The subject of this volume is a matter of controversy as to details; but as an old divine once said, though our watches do not agree regarding the exact time of our Lords return, most Christians agree regarding the fact.
It is hoped that the reader may be led into fulness of truth by the prayerful study of the pages that follow.
HES COMING TO-MORROW.
MRS. HARRIET BERCHER STOWE.
The night is far spent: the day is at hand.
My soul vibrated for a moment like a harp. Is it true? The night, the long night of the worlds groping agony and blind desire, is it almost over? is the day at hand?
Again: They shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory. And when these things come to pass, look up and rejoice, for your redemption is nigh.
Coming! - The Son of man really coming into this world again with power and great glory?
Will this really ever happen? Will this solid, commonplace earth see it? Will these skies brighten and flash? and will upturned faces in this city be watching to see Him coming?
So our minister preached in a solemn sermon; and for moments, at times, I felt a thrill of reality in hearing. But, as the well-dressed crowd passed down the aisle, my neighbour Mr. Stockton whispered to me not to forget the meeting of the bank-directors on Monday evening, and Mrs. Goldthwaite poured into my wifes ear a charge not to forget her party on Thursday; and my wife, as she came out, asked me if I had observed the extravagant toilet of Mrs. Rennyman.
she said, when her income, I know, cannot be half
what ours is! and I never think of sending to
I spoke of the sermon.
Yes, said my wife, what a sermon! - so solemn. I wonder that all are not drawn to hear our rector. What could be more powerful than such discourses? My dear, by the by, dont forget to change Marys opal ring for a diamond one. Dear me! the Christmas presents were all so on my mind, that I was thinking of them every now and then in church; and that was so wrong of me!
My dear, said I, sometimes it seems to me as if all our life were unreal. We go to church, and the things that we hear are either true or false. If they are true, what things they are! For instance, these Advent sermons. If we are looking for that coming, we ought to feel and live differently from what we do! Do we really believe what we hear in church? or is it a dream?
I do believe, said my wife earnestly - (she is a good woman, my wife) Yes, I do believe, but it is just as you say. Oh, dear! I feel as if I am very worldly, - I have so many things to think of! and she sighed.
So did I; for I knew that I, too, was very worldly. After a pause I said, Suppose Christ should really come this Christmas and it should be authoritatively announced that He would be here to‑morrow?
I think, said my wife, there would be some embarrassment on the part of our great men, legislators, and chief councillors, in anticipation of a personal interview. Fancy a meeting of the city council to arrange a reception for the Lord Jesus Christ!
Perhaps, said I, He would refuse all offers of the rich and great. Perhaps our fashionable churches would plead for His presence in vain. He would not be in palaces.
Oh! said my wife earnestly, if I thought our money separates us from Him, I would give it all - yes, all - might I only see Him.
She spoke from the bottom of her heart, and for a moment her face was glorified.
You will see Him some day, said I, and the money we are willing to give up at a word from Him will not keep Him from us.
That evening the thoughts of the waking hours mirrored themselves in a dream.
I seemed to be out walking in the streets, and to be conscious of a strange, vague sense of something just declared, of which all were speaking with a suppressed air of mysterious voices.
There was a whispering stillness around. Groups of men stood at the corners of the street, and discussed an impending something with suppressed voices.
I heard one say to another, Really coming? What? To-morrow?
And the others said, Yes, to-morrow. On Christmas Day He will be here.
It was night. The stars were glittering down with a keen and frosty light the shops glistened in their Christmas array: but the same sense of expectancy pervaded everything. There seemed to be nothing doing, and each person looked wistfully upon his neighbour, as if to say, Have you heard?
Suddenly, as I walked, an angel-form was with me, gliding softly by my side. The face was solemn, serene, and calm. Above the forehead, was a pale, tremulous, phosphorous, radiance of light, purer than any on earth, - a light of a quality so different from that of the street lamps that my celestial attendant seemed to move in a sphere alone.
Yet, though I felt awe, I felt a sort of confiding love as I said:
Tell me, - is it really true? Is Christ coming?
HE is, said the angel. Alas, too many in this city it is only terror! Come with me.
In a moment I seemed to be standing with him in a parlour of one of the chief palaces of the city. A stout, florid, bald-headed man was seated at a table covered with papers, which he was sorting over with nervous anxiety, muttering to himself as he did so. On a sofa lay a sad-looking, delicate woman, her emaciated hands clasped over a little book. The room was, in all its appointments, a witness of boundless wealth. Gold and silver, and gems, and foreign furniture, and costly pictures, and articles of virtue - everything that money could buy, - were heaped together; and yet the man himself seemed to me to have been neither elevated nor refined by the confluence of all these treasures. He seemed nervous and uneasy. He wiped the sweat from his brow, and spoke, -
I dont know, wife, how you feel; but I dont like this news. I dont understand it. It puts a stop to everything I know any thing about.
0 John! said the woman, turning towards him a face pale and fervent, and clasping her hands, how can you say so?
And, as she spoke, I could see breaking out above her head a tremulous light, like that above the brow of an angel.
Well, Mary, its the truth. I dont care if I say it. I dont want to meet - well, I wish He would put it off! What does He want of me? Id he willing to make over - well, three millions to found an hospital, if Hed be satisfied and let me go on. Yes, Id give three millions - to buy off from to-morrow.
Is He not our best friend?
Best friend! said the man, with a look hall fright, half anger. Mary, you dont know what you are talking about! You know I always hated those things. Theres no use in it: I cant see into them. In fact, I hate them.
She cast on him a look full of pity. Cannot I make you see? she said.
No, indeed, you cant. Why, look here, he added, pointing to the papers, here is what stands for millions! To-night its mine; and to-morrow it will be all so much waste paper: and then what have I left? Do you think I can rejoice? Id give half; Id give - yes, the whole, not to have him come these hundred years.
She stretched out her thin hand towards him; but he pushed it back.
Do you see? said the angel to me solemnly; between him and her there is a great gulf fixed. They have lived in one house with that gulf between them for years! She cannot go to him: he cannot come to her. To-morrow she will rise to Christ as a dewdrop to the sun; and he will call to the mountains and rocks to fall on him, - not because Christ hates him, but because he hates Christ.
Again the scene was changed. We stood together in a little low attic, lighted by one small lamp, - how poor it was! - a broken chair, a rickety table, a bed in the corner where the little ones were cuddling close to one another for warmth. Poor things! the air was so frosty that their breath congealed upon the bed-clothes, as they talked in soft, baby voices.
When mother comes, she will bring us some supper, said they.
But Im so cold! said the little outsider.
Get in the middle, then, said the other two, and well warm you. Mother promised she would make a fire when she came in, if that man would pay her.
What a bad man he is! said the oldest boy: he never pays mother if he can help it.
Just then the door opened, and a pale, thin woman came in, laden with packages.
She laid all down, and came to her childrens bed, clasping her hands in rapture.
Joy! joy, children! Oh, joy, joy! Christ is coming! He will be here to-morrow.
Every little bird in the nest was up, and the little arms around the mothers neck: the children believed at once. They had heard of the good Jesus. He had been their mothers only friend through many a cold and hungry day, and they doubted not He was coming.
0 mother! will He take us? He will, wont He?
Yes, my little ones, she said softly, smiling to herself. He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom.
Suddenly again, as if by the slide of a magic-lantern, another scene was present.
We stood in a lonely room, where a woman was sitting with her head bowed forward upon her hands. Alone, forsaken, slandered, she was in bitterness of spirit. Hard, cruel tongues had spoken her name with vile assertions, and a thoughtless world had believed. There had been a babble of accusations, a crowd to rejoice in iniquity, and few to pity. She thought herself alone, and she spoke: Judge me, 0 Lord! for I have walked in my integrity. I am as a monster unto many; but Thou art my strong refuge.
