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great season of rest and joy which the coming of CHAP. VII. Messiah in his glory is to bring with it. Seeing, too, that until the appointed time for his personal and visible manifestation the Lord Jesus remains veiled by the heavens from the sight of his Church, seeing that from one end to the other of the prophetic writings this is the one teeming subject of prediction, the glory of Messiah's reign and its blessedness to the whole earth, we understand what the Apostle meant, and see how truly he spoke, when he said, 'Whom the heavens must receive Acts iii. 21. until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.'
The intimate connection that subsists between the kingdom of Christ now and as it shall be hereafter must not be overlooked. There is a difference between the two eras-a difference, however, not of principle but of degree, of development, of expansion. Righteousness is the dominant principle of both. To distinguish the two, we sometimes speak of the one as the kingdom of grace and of the other as the kingdom of glory. But grace and glory are really the same; the one being only the ripened maturity of the other. And it is worthy of notice that St. Peter designates the coming era as one of grace: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, 1 Pet. i. 13. be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.' And will it not be grace when He, who now is enthroned in the hearts of his people, shall come and reign visibly among them; when that kingdom, which is now righteousness, peace, and
86 The Reign on Earth of Christ and His Saints.
joy in the Holy Ghost, shall prevail over and pervade the whole earth? The present happiness of the saints is in spiritual communion with their Lord. Will it not then be grace when He shall come and take them unto Himself, and when they shall see Him face to face? Very powerful, therefore, is the incentive of the prospect of Christ's coming to the exercise and cultivation of that grace which is to be so crowned, completed, and consummated. Only let this hope of the advent of the Lord predominate, and it will stimulate to all diligence to make our calling and election sure, adding to faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity; because so it is that there shall be ministered an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
THE INCORPORATION OF THE JEWS INTO
ADVANCING now to further truths revealed in Holy CHAP. VIII. Writ concerning Christ's kingdom, we have next to observe that Christ's manifestation as a King on the earth will be as David's Son and in connection with David's throne; and that his second coming will be associated with the conversion and restoration of God's ancient people, and their incorporation into the kingdom of Messiah. Now, let it not be supposed that this is a matter of mere speculative interest, a curious enquiry only into the possibilities of the future. It will be admitted that whatever divine inspiration has thought fit to reveal, is not only worthy of our consideration, but that it is our duty to investigate it; and upon this subject the testimony of Scripture is remarkably clear and abundant. It moreover enters materially into our present enquiry, for the progress and development of Christ's kingdom are largely connected with the conversion and restoration of the Jews; and therein, too, are bound up the best interests of the human race, in that the Jews, after their conversion, are to play an important part in the regeneration of the world.
Apart from the explicit intimations of Holy Writ, we should, I think, beforehand be led, from the very nature of the case, to anticipate a great future for this remarkable people. Their present position, compared with their past history, renders it antecedently probable. Consider the fact as it now stands. Here is a people who for eighteen centuries past have been scattered over the face of the earth, and during that period have been oppressed, maltreated, and subjected to every kind of diminishing and exterminating influence. And yet they remain a people by themselves to this day. They have been mingled among all nations, but have never been merged into or amalgamated with any. They stand out, at the present moment, as distinct in their national individuality as ever they did. Ponder the significance of this fact. Why it is the great miracle of the day. Had mere natural causes been alone at work, the Jews must long since have been obliterated. It is impossible to attribute this prodigious fact to anything short of a divine interposition, subserving a divine purpose. We cannot otherwise account for or interpret the fact. Its obvious significance surely is, that in so preserving the Jews in all their distinctness as a people God has not utterly abandoned them, but, on the contrary, that while subjecting them to heavy and prolonged tribulation because of their sins, and especially for their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, his gracious purpose is yet to restore them, and to make good all his covenant promises to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And what we are thus led to, by the antecedent
probability of the case, is precisely what the Scrip- CHAP. VIII. tures plainly and emphatically declare. 'God hath Rom. xi. 2. not cast away his people which He foreknew,' says St Paul. That is impossible, his faithfulness as a covenant-keeping God forbids the idea. The gifts Rom. xi. 29.
and calling of God are without repentance,' that is He doth not repent Himself of them, so as to go back from his purpose and promise. The immutability of his counsel is not affected by man's unfaithfulness. He did not, as Moses tells the Israelites, Deut. vii. 7—9. originally choose them because of any worthiness in them (on the contrary, they were and had been a stiff-necked people), but because He would perform the word which the Lord sware unto their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The covenant made with Abraham, and renewed unto Isaac and Jacob, remains as yet unaccomplished in its fulness and completeness. But, as God is true, it must be sooner or later accomplished. All objections as to the difficulty or improbability of the thing are inadmissible; 'God is able to graft them in again,' Rom. xi. 23, 24. says the Apostle, and as He can do it, so it is likely, he shows, that God will do it: 'for if the wild olive has been grafted in, how much more shall the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree.' And as it is thus antecedently probable, so is it certain that the thing shall be done, because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. I would not brethren,' Rom. xi. 25-27. says St. Paul, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, 'There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn