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Ps. lxxxviii. 10
diction between mercy upon all and yet the election CHAP. XVIII.
Wilt Thou work miracles for the dead ?
The firstfruits and the first-born are the 'few and ‘little flock’; but these, though first delivered from the curse, have a relation to the whole creation, which shall be saved in the appointed times by the first-born, that is, by Christ and his body, through those appointed baptisms, whether of water or fire, which are required to bring about the restitution of all things. Predestinated unto the adop- Eph. i. 5—10. tion of children by Jesus Christ, accepted in the Beloved, in whom they have redemption through his blood, to the first-born, the saved ones of this era, has been made known the mystery of God's will, according to his good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, even the purpose of the ages, Eph. ii. 11. which He purposed in Christ Jesus, in the dispensation of the fulness of the seasons to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in Him. And for this end have these elect ones been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and made to sit Eph. ii. 6. together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in
char. XVIII. the ages to come through them might be made
known the manifold wisdom of God; the exceeding riches of his grace being manifested through them, not only as themselves marvellous exemplifications of that grace, but as channels for its conveyance and as instruments to bring about the grand consummation, even the reconciliation and subjection of all things to God.
At this point, let me invite the attention of the reader to an extract from that very interesting and able book, “The Restitution of All Things,” by the Rev. Andrew Jukes, to which, in this chapter especially, I gladly avow my deep obligations.
“ The Church is itself a great sacrament; ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto men; ordained by God Himself
, as a means whereby they may receive the same, and a pledge to assure them thereof;' and the blessing of the elect, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, is but the means and pledge, as the Apostle says, of wider blessing; the means by which, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, God designs to gather together in one all things in Christ, whether they be things which are in heaven or which are in earth, even in Him; and the pledge that He both can and will do it, as He has already done it in some of the weakest and the worst; for God hath chosen the base things of the world, yea, and things which are not, to show to all that there are none so weak but He can save, and none so vile but He can change and cleanse them. Thus, when He comes with ten thousands of his saints, He will not only by them convince all ungodly sinuers of
Jude 14, 15.
all their hard speeches which they had spoken CHAP. XVIII. against Him, but He will by them also, as his royal priests, joint-heirs with Christ, fulfil all that priestly work of judgment and purification by fire, which must be accomplished that all may be subdued and reconciled. To say that God saves only the firstborn would be, if it may be said, to make Him worse than Moloch, whose slaves devoted only their firstborn to the flames, founding this rite upon the true tradition that the sacrifice of a first-born should redeem the rest ; a requirement tender as compared with that which some ascribe to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who according to their view accepts the elect or first-born only, and leaves the rest to torments endless and most agonizing. The gospel of God tells us of better things, of a Sacrifice indeed, even of God's only-begotten Son, who because we were dead came into our death to quicken us, who took on Him the darkness and death and curse, which bound and would have for ever held us, and broke through it in the power of his eternal life, not only reconciling us by his blood, but also showing us by his death the way out of the bondage of sin and this world ; and who having thus, in his own person, as Man, broken through death, gives Himself now to as many as will receive and follow Him, that in and by his life they also in the same path may come forth as firstfruits and first-born from the dead with Him. But Scripture never says that these only shall be saved, but rather that in this seed, whose portion as the first-born is double, all the kindreds of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pages 43 to 45.)
Pursuing the enquiry, our attention must next be given to those times and seasons appointed for observance by the Israelites, and which, as part of that great ritual which prefigured the good things to come, seem in particular to foreshadow those ages or eras, in the evolutions of which the great purpose of Christ's kingdom is to be developed and consummated.
Referring again to the firstfruits, it will be reLev. xxiii. 10, 17. membered how some were gathered and as a sheaf
waved before the Lord at the Passover, while others were presented in the form of leavened cakes at the
Pentecost. Then, after a considerable interval, in Exod. xxiii. 16. the seventh month, in the end of the year,' came
the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Ingathering as it is called in the law, when they had gathered in their labours out of the field.' Remembering the prophetic character of the law, and looking to St. Paul's use of the figure, we can scarcely fail, I think,
to see herein not only 'Christ the Firstfruits' and i Cor. xv. 20—28. ' afterward those that are Christ's,' his leavened
ones, ‘at his coming,' but the great end when the whole harvest of souls shall have been gathered in, and the mediatorial kingdom and its purpose completed.
But observe, further, how under the law both cleansing and redemption were ordained to take
effect at different times and seasons. What mean 220. 213. ' those mystic periods of seven days, seven weeks,
seven months, seven years, and the seven times seven years, which last complete the Jubilee? These were all different times for cleansing and blessing men, but under the last all those who had lost their
Lev. riii, 5;
cxiii. 15, 24 ;
inheritance, and could not go free, as some did at CHAP. XVIII. the sabbatic year of rest, might at length, after the times of times, that is the seven times seven years, regain what had been lost and find full deliverance. Moreover, in the sabbatic year the release was for Israel only, not for foreigners; while in the Jubilee liberty was to be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the land. Now, not one jot or tittle of the law is to pass
till all be fulfilled. Certainly not as yet, so far as I can see, have these mystic periods found any adequate realization. Are we not warranted, then, in looking for the fulfilment of these times and seasons of the law in the
of ages in which the counsel of redemption, as 'the Bph. ii. 11. purpose of the ages,' is to be progressively developed and finally accomplished ? In the ages of the kingdom will be brought to pass those good things to come, of which the legal times and seasons were the shadow. As in the redemptive blessings of the sabbatic year, the year of release for Israelites in bondage, we see, I think, the deliverance of the saved ones of the present era, so in the Jubilee, the year of universal release, we see the ultimate salvation of all men. Moreover, as under the law the seven sabbatic years, the times of the times, made up one Jubilee, so the several ages of the kingdom are the component parts of the one great age, the age of the ages, in which the mediatorial reign and redemptive work of Christ is to receive its full and final accomplishment.
Let us, next, observe how in the sacrificial system of the law that truth was foreshadowed, that only through death could death be destroyed; that only