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advance the kingdom of Christ, and in our devotions, and especially in published forms of prayer, those who hold such views should be careful not dogmatically and offensively to urge any private or disputed views of prophecy, and especially of minor points; lest any who join with us should be stumbled, their zealous efforts or devotional feelings be checked, and that union of desire and labour to which the special blessing is promised should be hindered; and on the other hand those who differ from these views should not be too sensitively alive to slight differences. Romans xiv. 1. It is perhaps a yet more important point to be gained, that Christians should feel that this is ground on which they may all with humility, yet freely, state their views of scripture.

To view the prophecies in their large aspect, as comprehending the general dealings of God with mankind through successive ages, enlarges and raises the mind; but exclusively or mainly to confine our views of it to one particular point has a tendency to narrow the mind, and lead it off from the great intent of prophecy.

Remembering, then, that the advancement of God's kingdom is peculiarly his own work, and that he will unfold his own plan in his own time and way, we should watch for the openings of his providence, not (346) attempting to force our own schemes, but rather leave it to that providence to interpret his own commands. Yet we should enter heartily when a great and effectual door is opened, and never was there a greater door opened, and never did the voice of Providence more manifestly call Christians to labour for the benefit of the whole human race, both Jew and Gentile, than in this day. O may we be wise to discern the signs of the times, and to obey the plain command of our Saviour. May we be quickened in promoting his cause, by the cheering light of prophecy, which, when accomplished, confirms our faith in the divine records; and while unaccomplished, supports and animates the church in its labours and sufferings, with the bright hope of a future triumph and a final recompense.

This leads me to add some practical remarks on one main improvement of prophecy, PREPARATION FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST. That coming leads on to the great issue of all the events of this lower world, and the scriptures dwell very much on our being prepared for it; may the Divine Spirit assist this effort to lead the reader more believingly, practically, and constantly, to look forward to his coming.

If he will appear the second time without sin unto salvation to them that look for him:-if in that day the crown of righteousness will be given by the righteous Judge, to them that love his appearing, (2 Tim. iv. 8,) how important is it for us earnestly to look for and affectionately to desire that event!

If the warning is again and again repeated, "Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh,” Matt. xxiv. 42; xxv. 13: If we are solemnly charged, “Be

ye also ready, for in such an hour [347] as ye think not, the Son of man cometh,” Matt. xxiv. 44; and our Lord in that part of prophecy which seems immediately to relate to the period in which we are now living, says, “Behold, I come as a thief! Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame," Rev. xvi. 15, how circumspectly should the Christian now walk, treading as on the borders of eternity, and in the anticipation of all those events which mark the last days.

There are some important scriptural directions that we should ever bear in mind with reference to this great event.

(1.) Watchfulness is the primary duty to which the scriptures continually direct us. Some passages have already been noticed which point out this duty.

Our Lord makes it a direction applicable to all his people when he says, “What I say unto you I say unto all, watch.” Mark xiii. 37. Watchfulness has a special reference to the dangers with which we are surrounded; and those dangers which are now on every side of this subject peculiarly call us to this circumspect spirit. The infidelity of the present times is peculiarly marked, open, and contagious. Watch, then, against temptations to unbelief; every jot and tittle of God's word in its plain meaning is altogether true, though the Neologian, learned in languages even under the mask of Christianity, and the Infidel Socialist, more openly may attempt to explain it away; and though the profligate openly revile and scoff at it.

The novelties of lively imaginations are also to be guarded against. Be not carried away by the zeal and devotedness and talents of any man, from those old truths on which the church has fed from the beginning—"ask for the old paths, where is the good way, [348] and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jer. vi. 16. Satan is now specially busy. "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Pet. v. 8. This watchfulness expects sudden attacks, is not ignorant of Satan's devices, and anticipates the activity of the enemy, being always ready for him.

(2.) OCCUPATION in our master's service is a scriptural direction on this point-Occupy till I come. Luke xix. 13. We have many talents committed to our charge, and we are to be

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diligently laying them out for our Master-whether they be property, time, ability, influence, health, strength, or any other, all is to be heartily and diligently laid out for God. Matt. xxiv. 14-30. The Christian has not a moment to lose, adding one grace to another, he is charged, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things ye shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter i. 5—11. Seeking to save the souls of others is another most important part of our work as Christians. After St. Jude had given that lively description in Enoch's prophecy of our Lord's coming, and charged believers to build up themselves in their most holy faith, (Jude 20,) he tells them with regard to others, “Of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.Jude 22, 23. And doing "good to all men, and especially to the household of faith,” (Gal. vi. 10,) is so remarkably urged upon us by the account of the last judgment, that I need only refer the Christian to that animating spring of occupation in our Master's service recorded Matt. xxv. 31--46.

