Page images

accustomed, as we know, to look for a visible and glorious Messiah. To believe, without seeing, was the lesson they had to learn; and it was a magnificent support to their faith this fact, that the apostle, who taught them, had, with his two companions, seen, with their own eyes, the glory of Christ manifested — had seen it displayed before them, together with that of former saints who shared His kingdom. At that time Jesus received, in testimony, from God the Father honour and glory; a voice addressing Him from the excellent glory — from the cloud which was, to a Jew, the well-known dwellingplace of the Most High God--owning Him as His wellbeloved Son; a voice which the three apostles also heard (even as they saw His glory), when they were with Him on the holy mount.

We see that it is here the glory of the kingdom, and not the dwelling in the Father's house for ever with the Lord. It is a manifestation to men living on the earth; it is the power of the Lord, the glory which He receives from God the Father as the Messiah, acknowledged to be His Son, and crowned with glory and honour before the eyes of the world. It is into the everlasting kingdom that the apostle wishes them to have an enlarged entrance. It is the power and glory, that Christ received from God

, which the apostle saw, and to which He bears testimony. We shall, indeed, have this glory, but it is not cur portion, properly so called; for that is within the house, to be the Bride of the Lamb, and it does not display itself to the world. With regard, however, to the Church, the two things cannot be separated; if we are the Bride, we shall assuredly participate in the glory of the Kingdom. To the Jew, who was accustoined to look for this glory (whatever might be his ideas respecting it), the fact of the apostle's having seen it, was of inestimable importance. It was the heavenly glory of the kingdom, as it shall be manifested to the world; a glory that shall be seen when the Lord returns in power. Compare Mark ix. 1. It is a communicated glory which comes from the excellent glory. Moreover, the testimony of the prophets relates to the manifested glory; they spoke of this kingdom and glory, and the brightness of the transfiguration was a splendid confirmation of their words. We have, says the apostle, the words of the prophets confirmed. Those words proclaimed indeed the glory of the kingdom which was to come, and the judgment of the world, which was to make way for its establishment on earth. This announcement was a light in the darkness of our world; truly a dark place, that had no other light than the testimony which God had given, through the prophets, of that which shall happen to it, and of the future kingdom, whose light shall finally dispel the darkness of separation from God, in which the world lies. Prophecy was a light that shone during the darkness of the night (but there was another light for those that watched).

For the remnant of the Jews, the Sun of righteousness should rise with healing in His wings; the wicked should be trodden as ashes under the feet of the righteous. The Christian, instructed in his own privileges, knows the Lord in a different way from this, although he believes in these solemn truths. He watches during the night, which is already far spent. He sees in his heart, by faith, the dawn of the day, and the rising of the bright star of the morning. He knows the Lord as they know Him who believe in Him before He is manifested, as coming for the pure heavenly joy of His own, before the brightness of the day shines forth. They who watch see the dawn of day; they see the morning star. Thus we have our portion in Christ not only in the day, and as the prophets spoke of Him, which all relates to the earth, although the blessing comes from on high; we have the seciet of Christ and of our union with Him. and of His coming to receive us to Himself as the Morning Star, before the day comes. We are His during the night; we shall be with Him in the truth of that heavenly bond which unites us to Him, as set apart for Himself while the world does not see Him. We shall be gathered to Him before the world sees Him, that we

b This is the construction of the sentence: “We have also the prophetic word confirmed, in giving heed to which ye do well (as to a light shining in a dark place), until the day shall dawn, and the morning star arise in your hearts.”

in sleep.

may enjoy Himself, and in order that the world may see us with Him when He appears.

The joy of our portion is, that we shall be with Him. self; " for ever with the Lord.” Prophecy enlightens the Christian, and separates him from the world, by testimony to its judgment, and to the glory of the coming kingdom. The testimony of the Spirit to the Church does this by the attraction of Christ Himself, the bright Morning Star, our portion while the world is still buried

The bright morning star is Christ Himself, when (before the day, which will be produced by His appearing) He is ready to receive the Church, that she may enter into His own peculiar joy. Thus it is said, Rev. xxü. 16, “I am the bright and morning star.” This is what He is for the Church, as He is the root and offspring of David for Israel. Consequently, as soon as He says " the morning star,” the Spirit who dwells in the Church, and inspires her thoughts, and the Bride, the Church itself, which waits for her Lord, say ** Come!" Thus, in Rev. iii. 28, the faithful in Thyatira are promised by the Lord that He will give them the morning star, that is to say, joy with Himself in heaven. The kingdom and the power had been already promised them, according to Christ's own rights (ver. 26, 27); but the Church's proper portion is Christ Himself

. In addition to the declaration of the prophets, with regard to the kingdom, it is thus that the Church expects Him.

