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them to wait in Jerusalem for the out-pouring of the Spirit to qualify them for the momentous work entrusted to their hands, and freely spoke to them “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." He undoubtedly gave them all needful directions as to the organization and government of his church, and authorised them to provide for the perpetuity of Christian instruction and discipline by commissioning others, as their successors in the ministry, to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances in all succeeding ages even to the end of the world. We believe also that our Saviour went far beyond this in his communications with his Apostles. That he spake to them of the progress and termination of the present dispensation, directed their view to its grand result, and gave ample instructions as to his second coming to display his glory as the king of Zion—to judge the quick and the dead—and to establish a “dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”
As Jews, they had dwelt much upon those strong and glowing passages of the Prophets which led them to expect a conquering Messiah, who would restore their nation to more than its ancient glory, reign upon the throne of David, and, at the same time, sway the sceptre of universal empire-having "the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession." While they were assembled together, with the Master in the midst of them, they asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Did Jesus reprove them for the folly and vanity of their expectations? Did he inform them that all the prophecies relating to him were fulfilled ; and that nothing more was meant by his universal kingdom than the church which was then about to be set up on earth, or his ruling in the hearts of his people by the influence of the Holy Spirit ? Did he reproach them for misapprehending and perverting the Scriptures relating to his glory and kingdom, as he did with respect to those which spake of his humiliation, suffering and death, saying “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have written! Ought not Christ to have suffered those things, and to enter into his glory?” Nothing of the kind! Not one word of reproof or correction fell from his lips. He, by his silence, virtually admitted the reasonableness and piety of their expectations; but simply informed them that the time for their fulfilment had not yet arrived. The prophecies of his kingdom were to be accomplished at some future period. But when that period shall be, is one of the profound secrets of the Eternal mind. He had come once into the world, not to reign over it, but to suffer and die for its redemption. He would come again, to display his glory and to establish his kingdom; but of that
last day-emphatically styled by St. Paul the “day of his appearing and of his kingdom,” “knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven ; neither the Son, but the Father.” The fact that Christ will come again and be revealed as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is certain, because plainly declared in Scripture; but the precise time when his appearance and kingdom will take place, no created mind can positively determine, because it is one of the secret things which belong unto the Lord our God.
On one occasion Jesus was asked “Lord, are there few that be saved ?” But instead of gratifying the curiosity of the inquirers he enforced a great practical duty : "Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Even so when the assembled Apostles asked “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?" instead of gratifying their curiosity, he fixed their minds upon the great duty which they were required to perform as preparatory to the establishment of his kingdom.“ He said unto them, it is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power ; but ye shall receive power after that the
; Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. And when he had spoken these
things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
They gazed upon this amazing spectacle with sorrowful interest. It is fair to presume that they would look upon
themselves as left in a state of destitution and orphanage, and be tempted to believe that they would never see their Lord again; but must part with all the high hopes they had cherished in relation to the display of his glory and the setting up of his kingdom upon earth. To preserve them from such despondency, however, they were immediately favored with assurances to the contrary, from the lips of angelic instructors. “ While they looked steadfastly towards heaven, as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into hea
This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” 6 And they worshipped him, and returned" (trom Mount Olivet)“ to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God."*
While we reverently abstain from all positive calculations, as to the time or period when this great event predicted in the text will occur; leaving such calculations to those who have either more discernment or less prudence than ourselves; we may find
*St. Luke xxiv. 52, 53.
it profitable to meditate, as we now propose to do, ‘upon what the Scriptures teach us respecting the second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ—the circumstances which will precede and be connected with it—and its sublime and glorious results.
I. We are first to consider what the Scriptures teach us respecting the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is well known to you that different opinions prevail in the Christian world on the subject of the interpretation of prophecies. Some contend that we are to expect a literal fulfilment of them, while others no less confidently assert that, as they are often clothed in figurative language, they are to be fulfilled only in a spiritual sense. It is readily conceded by all that many metaphors are employed by the inspired writers. They often deliver the most important instructions in the form of parables; and, after the manner of the Orientals, freely employ tropes and similes as the drapery in which their valuable lessons are clothed. But where the interpretation is not given, (as it often is by the writer,) persons of sound judgmentand reason are at no loss to perceive that the language is figurative, and readily give it the right interpretation. Thus, when our Lord, in his parables, compares his Church to a net gathering fishes of different kinds,-to a field in which the tares and wheat grow together, when he speaks of himself as a shep