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or, "that they may come," "from the presence of the
Lord, and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you," or, "who was before appointed, or designated, or pointed out to you,"-" whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which" - or, " concerning which”—“God hath spoken, by the mouth of his holy prophets, since the world began."
"The times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," I believe to relate to those glorious seasons which the Scriptures allow us to expect when Israel shall turn to the Lord: the apostle speaks, all will allow, of Jesus Christ being sent again to Israel. Until the restitution of all things," a remarkable expression to designate the wonders of the second advent! Till this epocha the heavens must receive him. "The Son of Man is as a man journeying into a far country, and to return." So that our Lord Jesus Christ is now personally absent from the earth; but at the time of "the restitution of all things," he is to return upon earth, and to be personally present here, as he was personally present previously to his ascension, "when the heavens received him:" and these things, "the restitution of all things”—“ the coming of the Lord from heaven," the apostle tells us, has been the constant theme of every prophet since the world began; and so, in truth, in this our inquiry concerning the prophecies of the second advent, we have found it.
1. See Doddridge's note. 2 Acts, iii. 20. “ Τον προεχειρισ μsvov, (ita enim edidit Griesbachius loco προνεχηρυγμενον, quod est in plerisque editionibus,) υμιν Ιησουν Xgiorov, quem vobis ab eterno desti
naverat Jesum Christum.
"Alii vertunt, Jesum Christum, quem vobis jam olim per prophetas prædixerat et notum fecerat," &c. -SCHLEUSNER.
THE APOSTOLICAL EPISTLES.
In pursuing the object of our inquiry through the apostolical Epistles, I shall generally observe the same chronological order which we have observed in consulting the former oracles of God, and take the Epistles according to their known or supposed dates.
In this view, the first and second Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians will first demand our attention: the Epistle to the Galatians containing nothing specific respecting the second advent, except that it distinguishes "the Jerusalem that is above," the "mother of all true believers," from "the Jerusalem that now is;" which distinction we have already quoted in illustration of former prophecies, and to which we may again have to refer.
The last Part of the Fourth Chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians.
In the fourth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians, we have one of the most express revela-tions of the second advent any where found in the oracles of God:
13. "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as
others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
As surely as Christ has died, and is risen again, that he might be the Lord both of the quick and of the dead, so surely shall God bring with him-with the great Redeemer when he returns again on the earth, those that sleep in him the believing dead, who-as to their bodies, sleep in the dust of the earth- as to their spirits, rest in Paradise, waiting, in incipient happiness and undisturbed repose, the coming of the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, That we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep."
The apostle says this by express revelation and command of Christ. We notice in this place, again, the peculiar style which the Scripture very generally uses concerning the second advent. It views the church as one and the same waiting family, commanded to watch in constant expectation of its Master's return. Many members of this family, it is true, will die, and be numbered with those that sleep in Jesus, ere the coming of the Lord draws near; but they are equally interested in the approach of that day with the living members of the church that shall then exist on earth: nay, those that are alive and remain to the coming of our Lord will not "prevent," " anticipate," or "be beforehand with," those that are asleep - God will bring them with Christ. It even appears, from what follows, that they anticipate rather, in the glorious resurrection, those that are on earth:
16. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
Observe, nothing is said of the wicked dead. If some of them also, at this epocha, arise from the dust of the earth, as appears from Daniel, chap. xii. 2,-the Holy Spirit, in this place, confines his revelation to the dead in Christ, the emphatic "children of the resurrection," according to our Lord's expression.
17. "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”—Or, “ Then, together with them, we shall be snatched away' in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord."
We remark here, that the dead are described as rising from the earth, and joining their living brethren, ere they are caught up to meet their triumphant Saviour. Their bodies, we know, were sleeping in the dust of the earth. This were enough to account for the phraseology here employed. The relation of height is not expressed in the original; but it certainly is the usual style of Scripture, to speak of the separate spirits of the just as tenanting also that abode of the dead, which is described generally as beneath, or under the earth, with respect to its surface. Thither, in his lamentation over him, Jacob thought he should go down to his son Joseph. The spirit of Samuel, that, by divine permission, appears to Saul, uses this remarkable language, "Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?" Who can inform us that it was in accom
modation to vulgar errors, that our Lord described the situation of the happy Lazarus, though he lay in Abraham's bosom, as afar off indeed, but still as placed in the same regions with that abode of the wretched where the rich man lift up his eyes?" Far above," indeed, was the resting place of the spirits of the just, but not out of sight. So, at least, our Lord before whose eyes hell and destruction were exposed to view-has chosen to represent it, and his description must be substantially true. It was not in heaven that Jesus, on the day of his crucifixion, went to fulfil his promise to the penitent thief, that he should be with him in Paradise: he descended into hell, and rose not to the surface of the earth till the third day had dawned thereon; nor, till forty days had run their courses, did he ascend from its surface to distant worlds aboveto the heaven of heavens, to sit at the right hand of God. "Now, he that ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things?"*
Compare with this the following oracles already considered:
"God rideth on amid myriads;
A Leader of happy followers is the Lord among them;
Sinai is in the sanctuary:
Thou didst ascend on high,
Thou leddest captivity captive." +
"And he shall penetrate in this mountain,
The face of the covering cast over all peoples,
And the veil that is spread over all nations;
He shall penetrate death unto victory."
Ephes. iv. 9, 10.
+ Psalm lxviii.