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are they too strong to represent the scenes which occurred in that devoted city—But those calamities were only shadows of infinitely heavier judgments that shall fall on the ungodly in the last day"—Then, while “the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works also that are therein are burnt up,” will all the contemners of the Messiah wail because of his wrath and fiery indignation'—It is indeed in the former sense only that this can be a sign to convince the world at present; but in the latter sense it will hereafter be a demonstration to the whole universe, that all which had been spoken of Christ was true—l
To encourage an earnest expectation of the Messiah,
the prophet declares
II. The blessedness of those that believe on him The subjects of the Messiah's kingdom are characteriz. ed as “calling upon his name.” [To call upon Christ is, to give him all that honour and worship that are due to the Supreme Being—This was done by the first martyr, Stephen, and by all the Christian church; —It was that which rendered them so odious to the Jews." and so distinguished among the Gentiles'—And, at this hour, it justly describes all those who are endued with the SpiritAll, without exception, regard Christ as the only source of life and salvation, and depend on him for daily supplies of grace and strength: “the life which they now live in the flesh, is altogether by faith in the Son of God”—]
Nor shall any of that description ever experience the calamities that were foretold as coming on the ungodly world - * [The “deliverance” mentioned in the prophecy before us, doubtless referred primarily to the escape of the Christians from Jerusalem, while the Jews, hemmed in on Gyery side, were reduced to the greatest miseries—But we must extend our views to a more important deliverance, even from sin and Satan, from death and hell: it is from these that the sincere follower of Christ will be saved, while all who reject him will perish under the displeasure of an incensed God—In this view * ~
° Our Lord so blends the two events together in Matt. xxiv. that it is not always easy to determine to which of the two his expressions are to be referred. f 2 Pet. iii. 10, with Rev. i. 7.
g Acts vii. 59. and 1 Cor. i. 2. * Acts iz. 24, 21.
i Pliny, in his letter to the Emperor Trajan, stating for his information the conduct of Christians, says, “they met on certain days before it was light to sing an hymn to Christ as God.”
(156.) sIGNs of THE MEssIAH's Advent. 207
St. Paul quotes the very words before us, expressly applying them to Christ as the object of our worship, and confining the blessings of salvation to those who call upon him”—At the same time we must observe that none who comply with this direction are excluded: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord,” whatever he may have been, or whatever he may have done in times past, provided he call in sincerity and truth, shall find the Lord rich in mercy towards him—]
This subject will be found of Use
1. To confirm our faith against the cavils of infidels [There have been in every age some, who have rejected
Christianity as a cunningly devised fable—But we would ask,
Was the effusion of the Spirit predicted? or could the accom
plishment of that prediction be counterfeited? Was the de
struction of Jerusalem foretold? Did Jesus apply the very words of our text to that event, and declare that they should be accomplished before that generation should pass away? And did this also happen within the time specified, attended with such prodigies as strictly corresponded with the terms of this prophecy?—Then Christianity must be of divine original; Jesus must be the true Messiah; and salvation must be, as he has declared, through faith in him—Let us then “never be moved away from the hope of the gospel,” but “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”—)
2. To vindicate our experience against the calumnies of scoffers [St. Peter adduces this passage in vindication of those who had received the miraculous influences of the Spirit; and asserts that, what was profanely imputed to intoxication, was indeed a fulfilment of the words of Joel—Thus scoffers of the present day deride all pretensions to the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Spirit, and, without any candid examination, impute them to folly or hypocrisy—Our professions of faith in Christ, our simple dependence on him, and assured hope of salvation by him, are also deemed enthusiasm—But if we can say, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” or by Peter, or by any other inspired writer, we need not regard
their calumnies—If it was said to the apostles, Ye are drunk,
we may be contented to have it said of us, Ye are fools—Let us then seek more and more earnestly the operations of the Spirit, and be daily calling on the Lord Jesus for grace and mercy: so shall our experience accord with the sacred oracles, and our deliverance be completed, when the sufferings of infidels and scoffers shall commence—]
* Rom. x. 12, 13.