The apostle goes on to warn the faithful, that the prophecies of Scripture were not like the utterances of human will, and were not to be interpreted as though each had a separate solution - as though every prophecy were sufficient to itself for the explanation of its full meaning. They were all parts of one whole, having one and the same object, even the kingdom of God; and cach event was a preliminary step towards this object, and a link in the chain of God's government which led to it, impossible to be explained, unless the aim of the whole were apprehended - the revealed aim of the counsels of God in the glory of His Christ. For holy men, moved by the Holy Ghost, pronounced these


oracles, one and the same Spirit directing and coordaining the whole for the development of the ways of God to the

eye of faith, ways which would terminate in the establishment of that kingdom, the glory of which had appeared at the Transfiguration.

Thus we have here (chap. i.) these three things: 1st. Divine power for all that appertains to life and godliness; a declaration of infinite value, the pledge of our true liberty. Divine power acts in us, it gives to us all needed to enable us to walk in the Christian life.

2nd. There is the government of God, in connection with the faithfulness of the believer, in order that a wide and abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom may be granted us, and that we may not stumble. The great result of this government will be manifested in the establishment of the kingdom, the glory of which was seen on the holy mount by the three apostles. But,

3rd. For the Christian, there was something better than the kingdom - something to which the apostle merely alludes, for it was not the especial subject of the communications of the Holy Ghost to him, as it was to the apostle Paul, namely, Christ taking the Church to Himself; a point not found either in the promises or the prophecies, but which forms the precious and inestimable joy and hope of the Christian taught of God.

This first chapter has thus taught us the divine aspect of the Christian position, given to the apostle for the instruction, in the last days, of believers from among the circumcision. The two next chapters set before us, on the other hand, the two forms of evil that characterise the last days—the false and corrupt teaching of bad men, and the unbelief which denies the return of the Lord, on the ground of the stability of the visible creation. The former really denies the Master who bought them, It is no question here as to the title of Lord, nor of redemption. The simile is of a master who has pur. chased slaves at the market, and they disown and refuse to obey him. Thus among the converted Jews there would be false teachers, who disowned the authority of Christ-His rights over them. Many would be led away by them; and as they bore the name of Christians, the

way of truth would be brought into disrepute by their means; while, in fact, by their covetousness and hypocritical words, they would make merchandise of Christians for their private gain. But the resource of faith is always in God. Judgment would overtake them. The examples of the fallen angels, of Noah and the deluge, of Lot and Sodom, proved that the Lord knew how to deliver the righteous out of their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment.

That which would characterise this class of evil doers would be the unbridled license of their conduct. They would indulge their carnal lusts, and despise all authority in a way that angels would not dare to do. Still, they would call themselves Christians, and associate with Christians in their love-feasts, deceiving their own hearts, addicting themselves continually to evil

, promising liberty to others, but themselves the slaves of corruption.

Now, to be thus entangled in evil, after having escaped it through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, was worse than if they had never known anything of the way of truth. But it was according to the true proverb - The dog had returned to his own vomit, and the sow that had been washed to her wallowing in the mire. They were apostates, therefore; but here the Spirit of God does not so much point out the apostasy as the evil, because the government of God is still in view. In Jade, the apostasy is the prominent thing. Peter tells us that the angels sinned; Jude, that they kept not their first estate. But God will judge the wicked.

In the last chapter, as we have said, it is Materialism: trust in the stability of that which can be seen, in contrast with trust in the Word of God, which teaches us to look for the coming of Jesus, the return of the Lord. They judge by their senses. There is, say they, no appearance of change. This is not the case. of man, it is indeed true that there is none. But these unbelievers are wilfully ignorant of the fact, that the world has been already judged once; that the waters, out of which, by the mighty word of God, the earth came, had, for the moment, swallowed it up again, all perishing, except those whom God preserved in the ark.

To the eye

« PreviousContinue »