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THE LORD'S COMING,
OFTEN feel, beloved, that even Christians think
far too lightly of the Lord's coming. There is a levity of mind in the way some speak of it; yet the thought of His coming is a terrible one to everything that is of ourselves. The natural heart cannot endure it; it must be only a terror to all that is of self and sin within us. Ah, yes—it is only where love is very true, and faith is very simple, that it becomes a blessed, precious hope, altogether and at once, at any moment to be desired. It is, moreover, only when our souls are in communion, abiding in Him, that we are in personal readiness to greet Him as our Lord and Christ.
There are five ways in which the Lord's coming is spoken of in 1st Thessalonians, all so blessedly and practically related to us. I say related to us, for in
this Epistle it is all—"us," "our," your;" that is, it relates to saints. Whereas in the 2nd epistle, it is all them," and relates to the world, as in chapter ii.: “That they all might be damned who believe not the truth.” In the first epistle it is all ours, and is precious. Oh ! how precious to one who knows, and loves, and longs for a personal Jesus. Each chapter of the Epistle ends with the Lord's coming, associated with some one special aspect it has towards us.
The first chapter (verse 10) connects it with salration. We are saved; He who comes as "Son,” is “ Jesus,” who hath saved us from the coming wrath. No hell, no death, no wrath ; not one droplet of that fire by which, when He comes, He will try His enemies, will befall us. Ah, no, when as Son," beloved Son, He comes from heaven for us, it will be all rest, all peace, and joy, deep, unspeakable joy. Oh, to know Him more and more, and to love Him! which is a first qualification for not having fear; for perfect love casteth out all fear.
The second chapter associates the coming with
our present fellowship and the loved fruits of our labour. How like a sweet strain of love from the scene of the glory, that question-"What is our crown of rejoicing (glorying), are not ye?” That day, beloved, will show there will be no result, no crown of rejoicing, but in what He Himself gave. No mero name as a preacher, no popularity, no eloquent gift, will be seen to be of any account in that day; only those who are the true "ye,” given as saved ones to the lifting up of the gospel of God (gospel of the glory) will be of value then. Think of Paul and his crown; think of the “ye,” how they heard, and doubtless loved to remember, this word in their letter. It was not mere form, this; but a word for the heart, a word of fellowship and love. Beloved, “What is our hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing; are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming ?"
In this third chapter ( see verses 12, 13 ) it is not simply salvation from wrath, or mutual recognition, or fellowship of joy in the glory; but present establishment in love one towards another, and "unblame
able in holiness;" love to Him who hath begotten, and to all those who are begotten of Him; then the heart is to be established, fixed, settled in its affections on God, on the Lord, who says, “I will come for you," or, as the word is, “I an coming," as if actually on the way,-oh, how will it clasp Him as the one blest object of Christian love; meanwhile, sin will be in abeyance, the flesh will be mortified, and so the heart will be established unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, that He may enjoy us at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
The fourth chapter is our proper hope. He comes (verse 16) descending for us; that is enough ; He descends for His own, to meet them ; which is all His love needs. Oh to have our souls in the simple meetness of this, nothing else is specified here, no home mentioned, no crown, no taking of His kingdom; love says it is enough to meet with its own, to take up its own. There will be glory, doubtless; but glory is not love. His love was the first thing from all eternity; glory is its fruit, its gift. What is the
gift to the love of the Giver ? what the crown to Christ ? Do not our own poor hearts know a little of the simple preciousness of this ? And such preciousness will all His saints have. Oh! what an uprising, when we shall all meet Him in the air; how different to now! For down here saints die sorrow-have to separate.
“Sorrows have crushed each heart,
And bowed each head;
Tears have been shed;
With our loved Head.
Sweet will that meeting be,
With those we mourn,
Till Thou return.
To share Tby throne."
The fifth chapter, beloved, links in this blessed hope with the safe readiness of our whole nature