« EelmineJätka »
Satan, and the history of God's power and wisdom against him. Now, the fact that in the church militant the flesh is ever lusting against the Spirit, proves, that, although it would no longer be a church did there arise from it no sweet savour of faithful victory at all, yet all its sweetness must have more or less alloy. Accordingly, in the churches of Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, which meet with qualified approbation, the two ingredients are both evident, although in various proportions : and there must be some weighty reason for the almost total disappearance of one or other in the other four churches. Now Smyrna and Philadelphia express, with peculiar fidelity, the distinctive characteristic of being at one and the same time dead in Christ according to the flesh, and alive in him according to the Spirit. Smyrna received more largely than any the favour of suffering for the name of her Head ; and Philadelphia is represented as more filled than any with the hope of His and her personal glory on earth. The true attitude of the church militant is, that of despising the shame for the joy of her Lord set before her; of contrasting her bondage of corruption patiently taken, with her glorious liberty earnestly longed 'for. Whence it is plain that Smyrna and Philadelphia are commended together, almost without blame, as both peculiarly exhibiting, in different aspects, models of the meek hope of the poor widow amid all the assaults of her adversary: the one church taking evil joyfully for her crown's sake, yea, rather for that of its Bestower; the other reaching forth to her crown out of the midst of the evil : the one patient through hope, the other hopeful through patience: the one rewarded in Pergamos for her patience; the other to be exalted through good hope at the coming of the Lord. On the other hand, rebuke stands the foreground in the pictures of Sardis and Laodicea ; legible in the title of Christ, in the terms of his address, nay, in the very phraseology of the yet ministered promise. These two churches hold their places in the ecclesiastical cbronology only because of the few undefiled in the one, and the chastened ones in the other. And while they both stand, in common and respectively, opposed to the two former, each differs from the other as the two former did : neither contrasts the shame of Christ with his glory; but, while the one manages to separate what God has here joined, the name and the shame—which latter it cannot bear, and does not feel—the other imagines shame and warfare to be past, yet has not and seeks not the glory.
Of the seven churches, four only are expressly told that the Lord cometh ; each in a peculiar way, and with peculiar injunctions : these are, Ephesus (ii. 5), Pergamos (ii. 16), Sardis (iii. 3), and Philadelphia (iii. 11). Smyrna and Thyatira have no direct promise or threatening on the subject ; and Laodicea, being told that he standeth and knocketh, not that he cometh, expresses a period subsequent to his coming from heaven. Now there must be a reason for this selection. That it is not the mere expression of approbation or rebuke, is clear ; because Phil. adelphia is an approved church, Sardis a rebuked one, Ephesus and 'Pergamos both; and because the coming is matter of especial promise to Philadelphia, of especial threat to Sardis. To investigate the reason minutely at present, were a forestalling of our interpretation: but we deem it needful here to state, that these four announcements, while they are made to four successions of the Gentile church, are not included in the four corresponding promises to the church concerning the age to come. They respect this age, and are to be explained by referring to Mark xiii. 35, where the Lord, enjoining us to watch, points out expressly four times of the night at which the coming of the Master might be peculiarly looked for—namely, the even, the midnight, the cock-crowing, and the morning; watches of the night, no doubt, but watches selected for a particular end. By this we must be understood, not as insinuating the least uncertainty regarding the set time of the Lord, but as endeavouring to shew what events in the Gentile dispensation have, in the predeterminate counsel of God, been made to regulate the time of his coming, which, whenever it occurs, must be a coming in vengeance. Now these four periods of the night tally exactly with the above four parts of the Gentile dispensation ; during which dispensation the Lord, the Light of the world, is absent, and which is therefore called the night (2 Pet. i. 19, et varia). And at each period (Ephesus, Pergamos, Sardis, and Philadelphia) we can discern the reason why the Lord did not then come, although, but for that reason, he would have come. We shall merely state the matter.--1. The even occurs during the church of Ephesus. It consisted in the destruction of Jerusalem. And the reason why the Lord did not then come in vengeance upon his apostate people was, that he had purposed first to take out of the Gentiles a people for his name.-2. The midnight occured during the church of Pergamos. It was the rise of the little horn, the prime device of the prince of darkness; for well may the setting up of Satan's throne of mockery be called midnight, in reference to the future kingdom of the Sun of righteousness. And the reason why the Lord did not then come in vengeance upon
the church which had nourished the man of sin' was, that he had purposed to permit his revelation in his time (2 Thess. 2.6). -3. The cock-crowing occurs during the church of Sardis. It refers to the first note of day, beginning the preparation for the sun-rising of the Lord. And the reason why Christ has not come in vengeance on a church which has so stricken hands with Antichrist, and vaunted the external beauty of her own rottenness, is, that it has been his gracious purpose to prepare a people for VOL. II.-NO. INI,
his coming, that all might not be taken at unawares, that the world might not perish unwarned.-4. The morning occurs during the Philadelphian church. It is his coming to avenge his elect, after having long forborne. And the reason why he shall then come is, that his purpose shall then be accomplished towards the Gentiles. Having come to the wedding, he shall afterwards knock at Laodicea before the marriage supper.
