind, “worshipping God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh.” But the question is, Will the reign of Christ on earth be personal or spiritual ? I have no Dr. Gill, Dr. Hawker, nor any other good men's works to consult on the subject, and therefore I shall give no opinion but my own; but having of late given the subject more than ordinary attention, by examining numerous texts of Scripture bearing upon the point, I trust I shall be able to support my opinion from the unerring testimony of Holy Writ. Now it is my opinion, that during the thousand years spoken of, Christ will not reign personally, but spiritually, with his people. It is true he now reigns spiritually in his people, but he can never be said to reign with his people so long as the devil as a roaring lion is permitted to go about seeking whom he may devour; but when like a lion he is chained and confined for an appointed time in his den, then will Christ reign spiritually in and with his people. As there is a material difference between the Spirit of God coming up a man, and the Spirit of God coming within him, so there is a material difference between Christ reigning in his people, and reigning with them. He lived and reigned in all the martyrs, but he cannot be said to have reigned with them, otherwise their enemies would have had no power over them; but during the milennium martyrdom will be unknown, and persecution in a great measure cease, and the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the failing together, and a little child shall lead them; and the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den, they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. xi. 6–9). Having stated my opinion, of course it will be necessary that I should assign some reasons why I do not believe in the personal reign of Christ, and they are the following ; which I trust will be read carefully, and without prejudice-viz.
1. Because the Scriptures nowhere speak of two literal resurrections, but invariably of one ; which is to take place at the last day, when as Christ has declared, “ All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation ” (John, v. 28, 29). I am aware that Paul says that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess. iv. 16); but he neither states nor intimates in any of his writings that the wicked should not rise for some considerable time after, but on the contrary asserts that “ there shall be," not resurrections, but "
tion both of the just and the unjust” (Acts, xxiv. 15). As well may we suppose that after Christ has said to his sheep on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed,” &c., he will wait 1000 years before he says to the goats on his left hand,“ Depart from me, ye cursed,” &c. The fact is, the wicked will be raised on the last day, and so will the righteous, and not before; as is very plain from the words of our Saviour himself—“And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John, vi. 39, 40, 41, 54); and this is evidently the doctrine which Martha had been taught and in which she believed, for when Christ told her that her brother Lazarus should rise again, she answered, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John, xi. 24). Now there are some of the passages which appear to me to prove the fallacy of the opinion of two literal resurrections, the one at the beginning of the milennium and the other at its close. But, it may be asked, What then are we to understand by the “first resurrection” which John speaks of ? I answer, not a literal resurrection, of course, nor a spiritual one, but a political resurrection ; for as the saints until the commencement of the 1000 years will have numerous and mighty foes, yet then will all their enemies be divested in a great measure of their power to persecute the church, and thus become politically dead, and not live again a politicíıl life until the 1000 years are finished (Rev. xx. 5). And that I may not be thought antiscriptural in this explanation of the terms life and death in John's vision, I refer you to Deut. xxx. 19, “ I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing," &c.; and Ezek. xxxiii. 11, “Say unto them as I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live,” &c., neither of which passages can be explained at all, so as to make them harmonize with the sovereignty and unalterable decrees of God, unless we admit that the death spoken of in both, means only political death, and not death temporal, spiritual. nor eternal. Again it may be said, But is it not said that John “saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus?” I answer, yes ; but it is not said that he saw their risen bodies, and therefore it is no proof to me whatever that their bodies shall then literally rise again. He only saw them in their successors-viz., in them the same faith, zeal, union, constancy, and steadfastness, which the martyrs have been eminently distinguished for. But I proceed to a second reason which is this,
2. That in the Scriptures we read of Christ coming personally on earth but twice; the first time he came to save his people, and the second time he will come to judge all people, and this judgment as stated by John, not to take place until the 1000 years are expired, and by Paul “ on a day which God hath appointed” (Acts, xvii. 31); who also declares that “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation ” (Heb. ix. 28). In fact, the second coming of Christ is invariably connected with the day of judgment, in the Scriptures, as one great and notable event, and what God hath joined together let not man attempt to put asunder. Therefore, when it is said by John that he saw an Angel, or Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, come down from heaven, we are not to understand it literally, but spiritually or figuratively, the same as when
it is said of the devil, " Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea, for the devil is come down unto you” (Rev. xii. 12); which I presume no one will say is to be taken literally, and to mean that the devil will appear personally on earth, but that it imports that his power and influence will be more than ordinarily exercised over the world : even so during the millennium the power and influence of Christ by his Spirit will be extraordinary in the hearts and lives of his saints, for which reason it is said that “he will come down."
3. My next reason is, because Christ declares that when he comes he will scarce find faith in the earth (Luke, xviii. 8); " And that as the days of Noah were so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be: for as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came and took them all away ; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. xxiv. 36, &c.), which is quite a different state of things to what will exist during the milennium. But after the 1000 years are expired we are told that Satan will be loosed out of his prison, and then will the second political resurrection take place-viz., the resurrection or restoration of the wicked and ungodly to power, authority, and dominion over the saints; but it will only be for a little season, and it will be during this season that Christ will come personally a second time, and find the world of the ungodly similarly employed as were the antediluvians when the flood came.
4. Because God has positively declared that " while the earth remaineth seedtime and harvest, &c., shall not cease (Gen. viii. 22); whereas, if the bodies of the saints rise from the dead at the beginning of the 1000 years, they being spiritual bodies will not need vegetable food, and consequently there will be no necessity for either sowing or reaping; beside, who are to be the sowers and reapers, if the race of the wicked during that period become extinct.
5. Because the wheat and the tares, or the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked, are said by Christ himself to grow or exist together unto the end of the world; when the former shall be gathered into Christ's barn, or the kingdom of glory, and the latter cast into a furnace of fire, or eternal perdition (Matt. xiii. 39, &c., and xxv. 46).
6. Because if Christ will reign personally on earth for 1000 years, his advocacy with the Father must necessarily cease during that period, and will have to be resumed when the devil is let loose ; but nothing of the kind is spoken of nor alluded to in any part of the word of God, but on the contrary John states that “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John, ii. 1); and Paul certifies that “he ever liveth to make intercession for his people” (Heb. vii. 25). So that there is to be no cessation of this part of his mediatorial work until each and all for whom he died are gathered safe into the kingdom of his glory to reign with him for ever and ever.
7. Because Christ himself when on earth, never once in any of his discourses to his disciples gave the least hint of a future personal reign with his people on earth, which it is not at all unreasonable to suppose he would have done, if such had been his intention and divine mind and will; but on the contrary, he comforted them with the hope and assurance of heaven by saying unto them, “In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I a?" there ye may be also ” (John, xiv. 2, 3). And subsequently, to his Father he prayed, saying, “ Father I will that they also whom thou