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HARMONY OF PROPHECY.
THE COMING OF THE LORD, REV. I. 7, COMPARED WITH OTHER
“ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto hin, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia : Grace be unto
peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the firstbegotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Ùnto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD HE COMETH WITH CLOUDS, AND EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM, AND THEY ALSO WHICH PIERCED HIM : AND ALL KINDREDS OF THE EARTH SHALL WAIL BECAUSE OF HIM. Even so, Amen.”—Rev. i. 1-7.
These truths are as simple in their narration as sublime in their import. Things which must shortly come to pass” are the subject-matter of this book. To show these things unto his servants, the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given unto him by God. John bare record of all things that he saw. He testifies to the blessedness of him that readeth, and of those that hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things that are written therein ; for the time is at hand. After a benediction on the seven churches of Asia, and a due and devout ascription of praise unto the Lamb—to him be glory and dominion forever and ever-he speaks in faith as if he saw him coming, and testifies that every eye shall see him. The thing, yet ranking among those that are future, that is first shown, as foremost in the apostle's view, is the coming of the Lord. Christians, alone worthy of that name which unconverted millions bear, even those whom He hath washed in his own blood, and made kings and priests unto God and his Father, are called on to believe his coming, as if they saw it; but that which is faith to some only, shall yet be sight to every eye.
Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Even so, Amen, is the confirmation that is given to words as plain as ever were written on tables, that he may run that readeth. Yet the last thing recorded in this text-all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him—shows, like many other scriptures, how little the first is believed behold He cometh. They who love his appearing will not wail at his corning; for testimonies abound that tell of other things than terror or woe which await them on that day. In primitive times, when faith was a reality throughout the churches, and believers in Jesus shone as lights in the world,
“ turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.' That this is a thing which must come to pass, none of the faithful were ignorant before the Apocalypse was written.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ seals up or completes the only sacred and celestial canon upon earth. So soon as ever record is first borne to any of the things that were to come to
pass, the harmony of prophecy may be heard, as Scripture here responds to Scripture; and an example may be seen from the first sayings of this book, which show forth things which must come to pass, that many divine testimonies to the same truths are here concentrated and renewed in a single verse.
It is not by the private interpretation of any prophecy, or any alteration of its obvious meaning, that light is seen, or faith in the word itself attained. To the law and to the
11 Thess. I, 9, 10.
testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. The entrance of the word gives light. How abundant is the testimony concerning the coming of the Lord, none who wait for it need to be told. How clear is the light in which the Scriptures reveal it, they have only to be believed to see. That it is not the testirnony which God has given to the second, any more than to the first coming of his Son, but private interpretations of his word, or imaginary inferences from it, that have introduced discordance and error, and involved the subject in doubt and darkness, the whole counsel of God concerning it may show. Not believing Moses and the prophets as they wrote of him, but assigning a meaning of their own, as they do to this day, to all the lucid testimonies borne by them to the sufferings and the death of the Messiah, the Jews still grope at noonday as the blind grope in darkness, and are thus feeling after meanings to these very prophecies, and giving prizes to find them, while bandages of men's making are round their eyes, and the vail untaken away in-reading Moses and the prophets.
Whether the testimony borne by prophets and apostles, and by Christ himself to his second coming to judge and to reign, be not even more full and not less explicit than that which was given by the prophets alone to his first coming in the flesh to do the will of the Father then, and to suffer and to die, the Scriptures, if searched, would show. Whether all that the prophets have spoken, and all that is revealed in the New Testament and in the Old concerning it, be believed with all readiness of mind, in the simplicity of faith, and with the docility of little children, it might be wise and well to consider, before a stone be cast at a rabbinical Jew, who receives for doctrines the traditions and commandments of men, and rejects the counsel of God against himself, but who still can show, as ingeniously as any Gentile, in what manner many texts can be changed by the private interpretation of one. Facts that can not else be known, are yet readily believed on the testimony of men; but the testimony of God is greater. Contradictory evidence generates doubts; but the testimonies of the Lord are very sure. He can not deny himself Christ, as he said, received not testimony from man. Search the Scriptures, was his own command, for they are they that testify of me. In them the Father bears witness of the Son. The heavens must receive Christ till the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by all his holy prophets, since the world began; and his testimony has to be heard as he spake by them, and not as men of any race or of any age would wrest the word that abideth forever.
The record which John here bears concerning the personal coming and visible appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, is as explicit as it is express.
Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him. These words are not to be stretched into an additional affirmation that his reign, though not less real, shall be as personal and visible as his coming, or that every eye shall see him while He reigns, as every eye shall see him when He cometh. Things that differ have to be distinguished; and they are not to be indiscriminately mixed up together, so as possibly to confound things that may be secret, with things that are revealed. Each truth which Scripture reveals has to be viewed in the light which Scripture imparts. Each topic, or distinct thing, when brought to the test, has to be weighed in the scales of that sanctuary in which alone the divine Oracle resides. Then sensitive minds, justly tremulous, as the nicest balance, at the thought of error, may be fixed in purely scriptural faith, without the hazard of rejecting things revealed, because of any unwarranted and unhallowed intermingling of the thoughts of man's heart with the counsel of the Lord. The sayings of this book have to be kept without being either sullied by any addition, or rifled by any subtraction. The kingdom of God and of his Christ has its own ample testimonies throughout the Scriptures, as it has its place again and again in subsequent pages of the book of Revelation.
Though the sight of Christ by every eye shall be a new thing upon the earth, it is nevertheless a scriptural truth, that to some, in ages long past, he did appear otherwise than he was seen while he tabernacled in the flesh.
It is written by another apostolic witness, “ We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him