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We cannot but remark also, at the close of this eleventh chapter to the Romans, how the apostle is led to contemplate this restoration of the natural descendants of Abraham as the consummation of all the plan of redemption. For it is on this occasion that he exclaims, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" as though in the winding up of the history of Israelites and Gentiles - as the dispensation of the kingdom bears upon them respectively, you saw the development of all the mystery of providence and redemption. First, during the unbelief of the ancient people, the remnant from among the Gentiles obtain mercy, are raised at that era from a state of total darkness and unbelief by the almighty power of God. So, hereafter, from a similar state of darkness and unbelief, shall the ancient people of God be raised up by the same almighty power. Thus through the Gentiles' mercy they will obtain mercy: that is, I conceivethrough a similar exercise of mercy.-An apostate people, the Gentile churches, will be given up to judgment - and God will be “ found of them that sought him not, and made manifest to them that asked not for him" - Israel
Heb. ix. 27, 28; Tit. ii. 11; with 2 Tim. iv. 6, and
1 Thess. i, 9; iii. 5.
SOME expressions in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, respecting the exposition of the eighth
psalm, and the putting in subjection of the world to come, not to angels, but to the Son of Man, we have already anticipated, in illustration of the fifteenth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, I shall only further quote, from this to the Hebrews, the twentyseventh and eighth verses of the ninth chapter :
“ And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
This plainly contrasts the business of the first with the business of the second advent. At the first, the Redeemer came to die, that the many for whom he was made an offering might not die, but be quickened unto everlasting life: at the second, he comes to his waiting family, not with sin -- the sins of his people imputed to him, that he might become a sin-offering for them; but in another character, as their great Deliverer -“ the Lord from heaven." And as his death saved them from the bitterness of death, so his coming again saves them from the judgment to come. For, as we have learnt before, both with respect to them that wake and with respect to them that sleep, the second coming of Christ delivers. them from among those that are to abide the judgment of the strictness of justice, and from the vengeance to be poured upon the ungodly.
The Scriptures already considered will enable us to perceive, without comment, the bearing and true application of the following, Tit. ij. 11, &c :
“ For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and righteously, and
Saviour. “ For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we die unto the Lord : whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."* This is information most consolatory to his church. The state of the dead, and the time and circumstance of their departure thither, are under the control of the merciful Saviour. He has the charge of the intermediate state. Those that sleep in Jesus are present with him, in his safe keeping —" the prisoners of hope.”
That the seven epistles to the seven churches of Asia, which compose this first vision in the Revelation, represent the actual state of religion in these respective societies, and denounce their future destinies as churches, seems to be beyond all doubt. But it is equally plain from the general style of the addresses, and from the application accompanying each,—“ He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," -- that these churches are selected as specimens and examples to the whole catholic church. Each may be considered as forming an historical allegory, representing all churches of a similar character to the end of time, and showing, in its predicted fate, what every church in like circumstances may hope for or expect :t and showing how, in the case of most of them, the individual believer is to maintain his integrity, in the midst of a corrupted society.
We remark, moreover, that each church, in the usual style of prophecy, is addressed in prospect of the coming of Christ, to take account of his servants :
* Romans, xiv. 8.
+ Dean Woodhouse.
and even when the prophecy seems to forebode the dissolution of the church, in the taking away of its candlestick, still the faithful remnant are summoned against that day.
It has been conjectured, from the addresses to two of these churches, and the events of history so far corroborate the conjecture, that they shall survive every trial, even the oppression of Mahometism, which now rests so heavily upon them, to see the day of Christ. These are Smyrna and Philadelphia. To the first it is said, “ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life :" to the latter, “ Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
But, whatever may be the warrant for this conclusion, there is a language held to every one of the churches, which assures to the individual that overcometh, a share in the blessings of that day: and the language held to the remnants in some of these churches, especially in those of Thyatira and of Laodicea, is so express and distinct, that it throws considerable light upon our general subject - the business and concerns of the second advent. To the remnant in Thyatira it is said :
Chap. ii. 25. " But that which ye have, hold fast till I come, and he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron : and as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken to shivers ; even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star."
This promise renders it clear, as we have often inferred before, that every faithful follower of Jesus Christ shall, in some sort, participate in the power and second advent was made more firm by the transfiguration: it was a specimen of that glorious era.
“ Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation :" Is not to be interpreted apart by itself, but in connexion with the general scheme of prophecy. ?
“ For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man ; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
What the Holy Ghost, therefore, has said by one prophet, must be compared with what he has said by another, in order to understand the prophecies of the Redeemer's coming. Here we must look for the true context, rather than to the particular circumstances of the individual prophet and his times; a method which I trust has been carefully pursued in the present investigation.
St. Peter, too, clearly repeats the prophecies of our Lord, and of St. Paul, and of marty of the more ancient prophecies respecting the abounding of false Christs and false prophets as a sign of Christ's second coming, of the great apostasy, and of the character of those last days when the Son of Man shall be revealed. For, as we have often seen, the consummation of wickedness and irreligion among the professed churches of Christ, at the eve of the second advent, is much in view of the Prophetic Spirit throughout the whole series of the divine oracles. As
" See Macknight's note.