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error—the despising of ancient testimony--the neglect of consulting with the saints of former generations; for, though all that is ancient is not true, all that is novel is certainly false ; and I must say, that if I could not discover any trace of the views we have propounded until the era of the Reformation, I would suspect that we were walking in the paths of novelty and conjecture, rather than in the “good old paths” of truth and righteousness. But now, whilst we make our appeal to the Bible, as the only standard of truth, we have the satisfaction of setting forth those very prospects that formed the joyful hope of the early Church, the support of many who were called to take their place amongst “ the noble army of martyrs.”
III. I have very briefly to show that the doctrine of Messiah's advent and kingdom is full of practical importance. Very justly is this reserved for the concluding lecture of this course, being so extensive in its bearing on our holiness and expectations that we should not hastily dismiss the improvement which the range of subjects fitly suggests. I shall, therefore, only trespass on your patience by suggesting two inferences.
1. That the day of glory seems rapidly hastening to us. If I were asked, on what signs of the times I built this conclusion, I might
point to many, but I will confine myself to my text: “ 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." Where, observe, the sign given of the Lord's returning mercy to Zion, and of his appearance in glory, is the interest which his true servants take in her desolate condition. This is an interesting sign, because it shows, that the Church of God will awake to its long-neglected duty. How long has Zion sat desolate, and there has been none to comfort her! How long has Jerusalem been trodden down of the Gentiles, and there have been few to weep over it with the compassionate Son of Man ! Alas! for the neglect which Christendom has shown to the seed of Abraham! Can we wonder that the Church should be so dead, and formal, and worldly? Can we be surprised that they who have not cried unto God for Israel's benediction should themselves not prosper in the spiritual life? But
we perceive a general attention awakened, we find Christians pleading for the favoured people,--we perceive men reading the page of prophecy, and giving Israel their rightful share of its promises. And sincerely do I rejoice that among all the branches of the Church Catholic
there is not one who occupies such a decided part of Missionary labours to Israel as our own hallowed fold. I love her because she sets forth God's truth with such fidelity. I cleave to her because she can trace her origin to apostolic authority. I unite with her members because they approach to God in a primitive and spiritual liturgy; but to these I add, that I am increasingly attached to her when I find God using her as the pioneer of the Gentile Churches, who will not only pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but “prepare the way of the people; cast up the highway; gather out the stones; and lift up a standard for the people."*
To the Jews our language now is, “O house of Israel, come ye and walk in the light of the Lord.” We invite them to receive now, even now, the crucified Jesus as the true Messiah; we place before them his credentials from heaven, and we faithfully tell them, that if they reject this testimony, they shall die in their sins; we invite them now to believe that in the day of the Lord they may have a higher place than amongst the restored Jews—even be numbered amongst the glorified saints of the New Jerusalem; but still we do rejoice, however small or great the remnant now saved may be, that at last the Lord
* Is. Ixii. 10.
will gather “ the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah;” and that the very deep interest now taken in the prospect of this people is a pledge that the Lord's purposes of mercy hasten to their accomplishment; that he is about to arise, and have mercy upon Zion; that he will soon appear in his glory; and that all shall then exclaim, “ Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
2. We call upon you, my brethren, individually to wait for the Son of God from heaven. This is one striking characteristic of God's faithful people, in opposition to a sleeping world or to the evil servants in the visible Church. To every ungodly man the day of Christ has no joyful prospect; he is either intoxicated with a draught of earthly pleasures, or he is occupied in smiting the household instead of comforting them- promoting schisms and divisions instead of cultivating unity. To all such, I say, the day of God is an unpleasing anticipation; and whilst he sees all things going on as they were in times past, he speaks peace to his carnal heart—" My Lord delayeth his coming." Not so, true believers; they are said to wait for the Lord from heaven; to look for the Saviour; to hasten towards the day of God. And it is one important result of the view now given, that holding that Christ's kingdom on earth will not anticipate
his coming, but synchronize with it; we are not so much to fasten the eye of hope on events and periods which must precede the advent of Messiah, but rather on the advent itself, and then expect the events to follow. We can thus occupy the true position of the Church of God. We can enter deeply into the words of our great Master, “ Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” “ Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.”
Church of the living God, awake, awake to the prospects of your high destinies! Lay hold firmly on the soul-comforting thought, “ The Lord is at hand.” Trim your lamps and gird up your loins, for the sound is echoing far and wide, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” His voice of comfort and power cheers us with the announcement, “ Behold, I come quickly." Take up the words, and join with the host of heaven, the spirits of just made perfect, and the suffering Church on earth, in welcoming the approach of the King of kings, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Even so. Amen."