In a moment the angel touched her. My sister, he said, be of good cheer. Christ will be here to-morrow.
She started up, with her hands clasped, her eyes bright, her whole form dilated, as she seemed to look into the heavens, and said with rapture, -
Come, Lord, and judge me; for Thou knowest me altogether. Come, Son of man, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded. Oh, for the judgment-seat of Christ!
Again I stood in a brilliant room, full of luxuries. Three or four fair women were standing pensively talking with each other. Their apartment was bestrewn with jewellery, laces, silks, velvets, and every fanciful elegance of fashion; but they looked troubled.
This seems to mc really awful, said one, with a suppressed sigh. What troubles me is, I know so little about it.
Yes, said another, and it puts a stop so to everything! Of what use will all these be to-morrow?
There was a poor seamstress in the corner of the room, who now spoke.
We shall be ever with the Lord, she said.
Im sure I dont know what that can mean, said the first speaker, with a kind of shudder; it seems rather fearful.
Well, said the other, it seems so sudden - when one never dreamed of any such thing - to change all at once from this to that other life.
It is enough to be with Him, said the poor woman. Oh, I have so longed for it!
The great gulf, again said the angel.
again we stood on the steps of a church.
A band of clergymen were together.
Episcopalian, Methodist, Congregationalist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Old
Its no matter now about these old issues, they said. He is coming: He will settle all. Ordinations and ordinances, sacraments and creeds, are but the scaffolding of the edifice. They are the shadow: the substance is CHRIST! And hand in hand they turned their faces when the Christmas morning light began faintly glowing; and I heard them saying together, with one heart and voice, -
Come, LORD LESUS! come quickly!
* * *
THE SECOND COMING OF
D. L. MOODY.
Study of Prophecy - Three Great Comings - The Stone Cut out of the Mountain - How will He Come? - When? - Watch! - Not at Death - The Order of Events - For Young Converts - At the Communion Table, - The Millennium - No Universal Conversion - Reunion with Friends - The Oft-repeated Promise and Prayer.
In second Timothy, third chapter, verse sixteen, Paul declares: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. But there are some people who tell us, when we take up prophecy, that it is all very well to be believed, but that there is no use in one trying to understand it; that future events are things that the Church does not agree about, and it is better to let them alone, and deal only with those prophecies which have already been fulfilled.
But Paul doesnt talk that way; he says ALL Scripture is ... profitable for doctrine. If these people are right, he ought to have said: Some Scripture is profitable; but you cant understand the prophecies, so you had better let them alone. If God did not mean to have us study the prophecies, He would not have put them into the Bible. Some of them are fulfilled, and He is fulfilling the rest, so that if we do not see them all completed in this life, we shall in the world [age] to come. Prophecy, as has been said, is the mould in which history is cast. About one-third of the Bible is prophetical, and a large portion of the remainder is typical of things that were to come.
Three great comings are foretold in the Word of God. First, that Christ should come; that has been fulfilled. Second, that the Holy Ghost should come; that was fulfilled at Pentecost, and the Church is able to testify to it by its experience of His saving grace. Third, the return of our Lord from Heaven - for this we are told to watch and wait till He come.
I do not want to teach anything dogmatically, on my own authority; but to my mind this precious doctrine - for such I must call it - of the return of the Lord to this earth is taught in the New Testament as clearly as any other doctrine in it. If you read the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew, the sixty-fourth verse, you will find that it was just this very thing that caused His death. When the high priests asked Him who He was, and if He was the true Messiah, what does He reply:
I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
That was enough. The moment they heard that, they accused Him of blasphemy, and condemned Him to death, just because He said He was coming again.
Whoever neglects this has only a mutilated Gospel, for the Bible teaches us not only of the death and sufferings of Christ, but also of His return to reign in honour and glory. His second coming is mentioned and referred to over three hundred times, yet I was in the Church fifteen or sixteen years before I ever heard a sermon on it. There is hardly any church that does not make a great deal of baptism, but in all of Pauls epistles I believe baptism is spoken of only thirteen times, while he speaks about the return of our Lord fifty times; and yet the Church has had very little to say about it. Now, I can see a reason for this;
THE DEVIL DOES NOT WANT US TO SEE THIS TRUTH,
for nothing would wake up the Church so much. The moment a man realizes that Jesus Christ is coming back again to receive His followers to Himself, this world loses its hold upon him. Gas stocks and water stocks and stocks in banks and railroads are of very much less consequence to him then. His heart is free, and he looks for the blessed appearing of His Lord, who, at His coming, will take him into His blessed Kingdom.
Some people say, The prophecies are all well enough for the priests and doctors, but not for the rank and file of the Church.
But Peter says, The prophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and those men are the very ones who tell us of the return of our Lord. Look at Daniel, where he tells the meaning of that stone which King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, that was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure, says Daniel. Now, we have seen the fulfilment of that prophecy, all but the closing part of it. The kingdoms of Babylon and Medo-Persia and Greece and Rome have all been broken in pieces, and now it only remains for this stone, cut out of the mountain without hands, to smite the image and break it in pieces till it becomes like the dust of the summer threshing-floor, and for this stone to become a great mountain and fill the whole earth.
BUT HOW WILL HE COME?
are told how He is going to come. When
the disciples stood looking up into heaven at the time of His ascension, there appeared
two angels, who said unto them (Acts first chapter, verse eleven): Ye men of
How did He go up? He took His flesh and bones up with Him. Look at me; handle me; a spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see me have. I am the identical one whom they crucified and laid in the grave. Now I am risen from the dead and am going up to heaven.
He is gone, say the angels, but He will come again just as He went.
angel was sent to announce His birth to the Virgin. Angels sang of His advent in
I do not know why people should not like to study the Bible, and find out all about this precious doctrine of our Lords return. Some have gone beyond prophecy, and tried to tell the very day He would come. Perhaps that is one reason why people dont believe this doctrine. He is coming - we know that; but just when He is coming we dont know. Matthew settles that: But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. The angels dont know. It is something the Father keeps to Himself.
In Luke we read: The Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. McCheyne, the Scotch preacher, once said to some friends, Do you think Christ will come tonight?
One after another they said, I think not.
When all had given this answer, he solemnly repeated this text: The Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Commenting on the text: It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power, Spurgeon said: If I were introduced into a room where a large number of parcels were stored up, and I was told that there was something good for me, I should begin to look for that which had my name upon it, and when I cane upon a parcel and I saw in pretty big letters, It is not for you, I should leave it alone. Here, then, is a casket of knowledge marked, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. Cease to meddle with matters which are concealed, and be satisfied to know the things which are clearly revealed.
If Christ had said, I will not come back for 2, 000 years, none of His disciples would have begun to watch for Him until the time was near, but it is
THE PROPER ATTITUDE OF A CHRISTIAN
to be always looking for his Lords return. So God does not tell us when Christ is to come, but He tells us to watch, just as Simeon and Anna watched and waited for His first coming, so should true believers watch and wait for His return. It is not enough to say you are a Christian, and that you are all right. You are not all right unless you obey the command to watch.
We find also that He is to come unexpectedly and suddenly. For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth unto the west, even so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. And again, Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Some people say that means death; but the Word of God does not say it means death. Death is our enemy, but our Lord hath the keys of Death. He has conquered death, hell [Hades] and the grave, and at any moment He may come to set us free from death, and destroy our last enemy for us.
