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served unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." And Isaiah appears plainly to distinguish between the judgments of fire and the sword when he says, that “the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind,—to render his anger with fury and his rebuke with flames of fire: for by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all fesh.''
IV. Another point remains for inquiry which is of intense interest to the Church of Christ; viz. What becomes of the Lord's people during this time of tribulation?
1. Previous to shewing their safety, it may be well to notice of the nations generally, that, however some Scriptures may apparently speak of their absolute and entire destruction, living creatures will nevertheless be left, both men and animals, from out of that dreadful time of desolation. This is indeed for the most part to be proved rather in the way of inference, from certain expressions in those passages themselves, which, in their first aspect, would lead us to conclude the contrary: for I apprehend, that the Spirit would have men's minds to notice chiefy the tribulation which is coming, that they may stand in awe and sin not.
First, let us take the prophet Isaiah. In chapter xxiv. 5, 6, we read: “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” This at first view speaks as if all were burned; but afterwards it lets fall an intimation, that a few will be left.
In chap. Ixvi. 16, when the same Prophet says; "By fire and by his sword the Lord will plead with all flesh,” he adds“and the slain of the Lord shall be many:" but that this does not mean all, though the prophecy relates to the great catastrophe under consideration, is evident from verse 19—“And I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, Lud, Tubal, Javan, &c." which is important as giving colour to the opinion, that the nations on whom the desolation falls are those of Christendom, or of the prophetic earth, and does not include the tribes and families of the earth still called heathen, as Tarshish, Pul, &c.
Jeremiah xliv. is worthy also of notice; not as containing matter immediately bearing upon the Judgment, but as evincing how expressions must be qualified and determined by the general context. In verse 14 we are told, “that none of the
2 Pet. iii. 7.
• Isa. Ixvi. 15, 16.
remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, &c.:" yet at the end of the verse is added "none shall return but such as shall escape.” Verse 27 is still more sweeping in its sentence of destruction: “Behold I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine until there be an end of them.” But in the next verse it is added, “Yet a small number that
the sword shall return, &c.” A similar instance occurs in Zechariah, chap. xiv., in which all nations are first described as gathered against Jerusalem to battle (v. 2,) then as smitten with a plague which consumes them (vv. 12-15); but afterwards there is mention of "every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem.”
Our Lord's intimation likewise concerning the tribulation, is to the point in hand; "that except those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved:” for they clearly intimate that some in the flesh will be saved.
I apprehend that what is spoken of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel xxxix. 2, before the whole prophecy concerning this war is set out, is the real key to this difficulty: “I will leave but the sixth part of thee:” and that the numerous passages which speak of “them that escape of the nations,” “the nations of them that are saved,” “the remnant of them," "all that are left," must be considered as referring to this circumstance.
Further, in regard to brute animals, the promise to Noah appears to justify the conclusion, that there will not be an utler destruction, any more than when the earth was destroyed by water: “neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”—Which is another instance also, that the words "every thing living” must be qualified, and the contents of the ark deducted.
Psalm viii. is likewise applied to the reign of Christ, both in Corinthians and Hebrews; and this states, —Thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, yea and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea:” so that if the conflagration be pre-millennial, there are animals preserved from
By what means I presume not to state. Until God by his special power brought them to Noah into the ark, no man could have conceived how they should have been saved from the waters of a flood; neither have I a satisfactory perception of the mode in which all these things will be so brought to pass as to harmonize with the entire Scriptures.
2. But of the safety of God's people at this period of judgment, we have abundant and clear testimony. The world and the merely professing Church, will, alas! be taken by surprise.
In the first instance all will appear going on as usual, in peace and security. As when the flood came in the days of Noah, and the burning in the time of Lot, they will be giving their chief concern to buying and selling, building' and planting, marrying and giving in marriage. The three angels, in the vision to Zechariah, report of a period apparently preceding this time: “We have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold-all the earth sitteth still and is at rest. “But when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” The most striking figures are made use of to show, how sudden and unexpected the Advent and Judgment will be to such: e. g. “the pangs of labour”—“as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth unto the west”—as a snare upon the nations;"_and "as a thief in the night:" just as in Pharaoh's time, the destroying angel went out at midnight, and a cry of distress was heard from the king on the throne to the captive in the dungeon. Up to the moment of his coming, men will be refusing to look at prophecy, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?”
