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hours, which, if any doubt, they may refer to those passages which speak of mustering armies from distant lands and islands, fighting battles, &c., such as Isa. v. 26–30, xi. 11-16; xüi. 6–22, &c., &c.
In the Prophets it is declared, that to the saints the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing on His wings; and in the book of the Revelation the promise to the faithful is, that God will give them the bright and the morning star. Both these expressions imply that it is at the earliest part of the day of the Lord that the saints should expect to receive the promised blessing. But, perhaps, the figure most commonly used to express the events here referred to is that of a harvest; and, in order to derive the instruction which it is intended to convey, we must refer to Jewish customs, as enjoined in the Old Testament, and practised by that people. In the harvest, as carried on by them, we find three distinct acts—first, the hasty, forced, and artificial ripening of a few ears plucked out of the field by the hand, not cut in the ordinary manner by a sickle, and ripened before the fire (Lev. xi. 14); secondly, the cutting of the crop, before the carrying in of which, however, a single sheaf is taken and carried into the Temple (Lev. xxxiii. 10); and, thirdly, the whole harvest is gathered in: and, accordingly, we find, in the book of Revelation, a few persons gathered (xiv.), and afterwards a larger body of much people, a great multitude, even all the armies in heaven.
Now, the shining of the sun is a blessing alike to all mankind; and so is the harvest; but there is a pre-eminence of blessing to which our attention is directed in these figures, on which our hopes may be fixed.
The vintage is a figure that is mostly used to express wrath, the propriety of which will be obvious from a remembrance of the process employed in it. In the harvest, all the grain is gathered in whole and undestroyed; and even after grinding the flour is still the same grain, only in a more attenuated form. But in the vintage it is quite different-every grape is crushed on the spot; the wine is not properly the juice merely of the grape, but it is that juice after it has undergone a process which totally changes its nature and properties; hence, strictly speaking, no part of the vine is preserved for use, but all is destroyed.
There are other figures, which are supposed to indicate such a suddenness of appearance and judgment as to preclude the possibility of the progressive steps indicated by the former---such as the two women grinding at the mill, the coming as a snare, as a thief in the
night, as a flash of lightning, and as the deluge. The facts of the case of this last will be a useful and a safe guide. The falling of the rain, however unexpected to the rest of the human race, was certainly no unlooked-for occurrence to Noah and his family. To them there was nothing sudden in it; on the contrary, they had been preparing for it during a great many years, even all the years that they had employed in building the ark. All the world around saw them; many persons must have assisted them; many must have helped to build the ark who yet were not saved by it. The final destruction is spoken of as coming suddenly upon the wicked, but not upon the people of God. Our Lord expressly calls those, who cannot see the signs of the days in which they live, hypocrites. A common way of meeting this question is to say a good man is always ready to die, and, therefore, the judgments of God are never sudden to him. for this loose, slovenly, and superficial way of considering the subject (if, indeed, it be not rather an idle excuse, to save the trouble of thinking of it at all), there is no warrant in Scripture; on the contrary, in the passages which speak of sudden destruction coming upon them that know not God, and obey not His Son, it is always added, but He shall not come to you as a thief in the night; and the coming of the Lord, the day of the Lord, the day of judgment, shall be no more a sudden event to them that have the eyes and faith of Noah, than was the coming of the rain to him.
There is an alarming part of this figure of Noah, to which the Apostle Peter twice refers, wherein it is said that from that fearful destruction few, that is, eight persons only, escaped. It would be to push the application to an unwarrantable length to say that only eight persons will be prepared for the day of judgment now; but, at all events, it implies that the number which escapes will be fearfully small; and it is probable that at most it will bear only the same proportion to the present population of Christendom, as the number eight bore to the population in the time of Noah.
Another figure, or rather historical event, which is used with reference to the final judgment, is that of bringing up the Israelites out of Egypt, and the destruction of those who opposed that Exodus. Here again there was a long series of events; there was first Moses' attempts to deliver the people before they had cried to the Lord under their bondage, and consequently before they were really desirous to be delivered. It was a foolish endeavour on the part of Moses; and the same thing would occur again, if St. Paul were to return again to this earth, and attempt to put in order the abuses which have crept into every part of the Church, before Christendom had been taught its need of the restoration of God's ordinances; for until men desire deliverance from their evident Babylonish confusion, the restoration of these ordinances could not possibly profit any one. Next there was a series of miracles worked, of which all the Egyptians were witnesses; after this the destruction came upon the King and upon all his host, yet only upon those who pursued after the people of God, not on those who remained quietly in their own country and border.
The history of the Jews, from the period of the destruction of the Egyptians to the time when they took possession of the land under Joshua, is another passage replete with instruction. This, like some others, is an historical type of the Christian Church, from the day of Pentecost to the final consummation of all things; and we find that at the close of that period there was a re-enacting of some things which had been done in the beginning-a farther putting in order, a repairing as it were, and a perfecting of what was incomplete--a deuteronomy, before the immediate entrance. In like manner the foundations of the Church were laid eighteen hundred years ago, and we ought to expect, in at least some part of the Church, amongst some of the baptized, a farther putting in order, a repairing, a clearing of what has got covered with dust and cobwebs -a setting out in more distinctness the ministries—a perfecting of what was incomplete; which shall be the sign, to all whose eyes are opened, of the Son of Man in heaven-that is, in the established place of rule and authority—to accomplish His work, and to take possession of His inheritance, even of the whole earth.
