« НазадПродовжити »
is, in my view, a similar mistake to suppose that we are advancing by a peaceful process of efforts of real Christians, under the enlarged effusions of the Spirit of God, to a merely spiritual millennium. Both these sentiments appear to me to be partial views of what God has revealed. The present state of Gentile Christendom is a thing which God's word has foreseen and anticipated, and that word has not left us without bright hopes in the very midst of the impending judgments. In the beautiful emblem first given to Noah, he was told, “it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud.” As we see in the parallel of the Jewish dispensation, the richest ingathering out of that nation to Christ, was just before those judgments which cut them off as a nation from the visible church; the fullest measure of true conversion with which the nation was blessed, and of which it was instrųmental to others, being very probably from the ministry of the Baptist to the fall of Jerusalem: so may we, from various intimations of God's word, hope that it will be, in the last days of the Gentile dispensation. This seems made plain respecting the Gentiles now out of the pale of the church, by the latter part of the seventh of Revelation.  This also seems intimated with regard to Christendom, by the messengers, in the parable of the great supper, going, at the supper time, to the streets and lanes of the city, to bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind: for such those are really, who think themselves rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing. So our Lord, in comparing the kingdom of heaven to the seed, tells us there is “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear; and when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come;" we seem to have here another intimation of a full harvest in the end. It is so like our God, and we see it so remarkably in his dealings with his church, to make grace abound, even in the time of abounding iniquity, that we may entertain scriptural and cheering hopes of large conversions to God before, and even during, these awful judgments: “When thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
"Oh how little do the infidel and lawless spirits of this age know of the mind of God, and the effects of all their policies, wisdom, and apparent triumph! They gain the recognition of evil principle after evil principle, and accomplish design after design, but even now the Lord's restraining hand is so upon them, that all works for good to his church. They are already shouting their songs of victory, but God will shew, that wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. There is a victory coming, but it is not for them, but over them. How striking are the words of the Lord! “Woe to them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? Surely  your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or, shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He hath no understanding? It is not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?" Yes, however dull now our understanding of the prophecies, so clear shall every thing then be, that it is added, “in that day shall the deaf hear the words of this book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness; the meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
To this glorious harvest we would refer the fuller statement given to the apostles, in Rev. xiv., as follows:—"Thrust in (réz fov, send) thy sickle and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in (18448), or threw) his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” It does not appear that the Son of Man is here represented as personally coming to the earth, it seems rather the gathering of a harvest before his personal coming, the harvest of the church. This is a bright hope in the midst of the dark judgments now hanging over us.
Most practical and awakening are these truths. May every Christian diligently search to discover to which class he belongs in the church of Christ, whether he will be found among the first fruits unto God and the Lamb; or in a lukewarm state: whether he is unprepared, like the foolish virgins, for our Lord's return; or ready like the wise virgins. The Son of Man is coming; "he will thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with  unquenchable fire,” (Matt. iii. 12;) and the practical lessons addressed to us are, “flee from the wrath to come, bring forth fruits meet for repentance-bring forth good fruits.” Matt. iii. 7-10.
These are lessons specially enforced by the signs of the times in which we live, and by the voice of prophecy, speaking from the divine oracles to us in these times. And by urging these truths on the minds and consciences of men, perhaps many a brand may be yet plucked out of the fire. (Zech. iii. 2.) That which is impossible in nature is possible in grace; and he who was by nature a child of wrath, may become through grace a child of God and an heir of glory. Oh that we may labour in sending the gospel now as wide and as far as we can, and in fervent prayer; that for many, very many precious souls, we may have to give thanks to him who makes us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
The times are very awful to those who can only see the tendency and the natural effects of the principles and course now in dominancy, and to those whose hopes centre in this world, or in any earthly good whatever; but they are not unmingled with the richest hopes and joys to the Christian. Though he is more alive to the evil and mischief now abroad than others, yet they tell him of a coming Saviour, and a blessed kingdom of righteousness, and a full reward: and so, while those awful things which he witnesses come to pass, he learns to lift up his head, for his redemption draweth nigh.
But let us in the close, contemplate that bright bow of promise which marks the love of God, in the impending thick cloud of judgment.