In the last chapter of John there is a text that seems to settle this matter. Peter asks the question about John, Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren that that disciple should not die. They did not think that the coming of the Lord meant death; there was a great difference between these two things in their minds. Christ is the Prince of Life. There is no death where He is. Death flees at His coming. Dead bodies sprang to life when He touched them or spoke to them. His coming is not death, He is the resurrection and the life. When He sets up His [millennial] kingdom, there is to be no death [for resurrected saints], but life forevermore.
Look at that account of the last hours of Christ with His disciples. What does He say to them? If I go away I will send death after you to bring You to Me or I will send an angel after you? Not at all. He says: I will come again and receive you unto Myself.
It is this that makes the fourteenth chapter of John so sweet.
There is another mistake, as you will find if you read your Bibles carefully. Some think that at the second coming of Christ everything is to be brought about in a few minutes, but I do not so understand it.
THE FIRST THING HE IS TO DO
is to take His Church out of the world. He calls the Church His bride, and He says He is going to prepare a place for her. We may judge, says one, what a glorious place it will be from the length of time He is in preparing it, and when the place is ready He will come and take the Church to Himself.
In the closing verses of the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul says: If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. ... We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall he caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words. That is the comfort of the Church.
If my wife were in a foreign country, and I had a beautiful mansion all ready for her, she would a good deal rather I should come and bring her to it than to have me send someone else to bring her. He has prepared a mansion for His bride, the Church, and He promises for our joy and comfort that
HE WILL COME HIMSELF
and bring us to the place He has been all this while preparing.
There was a time when I used to mourn that I should not be alive in the millennium; but now
I EXPECT TO BE IN THE MILLENNIUM.
Dean Alford says - and almost everybody bows to him in the matter of interpretation - that he must insist that this coming of Christ to take His Church to Himself in the clouds, is not the same event as His coming to judge the world at the last day. The deliverance of the Church is one thing, judgment is another. Christ will save His Church, but He will save them finally by taking them out of the world.
Some may shake your heads and say: Oh, well, that is too deep for the most of us. Such things ought not to be said before young converts. Only the very wisest characters, such as the ministers and the professors in the theological seminaries, can understand them.
But, my friends, Paul wrote about these things to the young converts among the Thessalonians, and he told them to comfort one another with these words. Here in the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians Paul says: Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. To wait for His Son - that is the true attitude of every child of God. If he is doing that, he is ready for the duties of life, ready for Gods work; aye, that makes him feel that he is just ready to begin to work for God.
Then over in the next chapter he says: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at His coming? And again, in the third chapter, thirteenth verse: To the end that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Still again, in the fifth chapter and twenty-third verse: I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has something to say about this same thing in every chapter; indeed, I have thought this Epistle to the Thessalonians might be called the Gospel of Christs Coming Again.
Take the account of the words of Christ at the communion table. It seems to me the devil has covered up the most precious thing about it. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lords death till He come. But most people seem to think that the Lords table is the place for self-examination, and repentance, and making good resolutions. Not at all; they spoil it that way. It is to show forth the Lords death, and we are to observe it till He comes.
Some people say, I believe Christ will come on the other side of the millennium.
Where do they get it? I cant find it. The Word of God nowhere tells me to watch and wait for signs of the coming of the millennium, (such as the return of the Jews,) but for the coming of the Lord; to be ready at midnight to meet Him, like those five wise virgins.
At one time I thought the world would grow better and better until Christ could stay away no longer; but in studying the Bible I dont find any place where God says so, or that Christ is to have a spiritual reign on earth of a thousand years. I find that
THE WORLD IS TO GROW WORSE AND WORSE,
and that at length there is going to be a separation. Two women grinding at a mill; one taken and the other left. Two men in one bed; one taken and the other left. The Church is to be translated out of the world, and of this we have two examples (as we might say) in Christs Kingdom, of what is to be done for all His true believers. Enoch is the representative of the first dispensation, Elijah of the second, and, as a representative of the third dispensation, we have a Saviour Himself, who entered into the heavens for us, and became the first-fruits of them that slept. We are not to wait for the great white throne judgment, but the glorified Church is set on the throne with Christ, and to help to judge the world.
some think this is a new and strange doctrine, and that they who preach it are
speckled birds. But let me say that many
spiritual men in the pulpits of
SHAMS IN RELIGION.
The Church is cold and formal; may God wake us up! And I know of no better way to do it than to get the Church to look for the return of our Lord.
Some people say, Oh, you will discourage the young converts if you preach that doctrine.
Well, my friends, that hasnt been my experience. I have felt like working three times as hard ever since I came to understand that my Lord was coming back again.
I look on this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a life-boat, and said to me, Moody, save all you can. God will come in judgment to this world, but the children of God dont belong to this world; they are in it, but not of it, like a ship in the water; and their greatest danger is not the opposition of the world, but their own conformity to the world. This world is getting darker and darker; its ruin is coming nearer and nearer; if you have any friends on this wreck unsaved, you had better lose no time in getting them off.
But some one will say, Do you then make the grace of God a failure?
No; grace is not a failure, but man is. The antediluvian world was a failure. The Jewish world was a failure. Man has been a failure everywhere when he has had his own way and been left to himself. When the Son of God left heaven, and came to this sin-cursed earth to open up a new and living way whereby we might return to God, the earth would give them no better quarters than a manger for His birthplace, no place to lay His head during the years of His ministry, and only the cruel cross in His death.
Nowhere in the Scriptures is it claimed that the whole world shall be brought to the feet of Christ in this dispensation. In the fifteenth chapter of Acts, James says: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. That is one reason for our Lords delay. He is waiting until the elect are all gathered out, until His Gentile bride is complete.
Now, dont take my word for it. Look this doctrine up in your Bibles, and, if you find it there, bow down to it, and receive it as the Word of God. Take Matthew, twenty-fourth chapter, verse fifty: The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in a hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Take 2 Peter, third chapter, fourth and fifth verses. There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. Go out on the streets, and ask men about the return of our Lord, and that is just what they would say:
Ah, yes; the Lord delayeth His coming! I dont propose to trouble myself about it. It will not be in my day.
But Peter goes on to say, verse ten: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. We have no right then to say when it will not come, any more than we have to say when it will come. As some one has said, Christs second coming does not occur so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness, supposes.
is another thought I want to bring to your attention, and that is: Christ will
bring our friends with Him when He comes.
All who have died in the Lord are to be with Him when He descends from
His Fathers throne into the air. An
interval of time ensues between this meeting of all His saints in the air and
His coming with all His saints to execute judgment upon the ungodly, to chain
Satan in the bottomless Pit for the thousand Years, and to establish the
millennial reign in great power and glory. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection; on such the second death has
no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign
with Him a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand
years were past; this is the first resurrection. That looks as
if the Church was to reign a thousand years with Christ before the final
judgment of the great White Throne, when Satan shall be cast into the
Christ returns, He will not be treated as He was before. There will be room for Him at
Behold, I come quickly, said Christ to John. Three times it is repeated in the last chapter of the Bible. And almost the closing words of the Bible are the prayer: Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Were the early Christians disappointed, then? No; no man is disappointed who obeys the voice of God. The world waited for the first coming of the Lord, waited for 4,000 years, and then He came. He was here only thirty-three years, and then He went away. But He left us a promise that He would come again; and, as the world watched and waited for His first coming and did not watch in vain, so now, to them who wait for His appearing, shall He appear a second time unto salvation.
Now, let the question go round, Am I ready to meet the Lord if He comes to-night?
Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.
