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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 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.” These two passages reveal to us that great mystery of the translation of the living saints, by an instantaneous transition, from the state of mortality into the state of immortality; and this, and no other, do I believe to be the way of our escape. And if, indeed, we consider the nature of the judgments which are then to fall upon Christendom, like the Deluge, or like the burning of Sodom, we may well believe that there is hardly another way conceivable whereby they might be saved. For very terrible are the judgments which in that day shall come upon the land of Idumea- which is the Roman earth-as it is written Isai. xxxiv. 9:“ The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.” And in like fearful strains is described the judge ment upon the ten-horned beast in the viith chapter of Daniel ; and in like manner, in the xix th chapter of the Apocalypse, the beast and the false prophet—that is, the territories and the people of infidel and papal Rome-shall be cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. From which, and many other passages of Scripture, I believe, that, while the whole earth shall in that day be tossed and tempest-driven, shall “ reel to and fro, like a drunken man, and be at its wit's end;" there shall come upon
the land of Idumea—which is Christendom, the ten kingdoms of papal Romema judgment parallel only with the judgment which came upon Sodom and Gomorrah : and from this judgment I believe that those who abide in watchfulness and continual prayer shall be counted worthy to escape, and to stand before the Son of Man, and to be ever with the Lord.
Now, with respect to the time at which this translation of the saints taketh place, it is not to be doubted, as I think, that its time is before the judgments which fall upon the earth at the coming of the Son of Man and the setting up of his kingdom. Beside the passage which I have quoted from Luke, there is a very remarkable passage in the xvith chapter of the Apocalypse. Immediately before the consummating destruction of the seventh vial, while preparations are making for the grand final catastrophe; while the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered by the three spirits of Antichrist to the battle
of that great day of God Almighty; even at that time of perilous preparation for hideous ruin there is a voice uttered : (ver. 15), Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Now here is the coming of Christ connected with the blessedness of the watchers just before the great consummation of wrath; and how their blessedness can be procured otherwise than by their translation, in such a time, I see not. Observe how exactly parallel it is with the passage quoted above, from the xxist chapter of Luke, vers. 34-36: “ For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Take heed to 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. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.' What convinces me more, that the passage in the Apocalypse refers to the same time and event referred to, is the mention of the garments. What these garments are, we are informed in the mid chapter of the Apocalypse, ver. 18: “I counsel thee to buy of me white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness may not
appear;" and again, ver. 4: “ Thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments.” Take this in connection with the parable of the marriage supper, where occurreth this remarkable passage:
“When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither
, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. xxii. 11-13). From these passages i conclude that the garments which the saints are required to keep, are that clothing of faith and righteousness which they have received from Christ, and in virtue of which they are entitled to a place at the marriage of the Lamb, which taketh place immediately upon the destruction of the great whore : as it is written, Rev.xix. 7-9: "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready; and to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” I conceive the blessedness here spoken of to be the same with the blessedness spoken of under the sixth vial; and that, as every one without a wedding garment is cast out by the great master of the assembly, therefore the Lord giveth us this solemn warning under the vial of preparation for the judgment, that we may be making ready for our departure, and be always in readiness, seeing he is to come as a thief in the night. Now these warnings are not given in vain ; neither are these suppositions hypothetical or gratuitous; and therefore I believe that many of the saints of God, being warned at this time, shall be found, like the wise virgins, with their loins girt and their lamps burning, and shall enter with the Bridegroom into the wedding supper. Being changed from mortal into immortal, from corruptible into incorruptible; putting off the flesh and blood of the earthly, and being clothed upon with the likeness of the heavenly; they shall enter with him into the kingdom of God. Whereupon, the door being shut, the virgins who would not be warned by the watchman shall not enter into his rest and refreshment: they shall walk naked, being proved to be hypocrites; and the shame of their false pretensions shall be discovered: “for many are called, but few chosen.” I believe, therefore, in my heart, that there is close at hand a deliverance of God's faithful ones by translation ; and that now, when we surely see these awful things beginning to come to pass, we ought to be looking up, as our redemption draweth nigh. I know not how soon this is to take place ; but my present belief is that it will take place before the last awful judgment falleth. I do therefore call upon all who believe in Christ, and hope to be saved through his righteousness, to be upon their watch-towers, looking out for the sign of his appearing. Oh, now is not the time for doubting; now is the time for believing. It is not a tedious process of sanctification that we should now preach, but an instant act of justification ; a call to come and get a garment, without money and without price; and an instruction to be ever clothed with it; never to lay it off for a moment, by night or by day. This is the salvation which I regard as parallel with the escape unto Pella. From the seat of the Lord, in the cloud of glory which shall then overhang the troubled world, they shall look down upon the fiery deluge which shall overwhelm the land of their oppressors, Babylon the great; even as the Jews from Pella looked down upon the ruin of Jerusalem.-Such, in a few words, are the views which I entertain concerning the preservation of the saints of God.