 Amidst all the toils, disappointments, and sorrows of life, what ample grounds of ENCOURAGEMENT AND JOYFUL HOPE may we have from the views which the Bible holds out of the future, full, open, and everlasting triumph of Christ our Lord! There is in keeping God's commands a present greut reward: the good that is done now is done by self-denial and self-sacrifice; and the only real happiness in this world is gained in the paths of love to God and love to man. But it need not be said how mingled and defective all here is; now with regard to the future, we may name it as Lamech did his son, Noah, (that is rest or comfort) “This same shall comfort us 'concerning our work and toil of hands." Here is one Bible ground of comfort. i Thess. iv. 18.
All classes who are looking for that blessed hope, (Titus ii. 13) and loving his appearing, (2 Tim. iy. 8) may here find the fullest comfort amidst their varied difficulties. The CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN, engaging with ardour in schemes of melioration for the good of his country, may learn, not to cease from any wise scheme of benefitting his fellow men, but to increase all selfsacrificing labours, thankfully to enjoy all immediate good produced, to be comforted amid the multiplied vexations of such a course, and the exceeding wickedness through which his plans have to struggle, by the anticipation of acceptance with the righteous Governor of the universe, a sure reward from him, and a state of the world hereafter beyond all conception blessed and glorious; a time when a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTER conflicting with sin, and the world, and Satan, in his parish or among his flock, seeing perhaps but [271) little present fruit of his labours, and getting increasing knowledge of nests of unsuspected wickedness on every side; weighed down with anxiety and disappointment, may here be quickened in all his exertions, and in his disappointments be greatly comforted; his labour is not in vain in the Lord. There is a present blessing, but the rich reserve of reward is in the kingdom to come; then his converts shall rise up as his joy and crown of rejoicing. The CHRISTIAN PARENT, amidst the joys and comforts, and amidst also the cares and heart-aching sorrows of a family; may have his hopes elevated to brighter expectation than any that earth can now afford, and his sorrows alleviated with the blessed prospect of that kingdom where God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and the one family of Christ be gathered together for ever. The covenant of the kingdom given to his Son, the Messiah, seems to have been David's peculiar consolation in the midst of his family troubles (2 Sam. xxiii. 3—5,) and this may be our comfort in such troubles also. The AFFLICTED every where may turn with the greatest advantage to this blessed Jubilee, when, after the day of vengeance on the wicked, it is the office of our anointed king, “To comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.” The PROSPEROUS may learn the best use of their property, not in a voluntary humility and poverty, not required in God's word, but in using the world, as not abusing it, and being rich in good works. 1 Tim. vi. 17. And all FRIENDS OF Missions and  all seeking to save souls, without being cast down by those disappointments occasioned by false and delusive hopes, unrealized in the actual results of those efforts at present, may have, in this view, large scriptural encouragement in all these exertions, and a true hope for the ultimate success of all their wishes and labours.
THE MILLENNIUM AND FIRST RESURRECTION.
 The millennium, means a thousand years. It is the period predicted under that name by St. John in the 20th chapter of Revelation. The first resurrection is the event there predicted, “I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their forehead, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years--but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years- were finished. This is the first resurrection," (verses 3–5.)
On this prediction there are various opinions; some think it past, though they differ in their exposition of its meaning. But the most general opinion of modern divines has been that it is designed to point out a spiritual resurrection of men  animated by the spirit of the martyrs and a happy spiritual state of the church yet to come.
On a subject yet, as the author is persuaded, unfulfilled, and which from the early ages of the church, has occasioned so many differences of opinion, modesty of sentiment especially becomes us. It may be well here rather to let others, and especially to let the holy scriptures speak, than to enter into any lengthened detail of reasons which lead the author to think that the first resurrection (Rev. xx.) is a literal, rather than a spiritual one. Some of those indeed who have pleaded most earnestly for its being a spiritual resurrection, (as Bishop Hall, the celebrated Baxter, and the late Mr. Gipps) consider it as already past. * So that Bishop Hall said nearly 200 years ago, in his Revelation Unrevealed, one of the strongest works
* The fullest modern statements of the view that the millennium is past are given by Mr. Vint, in his New Illustrations of Prophecy, and Mr. Bush in his Treatise on the Millennium. Both contain manifestations of a forced construction and strained application of expressions, which fail—the author speaks for himself-to carry any conviction along with them, and are painfully instructive, as shewing how the mind may be led astray by its endeavours to establish a particular system, and the ingenuity it may put forth to make it complete. But both contain also useful incidental discussions and illustra