* * *
THE SECOND COMING
OF OUR LORD
D. W. WHITTLE.
The Practical Bearing of the Doctrine - Seven Cardinal
Points - 1. Not Death -
2. Not the Destruction of
The only people I have ever found in this country or any other country who show that they have really been stimulated to Christian work, are those who have first got the truth into their hearts; and there is no truth, according to my observation, that has so stimulated men to consecration and work for Christ as the truth of the Scriptures concerning the personal coming of the Lord Jesus.
is nothing that has so blessed me as to see this truth. Nothing did so much to get me into Christian
work. Evangelists throughout the
country, as a rule, hold the truth as to the second coming of the Lord and are
blessed by it. And when you see
ministers from the
There is nothing in this truth that is so very mysterious. It is just as plain and simple as can be when you take a common-sense presentation of it. What we want is to take the Bible as it reads - to let the word of God speak to us just as God has given it, and lay aside all preconceived ideas and notions, and the vagaries of men. The doctrine has been shamefully abused. Dates have been set, ascension robes prepared, and fanatical teachings spread abroad. Hence there has been a great reaction. But all this is the work of the devil. He wants to get Gods people away from the truth. Yet the truth is in the Scriptures, and we will find it there if we look for it.
Now there are seven points that I want to make clear in connection with this doctrine:
First, the coming of the Lord mentioned in the Scriptures is not death. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? The disciples had an idea that John was not to die, but that he was to tarry on the earth until the Lord Jesus should come again. They did not understand that the coming of the Lord meant death. Again: Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. That is, we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed when the Lord comes. Again, Paul says: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. That was his idea of what dying was - not the coming of the Lord to him, but his departing to be with the Lord. Dying is departing to be with the Lord, and the coming of the Lord mentioned in the Scriptures is the Lord coming to this earth for us. John says: Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the extent that ye might believe; nevertheless, let us go unto him. That is: He is in the grave. I am going to raise him from the dead; and in his resurrection I am to be glorified, and you will understand My power as you never did before. That is where the resurrection came in - God was to be glorified in the resurrection.
Now, Jesus was on His way to Lazarus. Was the death of Lazarus the coming of Christ? Jesus said: Let us go to him. What for? To raise him from the dead. Then the coming of Christ was not his death, but the very opposite.
I suppose if some of those brethren had been there who explain away the Scriptures by saying that the coming of the Lord means death, and if they had been called upon to preach the funeral sermon, they would have said:-
Dear friends - We know very well that Jesus promised Mary and Martha that He would come and we know very well that He is on His way. We believe He will fulfil His word. But dont you see, dear friends, that this is the meaning of His words: Lazarus is dead, and the Lord has come. He has come in death. That is how He has fulfilled His word.
Still, that wasnt the fulfilment of it at all. Lazarus death meant an entirely different thing, and the coming of the Lord meant resurrection. It doesnt mean death; it means life.
second point I would make is this: The coming,
of the Lord is not the destruction of
this passage there are two things spoken of: first, the destruction of
Then beyond that He told, them of further events pertaining to the latter day.
Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him,
and they also which pierceth Him: and all countries
of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. This is in the
last book of the Bible. The book of Revelation was written, according to the
best chronology, in the year 96. It was
written by John when he was an old man.
John wrote his Epistles in the year 90, and the
book of Revelation a few years later. And this last book of the inspired volume
is full of testimony concerning the second coming of our Lord. Well,
The third point is that the coming of the Lord is not the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send Him unto you. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Then, according to the argument that the coming referred to was the coming of the Spirit, after the Spirit has come you will not hear anything more of the coming of Christ. But how is it? After the Holy Ghost came, you hear a great deal more about the coming of Christ than ever before. Again: He shall send Jesus Christ ... whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of, all things. Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost while delivering this sermon, and his testimony is to direct the people to the fact that Jesus is coming back to this earth. In view of that he says: Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
The fourth point is that the coming of Christ is a personal and visible coming. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them. It was the person of our risen Lord; not a vision - not an intangible something or other. A real living person stood before them. To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs. When He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven. Could anything be more real than that?
Thank God for facts! Thank God that we have a Gospel based on facts. It is a fact that I am a sinner - that you are a sinner; a hell-deserving sinner, condemned by Gods law. It is a fact that you need a Saviour. It is a fact that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, lived on this earth, obeyed the law, was crucified under Pontius Pilate; that His literal body [and soul] rose again, and that that literal [resurrected] body ascended into Heaven. And it is a fact that angels convoyed Him, and said: This same Jesus ... shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven. Let us believe. Let us take the Word of God as God has given it to us, and we cannot go astray.
He fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou
When an old coloured woman was dying, some one said that the angels* would soon come for her.
[* See Luke 16: 22.]
Oh, no, said she; the Lord Himself will come.
There is no other comfort for one who is truly born of God. It is the Lord Himself, who was here - personal and visible - that is coming [at the time of Resurrection (1 Thess. 4: 16. cf. John 3: 13; Luke 14: 14; 1 Cor. 15: 23); not at the time of Death] to take His saints to Himself.
The fifth heading. There are
three things connected with His coming, and it has helped me to view it in
three aspects. We must rightly divide
the Word of God. The man that has only
one pigeon-hole, and puts into it everything in the Word of God, is likely to
get things badly mixed up. The Holy
Ghost has given us three pigeon-holes - Jew, Gentile, and the
though you may despise them, they are beloved.
Every Jew is an object of Gods special love. He may be down in
In that day shall the Lord
defend the inhabitants of
Some commentators say that the
sixth point is the aspect of the
coming of the Lord to the unbelieving world. And after they had held their peace, James
answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me. Simon hath declared how
God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His
name. That is the present dispensation. There is nothing said about the conversion of
the world. But God it now visiting the
Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. To this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the
tabernacle of David, which is fallen down. Fallen down - what does that mean? Read the whole prophecy from which it is
taken, and find a description of
the tabernacle of David is rebuilt, and the promises to
Will there be a judgment? Yes - for the impenitent ones, the ungodly ones, those that have rejected Christ.
there be a destruction of the world? No; there is to be a glorious time on this earth. The Lord Jesus shall
be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking
vengeance upon them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the
glory of His power. There is
the judgment of those that have rejected the Gospel. They are in danger to-day. I do not like to put a thousand years between
us and the judgment of the wicked. I
believe it is an awful error to do so.* The impenitent are in danger this very hour, and we are
not warning them as we should. I don't
see a shadow of hope for those who have heard the Gospel and had Gospel
privileges and up to this time are rejecting Christ. The judgment is for them - the punishment is
for them. See Zechariah: Every one that is left of all the nations which came against
NOTE. The author may think it an awful error, to put a thousand years between us and the judgment of the wicked;
is precisely what the Word of God does and says we should do, (1 Cor. 5: 12; 6: 4. cf. Rev. 20:
5-15.)! Paul commanded the
I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus. ... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. And the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God, and shall reign with Him, a thousand years.
is where we get the millennium. Now you
see the meaning of the word pre-millennial.