And now with respect unto the judgment itself which is to come upon professing Christendom I have no doubt, upon the grounds set forth above, that the whole of the infidel and papal inhabitants of Christendom shall perish, to a man, as did the Sodomites and the Antediluvians; but I believe also, that this judgment, though it be instantaneous when it doth come, shall yet be preceded with lesser judgments, of wbich the particular order is contained in the seventh vial (Rev. xxi. 18-20). And this I take to be the order of these minor judgments :First, a great popular revolution over the extent of the ten kingdoms, whereof the Revolution of France was but, as it were, the signal and the warning and the first fruits. Thereupon, secondly, the whole extent of Christendom shall fall into three great parties or kingdoms : and parallel with this commotion there shall be great trouble, and shakings, and subversions amongst the nations ; that great earthquake, which divideth the great city into three parts, subverting the cities of the nations. Thereupon, thirdly, great Babylon-that is, the Papacycometh in remembrance before God, and receiveth the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath ; and instantly there succeedeth an universal anarchy, and loosening and dissolving of all fixed foundations ard high eminences of power: “Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” And, finally, there falleth upon the earth a great hail out of heaven, every hail-stone the weight of a talent: “And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for the plague thereof was exceeding great. Now, out of all these judgments I believe that God hath taken his own chosen people: yet I believe that in the midst of these judgments he hath still a people witnessing; who were not worthy of that glorious translation, but who shall be saved, yet so as by fire. And to this I think the Apostle Paul maketh allusion, when, speaking of the building up of the church, he saith, 1 Cor. iii. 10, “ I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon ; but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon... Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is, If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward: if any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” Here is a distinction made between those builders who “receive a reward,” and those who are “ saved, yet so as by fire.” That reward I believe to be the same mentioned in the xlth of Isaiah, at the 10th verse : “ Behold, the Lord God will come against the strong [marg.], and his arm shall rule for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompence for his work [marg.).” The same is declared Isaiah lxii. 11. And to the same event, even to the resurrection of the dead and the translation of the worthy labourers, do these words of the Apocalypse refer (xiv. 13): “. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed from henceforth the dead, dying in the Lord. Verily, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; and their works follow after them.” These I judge to be the rewarded ones, whose work doth stand the fire, and afterwards follows them into the blessedness : and those who
afterwards stand the fire, together with all others who did not attain unto the resurrection from amongst the dead, or to the changing which is co-equal therewith, are the others who are saved as by fire. I have not time nor room to open this mystery at large, but I will simply and shortly declare what my faith is. I believe that certain faithful ones, now upon the earth—few indeed, but certainly some-shall be delivered before the fiery trial commenceth. I believe that some, who are not ripe in faith, who are not waiting for the Son of Man, shall remain to be taught by the judgments that which they would not learn from the preaching of the word. These shall be God's witnesses in the midst of the awful scene, and the seed of the Gentile church, who shall be for a salt unto this nation, which I believe is the only nation which shall come out of the perilous times sore stricken indeed, dismayed, and humbled exceedingly, yet preserved from utter destruction. I believe, furthermore, that while this extirpation of the apostate Gentile church is taking place, the Lord shall be gathering the tribes of Israel, and doing before them his mighty acts. I believe that Elias the Tishbite shall be at their head, restoring all things as they were in the days of Moses, and settling them in their own land, to conduct their worship there according to the ordinance prescribed in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel. And I believe likewise, because I am there told, that there shall settle and sit down with them, and have portions of their land, a goodly company of strangers, who sojourn among them (Ezek. xlvii
. 22; Isaiah Ivi. 6, 7). Whether these strangers be a residue of the believing Gentiles, or whether they be worthy men of all nations convinced that God is with his people, I cannot tell, but do rather incline to the latter opinion, because the Jews at this time are not converted to Christ, but living under a modified form of the Levitical institution. And this I consider to be the “ deliverance which is in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem” (Joel iii. 32). And I believe the other deliverance shall be in this very land, being the sealed nation, and “ the remnant which the Lord our God hath called.” But further to open this mystery would require a larger examination of the Scriptures than our present object permitteth ; and therefore I conclude, with solemnly entreating all believers in the first coming of Christ to give diligence to be found believing in and hoping for his second coming also. Amen and Amen.