Page images

nations fall immeasurably below the object-lesson of the kingdom as presented by the King himself on the mount. Transfiguration and glorification will be the essential characteristics and qnalities of the millennial kingdom.

Dr. Nathaniel West says: “Christian chiliasm or premillenna rianism is the doctrine of the personal reign of Christ upon earth one thousand years after the Beast, False Prophet, and Apostate Christendom have been judged and punished in a com:non doom. It is the doctrine of a visible and external sovereignty of Christ upon earth as the ontcome of history, the redeemed church of all ages rejoicing in the fulness of a resurrection life, in the actual presence of him who is the Prince of the kings of the carth," a kingdom of ontward glory, established upon the rnin of the polities of all nations, wide as the canopy of heaven. It is a kingdom spiritual, in which carnal beatitudes have no place, the beggarly elements of Judaism no honor; a kingdom terrestrial and yet celestial, not of this world but of heaven; one in which Jew and Gentile incorporated togetber share the victory, blessedness, holiness, dominion and communion of their Lord.

3. As a matter of fact, the Old Testament contains many pre• dictions of the visible bodily advent of the Son of God on this

earth of ours; these predictions extend over four thousand years, and embrace details of time, place, circumstances, nations, race, tribe, etc., etc. No Christian interpreter of Scripture has had the temerity to assert that these predictions were fulfilled at the flood, or the call of Abram, or the giving of the law, or the conquest of Canaan, or the establishment of the monarchy, or the Babylonish captivity, or the return of Israel from exile—they were fulfilled literally and exactly in the coming into this world of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary, Son of God, the promised seed of the woman, and in his life, death and resurrection; and men saw and heard and handled this Eternal Life.

So the Scriptures of both Testaments contain many predictions of a second advent of this same glorious person. One verse in every three hundred and twenty-five out of a total of seventynine hundred and fifty-nine verses of the New Testament, or one verse in every twenty-five, speaks directly or indirectly of this

[ocr errors]

second coming. This same Jesus who is taken op into heaven is to return in like manner to this earth.

How ineffable the folly of that Biblical exegete who vacates these Scriptures of all significance by spiritualizing them into the day of Pentecost, the destruction of Jerosalem, the spread of Christianity, the death of the believer. As well teach that the promise of the seed of the woman was fulfilled in the destruction wrought by the deluge, or that it was fulfilled in the death of Moses, or the conqnests of David, or the translation of Elijah.

The same canons of interpretation that allow such amazing liberties with the predictions of Scripture as to the Parousia of our Lord wonld, if applied to the Old Testament prophecies of the advent of the Messiah, rob the human race of its Divine Redeemer, and enthrone Death, the last enemy, as the supreme object of hope to all believers under both dispensations.

We insist that the same rules of interpretation must be applied to the entire series of prophecies which speak of the personal Christ. If all predictions concerning his first advent found a literal fulfilinent in his bodily presence, so will all those as to his second coming find the saine kind of fulfilment.

4. As a matter of fact, the church is to-day, as for eighteen centuries past, praying “thy kingdom come.” The kingdom is here now in germ, in individual hearts, but not yet come in visible sovereignty, in power and glory; nor will that kingdom ever so come until the King himself returns.

There is no faintest hint in the New Testament that the world or the church will be essentially different from what they are now until he comes, who shall make all things not “better, but new."

The phrase, “the conversion of the world,” is slowly but snrely giving way to the phrase, “the evangelization of the world.” The conversion of this world under this dispensation is nowhere predicted in the Scriptures or promised in the New Testament. Before the return of our Lord, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached among all nations as God's witness. The nations or the Gentiles will be visited, and God's people taken out."

The present mixed condition of light and darkness, good and evil, belief and unbelief, salvation and damnation, will continue until the end of the age. The gospel net is still taking fish, both good and bad; the wheat and tares in the same field are both growing, and growing together. The great Teacher tells us this will continue until the Son of man shall send forth his angels and make the final separation at the end of this dispensation. “The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels."