The last preliminary remark is, that while in the first three epistles the invocation of the churches” to the promise precedes the promise, it succeeds the promise in the last four. The reason of this (for there must be a reason) appears to be, that the first three churches precede, while the last four succeed, the revelation of Satan's Melchizedec priest and king, the man of sin. The Holy Ghost searching all things, and knowing how the existence of such a thing as the Papacy would stagger the faith and confound the prospects of the saints, has seen meet to make a break, in regard to the former three, between the church and its reward, in order to warn it aforehand, and assure it that, notwithstanding, its reward was safe. On the other hand, the instruction of the Spirit to the latter four, points to a continuance of their testimony against Antichrist“ to the end” (ii. 26); and, by allowing the keeping of God's statutes to come in contact with the reward, the Spirit teaches us that the principles on which Thyatira began are those in which Philadelphia and the faithful of Laodicea shall be found of the Lord. Nor is this view a little confirmed by the circumstance that Thyatira is the first church which is commended for preserving, or maintaining, the works of God. The Greek word enpew, to maintain, observe, or defend, thus occurs in no addresses but those to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and is evidently employed with direct reference to the seductions and lies of Satan in the Papacy. Pergamos is said to hold fast, or with dominion, the name of Christ (sparew); but that is not to preserve it against betrayal, which is the office of the faithful in the three succeeding churches: and Laodicea has no such office assigned to her, because her period is that in which the word of Christ's patience shall have come to pass, in the destruction of the seducer himself, the man of sin. This word opew, then, is the signal for a new species of warfare, not to end till the Lord come and conquer. And thus, by two striking tests—viz., the four promises, and the injunction to keep or preserve--we have the rise of the Papacy fixed at the commencement of Thyatira.
Having premised these general observations, we now proceed to consider in detail the epistle to the church at Ephesus; and, in the first place, the title assumed by Christ in addressing it.
FIDUS. (To be continued.)
MESSIAH'S REIGN ON THE EARTH.
The strange notions which men in general entertain respecting the kingdom of the Messiah must be traced to a neglect of the sacred Scriptures; for I do not find in them one passage to support the common opinion of the spiritual reign, but every where do I find the future manifestation of Christ as King declared in language which none can gainsay or resist, without doing the most awful violence to the sacred text.
In treating on the kingdom of our Lord, I shall begin with that memorable declaration of David which he uttered at the close of his eventful reign. The passage to which I refer is contained in 2 Sam. xxiii. 3,4: “He that ruleth over men must be just”-or, as some read the Hebrew, “He that
th in manhood is the Just One, ruling in the fear of God; and as the light of morning shall rise the sun, a morning unclouded, shining with splendour, with showers like grass from the earth. Such is the character of Him whom David by the Spirit declared should hereafter sit upon his throne ; and such the description of his reign. The peace and glory of David's reign were frequently interrupted by internal commotions, and by family afflictions ; but he here speaks of a reign which should be unclouded without any thing ever to interrupt its peace and joy-a glorious reign, shining with splendour. Solomon's reign answered in some measure to this, and as a type it served to shew forth the power and glory and unchangeableness of that kingdom which the Son of David will ere long establish on the redeemed earth.
Let us, then, inquire, First, of whom David here speaks; “ He that ruleth over men is the Just One."
Tbis expression can leave no doubt upon our minds that the Person here referred to is the Lord Jesus Christ; for he is the only person in the Scriptures that bears this title; and there is no one besides him, either in heaven or in earth, to whom it can possibly apply. St. Peter in the vid of the Acts applies it to Christ: speaking of the crucifixion of the Son of God, he says, “ but ye denied the Holy One and the Just.” In like manner does Stephen speak in the viith chapter : “ Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted ? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and the murderers.” St. Paul also, in the xxiid chapter, speaking of his conversion, says, that whilst he was in Damascus, Ananias came to him, and said, “ The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.” Here, as in the foregoing passages, the emphatic expression, that Just One, is proved to be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Paul beheld with his eyes and heard speak on his way to Damascus. We could adduce many other passages in proof of this, and shew in a variety of ways that none but Jesus is entitled to the appellation of the Just One. But, taking this for granted on all hands, we shall proceed to describe his kingly office, and to shew from the holy Scriptures that this same Jesus shall yet sit upon the throne of his father David, and reign in Mount Zion, and before his ancients gloriously.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ was anointed unto the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. Into the two first he has entered fully, but unto the last he has not yet attained. It would be most absurd to deny that he shall appear, and be manifested as King, as truly and as literally as he fulfilled his prophetic and priestly offices. As Prophet, he appeared on the earth and taught the people, and their hearts rejoiced at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth : as the great High Priest of our profession, he literally offered up a spotless sacrifice unto God, well-pleasing and acceptable in his sight; and finally, in the character of Priest he passed into the heavens, even into the most holy place, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us: and when he has fulfilled his mediatorial work he shall as truly assume his kingly character, and take unto himself his great power and reign. Although he is anointed to his kingly office, he has not yet entered upon it; nor will he, till the death of him of whom Saul was the type, even Antichrist, the man of sin, who shall fall in the battle of Armageddon. If Jesus was fully entered on his kingly office he would be seated on his throne; but as yet he has none: as it is written in the cxth Psalm, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Now, Jesus sits upon the throne of his Father, but hereafter he shall sit upon his own throne. Our Lord himself fixes the time of his accession to the throne of his kingdom to his second coming : “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” And that our Lord is not now seated on this throne is most evident from another passage, which reads thus : "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne.” It is most evident, then, that Christ at present acts the part of a Mediator ; that he is now interceding for us, as the High Priest of our profession; and that he is not yet entered on his kingly office, nor seated on bis throne.