Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day."

He does not say what day, but this only makes the expression more emphatical-it shows how habitually the Apostle's mind was wont to dwell on the anticipation of the day of Christ's appearing. It was unnecessary to mention it more expresslythat day, he felt, must be at once understood, familiar, ever present real Christian's

and heart ! But St. Paul was, perhaps, the most unselfish of merely human beings that ever lived. His spirit had caught a glimpse of the glory to be revealed, at the day of Christ's appearing. He beheld himself receiving from his Redeemer's hands a blood-bought crown of righteousness; but he could not be absorbed in the anticipation even of his own happiness in that day. He rejoicingly remembers that it will be shared by a multitude, that no man could number. He beholds the Son of Man seated on the Throne of His glory, encircled by all His saints—each of the countless host, like himself, receiving from the Lord a crown of righteousness; and as he gazes on the glorious vision, feeling his own happiness identified with, and increased by, the happiness of all the redeemed, who shall partake with Him in the triumphs of that day, “not to me only, (he exclaims in a transport of benevolent rapture, but unto all them also, (now, mark the Apostle's definition of a Christian !) that love his appearing."

to every

memory

CHAPTER III.

PROBABLEREASONS FOR THE PROMINENCE

GIVEN TO THIS SUBJECT IN SCRIPTURE.

I HAVE been thus copious and minute in examining the more striking testimonies of the Word of God, on this deeply interesting subject, because it is obviously of primary importance, to ascertain whether the position we have advanced, (namely, that the second coming of our Lord is the event, to which the eye of the believer ought to be continually directed, in patient hope, and joyful expectation of the glory then to be revealed,) rests on a scriptural foundation. I say of primary importance; because, if the opinion be not established on the sure and incontrovertible basis of the written word of God, no matter how specious the arguments by which it may be supported, or how important the advantages by which it may appear to be attended, it is not entitled to be respected or received by those, who are resolved to weigh every doctrine in the balance of the sanctuary, and reject every opinion, however attractively engaging in its aspect

, or plausibly advocated by human ingenuity, on which we cannot set this scriptural seal, “ It is written."

On the other hand, if it be plainly revealed, and that, too, as a truth of paramount interest and importance in the Christian scheme, we must not be deterred from assigning to it, in our private meditations or public ministry, that place which we find allotted to it in the Word of God, either by our apprehensions of the mischief which may result or our observations of the mischief which actually has resulted, from this revealed truth having been fastened on by men of enthusiastic temperament, mingled with their own unwarranted speculations, and thus so perverted from the purposes for which it was revealed, as to have been made a powerful means of injuring the peace and prosperity of the Christian church.

In this respect, as in every other, where the authoritative voice of God distinctly declares to us His will in His word, duties alone are ours—results exclusively are His. Nor must we allow any reasonings of our own to persuade us to keep back, or throw into the shade, any truth, clearly revealed in Scripture, in regard to which the God of Scripture has marked, by unquestionable characters, His wish, that it should be brought forward, and placed in strong light and a prominent position, in our representations of that Gospel, which in His infinite compassion He has revealed.

And this is undeniably our duty, even if we could discover no satisfactory reason, why such prominence should be given to such a doctrine; because our obligation to receive any doctrine, or obey any command contained in Scripture, arises exclusively from the fact of the doctrine being revealed or the command enjoined by God, and not from our being able to discover the reason why God has revealed such a doctrine, or enjoined such a command.

For example, we are bound to receive the doctrine of the atonement, because it is so plainly revealed in Scripture, as being, by divine appointment, the sinner's only ground of acceptance with his offended God-not because we perceive its exquisite suitableness for this purpose, as so beautifully harmonizing, and so illustriously glorifying, all the divine attributes in the scheme of salvation, through the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of the well-beloved Son of God.

The perception how wonderfully it is fitted for its high destination, as being “the wisdom of God, and the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth,” may, indeed, justly deepen our confidence and comfort, in resting on this divine foundation the whole weight of our eternal hopes; but the obligation to rest all our hopes for eternity on Christ crucified," does not at all depend on our perception of this adaptation, but altogether on the simple declaration of the Word of God, that “ Christ crucified is the wisdom of God, and the power of God," unto every believer's salvation. Which declaration would be equally binding on us, whether we could, or could not discover what appeared to us satisfactory reasons, why such a scheme of salvation should have been arranged by the wisdom, and accomplished by the power of God.

At the same time, it is no less our duty than our privilege, having received the doctrine on the authority of the written word, and resting, with entire confidence, on the sacrifice offered upon Calvary, because that word sets it forth as the divinely appointed ground of a sinner's trust, it is I say, equally our privilege and our duty to trace, with reverential humility, and adoring gratitude, those glorious lineaments of the divine character, which are so legibly inscribed on this stupendous scheme of salvation, that enlightened reason joyfully assents to the testimony of revelation, in acknowledging it to be indeed the very

wisdom of God, and the power of God!

In the same way, our obligation, if believers, habi. tually ourselves to look, and to direct our fellow-believers to be habitually looking, for the appearing of

the great God, our Saviour, arises altogether from our being, as we have seen, commanded by the highest authority, that of the Saviour and His apostles, to do 80—and this obligation must be equally imperative on us whether or not we can discover such reasons, as may satisfy us why the command has been given. And at the same time it is both our privilege and duty, in regard to this as every other revealed truth, reverently and prayerfully to investigate the subject, and search for traces of the divine wisdom in the revelation of the divine will.

This leads us to the second point we purposed to consider, namely-probable reasons why, in Scripture, the day of the appearing of the Son of God is so prominently exhibited, as the event to which the believer is taught continually to look, for motives to stimulate him to the zealous discharge of all the duties of his Christian walk, and for support amidst all the toils and trials of his Christian warfare !

In bringing forward such reasons as, on mature reflection, have suggested themselves to my own mind, I would propose them in the spirit of one, who is perfectly aware, that in the opinions he advances as to the reasons why such a prominent place is given in Scripture to the second coming of the Lord, he is liable to be mistaken-and therefore will not be either surprised or displeased, if to other minds the reasons assigned appear destitute of convincing force. And I would only in that case, entreat such unsatisfied readers to draw the line of demarcation between the suggestions of this chapter, and that which follows, (which they are at perfect liberty to reject, if their judgment is not convinced,) and the testimonies of the preceding chapters, which they are bound implicitly to receive !

Let not the apprehended weakness of the one prejudice, in their eyes, the undeniable strength of the other! Let the opinions of man be canvassed and

« ÎnapoiContinuați »