The parables of our Lord, setting forth the essential principles of the kingdom of heaven, find their solution in the return of the Lord himself. The nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom "returned"; the ten virgins, the five wise and the five foolish, hear at midnight the cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him”; the seed sown by the children of the kingdom is caught away by the devil until the end of the age; the devil continues to sow tares until the time of the harvest, when the tares shall be bound in bundles for the burning.

No candid and honest man can deny that the present mixed condition of all human affairs will continue until the return of the Lord himself at the end of the world (age).

The return of Christ is not only “the” hope, but “the blessed hope," of the believer and of the church during these wilderness days, when the Bridegroom is absent.

These are the time, and times, and half a time of the prophet Daniel; the forty and two months of the downtreading of the holy city; the twelve hundred and sixty days of the Apocalypse, when the bride laments the absence of the Bridegroom and prays for his coming; when the little flock is awaiting the return of the great Shepherd; and when, because iniquity doth abound, the love of many bas waxed cold. The Chinese empire and the Romish hierarchy claim that the kingdom of heaven is realized in millennial splendor, within the limits of their respective jurisdictions, here on earth and at present; and that nothing more is to be desired than the extension of these empires. Postmillennarians seem to think that the extension and establishment of the church. of to-day is all that is necessary to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven here on earth. In view of this theology, the absence of

he King himself has nothing whatever to do with the establishment of the kingdom, or the coronation of the King. Postmilleoparians say, The kingdom without the King; premillennarians say, No kingdom without the King.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

He would be a rash man who should assert that “this gospel of the kingdom" either had or had not, at this day, been “preached in the whole earth for a testimony unto all nations.” The nations of Asia heard it from Solomon, Jonah, and Daniel, and other prophets; the nations of Greece and Rome heard it from the lips of Christ and the apostles; the Queen of Sheba and the chamberlain of Candace took it with them to their homes in the uttermost parts of the earth; North Africa was the home of flourishing missionary churches as early as the third century; the nations of Europe have all been evangelized; at this moment mission stations and gospel lights girdle the globe, while millions of copies of this gospel of the kingdom, in three hundred and seventy-five of the languages and dialects of the earth, proclaim, as with tongues of fire, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what day your Lord cometh.” What is necessary to the fulfilment of this prediction? (Matt. xxiv. 14.) Who shall tell ?

5. The condition of the church and of the world at the return of the King.

If the present dispensation is to end in universal righteousness and peace, then how sball one interpret those Scriptures that describe the condition of the race as one of apostasy and abounding iniqnity at the Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ?

The great Teacher sent from God foretold this condition in language that cannot be misunderstood. He selects two events of Old Testament history as anmistakable examples of the condition of the world at his coming, the destruction of the world by the flood, and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. Luke xvii. 26–30: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they dranik, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bonght, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

The days immediately preceding the coming of the Son of man are described in language of dread sublimity: “Iniquity shall abound; the love of many shall wax cold”; if possible, amid the multiplicity of antichrists, false teachers, and false prophets, the very elect shall be deceived. The apostles repeat the solemn warnings of their Master, and tell us of the man of sin sitting in the temple of God, opposing, and exalting himself above God, with power and signs and lying wonders; of the perilous times of the last days, the seducing spirits, the teachings of demons, the forms of godliness without power; of scoffers and antichrists and persecutions and apostasies. When John, in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation, sees the woman of the twelfth chapter, the symbol of the church, arrayed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, riding forth on the scarlet-covered beast with seven heads and ten horns, the symbol of the “worldpower” in its totality, no wonder that, as he beholds the horrible transformation of the woman into the harlot, he wondered with great amazement.

Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall be find faith on the earth?”

6. The doctrine of this blessed hope has suffered much at the hands of its advocates. Some premillennarians have attempted to fix the times and dates of the future events connected with the return of our Lord; and some have even arranged the exact order in which these events will occur, and have affirmed that they cannot occur in any other. Elaborate charts and diagrams showing the precise chronological succession of the “last things” have been laboriously prepared and triumphantly exhibited; and the “prophe ic times” bave been calculated to the day and the hour. These atteinpts at prophecy have tended to bring the “blessed hope" itself into disrepute with thoughtful Christians, who are unwilling to be taught by those who are wise above what is writ

« PreviousContinue »