Pre means before. The pre-millennial advent means Christ coming
before the millennium. There will be no millennium till He
comes. That is plain Scripture. Many people have got an idea that we are
going to get the millennium by moans of telephones, steam engines, swift
Atlantic steamers, and all the appliances of modern civilization. These things, they imagine, are to bring the
millennium, and then at the end of the millennium Christ will come. But it is Scripture that Christ will come
first. He must come before His reign of
a thousand years. He is to usher in the
millennium by His coming. If the
post-millennial theory is true, when is the millennium to commence? Certainly it hasnt come yet, nor does it
seem to be coming. Look at
The time described in Scriptures has not begun to dawn yet. But it is coming. It is not for us to know the times and seasons; but when it comes it will not be by means of modern inventions and discoveries. The Lord Jesus Christ will get the victory, and He will get the glory.
now, what is the aspect of the coming of
the Lord to His Church? This is my seventh point. He said unto His disciples, The days
will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and
ye shall not see it. And they shall say
to you, See here! or, See
there! Go not after them, nor follow
them. For as the
lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the
other part under heaven, so shall also the Son of Man be in His day. That is the warning for
us. Some years ago in
Take heed unto yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. That is where some of us feel that we have our hope of the rapture of the Church. Some people think we are [all] going to be put through tribulations - going to be sifted and tested. I think the Lord will give us discipline before His appearing. But if we are watching and ready, we shall be accounted worthy to escape all these things. See 1 Thessalonians: We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. And thank God for their inexpressible comfort: The dead in Christ shall rise first! You have loved ones laid away in the cemetery. Their bodies are resting, waiting for the resurrection. At the voice of the archangel they shall rise and receive their new bodies. They have followed Jesus in going down into the grave, and they shall have their precedence - or shall have their glorified bodies before us who may be living. But immediately we shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. We are certainly associated with them in His glory. When He sets up His kingdom on earth, His Bride will be with Him. Where shall I be? I shall be with Christ, together with all* the saints, and we shall judge the earth. When Christ comes we shall - [If accounted worthy to attain to that age (Luke 20: 35, R.V.)] - be associated with Him in His [millennial] reign.
[* The all here, is like the all of 1 Cor. 15: 22: but the following verse reveals to us its limitations, and the correct interpretation: But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christs, at his coming.
Therefore, dear friends, the aspect to us of Christs appearing involves:
(1). Deliverance from this present evil world. Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.
(2). Deliverance from judgment. And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come.
(3). Deliverance from this body of corruption. The creature [creation] itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
(4). Gathering with loved ones. Many of our families have been scattered; the dear ones are far away; but when Christ comes there will be a great home-gathering.
(5). Our seeing Jesus. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
like the thought that our union with Christ is a real union. Everything that concerns me, Christ is concerned
in; and everything that concerns Christ, I am concerned in. So it is in regard to this coming of Christ,
in regard to the setting up of His kingdom on earth, and in regard to the
manifestation of His glory. Oh, how
selfish and vain, how narrow is the range of that mans vision who can only
think of these things in connection with his miserable self. These concern the glory of the Lord Jesus
Christ. At the
* * *
THE BLESSED HOPE
It is Purifying - Pacifying Comforting - Glorious - Promised Glories -
What Should be our Present Attitude?
Whatever meaning we may put on the prophetic event introduced in the Scriptures as our Lords second coming, we must observe that it is frequently specified as A HOPE. And as hope implies expectation, the conviction of something unfulfilled, that term alone designates the Advent as a future thing.
Hope is the opposite of despair. It has a definite object in view, and as that object is apprehended at hand or remotely, the soul is swayed by delight or discouragement. The blessed hope and coming in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ should not be relegated to the regions of mystery. How can it be a hope of any value if it be some uncertain, indefinite, far-away, and non-essential theory which happened to drop into the Bible? In fifty-three places where hope is referred to in the divine Word, it has special relation to future blessings which are to crown the Christian believer at the appearing of Jesus Christ. A few of these we might examine:
1. IT IS A BLESSED HOPE.
Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
A blessed hope means a happy one. The word refers to inward enjoyment apart from external environment. The expectations implied in such a hope make all present circumstances of trial or depression not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
2. IT IS A PURIFYING HOPE.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
As linen bleaches under the sun, the light of this hope cleanses the life from world-stains. It loosens the grasp from the things of earth.
The man who has a magnificent mansion in some beautiful locality, and is only tarrying in a city hotel for a few days till he can journey home, will not care to spend his time and money in elaborately decorating his temporary lodging in the strange city. If he purchases bric-a-brac or pictures, the thought in his mind is, I will take them home. So the Christian, who reckons himself a pilgrim and a stranger here, will have little heart to spend his energies on things pertaining merely to the earthly. His city and his home lie beyond. His great concern will be to lay up treasures in heaven.
3. IT IS A PACIFYING HOPE.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
In the power of this hope all questions of provocation can be patiently laid aside for the Lord to settle on His arrival. The child of God who is pervaded with this hope will be willing to waive all rights of self-vindication, knowing that his labour of love and patience of hope will not go unrewarded.
4. IT IS A COMFORTING HOPE.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope.
The lustre of this hope shines most conspicuously in the consolation it brings to those who are called to part with their loved ones by death. The unbelieving bury their dead without any certain or definite expectation of re-union. For in no human scheme of philosophy is the truth of a resurrection even hinted at. But the Scriptures definitely promise this. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. The Apostle Paul, after explaining all this to the Thessalonian Christians, and showing them the immense advantage they had over the heathen who knew nothing about the advent in majesty of Jesus Christ, or of the resurrection, adds finally, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5. IT IS A GLORIOUS HOPE.
For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. ... Women receive their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.
This hope would be meaningless apart from the locality and the circumstances where it anchors itself. It leaps over time and space to the period when Jesus Christ shall Himself be glorified as King of kings according to the eternal purpose of the Father.
This blessed hope embraces several promised glories:
1. We shall be with Christ. Not as in death, when we are said to be unclothed and waiting to be clothed upon with our house from heaven. In an actual sense we shall see Him as He is, and be ourselves like Him, personally and morally.
2. We shall be beyond sinning. Now we groan for deliverance. Pain and the curse encompass us. The consummation of that hope will bring full redemption to the body [and soul].
3. We shall know as we are known. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
What joy to have the hope of one day being masters of all knowledge; to understand the mysteries of science, the marvels of astronomy, the secrets of nature, and the profound depths of the soul!
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR PRESENT ATTITUDE?
We ought to be looking for the blessed crisis. That is, expecting it with desire. We should he praying for it and thereby seek to hasten it. We should anticipate its consummation by our endeavour of personal faithfulness toward all that it involves. We ought to be loving it. If we love the seed of Abraham, if we love the burdened brute creation, if we love the heathen Gentile nations who know nothing of a Saviour, we shall joyfully welcome this hope, for their sakes also. For it is the hope that shall bring to the Jew his Messiah; to the creature his emancipation from mans exacting dominion; to mute nature her freedom from thorns and thistles; to the heathen idolater a knowledge of the true and living God; and to the waiting Bride the personal presence of the heavenly Bridegroom. Yea, it will bring to Jesus His Kingdom, Crown and Throne.
* * *
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
CHARLES H. SPURGEON.
Four Great Events, and a Fifth - His Promised Return - Necessary - Unquestionably Asserted - What can Hinder it? - When? - Vividly Realized - Seen of All - Denying, Living, Looking - Be Ready - Waiting Patiently - Notion of Delay Harmful.
Four great events shine out brightly in our Saviours story. All Christian minds delight to dwell upon His birth, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. These make four rounds in that ladder of light, the foot of which is upon the earth, but the top whereof reacheth to heaven. We could not afford to dispense with any one of those four events, nor would it be profitable for us to forget or underestimate the value of any one of them. That the Son of God was born of a woman creates in us the intense delight of a brotherhood springing out of a common humanity. That Jesus once suffered unto the death for our sins, and thereby made a full atonement for us, is the rest and life of our spirits. The manger and the cross together are divine seals of love. That the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead is the warrant of our justification, and also a transcendently delightful assurance of the resurrection of all His people, and of their eternal life in Him. Hath He not said, Because I live, ye shall live also? The resurrection of Christ is the morning star of our future glory. Equally delightful is the remembrance of His ascension. No song is sweeter than this, - Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou has received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
Each one of those four events points to another, and they all lead up to it. The fifth link in the golden chain is our Lords second and most glorious advent. Little is mentioned between His ascent and His descent. True, a rich history comes between; but it lies in a valley between two stupendous mountains: we step from alp to alp as we journey in meditation from the ascension to the second advent.
