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THE ADVENT OF MESSIAH.
BY THE REV. W. DALTON, M.A.,
INCUMBENT OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Psalm CII. 13-16.
“ Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion : for
the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory."
“ BEHOLD, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” * “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: . the world also shall be established that it shall not
* Isaiah xl. 10.
be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord : for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”* “ Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”+ « Watch therefore : for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”# 5 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” §
Such, my brethren, is the strain of the Old and New Testament revelation on the all-important doctrine of the Messiah's advent in glory; echoed as it has been from patriarch to prophet—from the great Master of the house to his inspired apostles --from Enoch, the seventh from Adam, to the concluding witness of the inspired canon—from the suffering saints of the early Church to the professed followers of Christ in this generation-a subject so plainly revealed by God, and so fraught with momentous prospects to the Church and the world, that we can only feel surprised that apathy
* Psalm xcvi. 10. 13. + John xvi. 22.
§ Rev. iii. 11.
should ever have existed about it amongst men whose reiterated confession has been, “ We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.” Yet, alas ! it has existed at sundry times to a painful degree. At some dark periods of the Church's history it seemed to be well-nigh forgotten; and, doubtless, but for the sound form of words contained in our creeds, it had been altogether obliterated from the thoughts of the multitude; and even in our own favoured day, who will contend that the majority of professed Christians has given it that prominency in their thoughts and words which its position in the Bible seems imperatively to demand? The ambassadors of Christ have too often forgotten that they are heralds of the Lord's glorious advent, as well as preachers of the message of reconciliation. And the people have been too often satisfied with a mere formal assent to the doctrine of Christ's second coming to judge the world, without realizing the prospect of the Redeemer's near return to his kingdom, or dwelling on the many important events connected with the day of glory.
It is worthy of our notice, whilst meditating on the neglect which has been shown to any part of Divine revelation, that no doctrine has ever suffered alone. The links of Divine truth are too closely knit together to permit of a solitary exception,—the breaking off a single part has
ever produced the most disastrous effects on the whole chain. If the vicarious work of our gracious Redeemer has been obscured by upholding human merit, we shall discover equally shallow views set forth of the corruption of our fallen nature. If the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man has been forgotten, it will be found that some false system of human criticism has laboured to explain away what it cannot fathom. Is there nothing similar in the case before us? Is there no kindred truth that has suffered similar neglect ? When the Church had well-nigh forgot the parting words of the great Master, “Occupy till I come,” were no other portions of the word passed over ? -no prospect of lasting importance forgotten?
My brethren, I have only to refer to the preceding lectures in this course, as a reply to these queries. If the ministers of God have faithfully expounded to you the claims of the people of Israel (and of this, few, I think, who have heard the lectures can doubt)—they have also proved by demonstration or inference that the subject has been grievously passed over by the Christian Church. God has graciously said, “ Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury;" and yet might we with painful fidelity apply the words that follow to the Gentiles, “ There is none
to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons hat she hath brought up." Oh, who can say the amount of guilt the Gentile Churches have contracted by this neglect of plain duty ? What highmindedness they have shown in despising their elder sister ! What withering formality has followed from not listening to the word of the Lord : “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee.”
When these things are brought in the shape of grave accusations against the past or present Church, there are many of tender consciences who inquire, of what Jerusalem we speak ? and whether we mean the personal coming of the Lord when we reiterate the words of Christ: “ Behold, I come quickly?” They seem to hope that by identifying Jerusalem with the Church of Christ, they may acquit themselves of want of interest in the prophetic word, and by dwelling on the spiritual presence of Christ in the heart, they need not investigate the future prospect of Israel, nor be careful about discovering what coming in glory is intended in my text or similar passages. Now, this mode of stating the question brings us to the root of the whole matter. If we
* Isaiah li. 17, 18.