[349] (3.) SOBRIETY OF MIND is another duty connected with the coming of Christ. The apostle says, “Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night:- let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love: and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” i Thess. v. 248. Our Lord gives similar directions. Luke xxi. 34-36. Sobriety, both of mind and body, is, indeed, to be greatly prized; the spirit of a sound mind is joined with the spirit of power and of love, and where these go together men are eminently blessed of God. A realizing and scriptural, a holy and practical view of our Lord's speedy coming, is well calculated to make us, not wild and enthusiastic, either in novelties of doctrine or peculiarity of practice, but eminently sober. “Let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand.” Phil. iv. 5. The Christian should not go into one real extravagance, but fully attend to whatsoever things are lovely and whatsoever things are of good report. His principles of faith, and his corresponding practice, his confession of Christ, and his adherence to his truth, will expose him quite enough to the reproach of the world, without courting them by needless display or peculiarity. You will, in walking in the old paths, from the various difficulties of your course, still have to attend to that direction, “gird up the loins of your mind, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” i Peter i. 13.

(4.) READINESS is another scriptural direction often repeated. “Be ye therefore also ready, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when


think not. Luke xii. 40. We assuredly believe our Lord will come, and we must stand before him in judgment, and hear [350] his sentence, Depart, ye cursed, or Come, ye blessed,-and our state through eternity depends on that sentence; and this may be very soon! What words, then, can adequately tell the vast importance of being duly prepared for this event, so infinitely momentous to us! O the madness of thinking any worldly concerns whatever, a reason for neglecting these eternal concerns! True readiness has been well considered as a readiness of state and of habit. A readiness of state consisting in the pardon of all sin through the blood of Jesus; the gift of a perfect righteousness in Christ, (2 Cor. v. 21; Isaiah lxi. 10,) and an inward meetness by the power of the Spirit on the heart, (Col. i. 12.) All of which are the free gift of God, to those who come to him in the name of his Son, (Isaiah lv. 7; Rom. iii. 21, 22; and Luke xi. 13.) And a readiness of habit, or actual readiness, such as Simeon and Anna, who were waiting for the consolation of Israel. Our Saviour teaches us this duty very plainly. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him immediately.” Luke xii. 35, 36. To attain this actual readiness we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, (Titus ii. 11–13,) and mortify our sins, (Col. iii. 4, 5,) we should abide in Christ, (1 John ii. 28,) and purify ourselves as he is pure, (1 John iji. 2, 3.) Our conversation should be in heaven, (Phil. iii. 20, 21,) and our affection set on things above, (Col. iii. 2—4,) and we should be patient in tribulation, (Heb. x. 36, 37.) Be ye also ready, is a comprehensive direction which leads us to the whole course of Christian duty.

[351] (5.) INTERCESSION for others is a duty immediately connected with the study of prophecy. Daniel's example is here peculiarly instructive—“I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes,” (Dan. ix. 2, 3;) and then follows that beautiful intercession given us in his ninth chapter. Oh! if prophetical studies did but lead us as they led Daniel, to much intercession for our country and our fellow-creatures, we might indeed hope for the most happy issue in an enlarged knowledge of God's will, and an enlarged blessedness to his church.

(6.) PATIENT WAITING FOR CHRIST,- is another important scriptual direction.* The Apostle prays [352] for his Thessalonian converts—the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thess. iii. 5. This supposes it to be to us a most desirable event, as indeed to every Christian it is. It is surely a transporting hope to be rescued out of all past evils of this sinful world, to be at once changed, to put on incorruption and immortality, and after the dead in Christ are raised, to be transfigured and caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air, and so ever to be with him.” i Thess. iv. 17. What tongue can tell, what imagination conceive, the rapturous joy of the emancipated Christian, in an instant freed from the body of sin, clothed with a spiritual body, and for ever like his Lord, and for ever seeing him as he is. Let us realize this hope, and we shall see the need of divine grace for the patient waiting for Christ. This is equally opposed to indifference, unconcern, and neglect, on the one hand; and to despondency, fainting, and weariness on the other. The Christian should both desire and expect the coming of his Saviour. His faith, hope, and love should all be in exercise on this great truth. He desires, but he waits; -he expects, but he is patient; and in due time he that shall

come, and will not tarry. Heb. x. 37. The early Christians had to look through the long vista of at least eighteen centuries; but the bright and glowing object at the termination of this vista, kept their eye of faith steadily fixed in patient waiting for it. Enoch viewed its approach at least 5000 years beforehand, (Jude 14, 15.) Let not us, as we approach nearer and nearer, be more indifferent in “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,” Titus ii. 13; but in its nearer [353] approach, while

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* The meaning of waiting for the coming of Christ may indeed be mistaken. It does imply a conviction of nearness to the time; it does not imply. a conviction of an instant, or immediate coming. Against an instant expectation the Thessalonian Christians were warned, (2 Thess. ii. 2,) of a nearness we are assured as a motive to patience. James v. 8. The day of the Lord appears to commence with the great tribulation, when the Jews are delivered: that may be close at hand, and a short period in itself, before the rapture of the saints, and the descent of Christ to our earth. To be prepared for the day of the Lord is our immediate duty, that we may be accounted worthy to escape all those things which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. A definite fixing of a date would be an obstacle to fulfilling our general duties. God's exact foreknowledge of times and seasons is an ocean far beyond what we are able to contain or manage. Had we exact foreknowledge, it would become to us, in our present state, mere fatalism, and be productive of many evils. We should make it destructive to ourselves and to others. We have to be thankful for what he has hidden, as well as for what he has revealed. The remarkable mixture of trial with nearness of joy, set before us in the character of the day of the Lord, is eminently calculated to promote watchfulness and preparedness with joyful hope.

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