CLVII. THE EFFECTs of cHRIST’s ADVENT.
Mal. iii. 1–3. Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple: even the messenger of the cove
nant, whom ye delight in; behold he shall come, saith the Lord
of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
THE goodness and long-suffering of God are often made an occasion of profane derision and atheistical contempt—Because he does not instantly interpose to vindicate the honour of his injured Majesty, many will deny his interference in the concerns of men, and his determination to punish sin in a future world—We are assured that such scoffers will be found in the latter days, who will insult. ingly cry, “Where is the promise of his coming?” And such there have been in every age and place—In the days of Malachi there were many who “even wearied God” by their impious language: they said, that God delighted in the wicked as much as in the good; and denied that he would ever put any difference between them: “Where,” said they, “is the God of Judgment?”—It was in answer to that question that the Lord Jesus Christ inspired the prophet to announce his advent in the flesh, and to declare the discriminating effects that should be produced by it—
Let us notice what he says respecting I. Our Lord’s advent
Jesus is here described under the most august titles
[He is “the Lord,” the supreme ruler and governor of
heaven and earth, “the Lord of all,” even “Lord of lords, and King of kings”—Yet, notwithstanding his equality with the Father as God, he “assumes the form of a servant,” and comes as “the Messenger of the covenant”—He made a cove: nant with the Father for us, and himself became “the surety of that covenant,” pledging himself to God, that our part should
• 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4. * Mal. ii. 17. e Acts x, 36. d Rev. xvii. 14. * Heb, vii. 22. and viii. 6.
(157.) The EFFEets of €HRIST’s Advent. 209
be performed, and to us also, that God's part should be fulfilled —This covenant he confirmed and ratified with his own blood;" and he “calls us into the bonds of it,” assuring us, that it is “ordered in all things and sure,” and that all the blessings of it shall be imparted to those, who believe in him—In this office he was “an object of desire and delight” long before he came into the world: He was “the desire of all nations:”s not indeed that all actually sought and delighted in him; but he was the joy of all that knew him; they who saw his day, though at ever so great a distance, rejoiced in it;" and if all the earth had known his office and character, they would have been likeminded with those, who “waited for him as the consolation of Israel,” and “ looked for redemption in Jerusalem”—l
The circumstances of his advent also are minutely
foretold [He was to be preceded by an herald, or harbinger, who was to announce his speedy approach, and “to prepare” the minds of men for his reception—This messenger was John, who had the distinguished honour of pointing him out as that very “Lamb of God, who should take away the sin of the world”h- o The temple was the place to which in a more especial manner he was to come: and thither he was brought at the purification of his mother, when that holy patriarch took him up in his arms, and blessed God for permitting him thus to embrace the promised Saviour"—It was at the temple that his parents found him conversing with the doctors when he was but twelve years of age: and, when his mother expressed the sorrow that she and her husband had felt while seeking him, he answered, (doubtless in reference to this and similar prophecies) “Wist ye lot, that I must be at my Father's?”—It was in the temple that he delivered many of his instructive discourses, and wrought many stupendous miracles, and he repeatedly purged it from the profanations which the venal priests had allowed"— His advent, however, though so long predicted, was to be “Sudden,” as in fact it was: for though there was then a general expectation of his arrival, yet the manner of his appearance was so contrary to the carnal notions which were entertained respecting him, that he was overlooked; and, instead of being welcomed as the Messiah, was rejected as an Impostor— - . The repetition of this prediction in the close of the verse was intended to evince its certainty—j
* Luke xxii. 20. 1 Cor. xi. 25. & Hag. ii. 7. * John viii. 56. i Luke ii. 25, 38. / * John i. 23, 29. | Luke ii. 27—29. "'B' reis re wargés res. * Matt. xxi. 12, 13, 14, 23.
Vol. II. E e
As the characters of those, to whom he was to come, were very various, so his advent was to prove 1. Discriminating [Many in that and every age have professed a great re
gard for the law of God, while they have really hated it in their hearts, and have shewn their utter enmity to God under the
semblance of zeal for his honour—On the other hand, many,
who have been despised of their fellow-creatures on account of some enormities they may have committed, have really pos. sessed a broken and contrite heart, and have proved incomparably more willing to submit to Jesus, than any self-applauding Pharisee ever was—Now to discover these hidden dispo
sitions of the heart was one intent of our Lord's coming;
“He was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that should be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts should be revealed”—And this was the very ef. fect produced by him; for the Scribes and Pharisees, filled with a conceit of their superior knowledge and goodness, cast him out with abhorrence, while many publicans and harlots believed on him to the saving of their souls—This very effect also still follows from the preaching of his gospel; the precious are separated from the vile, and men, though unconscious of it
themselves, are led to manifest their real characters, as care
less Gallios, atheistical scoffers, proud Pharisees, or humble believers—J -
2. Destructive . . -
[A “refiner's fire” will consume the dross, and “fullers' sope” will destroy the filth, of that to which it is applied: so will
our Lord eventually destroy many of those to whom he comes; He will prove to them no other than “a stumbling-block and
a gin and a snare"P—When he appeared in the days of his
flesh, how many were there that could not “stand” the trial. their prejudices were excited, their enmity called forth, their hearts hardened, their sins multiplied—Thus it is also in this day: Christ comes, in the preaching of his gospel, and “sits as a refiner and purifier of silver:” but do all; to whom his word is preached, approve themselves to be pure gold?
Would to God that this were the case! But, alas! the greater
part shew themselves to be but “reprobate silver,” or mere dross; who, instead of being purified and rendered “meet for