I say that each of the previous four events points to it. Had He not come a first time in humiliation, born under the law, He could not have come a second time in amazing glory without a sin-offering unto salvation. Because He died once, we rejoice that He dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over Him, and therefore He cometh to destroy that last enemy whom He hath already conquered. It is our joy, as we think of our Redeemer as risen, to feel that in consequence of His rising, the trump of the archangel shall assuredly sound for the awaking of all His slumbering people, when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout. As for His ascension, He could not a second time descend if He had not first ascended; but having perfumed heaven with His presence, and prepared a place for His people, we may fitly expect that He will come again and receive us unto Himself, that where He is there we may be also.
THE LORD WILL COME AGAIN
He will come again, for He has promised to return. We have His own word for it. That is our first reason for expecting Him. Among the last of the words which He spoke to His servant John are these, Surely I come quickly. You may read it, I am coming quickly. I am even now upon the road. I am travelling as fast as wisdom allows. I am always coming, and coming quickly.
Some try to explain the Second Coming of Christ as though it meant the believer dying. You may, if you like, consider that Christ comes to His saints in death. In a certain sense He does; but that sense will never bear out the full meaning of the teaching of the Second Advent with which the Scripture is full. No; the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.
Christ will as certainly be here again in glory as He once was here in shame. He often assured His disciples that if He went away from them, He would come again to them; and He left us the Lords Supper as a parting token to be observed until He comes. As often as we break bread we are reminded of the fact that, though it is a most blessed ordinance, yet it is a temporary one, and will cease to be celebrated when our absent Lord is once again present with us.
He promised to die on the cross, and to rise again the third day: and He kept His word. Let us believe His promise to return again.
the great scheme of redemption requires
Christs return. It is a part of that scheme that as He came once with
a sin-offering, He should come a second time without a sin-offering; that as He
came once to redeem, He should come a second time to claim the inheritance
which He has so dearly bought. He came
once that His heel might be bruised; He comes again to break the serpents
head, and with a rod of iron to dash His enemies in pieces, as potters
vessels. He came once to wear the crown
of thorns; He must come again to wear the diadem of universal dominion. He comes to the marriage supper. He comes to gather His saints together. He
comes to glorify them with Himself on
this same earth where once He and they were despised and rejected of
men. Make you sure of this, that the
whole drama of redemption cannot be perfected without this last act of the
coming of the King. The complete history
of Paradise Regained requires that the New Jerusalem should come down from God
out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and it also
requires that the heavenly Bridegroom should come riding forth on His white
horse, conquering and to conquer, King of kings and Lord of lords, amidst the
everlasting hallelujahs of saints and angels.
It must be so. The man of
And next, it is unquestionably asserted. Behold, He cometh. It is not, Perhaps He will come; or, Peradventure He may yet appear. Behold, He cometh is dogmatically asserted as an absolute certainty, which was realized by the heart of the man who proclaims it. Behold, He cometh. All the prophets say that He will come. From Enoch down to the last that spoke by inspiration, they declare, The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.* You shall not find one who has spoken by the authority of God, who does not, either directly or by implication, assert the coming of the Son of Man, when the multitudes born of woman shall be summoned to His bar, to receive the recompense of their deeds. All the promises are travailing with this prognostication. Behold, He cometh.
[* Who might these be? Those of the pre-tribulation rapture - the watchful and prayerful who made supplication, to escape all these things (the tribulation events) that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21: 36).]
is there to hinder Christ from coming? When I have studied and thought over this word, Behold, He cometh,
Yes, I have said to my. self, indeed He does. Who shall hold Him back? His heart is with His church on earth. In the place where He fought the battle He
desires to celebrate the victory. His
delights are with the sons of men. All
His saints are waiting for the day of His appearing, and He is waiting also. The very earth in her sorrow and her groaning
travaileth for His coming, which is to be her redemption. The creation is made subject to vanity for a
little while; but when the Lord shall come again, the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. We might question whether He would come a
second time if He had not already come the first time; but if He came to
When will He come? Ah, that is the question, the question of questions! He will come in His own time. He will come in due time.
A brother minister, calling upon me, said, as we sat together,
I should like to ask you a lot of questions about the future.
Oh, well! I replied, I cannot answer you, for I daresay I know no more about it than you do.
But, said he, what about the Lords Second Advent? Will there not be the millennium first?
I said, I cannot tell whether there will be the millennium first; but this I know, the Scripture has left the whole matter, as far as I can see, with an intentional indistinctness, that we may be always expecting Christ to come, and that we may be watching for His coming at any hour and every hour. I think that the millennium will commence after His coming, and not before it. I cannot imagine the kingdom with the King absent. It seems to me to be an essential part of the millennial glory that the King shall then be revealed; at the same time, I am not going to lay down anything definite upon that point. He may not come for a thousand years; He may come to-night. The teaching of Scripture is, first of all, In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. It is clear that, if it were revealed that a thousand years must elapse before He would come, we might very well go to sleep for that time, for we should have no reason to expect that He would come when Scripture told us He would not.
Well, answered my friend, but when Christ comes, that will be the general judgment, will it not?
Then I quoted these texts: The dead in Christ shall rise first; But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. I said, There is a resurrection from among the dead to which the Apostle Paul laboured to attain. We shall all rise; but the righteous shall rise a thousand years before the ungodly. There is to be that interval of time between the one and the other; whether that is the millennial glory, or not, this deponent sayeth not, though he thinks it is. But this is the main point, the Lord shall come. We know not when we are to expect His coming. We are not to lay down as absolutely fixed, any definite prediction or circumstance that would allow us to go to sleep until that prediction was fulfilled, or that circumstance was apparent.
Will not the Jews be converted to Christ, and restored to their land? enquired my friend.
I replied, Yes, I think so. Surely they shall look on Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son; and God shall give them the kingdom and the glory, for they are His people, whom He has not for ever cast away. The Jews, who are the natural olive branches, shall yet be grafted into their own olive tree again, and then shall be the fulness of the Gentiles.
Will that be before Christ comes, or after? asked my friend.
I answered, I think it will be after He comes; but whether or no, I am not going to commit myself to any definite opinion on the subject.
To you, my friends, I say, - Read for yourselves, and search for yourselves; for still this stands first, and is the only thing that I will insist upon, the Lord will come. He may come now; He may come to-morrow; He may come in the first watch of the night, or the second watch, or He may wait until the morning watch, but the one word that He gives to us all is, Watch! Watch! Watch! that whenever He shall come, we may be ready to open to Him, and to say, in the language of the hymn,
Welcome, welcome, judge divine!
So far I know that we are Scriptural, and therefore perfectly safe in our statements about the Lords Second Advent.
HIS COMING IS TO BE VIVIDLY REALIZED.
I think I see the Apostle John. He is in the spirit; but on a sudden he seems startled into a keener and more solemn attention. His mind is more awake than usual, though he was ever a man of bright eyes that saw afar. We always liken him to the eagle for the height of his flight and the keenness of his vision; yet on a sudden, even he seems startled with a more astounding vision. He cries out, Behold! Behold! He has caught sight of his Lord. He says not, He will come by-and-by, but, I can see Him. He is now coming. He has evidently realized the Second Advent. He has so conceived of the second coming of the Lord that it has become a matter of fact to him; a matter to be spoken of, and even to be written down. Behold, He cometh! Have you and I ever realized the coming of Christ so fully as this?
