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THE RECOGNITION OF THE SAINTS IN THE
BY THE REV. JAMES HALDANE STEWART, M.A.,
RECTOR OF LIMPSFIELD, SURREY, AND CHAPLAIN TO THE MOST NOBLE THE MARQUIS OF BUTE, AND THE
MOST NOBLE THE MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
1 THESSALONIANS II. 19, 20.
“ For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoic
ing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? For ye are
our glory and joy." The terms which this inspired Apostle uses when speaking of the second coming of our Lord, call for special notice. He describes it as “that “ blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the “ great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” It is called, THE BLESSED HOPE, because the events
then to take place comprehend all that can delight the heart, or give pleasure to the soul. There is, first, “ the glorious appearing of the great God, “ and our Saviour Jesus Christ”—the cøávela, the outshining or visible manifestation of His eternal Deity and Godhead, so that, when He appears, all intelligent beings will intuitively see Him as He is, the eternal Son of the eternal God!
United with this, is the appearance of His glorified humanity, for it is said, “ Thine eyes “ shall see the King in His beauty;" and again, “ His servants shall serve Him, and shall see His “ face :” or, shall behold those ineffable graces which make Him “fairer than the children of “ men, the chiefest of ten thousand, and alto“ gether lovely.” At his coming, also, “the new “ heavens and new earth ” will be created. Then, also, shall the departed saints be raised from the dead, and the living saints changed, and bodies be given to them like to His glorious body, tenanted by spirits pure, even as He is pure, with the enhancement of their bliss arising from mutual recognition. All these glorious events will occur, when this blessed Hope is completely fulfilled.
It is upon the last-mentioned theme, of such affecting interest,—the mutual recognition of the saints,—that I have been requested to address
you from the words I have read as my text : “ For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of re“joicing? Are not even ye in the presence of “ our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? For ye “ are our glory and joy." Let me request your prayers, my beloved Christian friends, for the aid of the Holy Spirit, while speaking upon this consolatory subject, that His power and unction may so accompany the Word, that in that day each individual present may partake of this blessed privilege,-may be known, at least, as one of " the wise who shall shine as the brightness of “ the firmament,” if not as having “turned many “ to righteousness, as a star for ever and ever." May the Lord so be with us for the sake of our blessed Saviour !
Before coming to the proof of this delightful truth, there are some points immediately connected with the text, to which I would specially call your attention.
In the first place, we may observe how the mind of the apostle presses forward like a swift arrow through the intermediate state to the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour. He does not say, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing AT DEATH, but what will be our joy at THE COMING OF THE LORD ? Death appeared only as the initiatory process, the entrance of his
happy spirit into the Divine presence; but the coming of the Lord is set forth as the season of full enjoyment. This flight beyond the separation of the body and the soul, appears not only in this passage, but is the frequent course of the Apostle ; for his mind was continually stretching forward to that bright season of everlasting sunshine. Although many passages of Scripture might be adduced in proof of this, I will only refer you to that well-known portion when writing to his son Timothy: “I am now ready to be “ offered, and the time of my departure is at “ hand. I have fought a good fight, I have “ finished my course, I have kept the faith : “ henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of “ righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous “ Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me “ only, but unto all them also that love his ap“pearing."
Here you observe, that while the Apostle elsewhere informs us, that he had “a desire to “ depart and to be with Christ, which is far “ better," death was not the haven at which his soul rested. It was AT THAT DAY,—at that glorious season when “He that shall come, will
come, and will not tarry.” That was the occasion when he expected to receive his crown.
Next, we may notice the practical benefit produced on the Apostle by the frequent contemplation of this glorious day; for if you read this chapter with attention, you will find that it contains a beautiful portraiture of the character of a Christian minister; that it presents such a union of holy courage, faithfulness, simplicity, brotherly affection, parental tenderness, and irreproachable conduct, as might lead us to pray, that all the Lord's ministering servants might be such as are described in this chapter,-“ Men of God, full of “ faith, and full of the Holy Ghost.” O that we who minister in holy things were indeed such, and were the followers of this great Apostle so far as he followed Christ!
It was, my beloved friends, through the contemplation of the second coming of our Lord, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that this high character was, in a great measure, formed. For when speaking of His constrained departure from His people, He first says, “ We, brethren, “ being taken from you in presence, not in “ heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to “ see your face with great desire.” And then he assigns this reason,-“ For what is our hope, “ or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even “ ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ at His coming ? For ye are our glory and “joy.” As if he should say, What has pro