Of the righteous, however, we are expressly told, that the day of the Lord shall not overtake them as a thief in the night: they will be looking out for the Saviour's approach, satisfied, from the signs of the times, that their redemption draweth nigh. They will apparently witness the tribulation, and it will be cut short for their sakes; but they will be spared in it. Consider first what David says of the righteous—“that in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”a So in another place—“In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion—in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me -he shall set me upon a rock." Psalm xxxvii. is throughout to this point, but especially verses 34, 38-40: “Wait on the Lord, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off thou shalt see it—The transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off: but the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, he is their strength in the time of trouble; and the Lord shall help them and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked and save them, because they trust in him.” Again in Psalm xlv. “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble: therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the i Matt. xxiv. 38. Zech. i. Compare v. 11 and vv. 18—21. v 1 Thess.
w Ex. xii. 29. 22 Pet. iii. 4. ,1 Thess. v. 4. 2 Luke xxi. 28. a Ps. xxxii. 6. Ps. xxvii. 5.
mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Isaiah says of the Lord's people—“They shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest, and the city shall be low in a low place.” And again, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee,” (an exhortation to prayer, Matt. vi.) "hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity—the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
There is also a remarkable prophecy in Jeremiah xxx. 4–9, concerning Israel and Judah at this time. “These (he says) are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord: we have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now and see, whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it. It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but-he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: but they shall serve the Lord their God and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them.”
The next promise I shall notice is Joel iii. 16. After describing the time of trouble, he adds: “The Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people and the strength of the children of Israel." I shall only quote one more from Zephaniah, because it shows again the suitableness of prayer at this time: "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment: seek righteousness, seek meekness:-it may
shall be hid in the day of the
I do not consider arguments derived from types as suited to lay at the foundation of a doctrine; but when we have direct testimony, similar to that which I have brought forward, they are very important collateral evidence. The analogy then of the types clearly confirms the testimony adduced. The deliverance, for example, of Noah at the flood; from which some argue, that (as the ark rose above the waters of the deluge, so in the fiery deluge,) the Church will rise to meet the Lord in the air, whilst the conflagration is going on below. The deliverance also of Lot at the destruction of the cities of the plain, set forth as a special example of the vengeance of eternal fire.e The Exodus from Egypt again typifies a way of salvation for the people, at the very time when their ene es shall be overthrown. The proceeding of Jehu,' in the destruction of the whole of the worshippers of Baal, just at the moment when they thought their cause was most prosperous; and the previous careful exclusion from among them of the worshippers of Jehovah, I take to be another type. The well known escape of the christians to Pella at the destruction of Jerusalem may also be instanced; and many
c Isa. xxxii. 18, 19.
d Isa. xxvi. 20, 21.
other events. To believers therefore I would say-yet, not I, but the Lord -Watch ye, therefore, and PRAY always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke xxi. 36.
The State of Separate Spirits.
No circumstance connected with modern theology has more affected me with surprise, than the vague and unsatisfactory notions entertained by most respecting the present and future conditions of the dead. In its first aspect, so far as our own individual happiness is concerned, it appears to be the object of all others in divine revelation of most intense interest, and most calculated to engage the inquiry of intelligent mortals: and indeed there are few persons that are not led by the ordi. nary afflictions or sympathies of life to entertain the subject at some period of their existence, however transiently; and there are few ministers, in the habit of encouraging religious conversation, who are not repeatedly assailed by inquiries on this head. Yet how many preachers and writers treat the topic with hesitation, or mere conjecture; not seeming to have any decided scripture testimony on which to base their hopes; as if they rather wished their sentiments to be true, than that they have a decided assurance that they are so. The conclusion to which this has led me is, that Christians in general, owing to erroneous views concerning the resurrection state and the kingdom of glory, have likewise fallen into error in regard to some important circumstances respecting the present and future con