Brothers and sisters, to this realization I invite you. I wish that we could go together in this, until as we went out of the house we said to one another, Behold, He cometh! One said to his fellow, after the Lord had risen, The Lord has risen indeed. I want you now to feel just as certain that the Lord is coming indeed, and I would have you say as much to one another.
SEEN OF ALL.
Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him.
I gather from this expression that it will be a literal appearing, and an actual sight. If the Second Advent was to be a spiritual manifestation, to be perceived by the minds of men, the phraseology would be, Every mind shall perceive Him. But it is not so: we read, Every eye shall see Him.
Now, the mind can behold the spiritual, but the eye can only see that which is distinctly material and visible. The Lord Jesus Christ will not come spiritually, for in that sense He is always here; but He will come really and substantially, for every eye shall see Him, even those unspiritual eyes which gazed on Him with hate, and pierced Him. Go not away and dream, and say to yourself, Oh, there is some spiritual meaning about all this. Do not destroy the teaching of the Holy Ghost by the idea that there will be a spiritual manifestation of the Christ of God, but that a literal appearing is out of the question. That would be altering the record. The Lord Jesus shall come to earth a second time as literally as He has come a first time. The same Christ who ate a piece of broiled fish and of a honeycomb after He had risen from the dead; the same who said, Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have - this same Jesus with a material body, is to come in the clouds of heaven. In the same manner as He went up, He shall come down. He shall be literally seen. The words cannot be honestly read in any other way.
Every eye shall see Him. Yes, I do literally expect to see my Lord Jesus with these eyes of mine, even as that saint expected who long ago fell asleep, believing that though the worms devour his body, yet in his flesh should he see God, whom his eyes should see for himself, and not another.
There will be a real resurrection of the body, though the moderns doubt it; such a resurrection that we shall see Jesus with our own eyes. We shall not find ourselves in a shadowy, dreamy land of floating fictions, where we may perceive, but can not see. We shall not be airy nothings, mysterious, vague, impalpable; but we shall literally see our glorious Lord, whose appearing will be no phantom show or shadow dance. Never day more real than the day of judgment; never sight more true than the Son of Man upon [this restored earth, and on] the throne of His glory. Will you take this statement home, that you may feel the force of it? We are getting too far away from facts nowadays, and too much into the realm of myths and notions. Every eye shall see Him in this there shall be no delusion.
Note well that He is to be seen of all kinds of living men: every eye shall see Him: the king and the peasant, the most learned and the most ignorant. Those that were blind before shall see when He appears. I remember a man born blind who loved our Lord most intensely, and he was wont to glory in this that his eyes had been reserved for his Lord. He said, The first whom I shall ever see will be the Lord Jesus Christ. The first sight that greets my newly-opened eyes will be the Son of man in His glory.
Small pleasure is this to eyes that are full of filthiness and pride: they care not for this sight, and yet they must see it whether they please or do not please. They have hitherto shut their eyes to good things, but when Jesus comes they must see Him. They will not be able to hide themselves, nor to hide Him from their eyes. They will dread the sight, but it will come upon them, even as the sun shines upon the thief who delights in the darkness. They will be obliged to own in dismay that they behold the Son of Man: they will be so overwhelmed with the sight that there will be no denying it.
He will be seen of those [in Hades,] who have been long since dead. What a sight that will be for Judas, and for Pilate, and for Caiaphas, and for Herod! What a sight it will be for those who, in their lifetime, said that there was no Saviour, and no need of one; or that Jesus was a mere man, and that His blood was not a propitiation for sin! Those that scoffed and reviled Him have long since died, but they shall all rise again, and rise to this heritage among the rest - that they shall see Him - [in whatever condition or how afar off (Luke 16: 23) they might be] - whom they blasphemed sitting in the clouds of Heaven. Prisoners are troubled at the sight of the judge. The trumpet of assize brings no music to the ears of criminals. But thou must hear it, 0 impenitent sinner! Even in thy grave thou must hear the voice of the Son of God, and live, and come forth from the tomb, to receive the things done in thy body, whether they were good or bad. Death [and Hades (Rev. 1: 18)] cannot hide thee, nor the vault conceal thee, nor rottenness and corruption deliver thee. Thou art bound to see in thy [resurrected]* body the Lord who will judge both thee and thy fellows.
DENYING - LIVING - LOOKING.
We read in Scripture: The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men; teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
You see there are three words before you - denying, living, looking.
When the Holy Spirit comes into the heart, He finds that we are conceited, puffed up. We have learned lessons of worldly wisdom and carnal policy, which we need to unlearn and deny.
What have we to deny? First, we have to deny ungodliness. That is a lesson which many of you have great need to learn. Listen to working-men:
Oh, they say, we have to work hard, we cannot think about God or religion.
This is ungodliness! The grace of God teaches us to deny this; we come to loathe such atheism.
Others are prospering in the world, and they cry, If you had as much business to look after as I have, you would have no time to think about your soul or another world. Trying to battle with the competition of the times leaves me no opportunity for prayer or Bible-reading; I have enough to do with my day-book and ledger.
This also is ungodliness! The grace of God leads us to deny this; we abhor such forgetfulness of God. God cannot be forgotten with impunity. If we treat Him as if He were nothing, and leave Him out of our calculations for life, we shall make a fatal mistake. 0 my hearer, there is a God, and as surely as you live, you are accountable to Him. When the Spirit of God comes with the grace of the Gospel, He removes our inveterate ungodliness, and causes us to deny it with joyful earnestness.
We next deny worldly lusts; that is, the lusts or the present world or age. The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are yet with us. Wherever the grace of God comes effectually, it makes the loose liver deny the desires of the flesh; it causes the man who lusted after gold to conquer his greediness; it brings the proud man away from his ambitions; it trains the idler to diligence; and it sobers the wanton mind which cared only for the frivolities of life. The grace of God has made us deny the prevailing philosophies, glories, maxims and fashions of this present world.
But then, brethren, you cannot be complete with a merely negative religion; you must have something positive; and so the next word is living - that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Observe, brethren, that the Holy Ghost expects us to live in this present world, and therefore we are not to exclude ourselves from it. This age is the battle-field in which the soldier of Christ is to fight. Society is the place in which Christianity is to exhibit the graces of Christ. It is of no use for you to scheme to escape from it. You are bound to breast this torrent, and buffet all its waves. If the grace of God is in you, that grace is meant to be displayed, not in a select and secluded retreat, but in this present world.
This life is described in a three-fold way. You are, first, to live soberly - that is, for yourself. Soberly in all your eating and your drinking, and in the indulgence of all bodily appetites that goes without saying. You are to live soberly in all your thinking, all your speaking, all your acting. There is to be sobriety in all your worldly pursuits. You are to have yourself well in hand; you are to be self-restrained. The man who is disciplined by the grace of God becomes thoughtful, considerate, self-contained; and he is no longer tossed about by passion, or swayed by prejudice.
As to his fellow-man the believer lives righteously. I cannot understand that Christian who can do a dirty thing in business. If you mean to go the way of the devil, say so, and take the consequences; but if you profess to be servants of God, deny all partnership with unrighteousness. Dishonesty and falsehood are the opposites of godliness. A Christian man may be poor, but he must live righteously; he may lack sharpness, but he must not lack integrity. A Christian profession without uprightness is a lie. Grace must discipline us to righteous living.
God we are told that we are to be godly.
Every man who has the grace of God in him indeed and of a truth, will
think much of God, and will seek first
Once more, there is looking, as well as living. One work of the grace of God is to cause us to be looking for that blessed hope of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. This hope is not of debt, but of grace; though our Lord will give us a reward, it will not be according to the law of works. The Lord cometh, and in the coming of the Lord lies the great hope of the believer, his great stimulus to overcome evil, his main incentive to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Oh, to be found blameless in the day of the manifestation of our Lord! God grant us this!
