THE MANCHILD

 

By J. A. SEISS, D.D.

 

A landmark in the exposition of the Manchild is that the birth is not consummated before the period of the end of this Age. It is not fully accomplished till the day of judgment comes. This child is unborn until the period of the end is reached.

 

There is a peculiar manliness ascribed to this child. It is not only "a man child," as our English version renders the phrase, but more literally "a son, a male," or a son who is a male. There is special emphasis laid upon the masculinity. The letter of the description is such as to prove that this child is collective and composite the same as the mother, and likewise includes people of both sexes. The Greek ... which means male, has the peculiarity of being in the neuter gender, and so applies to both men and women, and cannot apply to any one individual. Sex, however, is not so much the subject of this word ... as the higher qualities of manhood common to both men and women. A body of persons is here meant, and, this body includes women as well as men, and men as well as women. But it is a body at the same time distinguished throughout with a special masculinity, which knows no sex; that is, with the most manly of virtues and the most vigorous and heroic of characteristics. By this man-child we understand saints begotten of the Holy Ghost, and pervaded with the highest qualities of virtue, courage, self-denial, and strength. They are all conquerors. They all have overcome the world, triumphed over the powers of darkness, won the race of faith, through the grace of God possessed themselves of titles to everlasting crowns and honours. Their masculinity in these respects is unquestionable and most intense, whether they be men or women as to sex. Here we find all the noblest and best of the race, and the embodiment of the highest virtue and wisdom that ever pulsated in the arteries of humanity. Here is the proper "man-child" if ever there was or will be one upon earth.

 

He is to reign, with unrivalled and irresistible authority and power over the world. He is to govern, discipline, and control all the peoples of the earth (during the subsequent millennium of a thousand years), as a shepherd deals with his flock. To shepherdize with an iron sceptre, is to exercise a dominion which is inflexible, irrefragable, and that cannot be withstood. Strength, absoluteness, and perpetuity of rule, is unmistakably indicated; and that rule is specifically said to be over "all the nations." It is universal. This is not true of any king or state in any period from the beginning of the world till now.

 

This child is the special object of Satanís murderous malignity. It is on the childís account that he assails the woman, takes his station before her, and stirs up all his power to hinder and destroy. It is not so much she, as the child, that he is bent to devour. Here is something peculiar, special, and against which all the malice of hell is aroused and concentrated. We can very well understand this, and the tremendous painting comes out in all its significance, when we see in this Child the collective body of Godís true saints. To devour these, or to stop these from reaching the kingdom and thwart their exaltation to the authority and dominion for which they are destined, is the great malignant intent of the Dragon. Their success is his defeat. Hence this intent of the unparalleled attempt to overwhelm them at the final extremity.

 

It is, in fact, their great and glorious Birth into immortality and everlasting life in glory at the Second Advent of Christ (1 Cor. 15: 51-52; 1 Thess. 4: 16-17). Prior to then, the saints are indeed generated, begotten, quickened by the Holy Ghost, and full of prophetic yearning for what is beyond; but they are still invisible, hidden, inclosed, restrained, disabled. A birth is a manifestation, a bringing to the light, the making visible of what was before invisible. And so the Scriptures speak of "the manifestation of the sons of God," which in this present order of things is expected and yearned after, but which only takes place at the coming of Christ (Rom, 8: 19). All these belong to what is subsequently called "the first resurrection" to which "everything belongs that is raised to immortality before the last day." And so we are taught as Ambrose, and Luther and Kromayer admit, that other particular resurrections and translations of certain eminent saints occur at intervals preceding the full completion of the glorified company.

 

Behold, then, the dignity and glory of the Christian calling. having put on Christ, we belong to a fellowship, for which the sublimest things are reserved. Living a life of faith on the Son of God, we are maturing for a wondrous accouchement. These wrappings and disabilities of time are soon to give place to the liberty and blessedness of a glorious immortality. Instead of these aches, and ills, and toils, and disabilities and many anxieties, shall presently be the elastic vigour and untiring strength which we now see in the angels. Instead of these doubts, and fears, and contests with evil in and around us, there shall be accomplished redemption, beyond all further vicissitude or danger. And for these crosses shall come crowns of imperishable dominion with Jesus. It amazes and confounds me when I attempt to survey the astounding changes that await the faithful. I am overwhelmed with the sublimities of exaltation and power which are set before the poor sinful children of men in the Revelations of God.

 

We are often disheartened with our hardships and trials and begin to think it too hard a thing for us to be Christians. Nature is so weak and depraved; there is such a burden in this incessant toil and self-denial and watchfulness and prayer; the way is so steep and narrow and difficult; we are tempted again and again to give up. But when we think what the dear Lord has done for us, what glories He has set before us, what victories are to come to us, what princedoms and thrones in the great empire of eternity await us, and how sure is all if we only press on for the prize; we have the profoundest reason to rejoice and give thanks every day that we live, that such opportunities have been vouchsafed to us, were the sufferings even tenfold severer than they are.

 

Blessed be God for His holy Church! Blessed be God that He has called us to be members of it. Blessed be God, that every faithful one in it is on the way, to a glorious birth-hour to immortal regency and power. Only let us see to it, that we rightly appreciate our mercies, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure. And "the God of all grace who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

 

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