At a subsequent period, when the people were to be delivered from Babylon, God sent certain individuals to repair the Temple. They were not commissioned to build a new one; they had no right nor authority to add a stone to the altar, nor change any sacrifice thereon; they were not to exhibit their genius, or their taste, or their fancy in church building; but they were to clean and put in order that which had become dirty from neglect and misuse, profaned by ceremonies which God had not ordered, and which had been broken down by men who did not fear Him. The deliverance from Babylon is, as we are informed from the book of the Revelation, a figure of the deliverance of God's servants from the system of government under which they have been for a long time oppressed; and we learn furthermore that they are delivered by the destruction of that system of which Babylon is the type. Now, whatever Babylon may represent, it is destroyed; and it is not destroyed until after there has been a reparation of the Temple. All men who are spiritually-minded—that is, all who have a fellow-feeling with the Spirit of Christ are now groaning over the confusion of Christendom, and feeling oppressed by the civil power—that is, under the kings of this world. This is particularly the case in Germany, both amongst Roman Catholics and Protestants: it is this oppression which the Scotch Seceders are rebelling against, instead of abiding under it, as their wiser brethren in Germany are doing. Instead of vainly and selfishly attempting to deliver themselves, by which act they have only made matters worse, they should have waited for deliverance until God, by the hand of His Medes, had destroyed that system which holds them in bondage. If they had remained, they might have cried unto the Lord to deliver them; they might have petition. ed and remonstrated with the King of Babylon, and so set an example to their brethren throughout Christendom to do the same; and thus they might have been made the instruments for the deliverance of all; but by seeking their own private good, and forgetting the good of the whole body-by being Sectarian, and not Catholic, they have failed in the testimony to which they were called, and have increased the Babylon under which they groan. Before quitting the application of the typical history of the repairing of the Temple, and destruction of Babylon, to our own time, it is to be remarked, that neither did all the Jewish nation assist in repairing the Temple and Altar, nor did all the people return; that at first there went up a very few; then a few more; and ultimately only two tribes and a half, whilst none of the ten tribes ever returned at all. So now we should not expect to see God employ more than a handful to recover for the Church her ancient privileges and endowments, nor suppose that the great mass and body of the baptized will ever really desire to return to His ways.
At the beginning of the return from the captivity, they who were rightly employed busied themselves each with rebuilding that part of Jerusalem which was contiguous to their own particular dwelling, Thus the authors of the Tracts for the Times have done rightly in seeking to restore the Church of England; and the Evangelical party should do the same, instead of attacking the Roman Catholic Church, whose principles they do not understand, and whose doctrines they mistake. Thus also the Roman Catholics in Germany are wisely labouring to repair their Church, and liberate her from Italian dictatorship, Maria worship, and forced celibacy from her priests; thus the Scotch Seceders should have laboured to repair the Church of Scotland, instead of forming a mob-dependent sect.
In the last days, in the day of the Lord, in the judgment, all the deliverances and judgments which are typical must meet; the Deluge, Egypt, Babylon, the return under Nehemiah and Ezra, &c., must all coineide; yet they are not simultaneous, but prove that the day of the Lord consists of many acts, some of which necessarily precede others. If the end of the Jewish dispensation be dated from the time of our Lord's incarnation, which is the first act of that series of events which close it, and not from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, which is the last act of the same; then may we, in like manner, date the end of this dispensation from the French Revolution, which is the first act of this series by which the Christian dispensation is brought to an end. But if there be a difficulty in assigning a precise day to the end of a dispensation which stood essentially in place and time, there must be much greater difficulty in assigning a precise day to end of the Christian or Gentile dispensation, which is not in time and place, but essentially spiritual, and, above all, before it has actually and literally closed.
This distinction of literal and spiritual, between the Jewish and Christian dispensation, is constantly promulgated by speakers on platforms, and in the sermons of similar persons; but from no such speech or sermon is it possible to extract one intelligible idea. This dispensation is spiritual, because it was established and is maintained by the dissemination of principles: the Jewish dispensation was carnal, because it was established and maintained by brute force. A man became a member of that polity by the cutting off of his flesh; the Jews were delivered from Egypt by the drowning of Pharaoh and all his army; they entered Palestine with the edge of the sword, sacked and burned the towns, and put to death all the inhabitants; they retained possession of the land which they took by continual war; the breach of their law was punished with cruel death ; their worship was with many visible things, to the greater part of which they could affix no meaning. They, and all their services, ecclesiastical and national, were shadows of a substance of which they were in total ignorance. The Christian dispensation, on the contrary, is spiritual, because it was established and maintained, in defiance of