I beg you to get ready to meet our returning Lord.
What is the way to be ready to meet Jesus? t is the same Jesus that went away from us who is coming, then let us be doing what He was doing before He went away. f it is the same Jesus that is coming, we cannot possibly put ourselves into a posture of which He will better approve than by going about, doing good. If you would meet Him with joy, serve Him with earnestness. If the Lord Jesus Christ were to come to-day I should like Him to find me at my studying, praying, or preaching. Would you not like Him to find you in your Sunday-school, in your class, or out there at the corner of the street preaching, or doing whatever you have the privilege of doing in His name? Would you meet your Lord in idleness? Do not think of it.
I called one day on one of my church members, and she was whitening the front steps. She got up all in confusion, and said:
Oh dear, sir, I did not know you were coming to-day, or I would have been ready.
I replied, Dear friend, you could not be in better trim than you are; you are doing your duty like a good housewife, and may God bless you.
She had no money to spare for a servant, and she was doing her duty by keeping the home tidy. I thought she looked more beautiful with her pail beside her than if she had been dressed according to the latest fashion. I said to her:
When the Lord Jesus Christ comes suddenly, I hope He will find me doing as you were doing, namely, fulfilling the duty of the hour.
I want you all to get to your pails without being ashamed of them. Serve the Lord in some way or other. Serve Him always. Serve Him intensely. Serve Him more and more. Go to-morrow and serve the Lord at the counter, or in the work-shop, or in the field. Go and serve the Lord by helping the poor and the needy, the widow and the fatherless. Serve Him by teaching the children, especially by endeavouring to train your own children. Go and show the drunkard that there is hope for him in Christ, or let the fallen woman know that Jesus can restore her. Do what Jesus has given you the power to do.
But the notion of the delay of Christs coming is always harmful, however you arrive at it, whether it be by studying prophecy, or in any other way. If that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant, will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. Do not, therefore, get the idea that the Lord delayeth His coming, and that He will not or cannot come as yet. Far better would it be for you to stand on the tiptoe of expectation, and to be rather disappointed to think that He does not come.
I do not wish you to be shaken in mind so as to act fanatically or foolishly, as certain people did when they went out in the woods with ascension dresses on, so as to go straight up all of a sudden. Fail into none of those absurd ideas that have led people to leave a chair vacant at the table, and put an empty plate, because the Lord might come and want it; and try to avoid all other superstitious nonsense. To stand star-gazing at the prophecies, with your mouth wide open, is just the wrong thing. Far better will it be to go on working for your Lord, getting yourself and your service ready for His appearing, and cheering yourself all the while with this thought:
While I am at work, my Master may come. Before I get weary, my Master may return. While others are mocking at me, my Master may appear; and whether they mock or applaud, is nothing to me. I live before the great Task-masters eye, and do my service knowing that He sees me, and expecting that by-and-by He will reveal Himself to me, and then He will reveal me and my right intention to misrepresenting men.
May the Lord keep you waiting, working, watching, that when He comes, you may have the blessedness of entering upon some larger, higher, nobler service than you could accomplish now, for which you are preparing by the lowlier and more arduous service of this world! God bless you, beloved, and if you do not know my Lord, and therefore do not look for His appearing, remember that He will come whether you look for Him or not; and when He comes you will have to stand at His bar. One of the events that will follow His coming will be your being summoned before His judgment-seat, and how will you answer Him then? How will you answer Him if you refused His love, and turned a deaf ear to the invitations of His mercy? If you have delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and delayed, how will you answer Him? If you stand speechless, your silence will condemn you, and the King will say, Bind him hand and foot and take him away.
God grant that we may all believe in the Lord Jesus unto life eternal, and then wait for His appearing from heaven, for His loves sake! Amen.
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POINTS TO PONDER
A PASTOR TO HIS PEOPLE
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as being inspired by the Holy Spirit, are our one and sufficient rule. But to obtain from them the light and blessing they are calculated to furnish. God must be our Teacher and our eye must be single. The Holy Spirit has been sent down from above to be our instructor in the things of God.
These Scriptures testify - that the world is utterly sinful before God, and tinder the guidance of Satan its Prince. Its judgments will begin as soon as the present day of Gospel mercy shall close. Gods Evangelists, therefore, call on all who are of the world, as sinners to repent, and turn from their old and sinful ways; and to leave their associations with the worldly. They are then to join the assembly of Christ. Those who believe this witness of God are to be immersed: the token, on the one hand, of their willingly and entirely coming forth from sin and the sinful; and, on the other hand, of Gods reception of them as His cleansed ones.
Immersion of the believer is a testimony to a mans vast and momentous movement from death in sins to the life of God, and bears also on its face death and resurrection: and this is Gods commanded mode of our expressing faith in the Lord Jesus, our Saviour slain and risen, and of our faith in a resurrection yet to come.
Believers are to assemble themselves together to edify one another, and to keep the Saviours commands, especially the Lords Supper. The right way, according to the Scripture, is, first to be baptized, and then to join the fellowship of the Saints. But since some are not persuaded of this, and we have no power in such case but that of brethren and fellow-servants of one Master, we are to receive all the children of God, though on some points they do not agree with Scripture, or with us (Rom. 14., 15.). The Table is the Lords and not ours; hence we are to receive those whom our God has received.
Our acceptance before God our Father is through the work of another, not our own. It takes place through the obedience and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We are perfectly accepted, as soon as we believe in Him. His work is perfect; and standing in the merits and atoning death of the Saviour, God loves us, loves us as He loves the Lord Jesus. But we shall have confidence and joyful communion with God only as we are walking obediently to the principles and commands of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the giver of spiritual life to Gods elect. He is calling us out from the flesh and the world, and from the pursuits of time, to an inheritance in heaven, and to glory to be bestowed by Christ. We are therefore to be looking for the return of the Son of God from heaven. He will find most of His people asleep, but will recall them from the tomb. Some will be alive, and will remain to the hour of His descent into the air. For that we are to be looking and preparing. Not all believers are thus looking; and not all will be found by Him in peace; but some will be ashamed before Him in the Day of Judgment. The Saviour is coming to judge believers; not as to whether they are friends or foes of God, but concerning their service to Himself since they became His. While our works will not save us, we shall yet be judged according to them. Hence the deep importance of obedience to Christs commands. For there will be an accounting of some worthy by Christ, in which case there will be an entry on the first and blest resurrection, or the Glory of the Thousand Years. If any be rejected from reward, he will enter on eternal life only after the day of recompense is over. For we must distinguish with Paul between the gift of God which is eternal life, which is surely ours, and the prize of our calling, of which we may be accounted unworthy.
Saviours secret coming to assemble His watchful ones to His presence may take
place at any moment. There is nothing which must needs
be fulfilled before His descent into the air.
But many things must take place before He appears in the clouds to
The Christian is set by God under Christ and His commands alone. He is not partly under Moses and law; but wholly under Christ and grace. His baptism (or immersion) is his death and burial to Adam and Moses, in order that, as a son of God, come out from law and its slavery and condemnations and risen from the dead in Christ, he may obey Christ alone.
This is My Beloved Son, HEAR HIM.
Moses was there when God spake the word, and Peter would have put Moses beside Christ. But the Father will have the sons of God to listen to His Son alone. Moses sets up the flesh, and bids man by his natural powers obey God. Christ buries the flesh beneath the waters of death, for it profiteth nothing.
- R. GOVETT, M.A.