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In chapter second he proceeds to invoke the brethren, by the coming of which he has already spoken, not to be moved, or deceived, as if the day were at hand. —
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling auay first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing hiin self that he is God. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” 2 Thess. ii.
1. The Thessalonians were ardently looking for the immediate advent of their Lord. Many of them had laid aside the vocations of life, in the confidence that all human toil and earthly schemes would speedily become unnecessary. The Apostle opens by declaring the certainty and the glory of the Lord's appearing, for the everlasting ruin of his enemies, and the eternal rest of his own people. In chapter second he invokes them by the coming of which he has already spoken, not to suppose that the Lord would be revealed at that time. That day should not come unless there came—a spiritual reign first ?-No! a thing radically different,—a falling away--a shameful apostacy from primitive truth, unity, and holiness.
2. The mystery of iniquity was already working, the seeds of evil and corruption were germinating, but there was a power which would let or hinder the full development of the system, until it was taken out of the way. In other words—there was no room in the world for two such monsters as Heathenism and Papalism. While the former retained its regal and pontificial dominion, it held the latter under iron compression—but when the old system was scorched to death by the fire of truth, the devil appeared in a new form, with all subtlety and malice. Age after age the new monster unfolded his hideous shape, and spake with a voice of cruel pride and blaspheming ambition. Star after star was eclipsed in the firmament of truth, until a dreary and stormy midnight brooded over the moral world. A small protesting church sought refuge in the obscure wilderness, and prophesied in sackcloth and ashes. Meanwbile that system which was a mystery of iniquity, because it fused into one so many opposite principles of evil, was gradually consolidated.
3. But there came at last a time when the Lord began to consume the enemy with the Spirit of his mouth. This was the notable age when Luther blew his clarion over Europe from the heart of Germany, and the living word of God, long imprisoned, went forth from the cloisters and dungeons of superstition, with freshness and glorious power.
4. But the gradual consumption must be discriminated from the
sudden destruction. The lawless one is to be destroyed with the brightness of the Lord's appearing. We desire the reader to be thoughtful and awake at this stage of the argument, for here lies its power in promoting our present purpose. In the same coming in which the Lord takes vengeance with flaming fire upon the disobedient, and glorifies his saints—he destroys and consumes the man of sin. Then it follows by necessity that the godless blaspheming system will live until the Lord comes to judgment. And it follows by equal peces. sity that we can have no millennium before the coming of the Lord, because the mystery of iniquity and the triumph of truth and holiness, cannot co-exist. The man of sin, and the saints of God, cannot reign together.
As we are now laying foundations, and wish them to he deep and broad for a massive structure, we shall resume this preliminary argument and finish it in the third chapter. After such a basis is secured, the consequences may be leisurely surveyed with increasing reverence and holier joy.
IN WHAT DOES CHRISTIANITY CONSIST ? How many there are who suppose Christianity to consist in mere outward show, in putting on of forms and fashions, and appearing to the vulgar eye of the world, religious. Myriads there are who attend service at the public churches and chapels, and spend the time which ought to be devoted to God, in laxity of the most henious description. Were we to ask a greater portion of them a few hours after leaviug, whether they can remember ought of what they have heard, I think we should find that little or no attention has been paid to the subject in hand. Be not deceived, dear friends ; this is not Christianity. A true Christian is devoted to God; he reads, and inwardly digests what he does read; bis greatest delight is in diving into the deep researches of divine truth, and making himself ac quainted with the unbounded love of God, which he knows does abound most abundantly unto salvation. He loves to meditate upon his great and manifold promises ; his Providence in controling the enemies of his life, and in securing to him those great and most precious privileges which he enjoys. He has frequent communings with his heavenly Father in private prayer-opens his whole soul to God, and trusts to him for all things temporal and spiritual. His hand is ever open to relieve the oppressed, the weary, and the broken hearted. The sick poor have his services without those feelings of offended dignity which the higher classes experience. He is like his great example Jesus Christ-meek and lowly in spirit. His house and heart are open to all who will come and partake of that same heavenly source, out of which he derives so much perfect
Let us think of the exaltation to wbich Christ has reached, who
“made perfect through suffering,” and that if we suffer with him, we shall be glorified together.
CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH. “And if children, then heirs ; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
The strict oneness existing between the Lord Jesus Christ, and the members of his mystical body—the church, is variously set forth by the Holy Spirit in the Word: for instance; the Vine and the Branches, John xv. 1-6,) showing that their very life is derived from him : the Shepherd and the Sheep, (John x.) indicative of his care over them, their helplessness and liability to wander: the Body, of which he is the Head; showing his government over them, his need of them, his sympathy with them, and their sympathy with each other. (1 Cor. xii.)
Each of these similies is employed to illustrate some peculiar truth or truths; but there is one image made use of, which seems to embrace every other, and at the same time suggests ideas which they do not-it is that of Bridegroom and the Bride. We have, in this relationship, which Jehovah has condescended to take, at once brought to our minds the going forth of his love in seeking, winning, and purchasing the Bride; for it was, and is, in Eastern countries, requisite that the bridegroom should as it were purchase the lady from her father by splendid presents : we are also reminded that he is her counsellor, her protector, the sharer of her joys and sorrows, in a word, “ her beloved and her friend," and it tells us too what should never be forgotten, that the church must share the fortunes of her betrothed.
But there is a further peculiarity in this relationship. Not only is she the spouse, but the sister-spouse of her Lord. She is the daughter of his father by a new and heavenly birth : hier first father" having sinned, and thus become, with his posterity, tho captive of Satan, she is born a slave to sin and death, and besides having to ransom her from this slavery, that she might become his bride, he had to provide means whereby she could be born again. The design of this essay is to show what are these means, as well as to point out from Scripture the ceremony of espousals, or that in which she takes his name.
But here let us pause to contemplate the person and character of tle Bridegroom, for in him we shall find an incomprehensible blending of dignity and humiliation. Born in a stable, at the little town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at that time tributary to the Romans, liis mother an obscure maiden, betrothed to a carpenter,
yet is he the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, and in him centre the glorious lines of prophecy; and the hopes and desires of the faithful, from the time that man by his disobedience forfeited his possessions, and brought them, with himself, under the dominion of the great enemy.
In him we see " the seed of the woman (Genesis iii. 15,) whose heel is bruised by the adversary, (Luke xxii. 53,) "the man of sorrows" who “ had not where to lay his head,” who was frequently indebted to the love of his followers for his daily sustenance : yea, so poor was he as to be obliged to have recourse to a miracle for money wherewith to pay the tribute, (Matt. xvii.) yet is he appointed “to bruise the serpent's head," (see Hebrews ii. 14,) to dispense blessings to “all the families of the earth ; for he is the seed of Abraham, and the rightful possessor of the land promised to him, (Genesis xii. xiii.; Gal. iii. 15, 16, 17,) and although his mother was espoused to a carpenter, yet was she the child of kings; from the princely tribe of Judah and the royal family of David, therefore is he the heir to David's throne and kingdom anointed by Jehovah “to reign over the house of Jacob for ever, (Luke iii. 32, 33,) whose “ dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” (Psa. lxxii.) who shall reign and prosper and execute judg. ment and justice in the earth, (Jeremiah xxiii. 5—8,) when he shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, (Psalm ii.)
In him we see the meek, the gentle, the suffering " Lamb of God," “ wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities," whose life was made an offering for sin," but at the same time we find that he himself is the offerer of the sacrifice, (John x. 11-18, “the High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” (Psalm cx.; Heb. iv, vii.) “who has entered into the true holy of holies " there to appear in the presence of God for us," but who will appear on earth a second time without a sin-offering to the salvation of them that look for him, (Heb. ix.) to claim his bride, to take possession of his kingdom and dominion, to share with her its glories and its honours, (Dan. vii. 13, 14, 18, 27; Rev. ii. 20; iii. 31.)
Well may the spouse, in contemplating her Lord, exclaim, “ This is my beloved, and this is my friend, oh ye daughters of Jerusalem." But it is well for her to remember, that ere she can share his glories, she must be a partaker of his sufferings, (2 Timothy ii. 12,) she must be one with him in all things.
It is however manifest, that until she is espoused to him, she cannot share any thing with him, even suffering; and this brings us to the consideration of the means whereby this union is effected. How does she become his SISTER-spouse? In other words, How are children of Adam made children of God-introduced into that family