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grace in Christ. The life, the soul, may be now saved from impending death. The horrors of that death for sin which await the unjust may be escaped. For men may now through faith in Christ be quickened out of this death-state, and be raised with Him, and so enter now upon that sonship to God which gives them the promise both of this life and the life to come, and makes them heirs to all that He has to bestow. While those who die in their sins can get back on to ground where they may again become amenable to the discipline of this way of life, only after a long night in the outer darkness, and as still exposed to the hazards of a trial the issue of which may be the second death. God is indeed merciful. With Him is plenteous redemption. But He will by no means clear the guilty. Nor for any man, nor in any world, can He change the standard of admission to His presence. Only the pure in heart shall see God.
THE COMING OF THE LORD.
There are many who insist that the only rescue of the church from the shame and weakness of divison, the only escape from the perils that environ her, and the only relief for a groaning world, is the coming of the Lord. In this they are undoubtedly right. But then we are to carefully inquire what this expression means. We may make mistakes respecting both the nature and the manner of His coming.
I suppose all will agree that the "manifested presence" of the Lord is what is meant by His coming. In this sense it is proper to speak of His coming in the past In what are called His "spiritual comings," His presence has been so manifested in the world and to the church and individual believer that there could be no mistaking His presence. But visible manifestation is what most of our friends mean who wait for the Lord's coming. They look for a sudden, supreme, revelation of His glorious Person from the skies, which shall confound and destroy His enemies and purify aud transform His church. And this aspect of the "blessed hope" has much to sustain it in Scripture. But it must not be viewed apart from the other aspects in which His coming is presented. Above all it must not be regarded as such a promised corrective for present evils in the church and in the world, as to relieve us from present responsibility in regard to them.
We believe that the manifested presence of Christ in the church and among men is a present fact. We believe that it is to become much more apparent. We believe that it will hereafter become a visible fact, at least to those whose eyes are open to perceive it. We believe the same in reference to the future connection of the risen saints with the affairs of earth. The heavens are to be opened. We believe also in supreme puttings forth of power by the risen Christ, both in the way of judgment upon the nations, and of blessing. The clouds and darkness which are round about Him, and behind which He veiled Himself when He ascended, are to be rent. We believe especially in such physical changes and transformations as shall break down the barriers which now shut off the heavens from the earth, and bring these two departments in the one kingdom of God into blessed harmony and intercourse. The curse is to be lifted from this weary earth, and the whole creation is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. We believe also that this progress will be both evolutionary and catastrophic. And so indeeed with all the changes attending the coming of the Lord.
On the one hand some of our brethren look for all progress along the line of development. The world in their view is to gradually ripen into a millenium. These are the post-milleniahsts. The other class look almost wholly on the catastrophic side. They rightly tell us that nothing but the coming of the Lord in power and great glory can meet the case. And yet they forget that if mens' eyes had been opened, the power and coming of the Lord might have been seen along the centuries past. There was a conspicuous instance of it before the generation that rejected Him passed away. They are doubtless right in insisting that the signs of His coming are to be made much more apparent; and that His presence shall so come out from behind the veil as to become personal and visible. But their proneness has been to so exaggerate these features of His coming as to depreciate the proofs of His continual presence. They gather up into the idea of one great world-dominion and judgment of the future all that Scripture teaches of His present exaltation as Lord and Christ. And especially they are prone to overlook the present responsibility of the church to hasten this day of the Lord and to make herself ready for her high place in connection with it. Those of us who look for the Lord's coming as the only sufficient remedy for the world's ills and the church's disorders will make a pernicious mistake if we shall expect that coming apart from a church prepared to receive it. For it is in and through her that His presence is to be manifested. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be "in" and "with all His saints." They are to be the vehicles of His glory, the instrument of its manifestation. And the law of His coming to abide in us is, "If a man love me and keep my words." The same must be the law for the church as a body. We believe that what is looked for as the second advent will be according to this law. The bride must make herself ready. The church must therefore come out of her present distraction and weakness. She must bewail the sin of division and rivalry. She must purge herself from sinful alliance with the world. She must seek to be emptied of self that she may become a fit receptacle for the Lord's presence, And then she may expect to be filled with His power. It is this presence in her which will bring on the more open manifestation of His presence to the world for which we are taught to look. It is this power radiating from her, which shall work the transformations in the moral and physical world for which even the creature longs. "Greater works," says Jesus, "shall ye do in my Name." The saints, says Paul, shall judge the world and judge angels. It is true that these supreme manifestations of their destined glory require that they themselves be first transformed into the likeness of His glorified manhood. But for this also there must be such a preparation on their part as we have indicated. The glory of the eternal life will not shine through them, until its transforming power has been felt powerfully within them. Paul felt that the " attaining unto the resurrection of the dead" was something which in a measure he was to achieve (Phil. iii. 10-14), and that the crown of righteousness was laid up for them that fight the good fight of faith and love His appearing. We are by no means sure that such eminent and martyred saints are not already risen, living and reigning with Christ and ready to appear with Him. The drift of New Testament teaching is towards the conclusion that not all the saints are raised together, but each in his own order, and as he is prepared. There appear to have been some saints who were thus raised at the time of Jesus' resurrection (Matt, xxviii. 53). The lines of communication between saints on earth and saints in Heaven may be much more in readiness to be opened than we imagine. But those on earth must rise to a higher level in the spiritual life before they can touch these heights. There must be a reaching up toward Heaven before Heaven comes down to meet us.
The whole truth with regard to the Lord's coming is therefore not to be found on either side in the present controversy. Each side needs to learn something from the other. It is most true, on the one hand, that we cannot have a Millenium without the presence of the Lord: and that this presence means something more than an unseen spiritual power. On the other hand it is also true that the foundations of this kingdom of God are already laid, the King already enthroned, and that its